Category Archives: Obeying God

We Must Deal With Our Sin Before We Will Experience Victory In The Lord

Joshua and the Israelites faced defeat against Ai, as recorded in Joshua 7, due to sin and rebellion in the camp against YHWH. The sin of a single man led to defeat for Israel. Joshua dealt with the sin according to YHWH’s instructions and was once again directed by the Lord to continue taking the promised land. He then did as the Lord instructed, and those around him did as well, and the Lord granted them victory.

In a way, this serves as a blueprint for us in our everyday lives. We can not expect YHWH to give us victory while living in rebellion against his word or the Spirit. We must deal with our sin, the sins of our family, and even the sins of our nation if we are to experience full victory on the Lord’s path. That does not mean that we as individuals can not have strong relationships with the Lord even in a sinful nation… we can. However, do not expect him to grant great and lasting victory to a nation that rebels openly against him.

Joshua 8

The Conquest of Ai

     1Now the LORD said to Joshua, “Do not fear or be dismayed. Take all the people of war with you and arise, go up to Ai; see, I have given into your hand the king of Ai, his people, his city, and his land. 2“You shall do to Ai and its king just as you did to Jericho and its king; you shall take only its spoil and its cattle as plunder for yourselves. Set an ambush for the city behind it.”

      3So Joshua rose with all the people of war to go up to Ai; and Joshua chose 30,000 men, valiant warriors, and sent them out at night. 4He commanded them, saying, “See, you are going to ambush the city from behind it. Do not go very far from the city, but all of you be ready. 5“Then I and all the people who are with me will approach the city. And when they come out to meet us as at the first, we will flee before them. 6“They will come out after us until we have drawn them away from the city, for they will say, ‘They are fleeing before us as at the first.’ So we will flee before them. 7“And you shall rise from your ambush and take possession of the city, for the LORD your God will deliver it into your hand. 8“Then it will be when you have seized the city, that you shall set the city on fire. You shall do it according to the word of the LORD. See, I have commanded you.” 9So Joshua sent them away, and they went to the place of ambush and remained between Bethel and Ai, on the west side of Ai; but Joshua spent that night among the people.

      10Now Joshua rose early in the morning and mustered the people, and he went up with the elders of Israel before the people to Ai. 11Then all the people of war who were with him went up and drew near and arrived in front of the city, and camped on the north side of Ai. Now there was a valley between him and Ai. 12And he took about 5,000 men and set them in ambush between Bethel and Ai, on the west side of the city. 13So they stationed the people, all the army that was on the north side of the city, and its rear guard on the west side of the city, and Joshua spent that night in the midst of the valley. 14It came about when the king of Ai saw it, that the men of the city hurried and rose up early and went out to meet Israel in battle, he and all his people at the appointed place before the desert plain. But he did not know that there was an ambush against him behind the city. 15Joshua and all Israel pretended to be beaten before them, and fled by the way of the wilderness. 16And all the people who were in the city were called together to pursue them, and they pursued Joshua and were drawn away from the city. 17So not a man was left in Ai or Bethel who had not gone out after Israel, and they left the city unguarded and pursued Israel.

      18Then the LORD said to Joshua, “Stretch out the javelin that is in your hand toward Ai, for I will give it into your hand.” So Joshua stretched out the javelin that was in his hand toward the city. 19The men in ambush rose quickly from their place, and when he had stretched out his hand, they ran and entered the city and captured it, and they quickly set the city on fire. 20When the men of Ai turned back and looked, behold, the smoke of the city ascended to the sky, and they had no place to flee this way or that, for the people who had been fleeing to the wilderness turned against the pursuers. 21When Joshua and all Israel saw that the men in ambush had captured the city and that the smoke of the city ascended, they turned back and slew the men of Ai. 22The others came out from the city to encounter them, so that they were trapped in the midst of Israel, some on this side and some on that side; and they slew them until no one was left of those who survived or escaped. 23But they took alive the king of Ai and brought him to Joshua.

