Bible Study

This is a copy of the Sunday School Lessons presented to an adult class each Sunday.

Location: Spartanburg, South Carolina, United States

Retired, Lobbyist in Washington,DC - Management - BS Chemistry and various continuing education courses

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Bible Study - Joshua (5) - Work through Conflict - Joshua 22:11-12, 15-18, 26-27 and 33-34 - July 5, 2015

Bible Study – Joshua (5) – Work through Conflict – July 5, 2015

This is lesson five (5) in our series entitled “Be Strong and Courageous: 

Leadership Lessons from Joshua.”

Our focus scripture is Joshua 22:11-12, 15-18, 26-27, and 33-34.

Leaders handle conflict with clear communication.

This lesson fast forwards us to the time when the Promised Land had been conquered. The twelve tribes of the Israelites had fought in unity with each other in obedience to GOD to achieve GOD’S plan and purpose for HIM and them. Now it was time to go occupy the lands they had conquered.

The tribes of the Reubenites, Gadites and half the tribe of Manasseh had negotiated with Moses, as recorded in Numbers 32, that they wanted to occupy the land east of the Jordan because it was good grazing land for their livestock. Moses told them if they would help the other tribes secure their land then they could have the land east of the Jordan.

The land west of the Jordan had been secured so now it was time for these tribal warriors to go back to their families and occupy the land east of the Jordan.

Let’s read Joshua 22:1-10:

1 Joshua summoned the Reubenites, Gadites, and half the tribe of Manasseh 2 and told them, “You have done everything Moses the Lord’s servant commanded you and have obeyed me in everything I commanded you. 3 You have not deserted your brothers even once this whole time but have carried out the requirement of the command of the Lord your God. 4 Now that He has given your brothers rest, just as He promised them, return to your homes in your own land that Moses the Lord’s servant gave you across the Jordan. 5 Only carefully obey the command and instruction that Moses the Lord’s servant gave you: to love the Lord your God, walk in all His ways, keep His commands, remain faithful to Him, and serve Him with all your heart and all your soul.” 6 Joshua blessed them and sent them on their way, and they went to their homes. 7 Moses had given territory to half the tribe of Manasseh in Bashan, but Joshua had given territory to the other half, with their brothers, on the west side of the Jordan. When Joshua sent them to their homes and blessed them, 8 he said, “Return to your homes with great wealth: a huge number of cattle, and silver, gold, bronze, iron, and a large quantity of clothing. Share the spoil of your enemies with your brothers.”
Eastern Tribes Build an Altar
9 The Reubenites, Gadites, and half the tribe of Manasseh left the Israelites at Shiloh in the land of Canaan to return to their own land of Gilead, which they took possession of according to the Lord’s command through Moses. 10 When they came to the region of the Jordan in the land of Canaan, the Reubenites, Gadites, and half the tribe of Manasseh built a large, impressive altar there by the Jordan.

The eastern tribes left with Joshua’s blessings and for them to continue to be obedient to GOD (V. 5). They had fulfilled their promise to Moses. The Promised Land had been conquered. When the tribes came into the area of the Jordan on the Israelites side, they built a large, impressive altar which was a replica of the altar built by their forefathers not for sacrifices or burnt offerings (V. 28). Their intent was pure and not intended to offend. But the altar offended the tribes on the western side of the Jordan because they made some false assumptions. The western tribes were afraid that the eastern tribes were planning to establish their own religion and rebel against GOD. The western tribes knew that they had the LORD’S Tabernacle with them. (The Ark was kept at Shiloh.) Communication is critical between powers, families, friends, businesses, etc.

The western tribes prepared to go to war against the eastern tribes because if the eastern tribes go against the One True GOD of Israel, they feared GOD’S wrath would come upon all of the tribes.

Wisely, the western tribes formed a delegation made up of Phinehas, the priest and ten of the chief men, one from each of the tribes of Israel, each the head of a family division among the Israelite clans.

The western delegation explained their concern to the eastern tribes and the eastern tribes explained their intent for the altar to the western delegation. Once communication had been established and there was dialogue, truth and understanding emerged.

With this overview, let’s explore our scripture.

Let’s read Joshua 22:11-12, 15-18: (Joshua honors the agreement the eastern tribes made with Moses now that the Promised Land had been conquered. It was time for the eastern tribes to go occupy their land.)

11 Then the Israelites heard it said, “Look, the Reubenites, Gadites, and half the tribe of Manasseh have built an altar on the frontier of the land of Canaan at the region of the Jordan, on the Israelite side.” 12 When the Israelites heard this, the entire Israelite community assembled at Shiloh to go to war against them.
Explanation of the Altar
13 The Israelites sent Phinehas son of Eleazar the priest to the Reubenites, Gadites, and half the tribe of Manasseh, in the land of Gilead. 14 They sent 10 leaders with him—one family leader for each tribe of Israel. All of them were heads of their families among the clans of Israel.

Let’s read Joshua 22:15-25: (The western delegation meets with the eastern delegation.)

15 They went to the Reubenites, Gadites, and half the tribe of Manasseh, in the land of Gilead, and told them, 16 “This is what the Lord’s entire community says: ‘What is this treachery you have committed today against the God of Israel by turning away from the Lord and building an altar for yourselves, so that you are in rebellion against the Lord today? 17 Wasn’t the sin of Peor, which brought a plague on the Lord’s community, enough for us, so that we have not cleansed ourselves from it even to this day, (Sin of Peor - Numbers 25:1-9 – 24,000 Israelites died because of a plague due to sin.) 18 and now, you would turn away from the Lord? If you rebel against the Lord today, tomorrow He will be angry with the entire community of Israel. 19 But if the land you possess is defiled, cross over to the land the Lord possesses where the Lord’s tabernacle stands, and take possession of it among us. But don’t rebel against the Lord or against us by building for yourselves an altar other than the altar of the Lord our God. 20 Wasn’t Achan son of Zerah unfaithful regarding what was •set apart for destruction, bringing wrath on the entire community of Israel? He was not the only one who perished because of his sin.’”
The western delegation lays out their concerns and now the eastern tribes respond stating their intentions for building the altar.

21 The Reubenites, Gadites, and half the tribe of Manasseh answered the leaders of the Israelite clans, 22 “• Yahweh is the God of gods! Yahweh is the God of gods! He knows, and may Israel also know. Do not spare us today, if it was in rebellion or treachery against the Lord 23 that we have built for ourselves an altar to turn away from Him. May the Lord Himself hold us accountable if we intended to offer •burnt offerings and •grain offerings on it, or to sacrifice • fellowship offerings on it. 24 We actually did this from a specific concern that in the future your descendants might say to our descendants, ‘What relationship do you have with the Lord, the God of Israel? 25 For the Lord has made the Jordan a border between us and you descendants of Reuben and Gad. You have no share in the Lord!’ So your descendants may cause our descendants to stop fearing the Lord.

Let’s read Joshua 22:26-29: (The eastern tribe’s motivation for building the altar.)

