February 13, 2022

Joshua: Rise, Take the Land

Speaker: David Jordan Series: Journey Through the Bible Scripture: Joshua 1:1– 24:33

Download the Joshua Bible Journal Outline

Open your Bibles if you would, to the book of Joshua. I'm preaching a series through the entire Bible. Not the entire Bible, today. But just Joshua, today.

What a blessing it's been to start preaching one book at a time. I know you're used to me preaching and whoever's in this pulpit preaching through verse by verse and line by line and precept by precept as it goes. But it's been good to just get a bird's eye view.

In January, we've beheld the wondrous things of God. We thought about his character. We thought about his love, and his faithfulness. We've watched his people be devoted to him with their whole heart, and at times, turn aside to pursue other gods. Even as they're marching in the wilderness, they would at times, carry with them, pagan idols, and hide them in their tents and worship them, as though God doesn't see. Yet we've seen forgiveness, mixed in with blessings and mercy. And yet God, as we've learned, will, by no means, let the guilty go unpunished.

And we're starting to form an idea of God in Scripture, that is, it's powerful, he's potent, he's not to be messed with, and yet he is also the most compassionate, loving Person one could ever know. The Bible has shown the grandeur of man and worship to a holy God. The Bible has shown forgiveness and what atonement has looked like in the Old Testament with these sacrifices, one after the other, that continually set aside the wrath of God. And over and over again, we've seen how there must be a better way. There must be a better way than just the blood of bulls and goats. And God is cultivating within his people and within the people of the earth. Right, as we've seen Gentiles come to faith already. Right? We've seen God cultivate this longing for a permanent solution, as you know, that comes in the form of Jesus Christ, who came to the earth. God in flesh, incarnate, to live a perfect life and die on the cross, to pay for sin once for all, that you and I might have the wrath of God set aside in a relationship with him, ushered in.

Today, as we come to the book of Joshua, it's a turning point for the people of Israel. You're going to see some amazing things in Joshua. If you haven't read it already, I'd encourage you to read through it a little bit this week. Some startling things, as you know, seeing a prostitute who becomes an example of obedient faith and mentioned in the halls of faith, that we call it, in Hebrews. We see a story about the sun and moon standing still. So that a war could be won. We see the people of Israel fight for the Gibeonites. Remember the Gibeonites? They were those who acted like they were from a far land and they came and they said, “Oh were from far away. We've heard of the greatness of your God, please spare our lives. So they made a pact never to hurt the Gibeonites and then find out they lied to them. But because they've made a commitment to God, they even go to war on behalf of the Gibeonites. My word is my word, right?

The Israelites had some amazing qualities about them. We see some things happen that are just astounding and miraculous one of them being that at times, when they fought against the Amorite kings, God would send hornets in before the people so that they would know without a doubt, not using bow or sword even, that God fought for them. And so we see that in Joshua. I mean how many millions and millions of hornets to go in. And over and over again, the people have to come up with an answer for the question of, “What does God require of me?”

In chapters one to twelve, if you look in your Bible outline journals there, you'll see a section headings. One to twelve is basically Joshua leading the people in to finally take the Promise Land. And the land that is west of the Jordan and a couple of tribes like lands east of the Jordan River, you can look at some maps back there on the table, it'll show not only how they got out of Exodus, but it'll show where the regions were for each tribe. It'll tell you the land that is still yet to be conquered, even by the time we get to the end of Joshua.

In chapters thirteen to twenty-four, in large part, are just a distribution of the land. You think what's so significant about that? Do we really need to see where the boundaries are for all these tribes, but remember, they were just in slavery for 400, and some years. And now God is giving to them what he has promised, and we see that God is faithful. And you can see, right, the people of Israel are still there, they still don't own all the land that they were promised. You look in the surrounding countries, that own land that was promised to the Israelites that you can see in this book. And so it's pertinent even for us today to kind of understand God and his promises.