      24Now when Israel had finished killing all the inhabitants of Ai in the field in the wilderness where they pursued them, and all of them were fallen by the edge of the sword until they were destroyed, then all Israel returned to Ai and struck it with the edge of the sword. 25All who fell that day, both men and women, were 12,000—all the people of Ai. 26For Joshua did not withdraw his hand with which he stretched out the javelin until he had utterly destroyed all the inhabitants of Ai. 27Israel took only the cattle and the spoil of that city as plunder for themselves, according to the word of the LORD which He had commanded Joshua. 28So Joshua burned Ai and made it a heap forever, a desolation until this day. 29He hanged the king of Ai on a tree until evening; and at sunset Joshua gave command and they took his body down from the tree and threw it at the entrance of the city gate, and raised over it a great heap of stones that stands to this day.

      30Then Joshua built an altar to the LORD, the God of Israel, in Mount Ebal, 31just as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded the sons of Israel, as it is written in the book of the law of Moses, an altar of uncut stones on which no man had wielded an iron tool; and they offered burnt offerings on it to the LORD, and sacrificed peace offerings. 32He wrote there on the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he had written, in the presence of the sons of Israel. 33All Israel with their elders and officers and their judges were standing on both sides of the ark before the Levitical priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD, the stranger as well as the native. Half of them stood in front of Mount Gerizim and half of them in front of Mount Ebal, just as Moses the servant of the LORD had given command at first to bless the people of Israel. 34Then afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessing and the curse, according to all that is written in the book of the law. 35There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded which Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel with the women and the little ones and the strangers who were living among them.

I also find it interesting that at the end of a great victory, Joshua reads the words of the law, the blessing and the curse, to not just Israel, but to the strangers living among them. It is another indication that the law of YHWH was not meant only for Israel, but for all who came to join Israel and dwell among them. One law for all, not separate law for Jews vs. Gentiles.

—-

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.

Yeshua Willingly Died For Us. Will You Accept His Offer?

Pilate knew Yeshua was not guilty. He looked for a way to please the crowd and release Christ. Could he have been influenced further to release Christ if Yeshua had provided a more vigorous defense? Perhaps, but this is not the point. Yeshua knew it was the Father’s will for him to suffer and die for our sin. Thus, he obeyed willingly.

John 19:1-15

The Crown of Thorns

     1Pilate then took Jesus and scourged Him. 2And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on His head, and put a purple robe on Him; 3and they began to come up to Him and say, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and to give Him slaps in the face. 4Pilate came out again and said to them, “Behold, I am bringing Him out to you so that you may know that I find no guilt in Him.” 5Jesus then came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Behold, the Man!” 6So when the chief priests and the officers saw Him, they cried out saying, “Crucify, crucify!” Pilate said to them, “Take Him yourselves and crucify Him, for I find no guilt in Him.” 7The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and by that law He ought to die because He made Himself out to be the Son of God.”

      8Therefore when Pilate heard this statement, he was even more afraid; 9and he entered into the Praetorium again and said to Jesus, “Where are You from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. 10So Pilate said to Him, “You do not speak to me? Do You not know that I have authority to release You, and I have authority to crucify You?” 11Jesus answered, “You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.” 12As a result of this Pilate made efforts to release Him, but the Jews cried out saying, “If you release this Man, you are no friend of Caesar; everyone who makes himself out to be a king opposes Caesar.”

      13Therefore when Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out, and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called The Pavement, but in Hebrew, Gabbatha. 14Now it was the day of preparation for the Passover; it was about the sixth hour. And he said to the Jews, “Behold, your King!” 15So they cried out, “Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.”

I find it interesting that Yeshua says those who delivered me to you have the greater sin. That does not excuse Pilate, but does put the focus back on the chief priests who were persecuting their own Messiah.

Yeshua was treated wrongly and brutally so. It was for our sins, not his own. He accepted it and did not try to avoid it. He is a powerful example for us in accepting and doing the will of the Father in our lives, even when it is hard.

