Joshua 23-Joshua Begins His Exit Strategy

All Good things must end.  Joshua and his family had enjoyed a long time of peace. God protected Israel, just as He had promised and now Joshua was very old and getting ready to die. Knowing the end was near, Joshua summoned the entire nation–leaders and all. He then took the time to remind all of them what the Lord had provided. He also encouraged Israel.  Joshua told them that as God had driven out their enemies to this point; He would continue to do so in the days ahead.Joshua reminded Israel that God drove out mighty nations before them, and that 1 Israelite soldier accounted for 1000 of the enemy–real superhero stuff.

Joshua then began the reminder of the importance of keeping covenant with God.  Specifically, do not make treaties and deals with the remaining locals.  Do not cohabit with them or worship their gods.  It is so easy to be distracted by the stuff around you, and God knew–as did Joshua, that foreign gods always seemed easier; because, they were hand-crafted, easy to touch, and easy to control. 

Then and now, God wants His folks to remain committed to Him, and focused on what is real, not what is easy.  He has given us so much and required so little in return.  At the end of the day, the Lord only asks that we trust and follow Him. God asks, however, as He did with Israel, that we worship Him and Him alone. The Lord protects, prepares, and provides for us and simply asks that we live lives that honor His gift and leadership.  Make no mistake, God understands it is a difficult choice.  If we will follow, however, He will continue to go ahead of us against our enemies.  In that promise, God has never failed. God Bless You


After a long time had passed and the Lord had given Israel rest from all their enemies around them, Joshua, by then a very old man, summoned all Israel—their elders, leaders, judges and officials—and said to them: “I am very old. You yourselves have seen everything the Lord your God has done to all these nations for your sake; it was the Lord your God who fought for you. Remember how I have allotted as an inheritance for your tribes all the land of the nations that remain—the nations I conquered—between the Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea in the west. The Lord your God himself will push them out for your sake. He will drive them out before you, and you will take possession of their land, as the Lord your God promised you.

“Be very strong; be careful to obey all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, without turning aside to the right or to the left. Do not associate with these nations that remain among you; do not invoke the names of their gods or swear by them. You must not serve them or bow down to them. But you are to hold fast to the Lord your God, as you have until now. “The Lord has driven out before you great and powerful nations; to this day no one has been able to withstand you. 10 One of you routs a thousand, because the Lord your God fights for you, just as he promised. 11 So be very careful to love the Lord your God.

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.

Joshua 5 Part 2–The Adventure Begins

It must have been odd to see the world change before them.  Joshua had marched behind a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night for 40 years.  Now that they had crossed the Jordan and sat outside of Jericho, things were changing very quickly.

First, Israel celebrated their first Passover meal in the new land.  The people gathered what they needed from this land that flowed with milk and honey–that must have been fun.  The meal was so amazing–but, then, the manna simply ceased.  All at once, Israel was able to provide for itself and from then on, this free people no longer had to rely upon God for daily provision. (Well, truth be told they still had to rely upon God, it just was not as obvious.)

Next, Joshua looks out and sees a man with a sword and he approaches the man.  He asks a fair question–“Are you friend or foe?” The man responds–“NO! I am the commander of the Army of the Lord!” God came and was ready to do battle; and Joshua got to be a part! Joshua asked what he should do…The Angel of the Lord replied, “Take off your shoes; you are standing on holy ground!” Joshua, God’s leader for Israel, was given the same message that his mentor Moses received at the beginning of the adventure. It was a new beginning for God’s people, and the excitement was just beginning. 

In our lives, we can pinpoint God’s hand most often when we experience change.  While change is usually difficult, if we look, we can often see God’s plan being played out for our benefit and according to His will.  Like Joshua, we simply need to be ready to listen and to respond to God’s call–no matter what the circumstances hold for us. Usually, change in our lives will lead to a closer walk with God and a much better perspective.

As His people, we simply must respond by faith, and humbly continue to seek the Lord with all our hearts. Our response and perspective should be as one who is safe in God’s shadow. Paul said it well in Colossians 3:4, “For, you have died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ who is your life appears, you will also appear with Him in Glory!”

God Bless You


While the people of Israel were encamped at Gilgal, they kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month in the evening on the plains of Jericho. 11 And the day after the Passover, on that very day, they ate of the produce of the land, unleavened cakes, and parched grain. 12 And the manna ceased the day after they ate of the produce of the land. And there was no longer manna for the people of Israel, but they ate of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year.

