Are you experiencing unforeseen and unwelcome changes in your life? Then you need to hear the incredible promise God made to Joshua during his own time of transition. It's a promise for you as well!
“The Only Way to Live”
I invite your attention back to the book of Joshua as we begun our studies in this book as we continue our way through the bible. In our last discussion, we observed Joshua was filled with fear, but the purposes and plans of God do not hiccup, they do not stumble with the ongoing of a saint who is replaced by another. Joshua was terrorized with the project that God had laid before him. As you may remember in my last discussion we were together, God gave Joshua a couple of very important lessons, espcially when it relates to leadership.
That was this:
Joshua, Moses is dead, but I am not. Joshua, leaders may change, but I don’t. People may vascilate, people may change, but God says in my purposes I do not change. I am consistent.
God, a sovereign God, remains the truth, remains the same. He encouraged Joshua by saying in Chapter 1:5. Look with me Just as I have been with Moses I will be with you, I will not fail you, that Hebrew word could be render, I will not relax toward you, that is I will not be weak toward you, I am giving you all the sovereign power that I posses for your benefit. He does the same for you and me as well.
Let me divide the next few verses into different sections. 1. (We will call it the project) Go in and possess the land.
Let’s go back to Chapter 1:2. God reiterates the project with Joshua. He says to him, Moses, my servant, is dead. Now therefore arise. Cross this Jordan. You and all these people. To the land try giving to them, to the sons of Israel. . .skip to verse 10. Joshua commanded the officers of the people saying, Pass through the midst of the camp and command the people saying, Prepare provisions for yourselves for within three days you are to cross this Jordan. To go in and notice this to possess the land which the Lord your God is giving you to possess it. Now they would never fully possess their possessions, that is God had given them as their inheritance this piece of property.
But we know from studying through the end of the book and into the Old Testament that the people of Israel never conquered that God had already promised to give them.
The rage in battle continues even today. It was in 1947 when the delegates, 56 of them, met in the United Nations to give their votes to this little country now claiming independence as a nation. They met in Flushing, New York and as the first delegate to delegate from Qualamale arose to pass his vote whether for or against Israel becoming recognized as a state. There was a cry heard from the spectators gallery as some rabbi cried out in Hebrew, “Ana ad Hoshuva,” save us O Lord! You see the cry goes all the way back to the time when the Israel failed to accomplish the will of God. And they are still struggling to this day to claim their inheritance. We see it almost every day in the newspapers. The vote went 33 to 10 in their favor so they became a nation, but it is still divided.
It wasn’t until 1967 that Jerusalem was unified under their rule, but it is still today the pressure in on to give back conquer territories to the Arab people, the descendant of Esau. They are fighting to the nail to claim what they go back to Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deutermony, Joshua as rightfully theirs.
We know from leaping through the end of the bible, that it will not be totally theirs until Jesus Christ comes back and reigns and gives them their possession.
The problems that began back in these days, was to never posses their possessions. Were threefolds, apathy, disobedience, and unbelief. So they never claimed the land that what was theirs.
God had given them the land, but they would not because of apathy or disobedient or unbelief claim it for themselves. Now my study this week I have struggled with even going into all of this because it is a little piece of meat that is tough to chew. But it is something we do not hear enough of. So I am going to give it to you, and I want you and I chew on it together. It is what we would call meat. It is deep spiritual truth.
Joshua was counterparted in the New Testament as the book of Hebrews. And in Hebrews 3:3, 4 he makes a parallel to the Israelites not claiming the land and conquering it by the power of God.
Go to Hebrews 3: 3. Lets dig for awhile. Hebrews 3:3 makes the possession parallel with the believers spiritual victory. Now as you are turning there, listen now out of the corner of your mind. Canaan in the Old Testament does not represent Heaven. I know that destroys a lot of gossip songs ruined perhaps just your favorite. And Jordan does not represent death. We are not going to cross the Jordan by death and enter Canaan. Canaan is not Heaven. At least I hope it isn’t. For what I am saying isn’t true, for if it is Canaan has enemies in it. You’ve got to fight to enter Canaan, not my kind of Heaven. There are temptations in Canaan, there are trials in Canaan, there is sin in Canaan. Though Canaan in the New Testament is a picture of the believers rest. It is the believers life of victory. That believer who is claiming because of obedience and unapathetic life all that God has given them. So Canaan is a picture of the New Testament in the life of victory.
