Category Archives: Worthy of Fear / Reverence

Reflections On What Matters In Life… by Solomon

Ecclesiastes can certainly come across as depressing and discouraging. It helps to keep in mind the ultimate conclusion that the book is leading up to. The context is an old Solomon, wise and rich in splendor as king over his lifetime. He is reflecting back on the meaning of life. He ultimately concludes the following:

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

    13The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. 14For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.

It is with this conclusion in mind that it helps to drive home the meaning of the whole book as we read it. Ultimately everything falls short of real significance except fearing God and keeping his commandments.

Ecclesiastes 4

The Evils of Oppression

     1Then I looked again at all the acts of oppression which were being done under the sun. And behold I saw the tears of the oppressed and that they had no one to comfort them; and on the side of their oppressors was power, but they had no one to comfort them. 2So I congratulated the dead who are already dead more than the living who are still living. 3But better off than both of them is the one who has never existed, who has never seen the evil activity that is done under the sun.

      4I have seen that every labor and every skill which is done is the result of rivalry between a man and his neighbor. This too is vanity and striving after wind. 5The fool folds his hands and consumes his own flesh. 6One hand full of rest is better than two fists full of labor and striving after wind.

      7Then I looked again at vanity under the sun. 8There was a certain man without a dependent, having neither a son nor a brother, yet there was no end to all his labor. Indeed, his eyes were not satisfied with riches and he never asked, “And for whom am I laboring and depriving myself of pleasure?” This too is vanity and it is a grievous task.

      9Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. 10For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. 11Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? 12And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.

      13A poor yet wise lad is better than an old and foolish king who no longer knows how to receive instruction. 14For he has come out of prison to become king, even though he was born poor in his kingdom. 15I have seen all the living under the sun throng to the side of the second lad who replaces him. 16There is no end to all the people, to all who were before them, and even the ones who will come later will not be happy with him, for this too is vanity and striving after wind.

There are a collection of gems of wisdom in this chapter, all of which are worthy of reflection and prayerful consideration for application in our own lives today. Some that strike me…

  • Oppression is very bad.
  • Empty rivalry is worthless.
  • Two working together are better than one.
  • A poor wise lad is better than an old and foolish king who no longer receives instruction

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Let Scripture Define the Truth of Who God Is, Not the Teachings of Man

Let us allow scripture to inform us about the character of YHWH rather than our own assumptions and what we have learned from the teaching of man. We know that YHWH is love. For those that study the word, we also know that we do not define how to love his way. All of the law and the prophets are based on loving God and loving one another. These are not my words, but rather the words of Yeshua in Matthew 22.

Matthew 22:36-40

36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the great and [a]foremost commandment. 39 The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

This is very different than today’s common view where loving others is taken to mean accepting them as they are in whatever sin they embrace, no matter if they rebel against God or not. That is not the truth revealed in God’s word.

God loves people, but he hates sin and rebellion against him. He is not only love, but also holy and righteous. Sin will carry with it a price. For those of us who accept Christ as savior and repent of our sins to follow him, our price has been paid. For those who reject Christ, there is no other path. Living in a constant state of unforgiven and active rebellion is not pleasing to God. Don’t assume he is ok with it just  because he may be patient in bringing it to an end. He waited hundreds of years before bringing the Israelites into the promised land to punish those living their who rejected and rebelled against him. I would say that is far more patient than any of us. However, ultimately there was a time for judgment.

Joshua 11

Northern Palestine Taken

     1Then it came about, when Jabin king of Hazor heard of it, that he sent to Jobab king of Madon and to the king of Shimron and to the king of Achshaph, 2and to the kings who were of the north in the hill country, and in the Arabah—south of Chinneroth and in the lowland and on the heights of Dor on the west— 3to the Canaanite on the east and on the west, and the Amorite and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the Jebusite in the hill country, and the Hivite at the foot of Hermon in the land of Mizpeh. 4They came out, they and all their armies with them, as many people as the sand that is on the seashore, with very many horses and chariots. 5So all of these kings having agreed to meet, came and encamped together at the waters of Merom, to fight against Israel.

      6Then the LORD said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid because of them, for tomorrow at this time I will deliver all of them slain before Israel; you shall hamstring their horses and burn their chariots with fire.” 7So Joshua and all the people of war with him came upon them suddenly by the waters of Merom, and attacked them. 8The LORD delivered them into the hand of Israel, so that they defeated them, and pursued them as far as Great Sidon and Misrephoth-maim and the valley of Mizpeh to the east; and they struck them until no survivor was left to them. 9Joshua did to them as the LORD had told him; he hamstrung their horses and burned their chariots with fire.

