Thursday, August 16, 2018

EmmDev 2018-08-16 [Celebrating Creation] Ex Nihilo #2


Ex Nihilo #2

Yesterday we saw that the Latin phrase "ex nihilo" means "out of nothing." The idea of "Creation ex nihilo" is not only found in Genesis, but the writer of the letter to the Hebrews talks about this idea too.

Human beings can transform things: we take ore and make jewellery, we take clay and make pots, we cut down trees and make furniture. We can transform, but we can't create "ex nihilo".   The passage makes it clear: The universe was not "made" (the greek implies "generated" or "born") out of anything seen. The only building block was the command or will of God. (Hold on to this thought...)

Look around you. Look at the awesome beauty of creation, the abundance of variety and the vastness of space. The scientists tell us that the universe is still expanding. That's not transformation, that's creation.

I often hold my hand in front of my face and take my fingers through the various grips, gestures and movements that they are capable of. I think of touching my newborn son with these hands and thrusting these hands towards the tarmac to protect my face when I took a fall off my bicycle. I think of the fingerprints on each finger and the way each finger helps me type this dev and I know that I am looking at a miracle.

I look at all the vastness and majesty in creation and I feel faith rise up in me. When I contemplate creation with open eyes and a ready heart, faith springs up in me.

All that I see around me wasn't transformed. It was not made out of what was visible. It takes too much faith to believe that this was all by accident. It's more obvious and explicable to believe in a Creator.

Creation is too big, too magnificent: I can't figure it out - I can't understand by myself. But by faith I look and by faith I see not only creatION but I see the CreatOR. And then I understand.

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for. 3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.      (Hebrews11:1-3)


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Wednesday, August 15, 2018

EmmDev 2018-08-15 [Celebrating Creation] Ex Nihilo

Celebrating Creation

Ex Nihilo

Here in the Southern Hemisphere, Spring is beginning to unfold (the photo is of some cabbage plants in my garden) and so I thought we could spend a bit of time on the doctrine of Creation. We'll look at the accounts of creation, some of the principles of creation, what creation teaches us and what our responsibilities around creation are. (Some of this material is re-worked from a series I did on Genesis 1 & 2 five years ago, but I'll be digging quite a bit deeper.)
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The Hebrew word that is used for "created" is "bara". The scholars tell us that this implies creation out of nothing. When we take clay and make a pot we merely transforming while God created.

It is significant that God created "Ex Nihilo" (out of nothing). It makes it clear that EVERYTHING comes from Him. Some would go as far as saying that if God was all there was, then He made space in Himself to create.

This speaks of God's greatness and uniqueness.

The humorous story is told that some scientists found a way to create life...
They triumphantly called a meeting with God and said:
"Well God, we're now able to create life - we don't need you anymore"
God answered: "Oh really? Show me..."
So the scientists got their test tubes and particle accelerators ready and said "OK so we start with some dirt and we put it into..."
And God interrupted and said: "Uh uh - you make your own dirt...!"

At first there was nothing but God, and then He created - out of nothing.

Take some time today to drink in the beauty of creation and recognise that all this majesty and beauty began in the mind of God and then He called it into being out of nothing. We, us, the world, and the cosmos, are the imagination of God become reality! He thought of the bonds between protons in the atom and poured the power in to make it possible. He designed quarks and He pictured the majesty of the cosmic nebula. He imagined a mother's love, the joy of laughter and the beauty of music and art - all squeezed into a fragile human soul. He didn't pick from a catalogue or work from a recipe. He imagined all of this and then made it happen!

What a great and awesome God!

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
3 And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light "day," and the darkness he called "night." And there was evening, and there was morning--the first day.       (Genesis1:1-5)


Friday, August 10, 2018

EmmDev 2018-08-10 [Faith among grasshopper hearts] Remember! (X7)


Remember! (X7)

After Joshua makes the wonderful declaration: "As for me an my house, we will serve the Lord." The Israelites respond with great enthusiasm. They declare that they will follow the Lord too. Joshua warns them not to commit rashly or lightly: He challenges them in the negative: "You're not able to serve the Lord - He's holy and you're not... Will your faith persevere?"

It's an important question.

The Israelites are positive. They believe they can. Joshua's response is to build another memorial - another reminder that they should be faithful to God.

