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  • TFRStaff 6:32 am on 2017-02-17 Permalink | Reply
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    February 2017 Issue of Christian Worker (Heroes of Faith) 

    Here’s a link to the latest PDF issue of the Christian Worker.

    Here are the topics you will find:

    • Noah: Obedient Faith in a Wicked World! (Mike Bonner)
    • Abraham: He Who Staggered Not in Unbelief (Cody Westbrook)
    • Barnabas: He Who Met the Need (Don Walker)
    • John the Baptizer: The Most Humble Disciple (Carl McCann)
    • Peter: From a Pebble To a Rock (Clay Bond)
    • Joshua: The Courageous Leader (Bill Burk)

    Christian Worker is an edification effort of the Southwest church of Christ in Austin, Texas.

    You can subscribe to the email version of the Christian Worker paper by clicking on the publications link on their website and then following the given instructions.

    Copyright © 2017 Southwest church of Christ, All rights reserved.

     
  • Joshua Gulley 10:48 pm on 2014-02-13 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: battle of Ai, , , , , Joshua, ,   

    the whole counsel of God 

    Joshua 8 records the battle the children of Israel fought against the people of Ai. It is an interesting study in military strategy, but more importantly, the end of the chapter provides a lesson for us regarding our spiritual lives. After the victory, Joshua built an altar, wrote a new copy of the law of Moses, and the nation held a ceremony in which the law was read to the people. According to the last verse of the chapter, “There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded which Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel with the women and the little ones and the strangers who were living among them.” It was not enough to know some of the law. The people needed to know ALL of the law. As the Lord told Moses, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by EVERY word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Deuteronomy 8:3).

    Lord, make us hungry to glean everything we can from the pages of Scripture, for we do not live by some of Your words, but by all of them.

     
  • Ron Thomas 7:17 am on 2012-10-26 Permalink | Reply
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    The Way 

    In Joshua 3:4, the Lord told Joshua and the nation, as they prepared themselves to pass over the Jordan River, to make sure there is a distance of about 3,000 feet between the Ark of the Covenant and the first man to follow behind the lead of the priest carrying the ark. The reason for this distance is two-fold: first, the ark was holy and no man could get close without the Lord bringing judgment upon the perpetrator; second, “Do not come near it, that you may know the way by which you must go, for you have not passed this way before.”

    Jesus said that He is the way the truth and the life; no man can go to the Father, but by Him (John 14:6). Earlier in His ministry to the nation He appealed to all who could hear His voice, “Come unto me all you labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). In matters that pertain to righteousness it is so easy for us to think that we can replace our own way of thinking for the Lord’s. This is a catastrophic mistake. Are we so strong that we can create the heavens and earth? Are we so wise that we can make a plan even before the earth was created? Have we so much knowledge that we can tell the end from the beginning and all things that happen in between? Since we can do none of these things, isn’t it best that we follow the path the Lord has lain for us—having already gone Himself?

     

     
  • Ron Thomas 9:00 am on 2012-10-15 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Joshua   

    Lessons in Joshua 1 and 2 

    1. Prosperity is found in the Lord (Joshua 1:8). What good will it do or be for a man who gains the world, but then loses his soul?
    2. The mighty men of valor lead the nation (Joshua 1:14). The word valor means strength of mind or spirit that enables a person to encounter danger with firmness (Webster, 10th Collegiate, p. 2041). Those who are men of valor are to be the leaders in the congregation of the Lord’s body. What did Paul say to Titus (Titus 1:5-11)?
    3. Rejected authority results in a bad day for the rejecter (Joshua 1:18)! In this country, in our society, it is almost a badge of honor to resist those in authority. The Lord did not look upon those who do that with any virtue when it came to His will.
    4. Is there a lesson with regard to lying (Joshua 2:4)? Did the Lord need for Rahab to lie in order for the spies to have success? Clearly the answer is no. Whatever weakness a person may have, whatever there is in the way of short-comings and sins experienced, the Lord will not be pleased with such; He will, however, be pleased with those who live by faith. This was Rahab.
    5. That which the Lord did in history (Joshua 2:10-11), those things that were and are monumental with regard to His intervening in the affairs of man (to bring about His purposes), these things are not to be relegated to history books as points of fact. They are, on the other hand, to help us understand that with the Lord’s intervention people should pay particular attention. A great many people who call themselves Christians will say, and say it with emphasis, that they are not considering that which the Lord did as insignificant. Unfortunately they speak better than they live!
    6. When you say you will do something did you find a reason for not doing it? Honoring one’s word is crucial to credibility (Joshua 2:15-21).
    7. Those who go outside when they are admonished to stay inside pay a heavy price (Joshua 2:19-21).
     
  • Stephen R. Bradd 5:00 am on 2011-10-21 Permalink | Reply
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    Joshua’s Farewell Address & Burial, Part 2 (JOSHUA 24) 

    Joshua begins the final chapter with a brief overview of the history of the Hebrews:

    “Then Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem and called for the elders of Israel, for their heads, for their judges, and for their officers; and they presented themselves before God. And Joshua said to all the people, ‘Thus says the LORD God of Israel: “Your fathers, including Terah, the father of Abrham and the father of Nahor, dwelt on the other side of the River in old times; and they served other gods. Then I took your father Abraham from the other side of the River, led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his descendants and gave him Isaac. To Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau. To Esau I gave the mountains of Seir to possess, but Jacob and his children went down to Egypt. Also I sent Moses and Aaron, and I plagued Egypt, according to what I did among them. Afterward I brought you out. Then I brought your fathers out of Egypt, and you came to the sea; and the Egyptians pursued your fathers with chariots and horsemen to the Red Sea. So they cried out to the LORD; and He put darkness between you and the Egyptians, brought the sea upon them, and covered them. And your eyes saw what I did in Egypt. Then you dwelt in the wilderness a long time. And I brought you into the land of the Amorites, who dwelt on the other side of the Jordan, and they fought with you. But I gave them into your hand, that you might possess their land, and I destroyed them from before you. Then Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, arose to make war against Israel, and sent and called Balaam the son of Beor to curse you. But I would not listen to Balaam; therefore he continued to bless you. So I delivered you out of his hand. Then you went over the Jordan and came to Jericho. And the men of Jericho fought against you–also the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. But I delivered them into your hand. I sent the hornet before you which drove them out from before you, also the two kings of the Amorites, but not with your sword or with your bow. I have given you a land for which you did not labor, and cities which you did not build, and you dwell in them; you eat of the vineyards and olive groves which you did not plant” (Josh. 24:1-13).

