Joshua 2–Spies, Harlots and Vindication

Joshua followed the script of Moses. Prior to entering Canaan, Joshua sent spies into the land.  The spies went to Jericho and were protected by a local prostitute named Rahab.  during their stay they learned that God had preceded the Israelites into the land and melted the enemies hearts with fear.  They had feared the coming of Israel since the Lord parted the Red Sea. The people heard of the massacre of the Amalekites and the kings that tried to attack Israel.  God had prepared the hearts of the people.  Had Israel entered the Land back when the original spies scouted; Israel would have cleared the land without incident. Sadly, the people’s own fears and lack of faith precluded them from enjoying God’s blessing and protection.
 
This time, the spies did not see the giants in the land. Instead they saw God’s preparation and the people’s fear.  In their hearts, they knew God had given the people of Israel the land.  When they returned and reported Joshua, there is little doubt that it brought him joy and a sense of vindication.  After trudging through the desert for 40 years, Joshua finally was to claim that for which God called him originally.  As the leader, Joshua was ready, focused, and resolute to enter and claim the inheritance.
 
In our lives, we have to cling to the faith we have gained to receive all that God has prepared for us.  We must never lead with fear or doubt, instead we simply trust and follow.  We also must not try to figure God out.  The Lord uses people in our lives we would never expect, circumstances we would never foresee and results we would never have predicted to complete His plan.  If we will simply trust in the Lord and follow Him closely, He will prepare, provide and protect us in our journey.  We simply must push forward and watch God complete His plan.
 
God Bless You

Then Joshua son of Nun secretly sent two spies from Shittim. “Go, look over the land,” he said, “especially Jericho.” So they went and entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there.

The king of Jericho was told, “Look, some of the Israelites have come here tonight to spy out the land.” So the king of Jericho sent this message to Rahab: “Bring out the men who came to you and entered your house, because they have come to spy out the whole land.”

But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. She said, “Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they had come from. At dusk, when it was time to close the city gate, they left. I don’t know which way they went. Go after them quickly. You may catch up with them.” (But she had taken them up to the roof and hidden them under the stalks of flax she had laid out on the roof.) So the men set out in pursuit of the spies on the road that leads to the fords of the Jordan, and as soon as the pursuers had gone out, the gate was shut.

Before the spies lay down for the night, she went up on the roof and said to them, “I know that the Lord has given you this land and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. 10 We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea[a] for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed.[b] 11 When we heard of it, our hearts melted in fear and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.

12 “Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you…

23 Then the two men started back. They went down out of the hills, forded the river and came to Joshua son of Nun and told him everything that had happened to them. 24 They said to Joshua, “The Lord has surely given the whole land into our hands; all the people are melting in fear because of us.”

Numbers 13-14 Leading When the Wheels Come Off

There was little doubt that the land to be inherited truly flowed with milk and honey.  They had to carry grape clusters on poles they were so large! So you ask–“What’s the catch?” Well if you had been paying attention when God parted the Red Sea, killed the Egyptian army, provided manna every day, or quail, or water out of rocks…you would probably say there is no catch.  That is what Joshua and Caleb reported.  
 
But, sadly the other spies looked past all of that, and saw only the giants and the walls in the land.  In short, they admitted that they were scared of the enemies and their fortified cities.  The people were quick to accept the report of the fearful spies, and quick to discount the wisdom of their leaders and the spies that focused upon what God provided; not what men could do. It really defined these people as liberated slaves and not free and chosen children of the Lord. 
 
What happened next would define Joshua as the leader of a nation ready to claim the land promised–but not that day, and not those people…Joshua and Israel had a lot to learn, and a great many steps to take before entering that land flowing with milk and honey.
 
We have to be prepared for the great times and also for the times when the wheels come off.  The outcomes can be horrible and demoralizing.  We can be confident, however, that in God’s time and in God’s way that He will prepare us and use us to forward His plan.  We have to remain faithful no matter the circumstance.  We have to keep our focus on the Lord and His plan and not on the circumstances that lay before us.  If we will keep our focus on the Lord, it will define us and make us ready to live an eternal life with Him.
 
God Bless You

At the end of forty days they returned from spying out the land. 26 And they came to Moses and Aaron and to all the congregation of the people of Israel in the wilderness of Paran, at Kadesh. They brought back word to them and to all the congregation, and showed them the fruit of the land. 27 And they told him, “We came to the land to which you sent us. It flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. 28 However, the people who dwell in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large. And besides, we saw the descendants of Anak there. 29 The Amalekites dwell in the land of the Negeb. The Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the hill country. And the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and along the Jordan.”