      10Then Joshua turned back at that time, and captured Hazor and struck its king with the sword; for Hazor formerly was the head of all these kingdoms. 11They struck every person who was in it with the edge of the sword, utterly destroying them; there was no one left who breathed. And he burned Hazor with fire. 12Joshua captured all the cities of these kings, and all their kings, and he struck them with the edge of the sword, and utterly destroyed them; just as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded. 13However, Israel did not burn any cities that stood on their mounds, except Hazor alone, which Joshua burned. 14All the spoil of these cities and the cattle, the sons of Israel took as their plunder; but they struck every man with the edge of the sword, until they had destroyed them. They left no one who breathed. 15Just as the LORD had commanded Moses his servant, so Moses commanded Joshua, and so Joshua did; he left nothing undone of all that the LORD had commanded Moses.

      16Thus Joshua took all that land: the hill country and all the Negev, all that land of Goshen, the lowland, the Arabah, the hill country of Israel and its lowland 17from Mount Halak, that rises toward Seir, even as far as Baal-gad in the valley of Lebanon at the foot of Mount Hermon. And he captured all their kings and struck them down and put them to death. 18Joshua waged war a long time with all these kings. 19There was not a city which made peace with the sons of Israel except the Hivites living in Gibeon; they took them all in battle. 20For it was of the LORD to harden their hearts, to meet Israel in battle in order that he might utterly destroy them, that they might receive no mercy, but that he might destroy them, just as the LORD had commanded Moses.

      21Then Joshua came at that time and cut off the Anakim from the hill country, from Hebron, from Debir, from Anab and from all the hill country of Judah and from all the hill country of Israel. Joshua utterly destroyed them with their cities. 22There were no Anakim left in the land of the sons of Israel; only in Gaza, in Gath, and in Ashdod some remained. 23So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the LORD had spoken to Moses, and Joshua gave it for an inheritance to Israel according to their divisions by their tribes. Thus the land had rest from war.

Perhaps the toughest verses for us to absorb are the following:

19There was not a city which made peace with the sons of Israel except the Hivites living in Gibeon; they took them all in battle. 20For it was of the LORD to harden their hearts, to meet Israel in battle in order that he might utterly destroy them, that they might receive no mercy, but that he might destroy them, just as the LORD had commanded Moses.

The time for mercy had past. The Lord himself saw to it that he would make sure no other groups came in peace to Joshua, so they could be fully destroyed.

If this makes you uncomfortable, that is ok. But take care to start with an understanding that God is right and just and without error. Take care that he is also unchanging though time in his character.

Now ask him to show you how to process this truth about him in a way that increases your knowledge of his character rather than allowing yourself to just dismiss it and continue to think of him as nothing but a cuddly grandpa in the sky. Sin has serious consequences. If we don’t recognize that it is very offensive to him, we may make poor choices in how we live or encourage others to live. In the right context we must acknowledge that accepting people as they are in sin so as to avoid offending them is actually not loving them. For any of us whose lives have been transformed by Christ, we realize that it changes us in this life and brings more joy and fulfillment in addition to leading us to heaven.   Thus to encourage people to accept sin in their lives rather than repent is like encouraging people to stay in a burning building. True love and concern for them demands that we tell them the truth of God’s word, even if it offends them. Let us each seek to find an effective way to do so and pray for boldness and wisdom in how we approach it.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Do Not Re-Define YHWH In Your Own Image

Joshua 10 contains some dramatic historical records about Joshua’s conquest of the promised land. Many Christians today may struggle to understand or explain how or why YHWH instructed Joshua to wipe out all the inhabitants. What about grace? What about forgiveness? Why would God do wipe out whole people groups? 

First, let us be sure our mind is set on the right perspective. If this is what God said to do, then it was right. If we don’t understand or agree, that means we are wrong… and not God. Perhaps there is specific context which helps explain it or perhaps our view of God is wrong.

We must always take care not to redefine God in our image or the image of our modern culture. Instead, we should always be seeking to redefine ourselves in his image. While there is surely a place for grace and mercy, let us be clear that the Bible speaks volumes about YHWH also providing righteous judgment.

