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.”

Joshua 1 Part 2–Taking Command and Following God

Joshua wasted no time honoring God’s command.  Once God gave him the direction to follow, Joshua seized control.  He ordered the tribes to prepare to enter the land and take their inheritance.  He reiterated to Reuben, Gad and Manasseh that they were to prepare for battle, even though they were allowed to keep the lands east of the Jordan river. He reaffirmed Moses promise to those tribes but also made clear they would fight with the rest of Israel as they possessed their promised land.
 
Unlike the many previous stories of the Israelites, the people’s response was amazing, “Whatever you command us we will do; wherever you will lead us we will go!” “Oh, yeah, one more thing–Be strong and courageous!”  He would lead by God’s command and the people would follow.  That was the way God intended His people to respond.  When they did, He was pleased.
 
Our response to God needs to be the same.  When He commands we obey.  Wherever the Lord leads, we choose to follow. We remain faithful and one more thing–we remain strong and courageous. That formula has been the formula that has blessed people throughout time.  It needs not only to be our formula, it needs to be our passion.  Help me, Lord to follow and remain strong and courageous.
 
God Bless You

So Joshua ordered the officers of the people: 11 “Go through the campand tell the people, ‘Get your provisions ready. Three days from now you will cross the Jordan here to go in and take possession of the land the Lord your God is giving you for your own.’”

12 But to the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh,Joshua said, 13 “Remember the command that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you after he said, ‘The Lord your God will give you rest by giving you this land.’ 14 Your wives, your children and your livestock may stay in the land that Moses gave you east of the Jordan, but all your fighting men, ready for battle, must cross over ahead of your fellow Israelites. You are to help them 15 until the Lord gives them rest, as he has done for you, and until they too have taken possession of the land the Lord your God is giving them. After that, you may go back and occupy your own land, which Moses the servant of the Lord gave you east of the Jordan toward the sunrise.”

16 Then they answered Joshua, “Whatever you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. 17 Just as we fully obeyed Moses, so we will obey you. Only may the Lord your God be with you as he was with Moses. 18 Whoever rebels against your word and does not obey it, whatever you may command them, will be put to death. Only be strong and courageous!”

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 33–Joshua Stayed Close

Moses had a big job.  He had to convince God to stick with His chosen people–even after they worshiped a golden calf. They turned from God as He was putting the law on tablets for them. While working to restore the relationship between God and the people; Moses set up a tent to meet with God and took Joshua with him. Over time, Moses and God became friends.  As Moses would meet with God, the pillar of cloud would cover the tent. The people would see the the pillar cover the tent and then they would worship the Lord. Then as Moses finished the meeting, He would leave the tent.  Then, after the meeting Joshua would stay at the tent.
 
Joshua was not the person that befriended God, but he was the one that remained at his side.  Moses left the tent, but Joshua stayed behind.  Joshua never grew tired, never lost faith, and never questioned God’s authority.  If their was a human that had reason to question, it was Moses’ assistant. That was the amazing thing; Joshua learned to love the Lord from God’s friend.  He stayed close to Moses and he stayed close to God. Then as years passed, Joshua remained close. He remained close to Moses, and then as Joshua took the lead, He remained close to God.
 
In our lives, we have opportunities to follow the Lord. Through the years, we build our relationship with God.  We see life at its best and at its worst. If we remain close to the Lord, whatever the circumstance, we learn–as Joshua did, to be a friend of God.  There are no short cuts, it is a function of time and proximity. Like Joshua, we have to simply remain close to God, to those that would mentor us and with others in fellowship with God.  Then at the end of the journey, we can say as Joshua did–“Choose this day whom you will serve…As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!”
 
God Bless You

Now Moses used to take a tent and pitch it outside the camp some distance away, calling it the “tent of meeting.” Anyone inquiring of the Lord would go to the tent of meeting outside the camp. And whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people rose and stood at the entrances to their tents, watching Moses until he entered the tent. As Moses went into the tent, the pillar of cloud would come down and stay at the entrance, while the Lord spoke with Moses. 10 Whenever the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance to the tent, they all stood and worshiped, each at the entrance to their tent. 11 The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent.

Moses and the Glory of the Lord

12 Moses said to the Lord, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’ 13 If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.”

14 The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

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 5 Part 2–Weighed in the Balance

Daniel had retired, so it seems.  The names Shadrack, Mishak and Abednego not mentioned. Time had passed and the king that brought Daniel to Babylon was certainly gone. Now a new king reigned that had no idea that the Babylonian empire had been blessed by God and the late King had honored God aboove all.  So, Belshazzar defiled the temple treasures by using the cups as extra wine glasses for a feast he was throwing.  That is when God said, “Enough”.  God sent a message from heaven in the form of a hand and wrote on the wall in front of the king! Once again, Daniel was brought in to interpret the writing.  Daniel did so, “Mene–God has numberewd the days of your kingdom and brought them to an end. Mene–God has numberewd the days of your kingdom and brought them to an end. Tekel–You have been weighed in the balance and found wanting.  Parsin–Your kingdom will be divided and given to the Medes and the Persians.
 
One certainly will not escape the hand of God. This king learned nothing from the reign of Nebchaduneezer.  He went against the very God that humbled Nebchaduneezer and restored him.  His end was swift and his kingdom gone.  The entire exile of Israel humiliated them as a people, for they had failed to honor their covenant with God. Make no mistake, however, even in the midst of exile, God continued to show his majesty. God was never brought low, and whenever it was tried–the opposite occurred. 
 
