The LORD is our portion

“For the Levites have no portion among you, because the priesthood of the LORD is their inheritance.” (Josh 18:7)
 
More than any other tribe in Israel, the Levites were dependent upon their faith to sustain them. They had no land to farm and provide – only the cities that God gave them amongst the other tribes. Their income was dependent upon the contributions of the nation and the regard for which the other tribes held the Lord. If the nation turned away from God, the Levites would suffer first and most. God was their portion and their entire existence was intertwined with Him.
 
And so it is with the church. Peter says, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” (1 Pet 2:9)
 
Our entire lot is intertwined with the LORD. He is our portion and inheritance. If the country we live in honors God, it will be easier for us. If the culture turns against Him, it will turn against us, too. Lot’s heart was vexed every day by the things he saw and heard in Sodom and Gomorrah (2 Pet 2:7).
 
If the moral ecology of the society spurns God, it should spurn us, too. If it rejects Him, it should reject us. If we are in comfort while He is blasphemed, then there is something quite wrong going on in our hearts.
 
“The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; You hold my lot.” (Ps. 16:5)
 
Matt. 4:4 #Biblebites

Caleb’s Goliaths

“Now the name of Hebron was formerly Kiriath-arba; for Arba was the greatest man among the Anakim.” (Josh. 14:15)
 
So hang with me for a second because this verse is impressive, but you have to know a little history to get there.
 
Kiriath-arba was named after a guy named Arba. Arba was the greatest Anakim. The Anakim were the people who were gigantic – Goliath was a descendant of the Anakim. So, the greatest man of the greatest people made a city.
 
And then a Jew came along and conquered the city… but not just any Jew – Caleb. Caleb, the spy that came back with a good report. Caleb the man who told the people they could conquer the land because he believed in God and simply “brought word back to him[Moses] as it was in my heart.” (Josh. 14:7).
 
Caleb conquered the city just because it was in the part of the country that the Anakim dwelt (see Josh 14:12). And he did it when he was EIGHTY-FIVE years old!
 
So, if you are keeping score. An 85-year-old man defeated an entire city of Goliaths just because he wanted to prove what he had told everyone when he came back as a spy all those years ago. He waited forty years to give God glory through victory.
 
Before there was David, there was Caleb.
 
Matt. 4:4 #Biblebites

Strong and Courageous

“Just 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.” (Josh. 11:15)
 
Five times the LORD had told Joshua to be “strong and courageous” as He prepared him for leadership. There would be hard and bloody days ahead – days that test men’s souls. Joshua would need to remember he was not alone.
 
And Joshua did. Joshua held the line, fought the battles, and kept the trust with His God. There is no greater eulogy to a life than verse 15: “he left nothing undone of all that the LORD had commanded…”
 
But that was Joshua’s commendation, not the rest of the nation. The rest of the nation would fail to drive out all the pagan tribes – they would leave them as snares and traps for future generations. Joshua was a great leader, but great leadership does not mean everyone would follow.
 
The moral of the story is that we stand alone in our legacy. You have no say in the faithfulness of others. You can’t do anyone else’s job for them, but you can make sure that your tasks are not “left undone”. Don’t wait for others to lead, and certainly don’t wait for others to follow. Go alone if that is what is needed. And so often, that is exactly what is needed.
 
“Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me.” (John 16:32)
 
Matt. 4:4 #Biblebites

Collateral Damage

“The 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.” (Josh 7:5)
 
The defeat of Israel at Ai turned out to be caused by one man. Achan, coveting a gold bar and some other beautiful trinkets from the city of Jericho, had taken them and hid them under his tent; a direct violation of God’s command to utterly destroy Jericho and put all the silver and gold into the treasury of the LORD (Josh 7:20-21).
 
When Achan took the silver and gold all he thought about was that he wanted it. It was beautiful, it was valuable, nobody would get hurt, and nobody would know.
 
That sounds like sound logic if you listen to the quiet selfish whisperings of Satan, but people DID get hurt. Thirty-six men died. Thirty-six families lost their fathers, sons, and husbands. Thirty-six homes had one empty chair at the dinner table after the battle of Ai.
 
When Achan coveted the gold, he never wanted that. He never wanted to hurt anyone… but sin is a bullet; you can’t take it back once you pull the trigger, and unintended consequences and collateral damage are guaranteed.
 
Beware the unintended targets of your sin. You never know whose loved ones it will hurt.
“And that man [Achan] did not perish alone in his iniquity.” (Josh 22:20)
 
#Biblebites Matt. 4:4

The Unknown Factor

“So the men of Israel took some of their [the Gibeonites] provisions, and did not ask for the counsel of the LORD.” (Josh. 9:14)

Just one small step was skipped in making the treaty with the Gibeonites.  Joshua and the other leaders considered God’s laws against making pacts with people in the land, they investigated carefully to the best of their ability the evidence that the Gibeonites were not from the area (i.e. the worn out sandals and the torn wineskins).  Careful consideration was made to the best of their ability to do things right.

But that is the problem: the best of our ability isn’t good enough.  Prepare for the journey all you want – flat tires still happen.   Use all the wisdom in the world before investing your money and the stock market may still crash.  Get a second or third opinion from the best doctors in the world and you still run the risk of the unknown quantity.