26 “Therefore we said: Let us take action and build an altar for ourselves, but not for burnt offering or sacrifice. 27 Instead, it is to be a witness between us and you, and between the generations after us, so that we may carry out the worship of the Lord in His presence with our burnt offerings, sacrifices, and fellowship offerings. Then in the future, your descendants will not be able to say to our descendants, ‘You have no share in the Lord!’ 28 We thought that if they said this to us or to our generations in the future, we would reply: Look at the replica of the Lord’s altar that our fathers made, not for burnt offering or sacrifice, but as a witness between us and you. 29 We would never rebel against the Lord or turn away from Him today by building an altar for burnt offering, grain offering, or sacrifice, other than the altar of the Lord our God, which is in front of His tabernacle.”

Verse 27, can be tricky. The eastern tribes established the altar as evidence that they were in unity with the western tribes regarding the One True GOD, Yahweh. But as time goes on this fact could be lost, so the altar was to be a witness that the eastern tribe’s desire was to continue to worship Yahweh in HIS presence, which was where the Tabernacle was located. The altar they built was intended to be a symbol of the resolve.

Conflict Resolved: (Unity restored – a misunderstanding broke unity in the minds if the western tribes but not the eastern tribes. Once communication was established and understanding achieved unity in the minds of the western tribes was restored.)

30 When Phinehas the priest and the community leaders, the heads of Israel’s clans who were with him, heard what the descendants of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh had to say, they were pleased. 31 Phinehas son of Eleazar the priest said to the descendants of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh, “Today we know that the Lord is among us, because you have not committed this treachery against Him. As a result, you have delivered the Israelites from the Lord’s power.” 32 Then Phinehas son of Eleazar the priest and the leaders returned from the Reubenites and Gadites in the land of Gilead to the Israelites in the land of Canaan and brought back a report to them.

Dialogue resulted in satisfaction and unity was restored.  

Let’s read Joshua 22:33-34:

33 The Israelites were pleased with the report, and they praised God. They spoke no more about going to war against them to ravage the land where the Reubenites and Gadites lived. 34 So the Reubenites and Gadites named the altar: It is a witness between us that the Lord is God.

It is interesting that the King James translation states verse 34 “And the children of Reuben and the children of Gad called the altar Ed: for it shall be witness between us that the Lord is GOD.”  “Ed is a transliteration of a Hebrew word meaning “witness.” The altar became a marker in recognition of their confession “that the Lord is GOD,” a confession that confirmed their unity as brothers with the western tribes. They were not bound just by religious practice or geographical location. They were one in the Lord GOD.”(Herschel Hobbs Commentary, LifeWay, Nashville, TN, Summer, 2015, page 56.)

When Christians settle a disagreement in an amicable manner it sends a positive message to other Christians as well as to non-Christians.

Great leaders are willing to engage in dialogue to foster understanding. Blessings!!!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Bible Study - Joshua (4) - Move beyond Failure - Joshua 7:13-15,16-18, 27-27; 8:1 - June 28, 2015

Bible Study – Joshua (4) – Move beyond Failure – June 28, 2015

This is lesson four (4) in our series entitled “Be Strong and Courageous: Leadership Role.”

Our focus scripture is Joshua 7:13-15, 16-18, 26-27; 8:1.

Leaders confront failure, deal with it, and move forward.

Sin must be dealt with in the Christian’s life and in the church. We are fast approaching the day when we are reluctant to call sin, sin. We may try to ignore it but GOD will bring it to our attention. Joshua had to deal with a 
serious sin issue. Let’s explore!

Let’s read Joshua 7:1: (Background)

1 The Israelites, however, were unfaithful regarding the things •set apart for destruction. Achan son of Carmi, son of Zabdi, son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of what was set apart, and the Lord’s anger burned against the Israelites.

Joshua was unaware of Achan’s disobedience as he prepared to capture the next city, Ai (Ay-ee or A-eye) but GOD was well aware of it. Failure highlights a problem. When we seriously explore all the possibilities for the failure, often we discover truth, when we do we must take action to correct the flaw. Sin can affect more than those involved.

Let’s read Joshua 7:2-12: (Background - Sin can mean defeat.)

2 Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is near Beth-aven, east of Bethel, and told them, “Go up and scout the land.” So the men went up and scouted Ai. 3 After returning to Joshua they reported to him, “Don’t send all the people, but send about 2, 000 or 3, 000 men to attack Ai. Since the people of Ai are so few, don’t wear out all our people there.” 4 So about 3, 000 men went up there, but they fled from the men of Ai. 5 The men of Ai struck down about 36 of them and chased them from outside the gate to the quarries, striking them down on the descent. As a result, the people’s hearts melted and became like water. 6 Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell before the Ark of the Lord with his face to the ground until evening, as did the elders of Israel; they all put dust on their heads. 7 “Oh, Lord God ,” Joshua said, “why did You ever bring these people across the Jordan to hand us over to the Amorites for our destruction? If only we had been content to remain on the other side of the Jordan! 8 What can I say, Lord, now that Israel has turned its back and run from its enemies? 9 When the Canaanites and all who live in the land hear about this, they will surround us and wipe out our name from the earth. Then what will You do about Your great name?”

Defeat impacted both the Israelites and Joshua and sent a message to the surrounding kingdoms. The Israelites represented GOD and their defeat tarnished GOD. The Israelites and Joshua lost heart because 36 of their warriors lost their lives. Where was GOD? Why didn’t HE give them victory? Did we do something wrong? When we have had an obvious victory at the hand of GOD, we expect more victories. But when they do not happen, where do we turn? Joshua “fell before the Ark of the LORD” to seek answers.

GOD’S desire is for HIS children to come to HIM to seek answers to the questions of life. HE seeks honesty. Joshua simply did not know why they had lost the battle but he was about to learn a very valuable lesson.

Joshua unloaded on GOD. GOD had let them down. It is good to unload on GOD because it often reveals areas that need to be addressed in our lives. It reveals our hearts toward GOD. GOD knows our hearts so don’t hold back because your outburst may lead to uncovering truth. We have read Joshua’s reaction to their defeat, now let’s read GOD’S response and the revelation of truth.

Let’s read Joshua 7:10-12:

10 The Lord then said to Joshua, “Stand up! Why are you on the ground? 11 Israel has sinned. They have violated My covenant that I appointed for them. They have taken some of what was set apart. They have stolen, deceived, and put the things with their own belongings. 12 This is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies. They will turn their backs and run from their enemies, because they have been set apart for destruction. I will no longer be with you unless you remove from you what is set apart.

Joshua had a pity party. GOD came to his rescue. “The Lord then said to Joshua, “Stand up! Why are you on the ground? 11 Israel has sinned. They have violated My covenant that I appointed for them. They have taken some of what was set apart. They have stolen, deceived, and put the things with their own belongings. 12 This is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies. They will turn their backs and run from their enemies, because they have been set apart for destruction. I will no longer be with you unless you remove from you what is set apart.”

When there is sin in the camp, it must be dealt with immediately. GOD told Joshua that he was the man to deal with the sin in such a way that a clear message would be sent to all who may consider disobeying GOD’S instructions in the future.

GOD instructed Joshua how he was to discover the truth of what happened and the punishment, as we continue.