The ESV Study Bible notes that there are seven of these stone "memorials" in the book of Joshua:

  1. When they cross the Jordan and commit themselves to the Lord through circumcision (4:20)
  2. Over the body Achan who sinned against the Lord - a reminder that obedience is better than sacrifice (7:26)
  3. Over the King of Ai (The only king to ever defeat them) A sober reminder about the disaster that a wrong turn can bring but also the wonder of a second chance. (8:28-29)
  4. When Joshua reviews the Law(8:30-32)
  5. Over the five Amorite Kings that they defeated when God made the sun stand still. (10:27)
  6. A covenant of loyalty with the the tribes on the East of the Jordan. (22:34)
  7. And here with covenant renewal (24:26-27)

We easily forget the major milestones, lessons and rescues that God performs in our lives. Recently a friend took us out to lunch to celebrate his spiritual birthday - the day he gave his life to the Lord. It was profound and beautiful to share that moment with him.

Here's your homework challenge after you've read this last passage in our Joshua series: Can you write down seven key moments in your life where God did something profound in your life or where you learned an important lesson?

Maybe you can share your list (or parts of it) with those who shared those moments with you.

We're told that the remainder of Joshua's generation remained faithful to the Lord. May this be true of us!

On that day Joshua made a covenant for the people, and there at Shechem he drew up for them decrees and laws. 26 And Joshua recorded these things in the Book of the Law of God. Then he took a large stone and set it up there under the oak near the holy place of the LORD.
27 "See!" he said to all the people. "This stone will be a witness against us. It has heard all the words the LORD has said to us. It will be a witness against you if you are untrue to your God."
28 Then Joshua sent the people away, each to his own inheritance.
29 After these things, Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died at the age of a hundred and ten. 30 And they buried him in the land of his inheritance, at Timnath Serah in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash.
31 Israel served the LORD throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who had experienced everything the LORD had done for Israel.      (Joshua24:25-31)

This brings us to the end of our series on Joshua. Hope you've found it very meaningful! I'll take a break for a day or two before starting the next series. Any suggestions for the next series?
God bless, Theo

EmmDev 2018-08-10 [Faith among grasshopper hearts] Remember! (X7)


Remember! (X7)

After Joshua makes the wonderful declaration: "As for me an my house, we will serve the Lord." The Israelites respond with great enthusiasm. They declare that they will follow the Lord too. Joshua warns them not to commit rashly or lightly: He challenges them in the negative: "You're not able to serve the Lord - He's holy and you're not... Will your faith persevere?"

It's an important question.

The Israelites are positive. They believe they can. Joshua's response is to build another memorial - another reminder that they are should be faithful to God.

The ESV Study Bible notes that there are seven of these stone "memorials" in the book of Joshua:

  1. When they cross the Jordan and commit themselves to the Lord through circumcision (4:20)
  2. Over the body Achan who sinned against the Lord - a reminder that obedience is better than sacrifice (7:26)
  3. Over the King of Ai (The only king to ever defeat them) A sober reminder about the disaster that a wrong turn can bring but also the wonder of a second chance. (8:28-29)
  4. When Joshua reviews the Law(8:30-32)
  5. Over the five Amorite Kings that they defeated when God made the sun stand still. (10:27)
  6. A covenant of loyalty with the the tribes on the East of the Jordan. (22:34)
  7. And here with covenant renewal (24:26-27)

We easily forget the major milestones, lessons and rescues that God performs in our lives. Recently a friend took us out to lunch to celebrate his spiritual birthday - the day he gave his life to the Lord. It was profound and beautiful to share that moment with him.

Here's your homework challenge after you've read this last passage in our Joshua series:Can you write down seven key moments in your life where God did something profound in your life or where you learned an important lesson?

Maybe you can share your list (or parts of it) with those who shared those moments with you.

We're told that the remainder of Joshua's generation remained faithful to the Lord. May this be true of us!