30 But Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.” 31 Then the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are.” 32 So they brought to the people of Israel a bad report of the land that they had spied out, saying, “The land, through which we have gone to spy it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people that we saw in it are of great height. 33 And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.”…

 Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly of the congregation of the people of Israel. And Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes and said to all the congregation of the people of Israel, “The land, which we passed through to spy it out, is an exceedingly good land. If the Lord delights in us, he will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land that flows with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. Their protection is removed from them, and the Lord is with us; do not fear them.” 10 Then all the congregation said to stone them with stones. But the glory of the Lord appeared at the tent of meeting to all the people of Israel.

11 And the Lord said to Moses, “How long will this people despise me? And how long will they not believe in me, in spite of all the signs that I have done among them? 12 I will strike them with the pestilence and disinherit them, and I will make of you a nation greater and mightier than they.”

Numbers 13–Taking a Look From a Leader’s Perspective

God told Moses to send a group of men from the tribes to scout out the land.  He had Moses pick a leader from each of the tribes. From the tribe of Ephraim, Moses picked his assistant and friend Joshua.  These men were to go into the land and give it a real once over.  After all, these folks had not been there in 400 years, odds were that the landscape had changed a bit.
 
It is important to note that these men were leaders of their tribes, and could therefore represent them.  God wanted to make sure that there was no tribe that was left unrepresented. So, after all these years, the people of Israel would finally allow God to grant them their inheritance–or would they? Joshua’s presence in the group was important.  He did see things from a leader’s perspective.  Moses would rely heavily on his input. Joshua had a very intimate glimpse into God and His ways.  He knew God’s heart and perspective.  He would be invaluable.
 
As we continue on our journey with God.  We too have the unique perspective of seeing God’s hand and handiwork in our lives.  We have to view life through our filter of faith.  We need to be mindful of all God has accomplished in our lives; as we view the trials and events that lie before us.  If we will do that–like Joshua, we will have a better perspective of what lies ahead.  Hebrews 11:1 describes it best, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”  Moses trained Joshua to be a leader guided by his faith in God.  That Faith would literally carry Joshua all the days of his life.
 
God Bless You

The Lord said to Moses, “Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites. From each ancestral tribe send one of its leaders.”

So at the Lord’s command Moses sent them out from the Desert of Paran. All of them were leaders of the Israelites. These are their names:

from the tribe of Reuben, Shammua son of Zakkur;

from the tribe of Simeon, Shaphat son of Hori;

from the tribe of Judah, Caleb son of Jephunneh;

from the tribe of Issachar, Igal son of Joseph;

from the tribe of Ephraim, Hoshea son of Nun;

from the tribe of Benjamin, Palti son of Raphu;

10 from the tribe of Zebulun, Gaddiel son of Sodi;

11 from the tribe of Manasseh (a tribe of Joseph), Gaddi son of Susi;

12 from the tribe of Dan, Ammiel son of Gemalli;

13 from the tribe of Asher, Sethur son of Michael;

14 from the tribe of Naphtali, Nahbi son of Vophsi;

15 from the tribe of Gad, Geuel son of Maki.

16 These are the names of the men Moses sent to explore the land. (Moses gave Hoshea son of Nun the name Joshua.)

Exodus 17 & 24–He Who Calls You is Faithful

God does not “wing it”.  God has had a plan the entire time, and is executing that plan in our lives.  When we look at the life of Joshua, it is clear that he did not become Israel’s leader by chance.  God selected him. What’s more, God not only selected Joshua, He made sure that Moses trained Joshua to be the right man for the job.
 
In the scripture for today, we see Joshua win a great victory.  As he does, God instructs Moses to memorialize the important note for Joshua that the Amalekites are to be wiped out!  For every generation after, Amalek was never to be a friend or ally. 
 
Then we fast forward to they “giving of the law and covenant”. Here, we see that Moses and the elders went up to the mountain of God and had supper–Yup, Joshua was there. Finally, as Moses headed up the mountain to retrieve the stone tablets, Moses left Aaron and Hur, but Moses took Joshua.  There was a great deal to see and do as the leader of God’s people, and God made sure that Joshua was a part of it.
 