    What purpose does recounting their history serve? It reminds the old and teaches the young about their past and how God has always been there for them! The message of their history is unambiguous: God is faithful and will bless you if you obey Him! He will bless you in ways you do not deserve; He will give you success which you cannot fathom. Christians must take this message to heart today for Almighty God has not changed! Joshua concludes this rehearsal of their history by making the following appeal – “Now therefore, fear the LORD, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the LORD! And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD'” (24:14,15).

    He calls the nation to continued faithful action and declares the choice he and his family had made. If one desired to foolishly serve false gods, he would be allowed to do so, but that was not Joshua’s choice.

    “So the people answered and said: ‘Far be it from us that we should forsake the LORD to serve other gods; for the LORD our God is He who brought us and our fathers up out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, who did those great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all the way that we went and among all the people through whom we passed. And the LORD drove out from before us all the people, including the Amorites who dwelt in the land. We also will serve the LORD, for He is our God'” (24:16-18).

    Joshua’s words are both true and persuasive. It makes no sense to forsake the true and living God for dead, powerless idols. Yet, that is precisely what they would do in time! This should cause us to pause and really reflect upon the direction of our own lives (cf. II Cor. 13:5). For example, when one gets married, he is dedicated to his wife until death parts them. But, how many marriages end prematurely in divorce? That was not the initial plan, but as time passes, often things change and what was once a solid commitment becomes weak and viewed in a different light. Such can also happen to one’s spiritual walk if he is not very careful to continually evaluate and come back to God’s standard! Over time it is easy to drift into beliefs and practices that one would strongly object to at some point in the past. Don’t let what happened to Israel happen to you, friends! “We must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away” (Heb. 2:1). Joshua tried to warn them, and these people did remain faithful in the short-term. But, they failed to properly educate the next generation (cf. Jud. 2:10)!

    “But Joshua said to the people, ‘You cannot serve the LORD; for He is a holy God. He is a jealous God; He will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins. If you forsake the LORD and serve foreign gods, then He will turn and do you harm and consume you, after He has done you good.’ And the people said to Joshua, ‘No, but we will serve the LORD!'” (Josh. 24:19-21). This section is a bit confusing on the surface. Why does Joshua say that Israel cannot serve God and that He will not forgive their sins? Contextually, it would seem he is trying to say that their religion must be more than lip-service (which is where they were at currently to some extent)! If you’re only partially committed to God, you cannot serve Him properly and this will anger Him and He will not be gracious toward you. The people here reiterate a second time a pledge of loyalty (cf. 24:16,22).

    “So Joshua said to the people, ‘You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen the LORD for yourselves, to serve Him.’ And they said, ‘We are witnesses!’ ‘Now therefore,’ he said, ‘put away the foreign gods which are among you, and incline your heart to the LORD God of Israel.’ And the people said to Joshua, ‘The LORD our God we will serve, and His voice we will obey!’ So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and made for them a statute and an ordinance in Shechem” (24:22-25).

    They needed to be fully committed to the LORD. It is mind-boggling that they still had some traces of idolatry in their lives even after all that God had done for them in conquering Canaan, but such was the case.

    “Israel served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had known all the works of the LORD which He had done for Israel” (24:31). The people were faithful for a while, but it would not last as the book of Judges details. Joshua and the other leaders were strong, but there was a failure to properly train the children. Let me close with a powerful quote from Adam Clarke:

    “Thus nearly all the persons who had witnessed the miracles of God in the wilderness were gathered to their fathers; and their descendants left in possession of the great inheritance, with the law of God in their hands, and the bright example of their illustrious ancestors before their eyes. It must be added that they possessed every advantage necessary to make them a great, a wise, and a holy people. How they used, or rather how they abused, these advantages, their subsequent history, given in the sacred books, amply testifies.”

     
  • Stephen R. Bradd 5:00 am on 2011-10-20 Permalink | Reply
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    Joshua’s Farewell Address & Burial, Part 1 (JOSHUA 23) 

    Great leaders make preparations for the future of the ones they lead, even when they know they won’t be around much longer to provide personal guidance. Moses, in the book of Deuteronomy, tried to prepare the people for his departure by reviewing their law and history and exhorting them to faithfulness (which leads to blessings) and pleading with them to avoid disobedience (which leads to cursings). In a similar fashion, Joshua, in the final two chapters of the book bearing his name, prepares the nation for his departure from this life by recounting some of their history and the great success God had blessed them with in conquering the Promised Land of Canaan. He calls them to spiritual purity, pleading with them to avoid all entanglements with idolatry and immorality, even some that persisted to that day. Most of the text of these two chapters is straightforward dialogue–requiring little explanation–and Joshua’s words are a powerful end to our study of this book and worthy of our consideration. I will read many of the verses from the closing chapters and make only a few comments.

    Joshua begins by acknowledging his old age and later states that he is about to die. He reminds them of what had been accomplished in his lifetime (namely, the dividing of the land and the conquering of much of it). But, there was still work to be done, so he says:

    “Therefore be very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, lest you turn aside from it to the right hand or to the left, and lest you go among these nations, these who remain among you. You shall not make mention of the name of their gods, nor cause anyone to swear by them; you shall not serve them nor bow down to them, but you shall hold fast to the LORD your God, as you have done to this day. For the LORD has driven out from before you great and strong nations; but as for you, no one has been able to stand against you to this day. One man of you shall chase a thousand, for the LORD your God is He who fights for you, as He promised you. Therefore take careful heed to yourselves, that you love the LORD your God. Or else, if indeed you do go back, and cling to the remnant of these nations–these that remain among you–and make marriages with them, and go in to them and they to you, know for certain that the LORD your God will no longer drive out these nations from before you. But they shall be snares and traps to you, and scourges on your sides and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from this good land which the LORD your God has given you. Behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth. And you know in all your hearts and in all your souls that not one thing has failed of all the good things which the LORD your God spoke concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one word of them has failed. Therefore it shall come to pass, that as all the good things have come upon you which the LORD your God promised you, so the LORD will bring upon you all the harmful things, until He has destroyed you from this good land which the LORD your God has given you. When you have transgressed the covenant of the LORD your God, which He commanded you, and have gone and served other gods, and bowed down to them, then the anger of the LORD will burn against you, and you shall perish quickly from the good land which He has given you” (Josh. 23:6-16).