We can never underestimate God’s power.  We cannot equate it with the failures of those that serve Him.  As God’s children, we have to live lives that honor God no matter the circumstances with which we are faced. Whenever we are called; we must continue to honor God and listen to His leadership.  He will continue to be supreme, and the Lord will honor those that honor His name.  But, rest assured, God will also remove His hand of protection and allow those that refuse to follow to meet their fate.  Help me, Lord to follow You with joy and a humble heart.
 
God Bless You

Nevertheless, I will read the writing to the king and make known to him the interpretation. 18 O king, the Most High God gave Nebuchadnezzar your father kingship and greatness and glory and majesty. 19 And because of the greatness that he gave him, all peoples, nations, and languages trembled and feared before him. Whom he would, he killed, and whom he would, he kept alive; whom he would, he raised up, and whom he would, he humbled. 20 But when his heart was lifted up and his spirit was hardened so that he dealt proudly, he was brought down from his kingly throne, and his glory was taken from him…

22 And you his son,[f] Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, though you knew all this, 23 but you have lifted up yourself against the Lord of heaven. And the vessels of his house have been brought in before you, and you and your lords, your wives, and your concubines have drunk wine from them. And you have praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood, and stone, which do not see or hear or know, but the God in whose hand is your breath, and whose are all your ways, you have not honored.

“Then from his presence the hand was sent, and this writing was inscribed. 25 And this is the writing that was inscribed: Mene, Mene, Tekel, and Parsin. 26 This is the interpretation of the matter: Mene, God has numbered[g] the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end; 27 Tekel, you have been weighed[h] in the balances and found wanting; 28 Parsin, your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.”[i]

29 Then Belshazzar gave the command, and Daniel was clothed with purple, a chain of gold was put around his neck, and a proclamation was made about him, that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom.

30 That very night Belshazzar the Chaldean king was killed. 31 [j] And Darius the Mede received the kingdom, being about sixty-two years old

Daniel 5 Part 1–Didn’t You Learn Anything From Your Dad?

King Nebchaduneezer passed and His kingdom was taken over by his son Beltshazzar.  Belshazzar had moved on, and seemed not to recognize any of the reverence for God that his father gained at the end of of his reign.  He partied like a wildman, and decided to take things a step further.  He remembered the temple treasures of Israel.  He needed more party cups, so he decided to use God’s cups for his party…God would not care, right?
 
Once again, as with his father, Beltshazzar had his attention grabbed by a literal hand of God! The hand was writing on the wall and nothing else was attached. Like his dad, the King called all his enchanters, magicians and wisemen to help him interpret what was written–he promised them the world! But, alas, they had no idea what the meaning of the writing was. So, the king’s wife remembered Daniel and had the king call him in…
 
No matter the circumstance, in whichever generation, God still remains in charge.  Nebchaduneezer had to be shown that a few times, but in the end, trusted God.  His son, on the other hand, seemed to have missed that lesson and not only failed to give God the proper reverence, but actually defiled the holy temple treasure.  Make no mistake, God will not be mocked; and, as Beltshazzar would soon learn, mocking God comes with a hugh pricetag.
 
As His own, we can never forget that God is God and we are not.  The reverence we hold for God is not a dreaded fear, but simply an earned respect and trust.  God has earned our trust, without doubt–but we have to continue to live lives that show that. Failure to trust and follow the lord only impacts our lives.  We do not impact God’s plan or ability to execute, but, we do cause chaos and destruction in our own lives.  We must grasp the picture of our Father leading us through treacherous terrain–often beautiful but also dangerous. That image should drive us follow Him humbly and gratefully.  The result we obtain is coming out safely on the other side.
 
In short–God has earned our respect and trust. If we dishonor God and fail to follow the Lord’s lead; what lies ahead will be horrific and chaotic.
 
God Bless You

 King Belshazzar made a great feast for a thousand of his lords and drank wine in front of the thousand.

Belshazzar, when he tasted the wine, commanded that the vessels of gold and of silver that Nebuchadnezzar his father[a] had taken out of the temple in Jerusalem be brought, that the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines might drink from them. Then they brought in the golden vessels that had been taken out of the temple, the house of God in Jerusalem, and the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines drank from them. They drank wine and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone.

Immediately the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace, opposite the lampstand. And the king saw the hand as it wrote. Then the king’s color changed, and his thoughts alarmed him; his limbs gave way, and his knees knocked together. The king called loudly to bring in the enchanters, the Chaldeans, and the astrologers. The king declared[b] to the wise men of Babylon, “Whoever reads this writing, and shows me its interpretation, shall be clothed with purple and have a chain of gold around his neck and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.” 8

10 The queen,[c] because of the words of the king and his lords, came into the banqueting hall, and the queen declared, “O king, live forever! Let not your thoughts alarm you or your color change. 11 There is a man in your kingdom in whom is the spirit of the holy gods.[d] In the days of your father, light and understanding and wisdom like the wisdom of the gods were found in him, and King Nebuchadnezzar, your father—your father the king—made him chief of the magicians, enchanters, Chaldeans, and astrologers, 12 because an excellent spirit, knowledge, and understanding to interpret dreams, explain riddles, and solve problems were found in this Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar. Now let Daniel be called, and he will show the interpretation.