Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Joshua Chapter 5 - Moving Beyond Manna

Joshua 5:9-15

After the circumcision of the men in the camp was completed, the Lord told Joshua that He had rolled away the reproach of Egypt from the people. No more would they be identified as slaves.  The circumcision "cut away" all remaining ties to slavery.  Bondage completely removed.  Totally set free.  Isn't it interesting God declares them totally from their bondage only after the Children of Israel had sanctified themselves, crossed the Jordan River, set stones of remembrance, and circumcised those that had not been circumcised while in the wilderness?  After performing miracle after miracle to release the slaves from Pharaoh, they were still not free.  After seeing the Red Sea part and crossing on dry ground, they were still not free.  After being fed and their thirst quenched in the wilderness by supernatural means, they were still not free.  Only after experiencing the circumcision and crossing into the land that was promised to them did God tell them the last of their chains of bondage had been removed.  

What did the children of Israel do then?  They celebrated Passover. They remembered the time the Spirit of the Lord passed over their firstborn when He took the firstborn of all Egypt because Pharaoh's refusal to free His people.  The Lord then commanded Moses to keep the Passover as a memorial and it was to be kept as a feast to the Lord throughout all their generations (Exodus 12).  So, they held their Passover Feast on the 14th day of the month. 

Up until that point, the Children of Israel had been collecting Manna that God provided from heaven every morning and quail for the evening meals every day.  God provided what each person would need to sustain themselves on a daily basis.  In Exodus Chapter 16, God was pretty specific with His instruction on how much to collect each day.  On the sixth day of the week, they were to collect their normal amount and prepare it and it would be twice as much.  The sabbath would be the next day and they would not work or collect on the sabbath so they needed an additional day's worth of provision.  This pattern of quail and manna continued until they held their Passover Feast on the other side of Jordan River.  At this point, they have crossed over the boundary into what God has promised.  They have reached the land they had heard stories about.  When they held passover, they ate of the produce of the land they were occupying...the place where God had declared the last chain of bondage broken.  Then the manna ceased.  Then they ate of the promise of the Lord. 

Doesn't this parallel what Jesus said about worry and anxiety?  

Matthew 6:25-30  "Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?  (26)  Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?  (27)  Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?  (28)  "So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin;  (29)  and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  (30)  Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

Italics are mine for emphasis above.  Isn't life more than worrying about food and clothes?  Our Father in Heaven provides what we need each and every day.  Jesus makes it very clear in these scriptures.  He also said as rich as Solomon was with the blessings God heaped upon Solomon, he was not clothed as even the lilies of the field.  So, If God is taking care of all these things today, then how much more will He provide and care for us?

But Jesus goes on in the same set of scriptures to say:

Matthew 6:31-34  "Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?'  (32)  For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.  (33)  But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.  (34)  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

The Children of Israel had nothing worry about.  God provided bread and meat every day and met their needs every day...but only for that day.  They had to collect the bread the next day and quail was sent again each evening.  This continued until they moved into the fullness of the promise of God, which was a land of plenty and abundance.  Once they entered into the promise, they had no need of daily provision, for God had provided the abundance.  They had proven they could keep His law.  They had followed the instruction for sanctification before crossing the Jordan.  They submitted to circumcision...which I am fairly certain was not a very easy decision for many of the men.  As an adult male, the procedure is very painful I am sure, and yet they submitted to it.  They set their memorial of stones.  They held their Passover Feast as a memorial to the Lord.  They had been obedient and they were led to the border of Canaan across from Jericho to begin their possession of the land they were promised as a dwelling place. 

See, we can live somewhere, but it only be a temporary stop until we have possessed fully what God has given us.  To receive the fullness of the promises God has made to us, we have to display obedience...not just physical obedience.  We have to undergo the circumcision of the heart, too. (See yesterday's post)  We are to seek Him and His righteousness first.  We cannot move into something we have not prepared for.  For those of us in the business world, we see this all the time.  We see someone promoted that does not have the life experiences or knowledge that has prepared them for the position in which they were placed.  Education does not prepare someone fully for a position.  We don't want to be promoted into the promise until we have undergone the full extent of preparation that God has for us to complete.  You see, in Exodus 16 God said too Moses:

Exodus 16:4  Then the LORD said to Moses, "Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in My law or not.