On that day Joshua made a covenant for the people, and there at Shechem he drew up for them decrees and laws. 26 And Joshua recorded these things in the Book of the Law of God. Then he took a large stone and set it up there under the oak near the holy place of the LORD.
27 "See!" he said to all the people. "This stone will be a witness against us. It has heard all the words the LORD has said to us. It will be a witness against you if you are untrue to your God."
28 Then Joshua sent the people away, each to his own inheritance.
29 After these things, Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died at the age of a hundred and ten. 30 And they buried him in the land of his inheritance, at Timnath Serah in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash.
31 Israel served the LORD throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who had experienced everything the LORD had done for Israel.      (Joshua24:25-31)

This brings us to the end of our series on Joshua. Hope you've found it very meaningful! I'll take a break for a day or two before starting the next series. Any suggestions for the next series?
God bless, Theo

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

EmmDev 2018-08-08 [Faith among grasshopper hearts] As for me and my house


As for me and my house

We're at the end of the book of Joshua and reading Joshua's last sermon. They have settled in the land and defeated their enemies. The warriors from tribes that lived East of the Jordan have returned to their home towns and Joshua has advanced in years. He gathers the people together for one last "team talk".

In this beautiful passage Joshua does three things:

  1. He recounts the important moments of their history
  2. He names some of the role-players
  3. He calls the people to re-commitment

1. As he recounts their history he talks about Abraham coming to faith from worshipping other gods. He talks about God's covenant with Abraham and their bondage in Egypt. He remembers the Exodus as well as the wilderness years but draws attention to the bounty they now experience through God's grace and kindness.

Can you remember when you were saved? When you turned to God amidst all the other gods? Can you remember when God saved you from enemies and fed you in the wilderness? What about the bountiful (and mostly undeserved) life that you enjoy now? Have you given thanks? Have you honoured your Saviour, Deliverer, Provider and Blesser? Take a moment to do it now....

2. Joshua names a number of people. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron and even Baalam. We could do an in-depth study on each of these:
Abraham was a pioneer, but sometimes tried to do God's work his (Abraham's) way.
Isaac was quiet and in the background.
Jacob was a fixer - a manipulator - a schemer.
Moses doubted himself and sometimes led timidly.
Aaron made the golden calf because he was afraid of the people.
Baalam set out to curse God's people, but a talking donkey changed his mind.
The point is, no matter who we are, God can use us.

3. Joshua calls the people to re-commit. Joshua knew that the people's commitment would wane. He calls them to remain true to the Lord and creates a moment of rededication and re-commitment.
In essence he is is asking them for four things:

  1. Fear the Lord. The Hebrew Word for "fear" spans the semantic spectrum of awe and wonder on one side (that we tremble at His greatness and holiness) to being afraid to let go of Him on on the other side because we have realised that we are nothing without Him.
  2. Cast aside all foreign gods. Today our foreign gods are not baals and asherah poles, but wrong priorities, materialism, societal acceptance and such like. We easily get drawn in by these foreign gods.
  3. Choose this day. This is not the first time Joshua has asked the people to remember or choose for God. Following God is not a once-off, been-there-done-that-got-the-Tshirt affair, but an ongoing journey where we must regularly, if not daily, turn our wayward hearts back toward the Father's house.
  4. Do it with your family. Joshua talks about "me and my house." This gives us the challenge of keeping our family in the faith. We should do whatever we can to keep our families together and close to God.

Read this beautiful passage below and take time to re-commit yourself in these four dimensions...

Then Joshua assembled all the tribes of Israel at Shechem. He summoned the elders, leaders, judges and officials of Israel, and they presented themselves before God.
2 Joshua said to all the people, "This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: 'Long ago your forefathers, including Terah the father of Abraham and Nahor, lived beyond the River and worshiped other gods. 3 But I took your father Abraham from the land beyond the River and led him throughout Canaan and gave him many descendants. I gave him Isaac, 4 and to Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau. I assigned the hill country of Seir to Esau, but Jacob and his sons went down to Egypt.
5 " 'Then I sent Moses and Aaron, and I afflicted the Egyptians by what I did there, and I brought you out. 6 When I brought your fathers out of Egypt, you came to the sea, and the Egyptians pursued them with chariots and horsemen as far as the Red Sea. 7 But they cried to the LORD for help, and he put darkness between you and the Egyptians; he brought the sea over them and covered them. You saw with your own eyes what I did to the Egyptians. Then you lived in the desert for a long time.
8 "'I brought you to the land of the Amorites who lived east of the Jordan. They fought against you, but I gave them into your hands. I destroyed them from before you, and you took possession of their land. 9 When Balak son of Zippor, the king of Moab, prepared to fight against Israel, he sent for Balaam son of Beor to put a curse on you. 10 But I would not listen to Balaam, so he blessed you again and again, and I delivered you out of his hand.
11 " 'Then you crossed the Jordan and came to Jericho. The citizens of Jericho fought against you, as did also the Amorites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hittites, Girgashites, Hivites and Jebusites, but I gave them into your hands. 12 I sent the hornet ahead of you, which drove them out before you--also the two Amorite kings. You did not do it with your own sword and bow. 13 So I gave you a land on which you did not toil and cities you did not build; and you live in them and eat from vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant.'
14 "Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. 15 But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD."      (Joshua24:1-15)

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

EmmDev 2018-08-07 [Faith among grasshopper hearts] 85!


