ISRAEL: SECOND REPUBLIC … PT 51

Lessons from the book of Joshua

RESTRAINING ORDER

Joshua 23:7 … so as not to …

Joshua 3

For a grip on the context, consider the following verses:

Joshua 23:6-7  And you shall be very strong to keep and to do all that is written in the book of the Law of Moses, so as not to turn aside from it to the right or to the left; so as not to go in among these nations, these who are left with you; and that you do not make mention of the name of their gods, nor shall you swear, nor shall you serve them, nor shall you bow yourselves to them. [LITV]

 

I chose this translation because it captures the “hunch” I had when I read the verse in the NKJV and KJV, that it was the adherence to what was written that would keep the nation of Israel from straying. It sounds so much like another verse in the scriptures

Psalm 119:9-11  How shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed and keeping watch [on himself] according to Your word [conforming his life to it]. With my whole heart have I sought You, inquiring for and of You and yearning for You; Oh, let me not wander or step aside [either in ignorance or willfully] from Your commandments. Your word have I laid up in my heart, that I might not sin against You. [Amplified]

We do not walk in holiness because we are avoiding sin but rather because we are, with all our hearts, doing the word of God.

It is doing things according to the constitution that makes a good citizen; it is doing things according to the word of God that makes a good Christian.

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ISRAEL: SECOND REPUBLIC … PT 50

Lessons from the book of Joshua – Wisdom from the deathbed

Joshua 3

Joshua 23:6  – Wisdom from the deathbed

Be ye therefore very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the book of the law…

People do not get to be “dying” and still fail to see what has been truly important in life. Generally, we understand things better with hindsight and one of the reasons we consider the words of old people as wisdom is because they have the benefit of a wealth of hindsight that younger people are yet to acquire. No one has hindsight like a man on his deathbed; whatever he says at such a point in his life must be very important.

Joshua is getting set to leave and he does what anyone who has the privilege of being in his situation would do which is to put his “house” in order. In doing so, with the benefit of hindsight (at the very least, since he could have also been speaking with the wisdom of God) he imparts what is most important to him. He urges his audience to be courageous to do all that was written in the book and not deviate from it in anyway. His words reflect what has been at the core of his being perhaps for the better part of his life and they were the same words spoken to him by God when he stepped into Moses’ shoes as the leader of the nation of Israel.

This tells me two things, the first being that it is true that a single encounter with God will change your life forever. The encounter Joshua had with God, as documented in Joshua chapter 1, stayed with him for the rest of his life. It was something he could not forget and going by the fact that Joshua was sharing it at the end of his life, it must have been what kept him going since the encounter.

Second thing is that you truly cannot give what you do not have. Fathers who reach the last mile marker in their journey of life with a sound mind would apportion their estate amongst their children and no matter how much a man wants his children to do well after he has passed on, he can only offer them what he has. And here we see Joshua offering this word of instruction. This, amongst other things, was what Joshua had. He shared it not just because it was a wise saying or because it was a godly thing to say but because it was what he had “seen and handled” and in his mind, it was the one critical thing that would guarantee that the “children” after him would do well in life.

Another lesson I am taking away from this exchange is from Joshua’s statement and it is this: it takes courage to do the word of God.

1 John 1: 1-3

ISRAEL: SECOND REPUBLIC … PT 49

Lessons from the book of Joshua – Switchboard

Joshua 3

Joshua 23:3 – Switchboard

I appreciate the description of the almighty God by Joshua in this setting and at this point in his life: “The Lord your God” or, more accurately according to bible translators, “Jehovah, your God.”

Of course that has been the way they mentioned God for the most part since their journey began in Exodus however, it just struck me at this point that the attempt of the leaders of the nation both in the first and the second “republic” was always to make the people see that Jehovah was not just the God of their ancestors, nor was He the God of Mr. President alone but that He was the God of each and every one of them.

I think it was important to these leaders to ensure the people saw God as being with each one of them, and not merely backing the office of the leader and validating him with signs and wonders, because they didn’t want the people to depart from God once the leader was out of sight as they were wont to do.

I think the tendency has not changed; out of sight is still out of mind and so I believe those of us who are leaders should always seek to cultivate the personal relationship between our followers and God because we won’t always be around to “redirect their calls” to God.

A brother testified in my church once. He was away from home on a trip and, late in the night, his wife called him and with emergency clear in her voice, she told him that armed robbers were trying to break into their home and it seemed they were succeeding. The man’s immediate response was “Let me call Pastor” but then he realized he would have to disconnect from his wife and kids in that situation in order to call Pastor. So he changed his mind thinking, “I too can pray and God will hear me.” And that was what he did; he stayed on the line with his wife and began to pray with her. He testified that the robbers made it into the house after breaking the door down, looked around and turned back and left the house without touching a thing.

John 14:16-18  And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.

 

The Lord our God is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob … and of me.

John 16: 24; 20:17

ISRAEL: SECOND REPUBLIC … PT 48

Lessons from the book of Joshua

Inside The Caucus

Joshua 3

Joshua 23:2 – Inside The Caucus

In most translations of the bible at my disposal, it is rendered similar to the King James Version as follows:

And Joshua called for all Israel, and for their elders, and for their heads, and for their judges, and for their officers…

The first “and” is italicized which means it was not in the original text translated from. Removing it changes the implication of the list of people called by Joshua from every single Israelite to a select group of people responsible for the nation as indicated in the following rendering:

One day he called a meeting of the leaders of the tribes of Israel, including the old men, the judges, and the officials. (Contemporary English Version)

Well, translation or no, it does not seem practicable to me that a single man would be able to raise his voice in speech loud enough for an estimated three million persons to hear what he said directly. They would have had to receive the information from those close to him at the time he gave his speech.

