Posts Tagged 'Joshua'

Panic Podcast: The Everything Bible Study, Part 16

It’s Wednesday not Monday, but we are doing Monday’s study today since we couldn’t do it on Monday due to website maintenance.

Today we begin an extended look at the books of history in the Old Testament, from Joshua to Esther. There are 12 books of Hebrew history, so you know it will take a few studies to cover them.  I know most of you aren’t too keen on history, but you’ll love our survey these awesome books of the Bible.  So click on the player and we’ll get started!

 

How To Succeed in Life

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Let’s be completely honest: Moses must have been a hard act to follow! Here’s how Deuteronomy records his epitaph:

Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, who did all those signs and wonders the Lord sent him to do in Egypt—to Pharaoh and to all his officials and to his whole land. For no one has ever shown the mighty power or performed the awesome deeds that Moses did in the sight of all Israel. (Deuteronomy 34:10 – 12 NIV)

How would you like to be the guy to succeed such a national treasure? We know the story of Israel didn’t end with the death of Moses atop Mount Pisgah. We also know that Joshua, a man who faithfully remained in Moses’ shadow for four decades, was the one who took his place. The book that bears his name was, in all probability, written in the main by Joshua himself. Both ancient and modern Jewish tradition, as well as much of conservative Christian opinion, attests to this.

The book is part autobiography and part history. As to the book of Joshua’s place in Hebrew history, here’s a bird’s eye-view. In Genesis, God gives birth to Israel and promises to give to it the land of Canaan. In Exodus, He delivers His people from oppression in a foreign land and starts them on their journey to the Promised Land. It is during this journey that He gave them His Law to live by. The book of Numbers records Israel’s wanderings through the desert right up to the gate of Canaan. Deuteronomy outlines final preparations for entering the land. It is here that Moses fades out and Joshua fades in. His book outlines the conquest of Canaan and the division of its territories to the various tribes of Israel. As noted by Irving Jensen:

Joshua is the climax of a progressive history as well as the commencement of a new experience for Israel. Thus its historical nexus gives it a strategic place in the Old Testament Scriptures.

Joshua the man was a man of faith. In fact, he was one of the very few men of faith who left Egypt, remaining absolutely faithful to God and to Moses. He trained diligently under Moses for some 40 years. Numbers 27:18 – 23 records Joshua’s divine calling:

So the Lord said to Moses, “Take Joshua son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit of leadership, and lay your hand on him. Have him stand before Eleazar the priest and the entire assembly and commission him in their presence. Give him some of your authority so the whole Israelite community will obey him. He is to stand before Eleazar the priest, who will obtain decisions for him by inquiring of the Urim before the Lord. At his command he and the entire community of the Israelites will go out, and at his command they will come in.” Moses did as the Lord commanded him. He took Joshua and had him stand before Eleazar the priest and the whole assembly. Then he laid his hands on him and commissioned him, as the Lord instructed through Moses. (NIV)

Godly leaders are commissioned

For Joshua, it all began back in Deuteronomy 31:7, 8 –

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.” (NIV)

Man’s time on earth is limited, but God’s plan never ends. Man’s abilities and opportunities are painfully limited to his time and the circumstances he finds himself in. God, however, continues to do His work through the changing times and generations. He never stops working. Moses’ life was almost over; his part in God’s plan was drawing to a close and it was time for someone else to step in and take over.

Up till now, Moses had been the most important man in Israel. He was the one to whom God had spoken. He was the one who did the leading. His word was the law of the land. At 120, he was still doing what he did best, but the end was in sight. And, truth be told, as important and indispensible as Moses may have been, he was not irreplaceable. He may well have been the key man in Israelite politics and religion, but in God’s estimation, Moses was just one spoke in the wheel of His will. It was never the presence of Moses that made kept Israel together all those years, it was the presence of God in Moses’ life. It was time for another to lead God’s people.

Joshua was the man God chose to succeed Moses. He was the one who would lead the people into the Promised Land. Joshua would be the leader who would set the example of being fearless and courageous. The words of Moses are not insignificant. They are not just words of encouragement, but words of experience and promise. And they are words that the Israelites – and we – should take to heart. It’s all well and good to have a godly man in leadership, but that godly man should be trusting in God and so should the people. The people’s trust should be in God, not in the leader God has appointed.