Look at Chapter 3:1, therefore, only brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling consider Jesus. . . So is he writing to unbelievers or believers? Believers! Holy brethren. If you understand that then the next few chapters will be fall into place a lot more easily. Look at verse 7. To these holy brethren He is saying, Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your heart as when they, the Israelites, provoke me as in the day of trial in the wilderness. verse 10. Therefore, I was angry with this generation and said they always go stray in their heart and did not know my ways and I swore they will not enter my rest. What was the rest? Canaan, the promise land.
Now skip over to Chapter 4:1. He applies it to the New Testament believer. Therefore, that is on the basis of Israelite nations example of failure to possess what God wanted them to have, therefore, let us fear less while a promise remains of entering His rest, anyone of you should seem to have come short of it.
Is he talking about heaven? No. He is talking to the holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling.
But he is implying a very fearful truth. It was possible for the Israelite not to experience Canaan, it was possible for them to be defeated in Canaan, so also it is possible for a believer to wander in the wilderness or attempt to enter Canaan and live a defeated life defeated by the enemies therein. It is possible for you and I, not to experience spiritual victory, spiritual rest. Victory in the personal life comes with those who are willing to fight. We do not hear a lot about that. We like to be feed. Victory.
I think today millions of believers within the evangelical church are wandering around in the wilderness. Could you call even your own life a life of victory? Or a life or intermitten defeat? Would you say that you were put possessing your possessions? Think of all the promises that God has given us from Joshua on. There are 2,000 of them and there are promises for every problem. God has promised us strength for our weakness. He has promised us comfort for our sorrow. He has promised us deliverance from worrying and fear and anxiety. He has given us grace for our suffering. He has promised wisdom for our relationships, our work, our life. He has promised us all of that, and Jesus Christ said, I have come not just to give you believers life but life more abundantly. That is life that can conquers Canaan. There is no need for us to wander in the wilderness.
The problems the Israelites had existed, let me give them to you, threefold again. . . apathy, would be one.
Yesterday as I have told you in the past we started a tradition of going to our boys soccer games. Boy they are exciting. And I have told you a few weeks ago that you are not supposed to keep score. I have been fudging on that. I will tell you this after the last two games I would like to forget the score. However, one bright spot yesterday was one of my boys scored a goal. I don’t mind telling you that for he gets his athletic paralysis from his mother. Watch it there buddy. (Laughter) I said his mother. And it is exciting to see that 5 year old fighting off the guys, he is dribbling the ball and he kicks that thing and it goes into the goal and he shoves little fist into the air. Now everybody on the sidelines, especially his mother and myself, have our hands in the air too. Oh that is exciting. We cannot even enjoy to a measure of what course through his veins. The exhilaration that he feels, why? For he has been personally involved. He has fought, he has run, has kicked it, and we call it what? We call it his goal.
There is not a marriage in here this morning that cannot experience everything that God has intended to experience. But why do not all the marriages experience it? Because it takes two people who are willing to fight for it. Who are willing to give it the time. Who are willing to make it their priority. Who sets apathy aside and say, if this is what God intends I will give it my all. And you can experience something others may not. You are fighting. You are possessing your possessions.
There is another problem I mention before and it is unbelief.
That is trouble came to me. God did not seem to care. The battles are to tough. I was involved once, I became a Christian and I became involved in some ministry and BANG. Criticism? Maybe even a defeat. Trouble and you sheve your sword and said enough of this, I’ll camp on the other side of Jordan. Where two and a half tribes by the way camped. They did not want to go in. However, they would help them fight but they wanted to stay outside. Which meant whenever the enemy came to attack from the outside they would be the first ones that got bang. But it is a little safer over here. Besides, it is easier to worry than to trust an invisible God.