So if he said to wipe everyone out, then he is right to do so. If we struggle with that, then we should pray to ask him to show us more understanding and we should study more the scripture. We should not simply disregard it because it is confusing. It still tells us about YHWH even today. YHWH does not change.

We should not assume that everyone who breathes is in a relationship with YHWH. Clearly we see Biblical examples where he wipes out whole groups. This is different than when he disciplines his own people. These people did not know him. They lived ungodly lives, offensive to him in his holiness.

Joshua 10:29-43

Joshua’s Conquest of Southern Palestine

     29Then Joshua and all Israel with him passed on from Makkedah to Libnah, and fought against Libnah. 30The LORD gave it also with its king into the hands of Israel, and he struck it and every person who was in it with the edge of the sword. He left no survivor in it. Thus he did to its king just as he had done to the king of Jericho.

      31And Joshua and all Israel with him passed on from Libnah to Lachish, and they camped by it and fought against it. 32The LORD gave Lachish into the hands of Israel; and he captured it on the second day, and struck it and every person who was in it with the edge of the sword, according to all that he had done to Libnah.

      33Then Horam king of Gezer came up to help Lachish, and Joshua defeated him and his people until he had left him no survivor.

      34And Joshua and all Israel with him passed on from Lachish to Eglon, and they camped by it and fought against it. 35They captured it on that day and struck it with the edge of the sword; and he utterly destroyed that day every person who was in it, according to all that he had done to Lachish.

      36Then Joshua and all Israel with him went up from Eglon to Hebron, and they fought against it. 37They captured it and struck it and its king and all its cities and all the persons who were in it with the edge of the sword. He left no survivor, according to all that he had done to Eglon. And he utterly destroyed it and every person who was in it.

      38Then Joshua and all Israel with him returned to Debir, and they fought against it. 39He captured it and its king and all its cities, and they struck them with the edge of the sword, and utterly destroyed every person who was in it. He left no survivor. Just as he had done to Hebron, so he did to Debir and its king, as he had also done to Libnah and its king.

      40Thus Joshua struck all the land, the hill country and the Negev and the lowland and the slopes and all their kings. He left no survivor, but he utterly destroyed all who breathed, just as the LORD, the God of Israel, had commanded. 41Joshua struck them from Kadesh-barnea even as far as Gaza, and all the country of Goshen even as far as Gibeon. 42Joshua captured all these kings and their lands at one time, because the LORD, the God of Israel, fought for Israel. 43So Joshua and all Israel with him returned to the camp at Gilgal.

It is ok to question when we get to difficult scripture. But let us always start with the perspective that YHWH is right and it is our understanding that may need to change rather than starting with the assumption that YHWH was wrong and now he has changed somehow to fit our view of him.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

The Lord Delivers Victory Against His Enemies

Our Lord is merciful and gracious, but he is also holy and righteous. Those that come against him will face judgment. Those that are unrepentant and rebellious against him should not expect mercy. This makes a lot of Christians today a bit uncomfortable, as we have tended to water down the gospel to think of YHWH as a “marshmallow” God… a grandfather in the sky… who just loves and forgives everyone no matter what they do. We do well to study the scriptures and better understand our holy and righteous Father. The context of Joshua 10 clearly supports that YHWH was pleased with the actions of his people on this day and supported them in victory.

Joshua 10:16-28

Victory at Makkedah

     16Now these five kings had fled and hidden themselves in the cave at Makkedah. 17It was told Joshua, saying, “The five kings have been found hidden in the cave at Makkedah.” 18Joshua said, “Roll large stones against the mouth of the cave, and assign men by it to guard them, 19but do not stay there yourselves; pursue your enemies and attack them in the rear. Do not allow them to enter their cities, for the LORD your God has delivered them into your hand.” 20It came about when Joshua and the sons of Israel had finished slaying them with a very great slaughter, until they were destroyed, and the survivors who remained of them had entered the fortified cities, 21that all the people returned to the camp to Joshua at Makkedah in peace. No one uttered a word against any of the sons of Israel.

      22Then Joshua said, “Open the mouth of the cave and bring these five kings out to me from the cave.” 23They did so, and brought these five kings out to him from the cave: the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, and the king of Eglon. 24When they brought these kings out to Joshua, Joshua called for all the men of Israel, and said to the chiefs of the men of war who had gone with him, “Come near, put your feet on the necks of these kings.” So they came near and put their feet on their necks. 25Joshua then said to them, “Do not fear or be dismayed! Be strong and courageous, for thus the LORD will do to all your enemies with whom you fight.” 26So afterward Joshua struck them and put them to death, and he hanged them on five trees; and they hung on the trees until evening. 27It came about at sunset that Joshua gave a command, and they took them down from the trees and threw them into the cave where they had hidden themselves, and put large stones over the mouth of the cave, to this very day.

