Joshua 22 It has been seven long years since the tribes who had received land on the east of the Jordan. These tribes made a promise, and they kept it to.the.letter.! Joshua reminded them that their faithfulness is worthy of reward. As they neared the crossing of the Jordan, they stopped and built an impressive altar. God didn’t require it; Joshua didn’t require it. It was something they decided to do on their own. It wasn’t wrong to do it, but soon rumors flew ‘back home,’ and it became a stumbling block. How often do others misunderstand our motives and emotions lead rather than the head?
They jumped to the only conclusion before them; they were apostatizing! They needed discipline! That happens to us as well, and it is then that a level headed person is necessary to quell the outcry. Phinehas wisely said wait a minute; let’s go to find out about this altar.
While rumors are flying, the two and a half tribes were rejoicing! So Phinehas and ten leaders presented their conclusion while the altar builder’s hearts fell into the pit of their stomachs. But in quietness and humility, they began to explain that they built a memorial not an altar of sacrifice.
How do you respond when you are right before God but others see it differently? Matthew 18 tells us to go one on one to determine what the truth is. Before you are gearing for war, hear the other side out.
Joshua 7 Joshua fell flat on his face seeking answers as to the reason they had victory in Jericho but defeat in Ai. Surely this small city could be taken with a small force. Joshua failed to consult God first, and behind the scenes, we find that our archenemy had been busy. The result was that 36 men died in that battle, and the residents of Ai had a victory party.
Joshua and the leaders fell on their faces before God and asked: “why?” The Lord responded to his prayer: “Get up! Why are you lying there face down?” Like us, Joshua failed to consider that behind every failed circumstance, Satan is busy blinding us. We begin by asking “why” instead of seeking the wise counsel of the Holy Spirit. Why did Joshua not consider sin? We do the same. We want to blame God when God is not responsible. It takes a listening heart to hear God when we are wailing and asking why.
Even though the Israelites had heard of God’s directive of the ban on all things in Jericho, Achan had casually dismissed it. Like us, we know what God desires but fail to consider the consequences of disobedience. Do you dismiss sin? Do you think, “God will understand?” Unlike us, God does not dismiss sin but demands purity and righteousness. We foolishly believe our sin only affects us. Be forewarned; “be sure your sin will find you out.” [Num 32:23]
Keep short accounts with God. Go to Him as Joshua did; locate the sin, and seek cleansing.
Lev 5 God wants us to handle sin when it is revealed to us and more so: “even if we didn’t realize we sinned…” This is not talking about intentional rebellion, but those sins that we unintentionally commit and then realize. Sin brings guilt. You can ignore it OR confess it to God seeking His forgiveness and cleansing.
These Leviticus chapters were written to the Israelites to demonstrate the love and mercy of God upon these unintentional sins and how men can seek God’s forgiveness. In the OT, people had to do it over and over and over. But, Jesus paid it all on the cross, so we are forgiven once and for all. But, just as they did, so we also must seek God’s mercy the OT, people had to do it over and over and over. But, Jesus paid it all on the cross, so we are forgiven once and for all and his compassion. The lesson is that we all must fall upon our knees, seeking cleansing. God wanted them to realize that their sin was not just against a fellow citizen, but God Himself. God is right to condemn our sin because He is holy, and He calls us to be holy. We stand guilty before God.
We now have the indwelling Holy Spirit to speak to our hearts. We no longer need to take an animal’s blood to cover our sin for Jesus paid the price. What is required now is the same as it was then; confess our sin and seek forgiveness, trusting that He is faithful and righteous and will cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Do you need this today? Do not delay but listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit.
Gen 48 The psalmist wrote that we are to prepare the next generation to praise Him and then, in turn, tell the next generation about the Lord’s praiseworthy acts, his strength and the amazing things he has done. The reason is so that they will place their confidence in God and not forget the works of Him and obey His commands. [Psalm 78 paraphrase] How often do we fail to do just that and our children wonder what God did in our lives? We prepare our wills and leave it to lawyers to share our meager wealth but what about our testimony of what God has done in our lives?