The amount of manna each household was to collect was a test from the Lord to see if they would follow His law.  in v. 17 we see where the Children of Israel did in fact collect the manna according to the instruction.  Those who gathered more had none left over and those who gathered less had no lack of food.  But there was an additional instruction they did not heed.  V.19:

Exodus 16:19  And Moses said, "Let no one leave any of it till morning."

What did Children of Israel do?

Exodus 16:20  Notwithstanding they did not heed Moses. But some of them left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and stank. And Moses was angry with them.

While they were in their time of testing and obedience, they were not to take more than their due.  They were not to attempt to stockpile or store any extra. Doing so would show them to be less than faithful to a God that had supernaturally delivered them from the bonds of slavery.  And yet, they did.  What did God do?  He made the "left over" sour and rot.  God did not provide the abundance during the time of testing and learning.  He did not provide the abundance until they had made it to the place He was leading them to.  There were many, a whole generation in fact, that were so disobedient that the Lord did not allow the Children of Israel to find the promised land until that generation had all died in the wilderness.  Disobedience to the commands of the Lord is not to be taken lightly.  My husband said it best last night when we were talking about this subject.  We have to prove we are faithful to Him and obedient in the time of less so we will be faithful in the time of plenty.  

Luke 16:10-11  He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much.  (11)  Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?

After all of this, after the first Passover Feast in the Promised Land, the Commander of the Army of the Lord appeared to Joshua.  And so would begin the preparation of taking possession of the Land God had promised them.  

If the Children of Israel can be used as an example, then we should learn to be satisfied and content with what God provides for that day.  Every day.  There will come a time when we must move beyond manna, because the promise will be fulfilled. We are to learn obedience, make preparations, sanctify ourselves, and remember what the Lord has done for us to move beyond the daily provision and into the abundance He promises.

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Monday, January 15, 2018

Joshua - Chapter 5 - Circumcision Before Possession

Joshua 5:1-12

When we talk about Joshua and the Children of Israel going into the Promised Land, it has been easy (at least for me) to assume that little time passed between crossing the Jordan and the Fall of Jericho.  But that isn't the case.  There were preparations that had to be made by the Israelites before they marched on Jericho and the Lord delivered the first city into their hands.  At the start of Chapter we see that the Kings in Canaan were fearful of the Children of Israel.  The stories of the Jordan River drying up for their crossing had spread throughout the land.  In fact, verse 1 said there was no spirit left within them any longer because of the Children of Israel.  But the Lord didn't send them forth to strike then.  

Verse 2 says the Lord told Joshua to make knives and circumcise the men (sons) of Israel. The circumcision we know was an outward sign of the covenant that God had made with Abraham (Genesis 17), but verses 4-6 says that all the men that had come out of Egyptian slavery that were circumcised were consumed in the wilderness during their forty years there.  They were consumed because of their disobedience to the Lord and from what Joshua says in verse 7, no circumcisions were performed during that time.  The circumcision after crossing the Jordan, the Lord said, broke the final chains of slavery.  Even then, they did not immediately advance to Jericho.  They stayed in camp until they were healed. 

The physical circumcision is not the only circumcision the Lord said He would perform.  

Deuteronomy 30:5-6  Then the LORD your God will bring you to the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it. He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers.  (6)  And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.

So, what is the circumcision of the heart?  It is a cleansing, a purification of our hearts by the Holy Spirit.  The physical circumcision is an outward sign of being set apart for God, but the circumcision of the heart is the inward indication that we are set apart for God fully - both inside and outwardly.  

Paul said, 

Romans 2:29  but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.