Let’s read Joshua 7:13-15:

13 “Go and consecrate the people. Tell them to consecrate themselves for tomorrow, for this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: There are things that are set apart among you, Israel. You will not be able to stand against your enemies until you remove what is set apart. 14 In the morning you must present yourselves tribe by tribe. The tribe the Lord selects is to come forward clan by clan. The clan the Lord selects is to come forward family by family. The family the Lord selects is to come forward man by man. 15 The one who is caught with the things set apart must be burned, along with everything he has, because he has violated the Lord’s covenant and committed an outrage in Israel.”

GOD takes sin seriously as we read this account. Joshua listened and took action as instructed by GOD. The Israelites were to consecrate themselves. I think this was an opportunity for those who had sinned to come forward and confess their sin. Often, when we sin, we think no one knows but GOD knows and HE is the One Who holds us accountable. Have our sins been confessed and covered by the shed blood of the LAMB, JESUS? Judgment day is coming!

Let’s read Joshua 7:16-18:

16 Joshua got up early the next morning. He had Israel come forward tribe by tribe, and the tribe of Judah was selected. 17 He had the clans of Judah come forward, and the Zerahite clan was selected. He had the Zerahite clan come forward by heads of families, and Zabdi was selected. 18 He then had Zabdi’s family come forward man by man, and Achan son of Carmi, son of Zabdi, son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, was selected.

Achan was identified as the culprit.

Let’s read Joshua 7:19-21:

19 So Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the Lord, the God of Israel, and make a confession to Him. I urge you, tell me what you have done. Don’t hide anything from me.” 20 Achan replied to Joshua, “It is true. I have sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel. This is what I did: 21 When I saw among the spoils a beautiful cloak from Babylon, 200 silver • shekels, and a bar of gold weighing 50 shekels, I coveted them and took them. You can see for yourself. They are concealed in the ground inside my tent, with the money under the cloak.”

GOD led Joshua to put his finger on Achan. Joshua seems to speak in a gentle, compassionate tone “my son.” Achan confessed his sin but he waited until he was identified before he confessed. Achan knew what he had done and that he had sinned against the “Lord, the GOD of Israel.” Achan had a Spiritual character flaw that surfaced when he spotted the things that appealed to him. He coveted those items. To covet means to desire that which is off limits, something you have no right to possess. We may have a desire but the desire must not turn into action.

Let’s read Joshua 7:22-24: (Consequence of sin)

22 So Joshua sent messengers who ran to the tent, and there was the cloak, concealed in his tent, with the money underneath. 23 They took the things from inside the tent, brought them to Joshua and all the Israelites, and spread them out in the Lord’s presence. 24 Then Joshua and all Israel with him took Achan son of Zerah, the silver, the cloak, and the bar of gold, his sons and daughters, his ox, donkey, and sheep, his tent, and all that he had, and brought them up to the Valley of Achor. (Achor means trouble.)

What was about to happen would not be pretty but it is a very graphic lesson of the consequences of sin. Sin involves our family and all that GOD has provided for us. As Christians, we live under GOD’S grace but confession is a must for us to obediently serve HIM. Yes, when Christians sin, they will still suffer the consequences of their sin, even when they confess. As I stated earlier and to which there is no answer, if Achan had confessed his sin earlier would he and his family had been spared? Why take the chance? First John 1:9-10 is the Christians opportunity to confess and repent:

9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say, “We don’t have any sin,” we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

When we confess and repent, GOD will forgive but there still may be consequences for our action. In this case Achan’s family and all that he had were condemned and destroyed. Achan hid the things he coveted and took from GOD. Achan had a shallow or no understanding of GOD. He thought he could get away from the all seeing eye of GOD. But GOD revealed truth. HE sees all, knows all, is present everywhere and is all powerful.

Let’s read Joshua 7:25-26 and 8:1:

25 Joshua said, “Why have you troubled us? Today the Lord will trouble you!” So all Israel stoned them to death. They burned their bodies, threw stones on them, 26 and raised over him a large pile of rocks that remains to this day. Then the Lord turned from His burning anger. Therefore that place is called the Valley of Achor to this day.

This is a very graphic depiction of the consequences of sin. But thanks be to our LORD and Savior JESUS CHRIST, HE paid the penalty for sin and all who place their faith in HIM, according to the words of JESUS found in John 5:24:

24 “I assure you: Anyone who hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not come under judgment but has passed from death to life.

Yes, Christians are forgiven and under GOD’S grace but still accountable.
Joshua had to deal with the sin in the camp and he did as per GOD’S instructions. Once Joshua had taken care of business, what was Joshua to do? 
Let’s read on.

Let’s read Joshua 8:1-2:

1 The Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid or discouraged. Take the whole military force with you and go attack Ai. Look, I have handed over to you the king of Ai, his people, city, and land. 2 Treat Ai and its king as you did Jericho and its king; you may plunder its spoil and livestock for yourselves. Set an ambush behind the city.”

In essence, GOD told Joshua: now that you have dealt with the problem, take your whole military force and attack Ai. The victory is yours, Joshua, just as it was in Jericho. Often, after a defeat, we need a victory and GOD would give Joshua a victory provided he took action. Did he? Let’s read further. GOD gave Joshua the battle plan for defeating Ai, as we read in Joshua 8:3-29:

3 So Joshua and the whole military force set out to attack Ai. Joshua selected 30, 000 fighting men and sent them out at night. 4 He commanded them: “Pay attention. Lie in ambush behind the city, not too far from it, and all of you be ready. 5 Then I and all the people who are with me will approach the city. When they come out against us as they did the first time, we will flee from them. 6 They will come after us until we have drawn them away from the city, for they will say, ‘They are fleeing from us as before.’ While we are fleeing from them, 7 you are to come out of your ambush and seize the city, for the Lord your God has handed it over to you. 8 After taking the city, set it on fire. Follow the Lord’s command —see that you do as I have ordered you.” 9 So Joshua sent them out, and they went to the ambush site and waited between Bethel and Ai, to the west of Ai. But he spent that night with the troops. 10 Joshua started early the next morning and mobilized them. Then he and the elders of Israel led the troops up to Ai. 11 All those who were with him went up and approached the city, arriving opposite Ai, and camped to the north of it, with a valley between them and the city. 12 Now Joshua had taken about 5, 000 men and set them in ambush between Bethel and Ai, to the west of the city. 13 The military force was stationed in this way: the main camp to the north of the city and its rear guard to the west of the city. And that night Joshua went into the valley. 14 When the king of Ai saw the Israelites, the men of the city hurried and went out early in the morning so that he and all his people could engage Israel in battle at a suitable place facing the • Arabah . But he did not know there was an ambush waiting for him behind the city. 15 Joshua and all Israel pretended to be beaten back by them and fled toward the wilderness. 16 Then all the troops of Ai were summoned to pursue them, and they pursued Joshua and were drawn away from the city. 17 Not a man was left in Ai or Bethel who did not go out after Israel, leaving the city exposed while they pursued Israel. 18 Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Hold out the sword in your hand toward Ai, for I will hand the city over to you.” So Joshua held out his sword toward it. 19 When he held out his hand, the men in ambush rose quickly from their position. They ran, entered the city, captured it, and immediately set it on fire. 20 The men of Ai turned and looked back, and smoke from the city was rising to the sky! They could not escape in any direction, and the troops who had fled to the wilderness now became the pursuers. 21 When Joshua and all Israel saw that the men in ambush had captured the city and that smoke was rising from it, they turned back and struck down the men of Ai. 22 Then men in ambush came out of the city against them, and the men of Ai were trapped between the Israelite forces, some on one side and some on the other. They struck them down until no survivor or fugitive remained, 23 but they captured the king of Ai alive and brought him to Joshua. 24 When Israel had finished killing everyone living in Ai who had pursued them into the open country, and when every last one of them had fallen by the sword, all Israel returned to Ai and struck it down with the sword. 25 The total of those who fell that day, both men and women, was 12, 000 —all the people of Ai. 26 Joshua did not draw back his hand that was holding the sword until all the inhabitants of Ai were •completely destroyed. 27 Israel plundered only the cattle and spoil of that city for themselves, according to the Lord’s command that He had given Joshua. 28 Joshua burned Ai and left it a permanent ruin, desolate to this day. 29 He hung the body of the king of Ai on a tree until evening, and at sunset Joshua commanded that they take his body down from the tree. They threw it down at the entrance of the city gate and put a large pile of rocks over it, which remains to this day.