      28Now Joshua captured Makkedah on that day, and struck it and its king with the edge of the sword; he utterly destroyed it and every person who was in it. He left no survivor. Thus he did to the king of Makkedah just as he had done to the king of Jericho.

There are real consequences for sin and rebellion, in this life and in eternity. Let us check ourselves and make sure we are humble before him as a servant should be before a master. He is not there to serve us, but we to serve him. Let us not live our lives as if he loves and accepts us without consequence regardless of open rebellion against him and regardless of lack of submission to him. If we are his enemies, he will hold us accountable. If we are his children, he will discipline us.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

If YHWH Is For You, Who Can Stand Against You?

Let us seek to ensure the battles we face are those YHWH wants for us to fight. Then let us prepare and embrace them for his glory. Finally, let us ask for his help and put our faith in YHWH rather than ourselves for victory. If YHWH is for you, who can stand against you?

Joshua 10:1-15

Five Kings Attack Gibeon

     1Now it came about when Adoni-zedek king of Jerusalem heard that Joshua had captured Ai, and had utterly destroyed it (just as he had done to Jericho and its king, so he had done to Ai and its king), and that the inhabitants of Gibeon had made peace with Israel and were within their land, 2that he feared greatly, because Gibeon was a great city, like one of the royal cities, and because it was greater than Ai, and all its men were mighty. 3Therefore Adoni-zedek king of Jerusalem sent word to Hoham king of Hebron and to Piram king of Jarmuth and to Japhia king of Lachish and to Debir king of Eglon, saying, 4“Come up to me and help me, and let us attack Gibeon, for it has made peace with Joshua and with the sons of Israel.” 5So the five kings of the Amorites, the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, and the king of Eglon, gathered together and went up, they with all their armies, and camped by Gibeon and fought against it.

      6Then the men of Gibeon sent word to Joshua to the camp at Gilgal, saying, “Do not abandon your servants; come up to us quickly and save us and help us, for all the kings of the Amorites that live in the hill country have assembled against us.” 7So Joshua went up from Gilgal, he and all the people of war with him and all the valiant warriors. 8The LORD said to Joshua, “Do not fear them, for I have given them into your hands; not one of them shall stand before you.” 9So Joshua came upon them suddenly by marching all night from Gilgal. 10And the LORD confounded them before Israel, and He slew them with a great slaughter at Gibeon, and pursued them by the way of the ascent of Beth-horon and struck them as far as Azekah and Makkedah. 11As they fled from before Israel, while they were at the descent of Beth-horon, the LORD threw large stones from heaven on them as far as Azekah, and they died; there were more who died from the hailstones than those whom the sons of Israel killed with the sword.

      12Then Joshua spoke to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel,
“O sun, stand still at Gibeon,
And O moon in the valley of Aijalon.”

      13So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped,
Until the nation avenged themselves of their enemies.
Is it not written in the book of Jashar? And the sun stopped in the middle of the sky and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day.

14There was no day like that before it or after it, when the LORD listened to the voice of a man; for the LORD fought for Israel.

      15Then Joshua and all Israel with him returned to the camp to Gilgal.

As a side note, Joshua and the Israelites were angry with the Gibeonites. They had tricked them before YHWH into making a truce when the Israelites were supposed to wipe them out. It would have been easy for Joshua to say… the Gibeonites are getting what they deserve, let us just let them defend themselves and we will take no action.  However, having taken an oath before YHWH, they took it seriously, even if tricked into doing so. They mobilized quickly and YHWH was with them. Don’t miss that he even held the sun in the sky beyond normal timing and sent large hailstones against only the enemy to enable resounding victory. The Israelites fought, but the glory and the victory belong to YHWH.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

A Prayer of Supplication And Trust

A beautiful prayer… pray with me for other yourself, other followers of Christ, and the nations.

Psalm 86

A Psalm of Supplication and Trust.

A Prayer of David.

     1Incline Your ear, O LORD, and answer me;
For I am afflicted and needy.

2Preserve my soul, for I am a godly man;
O You my God, save Your servant who trusts in You.