    Although the nation was in great shape overall at the moment, that would all change if they decide, in the future, to abandon God’s ways. They needed to be full of courage and conviction or else they would drift into many problems (such is true for us today as well!). Sadly, as the rest of the Old Testament records, Israel lacked long-term fidelity to the Lord. The problems Joshua warned of soon became a reality. The initial cause of their apostasy is related to their incomplete obedience in destroying all the Canaanites from the land. Why didn’t they completely annihilate the Canaanites as instructed? The answer seems to be that once they possessed enough land to accommodate their people that they stopped putting forth the necessary effort to do all that God had required of them. They possessed the same attitude that many Christians seem to display today; that is, a willingness to do just enough to suit themselves. The Canaanites who were allowed to live grew in number and influence over the Israelites as decades and centuries passed. God was with Israel now and nothing could stop them, but tragically it wouldn’t always be that way.

     
  • Stephen R. Bradd 5:00 am on 2011-10-19 Permalink | Reply
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    The Misunderstood Altar (JOSHUA 22) 

    As Joshua 22 begins, the men of battle from the two-and-a-half tribes that settled on the eastern side of the Jordan River are permitted to go back to their homes. They had faithfully fulfilled their commitment to helping the other tribes conquer Canaan. Joshua blessed them but also offered this warning, however – “But take careful heed to do the commandment and the law which Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, to love the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways, to keep His commandments, to hold fast to Him, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul” (Josh. 22:5). Although the Jordan separated them from the rest of Israel, God would still be watching them, and He expected them to keep the covenant. This is a great warning and lesson for us today, too!

    “And when they came to the region of the Jordan which is in the land of Canaan, the children of Reuben, the children of Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh built an altar there by the Jordan–a great impressive altar. Now the children of Israel heard someone say, ‘Behold, the children of Reuben, the children of Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh have built an altar on the frontier of the land of Canaan, in the region of the Jordan–on the children of Israel’s side.’ And when the children of Israel heard of it, the whole congregation of the children of Israel gathered together at Shiloh to go to war against them” (Josh. 22:10-12).

    To the uninformed, Israel’s response here may seem like an overreaction. “They gathered the whole army together against these two-and-a-half tribes because they had built a remarkable altar?! What’s so offensive about that?” one might ask. There is only one reason: God had given explicit instructions that all offerings were to be made at the tabernacle (cf. Lev. 17:8,9; Deut. 12:4-14). The Israelites assumed that their brethren had transgressed the covenant in a serious way (or were preparing to do so). Such an offense could not be ignored. They immediately sent a group of leaders to speak with the two-and-a-half tribes about the matter.

    “What treachery is this that you have committed against the God of Israel, to turn away this day from following the LORD, in that you have built for yourselves an altar, that you might rebel this day against the LORD? Is the iniquity of Peor not enough for us, from which we are not cleansed till this day, although there was a plague in the congregation of the LORD, but that you must turn away this day from following the LORD? And it shall be, if you rebel today against the LORD, that tomorrow He will be angry with the whole congregation of Israel. Nevertheless, if the land of your possession is unclean, then cross over to the land of the possession of the LORD, where the LORD’s tabernacle stands, and take possession among us; but do not rebel against the LORD, nor rebel against us, by building yourselves an altar besides the altar of the LORD our God. Did not Achan the son of Zerah commit a trespass in the accursed thing, and wrath fell on all the congregation of Israel? And that man did not perish alone in his iniquity” (Josh. 22:16-20).

    This rebuke is a bit premature, as we will learn shortly, but the nation should be commended for taking the matter seriously. They assumed (incorrectly but understandably) that the altar was going to be used for sacrifices, but they knew it wasn’t the authorized altar for such a purpose. They didn’t want a repeat of what had happened at Peor or Ai–where the rebellion of some cost the entire nation dearly (cf. Num. 25; Josh. 7). Thus, they invite these tribes to come across the Jordan and dwell with them if their current territory is insufficient or unclean in some way. They plead with them not to sin against God and stir His anger up against all twelve tribes!

    The two-and-a-half tribes give a reasonable defense for their actions. They clearly state that this altar was not for sacrifices, it was a memorial–and nothing more. One might rightly question their judgment here, but they did not sin. They had said amongst themselves – “Let us now prepare to build ourselves an altar, not for burnt offering nor for sacrifice, but that it may be a witness between you and us and our generations after us, that we may perform the service of the LORD before Him with our burnt offerings, with our sacrifices, and with our peace offerings; that your descendants may not say to our descendants in time to come, ‘You have no part in the LORD.’ Therefore we said that it will be, when they say this to us or to our generations in time to come, that we may say, ‘Here is the replica of the altar of the LORD which our fathers made, though not for burnt offerings nor for sacrifices; but it is a witness between you and us'” (Josh. 22:26-28). The leaders brought back this message to the nation, and Israel was satisfied with this response. Dialogue helped prevent an unnecessary battle! Even today it is true that open, respectful communication will go a long way towards peacemaking.

     
  • Stephen R. Bradd 5:00 am on 2011-10-18 Permalink | Reply
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    The Land Promise Declared Fulfilled (JOSHUA 21) 

    “So the LORD gave to Israel all the land of which He had sworn to give to their fathers, and they took possession of it and dwelt in it. The LORD gave them rest all around, according to all that He had sworn to their fathers. And not a man of all their enemies stood against them; the LORD delivered all their enemies into their hand. Not a word failed of any good thing which the LORD had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass” (Josh. 21:43-45).

    God had made some wonderful promises to the patriarch Abraham, and God always keeps His word! God gave them the land of Canaan for the time was right (i.e., the sins of the inhabitants of Canaan were overflowing and annihilation was necessary). Israel was victorious not because of their strength in numbers or skill in battle. They won because God wanted them to win! He gave them victory after victory, and they would enjoy continued success (“rest”) as long as they stayed true to the covenant.

    These verses seem simple enough, but they have significant application even for us today living in the Christian era. Allow me to explain.

