Exodus 17–Joshua, the Right Man for the Job

The next Bible character that we will look at is Joshua.  Throughout the Bible, God highlights several kinds of superstars.  Some are insignificant, but, then God uses them in an amazing way to change the world. Others are born for a purpose and have to endure great trial and desperation to prepare for the mission that God has for them.  Joshua, the son of Nun was a man that only desired to serve God and his chosen leader, Moses.  In that service, however, God trained and prepared Him to be the man that claimed the long awaited promise of delivering God’s people to the promised land.  But that is a ways down the road.
 
Joshua started as a slave in Egypt, and  like many in his world, Joshua saw God deliver Israel from the Egyptians in a way that was unmistakably miraculous and final.  After the Israelites were freed, they began their journey toward the promised land. While on their journey, They encountered the Amalekites.  Moses saw in Joshua something he needed–a warrior. So Moses asked Joshua to gather an army and lead them into battle against the Amalekites. Joshua did as he was asked, and with God’s strength and Moses raised hand, Israel, the nation of slaves, won their first battle and became a nation of free people headed toward their inheritance.  
 
It is very unlikely that Joshua was thinking that this day would be the start of a 40 year training regimen. He did not expect he would spend a generation in preparation for Israel to take the land God promised. But, Joshua’s faith and obedience as Moses’ assistant would later shape Joshua into the Man God needed to deliver Canaan into Israel’s hand.  
 
God does amazing things through those that will trust and follow Him.  He is in the constant process of preparing those He uses.  It may take weeks, or it may take a lifetime–but, God will honor the faith of those that will journey with Him. Joshua walked a long way to prepare for God’s plan.  What distance are we willing to walk?  What mountains are we willing to scale? What abuse and stupidity are we willing to endure to carry out God’s plan? As we look at the life of Joshua, I think we will see we have room to take some more preparation.
 
God Bless You

 Then Amalek came and fought with Israel at Rephidim. So Moses said to Joshua, “Choose for us men, and go out and fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.” 10 So Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought with Amalek, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. 11 Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed. 12 But Moses’ hands grew weary, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. 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.”

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 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.

Daniel 3 Part 3–Didn’t We Throw 3 People In?

Make no mistake, the king was furious.  He wanted his people to worship him. Shadrack, Mishak and Abednego refused to worship the king’s statue and as such, the King had the three men thrown into a firey furnace. He had the furnace stoked to 7 times the usual heat.  It was so hot, that the men that threw the friends into the furnace died from the heat. The king probably smiled a bit thinking that he made his point, and others would now worship without question. 
 
Then, the king stood, astonished–he counted the people in the furnace. 1st they were walking around in the fire; just chatting and unhurt. Second, there were four people in the fire–not 3.  The king was mystified.  After a little while, to make things worse, the king had to call the men to come out of the furnace. They said good bye to the fourth person and walked out of the furnace completely unburned; their clothing not even smelling of smoke. All the folks saw the miracle, and the king, well, he changed the rules–from that point on, they were allowed to worship the one true God!  If anyone else troubled them, that person would be ripped limb from limb.  Once again, God revealed himself to the king.  Then the king was left to make a personal choice whether or not to follow.
 
So many people look at God’s people and scoff.  They watch the devotion and think God’s chosen are narrow-minded and ignorant.  They would love to eradicate the world of all who follow the Lord.  Still, at the end of the day, God shows Himself as large and in-charge.  When He does, those who would be a critic are stunned and then changed.  God can take care of Himself. He stands out in the most difficult of circumstances. We do not have to defend God, but, when we follow the Lord, He will protect and provide for us. When that happens, He gets the glory.  We continue to follow the Lord and He continues to bless us.  Nebchaduneezer would never be the same, and Daniel and his friends would continue to follow God and remain faithful all their lives.  Daniel would change the world by remaining faithful–what a great incentive for us to do the same.
 
God Bless You

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. 20 And he ordered some of the mighty men of his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace. 21 Then these men were bound in their cloaks, their tunics,[e] their hats, and their other garments, and they were thrown into the burning fiery furnace. 22 Because the king’s order was urgent and the furnace overheated, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. 23 And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell bound into the burning fiery furnace.

24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” 25 He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.”

