Moving Ahead

June 22, 2014   Joshua 2 on   Moving Ahead


     Joshua sends out 2 spies to check out the land and they enter Jericho.   Joshua probably wanted to get an idea about the land and learn about Jericho.  The spies enter the residence of a woman Rahab.   The verse tells us she is a prostitute and most folks believe that is what she is.  The Hebrew word can mean inn keeper but when she is mentioned in the NT the word is clear that she was a prostitute.   Grace God’s wonderful grace abounded to this woman.   Rahab is far from God.   She is in a country that is far from God.  She is in a country that God has slated for total and complete destruction.  And she is a prostitute.   What are her chances of a better life?   What are her chances of knowing the one and only true God?   God gives her a chance.   God delights in reaching people that seem to have no chance.  God delights in helping people draw near to Him and to give them a chance of living a significant life.  I think God makes a statement about his desire to extend grace to anyone that will accept it.   How encouraging the word of God is. This passage is so encouraging.   

     In James 2 Rahab is mentioned as an example of faith and she is mentioned with Abraham the father of faith.  James states that faith without works is dead.  In Hebrews 11 the chapter of faith she is mentioned and because of her faith she lived and was not destroyed as the rest of those in Jericho were.   She is mentioned in the linage of Jesus along with Ruth in Matthew 1.   God loves people who believe.   Rahab had real faith.   She put her life on the line.   It was a true faith.  What she did was not easy.  She trusted God.   You can overcome your past and your weaknesses by faith.  I think her life got straightened out.  Everything changes for her and God delights to do new things.    

     She was not an extraordinary person or a great leader.  Rahab was just a common person much like you and I and God used her.  God can and desires to use you.   To be used by the world is terrible and even worse to be used by the devil but to be used by God is blessed.  A lot of men and women seek to use others.   They go out and look for someone at the club and take them out and then they are looking to end the evening in bed.   They want to use that other person.  Sometimes people do that to God.  Some go to church so God will bless me.  Some of that is OK but scripture tells us that if we give our bodies to be burned and give all of our money and have profound wisdom but do not have love it means nothing.  In a sense these spies used her because she hid them and saved them.  She used the spies to save her and her family.  It is good to be used by God.  It is good to give just because you love to give.   It is good to serve God because you love to do it.  It is good and it is a blessing.  

    We certainly do not know how these men get discovered nor how they end up in her house but God was in it and God protected them.  It would seem that she learned that the king was looking for them and she hides them in her roof.  The king sends a message to her house to bring the spies out to the king and she lies about them.  Is it ever right to lie?   Lying certainly is wrong and we should not ever lie to save us.    But she lied to save others.   That may not excuse it but it puts a different spin on it.    I have struggled with this part of the story off and on for years.  Anyway she tells them that they left and then in the dark lets them down by a rope from her window.   That window must have been high because she used a rope.   Her family must have also been sworn to be quiet about the spies.  She is really a traitor to her people.   She sells her people out so to speak but they are doomed anyway.  Where is our allegiance?    Where should the Christian’s allegiance be?    It is believed that there were 2 walls in this city separated by about 15 feet.  I would assume that her house was between the 2 walls and she lets them down the outer wall. 

     Chapter 3  Read 1 to 5 and 9 to 13.   I think it is just great to read about the miracles of God.   It is awesome to see God move.  This is exciting material and we should have a great desire to read the bible.   In the first verses of this chapter we see that the people are getting directions on their travel into the Promised Land.  They are getting directions on crossing the Jordan River.  They had never traveled that way before.   Joshua told the people to consecrate yourself.    The people were to prepare for the great things that God was going to do for them.   It is good to consecrate yourself or set yourself apart for worship and for God.   That takes time and effort.   Notice that Joshua tells them to stay a thousand yards away from the ark.   That ark represented God’s grace and God’s presence.  Later 70 of the Children of Israel looked into the ark and God took their life.   Now we can go into the holy of holies.   We often take it for granted going into God’s presence.   It is no small thing to do that.   We should not come lightly before God’s presence.   We should think about who we are coming before.   

       Before them laid the Jordan River which was flooded.  It is harvest time and the Jordan is flooded and one author said that the river could be up to 1 mile wide during flood stage.   The people probably wondered how they were going to cross the river.  They cannot make enough boats to get everyone across.   They cannot swim or walk across it while the water rages in flood stage.  Joshua probably ask the Lord about it also.    It is clear that God has told Joshua how they are going to cross the Jordan.   God is going to stop the waters up stream and they are going to cross on dry ground.  