We have couple #1 over here. They take their child to the doctor, and the doctor tells them this child has a disease. And they raise their fist at God, believers, they turn their back on God, and they say, If that is the way you treat us, forget you. They just lost in Canaan.
Couple #2 has the same illustration happen with their child and we watch in an amazement as they turn their faces toward God and say, God, we will trust you. They are possessing their possessions.
The other is disobedience, that just not being in a position for God to bless. The ears closed. The eyes closed to Him. Victory in the personal life comes to those who are eager for it. Those you press for it. Those you long for it with passion. Those who are willing to say, when the battle is on, I will trust you. That person is winning. Possessing possessions.
There was a problem confronting Joshua. Section #2. The problem is this: Jesus Christ of course gives us the same problem. That is He tells them in Joshua to cross over in battle array. It tells us in Ephesain 6 to put on your armor for about to enter battle to fight. You willing to fight it? Then I given you the resources.
But first the problem. Now we go back to Joshua and we can basically summarize his problem twofold. #1. The fact was that he was replacing somebody like Moses. We spent a lot of time in our last session talking about this.
He was replacing what the bible itself said was the greatest man to live and no one greater would live until the one greater than Moses came, Jesus Christ. Try feeling the shoes in like a guy like Moses. Now Holliwood will put together a movie called “The Ten Commandments” and who are they going to find to play Moses. Well, Charlton Heston. Mean. . .lock solid jaw, tough man, you know guys glaring. Charlton Heston. . .he fits. Moses is Joshua. Maybe it is like replacing Charlton Heston with Mister Rogers. Somebody like that who just could not come in with all the strength. Well, I think his personal fear really fits into this.
Second of all of course is the problem that is the Inhabitants of the land . . . who are the inhabitants of the Canaan. The categorical term is the Canaanites. Within all the Canaanites who have all of those ites. . . the Hittites, Jebusites, Parasites.
Turn back to Genesis 9:25. Lets find out where it all started. In fact, one of the questions is asked, How come God has the right to tell the people of Israel to go in and kill all the inhabitants of Canaan? Sounds like a God that I do not want to be related to. Where did it start? Genesis 9 tells us the story of a sinner who should had been a saint by the name of Noah. He has his children, his sons, and on one occasion Noah gets drunk. And his son, Ham, sees his nakedness. There has been a lot of debate in what that involved, more than likely Noah had somehow perhaps stripped into lewdness, dancing about the tent, he was in a drunken stupor and one of his sons, Ham saw him and implied in it that he derived him, perhaps in his heart he had refused the God of Noah and now he found the proof needed to reject that God. He was obviously rebelling against God.
Now, in chapter 9:25, God cursed who? Ham? Those who would take the word justify bigotry because Ham is the pro janitor of the black race would love to camp here. But who does God cursed? Ham? Canaan, one of Ham’s sons. Canaan would be the progenitor of the Canaanites. They would be 7 nations and the archaeologists have helped us tremendously covering their lifestyles in Canaan. These people were immoral, were involved in everything from religious prostitute, bestiality, homosexuality and even child sacrifice, human sacrifice.
God had placed in their midstep evidently a godly priest named Melchizedek, who we must assumed was constantly rejected.
So when Israel went in to claim the land, they were not only going in to claim their rightful inheritance, and they were also a tool in the judgment in the hand of God. God was going to punish these nations because of their wickedness.
They were not going to way their white flag and throw down their arms. They had to be conquer. Now, if you were Joshua, and you were just been told that you were taking the place of Moses, you are going into a land where 7 ironclad nations exist. And you were going to conquer them with your little band, maybe 400,000 warriors. Wouldn’t you want to know what your resources are? Wouldn’t you want to know some kind of guarantee? Okay now Lord, you want me to do this? What are you going to give me to do it?
Go back to Joshua 1. Lets look at the promise. Summarizing the promise, God tells Joshua in verses 7 & 8 . . .you will have success. . . you will prosper.
