Israel 2016

Israel 2016
Roman architectural influence in Bet Sean, Israel

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Canonical Reading Plan for Mar 11, Jos 1-4

Today's readings are Jos 1-4

Joshua is the sixth book of the Bible. The first five are known as "Torah" by the Jews. By the end of Deuteronomy, we've seen creation, the fall of mankind, the choosing of Abraham to lead a people who belong to God, their deliverance from slavery in Egypt, the giving of the Law and the establishment of a place for God to dwell among them. God is moving, one step at a time, in His plan to redeem His people and restore His relationship with them.

Joshua places a primary emphasis on the land. Canaan is the Promised Land, and God has directed His people to conquer it. Possession of this rich, fertile region is crucial. It is important that God's people see the Canaan as their gift from God. It represents a permanent home which will become the biblical symbol of an eternal home in heaven.

Joshua must be read very carefully. It can be brutal and bloody at times. Without an understanding of how it fits into God’s redemptive plan and all the symbolism inherent in the book, it may be hard for some to justify all the carnage. Seeing Joshua’s place God’s timeline and looking for what God reveals about Himself can be helpful. God has freed His people, given them the Law, and is about to give them a home. But, now they have to learn how to live with the Law. Now, their home has to become a holy land, the Holy Land. For that to happen, all sin must be ruthlessly eradicated from their lives and their new land. Joshua tells the story of a cleansing of sin. The brutal nature of the cleansing reveals the devastating consequences of rebelling against God. God has repeatedly shown His people that He will not tolerate disobedience and rebellion. In the military victories, Israel will experience in Joshua, they will also see the price pagan nations pay when they oppose God and His children.

We should see this is a life-lesson. For us, as believers, there are real-time consequences for disobedience. Watch what happens at Ai. When we sin, our status as His children does not change, but events like the ones that transpire at Ai show us that God will use chastisement to remind us we still need heart-work in our relationship with Him.

On a larger scale, throughout the Book of Joshua, the repeated and incredibly brutal deaths of those who oppose God gives us an indication of the magnitude of pain in store for those who reject the gospel. Seeing such excruciating fatalities should give us urgency in sharing the gospel.

Jos 1 picks up where Deuteronomy left off. God always provides one man to show His people the way, a man of His choosing. This time, it’s Joshua, who replaces Moses. The people agree that they will obey the Law and listen to Joshua. This will prove to be a difficult challenge for them. 

In Jos 2:1-14, we meet Rahab, a Gentile prostitute who lives in Jericho. Rahab rescues two Hebrew spies and becomes a convert to their faith, believing in their God. This is an early indication that God intends to eventually bring all types of people and all nations into His fold. Rahab will become one of the ancestors of Jesus (Mt 1:5) as well as a role model in her faith (Heb 11:31).

Israel crosses the Jordan in Jos 3:14-17. As happened at the Red Sea, the waters are divided, and they cross on dry land. This bears similarities to the first exodus, demonstrating that God is still with His people, continually moving among them in a supernatural way. In the first exodus, Moses led the people to freedom on the other side of the Red Sea. It was an incredible first step, but the rest of their journey turned out to be a struggle. In this second exodus, Joshua leads the people into their new home on the other side of the Jordan. As we will see, this journey will be a struggle as well. But the manner in which they cross the river is a sign that God will deliver them, just as He did the first time.

The Jews leave a memorial on the far side of the Jordan (
Jos 4). It is a reminder of the miracle God gave them. It was also an affirmation of Joshua's position as their leader, a man blessed by God. Perhaps more importantly, the memorial is a testimony to the surrounding nations that God is with His people. There is always evidence of God's presence in the lives of His children, always a testimony to the world of His power and glory.

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