3Be gracious to me, O Lord,
For to You I cry all day long.

4Make glad the soul of Your servant,
For to You, O Lord, I lift up my soul.

5For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive,
And abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon You.

6Give ear, O LORD, to my prayer;
And give heed to the voice of my supplications!

7In the day of my trouble I shall call upon You,
For You will answer me.

8There is no one like You among the gods, O Lord,
Nor are there any works like Yours.

9All nations whom You have made shall come and worship before You, O Lord,
And they shall glorify Your name.

10For You are great and do wondrous deeds;
You alone are God.

11Teach me Your way, O LORD;
I will walk in Your truth;
Unite my heart to fear Your name.

12I will give thanks to You, O Lord my God, with all my heart,
And will glorify Your name forever.

13For Your lovingkindness toward me is great,
And You have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.

14O God, arrogant men have risen up against me,
And a band of violent men have sought my life,
And they have not set You before them.

15But You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious,
Slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness and truth.

16Turn to me, and be gracious to me;
Oh grant Your strength to Your servant,
And save the son of Your handmaid.

17Show me a sign for good,
That those who hate me may see it and be ashamed,
Because You, O LORD, have helped me and comforted me.

For more Biblical examples of prayer, and for personal prayer requests, please visit our Prayer Requests page.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Disobedience and Rebellion Have Consequences

Joshua 7 is a difficult passage for many today. It clearly illustrates that it is a serious mistake to disobey clear guidance from the Lord. It has implications for you and for others around you. In this case it had implications for all Israel to some degree, but dramatic consequences for the offender and his household.

Today we are taught much about forgiveness and grace and mercy. Forgiveness and grace and mercy are not new. The Father did not suddenly acquire them and now never gets angry at his people for disobedience. He has always had these characteristics. That is why he always planned to send Yeshua for our sins. Still, there are clearly things, such as rebellion and intentionally living against his clear instruction, that anger or disappoint him… and there may be consequences.  Think of our Father as just that… a father. He will discipline his children for their own benefit as a whole.

Hebrews 12:4-14

A Father’s Discipline

     4You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin;

5and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons,
“MY SON, DO NOT REGARD LIGHTLY THE DISCIPLINE OF THE LORD,
NOR FAINT WHEN YOU ARE REPROVED BY HIM;

      6FOR THOSE WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE DISCIPLINES,
AND HE SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES.”

7It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? 10For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. 11All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

Let us not fool ourselves that somehow now that Yeshua has come, the Lord is never angered or disappointed by the conscious choice of his people to disobey him and instead accept the standards of the world. We even have the example of Yeshua getting angry in the temple and turning over tables as written in Matthew 21.

Joshua 7

Israel Is Defeated at Ai

     1But the sons of Israel acted unfaithfully in regard to the things under the ban, for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, from the tribe of Judah, took some of the things under the ban, therefore the anger of the LORD burned against the sons of Israel.

      2Now Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is near Beth-aven, east of Bethel, and said to them, “Go up and spy out the land.” So the men went up and spied out Ai. 3They returned to Joshua and said to him, “Do not let all the people go up; only about two or three thousand men need go up to Ai; do not make all the people toil up there, for they are few.” 4So about three thousand men from the people went up there, but they fled from the men of Ai. 5The men of Ai struck down about thirty-six of their men, and pursued them from the gate as far as Shebarim and struck them down on the descent, so the hearts of the people melted and became as water.

      6Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell to the earth on his face before the ark of the LORD until the evening, both he and the elders of Israel; and they put dust on their heads. 7Joshua said, “Alas, O Lord GOD, why did You ever bring this people over the Jordan, only to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? If only we had been willing to dwell beyond the Jordan! 8“O Lord, what can I say since Israel has turned their back before their enemies? 9“For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land will hear of it, and they will surround us and cut off our name from the earth. And what will You do for Your great name?”

      10So the LORD said to Joshua, “Rise up! Why is it that you have fallen on your face? 11“Israel has sinned, and they have also transgressed My covenant which I commanded them. And they have even taken some of the things under the ban and have both stolen and deceived. Moreover, they have also put them among their own things. 12“Therefore the sons of Israel cannot stand before their enemies; they turn their backs before their enemies, for they have become accursed. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy the things under the ban from your midst. 13“Rise up! Consecrate the people and say, ‘Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow, for thus the LORD, the God of Israel, has said, “There are things under the ban in your midst, O Israel. You cannot stand before your enemies until you have removed the things under the ban from your midst.” 14‘In the morning then you shall come near by your tribes. And it shall be that the tribe which the LORD takes by lot shall come near by families, and the family which the LORD takes shall come near by households, and the household which the LORD takes shall come near man by man. 15‘It shall be that the one who is taken with the things under the ban shall be burned with fire, he and all that belongs to him, because he has transgressed the covenant of the LORD, and because he has committed a disgraceful thing in Israel.’”