People complain all the time about not being carried along when they are part of a group. Most of the time, the main reason for the complaint is not that the information did not reach them eventually but rather it is because they are not part of the select group that seem closest to the top.

Of course being a good leader means carrying everyone along but many of us get caught in the deceptive web that we can deal with an entire group directly just to avoid the complaining horde. I submit that we should get used to the fact that there would always be those who feel left out and playing to the gallery may not always be practicable or possible or even sensible. Have you ever tried to make a decision by deliberation with your entire team? How well did that go?

Surround yourself with men and women who are as committed to the team and to the vision as you are and work with them to lead the rest of the team. I think this is the model exemplified in the bible and all successful men throughout history.

ISRAEL: SECOND REPUBLIC …PT 47

Lessons from the book of Joshua

After hours

Joshua 3

Joshua 23:1 … After hours

Joshua 23:1  And it came to pass a long time after that the LORD had given rest unto Israel from all their enemies round about, that Joshua waxed old and stricken in age.

Apart from the physical component of ageing which involves weaknesses of various forms in the body, it would appear that with the men of old, it also involved a mental and spiritual component.

Joshua did not “wax old” nor was he “besieged” by age until after the Lord and settled Israel both within and without.

It was written concerning Moses that, although he was a man advanced in age, he was not showing the typical signs of old age but immediately God declared his task accomplished, Moses died; he died, not of old age, but from completion of task. The same was written concerning David that it was after he had served God and his generation that he died. Although the Apostle Paul was incarcerated, he still chose to stay alive because of what needed to be done. Even Jesus did not “give up the ghost” until He said He was finished with the task at hand.

Apart from the obvious gradual but steady decline in creation as a whole with concomitant reduction in the life span of mankind, I think we tend to grow old too early these days.

Just as is typical for us, we always end up losing sight of why things are and then abuse them by attributing to them what was not part of their initial reason for being. Time, and its passing, was given to monitor and record things and signal when certain things are to be expected but it was not meant to determine what is to be. That is our own job.

Psalm 90:12  So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.

Genesis 1:14  And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:

But in our practicality, we have concluded that people lose physical strength at a certain age and die at a certain age and so as we approach those ages, we tend to “give up the ghost” even before we are done with what we were born to do. Instead of our age being an indicator of how much time we have spent, we have allowed it become the determinant of how much time we have left and how much strength we should have.

You are not old until you have finished your life’s assignment and you shouldn’t die until God is through with you.

Deuteronomy 34:1-7, Acts 13:36, Philippians 1: 21-26

ISRAEL: SECOND REPUBLIC …PT 46

Lessons from the book of Joshua

Witness

Joshua 3

Joshua 22:16-34 … Witness

The one side of the nation of Israel were trying to prevent a repetition of the rebellion of their fathers against The Lord God by going to war against their brothers only to find that their brothers were trying to accomplish the same goals as they were which was to ensure that they and their children after them never disconnected from the Lord God. One side was walking with the benefit of hindsight and the other was walking with the benefit of foresight.

I think the accused tribes realized that when left alone, people don’t get better but rather get worse. They realized that blood relations would eventually be reduced to political relations which would break down with time and they didn’t want to leave their relationship with God at the mercy of political good will from a group of people with whom they shared a common past as well as a common river that could easily be converted to a political boundary.

I think it is important to learn from history and make adjustments accordingly as we move forward. Past events didn’t just occur sporadically; rather, they were products of the choices of people and, as we know, people act based on certain tendencies. And although the individuals involved may later regret their actions and repent, the fact remains that the human tendencies don’t go away and so history is bound to repeat itself.

I think it is equally important to look at the future we desire as individuals, as a nation or as any body of people and try to see what possible difficulties we might have getting to our destination and take or prepare measures in advance to prevent and/or resolve such problems.

ISRAEL: SECOND REPUBLIC …PT 45

Lessons from the book of Joshua

Double Checking

Joshua 3

Joshua 22: 13-14 – Double Checking

… to go to war … they spoke with them …

These guys were already set for war; they had gathered the troops and collected weapons, all they needed were the orders to march and they would go over and mow down the target. But for some reason, they chose to open the communications channel and try to dialogue. Thankfully, they were able to discover that there was no need to attack their own people; what they initially thought was treasonous turned out to be a covenant aimed at binding the two settlements of the one nation together.

Many times, we find ourselves at odds with other people and we declare war and launch our attack but make the mistake of not verifying that what we have been told was said and done with malicious intent against us is actually fact and not some misrepresentation based on the reporter’s misunderstanding of what he saw and heard.

Many times, when a person lays a complaint, it’s usually with so much passion that one could get swept away believing as fact what the complainant has presented. Hearing one side of the story should never be enough to draw a conclusion and pass judgment even if this one side is coming from someone you trust.

Proverbs 18:17 The first speech in a court case is always convincing- until the cross-examination starts! (MESSAGE)

 

I have found that if we take out time to find out “the what and the why” from the other person’s point of view, things can, more often than not, be resolved amicably and a stronger bond of understanding and trust can be forged.