When Joseph was told Jacob was on his deathbed he made it a point for Jacob to bless his sons, Ephraim and Manasseh. There had been 17 yrs. since Jacob came to Egypt and now it was Joseph’s opportunity to have his boys receive the blessing of their grandfather. Jacob prayed that these would be blessed by the God of Abraham and Isaac and grow into a multitude on the earth.
There are some lessons here for us. We need to first take time for our children and grandchildren to know their grandparents. Are you adrift from them? Take time to introduce them so they have a lasting legacy. Notice that Jacob told them that God had been his shepherd all his life. He told them how the angel of God protected him from all harm. What wisdom have you prepared to share with your children and grandchildren? Take time to sit down with your children and grandchildren and testify to God’s faithfulness. Consider practical ways to share what God has done.
Time is short—eternity is long. What will they remember?
Genesis 44 God has used the separation of several years to soften the heart of Judah. Judah brought great grief to his father Jacob and no amount of consoling brought him relief. Jacob gave up all hope so when Judah wanted to take Benjamin to get more grain in Egypt it was the last straw. While that scenario was happening back in Canaan Joseph had sat in the dark of the dungeon until one day God intervened and now he sat second in command.
In each case, we can see by reading these stories that God is the one who orchestrates our days and our times so that He will get the glory. He will move heaven and earth to get Judah to repent and to use the dreams He gave Joseph to show Himself true. As bystanders in all of this, we listen with the brothers as Judah now stands before Joseph unaware that he is fulfilling Joseph’s dreams. His repentance is forthcoming and we weep with Joseph as our hearts are broken for Judah. But we also see how Joseph’s faith has not only strengthened him but gave him hope all these years. Truly we see the graciousness of God and the kindness in his heart. Years may have separated them but God has been at work in both of their hearts.
Judah stands perplexed as Joseph honors God: God sent me ahead to preserve you. Imagine Judah listening to all of this! The tears flow through the mind-boggling conversation. How could this be? Like Judah and Joseph, you may wonder how your present trial will turn out. Hangest thou in there; Romans 8:28 is true! “all things work together for good to them that love God.” God is patient and He will be honored in His time and place and through our circumstances.
ps Sometimes we see the end but sometimes only in eternity will see it. Give God praise for what He does reveal and do not hold bitterness in your heart for what He has not revealed.
Zechariah 11 In Chapter 11, we find the true character of the shepherds. They did not pity the people and took them for granted. As a shepherd, Zechariah asked them how much he was worth to them. They mockingly said 30 pieces of silver. According to Ex 21:32, thirty pieces of silver was the amount paid for a slave gored by an ox. Fast forward to the NT and we see that Judas asked the Pharisees, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him up to you?” The thirty pieces of silver picture the price of rejection.
As broken and rejected in the potter’s field, we lay there until the Good Shepherd reached down and took us and repaired our brokenness. In Japan, Kintsukuroi is the art of Japanese mending broken pottery. They cover each flaw in lacquer resin laced with gold or silver; each golden seam becoming part of the new design. Our flaws become symbols of events in our life that He has broken and repaired.
The world only sees our flaws, but the Shepherd sees each as part of His beautiful craftsmanship. He may have been only worth thirty pieces of silver to the religious leaders but to us, He is worth more than all the silver or gold this world has to offer. He purchased us, mended our flaws and gave us an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading and reserved it in heaven for you.
Where are your golden seams that Christ has mended? Use them to tell your story of redemption from the pottery field.
Zechariah 3 “How Do You Stand; Guilty as Charged or Forgiven?”
Picture a courtroom scene with the accuser and the defender and you in the middle. You stand before the righteous judge who listens to both sides of the argument. One says you are guilty and provides the evidence. Heads turn and you as the criminal listen and wonder. Will I be convicted? Is there hope? Yet, you also know that your very presence in prison garb hardly is a testimony of any innocence but in fact your guilt. As the accuser cries out your crimes we hear from the bench: May the Lord rebuke you –not once but twice. And at that moment you see the accuser and the courtroom silenced.
