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.

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).

Get this book Here…….10% off

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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Study 2 of The Book of Joshua|She’s Not The Girl She Used To Be

downloadRead Joshua 2:1-24

And she said unto the men, I know that the Lord hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you.

10 For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed.

11 And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the Lord your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.

There once was a rather rough, uncultured man who for some reason fell in love with a beautiful vase in a shop window. Eventually he bought the vase and put it on the mantelpiece in his room. There it became a kind of judgment on its surroundings. He had to clean up the room to make it worthy of the vase. The curtains looked dingy beside it. The old chair with the stuffing coming out of the seat would not do. The wallpaper and the paint needed redoing. Gradually the whole room was transformed. When you put Christ on the mantel of your heart, your whole life is transformed.

  • It is this kind of transformation we witness here in the second chapter of the book of Joshua.
  • As the Israelites were about to enter Canaan and claim their promised land, the first city they would have to face was the great walled city of Jericho.
  • If they could take this city, they could easily split the country in two and then move from there to conquer the north and the south.
  • Before they go about the business of defeating Jericho, Joshua sends spies to the city to gage the mood of the people and to see whether or not they were ready for war.
  • When these spies entered Jericho, they went to the home of a harlot. Why? Well, the sight of men entering a harlot’s home would not attract too much attention. Now would it?
  • What they found when they entered the home of Rahab must have come as quiet a shock to these two men. They found a woman who had been changed by the power of God. They met Rahab, but found out that she wasn’t the girl she used to be!

For us, Rahab is a picture of the power of the Lord Jesus to transform any life that comes to Him by faith.

What we will see today is how the Lord takes sinners who will place their faith in Him and changes them by His power and grace

RAHAB THE CALL GIRL

Verse 1 describes Her Spiritual Condition – Rahab was a harlot. Her’s was a depraved and wicked life. She is a picture of every person who is lost in sin this morning. You see, you may not be a harlot, but if you have never trusted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, then you are lost in sin and need to be born again! It is sad but true, all are sinners

It also describes Her Spiritual Condemnation – She lived in a city that was slated for destruction! God had already determined that Jericho would fall! I’m sure the people felt pretty confident and reasonably safe behind the walls of their city, but God had already passed sentence upon them and they were doomed to destruction! The people of Jericho may not have felt that they were in great danger, but they were doomed nonetheless!

So it is with the sinner this morning! The lost person may feel secure today and may not believe that he is in any danger. However, the Bible tells us that the lost are condemned already, John 3:18

Then we see God’s Spiritual Compassion – Notice verse 10. Rahab tells the spies that they heard of what happened in Egypt and of the kings thy have defeated along the way. Well, it had been 40 years since they left Egypt. God had spared the city for that amount of time, and still they had several more days before judgment came to them. Rahab had experienced the grace and patience of God in giving her time to come to faith in Him.

Friend, how many years has the Lord given you? How many times has He knocked on your heart’s door? How many times has He called you to faith? You that are saved, how many times did the Lord call before you responded in faith.

RAHAB THE CONVERTED GIRL

Verse 10-11 She Heard The Word – Rahab heard about the God of Israel. It was a message of judgment that she heard, but it introduced her to the true and living God. The message that came was to her a message of life!

The message is the same today. That message is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8

For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:

6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.

7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.

8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time

Verse 9-11 She Heeded The Word – Not only did Rahab hear the message, but she heeded it as well. This message produced a response of faith in the heart of Rahab. The fact that she believed the message is proven by what she says about God. In verse 9, she calls Him “the LORD”, using His covenant Name Jehovah. In verse 11, she expresses her faith in Him as THE God of Heaven and of earth. I verse 12, she again expresses her faith in Him as she calls God to witness the pact she is about to make with the spies. Even Heb. 11, the great Hall of the Faithful, in verse 31 tells us of the faith of Rahab. She heard the message and she acted on it in belief.

RAHAB THE COMPLETED GIRL

By the way, He has no respect of persons, therefore, what He did for Rahab, He can do for you. He used her in a mighty fashion. He can use you as well!)

Verse 12-22 The Proof Of Her Completion 

In Verse 1-7 She Labored For The Lord – One of the surest proofs that Rahab was genuinely converted is the fact that she involved herself with the work of the Lord. She hid the spies and covered up for them. We cannot condone her lie. Even James uses her as an example of the believer who proves their salvation by the works of their life, James 2:25.

My friends, we can like it or not, but the truth of our profession is proven by the work of our life, James 2:18! You see, we can say anything we like, but what we really are is proven by what we do! The fruit of your life proves the root of your life – Matt. 7:20

She also Loved The Lost – Notice that Rahab is concerned about others in her family who are in danger as well.

