Good Advice from an Old Soldier | The Study of Joshua 23:1-8

Good Advice When You Need It Most
Good Advice When You Need It Most

Verse one of our text tells the story. Israel has acquired the land that God had promised them and their faithful leader, Joshua, is old and is preparing to die, v. 14. Before he leaves them, however, he has something to tell them about serving the Lord. To do this, he calls two meetings. The first, in chapter 23, is held with the elders and leaders of the people. The second, recorded in chapter 24, involves all the people of Israel.

As Joshua, the faithful old soldier, prepares to break camp:

  • He wants to encourage Israel to stay the course for God. He knows that the old guard, that is, those who knew Moses and Joshua are swiftly dying off. He knows that a new generation is coming along that did not see all the miracles and all the wonders of the Lord in their midst. Before he dies, he just wants to remind them of the God they serve.

In these 2 chapters, there are some valuable lessons for us as well. We live in a day when many have forgotten about the glory and power of God, and those who have known about such things are becoming fewer by the day. We need to be reminded of the power and glory of our God. Our children need to be exposed to His power!

These verses tells us what we need to know this morning about keeping God’s work alive.

Let’s look in on the scene as Good Advice comes from an Old Soldier.

I. 23:1-8 JOSHUA’S CONCERN

(Ill. As Joshua nears the time of his departure, he sees some things beginning to happen in the lives of the people of Israel. He sees things that he does not like. So, like any good leader, he feels duty bound to point out these things to the people before he departs.)

(Ill. Joshua had the same duty that preachers of the Word have in our day. When we see error in the lives of people, we have a duty before God to tell people about those errors. Why? Because we love them and only want God’s best for their lives.)

There are three things that Joshua fears:

A. V. 6 He Fears Complacency – Joshua is afraid that the people of Israel might begin to take the Law of God for granted. He fears that they might become complacent in their walk with the Lord and begin to let things slide in their lives. Sadly, he was right, this is exactly what they did!

(Ill. It is my conviction that the sin of complacency is one of the most common sins there is among the people of God! We have allowed ourselves to adopt a Laodicean attitude – Rev. 3:14-22. We have allowed ourselves to be satisfied with our spiritual condition and as a result, we are allowing thing to go unchallenged in our lives that are leading us away from God and deeper into sin! We are neither hot nor cold.

(Ill. This is a genuine situation in the lives of many people today! Many here at Gilead have been bitten by the complacency bug. No longer do people strive to serve the Lord, win the lost and live holy, consecrated lives to the glory of God. Instead, we are self-satisfied and sure that we have arrived spiritually! That, my friends, is a dangerous condition to be in!)

B. V. 7 He Fears Compromise – Another fear Joshua possesses is that the people of Israel will decide to follow the dead God’s of Canaan. He fears that they will compromise their standards and bow down to idols. Again, it is as if the man could see into the future! What he was afraid would happen, did happen!

(Ill. What about us? Aren’t we just as guilty as the Israelites? Have not the people of God given their affection to other gods? Certainly, many worship the gods of self, success, materialism, career, etc. The truth is, many are guilty of compromise in their lives. We allow ourselves to indulge in activities that we know God disproves of. We do things that we know are wrong and try to justify it by saying, “Well, so and so does it!” All the while we smile and sing, “Oh how I love Jesus!” You have compromised you standards to the will of the flesh! Remember 1 Thes. 5:22? “Abstain from all appearance of evil.”)

C. V. 8 He Fears Commitment – It is not that Joshua fears that they will be committed to the Lord. Rather, he fears that their commitment will become slack and that they will not cleave to the Lord as they should.

I. Joshua’s Concern

II. 23:9-24:24 JOSHUA’S CHALLENGE

(Ill. In this section, Joshua challenges the elders and the people to observe certain truths concerning God. His challenge is for them to look at what the Lord has done and is doing in their lives. If they will just consider the Lord, they are more likely to live the right kind of lives!)

A. 23:11-13 To Consider God’s Wrath – While there are many challenges given here, the primary idea that Joshua is trying to convey is this: If you will serve the Lord, He will bless you. If you disobey Him, He will chastise you!

(Ill. This challenge still applies to the people of God today. That admonition is very simple: You play; you pay! As a child of God, you have two possible ways of living your life. You can either live it within the confines of God’s will and be blessed, or you can live it outside the will of God and be chastised,

B. 24:1-13 To Consider God’s Works – In this section, Joshua reminds the nation of all the many great things the Lord has done for them. His challenge is for them to remember all the works of the Lord on their behalf. If they will remember His goodness, they will be more likely to serve Him faithfully.

(Ill. The works of the Lord on our behalf are a great motivator for service! When we stop to think of all He has done, it should challenge us to go deeper in our relationship with Him. Think of: how He died; how He loved us when we were lost; how He came to us in our sins; how He called us unto Himself; how He saved us when we asked Him to; how He forgave all our sins and failures; how He adopted us into His family; how He has promised us a home in Heaven; how He has met our needs; how He has blessed our lives; how He has never left us nor forsaken us, even though, at times, we have forsaken Him. Think on His greatness and goodness toward you. Let those things be the motivator for you to renew you relationship with Him this morning!)

C. 24:14-18 To Consider God’s Will – Joshua tells the people that it is the Lord’s will for them to clean up their lives and to serve the Lord faithfully. He makes the statement that he and his family will do just that, v. 15! The people respond by expressing their desire to serve God because of His greatness and His blessings!

(Ill. Notice Joshua’s attitude toward the situation, v. 15. He tells them what they should be doing, then he tells that regardless of what they do, he is going to serve God! What a lesson for us as individuals!

D. 24:19-24 To Consider God’s Witness – Joshua makes a strange statement to the people. He tells them that they cannot serve the Lord! His meaning is clear. He is reminding them that the Lord witnesses their lives and they cannot have things both ways. That is ,they cannot serve the Lord on the one have hand, and serve false God’s on the other

I. Joshua’s Concern

II. Joshua’s Challenge

III. 24:25-33 JOSHUA’S COVENANT

A. 24:25-28 It Involved A Great Stone – Before Joshua dies, he erects a great stone as a monument to the fact that the people have sworn to follow the Lord. Thereafter, whenever they passed by that place they would remember their oath and be certain that their lives were pleasing to the Lord their God.

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THE CITIES OF REFUGE | The Book of Joshua 20:1-9

In the Book of Joshua 20:1-9

The Cities of Refuge
The Cities of Refuge

The land of Canaan has been possessed and subdued. The various tribes have received their inheritance and things are starting to wind down as far as the conquest of the land is concerned. However, there is still much work to be done by Joshua and the people of Israel. In this chapter, we find them carrying out a command that was first given to Moses in Numbers 35:1-34. They were to appoint 6 cities that were to be known as “cities of refuge”. These cities were to be made available to someone who has killed another person by accident. They could flee to any of these 6 cities and find safety and help.

It is these cities of refuge that I want to consider for a awhile this morning. They paint for us a clear picture of the salvation that is to be found only in the Lord Jesus Christ. Allow me to share several truths with you this morning concerning the cities of refuge.

I. V. 1-3 THE PURPOSE OF THESE CITIES

A. They Were To Serve As A Refuge – It is clear from these verses that these cities were to be set up to protect the person who had accidently taken the life of another person. If the crime in question happened to take the life of another human being, the nearest kinsman of the slain man had the right to avenge the death of his fallen relative, Num. 35:19-21.

Therefore, when a man had accidentally taken the life of another, he could flee to one of these 6 cities of refuge and there, if it was determined that the death had indeed been an accident, he could find safety from the “avenger of blood.” So, these cities were established as a refuge.

B. They Were To Serve As A Reminder – For our sakes, these cities serve to point out certain facts about the salvation we enjoy in the Lord Jesus Christ. Just as these were place were a man could flee in a time of desperate need, so Jesus is a place of safety this morning.

You see, here is our problem. We are born sinners, Rom. 3:23. It isn’t our fault; we are just born with an old sinful nature that we inherited from our father Adam. But, even though it isn’t our fault that we are born this way, it is our fault that we stay this way! As we grow older and reach an age where we can make a choice regarding sin, we all choose to sin. That makes sin a double edged sword! We are guilty by birth and by practice.

Now, since this is true, we are in deep trouble! Just like there was a death sentence on all those who took the life of another, there is also a death sentence on every person born into the human race. We are all being pursued by an Avenger of Blood.

We need a refuge! We need a place where we can run to and find safety for our souls! A place where we can find a new life and a new start. A place where the avenger of blood cannot touch us, ever! That place is a man. That man’s name is Jesus Christ. Notice what these cities of refuge teach us about Him.

I. The Purpose Of These Cities

II. V. 1 THE PROVISION OF THESE CITIES

A. They Were Provided By God – Man did not come up with the idea for these cities. This was a notion that was birthed in the heart and mind of God. He wanted to teach His people that murderers had to pay for their crimes, hence, the avenger of blood. Yet, He also wanted to teach His people that there was a place of mercy for those who were only guilty of an accident. Therefore, God gave them the cities of refuge.

(Ill. May I remind you that Jesus Christ is also the gift of God! Remember what the Bible says about Him, John 3:16?

B. They Were Provided By Grace – God could have allowed the manslayer to die like any other person who had taken a life. However, in His grace He made a way that those folks who had accidentally taken the life of another might find refuge and help.

