He had a different spirit

“Now then, just as the Lord promised, he has kept me alive for forty-five years since the time he said this to Moses, while Israel moved about in the wilderness. So here I am today, eighty-five years old! I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. Now give me this hill country that the Lord promised me that day. You yourself heard then that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the Lord helping me, I will drive them out just as he said” (Joshua 14:10-12 NIV).

Caleb was one of the great men of Israel. He was one of the twelve spies that were sent throughout Canaan when they first arrived at the border a few years after leaving Egypt. Ten of the spies were so overwhelmed with what they saw that they panicked and could not see how they could conquer the land. But it was Caleb, along with Joshua, who brought a different report. They knew that with God’s help they could take the land just as he had promised. Continue reading “He had a different spirit”

The need to trust in God

“Now Jericho was shut tightly because of the Israelites. No one was allowed to leave or enter. The Lord told Joshua, ‘See, I am about to defeat Jericho for you, along with its king and its warriors. Have all the warriors march around the city one time; do this for six days. Have seven priests carry seven rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day march around the city seven times, while the priests blow the horns. When you hear the signal from the ram’s horn, have the whole army give a loud battle cry. Then the city wall will collapse and the warriors should charge straight ahead’” (Joshua 6:1-5 NET).

The Israelite nation had crossed the Jordan River and were now in the Promised Land. God’s promise was being fulfilled! But…they were still living in tents and the land was full of hostile people. They still needed to conquer those living in the various towns and villages before they could settle down to a peaceful life. Continue reading “The need to trust in God”

Be strong and courageous

“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. 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 1:5-9 NIV).

What is it like to start a new job, to begin a new project, to begin an exciting challenge? Continue reading “Be strong and courageous”

Secret things

“Secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those that are revealed belong to us and our descendants forever, so that we might obey all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 29:29 NET).

When I read this verse I thought how applicable this is, not just to the Israelites as they were about to enter the Promised Land, but to Christians today. It seems that many are not satisfied with what God has revealed to us but want more – we want to know the “secret things.” Continue reading “Secret things”

The purity of God’s people

“A person of illegitimate birth may not enter the assembly of the Lord; to the tenth generation no one related to him may do so. An Ammonite or Moabite may not enter the assembly of the Lord; to the tenth generation none of their descendants shall ever do so…You must not hate an Edomite, for he is your relative; you must not hate an Egyptian, for you lived as a foreigner in his land. Children of the third generation born to them may enter the assembly of the Lord” (Deuteronomy 23:1-8 NET).

It seems strange to those of us living in the twenty-first century that there were people whom God would not accept. Some Bibles put a title over this section of Deuteronomy: “Those excluded from the assembly.” Others have something like: “Purity in public worship.” Why would God exclude anyone from assembling with his people to worship him? Continue reading “The purity of God’s people”

What is our verdict?

“A single witness shall not suffice against a person for any crime or for any wrong in connection with any offence that he has committed. Only on the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses shall a charge be established” (Deuteronomy 19:15 ESV).

As the nation of Israel approached the Promised Land, God insured that they would have a fair system of justice. One aspect of this was that eye-witness testimony was only good if it could be corroborated. It wasn’t enough just to have one person testify against someone else.

There was a good reason for this. One person might give false evidence because he did not like the person. There was even a part of the law to deal with this. Continue reading “What is our verdict?”

Keeping the memory alive

“Observe the month of Abib and keep the Passover to the Lord your God, for in the month of Abib the Lord your God brought you out of Egypt by night. And you shall offer the Passover sacrifice to the Lord your God, from the flock or the herd, at the place that the Lord will choose, to make his name dwell there. You shall eat no leavened bread with it. Seven days you shall eat it with unleavened bread, the bread of affliction—for you came out of the land of Egypt in haste—that all the days of your life you may remember the day when you came out of the land of Egypt” (Deuteronomy 16:1-3 ESV).

“What makes this night different from all other nights?” With this question, asked by a child, the modern Jewish observance of Passover begins. During the evening the events of the Exodus are related to all who are present and there is a feast containing many rituals that are based on what happened when God “passed over” the Israelites when they were freed from slavery in Egypt. Continue reading “Keeping the memory alive”

We are special

“For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt” (Deuteronomy 7:6-8 ESV).

The Israelites were to be a “holy” people. They were God’s “treasured possession” out of all the people who lived on the earth. God had chosen them. God “set his love” on them.

But what does it mean to be holy? Continue reading “We are special”

Teaching others to teach others

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:4-9 ESV).

As the Israelites were about to enter the Promised Land, Moses spent his last days teaching them once again about God and how they were to live for him. Continue reading “Teaching others to teach others”

A God of mercy and justice

“Then the Lord spoke to Moses: ‘Speak to the Israelites and tell them, “When you cross over the Jordan River into the land of Canaan, you must then designate some towns as towns of refuge for you, to which a person who has killed someone unintentionally may flee. And they must stand as your towns of refuge from the avenger in order that the killer may not die until he has stood trial before the community. These towns that you must give shall be your six towns for refuge.”’” (Numbers 35:9-13 NET).

God is a God of mercy. We can see this in his providing towns of refuge for the Israelites. These towns were so designated to allow someone who had accidentally killed another person to be safe from any ‘avenger’ who might come after them to take their life. If they were within these towns they were safe. In more recent years church buildings have often served this same purpose as a place of sanctuary. Continue reading “A God of mercy and justice”