It is also interesting to note that the last supper has come and gone and the Passover has not occurred yet. Some speculate that the last supper was a Passover supper, but scripture would say otherwise.  Rather, it appears that Yeshua was killed at the same day, perhaps hour, that the other Passover lambs were killed in preparation for Passover. He is our Passover lamb fulfilled. Because of his sacrifice, we are spared from a second death in judgment of our sin that we have earned by sinning. We are forgiven by grace, through faith in Christ as Messiah.

However, we must accept this offer. We must ask forgiveness, turn from our sins and repent. We must submit to Christ and accept him as lord and savior.

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 Judas Remind Us That We Should Not Betray Christ

Judas betrayed our Lord, Yeshua, in a very bold and obvious way. He took money to lead the Romans to him. Perhaps one thing which may be difficult for us to grasp at a personal level, however, is that this was in keeping with the Father’s plan for Yeshua.

John 18:1-1-11

Judas Betrays Jesus

     1When Jesus had spoken these words, He went forth with His disciples over the ravine of the Kidron, where there was a garden, in which He entered with His disciples. 2Now Judas also, who was betraying Him, knew the place, for Jesus had often met there with His disciples. 3Judas then, having received the Roman cohort and officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, came there with lanterns and torches and weapons. 4So Jesus, knowing all the things that were coming upon Him, went forth and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” 5They answered Him, “Jesus the Nazarene.” He said to them, “I am He.” And Judas also, who was betraying Him, was standing with them. 6So when He said to them, “I am He,” they drew back and fell to the ground. 7Therefore He again asked them, “Whom do you seek?” And they said, “Jesus the Nazarene.” 8Jesus answered, “I told you that I am He; so if you seek Me, let these go their way,” 9to fulfill the word which He spoke, “Of those whom You have given Me I lost not one.” 10Simon Peter then, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear; and the slave’s name was Malchus. 11So Jesus said to Peter, “Put the sword into the sheath; the cup which the Father has given Me, shall I not drink it?”

None of us will face the same exact situation as Judas. Most of us may never face any situation even remotely like this one. However, we all have an opportunity to speak out for and defend our Lord, Yeshua or reject him throughout our daily lives. Sometimes it may be by deliberate action, giving into temptation or sin. Other times, we may simply reject his ways by remaining quiet or not taking action to help another or defend his name.

Let us not look upon Judas as the only one who betrays Yeshua. Instead, let us reflect on our own lives and seek to honor and glorify him through our actions and thoughts. Let us seek his help for us to be loyal and not betray him when situations we face may be uncomfortable or hard or when greed may tempt us to turn from his ways.

—-

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.

For The Wisdom Of This World Is Foolishness Before YHWH

The account of Joshua’s defeat (truly the Lord’s defeat) of Jericho is truly remarkable. It is one of so many examples where our Father shows us that His ways are not our ways. Why is it then, that so often we find ourselves trying to do things our own way?

What military school teaches about the strategy employed at Jericho? I doubt you find one, but perhaps they should. Putting our faith in YHWH and obeying His instructions is always the right answer for any situation.

Joshua 6

The Conquest of Jericho

     1Now Jericho was tightly shut because of the sons of Israel; no one went out and no one came in. 2The LORD said to Joshua, “See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and the valiant warriors. 3“You shall march around the city, all the men of war circling the city once. You shall do so for six days. 4“Also seven priests shall carry seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark; then on the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. 5“It shall be that when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and the people will go up every man straight ahead.”

      6So Joshua the son of Nun called the priests and said to them, “Take up the ark of the covenant, and let seven priests carry seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the LORD.” 7Then he said to the people, “Go forward, and march around the city, and let the armed men go on before the ark of the LORD.” 8And it was so, that when Joshua had spoken to the people, the seven priests carrying the seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the LORD went forward and blew the trumpets; and the ark of the covenant of the LORD followed them. 9The armed men went before the priests who blew the trumpets, and the rear guard came after the ark, while they continued to blow the trumpets. 10But Joshua commanded the people, saying, “You shall not shout nor let your voice be heard nor let a word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I tell you, ‘Shout!’ Then you shall shout!” 11So he had the ark of the LORD taken around the city, circling it once; then they came into the camp and spent the night in the camp.