(Ill. By the same token, God could have allowed sinners to all go to Hell. After all, we are guilty in His sight and we deserve nothing but damnation in the fires of Hell! But, I praise the precious name of the Lord this morning that God sent His Son to take our sins upon Himself on the cross, Isa. 53:6. I thank God that Jesus paid the price that sinners like you and me might live through Him!)

Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow

I. The Purpose Of These Cities

II. The Provision Of These Cities

III. V. 4-6, 9 THE POWER OF THESE CITIES

A. Vs. 4 They Had Power To Save – When the manslayer arrived in the city, his case was heard by the elders and if it was determined that the death had indeed been an accident, he was given a place within the city and was protected from the avenger of blood. The city of refuge allowed a man to live who would have otherwise surely died.

(Ill. So it is with Jesus! He is the only One Who can guarantee salvation to the soul of man! When a sinner comes to Jesus Christ by faith and accepts Him as Savior, that person is immediately adopted into the family of God.

B. Vs. 5-6 They Had Power To Secure – Notice that as long as the person stayed within the city he was safe. He could live there until the Day of Judgment and for as long as the high priest lived and when the high priest died, the manslayer was free to return home without fear.

(Ill. When we commit our souls to the Lord Jesus for salvation, we too are secured! If it was determined that the manslayer was guilty, then he was cast out. I know I am guilty, what does that say about my situation? You see, when Jesus died on the cross, he took my guilt.

I. The Purpose Of These Cities

II. The Provision Of These Cities

III. The Power Of These Cities

IV. V. 7-9 THE POSITION OF THESE CITIES

A. They Were Available To All – God provided 6 cities of refuge. There were three east of the Jordan and three west of the Jordan. They were placed so that there was not tribe that was too far from a city of refuge. They were available to everyone no matter where they were or who they were! Whether the manslayer was a son or a stranger, there was a city of refuge open for him.

(Ill. What a picture this is! Just as those ancient cities were available to all, so Jesus Christ is available to all as well. The plan of salvation makes only one requirement upon a man and that is that he is required to be a sinner! If you are a sinner and know it; if you are willing to admit that to God;

B. They Were Accessible To All – Just as these cities were spaced all over the country and were available to every Israelite, they were also accessible to every person. There are several reasons why I say that.

1. They Were Prominent – Most of these cities were built on top of mountains. Most of the cities of ancient Israel were built of white limestone. When the sun hit these cities they gleamed. Even in the night, under the light of the moon, they would be visible. They were easily seen, even from many miles away.

2. They Were Prepared – There were certain preparations that were made in and around these cities that guaranteed the manslayer that he would find safety when he arrived at the city of refuge.

A. The Roads Were Never Clogged – The priests would made sure that the roads leading to these cities were clear from obstructions and always open to the traveler.

B. The Gates Were Never Closed – No matter what the time of day or night, the gates on the city of refuge were never closed.

C. The Direction Was Never Confused – There were sign posts with the Hebrew word “Miklat” written on them that had been set up to point the way to the city of refuge. That word means “Refuge” There was no need for anyone to misunderstand the way to get there.

(Ill. What a picture these things paint for us of the salvation that can be found in Jesus Christ. Just like the cities of refuge, He is accessible to all.

I. The Purpose Of These Cities

II. The Provision Of These Cities

III. The Power Of These Cities

IV. The Position Of These Cities

V. V. 7-8 THE PICTURE IN THESE CITIES

A. There Is A Picture In Their Names – These six cities paint a wonderful picture of the provisions of God which are ours through the Lord Jesus Christ.

1. Kadesh – Righteousness –  (Ill. A refuge for the unclean!) 2 Cor. 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

2. Shechem – Shoulder –  (Ill. A refuge for that one lost in the wilderness of sin.) Luke 15:3-7 “What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.”

3. Hebron – Fellowship –  (Il. A refuge for the lonely sinner!) 1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

4. Bezer – Fortress –  (Ill. A refuge for the helpless sinner.) Heb. 6:18 These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us.

5. Ramoth – Heights –  (Ill. A refuge for the wretched sinner!) Eph. 2:6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:

6. Golan – Joy – (Ill. A refuge for the downcast.) 1 Peter 1:8 Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:

B. There Is A Picture In Their Necessity – Without these cities, many innocent people would have died. But, their existence guaranteed that they would continue to enjoy life.

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CALEB: THE GRAY-HAIRED CONQUEROR | The Book of Joshua 14:6-15

In the Book of Joshua 14:6-15 we find: CALEB: THE GRAY-HAIRED CONQUEROR

Focus on giants -- you stumble; focus on God -- your giants tumble.
Focus on giants — you stumble; focus on God — your giants tumble.

This passage centers on a man called Caleb. Caleb was a part of Israel when they left Egypt. He was there when God divided the waters of the Red Sea. By the way – Israel crossing the Red Sea is a picture of Salvation. Free from bondage and free from Pharaoh. Observing Israel as they journey through the wilderness shows us there is much more to salvation than just being set free. God had a land flowing with milk and honey prepared for them. It would be a land of giants and a land of battles, but it was theirs if they wanted it. Now, as you know – Israel chose to wander in the wilderness. Here’s another great picture of the Christian life. God saves us, and promises us that we can have a life of victory and intense spiritual joy, but rather than claim what is rightfully ours – things like peace, joy, fellowship, power, and the glory of God, we choose to live in a spiritual wilderness, defeated and depressed.

This morning I want to tell you that many Christians are guilty of spiritual window-shopping. Now nothing is wrong with window-shopping! A lot of folks like to do it. Men normally don’t like it.

(III. A fellow said to his wife – “Why do you call it shopping? You never buy anything.” She replied – Well, why do you call it fishing? You never catch anything!”)

As Christians, we need to do more than window-shop with God’s promises, we need to appropriate them. This morning I want us to see what it was that enabled this 85-year-old man to possess that which God had promised him. Caleb pictures the Christian who is willing to pay the price, fight the battles and win the victory that God has waiting for him. In these verses, we are shown how we too can claim our little part of Canaan and walk in victory day by day! Allow me to speak to you for a little while about Caleb: The Gray-haired Conqueror.

I. In the book of Joshua 14:8, 9, 14 we find CALEB’S COMMITMENT

A. Now the first key to Caleb success was that God had all of Caleb that there was! Note the repeated phrase “Wholly followed the Lord.” This is said about Caleb 6 times in the Old Testament. It is a phrase that means “To close the gap.” It is a phrase used by hunters to refer to their closing the gap between themselves and their prey. It refers to the fact that Caleb was committed to keeping the distance between himself and the Lord at a minimum. Every inch, every ounce, every nerve, every fiber of Caleb belonged to God. Now you may think that because you are not a preacher or deacon or SS teacher or whatever, God doesn’t expect to have all of you. Wrong – Wrong – Wrong. God deserves your all. If you’re holding back even a little bit you ought to be ashamed of yourself! Why? If you are saved, you are all His anyway – 1 Cor. 6:19-20!

(III. “Three little girls were talking about their dads. One said, ‘My father is a doctor, and he practices medicine.’ Another said, ‘My dad’s an attorney, and he practices law.’ The third said, ‘My father is a Christian, but he doesn’t practice anymore.’ “There are a lot of Christians like that today.”)

B. Half-hearted Christians are faint-hearted Christians and they never learn to conquer the giants in their lives.

(III. The story is told of a man who rode in his car as it was being towed to be repaired. When they arrived at the repair shop, the tow truck driver told him, “I didn’t think I was going to make it up that big hill.” The man replied, “I didn’t either. That’s why I kept the brakes on so we wouldn’t roll backwards.” To live without total dedication to Christ is the same as trying to go forward and to hold back at the same time.)

(Ill. “A double – minded man is unstable in all his ways,” James 1:8. There is only one way to stand up against the devil and the hordes of hell and that’s to be totally surrendered to Jesus.

C. The man who kneels before God can stand before anybody or anything.

(Ill. D. L. Moody was saved at the age of 19. D. L. Moody heard an evangelist by the name of Henry Varley say, “The world has yet to see what God can do in and through and with and for a man wholly committed to him. D.L. Moody said, “By God’s grace I will be that man!” He was an uncultured, uneducated, untrained shoe salesman but God used him to move 2 continents for Christ. Why? – He was committed! Are you totally sold out to Jesus Christ and Him alone this evening?)

Our commitment to Christ affects all our other relationships. The more devoted we are to Jesus, the more faithful we will be to our church, family, and friends.)

D. All Jesus wants from you is your total commitment. Anything less will keep you from reaching your Canaanland victory.

I. Caleb’s Commitment

II. In the book of Joshua 14:12 we find CALEB’S CONFIDENCE

A. What was it that gave 85 year old Caleb the idea he could be a giant killer? Caleb’s confidence (faith) was in God’s word. Vs. 10 & 12  (III. Deut.1:34-36, “And the LORD heard the voice of your words, and was wroth, and sware, saying, Surely there shall not one of these men of this evil generation see that good land, which I sware to give unto your fathers, Save Caleb the son of Jephunneh; he shall see it, and to him will I give the land that he hath trodden upon, and to his children, because he hath wholly followed the LORD.“)

(Ill. Caleb had seen the Promised Land and for 45 years that vision had burned in his heart as he wandered through the wilderness! While others complained, Caleb looked for a mountain where milk and honey flowed and where the grapes of Eschol grew. He was able to see beyond his circumstances into the promises of the Lord. We need some people who have been cut from that same cloth!)

