Friday, May 30, 2014

A looming question from Joshua

One of the questions that needs to be answered from the book of Joshua, and I believe can be answered satisfactorily, is the question that seeks to understand and explain why God ordered the destruction of the seven tribes of Canaan.

This post will not attempt a complete answer, but will give a partial explanation.

One of the reasons this wiping out of the inhabitants of Canaan by the Promised Land bound Israelites is delivered in this quote from Alan Redpath's book on Joshua called Victorious Christian Living:
But I would have you observe that they faced not only conflict but victory. God had a purpose for that land. What was it? This-a little babe in a manger at Bethlehem, Christ the Son of God "on a cross at Calvary, one hundred and twenty people in an upper room and the Holy Ghost falling on them. Bethlehem, Calvary, Pentecost: the incamation of the Son of God, the judgment of the sin of humanity heaped on Him, the life of the Son of God incarnate in the the believer; all thin was God's master plan for the salvation of a fallen race. And nothing, I say nothing, on earth or in hell should ever stand in the way of the plan of God. The iniquity of the people was full. Now God begins to act.
Certainly, this is not a complete answer, but it is part of the answer.

God was preparing the redemption of mankind in the life, death, and resurrection of His Son. And this was going to take place in Canaan. And though there are many more facets to the explanation, God's plan of redemption is definitely an important one.

Redpath goes on to say, "The purpose of God for every man and woman is Bethlehem, Calvary, Pentecost, and everything that stands in the way of God's fulfillment of His plan must be conquered."

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Too big for God to use

God's Charge to Joshua from the first chapter of Joshua:

No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you "Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

Alan Redpath's comments on this passage from Victorious Christian Living: Studies in the Book of Joshua:

Most of us, God forgive us, are too big for God to use. We are too full of our own schemes and of our own way of doing things. God has to humble us and break us and empty us. So low, indeed, must God make us that we need every word of encouragement from heaven to enable us to take on the job and dare to go forward in the will of God. The world speaks about the survival of the fittest, but God gives power to the faint and He gives might to those who have no strength. He perfects His strength in weakness; He uses the things that are not to bring to nought the things that are.

Let me not be too big for God to use me; I'd rather be weak and have his encouragement "Be strong and courageous!"

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Not Because of Righteousness

Below I've quoted  Deuteronomy 9 in its entirety.  In the previous chapters Moses unpacked God's providence in looking after the Israelites over the past forty years. He supplied mana for them, ensured that their clothes were kept in good shape, and brought forth water from rocks just to name a few. The tone of chapter 8 seems like the Israelites are taking this stuff for granted, as if they somehow have something to do with it, earning it. Moses address this a little before dropping the hammer in chapter 9! Imagine being the Israelites standing before Moses listening to this address. They're told, maybe some of them for the first time, that they're no good! They take credit for things that aren't of their own doing, they whine and moan, have zero patience, and push God to his breaking point a few times (thank Moses for interceding!). Moses puts Israel in her rightful place, our rightful place; face down in the dirt pleading for mercy wondering what happens next. I hope that through reading this text you would see your face in the crowd looking up at Moses, listening to how wicked you are and how undeserving you are of any good thing that God provides. Moses mediated for Israel, saving them from the wrath of God that they deserved. We're subject to that same wrath, but we have a mediator too. You haven't done anything to merit God's favour but he displayed it in the face of Jesus Christ nonetheless!