The Commander of the Lord’s Army

13 When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” 14 And he said, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the Lord. Now I have come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped[c] and said to him, “What does my lord say to his servant?” 15 And the commander of the Lord’s army said to Joshua, “Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.

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!”

Psalms 91–God is My Refuge

Where is your refuge? Is it in your career, family, possessions, Government? The Lord calls us to allow him to be our refuge. David was on the run for his life.  He was being pursued by Saul and his army, he was portrayed as an outlaw and traitor to the nation.  He was scorned by a farmer whose land he had been protecting—Clearly David found out that his refuge was not in any normal human, place or thing.  God stripped them away and left David with the best refuge of all, God himself. David quickly found that when all that is left is all that you need—You have an amazing God and an amazing refuge.

In our lives, we too have sought refuge in a variety of established places—family, friends, position, power, money and a host of other things.  When circumstances are difficult, however, we realize that the only and best refuge is the Lord God. When we hide in him, no matter the circumstance—he shows himself faithful and amazing in protecting, providing and granting us the peace we need to face the chaos of life.  He promises us that we will not be defeated or destroyed if we are willing to follow him.  Help me Lord to make you my refuge.  Help me to allow you to protect, provide ad grant me peace.

God Bless You

If you make the Lord your refuge,
if you make the Most High your shelter,
10 no evil will conquer you;
no plague will come near your home.
11 For he will order his angels
to protect you wherever you go.
12 They will hold you up with their hands
so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.
13 You will trample upon lions and cobras;
you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!

14 The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me.
I will protect those who trust in my name.
15 When they call on me, I will answer;
I will be with them in trouble.
I will rescue and honor them.
16 I will reward them with a long life
and give them my salvation.”

 

I Samuel 25 part 2–Who Does He Think He Is

How could we ever forget what God has done for us.  When David’s men asked for some provision for their protection, Nabal was rude, disrespectful and highly forgetful of the provision of the army that surrounded him.  The arrogance and conceit of Nabal truly ticked David off. He immediately set off to remind this fool of the poor decision it was to discount the protection from God. 

How many days do we act like Nabal? God meets our needs day in and day out.  He does not give us all our desires, but when we realize how much he does provide we have to be idiots—fools to accuse him of not meeting those needs and accuse him of abandoning us.  In this story, we need to see how personally God takes his protection and provision and we need to show our gratefulness as we pray and worship.  Nabal was living high and on the protected and fruitful land.  David was a fugitive and had no home or protection.  We need to be grateful–whether Nabal or David.  We need to be kind—whether Nabal or David.  It is a simple function of dwelling on him and not on the events that shape our day.  Help me Lord to remain grateful and not a fool.

God Bless You

When David heard that Nabal was shearing his sheep, he sent ten of his young men to Carmel with this message for Nabal: “Peace and prosperity to you, your family, and everything you own! I am told that it is sheep-shearing time. While your shepherds stayed among us near Carmel, we never harmed them, and nothing was ever stolen from them. Ask your own men, and they will tell you this is true. So would you be kind to us, since we have come at a time of celebration? Please share any provisions you might have on hand with us and with your friend David.” David’s young men gave this message to Nabal in David’s name, and they waited for a reply.

10 “Who is this fellow David?” Nabal sneered to the young men. “Who does this son of Jesse think he is? There are lots of servants these days who run away from their masters. 11 Should I take my bread and my water and my meat that I’ve slaughtered for my shearers and give it to a band of outlaws who come from who knows where?”

12 So David’s young men returned and told him what Nabal had said. 13 “Get your swords!” was David’s reply as he strapped on his own. Then 400 men started off with David, and 200 remained behind to guard their equipment.

I Samuel 24–Godly Temptation?

David could have ended the chase.  Saul walked straight into his hands.  But David—while a great warrior, was committed to allowing God to protect, provide and lead.  He knew as God’s anointed King, it was God’s job to avenge him.  BUT…The question was did God put Saul into David’s Hands and David simply failed to act upon it.  The answer is simply and completely NO.  God does not sin nor does he tempt others to sin. In James 1 it says “remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else.” James 1:12-14.  David understood that and as Saul admitted that made him a great and worthy King.

In our lives, we are sometimes put into positions that tempt us to make choices that are sin.  We justify our decisions by thinking God allowed it.  But, most times, in retrospect, we also have the opportunity to take the high road.  We could continue to honor him in the situation.  Like David, we have to allow God to provide, protect and lead us.  Forget the past—move toward the Lord and when faced with temptation remember there is simply no such thing as Godly temptation

God Bless You  

After Saul returned from fighting the Philistines, he was told that David had gone into the wilderness of En-gedi. So Saul chose 3,000 elite troops from all Israel and went to search for David and his men near the rocks of the wild goats.