1. I can see Caleb now climbing that mountain with a sword in one hand and a deed in the other while singing to the top of his lungs,

2. Faith is not positive thinking.

3. Faith is not optimism.

4. Faith is not looking on the bright side.

5. Faith is simply acting on what God says.

 (Ill. Faith is more than saying that you believe; it is acting on what you believe. (III. Heb. 11:1)

I. Caleb’s Commitment

II. Caleb’s Confidence

III. In the book of Joshua we find CALEB’S COURAGE

Commitment led to confidence – confidence to courage. Caleb had to scale 3 great obstacles in his quest for his Canaan.

  1. He Had To Overcome Grasshoppers – Num. 13:33 For Caleb to claim what God had promised he had to go against the majority. (III. Jesus – He was usually alone in everything He did!)
  2. (III. There will always be someone saying that it can’t be done, it’s never been done like that before, we can’t afford it, etc. III. The Disciples and their reaction in John 6). Sometimes you will stand alone, but if you are standing on the Word of God in the will of God, then you were never in better company.
  3. He Had To Overcome Giants – Num. 14:8-9 All of us have giants in our lives. Giants of discouragement, finances, sickness, family, distress, doubt and the truth is – we can’t defeat them ourselves. We have 2 options.

1. We can say look how small we are compared to those giants. This is the outlook of fear! (III. 2 Tim. 1:7)

2. Or look how small those giants are compared to God! This is the uplook of faith! (III. Phil. 4:13; Eph. 3:20; Matt. 28:18) Fighting giants is good for you! (III. Num. 14:9 – Giants are bread)

D. He Had To Overcome Gray Hairs – Josh. 14:10-11 What does this tell us? When God makes a promise, he will give us the strength to see its fulfillment! (III. Never count God, or yourself out. True faith looks beyond the present circumstance and sees the provision of the Almighty!)

E. Caleb experienced what God had promised!

F. He climbed the mountains and he defeated the giants – he claimed his possession.

(Ill. The name of the place Caleb inherited was named Hebron. This means “Fellowship“. Caleb refused to quit until he had obtained everything the Lord has for him! He refused to stop until he had obtained that place of fellowship with God.

Folks, that ought to be our battle cry this morning! We ought to refuse to give up, back up, or shut up or be held up, until we have stood up, lined up, read up, prayed up, confessed up, stored up, spoke up, looked up, and filled up on everything the Lord wants to give His children! We ought to settle for nothing less than that place of perfect fellowship with the Lord our God!)

“Uncle Versie had a problem. There was his best mule down at the bottom of that cistern and no way could he get the mule out of there. He didn’t want her to stay down there and starve to death, so he decided he would get a shovel and cover her up. It would be cruel, but it wouldn’t be as cruel and inhumane as to let Della starve to death in the bottom of that deep cistern. Uncle Versie took a shovelful of dirt and threw it down into the cistern and every time a shovelful of dirt hit old Della, she’d shake the dirt off and stomp it.

“It wasn’t long before Della had shaken off enough dirt and stomped it so that she was high enough to jump out of the cistern.”

We’re like that mule–either our problems will bury us or we can keep trampling them down until we rise above them.)

When somebody says you’re too small like a grasshopper… too many giants…too old…
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VALUABLE LESSONS FOR THE DAY OF BATTLE | The Book of Joshua 10:6-14

In the book of Joshua 10:6-14 we learn “VALUABLE LESSONS FOR THE DAY OF BATTLE.”

"The horse is prepared against the day of battle: but safety is of the Lord" (Proverbs 21:31).
“The horse is prepared against the day of battle: but safety is of the Lord” (Proverbs 21:31).

Chapter 10 opens with 5 of the kings of Canaan joining forces to attack Gibeon because they had made a peace treaty with the people of Israel. These 5 kings didn’t know it, but they were playing right into the hand of Joshua. Now, instead of having to pick them off one at a time, they came together and he was able to defeat them all together. If you remember our last study in this book, the Israelites had been tricked into making a peace treaty with the people of Gibeon. Now, it is time for Israel to make good on their promise to protect the Gibeonites. For Israel it is just another battle in the conquest of the Promised Land, but for us, it is a vivid picture of the Christian life.

You see, battles are a reality in the life of the child of God, but we never have to face them alone, Heb. 13:5Matt. 28:20. In the day of battle, we have the promise of help from One Who is “an ever present help in a time of need“, Psa. 46:1. My duty this morning, as we consider chapters 10 and 11 of Joshua, is to remind you that our lives will be filled with battles. However, these battles are not really physical battles, neither are they battles with other people. Our battles are spiritual battles, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Eph 6:12. Therefore, our weapons must be spiritual as well. “(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) ”2 Cor 10:4.

With that in mind, let’s join Joshua and the armies of Israel as they fight the good fight of faith. As we observe them in their day of battle, there are some very special lessons that we can learn that will help us when we face the day of battle. Allow me to share these thoughts with you as we preach for a while on Lessons For The Day Of Battle.

I. V. 6-15 A LESSON ABOUT THE SAVIOR

(Ill. In these verses, Israel is about to honor the peace treaty they have made with the Gibeonites. They are going to keep their word and help these people fight those kings that have risen up against them. As they prepare for battle, the Lord comes to them with the promise of help and of victory. God is about to fight for His people!)

(Ill. This section represents the supernatural aspect of our battles. There are times when the Lord just comes to your aid and fights the battle for you. There are times when He moves in power and miracles are worked in your life. Such a time is pictured here. There are three precious truths that are revealed here about our Savior in the day of battle.)

A. V. 8 He Gave His Peace – Notice the words in verse 8, “Fear them not!” God’s challenge to His people was for them not to fear the enemy. God was just reminding Joshua that He was still in control of the situation!

(Ill. May I remind you this morning that He is still in control? He is still on the throne and He is still the Prince of Peace. For those who will walk by faith and not by sight, the Lord still gives peace that passeth understanding, Phil. 4:7.

(Ill. Please remember that the Lord didn’t save you for you to be agitated and worried. He doesn’t mean for you to tremble in fear when the enemies of the Lord approach. When the day of battle comes in your life, the Lord will give you peace, if you will lean on Him, Pro. 3:5-6. As God’s children, we need to remember that everything that happens in our lives had to pass first over God’s desk and it received His stamp of approval, Rom. 8:28.)

B. V. 8 He Gave His Promise – The Lord didn’t stop with just a word of encouragement, He also gave them the promise of absolute victory!

(Ill. I would like to say that I still believe the Lord never saved you for you to be defeated! When He saved you, He did so with the promise that you could walk in His victory – 1 Cor. 15:57; Rom. 8:37. That doesn’t mean that every situation in life will work out the way you want it to, but it does mean that God will enable you to live above your circumstances and share in His victory over the world, the flesh and the devil!)

C. V. 9-14 He Gave His Power – In these verses, we see a mighty demonstration of the power of the Lord in the life of Israel! He moved in 2 ways.

1. V. 11 In The Hail – “Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow? or hast thou seen the treasures of the hail, Which I have reserved against the time of trouble, against the day of battle and war?” Job 38:22-23

2. V. 12-14 In The Heavens – Here we see the Lord perform the greatest miracle ever recorded in regard to the physical world. God stopped the sun in the heavens and extended the daylight hours for Joshua and his army to finish the battle.

 (Ill. What does this mean for us? Well, there are times when the Lord will supernaturally intervene in your life and He will fight your battles for you. I have seen people healed of disease. I have seen drunks saved and sobered immediately by the power of God. I have seen drug addicts immediately released from the power of drugs and made clean. I have seen lives changed in miraculous ways by the supernatural intervention of God. I have seen the Lord move in response to the need of His child and move any mountain that needed to be moved to get them what they needed. That is our God!

Please understand, He doesn’t always move like that.

I. A Lesson About The Savior

II. V. 16-27 A LESSON ABOUT THE SAINTS

(Ill. If the first section pictures the supernatural aspect of our battles, then this section portrays the personal aspect of the battles we must fight in life. You see, God gave them a great victory through His mighty power, but there was still more of the battle to be fought. In these verses, we see Israel, not the Lord, engaged in the battle! There is a lesson here for the saints of God!)

A. V. 16-18 We Must Control Our Enemy – Notice that these five kings tried to hide themselves in a cave. When they were discovered, Joshua ordered the cave to be sealed up, thus preventing the kings from escaping. This is a picture of control.

(Ill. When you got saved God changed you! However, your old, sinful nature is still alive and well! That’s right, that part of you that loves sin and the world is still active. If you don’t believe, just stick around a few more days and you will see! Just like these kings, our enemy, the flesh, hides itself within us and runs out into the open from time to time to cause us trouble

(Ill. It is important to note that part of the Fruit of the Spirit is “temperance“, Gal. 5:23. This word literally means “self-control“.

B. V. 22-25 We Must Confront Our Enemy – Notice that after the battle had been won, Joshua came back to that cave and brought these kings out and humiliated them by having his princes place their feet upon their necks. He confronted them openly and publicly pronounced the victory over them.

(Ill. Spiritually speaking, we need to do the same thing. Every person in this room knows what kings hide in your life. You know about your secret sins and those problems you have with the flesh. The only way for you to get absolute, permanent victory over these things is for you to confront them. I mean, you need to drag them out of their hiding place and lay them out before the Lord, place your foot on their necks in the name of Jesus and proclaim the victory over them this morning! You will never prosper as a child of God until your sins are handled God’s way, Pro. 28:13, “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.“)

C. V. 26-27 We Must Conquer Our Enemy – In these verses, we see Joshua take a step that ensures the victory of these 5 kings. He puts them to death!