The Payoff Of Her Completion – Because she placed her faith in the Lord God of Israel, she obtained some precious possessions. Notice how God took this former harlot and blessed her new life with the richest of His blessings. She Found A New Family – She went from being part of judged nation to being part of a holy nation! She Found A New Family – Rahab was taken from the house of shame and wound up in the hall of fame. This woman became and ancestor of the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, she was David’s great-great grandmother and she was the mother-in-law of Ruth. Josh. 6:20-25 She Found A New Freedom – Because of her faith she was spared from the destruction that overtook her city. By the way, all those in her house were spared as well! When the walls of Jericho fell down flat, there was apparently one section that remained standing. It was the section that held the house of Rahab. It was a place that was marked by a scarlet rope that hung from her window, v. 18.

What a picture is given here. And, just as Rahab’s home was marked by a scarlet rope, v. 18 so our life is recognized by God because of the blood of Jesus that has been applied to our souls by faith. That rope told Israel that Rahab believed God and was to live. The blood of Jesus tells the Father that we have trusted His Son and that we, too, are to be spared! Folks, it is the blood that makes the difference! I Pet. 1:18-19; Rev. 1:5.)

It was the blood of a lamb that spared the firstborn in Egypt when the death angel passed through the land. It is the blood of Jesus that makes the difference between Heaven and Hell for each of us this morning!)

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Study 1 of The Book of Joshua|This Land is our Land

CanaanJoshua 1:1-18

Do you remember the song we used to sing when we were children in school? “This land is your Land.” The lyrics went a little something like:

“This land is your land This land is my land
From California to the New York island;
From the red wood forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and Me.”

When I read the book of Joshua that’s what I think about, the land that God promised to them many years ago and now it was time for them to enter into that land of promise. However, as they prepare there must be an understanding that there will be battles that will have to be fought. Therefore, in the midst of the battles, there is always hope for victory, Rom. 8:31, 37. In fact, the Bible tells us that we are the recipients of victory through the Lord Jesus Christ, 1 Cor. 15:57.

While we are engaged in the battle with evil, there is the expectation that we can and will walk in victory in our lives. For me, this is what the book of Joshua represents.

In this book, we find that Moses, has died and a new leader named Joshua has been appointed to lead the nation of Israel into Canaan. After 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, Israel is about to take possession of the land which God promised Abraham.

This book is about the battles Israel faced in order to claim that promise from God. Joshua is a book of warfare, suffering and great victories. It is a book that can teach the Christian much about obtaining spiritual victory in your life.

This morning, I begin a new series that will take us through the book of Joshua. My goal in preaching it is help you to stop wandering around in the wilderness and to enter into your Canaanland of spiritual victory. These verses will help us to understand what it takes to go from wandering around in a wilderness of defeat to living in a land of victory.

There are 3 truths given here that we need to understand this morning as we look at the thought,

This Land Is Our Land!”

In Verse 1-9 we see THE CALL FROM GOD.

In order for them to enter the land they must get instructions from the one who gave them the land. In verse 1-4 there is A Call To Claim The Land – In these verses, Joshua is reminded that the Lord has already given the land of Canaan to the children of Israel.

Joshua is commanded to lead the people into Canaan to claim the land that they had been promised by the Lord. The land was given to them back in Gen. 12:7 and the promises were reaffirmed to every succeeding generation of the nation of Israel. The land was indeed their land! There was no need for them to continue their wandering around in the wilderness. They had a land, all they had to do was claim it.

Each day as I look around as I go through my week I see Christians who are defeated, who struggle with sins, who, for all intents and purposes are wandering around in a spiritual wilderness. My friends, it does not have to be that way! God has a place of victorious living which He has promised you and I can live in, 2 Cor. 2:14; Rom. 8:37; 1 Cor. 15:57. I believe with all my heart that God did not save you to see you defeated! Most of the time, we are defeated because we refuse to walk in victory.

We also see in verse 5-6, 9 A Call To Have Confidence In The Lord Joshua is reminded of some very precious promises in these verses. Notice what God promised him:

There was the promise of victory over every enemy, the promise of the presence and power of God, the promise of the faithfulness of God, the promise of absolute victory and the promise of God to keep His promises. The question is what did Joshua have to do to make these things happen? Just one thing: Trust God! May I remind you that the same promises God made to Joshua are in force for you and me this morning? You can still count on the Lord to do everything He promised Joshua He would do!

He still gives victory over all our enemies – 1 John 5:4-5. For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? He is still ever-present, Heb. 13:5, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. and all powerful – Matt. 28:18. And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. He is still faithful – Matt. 28:20. I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen. He still gives absolute victory – 1 Cor. 15:57; But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. He still keeps His promises – Rom. 4:21. And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. What do we have to do to see these things come to pass in our lives? Just one thing: Trust God!

In verse 7-8 we find A Call To Carry Out The Law – The Lord tells Joshua that if he is to lead the people of God to rest in Canaan, then he take heed to the Law of God. Remembering the Law is an essential step to entering our Canaan as well. Notice what the Lord to Joshua about the Law and how this applies to our lives today. He was to keep the Law, He was to meditate on the Law and He was to prosper by honoring the Law.