An outward circumcision, or the focus on solely what the outward appearance is, what people see but remaining in sin does not mean the heart has been purified and set aside for God.  Our priority, God's priority, is the spiritual circumcision of our hearts.  We are to set  ourselves apart to Him, belonging to Jesus Christ, and being heirs to the promise (Galatians 3:29).  I view circumcision in the Old Testament much like I do baptism in the New Testament.  It is an outward symbol for what should be taking place internally.  

Jeremiah 4:4  Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, And take away the foreskins of your hearts, You men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, Lest My fury come forth like fire, And burn so that no one can quench it, Because of the evil of your doings."

2 Corinthians Chapter 6 beginning verse 11 talks about being holy.  Paul is telling the church at Corinth how to be separate (circumcised) from the world by reminding them what God has said.


The outward show of circumcision means nothing if we continue in sin and the heart does not follow God.  But, Verse 1 of 2 Corinthians 7 is like a continuation of chapter 6.  It says this:

2 Corinthians 7:1  Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

Before the children of Israel moved across the Jordan River, what were they told to do?  They were told to sanctify themselves and make preparations, remember?  Before they could advance into the promise God made them, they had to purify themselves.  Are we any different?  The word circumcise means to 'cut down, to destroy, to cut short' with regards to circumcision of the flesh.  In Romans chapter 2, circumcision means 'the condition of the people'.  With Jesus' fulfillment of the law (Matthew 5:17), He moved the circumcision from an outward issue to a condition of the heart.  It is God's mercy and grace that allows us to come to Him for purification and sanctification.  It is God's mercy and grace that allows us to seek His face and His righteousness.  We know He is good and faithful to fulfill all He has spoken and set in motion.  Is He waiting on us to make our preparations and to sanctify ourselves?  Have we identified ourselves as being set apart unto God?  Can the world tell a difference in our behavior from its own?

Join the discussion on Facebook as we continue to look at this sanctification process so we are able to move into the land of promise and possess all God has given.  

Friday, January 12, 2018

Joshua - Chapter 4 - Remember the Lord

In Joshua Chapter 4, we see the Children of Israel cross the Jordan.  They do so exactly the way the Lord directed.  Not only do they do so exactly the way the Lord directed, but the priests carrying the Ark standing in the middle of the river did not move until the Lord directed them to do so - even though all the people had crossed.  But there is something very specific the Lord told Joshua to have the people do when the crossed.  One man from each of the twelve tribes were to pick up one stone each and give them to Joshua.  Joshua then stacked them in a pile in the middle of the river where the priests had stood.  The purpose was for the stones to become a memorial to what had occurred.  He then picked up the stones and carried them to the place where they camped on the border of Jericho in Gilgal.  He set them up, it says in v. 20.

In verses 21-24 Joshua tells the Israelites that when their children ask the purpose of the stones, they will tell their children how the waters of the Jordan River were withheld so they could cross on dry land, just as God did for the Red Sea, so that all people will know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty and that they may fear the Lord forever. Moving into the Promised Land for possession was not to be kept quiet through the generations.  The miracles that God had performed up to that point were to be remembered.  This is not the first time the children of Israel had been told to remember what the Lord had done for them. 

How often do we look back and tell others of the greatness and might of the Lord God in our lives?  How often do we just look back in remembrance?  It is so easy to get distracted and shift focus from the Lord to the circumstances we are in and to the problems we encounter.  We allow them to weigh us down so that those that see us don't see the overcoming victory we have in Christ.  They see defeat and choas.  They see anxiety and worry.  They see anger and depression.  They see the exact opposite of what we should be exhibiting to the world around us.

In Deuteronomy Chapter 8, Moses is speaking to the Children of Israel after he had been given the ten commandments.  If we look at Chapter 8, we see why remembering what God has done for us is so important.  The chapter begins with this: 

Deuteronomy 8:1  "Every commandment which I command you today you must be careful to observe, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land of which the LORD swore to your fathers..."

Why were the Israelites to "be careful" to observe every command?