85!

After the conquest of the Southern powers when the sun stood still, the book of Joshua lists the conquests of the enemies in the North and then begins to explain how the land was distributed among the Israelites.

In the midst of these practical arrangements, we find the lovely story of Caleb... When the twelve spies went to check out the land 45 years previously, ten of the spies were fearful and pessimistic. It was only Joshua and Caleb who believed that God could help them overcome their enemies. Caleb was 40 years old then, he is 85 now.

One would think that Caleb would feel vindicated, but entitled. He could have sat back and said: "I knew God would be give us the land, now please give me a nice farm with a porch and a rocking chair."

But not Caleb! He is ready to claim and act on God's promises. He is filled with fire. He doesn't feel entitled, he is still ready to play his part. He is still vigorous and faith-full and asks Joshua to give him the hill country where the Anakites were. (The Anakites were reputed to be giants - the forefathers of the Goliath).

Now hill country is dangerous even when there aren't giants - whoever has the high ground has the advantage and whoever knows where the caves and gulleys are has the element of surprise. But Caleb is undaunted - he trusts God to give him victory over the enemy.

And so Joshua blesses Caleb who then achieves what he set out to do because he followed the Lord wholeheartedly.

Many people in their fifties think their best years are behind them. Caleb at 85 paints a different picture. May we also be faith-full and wholehearted at 45, 55, 65, 75 and 85 and beyond!

Read the passage below to enjoy Caleb's feisty faith.

Now the men of Judah approached Joshua at Gilgal, and Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him, "You know what the LORD said to Moses the man of God at Kadesh Barnea about you and me. 7 I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadesh Barnea to explore the land. And I brought him back a report according to my convictions, 8 but my brothers who went up with me made the hearts of the people melt with fear. I, however, followed the LORD my God wholeheartedly. 9 So on that day Moses swore to me, 'The land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance and that of your children forever, because you have followed the LORD my God wholeheartedly.'
10 "Now then, just as the LORD promised, he has kept me alive for forty-five years since the time he said this to Moses, while Israel moved about in the desert. So here I am today, eighty-five years old! 11 I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I'm just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. 12 Now give me this hill country that the LORD promised me that day. You yourself heard then that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the LORD helping me, I will drive them out just as he said."
13 Then Joshua blessed Caleb son of Jephunneh and gave him Hebron as his inheritance. 14 So Hebron has belonged to Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite ever since, because he followed the LORD, the God of Israel, wholeheartedly.      (Joshua14:6-14)

Friday, August 3, 2018

EmmDev 2018-08-03 [Faith among grasshopper hearts] Sun! Stand still!


Sun! Stand still!

What can God do?
What
can't God do?

Various commentators try to explain what happened on the day of Joshua's battle against the Amorites. The text is plain: A man named Joshua, in the heat of a battle he was winning against dangerous enemies, asks God to make the sun stand still so that there would be sufficient daylight to complete the battle and bring it to definitive conclusion.

The explanations are interesting: Some suggest that this is just poetic language indicating that the victory was so significant that it was as if time slowed down and the day felt unusually long. Others suggest that the original Hebrew could be interpreted to be describing an eclipse in which the moon partially obscured the sun so that the sun looked like a ring of fire. Another view is that there were clouds on the horizon which refracted the light of the setting sun to the extent that it made the day longer.

While each of these explanations is interesting, the simple question remains: "If God could create to entire universe by saying 'Let there be light!' and if He can make dead cells start to live again when He raised Jesus from the dead, then is this too hard for Him?" Is there anything too hard for God?

Now I won't be going to war over this issue and I won't push the story about NASA scientists who put the orbits of the sun and planets into a computer simulation and found a missing day when they ran the simulation backwards (This story is an unfortunate fabrication that has been around since the 1980's)

BUT what I am perfectly happy to believe is that God can and could have changed the earth's rotation speed so that the day was longer. My small brain and our limited understanding of the laws of physics and astrophysics are boggled by this, but we are talking about the One who created these laws....