There is a lesson in this for us this We are to feed on the Bible –  Job 23:12. I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food. We are to live by the Bible – Psa. 119:11; Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. We will be blessed when these things are true in our lives – Psa. 1:1-3! Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

Finally in the Call from God we find in verse 6a, 7a, 9a A Call To Courage In Leadership – In the midst of all these things the Lord calls Joshua to do, 3 times, God Himself, encourages Joshua to be strong and courageous! These words carry the idea of “standing firm and strong in the face of opposition.”

Are you standing for the Lord? Or, have you fallen out along the way?

To claim the land as yours you must also look at verse 10-15 THE CHALLENGE FROM JOSHUA.

After Joshua receives his challenge from the Lord, without hesitation, he goes to the people and tells them that the time has come to take their land. First, he challenges the nation as a whole and then he addresses a specific group within the nation of Israel.

In verse 10-11 there is  A Challenge To Readiness – Joshua tells the people to get ready to go into Canaan and claim the land. These were the words they had been living for 40 years. However, before they could go in, they had to get ready! God told them to prepare them some food. You see, the manna was about to stop. God had told them that He would give them manna while they were in the desert, but it would cease when they entered the Promised Land, Ex. 16:35. The manna was desert diet, now they were about to move up to something a whole lot better. They were going to a land flowing with milk and honey. What had worked in the wilderness would not suffice in the land of blessing!

The same is true for us today. Before we can enter our Canaan, we have to prepare for that land. The way we live must change. The things we feed on must change. The entire scope of our lives must be altered to adjust to life in Canaan! This is why so many never enjoy the victorious Christian life. They simply refuse to make the necessary changes to adjust to living in spiritual victory. The fact is, if you expect to walk in victory, you will have to learn to walk by an entirely new set of rules, Rom. 6:4; Col. 3:1-10.)

What will you have to do to get ready for Canaan?

In verse 12-15 there is A Challenge To Responsibility – Now, Joshua addresses the tribes of Reuben, Gad and that half tribe of Manasseh. These tribes had sought, and gotten, permission from Moses to remain east of the Jordan, just outside the Promised Land. Their reason in making this request? The land east of Jordan was a land that was good for raising cattle, Num. 32:1, 4, 16. Still, Joshua reminds them that they had promised to fight alongside their brethren until the land was conquered, Deut 3:12-20. These people are challenged to remember their promise and to aid the nation until victory was secured. While these people settled in a land of prosperity, they were also in a land of danger. Years later, when the Assyrian army attacked from the East, these tribes were the first to go away into captivity.

Listen, there is a very powerful lesson for us in these verse. We have literal legions of Christians who are just like these 2 ½ tribes. They are more concerned about making a living than they are about making a life! The primary thing that motivates them is getting ahead in life. In other words, they are materially minded instead of spiritually minded!

These people represent those Christians I would call “borderline Christians”. These are people who have trusted Jesus for salvation, but that is about as far as they are will to go. They will come when they want to, tithe when they feel like they can afford to, fight a battle now and again, but most often, they are seen just playing around the edges, refusing to put God first in their lives.

By the way, it is this type of Christian who is usually the first to fall in times of attack and temptation!

Lastly, take a look at verse 16-18 THE COMMITMENT FROM THE PEOPLE.

In verse 16 They Commit Themselves To A Life Of Surrender – These people make their stand with the Lord. They promise absolute obedience and surrender to the will of God.

This is the only way spiritual victory will come to any life. There must be total and absolute surrender of every area of life to the will of God and to His divine leadership. Anything less hinders the work of God in your life and mine. What are you holding back from the Lord this morning?

In verse 17 They Commit Themselves To A Life Of Submission – These men also promised to follow the leadership of God’s man. Just as they had followed Moses, they committed themselves to following Joshua! We are to submit to the leadership of God! Canaan is only for those who are subject to the will of God!)

Finally, verse 18 shows us  They Commit Themselves To A Life Of Separation – Finally, the people commit themselves to separating from those in their midst who refused to comply with the commandments of the Lord. And, their separation was so strong that they vowed to put to death anyone who rebelled against the leadership of Joshua. These people knew that allowing rebellion in their midst was a sure way to guarantee defeat.

Again, the lesson for us is clear this morning. If we want to walk in victory, we must practice separation in our lives as well. We should separate ourselves from anything that would prevent us from having victory in our lives. Whether it be from certain people, in the way we dress, the way we talk, the things we watch and do, where we work, how we think or in any other area of life. If it is a hindrance to your entering into your Canaan, then it must go. Otherwise, you will always be defeated and in danger. Even as I speak, you already know what it is that is holding you back this morning. You need to get that things settled today!

Canaanland is our land! It has been given to us by the Heavenly Father and all we have to do this morning is to march in and claim it for ourselves. However, while it is ours, it isn’t cheap! If you really want to walk in spiritual victory and live in Canaanland, then you will have to pay the price.