Joshua 8 Part 2–The Victory Party

The people of Israel obeyed.  They wiped out Ai. They were able to take the plunder from the victory without fear, and the campaign to claim their inheritance had begun in earnest. The post battle victory party looked a bit different than one would think.  The Israelite people gathered in front of two mountains, they built an altar, they made sacrifices and then Joshua read to the people all the words of the law.

It was not an option to miss the reading.  whether native or foreign born, if one was to be a part of Israel, they would listen and know God’s law.

It was apparent to Joshua as the new leader and shepherd of this people, that they needed to remember the importance of trusting and following God. Moses had instructed the people to build the alter here and they made that a priority. 

It is quite possible that after the extreme circumstance of the recent days, that spending a day listening to the law and making sacrifices did not seem like great fun.  Yet, these people did so without grumbling or complaint.

God must be the priority. In victory or defeat, we must continue to seek God and follow Him.  If we will, God promises us, as His people to meet our needs and direct our path.  Joshua knew this better than any of the people. He had been watching the results of failing to follow God his entire adult life.

So now as the leader, Joshua was careful to listen to God, follow Him closely and lead His people toward the Lord and not away from Him.

We also must live a life that leads people toward God and not away.  We must listen to the word and seek God in prayer and fellowship.  It is not always convenient; it is certainly not always fun–but it will help us to face our battles with confidence and it will help us to prepare for our eternal inheritance. 

Paul said it best in Colossians 3:1-4, “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your[a] life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”

God Bless You


Then Joshua built on Mount Ebal an altar to the Lord, the God of Israel, 31 as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded the Israelites. He built it according to what is written in the Book of the Law of Moses—an altar of uncut stones, on which no iron tool had been used. On it they offered to the Lord burnt offerings and sacrificed fellowship offerings. 32 There, in the presence of the Israelites, Joshua wrote on stones a copy of the law of Moses. 33 All the Israelites, with their elders, officials, and judges, were standing on both sides of the ark of the covenant of the Lord, facing the Levitical priests who carried it. Both the foreigners living among them and the native-born were there. Half of the people stood in front of Mount Gerizim and half of them in front of Mount Ebal, as Moses the servant of the Lord had formerly commanded when he gave instructions to bless the people of Israel.

34 Afterward, Joshua read all the words of the law—the blessings and the curses—just as it is written in the Book of the Law. 35 There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded that Joshua did not read to the whole assembly of Israel, including the women and children, and the foreigners who lived among them.

Numbers 23-24–It’s Not About Location

As God’s chosen, today, we too live under His provision, preparation and protection. It often feels as though the world has the upper hand; but, truth be known, nothing happens without God’s permission.

The Moabite king was convinced that he could curse Israel.  So, he summoned a local mystic–Balaam, to come and do the job.  Balaam asked God if he could take the job, and God said no. The King’s men came back and got Balaam to come–Balaam told them he would not do it, they urged him to come anyway.  God said fine, go, but only say what I tell you to say.  So, for the next several days, Balak, King of Moab, ushered the mystic from place to place. In each place, alters would be built, sacrifices made, and then–Balaam would bless Israel.

The King became furious–but, the prophet  would simply respond, I can only say what God has told me to say–and again the prophet would bless Israel. In the end, the King knew he had been stupid, his nation, and the allies of his nation were put on notice–Israel is and will be blessed by God–do not expect to defeat them.  In addition, your peoples will be destroyed, Have a nice day.

The bottom line is that the natural man does not understand the things of God. 1 Corinthians 2:14+ says it well, “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.15 The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.” 

People think that they control their destinies. They simply do not.  There is a God who created and controls everything. The world simply thinks that because God allows evil to exist; that He must not be in control. SO Wrong! God has a plan and He will execute it to the letter. Israel was marching through the desert–awaiting the day they could enter the Promised Land. While they waited, they still were being prepared by God, provided for by God and were living under God’s protection.

As God’s chosen, today, we too live under His provision, preparation and protection.  It often feels as though the world has the upper hand; but, truth be known, nothing happens without God’s permission. That is why the promises of Roman 8:18, 28 and 34 are so significant. No matter how difficult our struggles–they cannot compare to the blessings that lie ahead. Further, all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose. Finally, there is nothing in this world that can separate us from our God. Israel saw that daily. Paul wrote about it as a testimony to an amazing journey; and, we can live it–if we will simply trust and follow God!

God Bless You

Now when Balaam saw that it pleased the Lord to bless Israel, he did not resort to divination as at other times, but turned his face toward the wilderness. When Balaam looked out and saw Israel encamped tribe by tribe, the Spirit of God came on him and he spoke his message:

“The prophecy of Balaam son of Beor,
    the prophecy of one whose eye sees clearly,
the prophecy of one who hears the words of God,
    who sees a vision from the Almighty,[a]
    who falls prostrate, and whose eyes are opened:

“How beautiful are your tents, Jacob,
    your dwelling places, Israel!

“Like valleys they spread out,
    like gardens beside a river,
like aloes planted by the Lord,
    like cedars beside the waters.
Water will flow from their buckets;
    their seed will have abundant water.

“Their king will be greater than Agag;
    their kingdom will be exalted.

“God brought them out of Egypt;
    they have the strength of a wild ox.
They devour hostile nations
    and break their bones in pieces;
    with their arrows they pierce them.
Like a lion they crouch and lie down,
    like a lioness—who dares to rouse them?

“May those who bless you be blessed
    and those who curse you be cursed!”

The Inevitable Nature of God’s Handiwork–Genesis 43 Part 1

They would not mind telling you–The brothers were not looking forward to going back to Egypt.  Sure, they had to go and retrieve Simeon–but, that Governor guy was mean and Israel was pretty clear about his letting Benjamin make the trip.  Still, hunger was setting in.  Wives and kids were affected–so despite the desire to avoid the conflict, The brothers knew they had to go back.  It is interesting, however, that Judah was the leader of the brothers–he personally pledged his life for the family and for Benjamin.  His heart, his response was a picture of what was to come for the lineage and the legacy.
 
It was inevitable that Joseph’s brothers would return to face him and it was inevitable that Judah the patriarch of the lineage of our Lord would be the family member willing to sacrifice his life for the lives of his brothers.  God does not wing it! He knew from the beginning of time that this day would come and this journey would happen.  He also knew that its outcome would change the course of the people of Israel and the world.  There would be no plan B.  Plan A was perfect down to the foreshadowing it exposed.
 
He is as careful in planning in our lives.  So much that we face seems random and meaningless–but, then as we continue to trust and follow him; his glorious plan is revealed, and our lives and legacies are exposed to the glorious power of God.  It is neither easy nor fun–but, it is amazing and can truly change the world–if we allow it.  It may not change today or tomorrow–but our lives, in God’s hands, will inevitably impact the lives and the world we know.
 
God Bless You
 Now the famine was still severe in the land. So when they had eaten all the grain they had brought from Egypt, their father said to them, “Go back and buy us a little more food.”But Judah said to him, “The man warned us solemnly, ‘You will not see my face again unless your brother is with you.’ If you will send our brother along with us, we will go down and buy food for you. But if you will not send him, we will not go down, because the man said to us, ‘You will not see my face again unless your brother is with you.’”

Israel asked, “Why did you bring this trouble on me by telling the man you had another brother?”

They replied, “The man questioned us closely about ourselves and our family. ‘Is your father still living?’ he asked us. ‘Do you have another brother?’ We simply answered his questions. How were we to know he would say, ‘Bring your brother down here’?”

Then Judah said to Israel his father, “Send the boy along with me and we will go at once, so that we and you and our children may live and not die. I myself will guarantee his safety; you can hold me personally responsible for him. If I do not bring him back to you and set him here before you, I will bear the blame before you all my life. 10 As it is, if we had not delayed, we could have gone and returned twice.”

Matthew 11 part 1–John the Baptist

When the pressure increases and life gets difficult, our faith is really tested.  John the Baptist was the man that announced Jesus entrance into ministry.  He baptized Jesus and stepped aside as Jesus Ministry flourished.  Now as John was being persecuted for his faith, even he began to question the very center of his faith—Is Jesus the one???  Jesus didn’t get angry, he did not criticize his cousin.  Instead, Jesus comforted him with facts and answered his question directly.  Jesus then told the crowd of his love for John and the view God had of him—he was one of the great ones.

We often worry that if we have a bad day or a crisis of faith that God will somehow erase all the devotion and tireless following we have done and write us of as some worn out has been.  No Father does that to his child.  God is our main Cheerleader and coach.  He will meet us where we are and will draw us to himself to give us the strength to press on even on days that simply does not seem possible.  When we are feeling weak and discouraged—that s when we need to lean into the Lord.  Prayer, study and fellowship with others on the journey become the lifeline in times of crisis.  Never be afraid to ask the father for anything—at any time.  He alone is the Lord God and he loves us more than anyone.

God Bless You

2 When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples 3 to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”

4 Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: 5 The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy[b] are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. 6 Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”

7 As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind? 8 If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings’ palaces. 9 Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 This is the one about whom it is written:

“‘I will send my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way before you.’[c]

11 Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.