At the place where the road passes some sheepfolds, Saul went into a cave to relieve himself. But as it happened, David and his men were hiding farther back in that very cave!

“Now’s your opportunity!” David’s men whispered to him. “Today the Lord is telling you, ‘I will certainly put your enemy into your power, to do with as you wish.’” So David crept forward and cut off a piece of the hem of Saul’s robe… Look, my father, at what I have in my hand. It is a piece of the hem of your robe! I cut it off, but I didn’t kill you. This proves that I am not trying to harm you and that I have not sinned against you, even though you have been hunting for me to kill me.

12 “May the Lord judge between us. Perhaps the Lord will punish you for what you are trying to do to me, but I will never harm you. 13 As that old proverb says, ‘From evil people come evil deeds.’ So you can be sure I will never harm you… He is my advocate, and he will rescue me from your power!”

16 When David had finished speaking, Saul called back, “Is that really you, my son David?” Then he began to cry. 17 And he said to David, “You are a better man than I am, for you have repaid me good for evil. 18 Yes, you have been amazingly kind to me today, for when the Lord put me in a place where you could have killed me, you didn’t do it. 19 Who else would let his enemy get away when he had him in his power? May the Lord reward you well for the kindness you have shown me today. 20 And now I realize that you are surely going to be king, and that the kingdom of Israel will flourish under your rule. 21 Now swear to me by the Lord that when that happens you will not kill my family and destroy my line of descendants!”

22 So David promised this to Saul with an oath. Then Saul went home, but David and his men went back to their stronghold.

I Samuel 23 part 1–Stay in the Fray

David could have simply laid low.  He was being pursued by the King and accused of treason. He and his small band were given no protection or provision. But he heard his people were in danger.  So, he did the wisest thing he could have done—He asked God what to do. God directed and protected him from what was before him. He was not out of danger, his circumstance had not really improved—but, he knew God was with him and was guiding him to the truth.

We often face similar choices.  We encounter trials and want simply to lay low and et life pass. But as we seek the Lord, He directs us to stay in the fray and trust him for protection and provision. When he then provides, he does not promise all will be well—but he meets our needs for that day and that event. When we choose to seek him, we must be prepared to do so in all circumstance. We must also listen for his direction as he leads us through what many would call “the valley of the shadow of death”.

We must remember that he who calls us is faithful and he will do it. In 1st Peter 5, he tells us to be alert and encouraged.  We are under attack, but in his time he will restore and bless us—simply because we are his.

God Bless You

One day news came to David that the Philistines were at Keilah stealing grain from the threshing floors. David asked the Lord, “Should I go and attack them?”

“Yes, go and save Keilah,” the Lord told him.

But David’s men said, “We’re afraid even here in Judah. We certainly don’t want to go to Keilah to fight the whole Philistine army!”

So David asked the Lord again, and again the Lord replied, “Go down to Keilah, for I will help you conquer the Philistines.”

So David and his men went to Keilah. They slaughtered the Philistines and took all their livestock and rescued the people of Keilah. Now when Abiathar son of Ahimelech fled to David at Keilah, he brought the ephod with him.

Saul soon learned that David was at Keilah. “Good!” he exclaimed. “We’ve got him now! God has handed him over to me, for he has trapped himself in a walled town!” So Saul mobilized his entire army to march to Keilah and besiege David and his men.

Matthew 7 final–Don’t Waste the Treasure

If one is given a great treasure but fails to use it he is truly poor.  Jesus ends the Sermon on the Mount with a final and critical admonishment—if you hear these words and fail to put them into practice, you are building your life on an unstable and shifting base.  Your life will almost certainly end badly.  Jesus could not have been more transparent nor direct about sharing God’s heart with us.    He wanted us to know how to navigate the journey he laid out for us.  Bit, we still have to choose to submit and follow.  If we do, we experience peace, provision and joy.  If we ignore it, we see a world constantly shifting and a sense that life is insurmountable.

God wants us to experience the former and not the latter.  Like any parent, he wants us to have a full and meaningful life.  He gave us direction and the spirit to guide, comfort and direct us through the twists and turns. We need to seek him and follow him so that we may enjoy the gifts and provision he has supplied.  Help me Lord, to take the lessons you have shared and implement them into my life.

God Bless You

24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

28 When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, 29 because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.