VICTORY!!! Trust and Confidence in GOD Restored!

Is there un-confessed sin in your life? Is it causing you to be defeated? If so, confess it to JESUS, repent (which means to stop doing it) and allow GOD to restore you. Receive HIS strength. The victory has been won in CHRIST, the wall separating you from victory has fallen but you must claim it! Achan’s sin impacted his family, as well as, his extended family, the Israelites. Blessings!!!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Bible Study - Joshu (3) - Stick with GOD'S Plan - Joshua 6:1-5,12,16-20 - June 21, 2015

Bible Study – Joshua (3) – Stick with GOD’S Plan – June 21, 2015

This is lesson three (3) in our series entitled “Be Strong and Courageous: Leadership Lessons from Joshua.”

Our focus scripture is Joshua 6:1-5, 12, 16-20.

Leaders keep doing what GOD tells them to do.

In last week’s lesson, GOD stopped the flow of the waters of the Jordan River at the moment the priests stepped into the river water carrying the Ark of the Covenant for the Israelites to enter into the Promised Land. The journey of the Israelites is a portrait of such a beautiful picture of the Christian life.

All of us are in bondage to sin and death with no way to escape until GOD intervenes in our lives. HE sent HIS only Son, JESUS, into the world that all place their faith in HIM will be released from the bondage of sin and eternal death and receives eternal life. That moment of salvation begins each person’s journey to the Promised Land here upon earth and ultimately leading to Heaven. The Christian leaves behind his or her old life and puts on his or her new life in CHRIST.

There will be moments of decision along the way and miracles to reveal the watchful care of GOD as we walk with CHRIST. We may experience facing defining moments of trust as we face exploring the Promised Land or wandering in the wilderness. Even when we are in the wilderness GOD cares for us and is working within us. When we are hungry physically or Spiritually, HE feeds us or when we need water to quench our physical or Spiritual thirst, HE is there. When we reach the Jordan River, there is where GOD reveals HIS mighty hand. Will we cross into the Promised Land or remain where we are? When that moment occurs, he or she moves toward hope but that hope is not without responsibilities. As we journey with GOD, GOD’S desire is for us to etch the milestones along the way into our memory and make a memorial of the events to let others, especially our children, grandchildren and others know about GOD’S presence and guidance in our lives.

GOD’S presence and care for us in a time of need is our testimony to encourage others. It is never to bring the focus on us but on GOD as we live our lives as CHRIST leads us on our journey. Our journey is individual but often we journey with others.

Our lesson this week fast forwards us to the battle of Jericho. But we need to consider what happened during and after the Israelites crossed the Jordan River. Remember GOD instructed Joshua to select one man from each of the twelve tribes. In Chapter 4, we learn the reason.

Let’s read Joshua 4:1-24: (Stones of remembrance and testimony. Some Christians keep a journal.)

1 After the entire nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the Lord spoke to Joshua: 2 “Choose 12 men from the people, one man for each tribe, 3 and command them: Take 12 stones from this place in the middle of the Jordan where the priests are standing, carry them with you, and set them down at the place where you spend the night.” 4 So Joshua summoned the 12 men he had selected from the Israelites, one man for each tribe, 5 and said to them, “Go across to the Ark of the Lord your God in the middle of the Jordan. Each of you lifts a stone onto his shoulder, one for each of the Israelite tribes, 6 so that this will be a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ 7 you should tell them, ‘The waters of the Jordan were cut off in front of the ark of the Lord’s covenant. When it crossed the Jordan, the Jordan’s waters were cut off.’ Therefore these stones will always be a memorial for the Israelites.” 8 The Israelites did just as Joshua had commanded them. The 12 men took stones from the middle of the Jordan, one for each of the Israelite tribes, just as the Lord had told Joshua. They carried them to the camp and set them down there. 9 Joshua also set up 12 stones in the middle of the Jordan where the priests who carried the Ark of the Covenant were standing. The stones are there to this day. 10 The priests carrying the Ark continued standing in the middle of the Jordan until everything was completed that the Lord had commanded Joshua to tell the people, in keeping with all that Moses had commanded Joshua. The people hurried across, 11 and after everyone had finished crossing, the priests with the ark of the Lord crossed in the sight of the people. 12 The Reubenites, Gadites, and half the tribe of Manasseh went in battle formation in front of the Israelites, as Moses had instructed them. 13 About 40, 000 equipped for war crossed to the plains of Jericho in the Lord’s presence. 14 On that day the Lord exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel, and they revered him throughout his life, as they had revered Moses. 15 The Lord told Joshua, 16 “Command the priests who carry the Ark of the • testimony to come up from the Jordan.” 17 So Joshua commanded the priests, “Come up from the Jordan.” 18 When the priests carrying the ark of the Lord’s covenant came up from the middle of the Jordan, and their feet stepped out on solid ground, the waters of the Jordan resumed their course, flowing over all the banks as before. 19 The people came up from the Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and camped at Gilgal on the eastern limits of Jericho. 20 Then Joshua set up in Gilgal the 12 stones they had taken from the Jordan, 21 and he said to the Israelites, “In the future, when your children ask their fathers, ‘What is the meaning of these stones?’ 22 you should tell your children, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ 23 For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed over, just as the Lord your God did to the • Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed over. 24 This is so that all the people of the earth may know that the Lord’s hand is mighty, and so that you may always • fear the Lord your God.”

The mighty handiwork of GOD is designed to build personal relationships. HIS desire is for HIS children to tell their children and others about HIS mighty works. The key is we, as HIS children, are never to take GOD for granted or consider that we are free from accountability and responsibility.

Let’s explore for a moment a few things about Jericho. Jericho is roughly 7 miles from the Jordan River and covers about 6-8 acres. It was built several thousand years before this event, possibly about 7,000 B.C. Some of its fortified walls were up to 25 feet high and 20 feet thick. The warrior’s positioned on top of the walls could see for miles. It was considered a symbol of military power and strength. To conquer Jericho would send a strong message to other kingdoms. The Israelites faced another formidable quest. It was a daunting objective but when GOD is leading it becomes a moment when HE is exalted and glorified and faith is strengthened.