(Ill. I just want to remind you that your flesh is good for nothing! Your old sinful nature and your fleshly lusts are good for nothing other than the fires of judgment and hell. The only way for you to walk in victory before the Lord is to put you flesh to death! It must die daily, or it will keep you from walking in power and victory, Col. 3:5.)

(Ill. Note Paul’s attitude toward life, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.Gal 2:20.)

I. A Lesson About The Savior

II. A Lesson About The Saints

III. 28-11:23 A LESSON ABOUT STEADFASTNESS

(As we move into the latter part of chapter 10 and all of chapter 11, we see Israel completing the central campaign and we see them fighting both the southern and the northern campaigns as well. We have looked the supernatural aspects of our battles as well as the personal aspect of our battles. In these verses, we will see the temporal aspect of our battles. By that I mean that they must be fought, but they will not last forever. Just as Israel obtained a state of rest, we too will rest from the battles of life. But, until then, allow me to encourage you to steadfastness in the fight! Three quick truths here.)

A. V. 28, 35 We Must Fight Daily – Please note that the battles Israel fought seemed to come day by day. Theirs was a life of battles!

(Ill. The same is true for the child of God. Our battles will confront us daily. Therefore, we must arise each day with the willingness to fight our battles faithfully for the glory of God!)

(Ill. Let me say this to those who may be waiting on easier times to begin serving the Lord. You may never have an easier time! You and I are not promised one more day upon this earth. The only day I have to fight my battles is today. Tomorrow may never come for me! Therefore, let me say to you that if you have something to do for the Lord, do it today! If you have something to give to the Lord, give it today! If there is someone you need to tell about Jesus, tell them today! Tomorrow may never dawn on you! James 4:17!)

B. 11:18 We Must Fight With Determination – This verse tells us that Joshua fought his battles for a long time. This tells me that this man had determination!

(Ill. That is a quality that needs to be developed by all the children of the Lord! Too many are quitting in our day! Too many are throwing in the towel and giving up the fight. We need some people who will vow before the Lord this morning that come what may, they will stand for Him and will be in His service all the way until the end. That is the command we have from Paul, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” 1 Cor 15:58)

 

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BEING TOO FRIENDLY WITH THE ENEMY | The Book of Joshua 9:1-27

 

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In the Book of Joshua 9:1-27

Observers have noted that certain kinds of ants have a passion for the sweet, glandular substance given off by the caterpillar of a large blue butterfly. They can become so “addicted” to it that they even seek out “the supplier” and carry him to their nest with delight. But they unwittingly bring home an enemy in disguise, for the caterpillar gorges himself exclusively on ant larva. Usually such a threat to the colony would be repelled with great vigor, but the adults enjoy the tasty secretions of the “guest” so much that they are oblivious of the fact that their young are being devoured in the process.

As I read this story of the foolish ants, I began to see a similarity between this story and what the Bible tells us about Joshua and Israel in the book of Joshua chapter 9. In these verses, we see Israel becoming too friendly with their enemies.

The people of Israel have just defeated the city of Ai and are preparing to march deeper into Canaan as they claim the promised land which the Lord had given to them. As I said, they are fresh from a victory. In fact, they now have a couple of impressive victories under their belts. They have seen the great walled city of Jericho defeated and they have witnessed the pesky little town of Ai defeated too. However, before they will ever see another victory, Israel must learn a valuable lesson about becoming too friendly with the enemy.

In the battles and stories related to Israel’s conquest of Canaan in the book of Joshua, we can see a picture of our lives as children of God as we struggle to obtain the victory in our lives.

1. Jericho – A type of the world – It was defeated, and we have the promise of victory over the world in our walk with the Lord Jesus, 1 John 5:4, “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.

2. Ai – A type of the flesh – It, too, was defeated, and we have the promise of victory in the flesh as we battle for the Lord Jesus, Romans 7:24-25, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

3. Gibeon – A type of the devil – This is a battle that still must be fought. However, we have been promised victory in this area as well. To obtain it, we must trust the Lord Jesus Christ and walk in His will day by day. He can be defeated – James 4:7, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

In this passage, that recounts Israel’s experience with the people of Gibeon, we can see a portrait of the devil and his devices. As we will see, there is a danger in becoming friendly with the enemy.

Verse 1-13 THE ENEMY CAN BE DECEPTIVE

When all the kings of Canaan heard what had happened to Ai and to Jericho, they joined forces to seek to defeat Israel. Isn’t it amazing how the devil’s crowd will join up to fight God’s people? Just look at the way Jesus was treated by His enemies. The Pharisees and the Herodians hated one another, but they came together in the common effort of seeing Jesus put to death.

A. V. 4 He Uses Deceptive Wiles – When the Gibeonites heard that the Israelites were headed in their direction, they devised a scheme to trick Israel into making a peace treaty with them. They dressed in old clothes, carried old bread and wine and pretended that they were from far away. They did everything in their power to trick Israel.

What a picture of our enemy, the devil! The Bible tells us in Eph. 6:11 that we fight an enemy that uses “wiles” to get his way in our lives. The word “wiles” refers to “deceit, trickery, cunning arts.” You see friends, Satan would like nothing better than to trip you up and cause you to fall into one of his traps. Just before Jesus died, He told Simon Peter that Satan desired to have him that he might sift him as wheat, Luke 22:31-32. Satan wants to do the same to you and me. He wants us to fall. He wants us to fail, and he will stop at nothing to bring that to pass. 1 Tim. 3:7 tells us that Satan uses “snares” to catch his prey. This word refers to a trap set by a hunter in order that he might capture his prey. So, Satan uses deceptive wiles, just like the people of Gibeon did.)

B. V. 4-5 He Uses Deceptive Wares – The Gibeonites had taken every step possible to deceive Israel into believing that they were from a far away country. They carried old sacks on their donkeys, broken and bound up wine skins, patched shoes shabby clothing and even some moldy bread. Their entire aim was to trick Israel.

May I remind you that when the devil comes to you in temptation, or to trip you up, he does not do so in a red suit with a pointy tail and horns. He will not be carrying a pitchfork and he will not smell like sulphur. When the devil comes to your life to cause you trouble, he will appear as an angel of light, 2 Cor. 11:14. He will make his plan appear to be the perfect thing for your life.

C. V. 6-13 He Uses Deceptive Words – Notice that in these verses, these men from Gibeon lied, v. 6, 9, 11-12; they used claimed to be something they were not, v. 8-9; and they were careful in what they referred to, v. 10 (Ill. They did not mention anything that had happened since Israel had crossed Jordan, giving the impression that they had indeed been traveling for quiet some time.)

Again, this is a perfect picture of our enemy, the devil. He will use slick and enticing speech to get you to yield to his plans for your life. He practiced this kind of trickery in the Garden of Eden when he talked to Eve, Gen. 3:1-6. He told her that she could question God’s Word, v. 1; He told her that God did not really mean what God has said, v. 3; He told her that God was really just holding out on her, v. 5. In other words, the devil will give you every reason in the world to justify the things he wants you to do. Then when you have followed him and are out of God’s will and in trouble, he will discard you like a piece of trash and leave you to rot in your sins!

Verse 14 -21 THE ENEMY CAN BE DESTRUCTIVE

A. V. 14 Their Ability To See Clearly Was Disrupted – Notice that in verse 7, Joshua initially was a little skeptical of these so-called ambassadors. He questioned them about their origin again in verse 8. Joshua is to be commended for his caution, but he gave up just a little too soon! When the Gibeonites showed him their clothes, their food and the broken wineskins, Joshua was more than impressed and he believed their story!

If the Lord has done anything for His children, He has given us a perfect Book and powerful Spirit. These two items give us a distinct advantage when it comes to fighting the devil! Using the Bible and the inner leading of the Spirit of God, we can do what 1 Pet. 5:8 says and we can be “sober and vigilant“.

My friends, when your spiritual vision gets dim through neglect of the Word of God and prayer, you are very susceptible to the tricks and traps of the enemy. It is impossible to have the victory over him when we neglect the very things which are designed to make us strong!

B. V. 14 Their Ability To Seek Counsel Was Disrupted – Notice that Israel ate with the Gibeonites and did not even take the matter to the Lord in prayer. To break bread with someone in that day was considered to be a sign of unalterable friendship. But what they considered to be the right thing to do turned into a problem because they did not take the time to take the matter to the Lord in prayer first and neither did they take the time to wait on His answer. As a result, they stepped out of the will of God and had to suffer the consequences!

How many times has this been true in your life and mine? We look at what the devil has to offer us and we join up with him without even seeking the Lord’s will in the matter

C. V. 15-21 Their Ability To Stay Clean Was Disrupted – In these verses, we see that the Israelites ability to be a separate people before the Lord was marred by their decision to make a league with the Gibeonites. God had told them to utterly destroy the inhabitants and to make no covenants with them at all, Deut 7:2, “And when the LORD thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them:” However, Israel disobey this command and as a result they sinned before the Lord.

Before we judge them too harshly, let’s look at ourselves for a minute. How many times have we been guilty of following Satan instead of the Lord? The Word of God plainly tells us what the Lord’s will is for our lives, 2 Cor. 6:17, “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,“.