1 Thessalonians 5:24, says, “He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.” God not only called Moses, but, He called Joshua.  And because God is faithful, He not only called Joshua, but God also made sure Joshua was prepared and trained.  When we move forward in our lives, we can be confident that as God calls us to serve Him, God Himself will have prepared a plan to train and equip us for the work that lies ahead.  It is important that we seek the Lord and follow Him; but, it is also important for us to trust that God has a plan and will prepare us for our role in its execution and completion.
 
God Bless You

Exodus 17

13 And Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the sword.

14 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write this as a memorial in a book and recite it in the ears of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.” 15 And Moses built an altar and called the name of it, The Lord Is My Banner, 16 saying, “A hand upon the throne[c] of the Lord! The Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.”

Exodus 24
 Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up, 10 and they saw the God of Israel. There was under his feet as it were a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness. 11 And he did not lay his hand on the chief men of the people of Israel; they beheld God, and ate and drank.

12 The Lord said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain and wait there, that I may give you the tablets of stone, with the law and the commandment, which I have written for their instruction.” 13 So Moses rose with his assistant Joshua, and Moses went up into the mountain of God. 14 And he said to the elders, “Wait here for us until we return to you. And behold, Aaron and Hur are with you. Whoever has a dispute, let him go to them.”

Daniel 6 Part 1–But If Not, Reprise

Daniel was now serving his third king. He was brought out of retirement and made an administrator of Babylon.  As was his way, Daniel excelled and made the other administrators and bureaucrats angry and jealous.  They watched as the new king wanted to make Daniel the 2nd in command.  So, they set about looking for ways to expose Daniel’s flaws.  After much review, they found nothing.  
 
That of course did not stop them.  They proceeded to create a solution that would ultimately find a problem.  They convinced the king to pull a page from the Nebuchadnezzar playbook, and make everyone pray only to the king or be thrown into the lions’ den. It was a foolproof plan, really.  Daniel and his friends had this issue before, and they always chose God over king.  The bureaucrats  were right.  Daniel simply shook his head, went home and continued to pray and worship the Lord as he had always done–Checkmate! Or at least, that is what the bureaucrats thought.
 
When we settle the issue of which God will be our God, the matter of safety becomes secondary. The friends told Nebuchadnezzar–“Our God will deliver us from the fiery furnace–BUT IF NOT, we still will not bow down and worship your gods or statue!” Now as Daniel faced Jerusalem and prayed, that statement echoed from the past.  That statement needs to be the sentiment of all of us that follow the Lord.  Caving to the pressure of the enemy or world culture, will not bring us safety or relief. Instead, it will only destroy our faith and upend our journey with the Lord.  God has got this. We must continue to trust and follow Him; no matter the attacks and threats.
 
If we will remain faithful in that God will continue to protect, prepare and provide for us.  BUT IF NOT, we must settle in our hearts that that is fine, and that we will not serve the idols of our world!
 
God Bless You

It pleased Darius to appoint 120 satraps to rule throughout the kingdom, with three administrators over them, one of whom was Daniel. The satraps were made accountable to them so that the king might not suffer loss. Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent. Finally these men said, “We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God.”

So these administrators and satraps went as a group to the king and said: “May King Darius live forever! The royal administrators, prefects, satraps, advisers and governors have all agreed that the king should issue an edict and enforce the decree that anyone who prays to any god or human being during the next thirty days, except to you, Your Majesty, shall be thrown into the lions’ den. Now, Your Majesty, issue the decree and put it in writing so that it cannot be altered—in accordance with the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed.” So King Darius put the decree in writing.

10 Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.

Daniel 4–The Lengths God Will Take to Draw Us Back

God is most concerned with our eternal salvation.  He wants His chosen to prepare for eternity.  Certainly, God saw Daniel as His best liaison to the king.  So, once again, God sent Nebchaduneezer a dream.  Once again after everyone else took a turn, Daniel returned to his king and gave him the news.  You have grown great because God has allowed it.  But, you still somehow feel that you are the reason for your greatness.  God is going to completely take it all away to help you see He is in charge and not you.  After a time, God will restore your reason and your kingdom–but, then you will recognize that it is He and not you that rules.
 