This could be called “Leadership 101.” Human leadership is important, but regardless of who the human leader is our faith should be vested in God for it is He who enables and empowers. Leaders are expected to set the example of trusting God. This takes two character traits sorely missing in our culture today: humility and integrity. Moses had both by the bucketful. Joshua did, too. John MacArthur wrote:

According to Scripture, virtually everything that truly qualifies a person for leadership is directly related to character. It’s not about style, status, personal charisma, clout, or worldly measurements of success. Integrity is the main issue that makes the difference between a good leader and a bad one.

And so Moses commissioned Joshua in front of Israel, then the Lord inaugurates him:

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.” (Deuteronomy 31:23 NIV)

Joshua needed to be as certain that God had called him as Moses had been. God had spoken to Moses regarding Joshua, and then the Lord Himself spoke to Joshua. Those are wonderful words of encouragement that would be repeated again and again. And they needed to be. Joshua would need to be reminded many times to be “strong and courageous” and that God was with him because the words the Lord spoke this day weren’t all sunshine and buttercups. The God who knows the future shared that future with Moses just prior to his death:

“When I have brought them into the land flowing with milk and honey, the land I promised on oath to their ancestors, and when they eat their fill and thrive, they will turn to other gods and worship them, rejecting me and breaking my covenant. And when many disasters and calamities come on them, this song will testify against them, because it will not be forgotten by their descendants. I know what they are disposed to do, even before I bring them into the land I promised them on oath.” (Deuteronomy 31:20, 21 NIV)

More than ever, Joshua would need to have faith in God’s words to Moses and to him. He had a commission to fulfill and a job to do, regardless of the circumstances now or in the future.

Godly leaders are courageous

“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. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 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.” (Joshua 1:7 – 9 NIV)

God definitely wanted Joshua to “be strong and courageous.” But notice the phrase “keep this Book of the Law.” That’s an important phrase. There were no written Scriptures before Moses. God had spoken to people, like the patriarchs, but they didn’t compile their various revelations. They were passed on from person to person verbally. God spoke to Moses face-to-face and he recorded the gist of those conversations and compiled the verbal history of Israel into what we call “The Pentateuch,” the first five books of the Bible. That was the “Book of Law” Joshua was to always remember and never forget. In those five books God had given the people all they needed to know in order to enter into the Promised Land and prosper. Joshua and the people were to read it, think about it, and observe it. The promise attached to obeying God on this point is glorious: They, the Israelites, would be prosperous and successful.

It’s important for us to understand exactly what God had promised to Joshua and the Israelites. All the promised success and properity would come from God. In other words, their source was God Himself. Without God, there would be defeat; with God there would be success and prosperity. That’s God’s soveriegnty at work. But mixed in with that sovereignty was the condition of their obedience. Faith without works is dead, James would write. This is certainly true in the case of Joshua and Israel. All the success and prosperity in the world would be theirs if they obeyed the Word of the Lord, part of which included being “strong and courageous.” The blessing of God would follow the obedience and work of the people.

But it would all start with Joshua and his example. God’s charge to Joshua is full of tremendous lessons for the Christian. We all want to enjoy the very best of God’s blessings. We want success and prosperity in life. And we need to understand that successful living is a promise – yes a promise – of God. It is also a gift from God that is available to all believers and attainable with the help of God. The enemies of our soul: Satan, the world, and our very flesh, need to be driven out just as the enemies of the Israelites needed to be driven out of the Promised Land. Those enemies would nullify God’s promises to Israel as surely as our spiritual enemies will do the same in our lives. But those enemies of ours are also God’s enemies, and so He promises help in conquering them. Success and prosperity can be yours, but they are costly, indeed. Believers are to live in constant and consistent obedience to God’s Word, never deviating from it or forgetting it or ignoring it. For too many Christians, that’s too high a price. Oh yes, we want success and prosperity in life but we stubbornly refuse to do what’s necessary to obtain those blessings! And when we fail, instead of placing the blame where it belongs, squarely on our shoulders, we blame God!