    There are some today who hold premillennial convictions. In other words, they believe we are currently living prior to the “millennium,” and they contend that Jesus will one day return to reign on a physical throne in physical Jerusalem for 1000 years. It is not within our scope at this time to tackle this broad and sometimes varied false doctrine in whole, but rather there is one component of it that Joshua 21:43-45 deals with masterfully.

    Those who expect Christ to return for a physical reign understand that He must have a physical land to return to. Thus, many with premillennial leanings support the modern nation of Israel because they believe its existence is a prerequisite to Jesus’ return. These same people believe the Promised Land is still owed to the nation of Israel in some way, but the text above says “no.”

    The promise God made to Abraham approximately 4000 years ago has been fulfilled! It had been fulfilled in Joshua’s day! How much plainer can the text be: “The LORD gave to Israel all the land of which He had sworn to give to their fathers…not a word failed of any good thing which the LORD had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass”? If God had given everything He intended to give, and the Israelites squandered the land due to immoral living and lost possession of it (as will be shown in the remainder of the Old Testament), there should be no real expectation today that God must restore the land to the descendants of Jacob. Besides, true Israel today is of a spiritual nature, not physical ancestry–but I digress (cf. Rom. 2:28,29).

    God gave the land of Canaan to Israel and they would lose it. The land promise was fulfilled, and there is no requirement that it be fulfilled again in the modern era. I wish nothing but the best for any Jew living in Israel today (or anywhere in the world for that matter), but I do not believe the existence of that nation today is required for Christ’s return! He’s not coming to reign on a physical throne; the faithful shall meet Him in the air (cf. I Thess. 4:16,17)!

    There are other verses that underscore the same truth. For instance, Nehemiah 9:7,8 – “You are the LORD God, who chose Abram, and brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans, and gave him the name Abraham; you found his heart faithful before You, and made a covenant with him to give the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, and the Girgashites–to give it to his descendants. You have performed Your words, for You are righteous.”

    Finally, Deuteronomy 19 lends additional support to our conclusion that God had completely fulfilled the land promise centuries before Christ lived and that no one today can rightly say that God still must provide the Promised Land for the Jewish people. In that chapter it is explicitly stated that there should be three cities of refuge. However, the nation was told by Moses – “if you keep all these commandments and do them, which I command you today, to love the LORD your God and to walk always in His ways, then you shall add three more cities for yourself besides these three” (Deut. 19:9). So, if six cities of refuge were ever established (and there were six ultimately), then God had fully given the land He had promised to the fathers (cf. 19:8). Almighty God keeps His word!

     
  • Stephen R. Bradd 5:00 am on 2011-10-17 Permalink | Reply
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    The Cities for the Levites (JOSHUA 20) 

    “The LORD also spoke to Joshua, saying, ‘Speak to the children of Israel, saying, ‘Appoint for yourselves cities of refuge, of which I spoke to you through Moses, that the slayer who kills a person accidentally or unintentionally may flee there; and they shall be your refuge from the avenger of blood. And when he flees to one of those cities, and stands at the entrance of the gate of the city, and declares his case in the hearing of the elders of that city, they shall take him into the city as one of them, and give him a place, that he may dwell among them. Then if the avenger of blood pursues him, they shall not deliver the slayer into his hand, because he struck his neighbor unintentionally, but did not hate him beforehand. And he shall dwell in that city until he stands before the congregation for judgment, and until the death of the one who is high priest in those days. Then the slayer may return and come to his own city and his own house, to the city from which he fled'” (Josh. 20:1-6).

    Moses was given detailed instructions pertaining to this subject in Number 35 and Deuteronomy 19. Although the Levites were not given large blocks of land as the other tribes received, God did want them to have a number of cities–48 in all–scattered throughout Canaan (cf. Gen. 49:7). Each tribe would give some of their cities to the Levites, along with common land surrounding it. The Levites were typically the most knowledgeable when it came to religion and spiritual matters. Thus, having them dwell throughout the land would maximize their influence for good among the nation, instead of having them all dwell in one region where their interactions with others might be more limited.

    Of the 48 cities, 6 were to be used for a very special purpose. They were to be cities of refuge. Under the Mosaic law, if person X killed person Y, then the nearest of kin to the deceased (person Z) had the duty to seek vengeance. He would function as the “avenger of blood” on behalf of the one who had been slain. Remember, their basic rule of law was “an eye for eye,” etc. (cf. Exo. 21:12ff). It was the duty of person X to flee to one of these cities of refuge for protection until a judgment was rendered. These cities were scattered throughout the land (3 on each side of the Jordan) so that wherever one was in the Promised Land, he could travel to a place of safety fairly quickly.

    After the slayer sought refuge in one of these cities, he was protected–at least until he had his day in court, so to speak. If he was found guilty of murder (i.e., premeditated killing based on hatred), then he would be put to death. Under the Old Law, convicted murderers must die–period! This ruling required at least two witnesses to the crime. If the slayer took a life accidentally (e.g., if an ax head came off the handle while chopping wood and it struck a person; cf. Deut. 19:5), then his life was safe as long as he remained in the city of refuge. If he left the city (for whatever reason), the avenger of blood could justifiably take his life. The only exception to this was that whenever the high priest died, the manslayer’s record would be wiped clean, in a manner of speaking. He could go home and the avenger of blood was not permitted to harm him. There were no other exceptions.

    Obviously, God takes the loss of innocent human life seriously and set forth these rules for protection of it. Even accidental killings were not treated trivially. The one who carelessly slaughtered another would have to remain in a city of refuge (likely for years and perhaps even for many decades). Manslaughter would radically change his life (as it also did for the victim’s family who lost a loved one).

    There is one interesting matter of typology that can be detailed here. As Christians, our High Priest (Jesus) never dies! Therefore, we-who, on our own merits, have hands stained with sin and are worthy of death–must always remain in our place of refuge (i.e., “in Christ”; Rom. 8:1). Our sins will not be cleansed with the passage of time if we are outside of Christ (i.e., outside the place of refuge). If we leave Christ and the spiritual safety He provides, we will eventually perish and be without hope.