So, whether it was poetry, eclipse, refraction or a miracle on a planetary scale, I really, really, really believe that God met Joshua and his troops on the battlefield and they experienced His might and power.

On the day the LORD gave the Amorites over to Israel, Joshua said to the LORD in the presence of Israel:
"O sun, stand still over Gibeon,
O moon, over the Valley of Aijalon."
13 So the sun stood still,
and the moon stopped,
till the nation avenged itself on its enemies, as it is written in the Book of Jashar.
The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day. 14 There has never been a day like it before or since, a day when the LORD listened to a man. Surely the LORD was fighting for Israel!
      (Joshua10:12-14)

Thursday, August 2, 2018

EmmDev 2018-08-02 [Faith among grasshopper hearts] God brings good out of brokeness. #2


God brings good out of brokeness. #2

Yesterday we saw how the Gibeonites deceived Israel. They were actually a nearby city and had strong warriors, but they secured a treaty with Israelites (by deception) because they feared Israel's God. Joshua and the leaders were duped because they didn't consult the Lord, but they had to keep to the terms of the treaty.

Ironically, the treaty between Israel and Gibeon posed a threat to the other five cities in the Southern part of the Promised Land who then formed a coalition and attacked Gibeon. Joshua was called to honour the treaty with the Gibeonites and God honoured Joshua and marched into battle with them. Our text tells how God rained hailstones on their five enemies and later we read that God even made the sun stand still so that the victory over their enemies could be complete.

The Gibeonites were deceptive and Joshua hadn't consulted God, but as they acknowledge their failures, God, in his mercy, brings good out of brokenness. (There is this beautiful moment where the Gibeonites explain their fearful faith to Joshua and surrender themselves: "They answered Joshua, "So we feared for our lives because of you, and that is why we did this. We are now in your hands. Do to us whatever seems good and right to you." (Josh 9:24-25))

There are times when we rush ahead of God and times we act out of fear, but God's Providence isn't frustrated by our brokenness. The beautiful thing that happens here is how God uses the Gibeonite deception and resulting treaty to accomplish His purposes.

Joshua could have faced six battles: One with the Gibeonites and then with each of the five cities in the South of Palestine. Although the Gibeonites duped them, the duplicity led to the five city coalition and Joshua fights one battle instead of six and God fights for him. And now, in one event, the South of Palestine has been conquered.

In His great mercy, God uses brokenness and brings about good!

Then the five kings of the Amorites--the kings of Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish and Eglon--joined forces. They moved up with all their troops and took up positions against Gibeon and attacked it.
6 The Gibeonites then sent word to Joshua in the camp at Gilgal: "Do not abandon your servants. Come up to us quickly and save us! Help us, because all the Amorite kings from the hill country have joined forces against us."
7 So Joshua marched up from Gilgal with his entire army, including all the best fighting men. 8 The LORD said to Joshua, "Do not be afraid of them; I have given them into your hand. Not one of them will be able to withstand you."
9 After an all-night march from Gilgal, Joshua took them by surprise. 10 The LORD threw them into confusion before Israel, who defeated them in a great victory at Gibeon. Israel pursued them along the road going up to Beth Horon and cut them down all the way to Azekah and Makkedah. 11 As they fled before Israel on the road down from Beth Horon to Azekah, the LORD hurled large hailstones down on them from the sky, and more of them died from the hailstones than were killed by the swords of the Israelites.      (Joshua10:5-11)

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

EmmDev 2018-08-01 [Faith among grasshopper hearts] God brings good out of brokeness. #1

(apologies for missed devotions yesterday and Friday... )

God brings good out of brokeness. #1

Our passage for today starts a chain of events and raises some very interesting questions but also some amazing insights. It's about the people of the city of Gibeon who deceive Joshua and the Israelites by pretending that they have come from a far-away land to make a peace treaty with the Israelites.

God had instructed the Israelites NOT to make treaties with the people of the land, but to destroy them, lest the people of the land tempt them into idolatry and the worship of false gods. (See Deut.7:1-5)

The ESV Study Bible points out that Israel's 'bending of the rules' with Rahab of Jericho and now the Gibeonites, could be justified because both groups express faith in the power of Israel's God and submit to Israel.

