ISRAEL: SECOND REPUBLIC … PT 25

LESSONS FROM THE BOOK OF JOSHUA

Joshua 13:14, 33 – Sacrificial Living.

 Joshua 3

Everybody was getting their pieces of the action and their share of the national cake. It could have looked like some sort of “name it and claim it” season and everyone was doing it. But it was to be different for the family of priests. Not because they were not militant enough but because God said it would be different for these people.

As my wife shared with me recently, “our lives are run by what is written, not by what is happening”. Even if what is happening is good, such as was the case at this point in the history of Israel, it doesn’t mean it is meant for everyone.

Does this mean that God doesn’t want His people to get the good stuff? Certainly not! He gives everything that’s needed for life and godliness. In verse 14, he gave them what they needed for life and in verse 33, he gave them what they needed for godliness. God is faithful.

In view of the preceding thoughts, I find it interesting that the Levites still joined the rest of Israel to conquer the land. They weren’t to inherit any particular portion as a tribe so they had nothing at stake, so to speak, and no direct benefit from putting their lives in danger on the battle field. Yet, there is no record that the Levites laid down their arms and watched the rest of the tribes go to war.

Many of us in similar situation might have done differently; we are mostly reluctant to endanger ourselves purely for the benefit of someone else. We either kick down the entire project or disengage from it and watch passively.

Examples?

The last time you felt you were due for a promotion and someone else got picked, how did you respond to the job thereafter, especially when instructions came from that person who took your spot? Did you share your ideas as readily as you used to or did you just “leave them to do their thing”?

That time, in the choir, when you had prepared to lead the song and you got passed by, did you put in your best effort in singing from the background with the rest of the team or did you sulk throughout the rehearsals and all the way to the service?

How about when you were asked to contribute financially to get someone on the team a birthday gift whereas no one remembered yours the last time?

So you see, it takes a priestly attitude to stand for someone with no benefit for yourself. Since you and I have been called to be priests, I think we have no other choice of life style and mind set. Think about our elder brother, the first born of the family, Jesus the Christ, in whose image and likeness we have been designed and to whose image we are predestined to be conformed.

We have no other calling than to sacrifice.

The way up is down.

 

Philippians 2: 1-11, John 15:13.

ISRAEL: SECOND REPUBLIC … PT 24

LESSONS FROM THE BOOK OF JOSHUA

Joshua 13:1, 6 – Mission Impossible

Joshua 3 

Put these two verses together and basically you get this, “The task I gave you is far from complete and you have run out of time. Never mind, I will continue the work I started. You just do the most you can before your time is up”.

God said,“I will drive out the occupants.”

Is it not interesting to realize that all the while, it was not Joshua that was driving out the people in their land? All the battles they engaged in were merely God’s excuse to get involved in the fight. They were so successful in their campaigns that a death count of merely thirty-six was a big deal to them, and that was because of the sin in their camp.

It must have been a concern to Joshua at some point that it seemed he would not be able to complete the task of settling his people in their lands just as his master, Moses, could not see the mission through to the end. He might have thought the mission would fail with his passing but God set the records straight, “I was the one working when Moses was around; I have been the one working when you took over, and after you are gone, I will not stop until my mission is accomplished”. Sounds just like, “I will build my church”, doesn’t it?

God could have done this without us but he chose to work with us; it’s a major privilege.

This scene in Joshua’s life also lends a vote to a thought: God’s vision cannot be completed in one man’s lifetime; it’s always bigger ahead than behind. Everything accomplished so far always sets the stage for something much bigger. It makes sense to forget the things that are behind and press towards the mark for the prize of a calling that is higher and loftier than all we have ever accomplished so far.

God’s plan for your life is bigger than you because God is bigger than you, that is why you have to trust Him and let Him run it for you. Sounds pretty basic and easy and totally fundamental to Christianity, doesn’t it? Yet I find that when it comes to application, we would rather take things into our own hands. For example, many young folks find it difficult to trust God for His will in the choice of a husband or wife. Many parents would freak out if they found out that their child is veering off the path they have carved out for him to have a successful career in the name of pursuing his dream probably in a less lucrative field of endeavour. The list of examples is endless.