Just ask David, the sweet singer of Israel, the man after God’s own heart, what the devil can do to your life. You follow the devil and you, like David might find yourself in a place of prayer begging God just to restore the joy of your heart and life, Psa. 51:12. Don’t let that happen in your life! Take the steps that are necessary to defeat the devil and walk in victory!)

Verse 22-27 THE ENEMY CAN BE DEFEATED

A. V. 22 The Enemy Must Be Confronted – When Joshua found out what these people had done, he went straight to them and rebuked them and confronted them about their sins.

There is a lesson in that for the church this morning. We do not have to roll over and play dead while the devil molds us to his will! We need to be like the Lord Jesus, Who when He was tempted turned to the Word of God and confronted Satan with the truth of the Book and caused the devil to have to flee from His presence!

B. V. 27 The Enemy Must Be Controlled – There is no question that Joshua and Israel made a mistake when they dealt with the Gibeonites. However, mistakes do not have to spell permanent ruin. Joshua realized the seriousness of what they had done and he immediately took the necessary steps to control the situation. They can’t kill them, because they have given them their word, v. 19. but they can control them!

In your life and mine, there will be times when we will step out of the Lord’s will and commit sin. That is just a fact! However, the mistakes we make in following the devil do not have to be permanent, neither do they have to destroy us completely!

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HOW TO AMBUSH YOUR AI …..Joshua 8:1-35

Living Victoriously in Difficult Times
Living Victoriously in Difficult Times

Joshua 8:1-35

Chapter 8 finds Israel facing the same city that they faced in chapter 7. The little city of Ai. The first time Israel went up to do battle at Ai, they were defeated by the inhabitants of that city and 36 of their number lost their lives. The reasons for their defeat are many, but the primary reason was that there was sin in their midst that had not been dealt with. That sin caused them to be defeated at Ai. Now, they are back and it was time for Israel to go and face these people in battle once again.

Before we move into these verses this morning, I want to tell you that Ai, in the Bible, is a type of the flesh. The word “Ai” means “a heap of ruins.” That is a good way to describe this flesh in which we live. The first mention of this city is found in the book of Genesis in connection with the life of Abraham, Gen. 12:8; 13:3. The Bible tells us that Abraham pitched his tent “between Bethel and Hai.” Now, the name “Bethel” means, “The house of God.” Isn’t it interesting that many saints have pitched their tents somewhere between the house of God and a heap of ruins? Do you see the connection? You can either live in a place of victory and blessing, or you can live in a place of defeat and misery. You can either have a Bethel kind of life or an Ai experience, which is up to you!

Just like Israel, we often lose battles to our Ai, (this flesh), but through the Lord, we can learn how to ambush our Ai and walk away with the victory in our lives. I don’t know the battles that you are fighting with your flesh, but I do know that you can win the victory.

These verses tell us how. Let’s look together at these verses and learn How To Ambush Your Ai.

Verse 1-2 THE VICTORY IS PROMISED

Verse 1 gives you A Word About Winning – When the Lord speaks to Joshua, after the death of Achan, God tells him to go to Ai. However, he tells him that things will be different this time. He assures Joshua and Israel of the victory.

It is interesting that the Lord called them to return to the place of their greatest defeat. God knew that they needed to overcome the defeat at Ai before they could move on in the conquest of Canaan. Folks, it’s the same for you and me this morning. How many times have we lost the battle to the flesh? I think the Lord has a word for that this morning! Notice what He told Joshua, “Fear not!” I think that is the Lord’s word to us this morning! To those who have fallen and have lost a battle to the flesh, God says, “Fear not! I am giving you the victory!” I think it is a blessing to know that I do not have to live in defeat as a Christian!

I will remind you once again that the Lord did not save your soul to leave you defeated and beaten by the flesh. He saved you to walk in the victory that He can give to those who will walk in His ways and not in their own ways or in the ways of the world.

Verse 2 gives us A Word About Waiting – Notice that the Lord tells them that they will do to Ai what they did to Jericho, except for the fact that in Ai, they are to take all the spoils for themselves! If Achan would have waited just a few more days, then he could have had all the riches that he could have imagined. Instead, he ran ahead of God and grabbed for himself that which was forbidden by God and as a result, Achan paid the ultimate price.

What a lesson for you and me this morning! We are guilty of the same kind of foolishness aren’t we? If we could just learn to wait on God and let Him lead and bring into our lives the things that need to be there, we would be far better off. Unfortunately, this flesh wants what it wants and it wants it now! It doesn’t want to wait.

Verse 3-26 THE VICTORY IS PURSUED

Verse 3-17 lets us know that They Had God’s Plan – God told them in exact detail how they were to mount their attack against Ai. They were to lay an ambush for Ai and they would take the city and all its inhabitants.

(Israel had already learned what happens when you do things the Lord’s way. When you fight the battle by following His plan, you cannot fail. They had also learned what happens when they refused to do it God’s way. They learned that failure awaits that person who goes against the will of the Lord.)

Verse 18-23 lets us know They Had God’s Power – Israel fought the battle, but God gave the victory! You see, the first time Israel went to Ai, they went in their own power and they suffered terrible, humiliating defeat. This time they went to battle walking in the power of God and they were victorious.

Again, there is a lesson here for those of us who struggle with this flesh. The battle will not be won by our ability to say “No!” The battle will not be won because we are more powerful than the temptations we face.

Verse 24-26 lets us know They Had God’s Performance – these verses tell us the news that Israel trusted in the Lord and absolutely prevailed over their enemy. God did what He said He would do!

May I remind you that we are serving the very same God that gave Israel the victory? He hasn’t changed one bit! He is still the same God this morning that He always has been and always will be. You can count on God to keep His Word

Verse 27-35 THE VICTORY IS PRESERVED

(At this point in this story, Israel has followed God’s plan and they have achieved the victory. Now, they must maintain their victory. They take two steps that make this a reality for them. In our lives, we can achieve the victory over the flesh!

Verse 27-29 tells us that  Victory Is Preserved By Death – Please notice that they did not leave a single person alive in Ai. No one from the king down to the humblest servant was spared from death in this battle. Joshua knew that this enemy had to be totally eradicated or there would be problems down the road.

The lesson for us this morning is this: Your flesh is still alive and well, but it needs to be put to death!

Verse 30-35 encourages us that Victory Is Preserved By Devotion – Ill. The Context. After the enemy had been eradicated and victory had been preserved, Israel finished by doing what the Lord had told them to do through Moses, Deut. 27:1-28:6. Half of the nation was to stand on Mount Ebal (ih – b AW l) and the other half on Mount Gerizim. The Levites were to stand in the valley between these mountains and were to read the cursings and the blessings. As they read the cursings, the crowd on Mount Ebal was to shout “Amen.” When they read the blessings, the crowd on Mount Gerizim was to shout “Amen.” This exercise was to remind them of what God would bless and of what He would not bless. They were reaffirming their commitment to live by the Word of God every day!

Folks, if we are to ever experience lasting victory over this flesh, then we too must learn to walk in the Word of God. It isn’t enough to fight the war with the flesh and hope to achieve the victory. If we are to win and preserve the victory day by day, then we must learn to live by the Word of God. If God said do it, then do it! If God said don’t do it, then don’t do it. If you have a doubt, then leave it out! Where is your devotion this morning? It needs to be to the Word of God!

GOD’S PRESCRIPTION FOR AN ACHAN HEART | Joshua 7:1-26

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God’s Prescription For The Saints

In Joshua 7:1-26 Israel has just been involved in the greatest military conquest in their history. They have just witnessed the tremendous defeat of the city of Jericho and they are still basking in the glow of that great event. But, verse 1 tells us that God was upset with the people. Israel thought that everything was all right. They thought that they were standing on the edge of a great string of victories that would see them conquering the entire land of promise. Yet, what they didn’t know was that there was a problem in the camp. There was one in their midst who was causing a problem for the entire family of God.

May I say that things are still the same today? Folk, we are all members of one body, 1 Cor. 12:27. According to the Bible, 1 Cor. 12:26, when one member of the body has problems, the entire body has problems. You see, your spiritual temperature has a deep effect on the entire body of Christ. You are not an island unto yourself. What you do affects the entire church body. We will see this truth illustrated in this passage this morning.

My desire in preaching this message is that each of you would search your hearts and examine your life this morning. If there is anything in your life that you have hidden away, anything that you think is covered and gone, I want you to get that thing settled with the Lord before you leave this building. You can and this passage tells us how.

My friends, sin causes problems. It causes them for the sinner and for everyone else around them. The fact is, most of us are guilty of being like Achan from time to time. When we allow sin into our lives and when we try to hide our sins and try to cover it up, we bring pain and trouble into our lives. However, these verses tell us that God has a prescription for an Achan heart.

I. Verse 2-5 A PAINFUL DEFEAT

Verse 2-3 Israel Was A Confident People – As I said a moment ago, Israel was still basking in the glow of their victory at Jericho and they looked at Ai and felt like that little town would be no problem for such a great army. Israel was a confident people, but a closer look reveals that their confidence was misplaced. In verse 3, they feel like that just a few of the soldiers are needed to secure a victory in little Ai. These people are guilty of resting on their laurels.

(Ill. Israel did not realize it, but they were living through one of the most dangerous times of life. You see, the time just after a great spiritual victory is a dangerous time. Often, like Israel, we will be over confident and believe that we can handle any battle that comes our way, Pro. 16:18.