The brightest minds in the world still can’t know everything.  So ask counsel of the LORD.  “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thess 5:17).  Be faithful, and inquisitive, and wise in your dealings, but never forget to inquire of God for His help and protection.  A prayerful novice is more blessed than a prideful expert.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. (James 1:5)

#Biblebites Matt. 4:4

Roll Away the Reproach

“Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” (Josh 5:9)
 
The LORD said this to Joshua after the next generation was all circumcised – obeying God’s command that all the males of Israel would be circumcised from eight days old and upward (Gen 17:12). The wicked generation that had wanted to return to Egypt had failed to circumcise their children and left the next generation to do the hard thing once they reached adulthood.
 
And that is true for many things in life. Many times, parents fail their children, leaving them in a spectacular hole. A hole made for them, but their hole to climb out of nonetheless.
 
So, if you come with baggage, and your pedigree is not pure, and you struggle with an imperfect childhood that has left you with painful scars and habits…
 
Or perhaps you are a victim of too much spoiling, so you never learned to work hard. Maybe you deal with the consequences of being told you are the center of the world all the time, so selfishness abounds in your character…
 
Or mayhaps you never learned how to be a husband, wife, father, or mother because your parents gave you a broken home instead of a proper model to follow…
 
Take Joshua’s advice – do what the previous generation didn’t. Roll away the reproach by sculpting your character according to God’s pattern. Do the hard things. Change your family tree.
 
That way, your children can run where you have stumbled.
 
#Biblebites Matt. 4:4

The Immovable Rock

“‘Are you for us or for our adversaries?’ He said, ‘No; rather I indeed come now as captain of the host of the LORD.’” (Josh. 5:13-14)
 
God doesn’t take sides. God is not a respecter of persons (Eph 6:9). When the angelic captain of the LORD’s army spoke with Joshua – he could just as quickly cut down the Israelites as be ready to fight for them. It is not a matter of whose side God is on, it is a matter of whose side we are on.
 
Do we stand by God and fight as His soldiers or do we fight for our comforts and selfish whims? Are our struggles and battles against sin and wickedness? If so, we are on the Lord’s side and His angelic armies fight in the same cause as us. Set your face toward the Son and you are guaranteed to shine brightly in the day of battle – we move to face Him, not the other way around.
 
Beware assuming that God is on your side – the Israelites thought that once and lost the ark to the Philistines (1 Sam 4). Young Saul thought that and found himself rebuked by Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9). Being religious does not make you right, nor does calling yourself a Christian make you faithful.
 
The battle belongs to the Lord (Pr 21:31) – but who do I belong to?
 
#Biblebites Matt. 4:4

When they ask ‘Why?’

“When your children ask their fathers in time to come, ‘What are these stones?’, then you shall inform your children…” (Josh 4:21-22)

When the Israelites crossed over the Jordan river, they set up a monument of stones to commemorate how God caused them to walk on dry ground.  And like all things peculiar, generations of future parents would have their children point and ask, What’s that?!”

Because kids are naturally inquisitive.  They will ask questions.  They will want to know and understand the world their parents are leaving to them.  The questions will come naturally for them, but will you “inform your children”?  Do we have the information in our own minds to teach them why we believe what we believe?  Do we have the patience and the generosity of spirit to provide them with answers to their questions asked at inconvenient times?

Kids ask questions – but not all parents answer them.  Rise to the challenge.  Take the time.  They are our responsibility and the world’s future hope.  Evangelism begins where the home fires burn.

“but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you;” (1 Pet 3:15)

#Biblebites Matt. 4:4

Brain Food

“This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.” (Josh. 1:8)
 
We meditate with the mind, speak with the mouth, and do with our hands. Joshua was told a successful life was dependent on all three of those things. A mind that contemplates God’s word is more likely to speak accurately of life and godliness, and for the honest soul, our words force us to back them up with action. What you think about is what you talk about is what you do.
 
Or more simply put, “As a man thinks in his heart, so he is” (Pr 23:7).
 
Information is brain food and the bread of life is found in the Bible.
 
“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. (Matt. 4:4)
 
#Biblebites Matt. 4:4

Choose Life

“See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity” (Deut. 30:15)
 
Jehovah sets before us life and death – He sets it in front of us, but He never forces it upon us. Is there any doubt which He would choose for us?! The God who made us in His image (Gen 1:26), calls us His children (1 Jn 3:1), sent His Son for our transgressions (Jhn 3:16), and prepared heavenly mansions for us (Jhn 14:2) certainly wants life and prosperity for us.
 
But He will only set it before us because you are made to choose. The glorious power of freewill is so sacred that even God Himself will not remove it. Every day people choose. We choose to seek wisdom like the Queen of Sheba or we choose to suppress truth. We choose to glory in tribulations or we allow our suffering to embitter us. We choose to recreate the failings of those who have gone before us or we choose to change our family tree.
 
Our choices define us – even if those choices are to do nothing. Nothing is a choice, too (Jas 4:17). You cannot control your circumstances, but you can control your own spirit.
 
“And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15)
 
#Biblebites Matt. 4:4