We read in Chapter 5, that GOD instructed Joshua to circumcise the males to renew their covenant with GOD as HIS people. The males who came out of Egypt had been circumcised but the males born in the wilderness had not been circumcised. Circumcision was a symbol of cutting off their old life and beginning a new life with GOD. They remained in camp until all of the males healed.

We, also, learn in Chapter 5 that GOD stopped providing manna because now they were in the land flowing with milk and honey and could provide for themselves. GOD provides but there comes a time when we have to provide for ourselves as GOD gives us direction and guidance. We must never overlook the fact that GOD is The One Who Provides.

Then we read in Joshua 5:13-15:

13 When Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in His hand. Joshua approached Him and asked, “Are You for us or for our enemies?” 14 “Neither,” He replied. “I have now come as commander of the Lord’s army.” Then Joshua bowed with his face to the ground in worship and asked Him, “What does my Lord want to say to His servant?” 15 The commander of the Lord’s army said to Joshua, “Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.

This was an angel of the LORD, the “Commander of the army of the LORD.” It is interesting that when Joshua asked him the question “Are You for us or for our enemies?” His reply was “Neither.” What came to mind that GOD directed this angel’s actions! We know as reflected in the history of Israel that GOD allowed them to prevail and at times they lost. It depended upon their obedience to GOD.

We will see victory in the battle of Jericho and defeat in their next battle. The difference was obedience. Let’s continue.

The presence of the Israelites was no secret, so the King of Jericho took action, as we read our focus scripture.

Let’s read Joshua 6:1-5:

1 Now Jericho was strongly fortified because of the Israelites —no one leaving or entering. 2 The Lord said to Joshua, “Look, I have handed Jericho, its king, and its fighting men over to you. 3 March around the city with all the men of war, circling the city one time. Do this for six days. 4 Have seven priests carry seven ram’s-horn trumpets in front of the ark. But on the seventh day, march around the city seven times, while the priests blow the trumpets. 5 When there is a prolonged blast of the horn and you hear its sound, have all the people give a mighty shout. Then the city wall will collapse, and the people will advance, each man straight ahead.”

The king of Jericho locked the gates of the city and posted round-the-clock guards and warriors. Jericho was ready for battle.

This to me is so amazing. GOD gave Joshua, who had 40,000 warriors, HIS instructions for victory. What was GOD’S message to Joshua? It went something like this: Joshua the battle has been won. It is a matter of you following MY instructions. Keep in mind that you and those you command are to follow MY instructions completely and to the letter.

Go ahead and celebrate your victory in this way, have all your warriors march around the walls of Jericho one time per day for six days. “Have seven priests carry seven ram’s-horn trumpets in front of the Ark. But on the seventh day, march around the city seven times, while the priests blow the trumpets. 5 When there is a prolonged blast of the horn and you hear its sound, have all the people give a mighty shout. Then the city wall will collapse, and the people will advance, each man straight ahead.”

What is a stronger message: having 40,000 warriors invade Jericho and take it over or march around the walls of Jericho and on the seventh day the priest’s blow their horns and all of the people shout and wham-o, the walls fall down?

How would the king and the subjects of Jericho interpret such a display? It would be like a ceremony of worship to the One True GOD of the Israelites. 

Once HIS power was manifested it would send a powerful message throughout the kingdoms and utterly take the will to fight out of people of Jericho.

Did Joshua ponder GOD’S message? Did Joshua consider which strategy would send the strongest message? Certainly, what GOD said would be the most powerful message to those in Jericho, the Israelites and the kingdoms throughout the land. Did Joshua think “Did I hear GOD correctly?” The point is Joshua responded as GOD instructed had him, as we will see.

Let’s read Joshua 6:12-16:

12 Joshua got up early the next morning. The priests took the Ark of the Lord, 13 and the seven priests carrying seven trumpets marched in front of the Ark of the Lord. While the trumpets were blowing, the armed troops went in front of them, and the rear guard went behind the Ark of the Lord. 14 On the second day they marched around the city once and returned to the camp. They did this for six days. 15 Early on the seventh day, they started at dawn and marched around the city seven times in the same way. That was the only day they marched around the city seven times. 16 After the seventh time, the priests blew the trumpets, and Joshua said to the people, “Shout! For the Lord has given you the city.

Joshua did as GOD had instructed him, and guess what?

Let’s read Joshua 6:20:

20 So the people shouted, and the trumpets sounded. When they heard the blast of the trumpet, the people gave a great shout, and the wall collapsed. The people advanced into the city, each man straight ahead, and they captured the city.

All the Israelites had to do was to walk into the city and capture it. GOD had already won the victory.

This is like the Christian life. CHRIST as already won the victory. Our part is to obediently serve HIM as HE leads and guides us to claim the victory that is already ours.

I can almost hear the Israelites now, “Can you believe it? We thought that was the nuttiest thing we had ever heard but when the horns sounded and we all shouted, the walls just collapsed. All we had to do was walk into the city and take it. The poor citizens of Jericho were stunned.  Rahab properly indentified herself and her family and they escaped unharmed. That was a day to remember.   Surely GOD’S ways are far above our ways and HIS thoughts far above our heads.”

When the victory had been won, the Israelites still had to be obedient to GOD’S command. Even in victory, we as humans can get to feel the success of the moment and allow the flesh to rule our actions and not GOD. But in this case the Israelites did as GOD had instructed.

So what happened to Rahab and her family? What happened to the spoils of conquest?

Let’s read Joshua 6:17-19:

17 But the city and everything in it are •set apart to the Lord for destruction. Only Rahab the prostitute and everyone with her in the house will live, because she hid the men we sent. 18 But keep yourselves from the things set apart, or you will be set apart for destruction. If you take any of those things, you will set apart the camp of Israel for destruction and bring disaster on it. 19 For all the silver and gold, and the articles of bronze and iron, are dedicated to the Lord and must go into the Lord’s treasury.”

Rahab and those with her were spared and the spoils of the conquest were dedicated to GOD.

Victory is sweet but did all go as GOD had instructed? NO, as we read in 
Joshua 7:1:

1 The Israelites, however, were unfaithful regarding the things •set apart for destruction. Achan son of Carmi, son of Zabdi, son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of what was set apart, and the Lord’s anger burned against the Israelites.

What impact would that sin have on the Israelites? This is a subject for next week’s lesson. GOD says what HE means and means what HE says.


Friday, June 12, 2015

Bible Study – Joshua (2) – Be Confident in GOD’S Power – June 14, 2015

This is lesson two (2) in our series entitled “Be Strong and Courageous: Leadership Lessons from Joshua.”

Our focus scripture is Joshua 3:7-17.

Lead from a position of confidence in GOD.

Unity is a must as the Israelites move into the Promised Land. There must be unity with GOD first of all and then unity between Joshua and the Israelites and among the Israelites. This is still true today for all Christians and Christian institutions who seek to be obedient followers of CHRIST.

GOD instructed Joshua to prepare for the crossing of the Jordan River. In Chapter 2, we learn that Joshua sent two spies to look over the land they were about to enter and “especially Jericho.”

