Deuteronomy 34:1-Joshua 2:24
Moses went up the mountain and was allowed to the see the Promised Land but he wouldn’t be allowed to enter-in. His time had come. It was time for him to enter an even better land, his home in heaven.
Moses had fought the good fight, he had finished his race, he had kept the faith. He was one hundred and twenty years old and his natural vigor did not not diminish, but he died and God personally buried him. No one knew where the grave of Moses was located, and I have a hunch it’s because the LORD was well aware of the fact that they would make an idolatrous monument out of it.
Jude 9 tells us something interesting, that Michael the Archangel disputed with Satan over the body of Moses. We’re not sure why, but the devil may have wanted to desecrate Moses’ body or even perhaps possess it in an attempt to lead the people astray…but the LORD didn’t allow it.
The mantle has now fallen to Joshua the son of Nun. He is an excellent successor to Moses, for he has personally seen all that God has done over the years and he’s gone through the hard times, he’s traveled the wilderness with the nation. The LORD promised to be with Joshua, as He was with Moses, and this is the key to life and ministry (Matthew 28:20; Acts 18:10; Hebrews 13:5). God commanded Joshua to be strong and courageous – to live and lead by God’s Word.
Joshua 1:7-8 (NKJV) “Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”
Some might not see strength and courage as matters of obedience, but they are. We must choose to gather our strength from the LORD by depending on Him – and if you think about it, courage is not always the absence of fear, sometimes it’s facing our fears. We must do this obediently. We can do this, for God is with us (Isaiah 41:10).
May we not miss God’s command in Joshua 1:9 to meditate in God’s Word, to ponder it, mull over it, talk to yourself about it – don’t just skim the surface, don’t stay on the outskirts, soak it in, marinate yourself in it – for the observance of it (obedience) brings spiritual prosperity and success. (see also Psalm 1)
Joshua sent two spies to conduct a reconnaissance of Jericho and while they were there, they were hidden and protected by a harlot named Rahab. The people of Jericho were petrified, they had heard of Israel’s great victories over Egypt, and the two Amorite kings. Rahab knew in her heart that the LORD was the God of heaven and earth, and it is for that reason she hid the spies and asked the men to spare her and her family. The men agreed to do so, if she hung the scarlet cord out her window; all within that home would live (symbolic of the scarlet blood of Jesus washing away our scarlet sins; Matthew 27:28; Isaiah 1:18).
Rahab is a fascinating figure in the Bible; she is commended for her faith in Hebrews 11:31 and her faith in action in James 2:25. She is mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1:5. She is an example of Jesus’ words in Matthew 21:31. May this truth be loud and clear, God can forgive any sins of anyone who places his or her faith in Him.
Now, understandably there is the question about Rahab’s lie. The following is a brief word from Warren Wiersbe, and a longer answer from a great resource cited below.
Warren Wiersbe, “Although the Bible does not commend Rahab for her lies, it does commend her faith (Heb. 11:31) that revealed itself in works (James 2:25). Her faith saved her and her family from destruction (Joshua 6:17–19), and it resulted in her becoming an ancestress of the Messiah (Matthew 1:5). Once you begin to trust God and obey Him, you never know what He will do!”
JOSHUA 2:4-5 – How could God bless Rahab for lying?
PROBLEM: When the spies came to Jericho, they sought refuge in the house of Rahab. When the king of Jericho commanded Rahab to bring out the men, she lied saying that the men had already gone and that she did not know where they went. However, when Israel finally destroyed Jericho, Rahab and all her family were saved alive. How could God bless Rahab for lying?
SOLUTION: Some argue that it is not clear that God blessed Rahab for lying. God certainly saved Rahab and blessed her for protecting the spies and assisting in the overthrow of Jericho. However, nowhere does the Bible explicitly say that God blessed Rahab for lying. God could have blessed her in spite of her lie, not because of it. Actually, Rahab’s act of protecting the spies was a demonstration of great faith in the God of Israel. She firmly believed that God would destroy Jericho, and she exhibited that belief by siding with Israel against the people of Jericho when she protected the spies from being discovered.