  1. So they may live and multiply
  2. Possess the land.

Deuteronomy 8:2  And you shall remember that the LORD your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.

The word 'shall' in the English language is one of the most powerful action words.  It is nearly a certainty that something will occur and a command that will something will pass.  The Children of Israel were about to see the Lord defeat whole nations on their behalf as they moved forward in battle.  How easy it would have been for them to begin to believe it was by their own strength they defeated the people and took the land by themselves.  So, they were to set those 12 stones at their camp so they would not forget.  They were a reminder each time anyone looked at them what the Lord had done for them.  Look at v 18, 19 and 20 in Deuteronomy chapter 8.

Deuteronomy 8:18-20  "And you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.  (19)  Then it shall be, if you by any means forget the LORD your God, and follow other gods, and serve them and worship them, I testify against you this day that you shall surely perish.  (20)  As the nations which the LORD destroys before you, so you shall perish, because you would not be obedient to the voice of the LORD your God."

God was pretty specific here in these three verses.  If they were to begin to believe they had done all these things themselves and forgot what the Lord has done for them, then they would perish.  If they were to worship other gods, then just as the Lord would destroy nations before them, they would perish.  Earlier in Deuteronomy Chapter 8, all the good aspects of the land were listed by the Lord.  He told them there would be no lack and no worry about food.  The land was rich in minerals that would bring them wealth.  The land had provision above and beyond what they had seen previously.  But it was a land that God was providing for them through His power and His might.  He was destroying nations with His right hand, with His strength.  We saw in Joshua Chapter 2 the two spies that Rahab helped say this:

Joshua 2:24  And they said to Joshua, "Truly the LORD has delivered all the land into our hands, for indeed all the inhabitants of the country are fainthearted because of us."

Do you see how the spies contributed the deliverance of the Land to the Lord, but the fear in the people to themselves?  "They are fainthearted because of us..."  This very thing is why the stones were such an important reminder of where they had come from and the miracles performed on their behalf to lead them to the land He promised.  We know how inquisitive children are, so when the children asked their parents what the stones were, it gave the people an opportunity to speak of the things the Lord had done.  I know in my life when I think back over the things the Lord has done for me at various points, it encourages me to keep pressing on and it gives my faith and hope a boost because if He did those things then, is He not able to do them again?  

Psalms 77:11-12  I will remember the works of the LORD; Surely I will remember Your wonders of old.  (12)  I will also meditate on all Your work, And talk of Your deeds.

Don't just remember and meditate (study, ponder) on all God has done for you, but share His power, might, and good deeds with others!  You never know who you might encourage by doing so.  

Joshua chapter 4 closes out with this:

Joshua 4:24  that all the peoples of the earth may know the hand of the LORD, that it is mighty, that you may fear the LORD your God forever."

This is why we remember what the Lord has done for us and this is why we tell others of what He has done.  Everyone needs to know the power and might of the hand of the Lord.  Nothing is too big or too difficult for Him.  We are also to fear the Lord.  In this case, fear means give reverance to Him for all He has done.  I do not know about you, but thinking back on the things God has done for me throughout my lifetime builds within me a thanksgiving that is so great it is nearly overwhelming.  

My oldest daughter has a verse in Psalms that is her favorite verse in the bible, and it fits here:

Psalms 51:12  Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.

Do you want the joy of your salvation restored?  Begin to think back over your life.  Ask God to bring to your remembrance all the times He has made miracle provision or brought someone into your life that spoke a word over you.  Think back on all the ways it was so obvious God was moving...but you coudn't see it at the time.  I promise you, there will be a joy that wells up inside you just as it did when your spirit was restored to the Father at the point of your salvation.  Share that joy of remembrance with others so that all people will know the power and might of the Lord. Give Him the glory and honor for what He has done in your life. Because it is not by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit of the Lord... (Zechariah 4:6).  

Join the discussion on Facebook as we continue with Joshua and the children of Israel as they take possession of the promise of the Father.