26 Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the door of the burning fiery furnace; he declared, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here!” Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out from the fire. 27 And the satraps, the prefects, the governors, and the king’s counselors gathered together and saw that the fire had not had any power over the bodies of those men. The hair of their heads was not singed, their cloaks were not harmed, and no smell of fire had come upon them. 28 Nebuchadnezzar answered and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set aside[f] the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God.

Daniel 1 Part 1–Committment Supercedes Circumstance

One cannot be held responsible for their behavior after a great trauma, right? Well, in difficult times, people are faced with the choice to remain steadfast or simply blend in with their peers. Such was the case with Israel’s best and brightest youth. One such youth was Daniel. He and his buddies were grabbed up and ripped from their homes and taken to Babylon.  Then, they were put into the king’s service  and trained to be Babylonians.  They were offered the finest food and drink in the land.  Most youth simply followed  along, and they abandoned their ways and traditions. Most ate and drank whatever food that was set before them.
 
Daniel said no thank you.  He and his friends remained kosher.  Their handlers did not like to see Daniel and his friends bucking the program.  But, God was kind. He granted favor to Daniel from his handlers.  He simply asked for a trial period to show the benefits of doing what he knew to be right.  The handler agreed, and in 10 days, it was apparent that Daniel was correct.  His discipline and desire to be pure certainly paid a great dividend. He and his buddies were by far the healthiest of all the students in the program.  So much so, that they were given a kosher diet from then on! Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego would never be the same.
 
In our lives, circumstances can dictate a great number of things. The one thing circumstances cannot dictate is our response to what we face.  If, when faced with such circumstances, we remained disciplined and committed to our faith, then God will honor our committment and bless us–despite the circumstance.  What is more, if we face the circumstances with a humble heart; many will find favor with those that would demand compromise.  God blesses a faithful and humble heart.  Those that live such a life can literally change the world–or at least the world around them.  Never lose faith and never compromise! God is faithful–let’s join Him and remain faithful as well.
 
God Bless You

In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the vessels of the house of God. And he brought them to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god, and placed the vessels in the treasury of his god. Then the king commanded Ashpenaz, his chief eunuch, to bring some of the people of Israel, both of the royal family[a] and of the nobility, youths without blemish, of good appearance and skillful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding learning, and competent to stand in the king’s palace, and to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans. The king assigned them a daily portion of the food that the king ate, and of the wine that he drank. They were to be educated for three years, and at the end of that time they were to stand before the king. Among these were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah of the tribe of Judah. And the chief of the eunuchs gave them names: Daniel he called Belteshazzar, Hananiah he called Shadrach, Mishael he called Meshach, and Azariah he called Abednego.

Daniel’s Faithfulness

But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself. And God gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs, 10 and the chief of the eunuchs said to Daniel, “I fear my lord the king, who assigned your food and your drink; for why should he see that you were in worse condition than the youths who are of your own age? So you would endanger my head with the king.” 11 Then Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had assigned over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, 12 “Test your servants for ten days; let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13 Then let our appearance and the appearance of the youths who eat the king’s food be observed by you, and deal with your servants according to what you see.” 14 So he listened to them in this matter, and tested them for ten days. 15 At the end of ten days it was seen that they were better in appearance and fatter in flesh than all the youths who ate the king’s food. 16 So the steward took away their food and the wine they were to drink, and gave them vegetables.

 

2 Kings 8 Part 2–Knowing The Future Is not as Fun as It Would Seem

Just because one knows the truth, does not mean that they can affect it.  Elisha was in the area.  The king of Syria, Ben Hadad, was sick.  He sent his trusted servant Hazael to seek a prophecy from Elisha.  The question was simple, “Will I recover from the illness.  The truth was that Ben Hadad was going to recover from the illness–but, he would be murdered by the beloived assistant.  In addition, Elisha could see the devastation the future King–Hazael would pour out on the chosen people of Israel.  One would think, with that foresight Elisha could change the course of History.  Sadly, Elisha’s role was to tell the truth, not change the future.
 
Everyone wishes they could see the future.  Think what that would mean.  Here was a prophet that could see what was ahead and it made him heartbroken.  Similarly, as Jesus approached Jerusalem this Palm Sunday, He also wept, because he could see what lay ahead. Knowing what is ahead is not a gift.  At best, it is a duty and at worst it is a burden.  God is omnicient and omnipresent.  He knows all things and is in all places and times at once.  He calls us to trust and follow Him as He completes His plan for our lives.  He never promises to change the future, but simply walk with us through it.  It is encumbant on us as His chosen to trust Him and seek Him with all our hearts. He promises in Jeremiah 29:13, “You will seek Me and find Me, when you seek Me with all your heart.”
 