      12Now Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the LORD. 13The seven priests carrying the seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the LORD went on continually, and blew the trumpets; and the armed men went before them and the rear guard came after the ark of the LORD, while they continued to blow the trumpets. 14Thus the second day they marched around the city once and returned to the camp; they did so for six days.

      15Then on the seventh day they rose early at the dawning of the day and marched around the city in the same manner seven times; only on that day they marched around the city seven times. 16At the seventh time, when the priests blew the trumpets, Joshua said to the people, “Shout! For the LORD has given you the city. 17“The city shall be under the ban, it and all that is in it belongs to the LORD; only Rahab the harlot and all who are with her in the house shall live, because she hid the messengers whom we sent. 18“But as for you, only keep yourselves from the things under the ban, so that you do not covet them and take some of the things under the ban, and make the camp of Israel accursed and bring trouble on it. 19“But all the silver and gold and articles of bronze and iron are holy to the LORD; they shall go into the treasury of the LORD.” 20So the people shouted, and priests blew the trumpets; and when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, the people shouted with a great shout and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight ahead, and they took the city. 21They utterly destroyed everything in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox and sheep and donkey, with the edge of the sword.

      22Joshua said to the two men who had spied out the land, “Go into the harlot’s house and bring the woman and all she has out of there, as you have sworn to her.” 23So the young men who were spies went in and brought out Rahab and her father and her mother and her brothers and all she had; they also brought out all her relatives and placed them outside the camp of Israel. 24They burned the city with fire, and all that was in it. Only the silver and gold, and articles of bronze and iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the LORD. 25However, Rahab the harlot and her father’s household and all she had, Joshua spared; and she has lived in the midst of Israel to this day, for she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.

      26Then Joshua made them take an oath at that time, saying, “Cursed before the LORD is the man who rises up and builds this city Jericho; with the loss of his firstborn he shall lay its foundation, and with the loss of his youngest son he shall set up its gates.” 27So the LORD was with Joshua, and his fame was in all the land.

I delight in reading this account of YHWH delivering victory His own way. It brings to mind several other verses:

1 Corinthians 3:19

19For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God.

1 Corinthians 1:18-19

      18For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

19For it is written,
“I WILL DESTROY THE WISDOM OF THE WISE,
AND THE CLEVERNESS OF THE CLEVER I WILL SET ASIDE.”

Let us not limit ourselves to accepting only the ways of YHWH which we clearly understand, but put our faith and trust in Him in all things. Often He leads us to do things that we ourselves would never think to do and through this He brings victory in His own way. In this way, He brings more glory and honor to His name and strengthens the faith of His people.

—-

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.

 

Yeshua’s Prayer For His Disciples

Yeshua came to the Father in prayer for His disciples as He prepared to leave. We can learn much by reviewing and considering His words.

John 17:13-21

The Disciples in the World

     13“But now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves. 14“I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 15“I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. 16“They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 17“Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. 18“As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19“For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.

      20“I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; 21that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.

  • Yeshua wanted His disciples to have His joy made full in themselves
  • He gave us the instructions of YHWH to this purpose for making our joy full. We can rightly conclude He intended for us to obey them, not just be aware of them.
  • Those who follow Yeshua, like Yeshua, are not “of the world”. The world will hate and reject us, usually more so as we stand and live more boldly for Christ. This does not mean every person will hate us, but one need only look around at newspapers for national and world events to see that followers of Christ are persecuted in varying degrees depending on where they are in the world. (I do not mean people who claim Christ and live like the world… the devil and the world love these folks.)
  • We need the Father’s help to protect us from Satan. Yes, he is a real adversary.
  • Sanctify means to be set apart as holy. Yeshua asks YHWH to make us holy through truth, or through the word. Again, we can reasonably conclude He intends for us to live according to the word rather than the same way the world lives.
  • Here, Yeshua specifically calls out that He is praying not just for this specific group of men, but for all who believe in Him.
  • His desire is for us as His followers to be united. We can see this is not the case throughout the world. This can seem difficult at times, because we are not called to accept false teaching, but we are called to unity. Many disagree on the true application of scripture creating division. We should allow room for debate where scripture permits, but there are some teachings that are heretical and dangerous and need to be rejected. (e.g. The teaching that everyone who claims Yeshua in name pleases the Lord and goes to heaven even if they are without repentance and do not change their lives to match His instruction.)