I challenge you to press into God till you start seeing an image of yourself that is too much for you to handle, and you can’t fulfill it without God’s help; that should make it easier for you to just let God have His way.

Another lesson to learn from this story is that none of us, no matter how critically placed we seem to be in the kingdom, can hold up God’s plan by ourselves.

ISRAEL: SECOND REPUBLIC … PT 23

Lessons from the book of Joshua

Joshua 3

Joshua 12 – Curriculum Vitae

The account in Joshua chapter 12 shows that Moses conquered two kings after crossing the Red Sea while Joshua conquered thirty one kings.

A few lessons to be learnt.

  1. Moses went through some challenges convincing his people to work with him and believe in their hearts that, though Pharaoh made their burdens heavier because they were attempting freedom, things will end up as God had said.

Joshua also went through some challenges getting the people to believe in their hearts that the giants in the land were dwarfed by the promise of the God who had been faithful all the while and things will work out just as God had said.

Moses crossed the Red Sea and Joshua crossed the mud brown River Jordan.

Moses conquered two kings and Joshua conquered thirty one kings.

Moses’ difficulties finally led to the conquest of two kings. This was not all he accomplished obviously but in the eyes of the world at large at that time it could have been thought that their God went through all that just to give them the lands of two kings. And coupled with the fact that the manna and the quails stopped coming and Israel crossed a relatively small River Jordan under Joshua, it could have seemed Joshua would only be able to claim a fraction of one King’s territory as it seemed the power of his God was waning.

If one was to calculate the seeming pattern, it would have seemed so sensible to not expect much from the Joshua administration in terms of settlements. One could have thought, ‘In the “good old days” of President Moses, we only conquered two nations but now, when it’s obvious that the spectacularly supernatural free food has run out, the pillar of cloud and fire has disappeared and God is not doing so many jaw dropping things anymore for our nation, we shouldn’t expect much victory and conquest under President Joshua. As things stand right now, we should count ourselves lucky if we are able to win one border dispute.’

And then, God leads Joshua to victory after victory till they sacked thirty one Kings!

The lesson is that our analysis does not equal or determine what God can do and will do. (Ephesians 3:20.) One person fights a lot and earns little and another is favoured with much reward for seemingly very little effort.

God always has something better for later.

  1. The two kings accounted as Moses’ conquests were actually overcome in battle by the army led by Joshua. Moses was never their military leader, Joshua was. But Joshua’s leadership gained credibility while he was still serving his master, credibility he would later need to lead the nation on a military campaign to claim the land promised them.

The lesson here is that it is important to empower up-coming leaders around us; we can’t tell who amongst them would eventually fulfill the vision we have.

The flip side is this, when your boss is sending you on critical assignments, it might seem he’s using you so much for very little pay, but it might also be the preparation for the leadership role he sees you fulfilling in the future. Funny enough, he may not even see it at all, but God does.

  1. Joshua served under Moses for at least forty years. Moses was a “diplomatic” leader and when it came to the battle field, Joshua was Moses’ weapon of war. Joshua could have judged Moses as being unfair by always putting his life at risk while he, Moses, finds himself a comfortable seat having his arms held by two men at a safe distance from the fight all in the name of providing spiritual cover. Could Moses not have simply waved the rod and make that Angel of God who was following them through the desert wipe out all the enemy soldiers at once? I mean, the man wrecked the kingdom of Egypt not long ago. Why does he not use the same plagues now?

If Joshua had done that, he would not have done as well as he did when it came his time to lead the nation. As it turned out, God had determined that the second administration was to be a military campaign; the people had to conquer and claim or be destroyed like any other thieving horde. Thankfully, they had a military president who had plenty of practice in the previous administration. Joshua had become a veteran of faith and of battle. He had put his life on the line for his boss, now his people were confident to put their lives on the line for him.

If, while you are serving under someone, you do not give your very best, you only rob yourself of the opportunity to have the seed of greatness sown in you by God to be watered and tended by your current boss. Always apply yourself to the task at hand under your boss; it is your opportunity to take a shot at exploits with the safety net of someone watching out for you in case you slip.