The blessings of victrorious Christian living come by invitation to the Christian, but the conditions for its fulfillment come by mandate. Believers, like Joshua, cannot afford to ignore God’s command:

“Have I not commanded you?” (Joshua 1:9 NIV)

Joshua: A Role Model

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Whether we like to admit it or not, we all have our “role models.” When we were children, our very first role models were probably our parents. As we grew, and our circle of acquaintances expanded, people like teachers, a neighbor we admired, the cop on the beat, or even the garbage man became role models. Even our peers – our best friends or the “cool kids” at school took on the the role of role model. As adults, we still have role models, although we wouldn’t dare call them that. People we admire; who have achieved some notoriety; who have become successful; these are all people who have the potential of becoming role models. A role model is somebody, for whatever reason, we think is special and posseses the qualities we wish we had or that we are trying to cultivate in our own lives. There isn’t necessarily anything wrong with that, by the way, but we need to make sure the person we are trying to emulate is worthy of emulation. After all, a guy like Adolph Hitler had astounding political success, but he’s probably not the best role model for anybody!

In Christian circles, there are all kinds of excellent role models. We can think of people the apostle Paul, or just about any of the apostles for that matter. In church history there are people like Luther and Calvin, Arminius and Augustine, or any of the great martyrs – role models all. But there is a character in the Old Testament who is a role model of the highest character: Joshua, successor to Moses, whose life and character give us a striking illustration of how a mere mortal may receive and enjoy the promised blessings of God. It was Joshua, not Moses, who led the Israelites into the Canaan, which itself represents the very best promise of God. In fact, of Canaan we read this in the New Testament:

“That is why I was angry with that generation; I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.’ So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’ ” (Hebrews 3:10, 11 NIV)

Canaan is representative of God’s rest; not a rest of ease and relaxation, but a rest of hardship, warfare and victory, at least as far as the Israelites were concerned. Entering God’s rest for the rest of us is simply this: Entering fully and purposefully into the plans and purposes of God, quietly and deliberately resting in Him alone to accomplish His plans and purposes for you. Not all believers seem able to do that. Joshua was able to, and so should we. If you’re a believer who has problems “entering God’s rest”; if you find it difficult discerning, accepting, and entering into God’s plans, then hopefully this look at Joshua will help. He is a most compelling role model.

Have faith in the promises of God!

“Now that my disciple is dead, you are the new leader of Israel. Lead my people across the Jordan River into the Promised Land. I say to you what I said to Moses: ‘Wherever you go will be part of the land of Israel…” (Joshua 1:2, 3 TLB)

For some four decades, Moses had led the people of Israel round and round and round the desert until almost all of that sinful, rebellious generation had died. None of them would be allowed to enter the Promised Land. All during that time, God spoke to Moses and through Moses. Joshua, a little younger than he, was witness to the remarkable relationship God had with Moses. Then the day came when this leader of the Hebrews died and it was time for Joshua to take over. He knew the day would come; it was not a surprise when the Lord commissioned him to assume the mantle of leadership. And yet, what a daunting task it must have seemed. As was the custom, there was a national period of mourning that lasted 30 days, and when that time was up, it was time to move on. You may be sure Joshua felt the loss of Moses down to the very core of his being. They were more than friends. The two had traveled far together – from Egypt to the cusp of the Promised Land. Through all the ups and downs of those 40 years of traveling in the desert. By now, Joshua wasn’t a young man. But the work of God never stops – it must never be allowed to stop. God’s servants come and go, but the work remains; it is the one constant; it always presses on regardless of circumstances and feelings.

God appointed Joshua to be Moses’ successor, but Joshua was not to forget his predecessor. In fact, God reminded him of three big things concerning Moses. First, it was to Moses and Moses alone that God gave the promise of Canaan. Second, God was always with Moses as he led the people of Israel. In other words, Moses didn’t do the job using his own strength and knowledge. And third, the law given to the people by God through Moses was to continue in the Promised Land.

Joshua was a man of faith. In some ways, he had more faith than Moses did. Yet Joshua needed a role model: Moses. Moses was given by God to be a sort of inspiration to Joshua. And as Moses had faith in the promises of God, so must Joshua. Yes, God had given His people Canaan by His Word, but they had to actually enter in, fight for it, and plant the foot of faith upon that Word of the Lord.

Christians have the Word of God, too, operating in their lives. And we must be like Joshua: Ready to seize it, and put it to work. We must be like Peter: Ready to take that step of faith as God leads us to. Like all the heroes of faith listed in Hebrews 11, our faith will be tested; it’s to precious not to be. Joshua is the perfect role model in this regard.

