Thursday, 20 March 2014

(80) March 21: Joshua 1-3 & Luke 1:57-80

Ask God to open your mind, heart and will to understand, delight in and obey what you read.

To discover:­­
As you read note the parallels between Joshua and his acts, and Moses and his.

To ponder:
With Moses dead God’s call to Joshua to “get ready to cross the Jordan” readies us for God to fulfil the next stage of his promise to the patriarchs. Just as Abraham paced the land and was told its borders in his dream, so God will give Joshua “every place where you set your foot,” outlining the territory. And the language that ended Deuteronomy is repeated: None will stand against him. God will never “leave” him nor “forsake” him, and he is to be “strong and courageous.” Here we see Joshua exemplifying everything that might be said of or to the nation. Indeed, he is not to turn right or left from the law, but keep it in his mouth, meditate on it and carefully obey it with the promise that he will be prosperous and successful. The principle is that God brings his people to their inheritance by a righteous leader they must obey and emulate.
            Joshua commands the people to get ready, urging the two and a half tribes due to live east of the Jordan to fulfil their commitment to help the rest possess the land. Having been affirmed as Moses’ replacement by the LORD, Joshua is then affirmed by their commitment to obey him, “just as we fully obeyed Moses,” and put those who rebel to death. So we heed the call of Jesus (the greek for Joshua) to establish his kingdom through his word.
            At the heart of the Rahab story is her confession of faith (2v9-13). God’s intent that the nations know that he is the LORD has been fulfilled. They have heard of the Exodus and Israel’s victories, and are fearful. And Rahab at least can say “the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below” – ie. he is God of everything. For this reason, patterning our response when hearing of God’s deeds in Christ, she knows that God’s judgement on her city is certain and asks for kindness and salvation for her and her family. Their later salvation shows that although God commanded that every person living in these Canaanite nations were be destroyed, he was nevertheless willing to save those who looked to him in faith.
Strikingly, this salvation comes only because the spies speak to Joshua and he later orders it (6v22). And so we see a particularly sinful non-Jew saved from judgement by calling on God’s agent of judgement and salvation. And what grace and encouragement that this prostitute not only takes her place amongst those listed as models of faith for us (Heb 11v31), but is an ancestor of Christ himself (Matt 1v5). Whatever our sin, this is how fully the believer is accepted by the Lord.
            The events pattern the Exodus, not only affirming Joshua, but God’s continual readiness to fulfil his promises to this generation. Rahab brings her family into her home and puts a scarlet cord in the window just as the Israelites had to remain in their homes and cover the doors with blood. And so this Gentile family experience their own passover. Israel then follow the presence of God signified by the ark just as they followed the pillar of cloud and fire, and they cross the Jordan as they did the red sea. And the latter was a particular sign: First, it accredited Joshua, exalting him “so they may know that I am with you as I was with Moses.” Second, it affirmed that “the living God” was “among” Israel and so would “certainly” drive out the nations. So we are encouraged that with each generation God is no less ready to save.

Praying it home:
Thank God for his continual willingness to save even the worst of sinners. Call on Christ for the salvation of any children close to you, just as Rahab called on Joshua through the spies.

Thinking further:
God’s promise to Abraham (Gen 12-17) was to bless the world through one of his seed, by making Abraham into a great nation (people) who would live under God’s rule, inhabit a promised land (place), and be governed by future rulers. Abraham’s descendents have become the nation, and have received God’s law so they might live under his rule. The book of Joshua will now relate how they finally inherit the land. Moreover, like Moses, we see Joshua taking his place as God’s ruler, looking us forward to the Judges, Kings and ultimately to Jesus. He brings the nation formed, renewed and ruled by him, into the new creation.

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