      God knew the way for them but they had to follow it.  The story goes that the admiral, looking out from his command post on the deck looked out and saw lights in the distance, clearly heading straight for him.   He radioed the message ahead: “Turn aside, 10 degrees starboard.”   The radio beeped back – “Negative. Advise you turn aside 10 degrees starboard.” Furious, the admiral radioed back: “No, you turn aside.   I am an admiral I am in command of a battleship” The message was returned: “I am a private.  And I am in charge of this lighthouse” There’s nothing wrong with commanding a great ship – the only problem is when we become blind to what our actions really are.   It becomes arrogance when we think we can move mountains.   God can puts rocks in our way to keep us clear on the simplest fact: God is God, we are not.  When our paths are right with the Lord he moves or guides us through the obstacles.  It is God that moves the mountains and it is God that moves the waters.   God makes the way for us. 

     The priests go into the water first and the water stops.  The water does not change until the priests step in.   Faith must be exercised.   They could look at the water all day it would not do any good.   They had to step in while the water rages.   That can be a little bit intimidating.   That first step is a big one.  Sally and I a couple of years ago tried zip lining.   Sally does not like heights and when you step off that platform and drop a few feet or so before the line tightens up.   That is a big step.    The priests stay in the water until all have crossed and then the priests cross over to the other bank.   As soon as the priests step on the other shore the flood waters return.    For Moses the Red Sea parted and for Joshua the Jordan River.  Forty years ago the Red Sea seemed impossible for them and now it was the Jordan River.   There always seems to be something in the way and something to overcome.   Oceans and rivers obey the command of God.    Nothing is too hard for God.  God gave them everything they needed to get to where God wanted them to be. 

       This has to be a huge encouragement for the people.  They see God opening a door for them to enter the Promised Land.   They see the miracles of God and the blessing of God.   It has to be a huge encouragement for them.   Since God can deal with a flooded river he can deal with cities and giants.   In Revelation 3 Jesus tells the church of Philadelphia that he has set before them an open door that no man can shut.   It is pretty neat when God opens a door for you.   God has called us to overcome.  God has an inheritance for you.   God has open doors for you and stepping out in faith is important.    We are to be victorious and not be victims.   The people 40 years before said we cannot do it.   Their faith failed and they did not enter the land that God had for them.  Ten of the spies said go back but Joshua and Caleb said the land is before us and we can take it.  Let’s move ahead.   The majority said lets go back.   Faith moves ahead.   Warren Wiersbe said, “Do not say, why were the former days better than these?   You do not move ahead by constantly looking in a rear view mirror.   The past is a rudder to guide you, not an anchor to drag you. We must learn from the past but not live in the past.”     Egypt represents to the Christian slavery to our sin before we knew Jesus and ever before us is the new land the Promised Land.  There are battles to be fought and won by faith.  I John says this is the victory that overcomes the world even our faith.   What great and impossible things are you and I trusting God for today? 

    John Ortberg states:  "The decision to grow always involves a choice between risk and comfort. This means that to be a follower of Jesus, you must renounce comfort as the ultimate value of your life.   And that’s sobering news to most of us, because we’re into comfort...but water walker’s master failure... Did Peter fail?    Failure is not an event, but rather a judgment about an event.    Failure is not something that happens to us or a label we attach to things.   It is a way we think about outcomes...Did Peter fail?   Well, I suppose in a way he did.    His faith wasn’t strong enough.   His doubts were stronger.   'He saw the wind.'   He took his eyes off of where they should have been.   He sank.   He failed.   But here is what I think.   I think there were eleven bigger failures sitting in the boat. They failed quietly.   They failed privately. Their failure went unnoticed, unobserved, uncriticized.   Only Peter knew the shame of the public failure.   But only Peter knew two other things as well.    Only Peter knew the glory of walking on water.   He alone knew what it was to attempt to do what he was not capable of doing on his own, then feeling euphoria of being empowered by God to actually do it.   Once you walk on water, you never forget it--not for the rest of your life!"

    The Children of Israel go into the Promised Land.   The cross the Jordan by God’s mighty power.  They have some conflicts ahead of them.  They have some challenges ahead of them but God is with them to lead them and to bless them.