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The Story: Week 7 “The Battle Begins”

February 26, 2017

The Story: Week 7 “The Battle Begins”

Joshua 1-24

 

Intro:  Last week we finished with the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible all said to be written by Moses.  So with Chapter 7 in The Story we head into the writings of a different author, Joshua, who had taken leadership after Moses.  This chapter covered the whole book of Joshua, 24 chapters!  And you thought you couldn’t speed read!  

 

It is a record of the faithfulness of God to his people and finally a time when the people of God were also faithful.  Let’s do a brief run through of all the action that occurred in this book.  If I were a Hollywood producer, I would recommend we make a movie of this book of the Bible.  It would be an epic, action thriller!

 

Remember that God is always about reconciling his creation to himself.  Chiefly he longs for intimacy with his people - us.  As pointed out by Moses and the bringing of the 10 Commandments and the following Levitical Law, God was intentional about how he desired his people to behave.  Knowing that our natural tendency, since the fall, was to withdraw from God he made a way through obedience in the OT, to be reconciled and made right with him. He did not say that it would be easy but he did encourage his people.  

 

Some of this is taken from The Ultimate Bible Summary Collection, this portion being written by Jay Smith, but I’ve added a little more color.  Here we go!

 

Joshua Summary

by Jay Smith

 

The genre of the book of Joshua is Narrative History. It was authored by Joshua the leader of the Israelites circa 1405-1383 B.C. The key personalities are Joshua, Rahab, Achan, Phinehas, and Eleazar. It was written to assure the Israelites the Living God will reward obedience, and also to record the entrance and conquest of the promise land.

Joshua demonstrates his faith in God as He follows the orders given to Him and takes leadership of the nation. . . . .

•    In chapters 1-4, Joshua and the Israelites enter the promise land and in doing so we read of an amazing entry. As they arrive at the Jordan River, we find details of an incredible, miraculous crossing. . . . This involves the water parting so that they can cross.  De ja vu The Red Sea! It involves spies being sent into the city and being protected by a prostitute named Rahab who in return is spared along with her entire family and as a bonus becomes part of the lineage of King David and therefore of Jesus the Messiah!! 

•    Then in chapters 5-12, Joshua follows God’s orders and first conquers the central portion of the promise land. This includes the unlikely manner in which they conquer the grand fortress of Jericho. We sang about this! God alone moved and conquered this impossible achievement. Ai was the next town and although it took two tries, the first due to sin in the camp, on the second attempt God again moved and dominated. Next, the Israelites occupied the southern land and then the northern land to complete the occupancy; however, although they controlled the region, they never did completely conquer it. There were executions and pillaging and conquering and battles - see! Epic movie material! Or at least  a version of the game RISK based on the Promised Land.

•    Finally, in chapters 13-24, the land is divided up and distributed among the tribes of Israel. Some of the larger cities are placed aside for the Levitical priests who did not receive a portion of land, due to their duties. Lastly, Joshua dies but before he passes he gives one of the greatest challenges that lasts for all generations including our own, “Choose for yourselves today whom you will serve...as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (24:15).

Summaries Courtesy of the Ultimate Bible Summary Collection

 

The Story gives us the flow and highlights of this time in history, but of course if you want to read all the details and all the names and do your family genealogy search, you will need to look at Scripture itself.  But a reminder that the purpose of The Story is to help us pull out of Scripture the overarching theme of God’s purpose to redeem the people he created who rebelled against him at the fall.

 

None of what Joshua and the people of Israel did was simple, safe, or easy.  It was all a challenge.  There are days for all of us here that we can relate and wear the shirt with  “Life is a challenge” written on it.  This does not come as a surprise to God and so he promised to be with Joshua and His people - to go before them, to provide for their need, to protect them, to honor their obedience.  God also promised that there would be consequences for their disobedience and during this period of history they experienced that as well.  

 

All the while, as God is preparing Joshua to take over from Moses and throughout Joshua’s preparation to take the land there is a refrain spoken among God and his people repeatedly.  Listen.  PPT 

Dt. 31:7-8 Moses speaks these words to Joshua

Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the presence of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you must go with this people into the land that the Lord swore to their ancestors to give them, and you must divide it among them as their inheritance. The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

 

Dt. 31:23. God speaks these words to Joshua

 The Lord gave this command to Joshua son of Nun: “Be strong and courageous, for you will bring the Israelites into the land I promised them on oath, and I myself will be with you.”