     
  • Stephen R. Bradd 5:00 am on 2011-10-14 Permalink | Reply
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    Dividing the Land (JOSHUA 13-19) 

    “Now Joshua was old, advanced in years. And the LORD said to him: ‘You are old, advanced in years, and there remains very much land yet to be possessed. This is the land that yet remains: all the territory of the Philistines and all that of the Geshurites, from Sihor, which is east of Egypt, as far as the border of Ekron northward (which is counted as Canaanite); the five lords of the Philistines–the Gazites, the Ashdodites, the Ashkelonites, the Gittites, and the Ekronites; also the Avites; from the south, all the land of the Canaanites, and Mearah that belongs to the Sidonians as far as Aphek, to the border of the Amorites; the land of the Gebalites, and all Lebanon, toward the sunrise, from Baal Gad below Mount Hermon as far as the entrance to Hamath; all the inhabitants of the mountains from Lebanon as far as the Brook Misrephoth, and all the Sidonians–them I will drive out from before the children of Israel; only divide it by lot to Israel as an inheritance, as I have commanded you. Now therefore, divide this land as an inheritance to the nine tribes and half the tribe of Manasseh'” (Josh. 13:1-7).

    Some argue that the listing here of unconquered towns and boundaries is incomplete. Regardless, it is clear that there is still much work to do! There remained many Canaanites yet to be destroyed from the land God had given the Israelites. However, Joshua’s old age prompted God to instruct him to proceed to divide the land among the tribes who had not yet received their inheritance. The land could be divvied up even though it was only partially conquered. Then, the individual tribes could proceed to fully conquer their allotted territories. It should be noted that although the Philistines were not descendants of Canaan (cf. Gen. 10:6,14), they were invaders in the land and were to be driven out.

    The half tribe of Manasseh, the Reubenites, and the Gadites had already received their inheritance on the east side of the Jordan (cf. Josh. 13), but the other nine and one-half tribes would receive land west of the Jordan (cf. Josh. 14-19). The land would be distributed by lot (cf. 14:2). Much of the text in Chapters 13 – 19 is devoted to geographically describing the boundaries each tribe was given. Since a picture is said to be worth a thousand words, we have included an image below that shows approximately where the tribes ultimately settled (along with the locations of the six cities of refuge, which will be discussed in Josh. 20). This image is summarized from the written descriptions included in the book of Joshua. In all, there are 13 tribes mentioned: Levi, Reuben, Gad, Manasseh, Judah, Ephraim, Benjamin, Simeon, Zebulun, Issachar, Asher, Naphtali, and Dan. Although there were only twelve tribes originally, Joseph was given a double portion by his father and each of his sons (Ephraim and Manasseh) became recognized as a tribe. That is the reason why there is no tribe of Joseph listed (cf. 14:4). Also, although Levi is mentioned, the priestly tribe would not receive a large block of land as the other tribes did. The text explains why – “Only to the tribe of Levi he had given no inheritance; the sacrifices of the LORD God of Israel made by fire are their inheritance, as He said to them” (Josh. 13:14).

    Joshua 18:1-6 reads:

    “Now the whole congregation of the children of Israel assembled together at Shiloh, and set up the tabernacle of meeting there. And the land was subdued before them. But there remained among the children of Israel seven tribes which had not yet received their inheritance. Then Joshua said to the children of Israel: ‘How long will you neglect to go and possess the land which the LORD God of your fathers has given you? Pick out from among you three men from each tribe, and I will send them; they shall rise and go through the land, survey it according to their inheritance, and come back to me. And they shall divide it into seven parts. Judah shall remain in their territory on the south, and the house of Joseph shall remain in their territory on the north. You shall therefore survey the land in seven parts and bring the survey here to me, that I may cast lots for you here before the LORD our God.”

    At this point historically, five tribes had assigned territories, but the remaining seven did not. What were they waiting for? It was not time to rest but to keep working toward the goal God was making possible for them. After a full survey of the land was made, lots were drawn and Joshua made the rest of the territorial assignments. Then, it was up to the tribes to go out boldly and fight for the land God desired to give them.

    Sadly, there are a number of verses in these chapters that foreshadow dark days ahead for Israel due to incomplete obedience in completely purging the land of idolatrous influences. For example:

    “Nevertheless the children of Israel did not drive out the Geshurites or the Maachathites, but the Geshurites and the Maachathites dwell among the Israelites until this day” (13:13).
    “As for the Jebusites, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the children of Israel could not drive them out; but the Jebusites dwell with the children of Judah at Jerusalem to this day” (15:63).
    “And they did not drive out the Canaanites who dwelt in Gezer; but the Canaanites dwell among the Ephaimites to this day and have become forced laborers” (16:10).
    “Yet the children of Manasseh could not drive out the inhabitants of those cities, but the Canaanites were determined to dwell in that land. And it happened, when the children of Israel grew strong, that they put the Canaanites to forced labor, but did not utterly drive them out” (17:13).

    Some of these verses appear to have been written after Joshua had died and his influence for good had diminished (cf. Jud. 2:7-11). As long as the children of Israel were faithful to God, they were unstoppable. But, they were slow to fully claim the blessed land God had given to them, and their zeal waned over the decades. As a result, it wasn’t until the days of King David that certain portions of the land were fully claimed. The book of Judges records the tragic cycles of apostasy the nation of Israel entered into over and over again. Ultimately, although they destroyed many (and perhaps even most) of the Canaanite peoples, there was a remnant that remained in a number of areas and they would prove to be a perpetual thorn in Israel’s side for a variety of reasons. If only Israel had fully obeyed God, I suspect their history would be much different and much better.

    Before concluding our consideration of these chapter in the book of Joshua, let us take a look at an interesting portion of text concerning Caleb.

    “Then the children of Judah came to Joshua in Gilgal. And Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him: ‘You know the word which the LORD said to Moses the man of God concerning you and me in Kadesh Barnea. I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadesh Barnea to spy out the land, and I brought back word to him as it was in my heart. Nevertheless my brethren who went up with me made the heart of the people melt, but I wholly followed the LORD my God. So Moses swore on that day saying, “Surely the land where your foot has trodden shall be your inheritance and your children’s forever because you have wholly followed the LORD my God.” And now, behold, the LORD has kept me alive, as He said, these forty-five years, ever since the LORD spoke this word to Moses while Israel wandered in the wilderness; and now, here I am this day, eighty-five years old. As yet I am as strong this day as on the day that Moses sent me; just as my strength was then, so now is my strength for war, both for going out and for coming in. Now therefore, give me this mountain of which the LORD spoke in that day; for you heard in that day how the Anakim were there, and that the cities were great and fortified. It may be that the LORD will be with me, and I shall be able to drive them out as the LORD said.’ And Joshua blessed him, and gave Hebron to Caleb the son of Jephunneh as an inheritance” (14:6-13).