9 “Hear, O Israel: you are to cross over the Jordan today, to go in to dispossess nations greater and mightier than you, cities great and fortified up to heaven, a people great and tall, the sons of the Anakim, whom you know, and of whom you have heard it said, ‘Who can stand before the sons of Anak?’ Know therefore today that he who goes over before you as a consuming fire is the Lord your God. He will destroy them and subdue them before you. So you shall drive them out and make them perish quickly, as the Lord has promised you.
“Do not say in your heart, after the Lord your God has thrust them out before you, ‘It is because of my righteousness that the Lord has brought me in to possess this land,’ whereas it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is driving them out before you. Not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart are you going in to possess their land, but because of the wickedness of these nations the Lord your God is driving them out from before you, and that he may confirm the word that the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.
“Know, therefore, that the Lord your God is not giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stubborn people. Remember and do not forget how you provoked the Lord your God to wrath in the wilderness. From the day you came out of the land of Egypt until you came to this place, you have been rebellious against the Lord. Even at Horeb you provoked the Lord to wrath, and the Lord was so angry with you that he was ready to destroy you. When I went up the mountain to receive the tablets of stone, the tablets of the covenant that the Lord made with you, I remained on the mountain forty days and forty nights. I neither ate bread nor drank water. 10 And the Lord gave me the two tablets of stone written with the finger of God, and on them were all the words that the Lord had spoken with you on the mountain out of the midst of the fire on the day of the assembly. 11 And at the end of forty days and forty nights the Lord gave me the two tablets of stone, the tablets of the covenant. 12 Then the Lord said to me, ‘Arise, go down quickly from here, for your people whom you have brought from Egypt have acted corruptly. They have turned aside quickly out of the way that I commanded them; they have made themselves a metal image.’

13 “Furthermore, the Lord said to me, ‘I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stubborn people. 14 Let me alone, that I may destroy them and blot out their name from under heaven. And I will make of you a nation mightier and greater than they.’ 15 So I turned and came down from the mountain, and the mountain was burning with fire. And the two tablets of the covenant were in my two hands. 16 And I looked, and behold, you had sinned against the Lord your God. You had made yourselves a golden calf. You had turned aside quickly from the way that the Lord had commanded you. 17 So I took hold of the two tablets and threw them out of my two hands and broke them before your eyes. 18 Then I lay prostrate before the Lord as before, forty days and forty nights. I neither ate bread nor drank water, because of all the sin that you had committed, in doing what was evil in the sight of the Lord to provoke him to anger. 19 For I was afraid of the anger and hot displeasure that the Lord bore against you, so that he was ready to destroy you. But the Lord listened to me that time also. 20 And the Lord was so angry with Aaron that he was ready to destroy him. And I prayed for Aaron also at the same time. 21 Then I took the sinful thing, the calf that you had made, and burned it with fire and crushed it, grinding it very small, until it was as fine as dust. And I threw the dust of it into the brook that ran down from the mountain.
22 “At Taberah also, and at Massah and at Kibroth-hattaavah you provoked the Lord to wrath. 23 And when the Lord sent you from Kadesh-barnea, saying, ‘Go up and take possession of the land that I have given you,’ then you rebelled against the commandment of the Lord your God and did not believe him or obey his voice. 24 You have been rebellious against the Lord from the day that I knew you.
25 “So I lay prostrate before the Lord for these forty days and forty nights, because the Lord had said he would destroy you. 26 And I prayed to the Lord, ‘O Lord God, do not destroy your people and your heritage, whom you have redeemed through your greatness, whom you have brought out of Egypt with a mighty hand. 27 Remember your servants, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Do not regard the stubbornness of this people, or their wickedness or their sin, 28 lest the land from which you brought us say, “Because the Lord was not able to bring them into the land that he promised them, and because he hated them, he has brought them out to put them to death in the wilderness.” 29 For they are your people and your heritage, whom you brought out by your great power and by your outstretched arm.’

Friday, May 2, 2014

Grace in the OT

Below is the study notes section from the Gospel Transformation Bible regarding Deuteronomy 5:1-21. So much of the time grace is attributed only to the New Testament, but here we find a great example of how it was part of God's plan all along. Read the section of scripture to get the full context of what's going on here.

Deut. 5:1–21 - Deuteronomy 5–26 contains the laws that Israel was to keep in the land they were about to enter. The Ten Commandments stand at the beginning of all other laws, and at the beginning of the Ten Commandments we read, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery” (5:6).

Law follows grace. God saved Israel before he gave them his law to follow. God rescued Israel not because of their obedience to the law but because of his promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Ex. 3:15–16). Israel’s deliverance was therefore not because of their obedience to the law but because God saw their affliction and cared enough to deliver them from their suffering to an abundant life (Ex. 3:7–8). This truth provides the context in which to read the whole of Deuteronomy 5–26. Indeed, this gospel rhythm provides the context in which we carry out our obedience to God. Law follows grace. We obey from, not for, God’s favor.