Be dedicated to God’s will!

But keep away from the devoted things, so that you will not bring about your own destruction by taking any of them. Otherwise you will make the camp of Israel liable to destruction and bring trouble on it. All the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron are sacred to the Lord and must go into his treasury. (Joshua 6:18, 19 NIV)

We all know the story of how the Hebrews took the city of Jericho upon entering Canaan.  Day after day, the people of Jericho were warned. They were called upon to consider the living God of the Israelites. They witnessed His people. But God’s patience does have an end. On the seventh day, mercy and grace came to an end and judgment took their place. The wages of sin fell upon Jericho and its godless inhabitants.

To this, we cheer! We want to see sin come to an end and sinners get their just deserts. And yet, at what cost? Joshua and his people were the instruments of judgment. When the walls came down by a divine act, it was time for God’s people to do some of the work; it was time for them to “get their hands dirty.”

Then they burned the whole city and everything in it, but they put the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron into the treasury of the Lord’s house. (Joshua 6:24 NIV)

Could you do that? If it was God’s will for you to “burn the whole city and everything in it,” including children, the elderly, dogs and cats, could you? Such obedience demands total dedication and consecration to His will. For the tenderhearted reading this, it would do well to recall the words of the psalmist:

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it… (Psalm 24:1 NIV)

By faith, we know this. And by the same faith we know that God can’t and doesn’t ignore evil especially where that evil may touch His people. Joseph Sizoo, one-time pastor of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington DC, once wrote:

Whatever contaminates the life and religion of the people, leading to inevitable compromise, was to be utterly destroyed. Sin is desperately contagious; it cannot go unpunished.

In a similar vein, Marcus Dodds observed:

One would suppose that when we have been taught by the sacrifice of Christ the value God sets upon holiness in us, we should be found living in fear of contagion from the evil of the world, and counting ourselves of some value.

The point is this: Joshua was up to the task of carrying out God’s will both for the people of Israel, but also for the people of Jericho. And he performed the assignment; he carried out God’s will. He was dedicated to it and he was consecrated to His God. He’s our role model. It’s unlikely in the extreme any of us will ever be called upon to do what Joshua was called upon to do, but in his dedication and consecration, he should serve as our role model.

Fellowship with God

To Joshua, God made this promise:

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. (Joshua 1:5 NIV)

The promises of God to any one of His people are just as reliable as they were to His own Son, and God’s presence should be to us just as real and abiding. Joshua believed without exception this promise from God, so much so, he was able to stand up and declare:

Joshua said to the Israelites, “Come here and listen to the words of the Lord your God. This is how you will know that the living God is among you and that he will certainly drive out before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites and Jebusites. (Joshua 3:9, 10 NIV)

For his whole life, Joshua knew God was with him and he knew God had been working. Even on his deathbed, this man’s dying testimony was this:

One of you routs a thousand, because the Lord your God fights for you, just as he promised. (Joshua 23:10 NIV)

What a role model. Here was a highly successful leader of men and armies, yet he knew any victory he experienced was due to God’s presence. He never forgot what God had told him. For the Christian, it’s tempting to forget about God when we don’t think we need Him. But the simple fact is, God made the same promise to us that He made to Joshua, and like Joshua we should never forget it and we should live like we believe it.

A life that honors God

Finally, the thing about Joshua that is so powerful is that his whole life was one long testimony for God. But he also left a legacy; a living legacy for future generations:

And Joshua set up at Gilgal the twelve stones they had taken out of the Jordan. He said to the Israelites, “In the future when your descendants ask their parents, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ For the Lord your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The Lord your God did to the Jordan what he had done to the Red Sea when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God. ” (Joshua 4:20 – 24 NIV)

He was mindful of how he lived and was concerned about what the up-and-coming generations would think as far as God was concerned. These stones are like works of faith; good works performed for the glory God; works that would outlive the one who performed them.

You and I who claim to be followers and disciples of Jesus Christ, should take the time to study the life and career of Moses’ successor, Joshua. He is an excellent role model for young and old alike.

 

On Consecration

Joshua 24:14—28

The key to being the kind of Christian God intends for us to be is found in understanding one old-fashioned word:  consecration.  According to the dictionary, this is what the word means:

[D]edication to the service and worship of a deity.

