Day 66 – Thru the Bible
Today we continue in Joshua and the Psalms.
Joshua 5 – It is little wonder that the kings and rulers beyond the Jordan were terrified of Israel. Everything—land, people, livestock, pots and pans—is consecrated to God now, either for destruction or for deliverance.
The Israelites are circumcised—a cutting that consecrates them to deliverance rather than to destruction. God instituted circumcision with Abraham (Genesis 17). In Hebrew idiom, to make a covenant was actually “to cut a covenant” (karat berith). An animal was cut off from life as a substitute to save a consecrated family in the Passover meal.
Just before leading his people across the Red Sea, Yahweh had instituted Passover and circumcised the males to mark His people as His (Exodus 12:43–13:2). However, the fathers in the wilderness failed even to keep this requirement, so “the sons of Israel” needed to be circumcised “a second time.” After they healed, God “rolled away the reproach of Egypt .” It is a new chapter. The unfaithfulness of the fathers now lies discarded in the past.
What “covenant sign” do we use under the new covenant? Hint: Colossians 2:11–12.
By God’s promise and power, His people had entered the Promised Land. The ancient promises of God were marching toward completion.
In verses 13–15, a man draws his sword before Joshua. On guard, Joshua asks whose side he is on. Neither, he says. “But I am the commander of the army of the Lord. Now I have come.” Reportedly, when a friend assured Abraham Lincoln that, “God is on your side,” he replied, “Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.” Regardless of what one makes of Lincoln’s personal faith, this is precisely the view that Israel is expected to take here.
Under the new covenant how do we know with certainty that God is FOR us? Hint: Romans 8:1, 31.
The commander’s demand for Joshua to remove his sandals is identical to that given by Yahweh to Moses from the burning bush.
Joshua 6 – Here again the emphasis falls on Yahweh’s (not Israel’s) action. God informs Joshua, “See, I have given Jericho into your hand.” Even before the actual surrender, victory is already an objective fact. The blowing of the ram’s horn in the ancient Near East announced the presence of the conquering king.
The final day of Jericho’s conquest was the Sabbath (the time of rest provided by God). However, Israel is not working to attain but is rather receiving a kingdom. Yahweh fights, while Israel simply announces (with the horn) and inherits the victory.
The acts of marching and music that God commands Joshua to perform seem almost comical for a military campaign. Yet Joshua does as he is commanded, and on the seventh day (the Sabbath) the walls of Jericho come tumbling down. As Israel fulfills its commission to rule and subdue as Yahweh’s representative on earth, the people enter God’s Sabbath rest.
Just as everything belonging to the ungodly is “devoted to destruction,” everyone belonging to a believer is declared holy (Acts 2:39; 16:15, 31–33; 1 Corinthians 1:16; 7:14). This corporate solidarity runs counter to the sensibilities of modern individualism and democracy. Yet it is crucial for understanding the biblical concept of covenantal identity: as goes the leader, so go the people—as goes the family head, so goes the family.
The New Testament picks up this interpretive principle to explain that all those in Adam share in his fate of death, while all those in Jesus share in His “fate” of eternal life. Just as Yahweh triumphs over Jericho on behalf of His people as they look on, so Jesus triumphs over Satan on our behalf as we look on.
How do you celebrate your victory in Jesus (some of you older folk just started singing the hymn in your head, didn’t you)?
Joshua 7 – The high note of the King’s faithfulness is followed by the servant’s fall. Achan pocketed some of the spoils. “And the anger of the Lord burned against the people of Israel.” Meanwhile, Joshua kept moving out in conquest, toward the city of Ai. Forced to retreat, however, it was now the Israelites whose hearts “melted and became as water”.
Joshua tore his clothes and cried out in confusion before Yahweh, until the King informed his servant that the setback was due to sin in the camp.
Once more, given our individualistic assumptions, it may strike us as unjust that God would judge the whole nation for the actions of one man. In the ancient Near East, however, the individual was part of the family, the family part of the city, and the city part of the empire. This was true for Israel, too. Yahweh had chosen, liberated, and called His people—not just one by one but as a whole people.
Achan is not a head of all of Israel, but his guilt is nevertheless imputed to the whole body. With his sin there is a tear in the fabric of God’s covenant relationship with His people.
What happened to Jericho now happens to Achan: he and his whole family, livestock and all possessions, are burned.
Both Achan and Jesus were executed to turn away God’s wrath. But in a breathtaking act of substitution, we sinners, deserving the fate of Achan, are freely forgiven and welcomed into God’s family because Jesus, our representative Head, has paid for our sins.
While there is a weightiness to realizing the seriousness of our sin, this just makes what Jesus has done for us all the more glorious. Knowing that out of His love for you, Jesus has taken all of God’s wrath that you’ve earned, how can you share this love with those around you?
Joshua 8 – With the sin of Achan behind them, God’s people return to trusting the Lord. God tells Joshua, “See, I have given into your hand the king of Ai, and his people, his city, and his land.”
In view of God’s victory, Joshua builds an altar on Mount Ebal and renews the covenant, reading every word to the people, with sin-offerings and fellowship-offerings. The place is near (if not actually where) Abraham first built an altar to God to claim Canaan for Yahweh generations previously (Genesis 12:6–7), and where Israel (i.e., Jacob) dedicated an altar to God after reentering the land of his forefather (Genesis 33:20). In other words, the people are made to see that, despite the passing of time and despite their waywardness, God has been faithful to ancient promises in providing this land of their covenant forefathers.
In Joshua 8, God’s people go to battle, and once victory is secured, sacrifices are made to God. In the gospel, this very sensible order is surprisingly reversed. Jesus, our Passover Lamb, has already been sacrificed (1 Corinthians 5:7). We now do battle against our real enemies—Satan, hell, and condemnation—in light of the offering that has already been made.
How does this truth give you assurance as you love each day trusting God?
Psalm 66 – This is an example of what some have called “doxological evangelism.” As persons created by God, all are born into a relationship of creational (human) lordship under their Creator, but all have rebelled against this divine lordship by sinning (Romans 3:23). Whom he worships reveals whether a person is living in faithfulness or in rebellion (Romans 1:25). Therefore, the psalmists issue God’s call to all of his creatures to worship the one true God.
God’s purpose with Israel was to work not only in them but through them. Their very purpose as a nation was to be a light to the world (Exodus 19:5–6). What God did for Israel was not exclusive to her but rather was a foretaste of what He planned to do for the Gentiles too (Romans 15:11).
The modern worshiper praying this Psalm ultimately realizes that God’s preservation of Israel brought Jesus into the world. He is faithful to save at all times and in every place (Ephesians 2:11–13; 1 Timothy 2:1–4). His kindness draws us to repentance and His mercy inspires holiness. The psalmist is not declaring that perfection is necessary for answered prayer, but rather that all who have tasted of God’s grace cannot cherish that which is abhorrent to the God they love (1 John 3:4–10).
How does God’s love draw you towards Jesus?
What other thoughts or questions does today’s reading bring up?
Some of these notes are from the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible study notes. We highly recommend this study Bible.
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