I encourage you to pray and reflect on these verses and ask the Father to enlighten you on their full meaning and application for your life.

—-

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 Is Mardi Gras and Should Christians Celebrate It?

What is Mardi Gras and why do so many Christians celebrate it? I grew up in a Catholic church and never could quite figure out how people could say that Mardi Gras was a “Christian holiday”. People broadly seemed to have accepted the concept that Christ wants us to embrace wild parties, drunkenness, public nudity, gluttony and other sinful behavior as a precursor to a period of repentance which follows. If it is not obvious enough that celebrating Mardi Gras is not a way to edify, honor, or lift up Christ then try a more academic exercise. Where in scripture did Jesus demonstrate or teach that we should sin greatly before a period of repentance? It’s not there. In fact, the opposite.

The call to repentance is real, but not the call to sin before it.

This does not even begin to touch on the focus that Mardi Gras puts on pagan gods associated with parades and other events.

Matthew 4:17

      17From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Romans 6

      1What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? 2May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? 3Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? 4Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 5For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; 7for he who has died is freed from sin.

      8Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. 10For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

      12Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, 13and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 14For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

      15What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! 16Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? 17But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, 18and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. 19I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.

      20For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. 22But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. 23For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

We are called to righteousness and not to sin. How then can those in the church widely accept and embrace sin as a “Christian holiday”? The answer is that we have not followed the Lord’s instructions. He commands us not to learn the ways of the pagans and not to celebrate as they do. But all too often our common cultural holidays have been greatly influenced by pagan celebrations. The church has chosen to accept and blend pagan practices alongside or in place of how the Lord wants us to worship Him.

Mardi Gras is a tradition that dates back thousands of years to pagan celebrations of spring and fertility, including the raucous Roman festivals of Saturnalia and Lupercalia.

When Christianity arrived in Rome, religious leaders decided to incorporate these popular local traditions into the new faith, an easier task than abolishing them altogether. As a result, the excess and debauchery of the Mardi Gras season became a prelude to Lent, the 40 days of fasting and penance between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday.

Along with Christianity, Mardi Gras spread from Rome to other European countries, including France, Germany, Spain and England.

http://www.history.com/topics/holidays/mardi-gras

Deuteronomy 12:1-5

   1“These are the statutes and the judgments which you shall carefully observe in the land which the LORD, the God of your fathers, has given you to possess as long as you live on the earth. 2“You shall utterly destroy all the places where the nations whom you shall dispossess serve their gods, on the high mountains and on the hills and under every green tree. 3“You shall tear down their altars and smash their sacred pillars and burn their Asherim with fire, and you shall cut down the engraved images of their gods and obliterate their name from that place. 4“You shall not act like this toward the LORD your God. 5“But you shall seek the LORD at the place which the LORD your God will choose from all your tribes, to establish His name there for His dwelling, and there you shall come.

In order to choose to follow the Lord His way, which is the only true way to follow Him, then we must turn away from and reject pagan celebrations which have been blended with or replaced God’s instructions for how we are to worship Him and how we are to live. Let us not make excuses, accepting the lifestyle of the pagans as our own, no matter how long the family traditions have been established. When we start making exceptions, we often end up with things like Mardi Gras… many who claim to be Christian accept it and would defend it… but none can justify it based on scripture or God’s word. It has become part of the culture based on a historical choices and family traditions. Let us seek the Lord and the Lord’s way alone to live submitted to Him. Let us not blend with the ways of the pagans but rather turn back to our Lord wholeheartedly and without hesitation.