(Ill. Now, don’t misunderstand me. Confidence is a good thing as long as one’s confidence is in the right place. When we are walking with our hope and our confidence in the Lord, we will win the victory, but when we are walking with our confidence in the power of our ability and in our flesh, then we are destined to fail!)

Verse 4-5a Israel Was A Conquered People – When Israel went up to Ai in they suffered a terrible defeat and 36 of their number were killed. This must have been very devastating to the Israelites. However, when one takes the time to look more closely at their actions, it is easy to see that they made several mistakes. Mistakes that, I feel, many of us are guilty of making as well.

  1. Nowhere in this passage does it even hint that Joshua and the people of Israel sought the will of God for dealing with Ai. They didn’t even pray about the matter. If they had, God would have revealed the problem before people died. (Ill. How many times are we guilty of jumping ahead of the Lord and His will?
  2. They didn’t take the Ark of the Covenant into the battle. The Ark symbolized the presence and power of God. They went into the battle in their own strength and they failed! (Ill. Again, here is an area where we could all use help. We try to live the Christian life, fight the flesh and the devil in our own power and we fail time after time.
  3. Finally, Israel had their confidence in their own power and not in the Lord. They were not walking by faith, but they were guilty of trusting what they could do. (Ill. How many times have we suffered defeat at the hands of our enemy because we too believed we were able and that we could get the job done.

Verse 5b Israel Was A Confounded People – After their terrible defeat at the hands of Ai, the people of Israel are feeling the same fear that their enemies experienced, Josh. 2:9; 5:1; 6:1. You see, this is one of the problems with sin. It defeats you and leaves you feeling just like a lost man. Nothing is right in the life of a believer while there is sin in his midst!

(Ill. Israel didn’t know at this point what was wrong. All they knew was that they had just suffered their first defeat. Thankfully, God wants His people to have the victory, not the defeat. So, He takes the necessary steps to reveal to the nation of Israel just exactly where the problem lies.

II. Verse 6-15 A PAINFUL DISCOVERY

Verse 6-9 Joshua Reacts In Prayer – After the tragedy happens, Joshua finds himself before the Lord in prayer. His prayer is from a broken heart, v. 6. Joshua wonders why Israel was powerless in the battle; the answer wasn’t to blame God, or to dispute His will. The answer was in their own camp!

(Ill. You see, when there is a lack of power in my life, the problem is not with God, nor is it with others, the problem is always with me! The same is true in the church. When there is defeat in the church and souls aren’t being saved and the services are dull and lifeless, we need not blame the Lord! He is doing His part. The problem is always a problem within! This will be dealt with in more detail later on.)

Verse 10-15 God Rehearses The Problem – While Joshua and Israel try to figure out what is happening, God in Heaven already knows and tells Joshua all about it. He tells him that there is sin in the camp of Israel! He tells Joshua that it is this sin that is hindering His power and it is what is bringing about their defeat. He tells Joshua how to discover the guilty party. In these words to Joshua, God gives us some insights into sin, of which we need to take note. Allow me to share with you these seven observations concerning sin and its effects in our lives.

  1. God knows about our sins – v. 11 (Pro. 15:3; Heb. 4:13)
  2. God hates our sins – v. 11 – (Pro. 6:16-19)
  3. God has a plan for our sins – v. 14-15 – (1 John 1:9; Psa. 32:5)
  4. God will punish our sins – v. 15 – (Gal. 6:9)
  5. Sin affects those around us – v. 11-12
  6. Sin hinders God’s work – v. 12 – (Matt. 13:58)
  7. Sin must be dealt with – v. 13 – Either you and I will deal with our sins, or God will deal with them. Either way, they will be handled! – (1 Cor. 11:31)

(Ill. Often, the greatest problems faced by the church come from within and not from without. You see, it’s not the water on the outside of the boat that causes the problem, it’s the water on the inside of the boat that causes trouble! The same is true for the church.

III. Verse 16-26 A PAINFUL DEATH

(Ill. In these verses, the wages of sin are put on clear display for all to see, Rom. 6:23.)

Verse 16-18 The Sinner Discovered – Ill. the process that God used to point out Achan. God knew who was guilty, why didn’t He just tell Joshua who they were looking for? In my opinion, He was giving Achan time to repent and to confess his sins. Be that as it may, the finger of God was getting closer and closer and finally landed on Achan.

(Ill. The lesson for us needs to be learned well! God already knows your sins and His finger is getting closer and closer to your life. One day soon, He will point out those things in your life that need to be revealed!

Verse 19-21 The Sin Discussed – (Now that the sin is out in the open it has to be dealt with. Notice the two aspects of this section.)

Verse 19 The Compassion – When Joshua speaks to Achan, he speaks with love in his heart. He knows that Achan is condemned, but Joshua still cares for this man who brought so much trouble to Israel.

(Ill. In this, Joshua is a picture of God. While God hates sin with His entire being, He still loves the sinner, John 3:16.

Verse 20-21 The Confession – In these two verses, Achan finally confesses his sin.

(Ill. Note the progression in Achan’s sin, v. 21. “I saw…I coveted…I took.” This is the same pattern that sin always follows. It was this way in the Garden of Eden, Gen. 3:1-6. It was this way when David sinned with Bathsheba, 2 Sam. 11:1-4. It is and will be this way in nearly any instance of sin you can name. Notice the progression that the Bible speaks of in James – James 1:13-15. You see it and it appeals to your flesh, you want it and you take it. Sin is always the same! Ill. Our reaction to sin should be just like that of Joseph, Gen. 39:12. We are commanded to flee youthful lusts, 2 Tim. 2:22.)

(Ill. Notice this: Achan had things buried in his tent that he could not use! To use them would be to reveal his character to the entire nation of Israel. In other words, Achan sinned and died for nothing! The things he stole were no good to him at all!)

Verse 22-26 The Sinner Destroyed – These verses give us the sad conclusion to this tragic tale. Achan and all that he had were taken out and stones to death by the people of Israel.

Are You Ready to Conquer Your Canaan | Joshua 5:1-13

The Lord of Host
The Lord of Host

Joshua 5:1-13

Intro: Verse 1 tells us that the heathen nations in Canaan saw the powerful manner in which the Lord brought His children through the Jordan and that they were totally demoralized by these events. It would seem that they were absolutely resigned to their fate. It would appear that this would be the perfect time for Joshua to lead the people forward into the attack. However, instead of commanding His people to go forward into the battle, God commands them to remain at Gilgal and to do several things that, on the surface, appear very strange. It even appears that the things they are required to do puts them at risk before their enemies.

While the ways of the Lord may appear strange to you and me, let me remind you that the ways of the Lord are not our ways, Isa. 55:8-9. You see, God never gets in a hurry! He has the liberty to take His time and do things on His schedule. While the things that happen in this chapter appear strange against the backdrop of impending battle, the truth of the matter is God is simply preparing His army to fight. He has them do some things that may appear odd when preparing for the battle, but may I remind you that God’s people are engaged in battles that go far deeper than the physical realm? In fact, before the battle ever begins in the physical realm, it had already begun in the spiritual realm. God’s battles are spiritual battles. If we expect to fight in these battles and do well, then we must make the right kind of spiritual preparations, 2 Cor. 10:3-5.

You see, we all have battle to fight, and if we expect to overcome and achieve the victory, then we must learn to make the right kind of spiritual preparations.

Israel appeared ready for the battle. They possessed a large army and they faced an enemy that was terrified at their presence. However, God knew that they would never be ready to fight and win the battle until the proper spiritual preparations had been made.

Let me ask you a question. Are you ready to conquer your Canaan? The answer? Only if you are willing to make the right spiritual preparations.

Are You Ready to Conquer Your Canaan?

Verse 2-7 RENEWING THEIR COVENANT WITH THE LORD

The first command the Lord gives to Israel is that all the man are to be circumcised. It would seem that all the men who came out of Egypt were circumcised according to the demands of the Abrahamic covenant. They must renew the covenant with the Lord if they wanted His blessings on them and if they wanted to be guaranteed the victory.

The lesson for us is simply this, just as Israel was required to remove from their bodies a piece of flesh as a sign that they were a part of the covenant, so too, we must remove from our lives anything that stands between us and total surrender to the Lord. The Bible is clear that there are times when you and I must engage in spiritual surgery in our lives. (Ill. Col. 3:1-17; 2 Cor. 6:17.)

To the Jew, circumcision was a reminder that they were a “marked people.”

(Ill. Child of God, if you are saved, then you are supposed to live like you are saved!

Are You Ready to Conquer Your Canaan?

Verse 8 REAFFIRMING THEIR CONFIDENCE IN THE LORD

At this point, Israel is camped in the heart of enemy territory. After they have been circumcised, every male in the nation of Israel is temporarily disabled and is rendered unable to fight. It took great faith for them to submit to the rite of circumcision! They had to be willing to trust the Lord to protect them until they healed. They were literally sitting ducks for the enemy..

As we move through this life, we face times of testing just like these men in Israel did. They had just come from a great victory and often, that is the time when pride will rise up in us and we will think that we are unstoppable. When those times come in your life and mine, you can be sure that the Lord will allow us to go through a time of testing.

This spiritual truth is taught over and over again in the Word of God. When God’s people aren’t able to take care of themselves, their God is more than able. Note just a few instances where faith in a great God paid amazing dividends.

Noah was protected in the Ark while the rest of humanity perished – Gen. 6-9

Are You Ready to Conquer Your Canaan?