    It seems appropriate to close this lesson with a focus on such a strong, faithful man like Caleb. If only the nation had wholly followed the Lord like Caleb did, then they could have begun the conquering four decades earlier! Caleb is encouraging to us in several ways. He trusted in the Lord, and God took care of him his entire life. He was still able to do great things in his senior years and he was not satisfied to rest on the sidelines. May we always use our talents and abilities to faithfully serve the Lord, even if we have done so for decades and regardless of whether or not we are as capable and strong as we once were. There are still giants to conquer, so to speak, and they will be conquered by the ones who walk mightily with the Lord in faithful obedience.

     
  • Stephen R. Bradd 5:00 am on 2011-10-13 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Joshua   

    More Conquering by Joshua (JOSHUA 10-12) 

    The day in which the sun stood still was a day of tremendous victory for Israel. Detailed information is provided in Joshua 10:16-27 regarding the subjugation of the five kings they were battling against. As the kings fled, they decided to hide in a cave, but the Israelites trapped them inside with large stones until they had opportunity to come back. When they did return, they opened the mouth of the cave and brought out the five kings. The Israelites put their feet on the necks of the kings, symbolic of complete domination. Then Joshua encouraged his people very similarly to the way God had encouraged him back in Joshua 1 – “Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed; be strong and of good courage, for thus the LORD will do to all your enemies against whom you fight” (Josh. 10:25). Joshua then proceeded to slay the kings and hang their bodies on trees for all to see until sundown.

    The remainder of Joshua 10 provides a list of the other cities and their kings whom the Israelites conquered in the southern portion of Canaan. The Israelites fought battle after battle, never losing to their enemies since God was with them and made them successful. They left no survivors. Although the names of these cities may mean little to us today (e.g., Libnah, Lachish, Gezer, Eglon, etc.), each one represented a community of idolaters who were involved in wickedness which God could not tolerate any longer. Thus, they were destroyed in accordance with God’s will through Israel, and their land and possessions were given to Israel in harmony with the promise God had made to Abraham centuries earlier. “So Joshua conquered all the land: the mountain country and the South and the lowland and the wilderness slopes, and all their kings; he left none remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the LORD God of Israel had commanded” (Josh. 10:40). There is nothing unethical about the Israelites’ behavior here. They are following the orders of the Most High God, and certainly He–as Creator and Sustainer of the Universe–has the right to inflict vengeance against wicked people in the manner in which He chooses (e.g., Gen. 6:5-7; II Thess. 1:7-9; Rev. 21:8).

    As Chapter 11 opens, the Canaanite kings of the North heard about the destruction Israel was inflicting in the South and they decided to band together and attack Israel. “So they went out, they and all their armies with them, as many people as the sand that is on the seashore in multitude, with very many horses and chariots” (Josh. 11:4). One might suppose such large numbers would intimidate the Israelites, but God gives the order to attack courageously and the people do so. “So Joshua and all the people of war with him came against them suddenly by the waters of Merom, and they attacked them. And the LORD delivered them into the hand of Israel, who defeated them and chased them…they attacked them until they left none of them remaining. So Joshua did to them as they LORD had told him: he hamstrung their horses and burned their chariots with fire” (Josh. 11:7-9). A numerically superior enemy is no problem for Jehovah! But why destroy great military weapons like horses and chariots? Because God wanted the people to continue trusting in Him, not things (cf. Deut. 17:16; Psa. 20:7)! Besides, how much good did the horses and chariots do for the Canaanites?!

    “As the LORD had commanded Moses his servant, so Moses commanded Joshua, and so Joshua did. He left nothing undone of all that the LORD had commanded Moses. Thus Joshua took all this land: the mountain country, all the South, all the land of Goshen, the lowland, and the Jordan plain–the mountains of Israel and its lowlands…He captured all their kings, and struck them down and killed them. Joshua made war a long time with all those kings. There was not a city that made peace with the children of Israel, except the Hivites, the inhabitants of Gibeon. All the others they took in battle. For it was of the LORD to harden their hearts, that they should come against Israel in battle, that He might utterly destroy them, and that they might receive no mercy, but that He might destroy them, as the LORD had commanded Moses” (11:15-20).

    Joshua 12 is a summary listing of the 2 kings Moses conquered to the east of the Jordan River and the 31 kings Joshua conquered to the west of the Jordan. Some have estimated that several decades are spanned in these chapters. Regardless of the amount of time covered, these chapters reiterate a common Biblical theme–trust and obey the Lord in all things and you will be blessed with victory! Furthermore, there is a time for everything–including war (cf. Eccl. 3:8).

     
  • Stephen R. Bradd 5:00 am on 2011-10-12 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Joshua   

    The Sun Stands Still (JOSHUA 10) 

    “Now it came to pass when Adoni-Zedek king of Jerusalem heard how Joshua had taken Ai and had utterly destroyed it–as he had done to Jericho and its king, so he had done to Ai and its king–and how the inhabitants of Gibeon had made peace with Israel and were among them, that they feared greatly, because Gibeon was a great city, like one of the royal cities, and because it was greater than Ai, and all its men were mighty” (Josh. 10:1,2).

    Here we learn that Gibeon was a great city and full of mighty men, yet they had made peace with Israel since they feared for their lives! Initially the Canaanite peoples had planned to join together to defeat Israel, but now they redirect their focus toward the Gibeonites. They first want to vengefully destroy Gibeon for making peace with Israel.

    “And the men of Gibeon sent to Joshua at the camp at Gilgal, saying, ‘Do not forsake your servants; come up to us quickly, save us and help us, for all the kings of the Amorites who dwell in the mountains have gathered together against us'” (10:6). The Gibeonites know they cannot survive without help, and they plead with Israel not to forsake them (i.e., their servants).

    “So Joshua ascended from Gilgal, he and all the people of war with him, and all the mighty men of valor. And the LORD said to Joshua, ‘Do not fear them, for I have delivered them into your hand; not a man of them shall stand before you.’ Joshua therefore came upon them suddenly, having marched all night from Gilgal. So the LORD routed them before Israel, killed them with a great slaughter at Gibeon, chased them along the road that goes to Beth Horon, and struck them down as far as Azekah and Makkedah. And it happened, as they fled before Israel and were on the descent of Beth Horon, that the LORD cast down large hailstones from heaven on them as far as Azekah, and they died. There were more who died from the hailstones than the children of Israel killed with the sword” (10:7-11).