ISRAEL: SECOND REPUBLIC … PT 22

Lessons from the book of Joshua 

Joshua 3

Joshua 11:23 – Legacy

God told Moses about His plan to settle Israel in a certain place and while Moses was around, it looked like it was the only mission of his administration. Then, he suddenly had to step aside.

Then comes another president. If it were to be in our time, the new administration would have taken up a new project and charted a new course just so that it can be remembered for something meaningful based on its novelty, but Joshua stayed the course and fulfilled the assignment given him, the same one given his master. He took his place in destiny as a tool in the agenda of God, rather than try to draw up an agenda of his own. He chose to be a single thread in an eternal divine tapestry over being a banner of a very temporary human crusade. And going by the fact that I’m still talking about him today, in good light, I’d say he chose well. You should too.

All that said, this truth is also clear, kingdoms will rise and fall, administrations will come and go, power will change hands from person to person and all the while, the agenda of God will never change.

All things work together to bring God’s plan to pass – all things and all persons.

Romans 8:28  And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose.

ISRAEL: SECOND REPUBLIC … PT 21

Lessons from the book of Joshua

Joshua 3

Joshua 11:20  – The Question

It is interesting that the enemy gathers an army in reflection of his assessment of what he thinks it would take to defeat you. So if the problems you encounter are small, it’s because your enemy thinks you are small and it doesn’t take much to knock you over (Joshua 7:3, Luke 14:31-32).

The problems that come our way came to be resolved, and not to destroy us. The key to their resolution is always embedded in the problems.

1Corintians 10:13  There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God [is] faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear [it].

The questions of life will always come to us because we are the answer.

Look out for the answer, stop looking at the problem.

 

Romans 8:19-22

ISRAEL: SECOND REPUBLIC … PT 20

Lessons from the book of Joshua

Joshua 11:20 – Stackable Success

Joshua 3


… As the Lord commanded Moses.

Joshua did not deviate from the instructions of Moses even after he had died because he recognized that they were not Moses’ commandments but God’s … and He was still very much around.

It is important to let your followers know that your administration is not about you but about a cause that is for their benefit, a cause that’s greater than you and that would outlast you otherwise your successor might deviate from it and abort the people’s hopes.

Interesting also that Joshua had no personal agenda; no plan except the plan his predecessor was following. He built the success of his administration on the success of the previous one. If he had chosen a different approach to make it about himself, he would have had to erase Moses and his achievements from the lives of the people which would mean starting from square one.

Imagine the futility if such a pattern were to be repeated with every subsequent administration; all activity but no progress.

Deuteronomy 2:3  Ye have compassed this mountain long enough: turn you northward.

Someone said the benefit of history is that you don’t have to go through the same lesson twice. Isaac Newton said doing things the same way and expecting a different result is insanity, I wonder what he would call doing things in a different way just to accomplish what has already been achieved.

Stop trying to reinvent the wheel. It’s okay to build on the success of others.

Stackable success equals progress.

ISRAEL: SECOND REPUBLIC … 19

Lessons from the book of Joshua

Joshua 3

Joshua 11: 1-6b – I Spy the Enemy Lines

 

“You shall hamstring their horses and burn their chariots with fire”.

I’m thinking, “What a waste! Would it not have been a sound military strategy to commandeer the military resources of the defeated enemy? Would it not give us a better advantage in future wars?” Here is the funny thing; it’s very easy to forget that the enemy we just defeated considered these resources their “better advantage” until they were conquered.

Do you know where we get our ideas from sometimes? By watching the enemy. We think if we only had what they had and did what they did, we would stand a better chance. We easily forget that we have come thus far without the resources we so urgently seek to acquire just because the enemy has them.

Right here is one of the background stories that could have given birth to the song, “Some may trust in horses, some may trust in chariots but we will trust in the name of our God” (Psalm 20:7)

We have to learn to stop ignoring what works for us and stop pursuing what works for someone else, especially the world. And that’s just the funny thing about it, isn’t it? We actually are from two different worlds.

We have God on our side.

Jonah 2:8  They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy.