“At that time Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord gave the Amorites over to the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel,
“Sun, stand still at Gibeon,
and moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.”
And the sun stood still, and the moon stopped,
until the nation took vengeance on their enemies.
Is this not written in the Book of Jashar? The sun stopped in the midst of heaven and did not hurry to set for about a whole day. There has been no day like it before or since, when the Lord heeded the voice of a man, for the Lord fought for Israel.” – Joshua 10:12-14
God hears our prayers and can and will act.
I love this part of the story. The part where God ‘heeds the voice of man’. How cool is that? God was with Joshua so much so that he allowed Joshua to have the power to make a decision regarding the sun and moon! That’s pretty crazy. In fact, it’s the only instance in the Bible where God obeys man. Now, to be clear, Joshua is by no means bossing God around. God is the one in control hear. But Joshua’s desires were God’s desires and so God acted. I like to keep this in mind when I pray. I know that God has already planned out my life and even knows what I am going to pray for and so I will pray like this: “Lord, please give me this/help this person to do this/help me do something/give me the job/give me a spouse/etc if it is your will. If my heart’s desires are not your will, please help me to desire the things of you and not of my flesh”. God hears our prayers and he acts on them, whether we see it or not. And God can and will give you your heart’s desires if they are aligned with His will and glory. So don’t be afraid to pray for ‘big asks’. Who knows, God may even move the sun and moon for you.
“So the men took some of their provisions, but did not ask counsel from the Lord.” – Joshua 9:4
A decision made in isolation is not a good decision.
In Chapter 9, we get the better view of the story. As the reader, we know ahead of time that the whole “We are your humble servants” act is a sham so it is easy for us to look at the Isrealites and say, “Are you stupid?!”. But more often than not, we find ourselves making decisions on our own without seeking wise counsel. Heck, I know sometimes I don’t even pray about a decision and just trust my own judgement. Living in a culture which praises independence and self-reliance, we have been trained at a young age to not ask for help. In our minds, we are stronger if we can do things by ourselves but in reality we are exposing our weaknesses. We may not be seeing some very clear and dangerous red flags. God calls us to take our decisions to our community who are able to see and call out our blind spots as well as point us to Scripture when making a decision. He also tells us to go to Him in pray when making a decision, asking for wisdom and discernment. Sometimes, it is a lot easier to just go ahead and make a decision; but as we see in this chapter, it doesn’t always lead to good results. It takes practice.
“At that time Joshua built an altar to the Lord, the God of Israel, on Mount Ebal, just as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded the people of Israel …” – Joshua 8:30-31
We should thank the Lord for his blessings for He is faithful.
After the Isrealites were made right with the Lord, God encouraged Joshua and his men to proceed with the destruction of the city of Ai. They killed all the inhabitants and were allowed to plunder the city this time. This is a picture of how God reconciles with us despite our shortcomings and our sin. Matthew Henry explains, “When we have faithfully put away sin, that accursed thing which separates between us and God, then, and not till then, we may look to hear from God to our comfort; and God’s directing us how to go on in our Christian work and warfare, is a good evidence of his being reconciled to us”. God never left the Isrealites, but he also didn’t let them proceed while still in sin. Once they faced the consequences, he lead them to victory.
“Get up! Consecrate the people and say, ‘Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow; for thus says the Lord, God of Israel, “There are devoted things in your midst, O Israel. You cannot stand before your enemies until you take away the devoted things from among you.” – Joshua 7:13
As Christians, we know that we are saved by grace and not by works. However, this does not give us the freedom to live in sin.
In Chapter 7, we see Achan blatantly go against the Lord’s orders to not take anything from Jericho. By coveting and hoarding loot, Achan brings about God’s wrath which not only affects him, but causes the Isrealites to lose the battle at Ai. Though because of Christ’s death on the cross, we no longer need to fear God’s wrath, we don’t have a free pass to sin without consequences. We are all imperfect people, and will remain so this side of Heaven, but if we intentionally choose to live in sin we will not be able to ‘stand before our enemies’. Consequences will happen, not because God’s wrath is upon us, but because He loves us too much to allow us to escape the consequences of our sinful actions. So if you can relate to Achan this morning, and many mornings I know I do, rest at ease. We have a loving and merciful God that wants only the best for you. Come back to him.
“And the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and mighty men of valor. You shall march around the city, all the men of war going around the city once. Thus shall you do for six days. Seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. On the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. And when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, when you hear the sound of the trumpet, then all the people shall shout with a great shout, and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and the people shall go up, everyone straight before him.” – Joshua 6:2-5
Sometimes God’s plan seems crazy to us but if we trust in Him, we will see the walls fall down.
Have you ever had a season in your life where you find yourself wondering, “What is God up to?”. I know, in my life, some things just don’t make sense to me. However, when God reveals his plan I always have the ‘aha’ moment and can look back and see his hand in everything. I bet the Isrealites were like that. “Walk around Jericho for days? Blow trumpets? Scream at the top of our lungs? What is this gonna do?” Instead of doubting, like the Isrealites are prone to do (and all of US), they follow the Lord’s orders and watch the walls crumble before their very eyes. God fulfilled his promise. It is hard for us to see God’s plan. As mere mortals, we can only see a glimmer of the big picture. But God continues to prove his faithfulness throughout all of our lives. We need only to trust and follow Him.
“As soon as all the kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan to the west, and all the kings of the Canaanites who were by the sea, heard that the Lord had dried up the waters of the Jordan for the people of Israel until they had crossed over, their hearts melted and there was no longer any spirit in them because of the people of Israel.” – Joshua 5:1
The Lord can use our stories of grace to soften the hearts of unbelievers. Sharing your story is a great evangelizing tool.
I am not the best at sharing the Gospel. I get tongue-tied and worried I will say the wrong thing or say a verse that actually doesn’t exist. I think a lot of the time we think it’s our responsibility to convert people. But God doesn’t work that way. Accepting Christ is a personal choice between that person and God. Nothing you say can make them make that decision. However, God can use our stories and our testimonies to soften hardened hearts. A great way to start sharing the Gospel with someone is sharing how the Gospel has directly affected and changed your life. Verses are important and detailed theological explanations can be impressive, but the change we’ve seen in our own lives are impossible to argue against. Just like God used the story of the Isrealites to soften the hearts of their enemies, he can use yours too.
“And he said to the people of Israel, “When your children ask their fathers in times to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’ then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground.’ For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we passed over, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.” – Joshua 4:21-24
Share your stones (your testimony) with others so that they see God’s grace, love, and power through you.
In Joshua 4, God tells Joshua and his people to leaves stones where the priests were standing as a memorial so that when their children asked, they could recall the story of God’s wonders. We all have our own personal stories of how Christ changed us and performed wonders in our lives. These stories are meant to be shared! Our testimonies are great ways to share the Gospel. It’s living proof of the all-knowing, all-powerful, and LIVING God! It is also a great reminder of God’s faithfulness to remember the stones in our own lives, especially during tough times. Share your story today.
“Now the priests bearing the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firmly on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan, and all Israel was passing over on dry ground until all the nation finished passing over the Jordan.” – Joshua 3:17
Nothing can stand in the way of God’s plan for you. Despite the trials in your way, the Lord will do wonders.
After waiting 40 years in the desert, I bet the Isrealites were tired of waiting on God’s promises. However, God continues to show his faithfulness. In Joshua 3, God informs Joshua that he plans to lead the Isrealites across the Jordan and gives instructions to his people: watch the Ark, follow the Ark, and honor the Ark by staying 2000 cubits behind it. The Isrealites follow their orders and are led across on dry land! Now, we don’t have the Ark anymore to follow, but God doesn’t live in the Ark anymore. Because of Christ’s sacrifice, He lives in us! We are given an Ark inside of us, which allows us to follow the same steps:
Watch God as he acts in your life and the lives of others.
Follow God through His Word.
Honor Him in everything you do.
We can use these three steps in our everyday lives when we are facing trials or a season of spiritual drought. And just like the Isrealites, as hard as life may be and as long as you’ve been waiting, God has never left you and he plan is unfolding…
“Behold, when we come into the land, you shall tie this scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and you shall gather into your house your father and mother, your brothers, and all your father’s household.” – Joshua 2:18
God uses imperfect sinners to do His perfect will.
In Chapter 2, we are introduced to Rahab, a prostitute in Jericho, who hides Joshua’s spies from the King. I love this part of the story
because it is a reminder of how God can use us despite our sins and our
failures. Rahab, a pagan and a harlot, is saved by her faith in the one, true God. She believes in the stories she’s heard of the God of the Hebrews and puts her life at risk to save the spies. To save her family and herself, she must hang a scarlet cord out of her window. The color scarlet is primarily associated with sin in the Bible (Revelations 17: 1-6), but instead, God uses this color to save the sinner. He uses is for redemption. For all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23), but we have been redeemed through Christ. No sin is too big for God to use. For “we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). What a wonderful reminder that we are not used goods but we are made new and perfect in Christ!
“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. “- Joshua 1:8
The inherent Word of God is helpful in all situations and amidst all circumstances. However, simply reading the Word is not what God commands us to do. He commands us to meditate on it.
There are so many encouraging verses in the first chapter of Joshua about courage, bravery, and God’s faithfulness. But the verse that stood out to me is verse 8, where God tells Joshua to not let the Law of God depart from him and to meditate on it. This is very convicting to me. Though I am in the Word daily, it is very easy for me to read scripture and then move on to the rest of the items on my To-Do List. It’s become a habit and if you asked me an hour later what I have been learning in my quiet times, it would be hard for me to remember. When in school, if you have ever crammed for a test, you remember what you studied just long enough to put it on paper and then it’s gone. Just like a test, if we cram through the Bible, God’s truth will quickly depart from us. God calls us to meditate so that we can truly absorb what He is trying to teach us. In Psalm 1:1-3, David writes “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.” The key here is meditation. And not the Buddhist/yoga meditation you hear about, but taking time to really think and consider what God is saying and how you can apply it to your life. It’s amazing that when you start to meditate on scripture, you will find that verses will pop up when you need them the most. Making Christ-focused decisions become easier because God’s word is written on your heart, not just in the mind. So, I encourage you to pick a passage of the Bible to read today and really meditate on it. You may be surprised by what God teaches you.