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–God Prepares His New Leader

Now Joshua was in charge.  He was no longer Moses’ assistant, He was now the leader of all of Israel.  God knew it would take a great deal of preparation for the job that lie ahead.  Early on, it was clear that Joshua was a great commander of an army, but, Moses trained Joshua to be a shepherd. And for the remainder of his life, Joshua would have to employ the patience and sacrifice of a shepherd to complete the mission that God set before Israel.
 
In the command from God, three things stood out. First, God did not change His plan simply because He changed His leader. God tells Joshua to go and take the land just as promised to Moses.  There was no second place prize or alternate promise–God gave Joshua the same power and authority that was given to Moses.
 
Second, God expected two things from Joshua courage and obedience.  Once again, God commands Joshua to be strong and courageous–there must have been great trepidation on Joshua’s part to lead these people that had disappointed God so many times. But, God also told Joshua to meditate on His word and focus on the commands of God.  God knew that attention to God’s leadership  was critical for mission success.
 
Finally, God reminds Joshua that the Lord would never leave or forsake him.  Joshua could relax because God would be with him every step of the way. Joshua had seen the difficult discussions between God and Moses and knew these people could make one want to walk away.  God encouraged Joshua that He would not leave Joshua to fight alone.
 
The great news is that God is as much in control today as He was in the time of Joshua.  He has not shifted plans in our lives.  He wants us to remain strong and courageous. He wants us to confidently go into battle; knowing that He will not leave us or forsake us. The Lord also wants us to meditate on His word, and not allow it to fade from our lives. As we remain focused upon Him, He will remain active and diligent in the amazing journey we are on.
 
God Bless You

After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, “Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun shall be your territory. No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success[a] wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Deuteronomy 34–The Death of Moses

That was a tough act to follow…As Moses finally died at the edge of the promised land, Joshua’s true metal was to be tested.  Clearly he watched and learned in the prior 40 years how to lead such a stiff necked people.  Interestingly, God already let both Joshua and Moses know that in a while, Israel would become unfaithful.  But for now, Both Joshua and the people had been trained to trust and follow God. 
 
So Moses died. God, himself buried Moses no one knows where. And Joshua prepared to cross the Jordan and take the land.  The Spirit of the Lord came upon Joshua and he was powerful and brave to face whatever lie ahead. Still time would show the power of being mentored by God’s friend Moses and the influence Moses had on the people as they took the land.
 
Like Joshua, we have to learn from those that mentor us.  We have to be strong and courageous.  We have to manage the circumstances as they are and simply seek God’s spirit as we follow Him humbly and gratefully.  God is God, and we are not.  Like Joshua, we have to listen and lead accordingly–no matter the loss or the enormity of the job.
 
God Bless You

Then Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho. And the Lord showed him all the land, Gilead as far as Dan, all Naphtali, the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the western sea, the Negeb, and the Plain, that is, the Valley of Jericho the city of palm trees, as far as Zoar. And the Lord said to him, “This is the land of which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, ‘I will give it to your offspring.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not go over there.” So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord, and he buried him in the valley in the land of Moab opposite Beth-peor; but no one knows the place of his burial to this day. Moses was 120 years old when he died. His eye was undimmed, and his vigor unabated. And the people of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days. Then the days of weeping and mourning for Moses were ended.

And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him. So the people of Israel obeyed him and did as the Lord had commanded Moses. 10 And there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, 11 none like him for all the signs and the wonders that the Lord sent him to do in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land,12 and for all the mighty power and all the great deeds of terror that Moses did in the sight of all Israel.

Deuteronomy 3–Bittersweet Victory

The days had finally arrived.  The people of Israel had finally made the transformation from liberated slaves to empowered chosen people of God.  Moses had passed the baton to Joshua and had properly mentored and encouraged him to lead these people–but in the shadow of almighty God. God made provision for the women and children, he properly encouraged the able-bodied fighting men and now all that was left was to possess the land.
 
But, Moses still held out a bit of hope that God would show grace and allow him the joy of entering the land he had spent so much of his life preparing for.  Sadly, God said no.  It was a hard punishment for an otherwise brilliant leader.  The lessons are numerous: 
 
1)  No matter how difficult things become, we have to trust and obey the Lord God. As leaders, if we fail to do that the implications could be catastrophic, 
2)  God prepares each of us for a purpose; we must be content to serve as the Lord has planned for us to serve.
3)  God does not change His mind.  Even though we want him to many times, God’s plans are final.
4)  What lies ahead for us in eternity is so much more than the finest things we can find here on earth.  So set your heart and mind on the eternal.
 
Moses had to be content to simply look out at what God had for his people.  He would never be able to taste the fruit from the land of inheritance. Still, God would bless him in ways he could not yet imagine; by simply allowing him to see his student so completely trust and follow God–that the mission he started would finish with so much more than he would have ever dreamed.  It was now Joshua’s time, and Moses had to be thrilled to know he prepared this man for what lie ahead.
 
God Bless You

 I commanded you at that time: “The Lord your God has given you this land to take possession of it. But all your able-bodied men, armed for battle, must cross over ahead of the other Israelites. 19 However, your wives, your children and your livestock (I know you have much livestock) may stay in the towns I have given you, 20 until the Lord gives rest to your fellow Israelites as he has to you, and they too have taken over the land that the Lord your God is giving them across the Jordan. After that, each of you may go back to the possession I have given you.”

Moses Forbidden to Cross the Jordan

21 At that time I commanded Joshua: “You have seen with your own eyes all that the Lord your God has done to these two kings. The Lord will do the same to all the kingdoms over there where you are going. 22 Do not be afraid of them; the Lord your God himself will fight for you.”

23 At that time I pleaded with the Lord: 24 “Sovereign Lord, you have begun to show to your servant your greatness and your strong hand. For what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do the deeds and mighty works you do? 25 Let me go over and see the good land beyond the Jordan—that fine hill country and Lebanon.”

26 But because of you the Lord was angry with me and would not listen to me. “That is enough,” the Lord said. “Do not speak to me anymore about this matter. 27 Go up to the top of Pisgah and look west and north and south and east. Look at the land with your own eyes, since you are not going to cross this Jordan. 28 But commission Joshua, and encourageand strengthen him, for he will lead this people across and will cause them to inherit the land that you will see.” 29 So we stayed in the valley near Beth Peor.

Numbers 27–Joshua Assumes Leadership of Israel

This is one of the most poignant stories in the old testament.  It is a picture of God and Moses ending their journey across the desert together.  Clearly, God was not surprised, but neither was Moses.  Moses knew this would be the end and even at the point of his death, He behaved like a true and Godly leader. 
 
Moses did not beg for a second chance, nor did he make an excuse or try to shift blame. Moses’ only response was for God to give the people a great leader. God did not have to ponder the choice.  He had been preparing the replacement for 40 years–Joshua.  God gave Moses specific instruction about the passing of authority to Joshua.  Amazingly, as would become the motto of Israel under Joshua, “Moses did as the Lord commanded him.”  Moses passed the leadership to Joshua that very day.
 
It would be an amazing thing for the Lord to speak as openly to us as he had his friend, Moses.  In the history of Israel, there is no relationship more open and more friendlike than the relationship between God and Moses.  Joshua watched his mentor for 4 decades as Moses and God wrangled about the stiff necked Israelites.  Joshua, like Moses, knew the passionate love God had for these chosen ones.  He also knew the critical nature of God’s strict regimen for their preparation to take the land.  He would now take the mantle of leadership and complete what God promised Abraham.  
 
We are blessed, through the Holy Spirit to have a direct relationship with God like Moses and Joshua did.  We seek Him personally, and our prayers are made to God directly. The Lord takes us where we are, and moves us to be like Him.  We simply are asked to trust and follow the Lord’s lead as did Moses and Joshua.
 
God Bless You

 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go up this mountain in the Abarim Range and see the land I have given the Israelites. 13 After you have seen it, you too will be gathered to your people, as your brother Aaron was, 14 for when the community rebelled at the waters in the Desert of Zin, both of you disobeyed my command to honor me as holy before their eyes.” (These were the waters of Meribah Kadesh, in the Desert of Zin.)

15 Moses said to the Lord, 16 “May the Lord, the God who gives breath to all living things, appoint someone over this community 17 to go out and come in before them, one who will lead them out and bring them in, so the Lord’s people will not be like sheep without a shepherd.”

18 So the Lord said to Moses, “Take Joshua son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit of leadership,[a] and lay your hand on him. 19 Have him stand before Eleazar the priest and the entire assembly and commission him in their presence. 20 Give him some of your authority so the whole Israelite community will obey him. 21 He is to stand before Eleazar the priest, who will obtain decisions for him by inquiring of the Urim before the Lord. At his command he and the entire community of the Israelites will go out, and at his command they will come in.”

22 Moses did as the Lord commanded him. He took Joshua and had him stand before Eleazar the priest and the whole assembly. 23 Then he laid his hands on him and commissioned him, as the Lord instructed through Moses.

Numbers 14 Part 2–Leading When the Wheels Come Off, Part 2

Imagine the disappointment, Joshua and Caleb had just returned from this beautiful land that was to be theirs.  They were to be a part of the transformation of a people that were once slaves but, now were to be a nation of priests.  Situated between Assyria and Egypt, Israel was set to become the center of action and help to transform these groups of heathen peoples into a god fearing culture–BUT, instead, the people are talking about stoning the leaders and running back to Egypt?!!?  
 
Joshua and Caleb were trying to reassure the people while Moses was trying to persuade God not to kill the lot of them.  This clearly was not the shining star of leadership that business guru’s pen management books about.  Still, Joshua had no idea that it was this defining moment that would propel him into the leader that would actually claim the very land he surveyed.  Joshua would learn patience, and he would watch this nation transform over time from slave to free.  He would see a generation grow to trust God for all aspects of their lives and that would be the people he would lead. Sadly, there would be years of travel and disappointment ahead before the transformation would occur.
 
In our journey, we have to stay focused upon God and his flawless faithfulness.  We have to understand that life is a series of experiences used to prepare us for what God so eagerly wants us to enjoy.  Trying to hand us the reward before we are ready to receive it, is like this encounter, a disaster just waiting to happen.  If we could grasp the reality that God truly wants to bless us, then we could live expectantly rather than fearfully. It is the difference between Joshua and Caleb and the other 10 spies.  Help us, Lord to live expectantly and not fearfully!
 
God Bless You

 But the whole assembly talked about stoning them. Then the glory of the Lord appeared at the tent of meeting to all the Israelites. 11 The Lord said to Moses, “How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the signs I have performed among them? 12 I will strike them down with a plague and destroy them, but I will make you into a nation greater and stronger than they.”

13 Moses said to the Lord, “Then the Egyptians will hear about it! By your power you brought these people up from among them. 14 And they will tell the inhabitants of this land about it. They have already heard that you, Lord, are with these people and that you, Lord, have been seen face to face, that your cloud stays over them, and that you go before them in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. 15 If you put all these people to death, leaving none alive, the nations who have heard this report about you will say, 16 ‘The Lord was not able to bring these people into the land he promised them on oath, so he slaughtered them in the wilderness.’

17 “Now may the Lord’s strength be displayed, just as you have declared:18 ‘The Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.’19 In accordance with your great love, forgive the sin of these people,just as you have pardoned them from the time they left Egypt until now.”

20 The Lord replied, “I have forgiven them, as you asked.21 Nevertheless, as surely as I live and as surely as the glory of the Lordfills the whole earth, 22 not one of those who saw my glory and the signsI performed in Egypt and in the wilderness but who disobeyed me and tested me ten times— 23 not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their ancestors. No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it. 24 But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it. 25 Since the Amalekites and the Canaanites are living in the valleys, turn back tomorrow and set out toward the desert along the route to the Red Sea.

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.”