 

Josh. 1:5-6. God speaks it to Joshua

No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.

          1:7  God says it again

“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go

          1:9. God commands it!

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

          1:18. The people say it to Joshua!

Whoever rebels against your word and does not obey it, whatever you may command them, will be put to death. Only be strong and courageous!”

 

The people of Israel were getting ready to invade a land, take a fortress, and set up housekeeping in their new homeland.  What challenges are you facing?  They may be as equally big and God’s word to you is still the same:  Be strong and courageous!

PPT “Be strong and courageous”

Let’s read Joshua 1:1-18

 

The troops have been rallied.  They are in!  They are ready to obey.  They are ready to follow God and Joshua into battle.  And what a crazy battle it was at Jericho!  They didn’t even have to draw a sword or build a catapult. They marched, they shouted, they blew the horn, BAM! Jericho was theirs!  It was not a difficult task but it was a bizarre way to start occupation of a country.

This makes me wonder if I’ve missed opportunities to be in the center of God’s will because what he asked me to do seemed to bizarre or not worth my time, or not how I would accomplish what I was after.  Makes me wish I would have obeyed more often in the past and think about being committed to not squandering opportunities to obey in the future.  Lord, give me courage!  And God says, “Be strong . . . (read from PPT)

 

And then there is the next part of the story!  God had been specific about what the conquerors of Jericho could take and what was going to be for God alone.  And there was one greedy guy, Achan who took what didn’t belong to him and because of that at their next battle, they were defeated. As they became afraid because of this and falling before God with a lot of “Woe is me! Have you brought us here to kill us?” After all the promises given for their success, God confronts them in chp. 7 with what Achan has done.  We might say that it was just a little bit of property kept for oneself.  But let me ask you this - how much obedience does God want from his people?  How much obedience does God want from his church today?  How much obedience does God want from you?

 

So the story continues:  It did not end well for Achan and his family; Joshua led a successful attack on the same city; and then Joshua took a breath and realigned the people of God with the covenant of God.  Let’s read that part in 8:30-38.

 

Here is another reason that we need to be people of The Word.  We tend to forget what it says.  We have our favorite verses and stories that are reflected in our favorite songs but we may forget the rest.  We may need to be reminded of what God requires of the people he claims as his own.  We may need to be told once again that our first act of obedience is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and mind - and that requires complete obedience.  The world we live in shouts at us so loudly that it can be easy to lose the sound of God’s call on a daily basis.  We are told truths, half-truths and lies over and we can forget which is which if we do not continually listen to God’s truth.

 

Let me throw out a media warning here.  The Shack comes out this week.  It was a great book and I am so looking forward to seeing the movie!  BUT keep in mind, this is one persons imagination at work and not necessarily the truth.  So as you watch it, pay attention to how it makes you feel about God and what it makes you think about God and then check out those ideas with the truth of Scripture.  It may open a door for some to look at God a bit more closely but it may also mislead people into thinking - that’s enough of God for me and they will miss the truth about how Jesus died to forgive them their sin and reconcile them with God.  If you encounter those sorts of conversation, I pray that you would be bold and strong and very courageous to speak the truth about Christ’s death on the cross so that each of us can truly be made right with God.

 

There is one more passage I’d like us to peek at in these 24 chapters.  In the final chapter, all of the people have gathered together.  They have not yet moved completely into the land that they have been given as the tribes of Israel. Joshua is an old man and near death and so he reminds them of how far God has brought them - out of Egypt and beyond and then he issues a challenge.  24:14-28. And the credits roll as the theme music plays.

 

It all comes down to this decision Joshua asked the people to make:  Choose today whom you will serve.  It is the same question we have to ask ourselves daily.  Who am I living for today?  I confess that if I don’t think about this on purpose, the answer is most likely going to be me and not God.

 

You are the people of God, chosen by him to live out his purpose, according to his will.  And the decision Joshua placed before the Israelites is one we have to answer right here and now.  Who will you serve?

 

And there is another - How will you know what that service is supposed to look like if you don’t read the instruction manual?

 

One more question that we didn’t have time to delve into this morning is - How are we occupying the “country” God has given us?  Maybe you can talk about that in your small groups or family’s.  How is God calling us to be present where we live.  In what ways are we called to proclaim His reign here and now?