In these days, We cannot lose heart, neither can we lose our faith nor our trust in God, His provision and protection.  He does love us and will do what He does the very best!  We need to do as the Lord commands and follow Him humbly and closely!
 
God Bless You

Now Elisha came to Damascus. Ben-hadad the king of Syria was sick. And when it was told him, “The man of God has come here,” the king said to Hazael, “Take a present with you and go to meet the man of God, and inquire of the Lord through him, saying, ‘Shall I recover from this sickness?’” So Hazael went to meet him, and took a present with him, all kinds of goods of Damascus, forty camels’ loads. When he came and stood before him, he said, “Your son Ben-hadad king of Syria has sent me to you, saying, ‘Shall I recover from this sickness?’” 10 And Elisha said to him, “Go, say to him, ‘You shall certainly recover,’ but[a] the Lord has shown me that he shall certainly die.” 11 And he fixed his gaze and stared at him, until he was embarrassed. And the man of God wept. 12 And Hazael said, “Why does my lord weep?” He answered, “Because I know the evil that you will do to the people of Israel. You will set on fire their fortresses, and you will kill their young men with the sword and dash in pieces their little ones and rip open their pregnant women.” 13 And Hazael said, “What is your servant, who is but a dog, that he should do this great thing?” Elisha answered, “The Lord has shown me that you are to be king over Syria.” 14 Then he departed from Elisha and came to his master, who said to him, “What did Elisha say to you?” And he answered, “He told me that you would certainly recover.” 15 But the next day he took the bed cloth[b] and dipped it in water and spread it over his face, till he died. And Hazael became king in his place.

2 Kings 8–God Continues to Care for His Own

Well after Elisha had first met her, Elisha approached the woman whose son he had saved. God gave Elisha a heads up about an upcoming famine.  Elisha encouraged the woman and the family to leave for the time, and she did what Elisha instructed.  Seven years later, the family returned.  They appealed to get their lands back; since they had abandoned them for the seven years.  Normally, it would probably be an appeal that fell on deaf ears.  God loved Elisha, however, and the ones he helped. So, on the day of the appeal, Elisha’s servant was in the king’s presence.  In the course of their conversation, Gehazi shared the story of the woman and her son.  Then, as God would have it–the woman and her son came up to make the appeal. The king was so amazed to meet the woman, that he not ony granted her back her land, but all the income the land produced.
 
There was no coincidence, God knew the need and the timing.  This family was cared for by the same God they honored by caring for His prophet.  God continues to care for the ones He loves.  That should be a great encouragement for those facing these strange and difficult days.  As we know, God knows the plans He has for us.  Plans to prosper us and not to harm us. Plans to give us a hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11. 
We can never underestimate God’s planning or timing.  In the characters we have seen, Ruth met Boaz while gleaning for survival, Esther saved Israel as a new queen of a foriegn nation, Elijah ended Baal worship in Israel on the top of a mountain by the call to God.  God is always on top of his plan and executing it.  What is more, God promised Solomon at the dedication of the temple, “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” I Chronicles 7:14.  We need to seek God and pray.  The Lord has established His trustworthy nature.  We know He cares for His own. We simply need to trust that God continues to care for us as He always had.
 
God Bless You

Now Elisha had said to the woman whose son he had restored to life, “Arise, and depart with your household, and sojourn wherever you can, for the Lord has called for a famine, and it will come upon the land for seven years.” So the woman arose and did according to the word of the man of God. She went with her household and sojourned in the land of the Philistines seven years. And at the end of the seven years, when the woman returned from the land of the Philistines, she went to appeal to the king for her house and her land. Now the king was talking with Gehazi the servant of the man of God, saying, “Tell me all the great things that Elisha has done.” And while he was telling the king how Elisha had restored the dead to life, behold, the woman whose son he had restored to life appealed to the king for her house and her land. And Gehazi said, “My lord, O king, here is the woman, and here is her son whom Elisha restored to life.” And when the king asked the woman, she told him. So the king appointed an official for her, saying, “Restore all that was hers, together with all the produce of the fields from the day that she left the land until now.”