One year later, God did as He said He would. the king was completely stripped of reason and became as a wild beast. After a time, (Years) God restored the king’s reason and his kingdom.  When that happened, Babylon was blessed and the king was as great as ever–BUT, from then on, the king realized and acknowledged that it was God and not the king that controlled the world and kingdoms.  That realization helped to fulfill the initial prophecy by Daniel, Nebchadunbeezer was then the greatest emporer of all time.
 
We must grasp that we are not in control of our lives or world. If we would humble ourselves and seek God, then like Nebchaduneezer, we could finally enjoy the true greatness that lies in the shadow of God’s authority and plan.  We could rest in any circumstance, and know that in God’s time, He will execute His plan.  Then the Lord will release us to enjoy the benefits of following His plan.
Lord, please, make it so.
 
God Bless You

Therefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable to you: break off your sins by practicing righteousness, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the oppressed, that there may perhaps be a lengthening of your prosperity.”

Nebuchadnezzar’s Humiliation

28 All this came upon King Nebuchadnezzar. 29 At the end of twelve months he was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, 30 and the king answered and said, “Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?” 31 While the words were still in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, “O King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: The kingdom has departed from you, 32 and you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. And you shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and seven periods of time shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will.” 33 Immediately the word was fulfilled against Nebuchadnezzar. He was driven from among men and ate grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair grew as long as eagles’ feathers, and his nails were like birds’ claws…

At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever,

for his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
and his kingdom endures from generation to generation;
35 all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,
and he does according to his will among the host of heaven
and among the inhabitants of the earth;
and none can stay his hand
or say to him, “What have you done?”

36 At the same time my reason returned to me, and for the glory of my kingdom, my majesty and splendor returned to me. My counselors and my lords sought me, and I was established in my kingdom, and still more greatness was added to me. 37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble.

Daniel 3 Part 2–“But, If Not”

Daniel’s friends made the decision long before to serve the Lord first and foremost.  When Daniel approached their handler about staying kosher, they stood beside him.  They trained together and prayed together.  All four men stood firm in their walk with God despite pressures from the other royal functionaries.  So, after their prayer and fasting had produced the king’s dream and interpretation to Daniel, the King rewarded them with top jobs in his court. 
 
The king then got proud, He took the message from the dream and decided that since he was the head of gold He should build a statue to honor himself. What is more, he decided that everyone else should worship him as well. So he decreed that when the band played, everyone should fall down and worship his statue.  Failure to do so would end in being executed by being thrown into the firey furnace.  
 
Shadrach, Mishak, and Abednego did not need to think about it, they made that decision years before.  So when they heard the band, they refused to bow. The king heard the news and was furious.  These were 3 of his top guys, after all! They set the tone for others in the administration, and in the land.  So, the king hauled them in and gave them one more chance.  He did not need to.  The men looked the king in the eye and said that they did not need even a second to consider–they would not bow down.  What is more, they told the king that God would deliver them. Here is the kicker, though–they went on to say,”BUT IF NOT king, We will still will not serve your gods or bow down to your statue!!!!! 
 
We have to choose early whom we are going to serve.  If we wait until circumstances force a choice, we will follow the path of least resistance.  It is a matter of a deep-seated faith, that allows us to stand up under adversity.  Such faith will allow us to watch God do awesome things to establish His place and authority.  If we choose to serve God, however, we can count on the fact that the enemy will try to destroy us.  
 
In those times, we have to come to the place where we too can say, we are going to serve God and He will deliver us. Then, it is that faith that leads us to continue and say, “BUT, IF NOT!” 
 
We must be willing to give up all we have, even our lives, to honor God and allow Him to lead. Jim Elliot, martyred missionary to the Aulka indians in South America said it best, “He is no fool that will trade what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose!”
 
God Bless You

Therefore at that time certain Chaldeans came forward and maliciously accused the Jews. They declared[b] to King Nebuchadnezzar, “O king, live forever! 10 You, O king, have made a decree, that every man who hears the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, shall fall down and worship the golden image. 11 And whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast into a burning fiery furnace. 12 There are certain Jews whom you have appointed over the affairs of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These men, O king, pay no attention to you; they do not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

13 Then Nebuchadnezzar in furious rage commanded that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be brought. So they brought these men before the king. 14 Nebuchadnezzar answered and said to them, “Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up? 15 Now if you are ready when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, well and good.[c] But if you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?”

16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king.[d] 18 But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with fury, and the expression of his face was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He ordered the furnace heated seven times more than it was usually heated.