—-

Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? Are you living today filled with the peace and joy of truly knowing and following Jesus Christ? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

 

Passover Holds A Place Of Significance In The LORD Eyes

When the LORD led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, He marked the time with miracles, a celebration of Passover, and after they left Egypt, circumcision as a sign of the covenant. Now in Joshua chapter 5, we see some similar emphasis from the LORD. He parts the Jordan river, He Joshua to lead the people in circumcision as a sign of their covenant with YHWH, and again we see Passover as prominent in the timing. It is very appropriate. What a good time to remember being set free from slavery in Egypt… when you are being set free from wandering in the wilderness and finally ready to enter the promised land. Passover was also a foreshadowing of YHWH’s people being set free from slavery to sin by the death and resurrection of Messiah. It is rich with purpose.

All this and an angel comes to bring an important message to Joshua around this same time.

Joshua 5:8-15

     8Now when they had finished circumcising all the nation, they remained in their places in the camp until they were healed. 9Then the LORD said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” So the name of that place is called Gilgal to this day.

    10While the sons of Israel camped at Gilgal they observed the Passover on the evening of the fourteenth day of the month on the desert plains of Jericho. 11On the day after the Passover, on that very day, they ate some of the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain. 12The manna ceased on the day after they had eaten some of the produce of the land, so that the sons of Israel no longer had manna, but they ate some of the yield of the land of Canaan during that year.

      13Now it came about when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing opposite him with his sword drawn in his hand, and Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us or for our adversaries?” 14He said, “No; rather I indeed come now as captain of the host of the LORD.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and bowed down, and said to him, “What has my lord to say to his servant?” 15The captain of the LORD’S host said to Joshua, “Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.

The Moedim, or appointed times, play an important role in YHWH’s relationship with His people. They were designed by YHWH with the intent to help teach future generations of His people about their relationship with Him. When we learn about them and celebrate them, we are in essence learning about and celebrating our relationship with our Creator according to holy days He designed, rather than those created by men.

To learn more:

—-

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.

 

Will You Do Things God’s Way? or Your Own?

For the Israelites, circumcision was a sign of their covenant with YHWH. They had circumcised the men who came out of Egypt, but those had died in the wilderness due to their refusal to obey YHWH in entering the promised land. Now YHWH called upon Joshua to circumcise the men of Israel as they came out of the wilderness and into the promised land.

Joshua 5:2-9

      2At that time the LORD said to Joshua, “Make for yourself flint knives and circumcise again the sons of Israel the second time.” 3So Joshua made himself flint knives and circumcised the sons of Israel at Gibeath-haaraloth. 4This is the reason why Joshua circumcised them: all the people who came out of Egypt who were males, all the men of war, died in the wilderness along the way after they came out of Egypt. 5For all the people who came out were circumcised, but all the people who were born in the wilderness along the way as they came out of Egypt had not been circumcised. 6For the sons of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, until all the nation, that is, the men of war who came out of Egypt, perished because they did not listen to the voice of the LORD, to whom the LORD had sworn that He would not let them see the land which the LORD had sworn to their fathers to give us, a land flowing with milk and honey. 7Their children whom He raised up in their place, Joshua circumcised; for they were uncircumcised, because they had not circumcised them along the way.

      8Now when they had finished circumcising all the nation, they remained in their places in the camp until they were healed. 9Then the LORD said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” So the name of that place is called Gilgal to this day.

There is nothing mystical or magical about circumcision. It is a sign of a covenant with YHWH. It could be interesting to study and speculate about why the Israelites did not circumcise the children as they were born in the wilderness. It appears they were circumcised coming out of Egypt as they followed the LORD. Then in the wilderness we see they were not circumcised. Is it coincidence that this time was the result of their disobedience and lack of faith in obeying the LORD? I don’t think so. Then as they exit their time in the wilderness and once again take up obedience to the LORD’s plan they are called to be circumcised again. It seems to fit along with their obedience and faith in the LORD. This is not to say that circumcision creates obedience, but rather that the LORD used this symbolically as a reminder of their covenant.