    Joshua quickly responds to the cry for help and marches the Israelite army all night to Gibeon. God removes any doubt in their minds by affirming that they will be successful. The Canaanites, who were intent on destroying Gibeon, were likely not expecting Israel’s arrival and attack upon them. They quickly retreated but were slaughtered by both the sword and large hailstones the LORD directed against them (cf. Job 38:22,23). The Canaanites had no hope of success for they were fighting against God!

    “Then Joshua spoke to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel: ‘Sun, stand still over Gibeon; and Moon, in the valley Aijalon.’ So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, till the people had revenge upon their enemies” (10:12,13). Clearly, Joshua wanted more time to completely vanquish the enemy. He didn’t want them to escape once the sun went down. So, he prays for a miracle, and he receives it!

    “So the sun stood still in the midst of the heaven, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day. And there has been no day like that, before or after it, that the LORD heeded the voice of a man; for the LORD fought for Israel” (10:13,14). Skeptics point to this passage and say: “That’s impossible!” They then speak to the catastrophic problems they claim would have resulted if God did stop the Earth from rotating for a day. Thus, they contend that the passage must be understood figuratively. They might assert something ridiculous like this example: “The battle was so large that the Israelites believed it had to take more than one day to win it, and it just felt to them like it must have taken more than one day.” Some spend lots of time trying to explain away the miracles the Bible records in so many places. I see no need to do such. I do not claim to know exactly what happened over Gibeon during that period, but I believe God made it possible supernaturally. Did God slow down the setting of the sun (i.e., the rotation of the Earth)? Did He stop all celestial movement in the Universe for a day? Did He merely refract the light of the sun into that area for a long period of time while the rest of the Earth continued as usual? No one knows and that’s just fine. We don’t need to know (cf. Deut. 29:29). Joshua prayed for divine assistance and he received it! Almighty God who created the Universe and everything within it, could certainly extend the sunlight for a battle in any way He desired. Nothing is too hard for Him!

    As a side note, don’t fall victim to foolishness that purports to support the Bible. There has been a story circulating for years about NASA computers finding a missing day while making astronomical calculations. It’s not true, friends. The story is pure fiction. To repeat such as truth only destroys one’s credibility. We don’t need made-up science to validate the truth of God’s word!

     
  • Stephen R. Bradd 5:00 am on 2011-10-11 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Joshua   

    The Crafty Gibeonites (JOSHUA 9) 

    “And it came to pass when all the kings who were on this side of the Jordan, in the hills and in the lowlands and in the coasts of the Great Sea toward Lebanon–the Hittite, the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite–heard about it, that they gathered together to fight with Joshua and Israel with one accord” (Josh. 9:1,2).

    Significant news spreads quickly, even without the aid of modern technology. The people in the vicinity of Jericho and Ai knew what had happened to these cities. They quickly united together against their new mutual enemy–Israel! In that era, each city was basically self-governed (like a country unto itself). There were kings in most cities, and they would cooperate with other kings and make alliances when necessary for protection. Such was the case here. They hope to find success working together as a team against Israel where their neighbors had failed individually.

    “But when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai, they worked craftily, and went and pretended to be ambassadors. And they took old sacks on their donkeys, old wineskins torn and mended, old and patched sandals on their feet, and old garments on themselves; and all the bread of their provision was dry and moldy. And they went to Joshua, to the camp at Gilgal, and said to him and to the men of Israel, ‘We have come from a far country; now therefore, make a covenant with us'” (9:3-6).

    Not everyone believed the wisest strategy was to join together and try to snuff out the Israelites with sheer numbers. There was a group of people from Gibeon (the chief city of the Hivites) who deduced that deception was the best approach in this case. They would play the part masterfully, pretending to be foreigners from a faraway country. They knew the Israelites were to destroy all the people of the land, so they pretended to be from far outside the land hoping the Israelites would see no need to slay them. Their disguises and story worked, thanks to carelessness on the part of the Israelite leaders.

    “Then the men of Israel took some of their provisions; but they did not ask counsel of the LORD. So Joshua made peace with them, and made a covenant with them to let them live; and the rulers of the congregation swore to them” (9:14,15).

    What a shame! Israel makes a huge mistake here, and it was completely preventable. They failed to seek advice from their ultimate leader–God! They blindly accept the Gibeonites’ story and enter into a covenant with them. Three days later, however, the Israelites learn the truth. They’d been duped! The people want to attack, and are justifiably upset with their leaders about this matter. But, the rulers had sworn protection to the Gibeonites and they would not break their word.

    “Then Joshua called for them, and he spoke to them, saying, ‘Why have you deceived us, saying, “We are very far from you,” when you dwell near us? Now therefore, you are cursed, and none of you shall be freed from being slaves–woodcutters and water carriers for the house of my God.’ So they answered Joshua and said, ‘Because your servants were clearly told that the LORD your God commanded His servant Moses to give you all the land, and to destroy all the inhabitants of the land from before you; therefore we were very much afraid for our lives because of you, and have done this thing. And now, here we are, in your hands; do with us as it seems good and right to do to us.’ So he did to them, and delivered them out of the hand of the children of Israel, so that they did not kill them. And that day Joshua made them woodcutters and water carriers for the congregation and for the altar of the LORD, in the place which He would chose, even to this day” (9:22-27).

    Fear motivated the Gibeonites to attempt to deceive the Israelites, and it worked. They were content to be slaves, which was much better than the alternative (i.e., death). Friends, there are several significant lessons that can be gleaned from this chapter:

    Even faithful men can be deceived if they become careless. Don’t be swayed by appearances; judge with righteous judgment (cf. John 7:24).
    Always seek counsel from God before making important decisions (cf. Prov. 3:5,6).
    Do not make hasty vows (cf. Eccl. 5:2).
    If you do make a foolish vow, keep it, even if it causes you great harm (cf. Psa. 15:4). Two wrongs do not make a right!