The Sin of Achan

     16So Joshua arose early in the morning and brought Israel near by tribes, and the tribe of Judah was taken. 17He brought the family of Judah near, and he took the family of the Zerahites; and he brought the family of the Zerahites near man by man, and Zabdi was taken. 18He brought his household near man by man; and Achan, son of Carmi, son of Zabdi, son of Zerah, from the tribe of Judah, was taken. 19Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, I implore you, give glory to the LORD, the God of Israel, and give praise to Him; and tell me now what you have done. Do not hide it from me.” 20So Achan answered Joshua and said, “Truly, I have sinned against the LORD, the God of Israel, and this is what I did: 21when I saw among the spoil a beautiful mantle from Shinar and two hundred shekels of silver and a bar of gold fifty shekels in weight, then I coveted them and took them; and behold, they are concealed in the earth inside my tent with the silver underneath it.”

      22So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran to the tent; and behold, it was concealed in his tent with the silver underneath it. 23They took them from inside the tent and brought them to Joshua and to all the sons of Israel, and they poured them out before the LORD. 24Then Joshua and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, the silver, the mantle, the bar of gold, his sons, his daughters, his oxen, his donkeys, his sheep, his tent and all that belonged to him; and they brought them up to the valley of Achor. 25Joshua said, “Why have you troubled us? The LORD will trouble you this day.” And all Israel stoned them with stones; and they burned them with fire after they had stoned them with stones. 26They raised over him a great heap of stones that stands to this day, and the LORD turned from the fierceness of His anger. Therefore the name of that place has been called the valley of Achor to this day.

Prayerfully reflect on your life. Are there areas where you are not fully submitted to the Lord? Are there areas where you openly choose a different path than the instructions he has laid out for his people? Do not assume you are fully pleasing to him in that you say you accept Christ as savior. If you truly accept Christ as savior and lord, that means you submit to him and to his ways. You turn from your own ways and become more like him. Ask the Spirit to show you areas where you need to make a change and to help you with that change.

Repent, seek forgiveness, accept the consequences.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Focus On The Glory and Power Of Our Father

The power of YHWH is incredible. It is enough to really grab people’s attention. While not everything the Lord does will be as dramatic as drying up the waters of the river so His people could cross, there are many miracles that we experience all around us in His creation and in our lives. The more effective we are as His people to give glory to YHWH and point to His work rather than our own participation, the more it will impress upon others to acknowledge Him.

Joshua 5:1

     1Now it came about when all the kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan to the west, and all the kings of the Canaanites who were by the sea, heard how the LORD had dried up the waters of the Jordan before the sons of Israel until they had crossed, that their hearts melted, and there was no spirit in them any longer because of the sons of Israel.

Let us always seek to tell of the wonders of YHWH’s power and glory and seek to live in such a way as to put the focus on Him rather than ourselves.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

What Will Provide True Purpose and Fulfillment?

Ecclesiastes is another book of wisdom, written by Solomon. He records here his thoughts about how the value of many things he has tried in his life and ultimately has an important conclusion for us all to recognize and apply in our lives. Here is a very wise man, given wisdom above other men by the Father. He has lived with great wealth and power. He has been able to do many things seeking fulfillment. His conclusion?

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

13The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. 14For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.

This conclusion by itself is a powerful message. I share it as we begin Ecclesiastes for context. We will revisit it again as we go through the scripture, but take a few moments to contemplate it. Then remember it as you read through Ecclesiastes and see all the pursuits which Solomon tried to find fulfillment… and came up empty. Most of us today are still trying to find fulfillment without the Father and we too will come up empty if we continue on that path.

Ecclesiastes 1:1-11

The Futility of All Endeavor

      1The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.

      2“Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher,
“Vanity of vanities! All is vanity.”

      3What advantage does man have in all his work
Which he does under the sun?

      4A generation goes and a generation comes,
But the earth remains forever.

      5Also, the sun rises and the sun sets;
And hastening to its place it rises there again.