Verse 9 REMOVING THEIR CONDEMNATION BY THE LORD

The term “reproach of Egypt” has reference to 2 events during Israel’s wilderness wanderings.

The first is found in Ex. 32:1-12 when the Children of Israel made a golden calf and worshiped it as God.

The other happened at Kadesh-Barnea when the children of Israel displayed unbelief and refused to enter into the Promised Land, Num 14:11-14.

On both occasions, the Lord threatened to destroy the nation of Israel and start fresh with Moses. And, both times Moses interceded with the Lord and reminded Him that He would give the Egyptians a reason to mock God. They would say that He brought them out of Egypt, but could not bring them to Canaan. However, now they are in the land and God has proven that He is well able to bring His people into their possession. Therefore, He tells them that He had rolled that reproach away! In other words, their past was no longer an issue. It was a new day!

In a sense, many of God’s children are still living under the “reproach of Egypt“. You may be living with the shame of things you did before you came to faith in Christ. You may be ashamed of times when you have failed the Lord since you were saved. Either way, you live under the constant stab of self-condemnation.

Are You Ready to Conquer Your Canaan?

Verse 10-12 REMEMBERING THE COMMITMENT OF THE LORD

In these verses, we find Israel once again keeping the feast of the Passover.

The Passover was a time for the Jews to remember the deliverance of the Lord!

Now that they are in the promised land, they are to celebrate the feast of the Passover. They are to remember the things God did for them in bringing them out of Egypt and in providing for them along the way.

What a lesson for the redeemed people of the Lord! When we face the battles of life, we must remember some of the great things the Lord has done for us in our pasts. We need to remember when:

Verse 11-12 Just as Israel needed to remember the Lord’s commitment to them, they also needed to remember their commitment to Him! You see, for 40 years they had eaten manna every day. However, when they ate of the fruit of the land of Canaan, the manna ceased. Surely, Israel was glad that the manna was no more. Now, the Passover reminded Israel that God had brought them out of Egypt, but the manna was constant reminded of what they had left behind in Egypt, Ex. 16:3. You see, it was easy for God to bring His people out of Egypt, but it was hard for God to get Egypt out of His people.

(Ill. Far too many Christians are just like the Israelites. That is, they have an appetite for the things of the world just like Israel did for the things of Egypt.

Are You Ready to Conquer Your Canaan?

Verse 13-15 RECOGNIZING THE CONTROL OF THE LORD

The final step in getting ready to conquer your Canaan in learning who is in control. One day, as Joshua was looking over the city of Jericho, he saw a man standing with a drawn sword. Joshua boldly asked the man to identify himself and to state which side he was on! When the man responded, He said that He was the Captain of the Lord’s Host. He told Joshua that He did not come to take sides, but to take over! That is, He was in control of the Lord’s armies in Heaven and in the earth. He told Joshua that He was in charge. General Joshua had just met the Commander in Chief! Joshua’s response is to fall down before Him and to worship Him. This is an indication that Joshua is submitting to the will of the Lord and that he knows Who is in control. You see, before you can have the victory, you must be vanquished. Before you can conquer, you must first be conquered! We must do what Joshua did right here. That is, we must lay down our swords at the feet of the Captain of the Lord’s host.

Claiming Your Canaan | How To Get Past Your Jordan

Eyes Over RiverJoshua 3:1-6; 14-17

Because of their unbelief, Israel was sentenced to wander in the wilderness for 40 years. Those years have now expired and the children of Israel are poised to enter into Canaan Land. They are ready to claim their inheritance in the land of promise. However, before they can enter Canaan, they must first get past one final, major obstacle: the Jordan River. Normally, this would not have presented much of a problem, since the Jordan was only 100 feet wide at Gilgal where they crossed. However, it seems that God always does things in such a way that no man can boast of having done them on their own. This crossing would be no exception. You see, God brought them to the Jordan River at the time of harvest, 4:15. The Jordan swells to an impassable width of over 1 mile! It was over 50 times wider than it normally would have been when Israel arrived. There was no way they could cross this river on their own! They needed supernatural help.

My friends, we each have Jordans that we face from time to time! When we look at the obstacles that stand between us and spiritual victory in our own Canaan, we may feel that we will never be able to enter our Canaan of victory and enjoy the abundant life that Jesus promised His followers. Well, it is true that I do not know what kind of obstacles that you face in your life, I do know a God Who specializes in overcoming the overwhelming and in leading His children to victory.

This morning, I would like for us to look into this account of Israel as they got past their Jordan. As we do, I would like to offer you some hope as well. You see, the things that worked for them over 3000 years ago will still work for you and me today. Allow me to show you from chapters 3 and 4 of Joshua How To Get Past Your Jordan. There are 3 steps that we must take to guarantee that we will be able to get past that obstacle that blocks our way and enter our Canaan. Let me share these steps with you this morning.

3:1-13 WE NEED TO EXAMINE A MESSAGE

V. 3-4 It Involved A Challenge – When it came time for the people to move forward to cross Jordan, God has a message that they needed to hear. In the words they heard, they were challenged to do three very important things. These things were designed to help them follow the Lord better. These are the same things that we need to hear this morning that will help up to follow the Lord better as well.

1. Watch God – The Ark, was that special piece of Tabernacle furniture that symbolized the presence and power of God. When the Ark was in the Holy of Holies, the glory of God rested upon it and it was the dwelling place of God. To Israel, it represented God’s presence in the midst of His people. In other words, when God moved, they were to move. When God stopped they were to do the same. There is a valuable spiritual lesson in this passage for you and me. We would do well, when we face times of crisis, or when we need direction in life to learn to be sensitive to the movement of the Lord in and around us.

2. Follow God – When they saw the Ark of the Covenant move, they were to “leave your place, and go after it” Not only were they to watch God, they were to move when He did. They were to pursue God! Again, the lesson for the believer is that it isn’t enough to know what God is doing, there comes a time when you must “leave you place and go after Him.” This may require us to leave our comfort zone! Israel was about to follow the Ark through a river that was over 1 mile wide! That couldn’t have been easy, but it was still necessary and right! Folk, following God may not be the easiest thing you will ever do, but it will be the best thing you ever do. If you ever expect to get past your obstacles and enter your Canaan, you must learn to follow God.)

3. Honor God – Notice that the Israelites are told to stay at least 3000 feet behind the Ark. This was so that they could easily see what was happening ahead of them. Another reason is that the Lord wanted no one but the Levites near the Ark. To get too close would have meant death. Again, there is a lesson here for us as well. We must never be guilty of treating God like is one of our buddies.

V. 5 It Involved A Command – Next, the people were told to in verse 5 “sanctify yourselves.” This referred to being sure they were as clean and holy as possible. They were to put away anything that was displeasing to the Lord. They were to examine themselves and get ready for the Lord to do something great for them.

(If you and I ever expect to get past the Jordan’s that arise in our lives, we are going to have to learn that one of the first things we must do is examine our lives to make sure they are as clean as possible.

V. 9-13 It Involved A Commitment – vs 10 This message to the Israelites reminded them that getting across the Jordan did not rest on their shoulders, but on the Lord’s. It was His plan to get them over and it was His problem. In these verses, He makes them a promise and tells them that He will bring them through in a powerful fashion. God, here, commits Himself to bringing his people across their Jordan! All that was required of Israel was that they trust God! May I remind you that things have not changed one bit? If God could be trusted in those days to keep His promises, then He can still be trusted today!

3:14-17 WE NEED TO EXPECT A MIRACLE

V. 15b There Was A Problem – As I mentioned in the introduction, the children of Israel were facing a big problem. The river was over 1 mile wide and there were 2 million people who had to cross, and yet the Lord wanted them to go over.

Have you ever sized up your problem and thought about how big it was? Maybe you looked at it and concluded, “There is no way around, through, over or past this problem.” “There’s no way!” God looks at the problem and says,

Follow me, I have a plan!

V. 15 There Was A Plan – The plan was this, God said, “When the feet of the priests enter Jordan, I am going to part the waters and lead you through on the dry ground!” There was a catch in this plan and it was that the waters would not part until the priests who were carrying the Ark stepped into the water. In other words, it took a step of faith, whereby the people obediently followed the Lord for them to see the miracle come to pass.

What a lesson for you and me. Too often, we want the Lord just to fix everything in our lives for us. We don’t want to have to make any decisions nor do we want to have to exercise our faith in Him. We just want Him to do it and that will be the end of it.

V. 16-17 There Was A Performance – When the priests stepped into that raging river, it parted and God opened a path of dry ground through the waters for His people. By the way, verse 16 says that the waters backed up to the City of Adam. This is some 20 miles north of where the children of Israel were crossing.

We need to remember that faith honors God and God honors faith! When He does it, it won’t just be patched up and ready to fall apart again, it will be done right and it will be done forever. He was ABLE all the way through the Bible, and He is still ABLE today! Regardless of the circumstances, He is still God and He still can! God can! Just ask, Noah, Moses, Daniel, the 3 Hebrews, a widow down in Zarephath, the Disciples on a little ship, and Saul of Tarsus. Just look back over your own life. How many times has the Lord opened your Jordan already?

4:1-24 WE NEED TO ERECT A MEMORIAL

When all the people had passed over Jordan, Joshua commanded one man from each of the 12 tribes to get a rock from the midst of Jordan and build a memorial on the Canaan side.