When they went to Jericho, they went to the local house of prostitution. The madam was a lady named Rahab. Why would they go to a house of prostitution? Simply, it was the place where they could find out what was happening in Jericho without drawing attention to them. Rahab did not disappoint because she had a wealth of information plus she protected the spies because word got out that there were spies in Jericho. Her house was located in the city wall which gave the easy access to the city as well as an escape route from the city.

The Israelites were no small mass of people. Some have estimated that the Israelites had grown to about 2 million people. So their presence on the opposite side of the Jordan River had not gone unnoticed. The citizens of Jericho were well aware of the presence of the Israelites and the fact that they were preparing to invade them as recorded in Joshua 2:8-11:
8 Before the men (Jewish spies) fell asleep, she (Rahab) went up on the roof 9 and said to them, “I know that the Lord has given you this land and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and everyone who lives in the land is panicking because of you. 10 For we have heard how the Lord dried up the waters of the • Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two Amorite kings you •completely destroyed across the Jordan. 11 When we heard this, we lost heart, and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on earth below.

So Rahab cooperated with the Jewish spies with a motive in mind. If she helped them, they were to look out for her and her family when they invaded Jericho.
Rahab surrendered her life to the one true GOD of the Israelites for her salvation. GOD knew her heart. Rahab was a relative of Boaz and thus in the ancestral line of JESUS as listed in Matthew 1:5:

5 Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse,

Because of her faith, Rahab was listed in Hebrews 11:30-31:

30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after being encircled by the Israelites for seven days. 31 By faith Rahab the prostitute received the spies in peace and didn’t perish with those who disobeyed.

GOD looks at the heart and uses those who may not think they would find favor in GOD’S sight. HIS ways are not our ways and HIS thoughts are far beyond our thoughts because HE is focused on the end result.

Just as Joshua prepared to obediently follow GOD, Christians are to do the same as they obediently follow GOD through the leadership of CHRIST. Most of us tend to question GOD and HIS instructions. The process of sanctification is designed to build trust and confidence to completely obeying the leadership of GOD. Let’s explore!

Let’s read Joshua 3:1-6: (Lead in)

1 Joshua started early the next morning and left the Acacia Grove (Shittim) with all the Israelites. They went as far as the Jordan and stayed there before crossing. 2 After three days the officers went through the camp 3 and commanded the people: “When you see the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord your God carried by the Levitical priests, you must break camp and follow it. 4 But keep a distance of about 1,000 yards between yourselves and the ark. Don’t go near it, so that you can see the way to go, for you haven’t traveled this way before.” 5 Joshua told the people, “Consecrate yourselves, because the Lord will do wonders among you tomorrow.” 6 Then he said to the priests, “Take the Ark of the Covenant and go on ahead of the people.” So they carried the Ark of the Covenant and went ahead of them.

Preparation is key to any successful journey. The Israelites were about to embark on a journey led by GOD. They had waited 40 years for this day. The journey was to fulfill the promise GOD had made to the Israelites and Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. GOD would be their leader.                                                                                            
The Ark of the Covenant was a symbol of GOD’S presence to both the Israelites and to all as they entered into the Promised Land. GOD wanted all the Israelites to see that the One True Living GOD of the Israelites was leading them. GOD was manifesting Himself to the world through the Israelites and revealing HIS presence.

The Israelites were to keep a distance of about 1,000 feet between them and the Ark of the Covenant. This provision was to put their focus on GOD as their leader and not the 40,000 warriors. GOD would reveal HIS power and strength to the Israelites and to the world.

GOD told them that they had never been that way before. When we are called by GOD, we have never been that way before, therefore, Christians are to wait upon the LORD and obediently follow HIM and not jump ahead of HIM. In preparation of obediently following GOD, they were to consecrate themselves and be thoroughly committed to GOD’S calling. The Israelites were on Holy Ground because of the presence of GOD.

This is true today for all Christians. Everywhere we place our feet is Holy ground because of the presence of GOD in our lives when HE leads us according to HIS will and purpose.

GOD told the Israelites that they would witness the wonders of HIS presence the next day. When we take steps of faith and GOD gives victory, they are precursors for more steps of faith.

Who were to take the first steps of faith? GOD instructed the priests to take the led with GOD. That is the sad thing that we see in our world today, GOD’S chosen leaders must maintain the faith. We are seeing Christians quickly trying to be politically correct. Sin is sin and we must keep in mind that we must love the sinner but hate the sin. We must keep in mind that Christians are sinners saved by grace and reveal this grace to others as they obediently serve the LORD JESUS.

GOD confirmed to the Israelites that HE was with Joshua.

Let’s read Joshua 3:7-8:

7 The Lord spoke to Joshua: “Today I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, so they will know that I will be with you just as I was with Moses. 8 Command the priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant: When you reach the edge of the waters, stand in the Jordan.”

GOD spoke a message of encouragement to Joshua. It was likely to reassure him and build his confidence that HE was with him. Joshua listened and responded. Two vital ingredients in obediently serving GOD – HE speaks and we respond. 

How GOD communicated with Joshua was not stated other than “GOD spoke”. I imagine, since Joshua was Moses’ right hand man that GOD spoke to him just as HE did to Moses but not necessarily because GOD speaks according to the way we best receive HIS communication.

GOD reassured Joshua that HE would be with him just as HE had been with Moses. Keep in mind that Joshua had accompanied Moses when Moses met face to face with GOD but now Joshua was in charge. He had been waiting for over 40 years to enter the Promise Land. GOD saw the need to reassure him that he was ready and there would be success. Joshua was keenly aware of the need to follow GOD’S instructions to the letter.

That area was getting spring rains and the Jordan River was overflowing its’ banks and has been estimated that under normal conditions it ranged from 3 to 12 feet deep in various spots across the river and 100 feet wide at its widest point. It is one thing to cross a river under normal conditions but when it was at flood stage that was a different and challenging task. GOD wanted it to a challenging task because HE needed for Joshua’s faith in HIM to be assured as well as the Israelites faith that GOD was leading Joshua. GOD does the impossible to highlight the possible under HIS leadership.

The Israelites preparing to cross the Jordan had either experienced or heard the story of the Israelites crossing the Red Sea on dry ground to escape the Egyptians under the leadership of Moses. Would Joshua prove to be the same caliber of leader as Moses?  

Over forty years earlier the Israelites had escaped Egyptian bondage by crossing the Red Sea on dry ground. Joshua and Caleb (Caleb was 40 years old when he spied on the Promised Land for Moses – Joshua 14:7.) experienced that crossing, now they were preparing to cross the Jordan River to enter the Promised Land. Did they need Moses staff? No, because GOD does not always manifest Himself in the same manner.

GOD led the Israelites to face a formidable obstacle early in their journey by facing the crossing the Jordan River at flood stage. What would Joshua do? Would the Israelites lose confidence in Joshua and GOD or both? But GOD was in charge, they would cross on dry ground.