I spent this past week several hours just in studying these two Hebrew words, salach and sachal - success and prosper. After my study I am more convinced than ever that success defined in the word is worlds apart of success defined in the world. Totally different. We are living in world that is clamoring for some formula success and the tragedy is that the evangelical community, the Christian “world” is giving the wrong definition.
You turn on the tube about anytime and you can be told how to gain success, how to have more stuff. Isn’t that it? How to have more things, how to wear better stuff, how to drive a newer model, and all those issues come out. By the way, if you would just send my ministry some kind of a seed gift or whatever, God will really pour it on. Garbage. The word success, and the word prosper, those two together are used interchangeably. Look in the Old Testament. Let me throw a few references at you.
2 Chronicles 7:11, Thus Solomon finished the house of the Lord and successfully completed all that he had planned on doing in the house of the Lord.
2 Chronicles 20:20, Listen to me Juda and inhabitants of Jerusalem; put your trust in the Lord your God, and you will be established. Put your trust in this prophets and you will succeed.
2 Chronicles 31:20 ,21, Heezekiah did. . .what was good, right and true before his God the Lord; and every work which he begins. . .seeking his God, he did with all his heart and he prospered.
Nehemiah prayed before God, chapter 1, “God, make meto prosperous. . .What was he concerned about? What kind of home he lived in in Jerusalem? No. He was asking God to allow him to be successful that he would accomplish what God wanted him to accomplish, in fact in chapter 2:20, Nehemiah talks to the people and he says that the God of heaven will give us success”.
Now from all the passages I looked at I came over this little definition of success. . .according to the word it is this: success or prospering is to live with such a passion for knowing and pleasing God. That to live any other way is unattractive, if not unthinkable.
Joshua was now to do three things related to this formula that he was given for success.
In relation to the word, he was to do three things, look at #1 in verse 7. He was to obey it comprehensible, Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses, My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success whereever you go.
The implication is that Joshua that there was sin, not just over here somewhere, but that sin is on the left and sin is on the right. So you must walk right down the middle. The middle way according to this book. John Bunyan wrote in the flyleaf of his bible; “Either this book will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from this Book.”
Now what was the Book of the law? It was the Torah. Joshua had the first five books of the Old Testament: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteromony.
So God was giving him basically the Torah, he was probably watched Moses write and he had it at his disposal. God is basically telling Joshua, Get into the Torah, get into the Book of the law - the Pentateuch, and immerse yourself in it and if you will obey whatever you read in it you will be successful. What does that mean? That means you will have passion to no means and to please me in such passion that will find any other kind of living unattractive if not unthinkable.
He was also to communicate correctly. Verse 8, the first part, This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth. Now we know that from day that every seven years the leader of the people, that I preached was supposed to read the entire Pentateuch to the hearing of the people. Imagine sitting through that one. All five books of the bible, they she supposed to hear it every seven years. Joshua, the leader, was responsible for communicating the word, the Torah, to his people. If he ever hoped his people to be successful.
Boy that is good advice.
You want successful children. . .how far away from your lips is the Torah? The word? You want your child to be a good citizen? Of course. An unbeliever can be that. You want your child to grow up and have a good job? Sure. But an unbeliever can do that. Do you want your child to be successful? Then it takes communicating the word.
I am frankly miraged in my study since we are kindly exposed to the fact that our church is being highlighted. I am miraged with material on how to have a successful church. Comes in all the time in the mail. All the church’s growth, stuff, all of the principles, all the stuff I usually file in that little round container by my two drawer file system. You want to be successful? Then you can do either a, b, c, or d. And I got news for you and me, and this isn’t news to us, I hope, but to be successful means that we are communicating the word consistently.
In the class, in this place, and in everything else is a spoke off the hob of learning the word of God.
#3. He was to meditate on it consistently. verse 8b, you shall meditate on it day and night, the word meditate could be translated, “mutter; ponder.” It is ruminating like a cow who will chew its cud for digesting sake.
Reading the bible is eating.