      6Blowing toward the south,
Then turning toward the north,
The wind continues swirling along;
And on its circular courses the wind returns.

      7All the rivers flow into the sea,
Yet the sea is not full.
To the place where the rivers flow,
There they flow again.

      8All things are wearisome;
Man is not able to tell it.
The eye is not satisfied with seeing,
Nor is the ear filled with hearing.

      9That which has been is that which will be,
And that which has been done is that which will be done.
So there is nothing new under the sun.

      10Is there anything of which one might say,
“See this, it is new”?
Already it has existed for ages
Which were before us.

      11There is no remembrance of earlier things;
And also of the later things which will occur,
There will be for them no remembrance
Among those who will come later still.

Let Us Remember The Glory Of What YHWH Has Done

In our world, there are many monuments made to remember the accomplishments of man. There are far fewer which are established to remember the glory of what YHWH has done. As we build monuments and tell tales to our children to remember what has happened in the past of significance, let our focus on the role and glory of YHWH rather than that of men “so that you may fear the LORD your God forever.”

Joshua 4

Memorial Stones from Jordan

      1Now when all the nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the LORD spoke to Joshua, saying, 2“Take for yourselves twelve men from the people, one man from each tribe, 3and command them, saying, ‘Take up for yourselves twelve stones from here out of the middle of the Jordan, from the place where the priests’ feet are standing firm, and carry them over with you and lay them down in the lodging place where you will lodge tonight.’” 4So Joshua called the twelve men whom he had appointed from the sons of Israel, one man from each tribe; 5and Joshua said to them, “Cross again to the ark of the LORD your God into the middle of the Jordan, and each of you take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Israel. 6“Let this be a sign among you, so that when your children ask later, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ 7then you shall say to them, ‘Because the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off.’ So these stones shall become a memorial to the sons of Israel forever.”

      8Thus the sons of Israel did as Joshua commanded, and took up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, just as the LORD spoke to Joshua, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Israel; and they carried them over with them to the lodging place and put them down there. 9Then Joshua set up twelve stones in the middle of the Jordan at the place where the feet of the priests who carried the ark of the covenant were standing, and they are there to this day. 10For the priests who carried the ark were standing in the middle of the Jordan until everything was completed that the LORD had commanded Joshua to speak to the people, according to all that Moses had commanded Joshua. And the people hurried and crossed; 11and when all the people had finished crossing, the ark of the LORD and the priests crossed before the people. 12The sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh crossed over in battle array before the sons of Israel, just as Moses had spoken to them; 13about 40,000 equipped for war, crossed for battle before the LORD to the desert plains of Jericho.

      14On that day the LORD exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel; so that they revered him, just as they had revered Moses all the days of his life.

      15Now the LORD said to Joshua, 16“Command the priests who carry the ark of the testimony that they come up from the Jordan.” 17So Joshua commanded the priests, saying, “Come up from the Jordan.” 18It came about when the priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD had come up from the middle of the Jordan, and the soles of the priests’ feet were lifted up to the dry ground, that the waters of the Jordan returned to their place, and went over all its banks as before.

      19Now the people came up from the Jordan on the tenth of the first month and camped at Gilgal on the eastern edge of Jericho. 20Those twelve stones which they had taken from the Jordan, Joshua set up at Gilgal. 21He said to the sons of Israel, “When your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, ‘What are these stones?’ 22then you shall inform your children, saying, ‘Israel crossed this Jordan on dry ground.’ 23“For the LORD your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed, just as the LORD your God had done to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed; 24that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the LORD is mighty, so that you may fear the LORD your God forever.”

Many today take exception to “fearing” YHWH. But we should be careful to take heed to the written word. The Hebrew root word for fear used here refers to fear, to respect, to reverence. This is used often in referring to YHWH. One such well known usage is in Proverbs 1.

Proverbs 1:7.

 7The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge;
Fools despise wisdom and instruction.

We need not fear Him as some unpredictable dictator, but rather as in a strong Father and leader, who will discipline those whom He loves and those who rebel against Him, for the benefit of His people. A healthy and appropriate fear of YHWH helps us to believe and live morally, according to His instruction rather than the ways of man.

I can well imagine today, if this miracle of crossing the Jordan had been accomplished people may well make a monument to Joshua, but not to YHWH. Let us not remember history only from the perspective of what man has done, but rather let us remember history from the perspective of what YHWH has done and is doing!

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.