When the priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant reached the river they were to stop. GOD wanted the Israelites to witness what happened next. It would be a teachable event to build the faith of all who witnessed GOD’S hand at work.
Even today, it is still a teachable event and continues to build confidence and assurance when Christians face formidable barriers when they are obediently following GOD. It is vital that GOD gives the instructions regarding what to do, when to do it and then do it.

Let’s read Joshua 3:9-13:

9 Then Joshua told the Israelites, “Come closer and listen to the words of the Lord your God.” 10 He said: “You will know that the living God is among you and that He will certainly dispossess before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites, and Jebusites 11 when the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord of all the earth goes ahead of you into the Jordan. 12 Now choose 12 men from the tribes of Israel, one man for each tribe. 13 When the feet of the priests who carry the Ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, come to rest in the Jordan’s waters, its waters will be cut off. The water flowing downstream will stand up in a mass.”

GOD wanted the Israelites to witness HIS miracle. They were to gather close. Twelve men, one from each tribe, were to be chosen but their purpose was yet to be defined. The chosen 12 were to be prepared when the feet of the priests came to rest in the Jordan’s waters. The flow of water would be cut off. The flowing water will stand up in a mass. Now that would a sight to behold but also a test of faith. Would it hold?

Some historians say that history reveals that area was prone to earthquakes and landslides so an earthquake happened and a landslide dammed up the river above the place where the Israelites were crossing. So! Timing is everything and GOD is in charge of all things. Is GOD restricted from using something that can be explained? It reveals that HE is omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent.

Keep in mind that by the water being shutoff above the crossing point that also meant that no water was flowing below the crossing point, which would open up a wide area for the approximately 2 million Israelites to cross in a timely manner. 

We learn in Joshua 4:1-15 the purpose of the twelve chosen who gathered a stone from the dry riverbed.

Let’s read Joshua 3:14-17:

14 When the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carried the Ark of the Covenant ahead of the people. 15 Now the Jordan overflows its banks throughout the harvest season. But as soon as the priests carrying the ark reached the Jordan, their feet touched the water at its edge 16 and the water flowing downstream stood still, rising up in a mass that extended as far as Adam, a city next to Zarethan. The water flowing downstream into the Sea of the • Arabah (the Dead Sea) was completely cut off, and the people crossed opposite Jericho. 17 The priests carrying the Ark of the Lord’s covenant stood firmly on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan, while all Israel crossed on dry ground until the entire nation had finished crossing the Jordan.

WOW!!! That must have been a sight to see. It took faith for the priests to hold their position and for the Israelites to cross on dry ground. Would it hold? What was going through the minds of the priests as they stood in the riverbed? What was going through the minds of the Israelites as they crossed with their families? This was a moment to trust GOD and they did. Would such an event have built your faith in GOD? Is GOD still in the miracle business? I know so.

Let’s consider the Ark of the Covenant. It represented the presence of GOD but we know from history that there was a time when the Israelites shifted their faith from GOD to faith in the Ark. Such a shift spelled disaster and it is a caution to Christians. Christians know the power represented by the cross. It must never become the point of worship in place of the LORD JESUS Who gave HIS life that those who place their faith in HIM will have eternal life and experience the miracle of rebirth into GOD’S family. Is the cross to you a good luck charm or does it represent the power of salvation?

What was Joshua’s leadership skill? He trusted GOD and acted upon what GOD had revealed to him. Joshua followed GOD’S instructions completely. That means Joshua had the right relationship with GOD and that he trusted GOD. He allowed GOD to lead and he obeyed. Joshua was organized and delegated others to implement GOD’S plan. He had the right relationship with those to whom he delegated and trusted that they would do as he instructed them. Unity is critical in any organization but so is the unity of the leadership with GOD. Blessings!!!

Friday, June 05, 2015

Bible Study - Joshua (1) - Accept Your Leadership Role - Joshua 1:1-9 - June 7, 2015

Bible Study – Joshua (1) – Accept Your Leadership Role – June 7, 2015

This is lesson one (1) in our series entitled “Be Strong and Courageous: Leadership Lessons from Joshua.”

Our focus scripture is Joshua 1:1-9.

As you lead, submit to GOD’S authority and direction.

For the next six (6) weeks we will study Joshua. The name Joshua means “the 
LORD saves” or “the LORD delivers.” In Greek “Joshua” is equivalent to “JESUS.”

It is believed that Joshua wrote the Book of Joshua, except for the ending, which it is believed to have been written by Phinehas, the high priest.   

As you recall, because of disobedience, GOD told Moses that, neither he nor Aaron would enter into the Promised Land as recorded in Numbers 20:2-12:

2 There was no water for the community, so they assembled against Moses and Aaron. 3 The people quarreled with Moses and said, “If only we had perished when our brothers perished before the Lord. 4 Why have you brought the Lord’s assembly into this wilderness for us and our livestock to die here? 5 Why have you led us up from Egypt to bring us to this evil place? It’s not a place of grain, figs, vines, and pomegranates, and there is no water to drink!” 6 Then Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly to the doorway of the tent of meeting. They fell down with their faces to the ground, and the glory of the Lord appeared to them. 7 The Lord spoke to Moses, 8 “Take the staff and assemble the community. You and your brother Aaron are to speak to the rock while they watch, and it will yield its water. You will bring out water for them from the rock and provide drink for the community and their livestock.” 9 So Moses took the staff from the Lord’s presence just as He had commanded him. 10 Moses and Aaron summoned the assembly in front of the rock, and Moses said to them, “Listen, you rebels! Must we bring water out of this rock for you?” 11 Then Moses raised his hand and struck the rock twice with his staff, so that a great amount of water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank. 12 But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you (applying to both) did not trust Me to show My holiness in the sight of the Israelites, you (applying to both) will not bring this assembly into the land I have given them.”

Numbers 20:22-29 records the death of Aaron on Mount Hor.

But GOD allowed Moses to see the Promised Land as recorded in Deuteronomy 34:1-10:

1 Then Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which faces Jericho, and the Lord showed him all the land: Gilead as far as Dan, 2 all of Naphtali, the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the Mediterranean Sea, 3 the • Negev, and the region from the Valley of Jericho, the City of Palms, as far as Zoar. 4 The Lord then said to him, “This is the land I promised Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I have let you see it with your own eyes, but you will not cross into it.” 5 So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, as the Lord had said. 6 He buried him in the valley in the land of Moab facing Beth-peor, and no one to this day knows where his grave is. 7 Moses was 120 years old when he died; his eyes were not weak, and his vitality had not left him. 8 The Israelites wept for Moses in the plains of Moab 30 days. Then the days of weeping and mourning for Moses came to an end. 9 Joshua son of Nun was filled with the spirit of wisdom because Moses had laid his hands on him. So the Israelites obeyed him and did as the Lord had commanded Moses. 10 No prophet has arisen again in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face.

Do you think the lesson GOD taught Moses regarding complete obedience was a message and teachable moment for Joshua? I think so, because GOD needed a person who would follow HIS directions to the letter, as we will see.

What kind of relationship did Moses have with GOD?

Exodus 33:11:

11 The Lord spoke with Moses face to face, just as a man speaks with his friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his assistant, the young man Joshua son of Nun, would not leave the inside of the tent.