Others insist that Rahab was faced with a real moral conflict. It may have been impossible for her to both save the spies and tell the truth to the soldiers of the king. If so, God would not hold Rahab responsible for this unavoidable moral conflict. Certainly a person cannot be held responsible for not keeping a lesser law in order to keep a higher law. The Bible commands obedience to the government (Rom. 13:1; Titus 3:1; 1 Peter 2:13), but there are many examples of justified civil disobedience when the government attempts to compel unrighteousness (Ex. 5; Dan. 3, 6; Rev. 13). The case of the Hebrew midwives lying to save the lives of the male children is perhaps the clearest example of this.
Thomas Howe;Norman L. Geisler. Big Book of Bible Difficulties, The: Clear and Concise Answers from Genesis to Revelation.
Luke 13:24 was one of the first passages I ever memorized as a Christian, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate…” Of course we know that salvation is a free gift, we could never, ever earn it by our own efforts, but we must make sure we know the Lord and we should strive (make great efforts) as Christians. We must strive to resist legalism and the traditions of men that are contrary to truth. We must strive to fight our flesh that viciously pulls us to the left and to the right. We must strive to cultivate a truly personal relationship with God, to listen to His voice, to know Him more and more, to experience God in this life so that there will never be a day when we say, “I never knew Him,” and walk away. We must examine our lives to make sure there is the genuine fruit of the Spirit, because if there isn’t, how can we say that we truly know Him?
Jesus lamenting over the way the people were not willing to come to Him, is one of the most heartbreaking scenes in all of Scripture (Luke 13:34). God wanted Israel to be saved, but they “were not willing.” God’s heart and desire is that none would perish (1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9) but we are all free to choose. How about you? Do you see His love? Have you honestly decided to follow Jesus? I pray that you have.
The leader of the local synagogue invited Jesus over to his house for dinner – but the table was only a trap. There just happened to be a man with dropsy at this dinner, and they were watching Jesus like a hawk, to see if He would heal him on the Sabbath. When I read those words, “…they watched Him closely,” I thought to myself, if only they watched Him closely for the right reasons, not to find fault, but to find God, to find love and life, freedom and forgiveness. But they didn’t. they had a law that said healing was prohibited to do on the Sabbath (please show me in the Bible where it says that). They lacked any and all compassion.
Pastor Chuck Smith said, “Dropsy was a fatal disease where the capillaries break and the fluids cause great swelling and sagging of the skin.” Jesus humbly asked them if it was lawful to heal on the Sabbath – but no one responded. Jesus would go on to heal the man and tried to reason with the Jews regarding the value of human life, but they wouldn’t have it, they were set in their ways, hard-hearts, minds made up, bound by the traditions of men, rather than the truths of God.
This Psalm was obviously written during Israel’s exile. It breaks your heart to think of all the suffering, death, and blood that was shed when the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem and leveled the Temple.
Israelite bodies left out in the open for birds to feast on. The shame, the pain…and it was lingering so long. The Northern and Southern Kingdoms of Israel and Judah had forsaken the LORD to serve other gods, and they were now paying the price. The Psalmist prays and he wonders, “How long?”
Psalms 79:5 (NKJV) “How long, LORD? Will You be angry forever? Will Your jealousy burn like fire?”
The Psalmist didn’t just ask questions though – he also acknowledged the sins of the nation, pleading for mercy and forgiveness, for God to defeat Israel’s enemies (he still believed), and he commendably did ask for the right reason – for the glory of God’s name (Psalm 79:9).
They were prisoners who were groaning (Psalm 79:11) and at the same time they were growing (spiritually). Many a soul has been saved in prison – a time to think, to search, to ponder and appreciate true freedom.
Even in the midst of such horrible circumstances, the Psalmist knew, Israel belonged to God, they were the sheep of His pasture (Psalm 79:13).
The Hebrew word translated “choose” means to search out, to explore.
Let’s do some sanctified exploration to search and even pray for God to bring good friends into our lives, not worldly or wicked.
That doesn’t mean we can’t have people in our circle who don’t know the Lord, after all, we should have people we’re reaching out to as Christians, but when it comes to “friends,” people we’re close to, people were getting counsel from, spending most of our time with – they really should be genuine Christians, people who honestly love the Lord (see also 1 Corinthians 15:33).
If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.