     
  • Stephen R. Bradd 5:00 am on 2011-10-10 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Joshua   

    Ai Defeated (JOSHUA 8) 

    With the trouble Achan caused behind them, the Israelites were ready to destroy Ai with God’s blessing and continue their conquest of the Promised Land of Canaan – “Now the LORD said to Joshua: ‘Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed; take all the people of war with you, and arise, go up to Ai. See, I have given into your hand the king of Ai, his people, his city, and his land. And you shall do to Ai and its king as you did to Jericho and its king. Only its spoil and its cattle you shall take as booty for yourselves. Lay an ambush for the city behind it” (Josh. 8:1,2).

    Although they had lost three dozen men at Ai earlier, there was nothing to fear now since God was with them. God instructed all the men of war to fight, and not just a few thousand as had been done on the former occasion (cf. 7:4). Joshua instructed the people accordingly and employed the very effective plan of attack that God commanded. 30,000 mighty men of valor were sent away by night to position themselves behind the city of Ai secretly. They would lie in ambush, waiting for the proper moment to strike. Commander Joshua would lead the rest of the men toward the front of the city as if they were going to attack. Then, when the men of Ai came out to engage them in battle, the main group of Israelites would turn and run, as if they were scared and defeated. No doubt this would embolden the warriors of Ai who had seen cowardly behavior out of the Israelites on the prior occasion. The plan was executed perfectly. As the men of Ai pursued the Israelites they left their own city exposed and open to attack! They would soon learn a hard lesson–things aren’t always as they appear!

    “Then the LORD said to Joshua, ‘Stretch out the spear that is in your hand toward Ai, for I will give it into your hand.’ And Joshua stretched out the spear that was in his hand toward the city. So those in ambush arose quickly out of their place; they ran as soon as he had stretched out his hand, and they entered the city and took it, and hurried to set the city on fire. And when the men of Ai looked behind them, they saw, and behold, the smoke of the city ascended to heaven. So they had not power to flee this way or that way, and the people who had fled to the wilderness turned back on the pursuers. Now when Joshua and all Israel saw that the ambush had taken the city and that the smoke of the city ascended, they turned back and struck down the men of Ai. Then the others came out of the city against them; so they were caught in the midst of Israel, some on this side and some on that side. And they struck them down, so that they let none of them remain or escape. But the king of Ai they took alive, and brought him to Joshua” (8:18-23).

    As commanded, all the inhabitants of Ai were annihilated–12,000 in all. Spoil was taken by the Israelites since God had authorized it on this occasion (if only Achan had waited!). The king of Ai was hanged and thus humiliated publicly (cf. Deut. 21:22,23). The city was turned into a burned heap of desolation!

    Afterward, Joshua constructed an altar and made a copy of the law of Moses. This too was prescribed by God on an earlier occasion (cf. Deut. 27ff). The people assembled for the reading of the law in what we might call a natural amphitheater. Half gathered near Mount Gerizim and the other half near Mount Ebal, with the ark of the covenant–attended by the priests–in the middle. The priests blessed the people and then Joshua proceeded to “read all the words of the law, the blessings and the cursings, according to all that is written in the Book of the Law. There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded which Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel, with the women, the little ones, and the strangers who were living among them” (Josh. 8:34,35). The people needed to know the law in order to know what God expected of them. If they obeyed Him, they would be blessed, but if they disobeyed they would be cursed–just like the Canaanite people they were in the process of destroying from the land.

     
  • Stephen R. Bradd 5:00 am on 2011-10-07 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Joshua   

    The Mistakes of Achan (JOSHUA 7, part 3) 

    “So Joshua rose early in the morning and brought Israel by their tribes, and the tribe of Judah was taken. He brought the clan of Judah, and he took the family of the Zarhites; and he brought the family of the Zarhites man by man, and Zabdi was taken. Then he brought his household man by man, and Achan the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, was taken. Now Joshua said to Achan, ‘My son, I beg you, give glory to the LORD God of Israel, and make confession to Him, and tell me now what you have done; do not hide it from me.’ And Achan answered Joshua and said, ‘Indeed I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, and this is what I have done: When I saw among the spoils a beautiful Babylonian garment, two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. And there they are hidden in the earth in the midst of my tent, with the silver under it'” (Josh. 7:16-21).

    In a systematic way (with God’s help), the guilty tribe, family, household, and man are identified. Achan is branded as the guilty party! His fear must have increased exponentially as Joshua slowly closed in on his household. Why didn’t he simply come forward and confess his wrong doing? Evidently his heart was hard. Did he have some hope that he would not be exposed as a thief and a deceiver? Did he foolishly believe that his sins would not find him out (cf. Num. 32:23)? Did he entertain the notion that Almighty God would not see his wickedness since he had hidden the stolen items? Some today ignorantly believe their sins are shielded from God’s perception. “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap” (Gal. 6:7). God sees everything and blessed or punishes accordingly!

    After being labeled as the violator, Achan confessed all. His problems began when he “saw among the spoils” several items of significant value and desired them for himself. No doubt this was a temptation to many Israelites when they destroyed Jericho, but God’s word had been clear. Everyone denied themselves and said “no” to temptation, except Achan. Achan’s prolonged, lustful look at that which could never be his opened the door for thievery. Many today ruin their lives as Achan did by setting their eyes longingly on things or people who can never be theirs! As Jesus said in Matthew 6:22,23 – “The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness.”

    “So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran to the tent; and there it was, hidden in his tent, with the silver under it. And they took them from the midst of the tent, brought them to Joshua and to all the children of Israel, and laid them out before the LORD. Then Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, the silver, the garment, the wedge of gold, his sons, his daughters, his oxen, his donkeys, his sheep, his tent, and all that he had, and they brought them to the Valley of Achor. And Joshua said, ‘Why have you troubled us? The LORD will trouble you this day.’ So all Israel stoned him with stones; and they burned them with fire after they had stoned them with stones. Then they raised over him a great heap of stones, still there to this day. So the LORD turned from the fierceness of His anger. Therefore the name of that place has been called the Valley of Achor to this day” (Josh. 7:22-26).

    Achan’s story was confirmed; the stolen items were found among his possessions. The people obeyed God by putting to death the violator along with his family (who, we might assume, had knowledge of his wickedness and shared in it to some degree). Achan had caused a great deal of trouble for the nation as a whole, but no longer would he be a hindrance upon them. With the sin properly removed, God would now bless His people again. Here is another great lesson for the church today: If sin exists in a congregation, it must be dealt with properly, not ignored (e.g., I Cor. 5).

     
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