That is an adequate definition.  As far as consecration in Christianity, it has been said:

Entire consecration embraces three things—being, doing, and suffering.  We must be willing to be, to do, and to suffer all that God requires.

By the time we get to verse 14 of Joshua 24, Joshua has recounted God’s obvious greatness and goodness to His people.  He has reviewed the nation’s history, and in light of God’s miraculous interventions in the past, Joshua makes a national appeal.

Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD(Joshua 24:14)

This is a shocking thing for the leader of Israel to say.  How is that the people of God had to be reminded of their first Commandment?   But here, at the end of his career and near the end of his life, Joshua had to admonish the people to worship God only, and to get rid of all their other gods, because, apparently, the people had not stopped worshiping Jehovah, but had taken to worshiping idols in addition.

How could people who had such a glorious history with God still be struggling with false gods after all this time?  Achan’s sin of disobedience was not tolerated for an instant, yet this sin of idolatry seemed to go unchallenged for a generation in the Promised Land.  God had made a stunning covenant with Abraham that He would especially favor and bless Abraham and his descendants.  This covenant had been renewed several times since, with Isaac and Jacob, for example.  But if Joshua’s generation was to continue to be part of the covenant, they had to make a choice.

1.  Time to decide, verse 15

But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living.

Man was not created to serve two masters.  There is no such thing as a “part-time Christian.”  Years after Joshua gave this speech and years before Jesus taught about the futility of serving two masters, the prophet Elijah said this to the people of Israel—

“How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.”  But the people said nothing.  (1 Kings 18:21)

The question needs to be asked:  What in the world is wrong with God’s people?  Jew or Christian, it doesn’t seem to matter, we both struggle with putting God first in our lives.  Our idols are different looking than those the Jews worshiped, but make no mistake about it, there are idols in the Church of Jesus Christ today.  Paul wrote this to the Roman church—

Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?  (Romans 6:16)

Yielding to sin makes us slaves to sin.  When we give into temptation, we serve sin; we are not serving God, because if we were, we wouldn’t be sinning!   Yielding to God makes us servants of God.  This is what Joshua is saying to his people:  stop serving the idols, and start serving God! It’s a decision they had to make, and it is a decision we have to make each and every day.

Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”  (Luke 9:23)

2.  Determination, verse 15b

“But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”

Joshua was calling on all Israel to make an honest commitment; he wanted the whole nation to show solidarity in choosing to serve God.   He started with his own family.

We can never underestimate the power of the Amorite fertility God.  The Jews were attracted to the cult’s immoral practices, but also as an agricultural people, they were attracted to the cult’s promise of rain and fertile soil.   They were able to justify their devotion to a god other than Jehovah.  Think of how easily we Christians are able to justify our devotion to things and people other than God.  Think about how easily we put, for example, our jobs or careers ahead of God.  We put our sleep, our children, our spouses, our homes, our hobbies, and countless other things ahead of God.

Salvation is an individual matter; we stand before God alone.  We will give an account to God alone.  But at the same time, Joshua as the leader of his household had to lead his household in making the decision to serve God alone.  Maybe, among the Christian community, it’s time for leaders of families today to step up and make a commitment to serve God on behalf of his family.   That may not be politically correct, but it is Biblical.

Joshua confronted the people with a choice that parallels the choice Christ confronts sinners with today.

  • It is more than reasonable to choose to follow Christ.  Your eternal destination changes from Hell to Heaven, but your quality of life improves when you serve God.
  • The choice involves life or death; both eternal and temporal.
  • The choice involves your well-being, spiritual, physical, emotional, and mental.
  • The choice challenges us to aspire to the best life possible; we want to become the best husbands or wives, the best employer or employee, the best student, and the best citizen we can for Christ’s sake.
  • We are motivated to achieve great things and be a positive influence on the world around us by the love of Christ.

3.  Reflection, verses 16—18

Then the people answered, “Far be it from us to forsake the LORD to serve other gods! It was the LORD our God himself who brought us and our fathers up out of Egypt, from that land of slavery, and performed those great signs before our eyes. He protected us on our entire journey and among all the nations through which we traveled.  And the LORD drove out before us all the nations, including the Amorites, who lived in the land. We too will serve the LORD, because he is our God.”