Moses’ had a personal relationship with GOD but such a relationship did not cut Moses any slack when he disobeyed GOD. GOD was true to HIS word and Moses did not enter the Promised Land but HE allowed Moses to see it.

Of the over one million adult Israelites who left Egypt, Joshua and Caleb would enter the Promised Land because they trusted GOD. GOD’S desire is for HIS children to obey HIM completely. GOD called Joshua to obediently serve HIM in times like these. Joshua succeeded Moses as the leader of the Israelites for the next phase of GOD’S plan, which was for them to enter into the Promised Land. It was a must for Joshua to be completely obedient to GOD’S leadership, as we will study.

First, the Israelites must accept Joshua and trust his leadership. Joshua had to have faith in his relationship with GOD as their leader. A lot of elements had to come together to transition leadership from Moses to Joshua and accomplish the objective of GOD’S promise. GOD had a role and Joshua and the Israelites had a role for there to be success. GOD had a grand plan of revealing Himself to the world through the success of the Israelites as their 
One and Only True Living GOD.

Let’s consider GOD choosing of the Israelites as HIS people as recorded in Exodus 19:1-6: (This was after GOD had delivered the Israelites from Egyptian bondage and they were camped at the base of Mount Sinai. GOD had demonstrated HIS presence to the Israelites all along their journey. Now was that opportune moment to bring together the physical with the Spiritual.)
3 Moses went up the mountain to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain: “This is what you must say to the house of Jacob, and explain to the Israelites: 4 ‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Me. 5 Now if you will listen to Me and carefully keep My covenant, you will be My own possession out of all the peoples, although all the earth is Mine, 6 and you will be My kingdom of priests and My holy nation.’ These are the words that you are to say to the Israelites.”

The Israelites agreed to GOD’S covenant and they became GOD’S chosen people on Mount Sinai.

The Israelites’ physical journey toward the Promised Land continued. As they approached the Promised Land, Moses sent 12 spies to scout the Promised Land. The spies returned with a report of a land flowing with milk and honey but there were giants in the land. Two of the spies, Joshua and Caleb, had faith in GOD and voted for them to more forward because GOD would give them success. But the lack of faith of 10 spies prevailed and the leadership made the decision not to enter the Promised Land. Their lack of faith in GOD to give them victory resulted in the Israelites wandering in the wilderness for 40 years until the adults died off, with the exception of Joshua and Caleb. But during those 40 years GOD’S presence and care was very visible with the Israelites.
Now that the Israelites were about to enter the Promised Land, it was imperative that their leader and the people follow GOD’S directions because HE was establishing them as HIS nation. GOD would reveal Himself to the pagans through the revelation of HIS mighty works as manifested through the Israelites.

The same is true today. Christians belong to GOD and when we obediently allow HIM to manifest Himself through our lives, HE is glorified.
What do we hope to learn from this quarter’s study? Christians are leaders in some capacity – home, workplace, socially, politically, school and the list goes on. All Christians are called by GOD to obediently serve HIM. Christians can only obediently serve GOD naturally by having an intimate, viable relationship with HIM. When Christians have the right relationship with GOD, they, in turn, have the right relationship with others and GOD’S wisdom flows through them to deal with the issues that life brings.

Is GOD active in your life or do you feel like HE is taking a leave-of-absence?
As we study Joshua, what leadership qualities do you see in him? What was Joshua’s attitude toward GOD? What is your attitude toward GOD?
Let’s explore!

Let’s read Joshua 1:1-6:

Encouragement of Joshua

1 After the death of Moses the Lord’s servant, the Lord spoke to Joshua son of Nun, who had served Moses: 2 “Moses My servant is dead. Now you and all the people prepare to cross over the Jordan to the land I am giving the Israelites. 3 I have given you every place where the sole of your foot treads, just as I promised Moses. 4 Your territory will be from the wilderness and Lebanon to the great Euphrates River —all the land of the Hittites—and west to the Mediterranean Sea. 5 No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. I will be with you, just as I was with Moses. I will not leave you or forsake you. 6 “Be strong and courageous, for you will distribute the land I swore to their fathers to give them as an inheritance.

GOD confirmed the death of Moses to Joshua. How GOD delivered the message was not indicated: That is, did GOD speak directly to Joshua audibly or Spiritually? What mattered was the fact that Moses was dead and Joshua was the new leader of the Israelites. The death of Moses did not mean the end of the journey for the Israelites. In fact, it was just the beginning, under new leadership that would require for all to have faith in GOD.

GOD revealed the land the Israelites were to possess with HIS help. It was GOD’S land which HE gave to the Israelites. This would be a joint venture. GOD promised that HE would be with them just as HE was with Moses and that HE would not leave them or forsake them. That is GOD’S promise to us as Christians as well.

Notice something very important in verse 3 “I have given you every place where the sole of your foot treads, just as I promised Moses.” The Israelites had to take action to be physically stepping upon the land. Stepping and continuing to step was their acts of faith. GOD had already given them the victory, they had to claim it!!!

This is so true of many things in our lives. GOD gives the victory but we have to act upon it by claiming it. Always look to GOD for your victory because HE is the only one with the power to defend and defeat your enemies.

GOD encouraged them to be “Be strong and courageous, for you will distribute the land I swore to their fathers to give them as an inheritance.” (This is the first time GOD used these words)

Let’s read Joshua 1:7-8:

7 Above all, be strong and very courageous to carefully observe the whole instruction My servant Moses commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right or the left, so that you will have success wherever you go. 8 This book of instruction must not depart from your mouth; you are to recite it day and night so that you may carefully observe everything written in it. For then you will prosper and succeed in whatever you do.

Verse 7, is both to encourage and to warn Joshua and the Israelites. GOD repeated the words “be strong and very courageous” for the second time.
The leaders and the people are to observe “the whole instruction.” The Israelites knew what GOD had told Moses and Aaron regarding speaking to the rock versus striking the rock to produce water. Such a thing may seem silly but to GOD it was profound disobedience. Why would speaking to a rock versus striking a rock and water coming forth matter?

To me, it was all about the coming of the Promised Messiah, The Rock, JESUS. It was not something mankind to do physically but it was all about the gift of GOD to redeem mankind from a torrid Spiritual thirst that could only be quenched by the living Spiritual water from GOD alone. Who could bring forth living water out of a solid, dry rock except GOD! CHRIST, the living water would bring GOD’S hope to those who are lost to sin and death and that same living water would provide nourishing water to those who have placed their faith in CHRIST to Glorify HIM.

GOD’S message to Joshua was clear; learn from the disobedience of Moses and Aaron because I will ask you to trust ME in the days to come which will require strict obedience.

Let’s read Joshua 1:9:

9 Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
When GOD makes a promise HE keeps it. Notice the use of the words “be strong and courageous” for the third time. HE reminded Joshua and the Israelites that when they encountered things that would cause them to question HIM, they must remain “strong and courageous” and continue to trust. They were not to be afraid or discouraged. Why? It was because “the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

One thing sure and two things certain when GOD gives you instructions, HE intends for you to follow them completely just as HE reveals to you. That goes for churches and denomination’s who are changing GOD’S message in order to be politically correct. We must keep in mind that GOD loves the sinner but hates the sin. Blessings!!!