Meditating is digesting. . .meditating is what it takes to ponder it, to let it sift, to let it impact to affect your life. Miditating takes discipline. So what God is telling Joshua here is that he is not only thathe is requiring obedience, he is requiring intelligence obedience. He is telling him that he is not only his responsibility to do he knows, but he is supposed to know what he has to do. How many of us really know what it takes to please God? He is giving us the responsibility to find it out in his word. But you know when you talk about meditating, ruminating, pondering, muttering, you think, man alive, we got the books of Philippians, we got the Psalms, we got the Proverbs, we got the Gospels, what did Joshua have? Leviticus? Where the meditation would begin and end. And yet he was to get immersed in that and God considered Leviticus sufficient enough to help him be successful. The question is, is the word really enough?
Let me give you couple of illustrations of our world does not consider it enough. In 1983, Josephine Taylor of Ontario, said that she saw the image of Jesus Christ reflecting off her bathroom floor. The minister in the area came over and said it was really worn adhesive coming through the tiling, but the thing was that 3,000 Canadians came to believed it and came to see it.
I read that thousand of people flocked to Arlene Garner’s trailer in Tennessee in 1987, because the image of Christ was on her deep freezer out on her porch. She also had a dream where God had told her that He had turned her freezer into a television screen so that the world could see His face. Thousands of people came to see it. Many explained that it was quiet an experience.
In New Mexico, in 1977, a woman claimed that the image of Jesus had appeared on a tortilla that she had burned in a skillet. The trouble is that so many people came to worship, she setup a shrine, Jesus of the Tortilla. Dead serious.
The image of Jesus has been reportedly seen on a billboard in Georgia. . .and one on the side of an Ohio, soybean tanker and on, on. and on it goes.
More than 15 million people have gone to a village in Yugoslavia to see a vision of Mary. 15 million. Many of them from America. I read Life magazine story of a couple months ago about a woman who was terminally ill. . .she went there because she needed “to know that her suffering wasn’t in vain. . .and that her God had not abandoned her.” Ladies and gentlemen, that is the bottom line. This is not enough to let us know that God has not abandoned us. It is not enough to pull us through this suffering or the trials. We need something else. And so this world clamors for the shroud of Turin, a splinter from Noah’s ark, an experience, or a vision or a dream, and what they do is discard what God said is sufficient.
Paul said in 2 Timothy 3, all scripture given by inspiration, and it is profitable for approve, correction. . .for instruction and righteousness so that the man of God that is the believer can be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
The problem is that this resources is not attractive enough and so we want some meteoric flash of inspiration rather than the steady slow burn from the candle of His word.
The promise of Joshua is again qualified, the last part of verse 8, be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.
Let me read the words from Alan Redpath which he gave to his congregation of his moody church years ago, he says these words, I have no magic formula for your holiness; I have no hocus-pocus treatment to offer you; I have no shortcut to spiritual power for any of you. All I can do is to say to you is go back to your Bible; meditate therein day and night, for the greatest transaction of a Christian’s experience are made, not in a church, but behind closed doors.”
The problem, ladies and gentlemen, is not that we don’t have enough revelation from God; the problem is not that we have enough resources to conquer the land of Canaan, to experience spiritual victory, the problem is not that we do not have enough of Jesus Christ, the problem is Jesus Christ does not have enough of us.
There on the swollen bank of the Jordan River, God spoke to Joshua and he told him that he had everything he needed - he had the Book of the law. . .the question was, would Joshua give himself over the years to God.
Listen to the words of this song as it is played, they are on the back of your study notes. Just quietly let the words flow over your heart as you listen to this song sung by Steve Amerson.
Take your bibles and turn to chapter 23:6, farewell address of Joshua to let us know that he was indeed successful. be very firm, then, to keep and do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, so that you may not turn aside from it to the right had or to the left (sound familiar) skip to verse 14. Now behold, today I am going the way of all the earth (I’m about to die), and you know in all your hearts and in all your souls that not one word of all the good words which the Lord your God spoke concerning you has failed; all have been fulfilled for you, not one word of them has failed.”
Success! Observed over 110 years in the life of a man who desired to know and obey God with such passion, that any life lived any other way was unattractive - if not unthinkable. How successful is your life today? Stand and lets pray.