Joshua was a great leader; he made his choice; he set the example he wanted the people to follow.  He was willing to give every Israelite the freedom to choose or reject God.  His reasoning was sound:  he set the example, but Joshua believed that the merits of God’s way and God’s past dealings with the people would be more than enough to influence their decision.   In fact, the people seemed almost shocked by their apostasy.  When they reflected on their own history, they realized that it was indeed the Lord who had blessed them and made them what they had become.  Their success had not been determined by fertility gods or anything the people had done for themselves or had done for them.  Their history revealed that all of their achievements nationally and individually had been because of the relationship God had with them.   But they needed to remember.

Christians have shorter memories than the ancient Jews did.  Consider these verses alone—

For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship.  And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”  The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.  Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

This was something Joshua’s people never had!  But we have the Holy Spirit in us, convincing us of our special relationship with God.  And yet, for so many Christians, such a powerful, indisputable witness is more of an inconvenience, as they find ways around submitting to God.

But, Joshua’s appeal brought about the desired response from the people—

Far be it from us to forsake the LORD to serve other gods!

This response revealed a couple of things.  First, the people basically denied the charge of idolatry.  Like the child caught with his hand in the cookie jar denying his father’s charge that he is pilfering a cookie, the people denied that they were worshiping other gods, all the while holding the little trinkets and statues in their hands.  But secondly, the people claimed that, despite their idolatry, the Lord had always been and always would be the focus of their devotion.  There is a word that describes this kind of thinking:  schizophrenia, and a lot Christians suffer from Christian schizophrenia.   Here is the definition of schizophrenia:

1.   Severe mental disorder characterized by some, but not necessarily all, of the following features: emotional blunting, intellectual deterioration, social isolation, disorganized speech and behavior, delusions, and hallucinations.

2.   A state characterized by the coexistence of contradictory or incompatible elements.

Christians are good at acknowledging God and His goodness and loving-kindness, but inexplicably, stubbornly refuse to be consecrated and devoted to Him.  We are prime examples of schizophrenics.

4.  Reality, verse 19

Joshua said to the people, “You are not able to serve the LORD. He is a holy God; he is a jealous God. He will not forgive your rebellion and your sins.

Joshua’s response to the people’s response is really unexpected.  After encouraging the people to make the right choice, he told them they would be unable to keep it.  He challenged the sincerity of the people.  Rightfully, he thought their promises were made far too quickly and glibly.  They could not serve the Lord and cling to their idols at the same time because God is “jealous,” and He will not tolerate anything or anybody ahead of Him.  It is a dangerous thing to put the person you love ahead of God.  Jesus understood this—

If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple.  And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.  (Luke 14:26—27)

The claims of God on His children are exclusive, both Joshua and Jesus knew this and wanted their people to know this.  Like the Jews of old, Christians today are good at being enthusiastic about God and the things of God in “the moment.”  During a stirring sermon or some evangelistic event we are able to make all kinds of commitments to God; then comes Monday morning and the weekly routine and the promises we made to God evaporate faster the morning dew on the grass.

God is a holy God and sinful man cannot stand before Him.  God is a jealous God and will not tolerate our divided affections.  God cannot and will not condone “semi-loyalty” and will not tolerate insincerity.

Joshua had been by Moses’ side for years and knew full well how easily the people made promises in the past.  This time, he wanted their consecration to be genuine; the people needed to know that compromise in any form was neither practicable nor possible in this covenant.

Conclusion

In Matthew 6:24, Jesus Christ taught that “no man can serve two masters.”  Jesus’ brother, James, years later taught the same thing, “A double minded man is unstable in all he does” (James 1:8).  What happens when God’s people—Jew or Christian—refuse to live lives of consecration?  In the case of Israel, the troublesome practice of “pseudo-loyalty” to God resulted in tragic consequences:  they were cut off from God’s blessing.  God, the Source of all good, when by His children’s choice is no longer part of their thinking,  has no opportunity to do them any good.

For Christians, the time to choose is long past.  The state of the Church and the state of the Christian family demonstrates that our hearts are far from God.  We pay Him tremendous lip service every Sunday, and we know “God-talk” backwards; we can give the right answers when asked about questions of our faith.  But too many of us are not dedicated or consecrated to God, and we wonder why we struggle so much in our walk.  It’s time to count the cost, if we would call ourselves Christians and serve Christ with all our heart, mind, and soul.

(c)  2009 WitzEnd

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