How strategically God has placed this vision before Zechariah as a picture of us in all of our iniquities and prison clothing. We stand guilty but the Lord of Heaven’s Armies cries out: I was in the fire with him, but I snatched him out. Instantly, t the smoke and smell of fire were extinguished and you hear: remove his filthy clothes! What the accuser meant evil; God meant for good that His plan of redemption could be seen by all.
Gently and with love you hear; Follow my ways, keep my requirements and you will come and go with others. You will be a picture of my love, my forgiveness, and my blessing.
You have been forgiven and given a robe of righteousness. Go forth as God’s forgiven child.
Zephaniah 1-3 Although the Prophet Zephaniah writes a message of doom and gloom there is light at the end of the tunnel, as we say. Read the whole book so you can see it. The wonderful thing about Zephaniah is that he did not keep the message God gave him, as hard as it was, to himself. The reason he shared is that like nearly all messages given to the prophets of old it was to call the people to repentance. Perhaps that is why he called for the people to “be silent before the Lord.”
Why is Zephaniah so clear on God’s plan of vengeance? He responds that men’s hearts are stagnant. They say the Lord will not do good or evil. They had lost the glory and grandeur of the Majesty of God. God is no longer real to them. They needed a wake-up call. So he calls them to seek the Lord, seek righteousness, and seek humility. Like the first king of Nineveh said; perhaps the Lord will delay his wrath.
Zephaniah continues to tell the Israelites that God is righteous and he commits no unjust acts. Every morning he reveals his justice. Jeremiah reminded them that His mercies are new every morning, great is His faithfulness. When all is said and done God will leave in their midst a humble and meek people who will find safety in the presence of the Lord.
Have you found that place of safety? When was the last time you sat silent so you could hear the voice of the Holy Spirit speaking to you about your sin?
Obadiah/Jonah: We have heard: sticks and stones may hurt my bones but words will never hurt me. But, of course, we know that that is an untruth for we have been the recipient of hurtful words and they linger in our hearts. Both Obadiah and Jonah heard the words of hate but what they did with those words is a lesson for all of us. The prophets Obadiah and Jonah are sequestered between other books that we might stop and reflect: is my heart that of man or is my heart that of God.
Obadiah heard God speak and he recorded the gloating prideful words of Edom but he saw that if he left it at the feet of God, he could see hope when all seemed lost. Listen to his words: those who have been delivered will go up to Mt. Zion!
In sharp contrast is the prophet Jonah who wore his hatred on his sleeve. He hated the Ninevites and was angry that God would call him to go there and preach. In his mind, Jonah was asking; how could I, after all, they have done? And so Jonah found a berth in a ship to hide but soon God would hide him in the belly of a fish.
God’s question to Jonah is one that HE is asking us: Do you have a right to be angry? God is asking us that same question. God is asking us to see men through His eyes of compassion even-when-it-is-hard.
Hosea 1-4 Hosea lived his life as a bachelor in the northern kingdom of Israel but was called by God to do something “out of the ordinary!” God said; go; find a prostitute and marry her. Because God called, Hosea stepped out of his comfort zone. He found a prostitute in the gutter and married her. He lavished upon her riches untold, just as God did for us. Yet, Gomer eventually returned to the gutter where Hosea found her and redeemed her. It is a picture of us before God redeemed us.
Hosea’s sought to save his wife, Gomer, from herself. However, just like Gomer we sometimes willingly leave the “pimp”/Satan to return to that scene of abuse and degradation. We too often find the glitz and glamor of trinkets calling to us. We forget that sin is pleasurable just for a season.
Israel saw with her eyes but not her heart. She heard with her ears but failed to recall: “I chose you out of many peoples and redeemed you for one reason: I loved you.” Hosea’s marriage to Gomer was a real-life picture, as hard as it was, of how God felt about His people’s rejection of Him. Thankfully, this is not the end of the story. Just as God promised restoration to Gomer and Israel, He promises restoration to us. He chooses to do that because He wants a people to be a sweet aroma of Christ to the lost and dying world.