As the Israelites faced a choice of obeying the LORD when it was time to enter the promised land and when it was time to be circumcised, so we too will have choices to face in our lives. They could easily has reasoned that circumcision was only symbolic and thus they did not need to obey YHWH, that it was optional and they could proceed without it. That sounds a lot like how people reason today. At times they focus more on “what is required” by YHWH than “what is desired” by YHWH. We each must decide, over and over again will we do things our own way or the LORD’s way? It is important for us to remember our covenant with the LORD. It should be present in our every day lives, as we choose to live according to His instruction and submit ourselves to His guidance.

—-

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.

His Mission, His Way, His Timing… His Glory

It is not supposed to be about us. We are servants of the Lord most high. When we obey the Lord to do His mission, and we do it His way, in His timing, the mission will be accomplished and He will receive glory. Joshua took this approach, even though he faced a seemingly difficult path ahead at the direction of the Lord. He put YHWH first, even literally in leading the people to cross the Jordan. He told the people to consecrate themselves, or make themselves holy and prepared for YHWH’s use. We could probably study how to do this today, but for simplicity I would start with prayer and getting my heart and mind right with serving YHWH for His glory, not my own. Ask for His help in accomplishing this task. In some cases you may consider fasting.

Joshua 3

Israel Crosses the Jordan

      1Then Joshua rose early in the morning; and he and all the sons of Israel set out from Shittim and came to the Jordan, and they lodged there before they crossed. 2At the end of three days the officers went through the midst of the camp; 3and they commanded the people, saying, “When you see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God with the Levitical priests carrying it, then you shall set out from your place and go after it. 4“However, there shall be between you and it a distance of about 2,000 cubits by measure. Do not come near it, that you may know the way by which you shall go, for you have not passed this way before.”

      5Then Joshua said to the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you.” 6And Joshua spoke to the priests, saying, “Take up the ark of the covenant and cross over ahead of the people.” So they took up the ark of the covenant and went ahead of the people.

      7Now the LORD said to Joshua, “This day I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you. 8“You shall, moreover, command the priests who are carrying the ark of the covenant, saying, ‘When you come to the edge of the waters of the Jordan, you shall stand still in the Jordan.’” 9Then Joshua said to the sons of Israel, “Come here, and hear the words of the LORD your God.” 10Joshua said, “By this you shall know that the living God is among you, and that He will assuredly dispossess from before you the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Hivite, the Perizzite, the Girgashite, the Amorite, and the Jebusite. 11“Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is crossing over ahead of you into the Jordan. 12“Now then, take for yourselves twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one man for each tribe. 13“It shall come about when the soles of the feet of the priests who carry the ark of the LORD, the Lord of all the earth, rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan will be cut off, and the waters which are flowing down from above will stand in one heap.”

      14So when the people set out from their tents to cross the Jordan with the priests carrying the ark of the covenant before the people, 15and when those who carried the ark came into the Jordan, and the feet of the priests carrying the ark were dipped in the edge of the water (for the Jordan overflows all its banks all the days of harvest), 16the waters which were flowing down from above stood and rose up in one heap, a great distance away at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan; and those which were flowing down toward the sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, were completely cut off. So the people crossed opposite Jericho. 17And the priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan while all Israel crossed on dry ground, until all the nation had finished crossing the Jordan.

Ask yourself, are you really pursuing His mission for you? or your own? Do you focus on your own mission instead of His? or your way or your timing instead of His? Are you seeking His glory? or your own?

I have found that often what He calls me to do is not what I think I should do. Often what He calls me to do may appear more humble than what I envision, but more and more I learn to trust Him. For others, perhaps, like Joshua, Moses and Gideon, He may call them to do things far broader and more ambitious than they would envision for themselves. Let us put our trust in YHWH either way and be content or even joyful with His mission for us.

—-

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.