Love and obedience

“Be very strong; be careful to obey all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, without turning aside to the right or to the left. Do not associate with these nations that remain among you; do not invoke the names of their gods or swear by them. You must not serve them or bow down to them. But you are to hold fast to the Lord your God, as you have until now.…So be very careful to love the Lord your God” (Joshua 23:6-11 NIV).

Joshua had led the Israelites into the Promised Land and they had conquered the land. Each tribe had been allocated their inheritance and they had settled into their homes. Joshua was now a very old man (Joshua 23:1) at 110 years of age (Joshua 24:29). He called the leaders of the tribes together one last time to remind them of what God had done for them and what God required of them. “Now I am about to go the way of all the earth. You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed” (Joshua 23:14). Continue reading “Love and obedience”

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”

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”

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”

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”

Obedience

“The one who says, ‘I have come to know him,’ and does not keep his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 John 2:4).

Religious leaders will do verbal back flips in order to avoid saying that we need to obey God’s commands. Commentators will write four paragraphs to show that the Holy Spirit really didn’t mean what he plainly said in one simple sentence. People will declare, “Oh surely God wouldn’t condemn us if we didn’t obey that commandment!”

The fact is that the Lord demands that we obey his commands. Continue reading “Obedience”

Speak only God’s word

In Numbers 22 we are introduced to a prophet named Balaam. Most who have heard of Balaam remember him because he had a donkey that spoke. What is significant is not so much the fact that the donkey talked but why the donkey was given the ability to speak.

The Israelites were now at the end of their forty year journey from Egypt to the Promised Land. They were travelling up the east side of the Jordan and encountering various struggles as they travelled. They finally were encamped in the plains of Moab. How would we feel if several million people camped just outside the city where we live? Continue reading “Speak only God’s word”

Wanting to be ‘in charge’

How often are problems caused because people want to be the one in charge, the one telling others what to do? This is not only a problem today, but one that Moses had to deal with. Keep in mind that Moses did not want to be the leader of the Israelites, but God had selected him and got rid of all his excuses at the burning bush. God selected Moses’ brother Aaron to be his spokesman and later to be the high priest for Israel in the worship of God.

A couple of years after leaving Egypt, the Israelites arrived at the border of the Promised Land. After sending twelve men to get the lay of the land, they were so disheartened by the strength of the inhabitants that they refused to conquer the land. This led to a number of problems including challenging the leadership of Moses and Aaron. Continue reading “Wanting to be ‘in charge’”

Promises and blessings

God had set the Israelites free from being slaves of the Egyptians. As they camped at Mount Sinai, they were being formed into an orderly nation. As we will see from the census in Numbers 1, there were over 600,000 men, aged 20 and over, who were able to go to war. Conservative estimates, taking into account that there are generally more females born than males, plus the elderly who couldn’t bear arms, those under 20, and the tribe of Levi, would give a nation of at least two to three million people. That would place them around the same size as Lithuania, Nambia or Slovenia today. But they did not yet have land and were living in tents in the wilderness.

To prepare this new nation to enter the Promised Land, God made promises to them. These were conditional on their obedience and living by the commands he gave them. And for a budding nation, these were quite powerful promises. Continue reading “Promises and blessings”

See the Prince of Peace

What did Jesus look like? No one knows. Yes, there have been many pictures painted of men as “models,” but no true picture exists.

Does this mean we can’t understand what he looks like? Until the second coming of Christ, it does. But his spiritual likeness is just as important, isn’t it?

Someone may say, “How can we come to understand his spiritual likeness?” All we need to do is look in the scriptures for the answer. Continue reading “See the Prince of Peace”