But the Gibeonite story is more complicated because they deceived the Israelites into thinking that they were from a far-away land. The deception is described in detail: worn out sacks and wine-skins with stale bread and cracked sandals. They present themselves a minor threat. There is an important lesson here: Things are seldom as they seem...

While we should not be negative and cynical about others, we should also not be too naive. The secret to getting the right balance between cynicism and naivety is to do what the Israelites didn't do, which was to ask God for guidance.

The Israelites enter into a treaty with the Gibeonites and when the ruse is revealed, the Gibeonites once again declare their faith in the power of God, and submit to a future of servanthood to Israel - they become "woodcutters and water-bearers" for the Israelites, but, in a divine 'twist of fate' they have the honour of providing wood and water for the tabernacle and the temple - a very elevated status for servants.

The Gibeon treaty sets off a fascinating chain of events which we'll look at tomorrow.

The three important lessons from today's reading are:

  • There will always be deceptive people in the world.
  • It's vital to listen to God when we make important decisions
  • God can use our mistakes and a little bit of faith and bring about great good (we'll see this more clearly tomorrow.)

However, when the people of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai, 4 they resorted to a ruse: They went as a delegation whose donkeys were loaded with worn-out sacks and old wineskins, cracked and mended. 5 The men put worn and patched sandals on their feet and wore old clothes. All the bread of their food supply was dry and moldy. 6 Then they went to Joshua in the camp at Gilgal and said to him and the men of Israel, "We have come from a distant country; make a treaty with us."
7 The men of Israel said to the Hivites, "But perhaps you live near us. How then can we make a treaty with you?"
8 "We are your servants," they said to Joshua.
But Joshua asked, "Who are you and where do you come from?"
9 They answered: "Your servants have come from a very distant country because of the fame of the LORD your God. For we have heard reports of him: all that he did in Egypt, 10 and all that he did to the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan--Sihon king of Heshbon, and Og king of Bashan, who reigned in Ashtaroth. 11 And our elders and all those living in our country said to us, 'Take provisions for your journey; go and meet them and say to them, "We are your servants; make a treaty with us." ' 12 This bread of ours was warm when we packed it at home on the day we left to come to you. But now see how dry and mouldy it is. 13 And these wineskins that we filled were new, but see how cracked they are. And our clothes and sandals are worn out by the very long journey."
14 The men of Israel sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the LORD. 15 Then Joshua made a treaty of peace with them to let them live, and the leaders of the assembly ratified it by oath.      (Joshua9:3-14)

Thursday, July 26, 2018

EmmDev 2018-07-26 [Faith among grasshopper hearts] Re-commitment


Re-commitment

After He had addressed Joshua's petulance and revealed Achan's breaking of the covenant, the Lord gave Joshua instructions for the defeat of Ai. After Ai was defeated, Joshua gathered the people together for a covenant renewal.

It is a rich and beautiful passage that describes how Joshua gathers the people, builds an altar and inscribes the law on two standing stones in commemoration of the original giving of the Law to Moses.
Then he reads the law to the people again...

This covenant renewal is important. Joshua has learnt the tough lesson that success can go to our heads and we can charge headlong into failure. They had succeeded at Jericho because they had been completely dependant on God. They failed at Ai, because they had been presumptuous - they had assumed that God would bless their plans.

The covenant renewal was a reminder that their relationship with God was like walking on a pathway - it was all too easy to reach a fork in the path and choose the wrong path. And there were consequences to taking the wrong path...

Joshua's leadership is marked by these moments of commitment and rededication: Circumcision at Gilgal, the heap of stones at the Jordan, this covenant renewal and the one we see at the end of the book in ch 24 to mention a few.

Joshua realised a great truth: We need to be re-minded (things need to be brought to the front of our minds again) We need to re-dedicate ourselves. We need to re-commit. We have to re-fill our tanks, not only because of the mileage we do, but because we have leaks.

Brenda's mom used to put in little bits of petrol at a time. Then, one day, she filled the tank completely only to discover that the top of the tank had rusted and the petrol came spilling out. This is why moments of re-commitment are really important. They remind us what full tanks feel like and they sometimes show us where the unrealised leaks are.

When last did you do a full re-commitment?

Afterward, Joshua read all the words of the law--the blessings and the curses--just as it is written in the Book of the Law. 35 There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded that Joshua did not read to the whole assembly of Israel, including the women and children, and the aliens who lived among them.      (Joshua8:34-35)