V, 6-7; 21-24 The Purpose Of The Memorial – These verses tell us that the purpose of the memorial was to remind successive generations of the power and faithfulness of God on behalf of His people. That memorial would be an important landmark to those who would come after.

By the same token, we need some memorials in our lives as well. If we embalm the past we cripple the future.

V. 9, 20 The Picture In The Memorial – Ill. It is interesting to notice that Joshua constructed 2 monuments. One on the bank and one in the river. These 2 memorials served 2 different purposes. Notice what they were.

V. 20 A Picture Of The Faithfulness Of God – The one on the bank of Jordan stood as a testimony to the faithfulness of God as I have just mentioned. It was there to remind others of what the Lord had done and of what He could do.

V. 9 A Picture Of The Faith Of The People – Now, what about the rock pile in the river? No one could see it but God! It stood as a monument to the faith of the people! You see, when you face a time of trial, others are often guilty of misjudging your motives and actions, however, only God knows the truth about your heart. Even though Israel couldn’t see it, they knew the monument was there! They remembered that they had believed God then and it had worked. This was a monument in their hearts.

THE CRY OF LONELINESS | Christian Book Review

Christian Book StoresThe fourth word that Jesus uttered was a word of anguish of loneliness addressed to the Father. It is found in Matthew 27:46 – “At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ which means ‘My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?’”

Max Lucado gives the following account in his book titled No Wonder They Call Him Savior.

“The summer of 1980 in Miami was nothing to smile about. The Florida heat scorched the city during the day and baked it at night. Riots, lootings, and racial tension threatened to snap the frayed emotions of the people. Everything soared: unemployment, inflation, the crime rate, and especially the thermometer. Somewhere in the midst of it all, a Miami Herald reporter captured a story that left the entire Gold Coast breathless.

It was the story of Judith Bucknell. Attractive, young, successful, and dead.

Judith Bucknell was homicide number 106 that year. She was killed on a steamy June 9th evening. Age: 38. Weight: 109 pounds. Stabbed seven times. Strangled.

She kept a diary. Had she not kept this diary perhaps the memory of her would have been buried with her body. But the diary exists; a painful epitaph to a lonely life. The correspondent made this comment about her writings: ‘In her diaries, Judy created a character and a voice. The character is herself, wistful, struggling, weary; the voice is yearning. Judith Bucknell has failed to connect; age 38, many lovers, much love offered, none returned.’

Her struggles weren’t unusual. She worried about getting old, getting fat, getting married, getting pregnant, and getting by. She lived in stylish Coconut Grove (Coconut Grove is where you live if you are lonely but act happy).

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Judy was the paragon of the confused human being. Half of her life was fantasy, half was nightmare. Successful as a secretary, but a loser at love. Her diary was replete with entries such as the following:

‘Where are the men with the flowers and champagne and music? Where are the men who call and ask for a genuine, actual date? Where are the men who would like to share more than my bed, my booze, my food. . . . I would like to have in my life, once before I pass through my life, the kind of sexual relationship which is part of a loving relationship.’

She never did.

Judy was not a prostitute. She was not on drugs or on welfare. She never went to jail. She was not a social outcast. She was respectable. She jogged. She hosted parties. She wore designer clothes and had an apartment that overlooked the bay. And she was very lonely.

‘I see people together and I’m so jealous I want to throw up.
What about me! What about me!’

Though surrounded by people, she was on an island. Though she had many acquaintances, she had few friends. Though she had many lovers (fifty-nine in fifty-six months), she had little love.

‘Who is going to love Judy Bucknell?’ the diary continues. ‘I feel so old. Unloved. Unwanted. Abandoned. Used up. I want to cry and sleep forever.’

A clear message came from her aching words. Though her body died on June 9th from the wounds of a knife, her heart had died long before. . . from loneliness.

‘I’m alone,’ she wrote, ‘and I want to share something with somebody.’”

The anguish of loneliness.

It is experienced by the abandoned child. The person who is divorced. The person in the nursing home. Maybe you experience it in the empty home. The empty mailbox. The long days. The longer nights. A one-night stand. A forgotten birthday. No personal emails – just junk and business.

Maybe you have been spared this cruel cry. Oh, you have been homesick or upset a time or two. But despair? Far from it. Suicide? Of course not. Be thankful that it hasn’t knocked at your door … yet. Pray that it never will.

But for many, loneliness is a way of life. The sleepless nights. The lonely bed. The distrust. The fear of tomorrow. The unending hurt. When did it begin? In your childhood? At the divorce? At retirement? At the cemetery? When the kids left home?

Maybe you, like Judy Bucknell, have fooled everyone. No one knows that you are lonely. On the outside you are packaged perfectly. Your smile is quick. Your job is stable. Your clothes are sharp. Your calendar is full. Your talk impressive. But when you look in the mirror, you don’t fool yourself.

Or maybe you don’t try to hide it. Maybe you have always been outside the circle looking in, and everyone knows it. Your conversation is a bit awkward. Your companionship is seldom requested. Your clothes are dull. Your looks are common. Ziggy is your hero and Charlie Brown is your mentor.

Am I striking a chord? If I am, if you sighed in understanding, I have an important message for you. The most gut-wrenching cry of loneliness in history came not from a homicide victim or a prisoner or a widow or a patient. It came from a cross on a hill, from Jesus.

“My God, my God!” he cried out, “Why have you forsaken me?”

Never have words carried so much hurt. Never has anyone been so lonely.

Leviticus 16 is a passage of the Law of Atonement. It describes God’s Law to the Israelites of how to make an offering and sacrifice for the sins of the people. Remember, this is before Jesus comes to be our final sacrifice. It is complicated and ugly. In vs. 21 and 22, after much blood has been shed of animals in sacrifice, a live goat is taken. The high priest lays his hands upon the live goat and confesses the sins of all the people of Israel and transfers them to the head of the live goat. It is then sent away into the wilderness alone with all the sin upon itself. It is alone. It cannot be among the people. It is forsaken. It is cursed by God. The people would be
relieved. God would be appeased.

The temporary sacrifices described in Leviticus 16 are only a shadow of what was to come in Jesus. Hebrews teaches us that these sacrifices could not remove sins. They were only a lesson of what was to come – a lesson of our great need for forgiveness that Jesus alone provides.

Hebrews 10:1-4 – “The old system under the law of Moses was only a shadow, a dim preview of the good things to come, not the good things themselves. The sacrifices under that system were repeated again and again, year after year, but they were never able to provide perfect cleansing for those who came to worship. If they could have provided perfect cleansing, the sacrifices would have stopped, for the worshipers would have been purified once for all time, and their feelings of guilt would have disappeared. But instead, those sacrifices actually reminded them of their sins year after year. For it is not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.”

Hebrews 7:26-28 – “He is the kind of high priest we need because he is holy and blameless, unstained by sin. He has been set apart from sinners and has been given the highest place of honor in heaven.Unlike those other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices every day. They did this for their own sins first and then for the sins of the people. But Jesus did this once for all when he offered himself as the sacrifice for the people’s sins. The law appointed high priests who were limited by human weakness. But after the law was given, God appointed his Son with an oath, and his Son has been made the perfect High Priest forever.”

And because of Jesus’ perfect sacrifice, we have this result.

Hebrews 10:19-25– “And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one
another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”

Because of the blood of Jesus – we can come boldly into the presence of God … in relationship. We are not alone. And we are commanded to be together as the body and not neglect that – not to live life alone but together.

We will never have to experience the greatest loneliness – eternal separation from God. But Jesus did. On the cross, a moment came when he was overwhelmed by the loneliness, being forsaken by the Father with whom he had experienced eternal closeness. He was separated from him. But for you and I he willingly endured this. He took all of our sin upon himself and God had to forsake him. He was the true, the only, the final sacrifice for our sin. He seemed to be able to take so much. He took the betrayal without complaint. He endured the trials 3without defending himself. He took so much beating and physical torture before he even came to the cross and was silent. He carried his own instrument of cruel death without complaint. He was crucified and still expressed his concern and care for others. But then something happened that he could not be silent about.

I want to go back to how Max Lucado describes this moment. “And now on Skull’s hill, the sinbearer is again 4191512_largealone. Every lie ever told, every object ever coveted, every promise ever broken is on his shoulders. He is sin. God turns away. The despair is darker than the sky. It is more than Jesus can take. He withstood the beatings and remained strong at the mock trials. He watched in silence as those he loved ran away. He did not retaliate when the insults were hurled nor did he scream when the nails pierced his wrists. But when God turned his head, that was more than he could handle.

‘My God!’

The wail rises from parched lips. The holy heart is broken. The sinbearer screams as he wanders in the cosmic wasteland. Out of the silent sky come the words screamed by all who walk in the desert of loneliness.

‘Why? Why have you forsaken me?’

Why did Jesus do it? Oh, I know, I know. I have heard the official answers. ‘To gratify the law.’ ‘To fulfill prophecy.’ And these answers are right. They are. But there is something more here. Something very compassionate. Something yearning. Something personal. What is it?

I may be wrong, but I keep thinking of the diary. ‘I feel abandoned,’ she wrote. ‘Who is going to love Judith Bucknell?’ And I keep thinking of the parents of the dead child. Or the friend at the hospital bedside. Or the elderly in the nursing home. Or the orphans. Or the cancer ward. I keep thinking of all the people who cast despairing eyes toward the dark heavens and cry, ‘Why?’

And I imagine him. I imagine him listening. I imagine him holding out his nail-pierced hands showing that he who also was once alone, understands.”

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