But we come to this moment in time, in the book of Joshua, it's a moment of decision. And it's monumental for them not only in that time, but for their history as a people. And it's that question I mentioned, what does God want from me? What does God require of me? After hearing the first five books of the Bible, Genesis through Deuteronomy, the books of the law, the Torah, as it's called, well, how would you answer that question? What would you say? Well, in no uncertain terms, today, we're going to answer that question. And the principles and the things that God required of the Israelites, some of them were specific only to them. But many of them are timeless, and they're there for all of God's people to, to put into practice.

So let me set this up a little bit for you. The people of Israel have wandered around in the wilderness, the first generation has died. Right, it took 38 years. We call that the longest funeral march in history. And now there children, who are grown up, some of them are older. Joshua and Caleb are really old. Joshua was probably around 78 and Caleb a little older. Those were the two who originally spied out the promised land and the only two who gave a good report. So now here they are, on the east side of the Jordan River. Looking across to Jericho, the Dead Sea is south of them. The desert is to the east of them. It's a natural barrier that no army crosses. And Joshua is now the leader of the people. He's about the same age as Moses when Moses went to deliver the people from Egypt. So God tells him, exactly what he requires.

Look in Joshua chapter one, verses one to two. This is out of the ESV, and the point here is, this is the call. This is the call, [Joshua 1:1-3] “After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD said to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, “Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses.”

The call for the people at this point is unequivocally, “Rise and take the land!” Would they be like their parents and say, “Sorry, the walls are too big, the people are giants, were like grasshoppers in their sight”? Would they just fall away and melt away because of the pressure? Would they not have the courage to take a stand for God? Right? God says, “Go to war!” It's pretty clear. Pretty clear. Joshua 1:5, “No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life…” That's a big, bold promise. “… Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you” says God, speaking to Joshua, the commander of all of these people.

They had witnessed the power of God in the wilderness. God said, “this generation will not enter the promised land.” So he sends them back for 38 years to wander around some more. But they see God. They see the pillar of cloud. This generation, the second generation, saw the fire, they saw the glory of God. And when their parents would come against Moses, because they didn't like him. They didn't like his rules and his ways, as though he made them up himself. They saw the glory of God even descend between them. In between Moses, and God himself protected Moses. So in their minds they are probably thinking, “Is this the kind of God we can trust? Is this the kind of God that we're all in with?”

See you and I tend to think of trusting God in very small ways, most of the time. Very small ways compared to this. We think of maybe having a good day. “Dear God, please give me a good day today.” Right? I mean, what day has passed since we all haven't said that? Or, “Lord God, please give me a good night's sleep tonight.” I'm on my nice bed, and my nice pillow, with my nice blankets, in my warm house. Unless you're in the country and your electricity goes out. “Lord, make the generator work.”

Right? These are the kinds of things that come to our mind most the time. Or, “Lord, help me with this persnickety person at work.” Right? “Lord God, help me with my neighbor. Please move them!” Right? I've prayed. Maybe this is too much of a confession. I pray that some pastors would just move on. “Lord God, they’re preaching heresy, move them on.” But God has taken it up a notch. He saying, “Get up and go in. Take the land and see the wondrous work of God.”

You see, without following God, we just are stuck on one side of the Jordan River, always pondering the work of God but never knowing it. God tells Joshua and verse six [Joshua 1:6], “Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them.” God doesn't leave any options. If you go in, I will give it to you. If you go in, no one will stand before you all the days of your life. Not a single army, not a single king, not a single city, not a single nation. No one! All you have to do is trust me to go into the land. Courage, yes, large doses of courage, it takes courage to follow God. But there's more needed than just bravery. That's not all God is asking for.

Look in verse seven, so still his call to Joshua. It's a full, robust call. Chapter one, verse seven [Joshua 1:7], “Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go.” That is a great verse to take out of context and write a song with, isn't it? “Lord, win my battles. Lord give me success. You say it right sit there, Lord, I'm gonna have good success wherever I go, No one shall stand against me.” Right? And later in the Old Testament, “Conquer my Goliath’s dear God.” And all these things and right? Please rid the earth of those songs. They're so bad. Right? This is God, speaking to Joshua saying, “When you enter the Promise Land that I've promised to you, I'm going to give it to you. And wherever you go, you're going to find success.” That is not a timeless principle for us to all try and to put into practice.

But we are called to follow God. We don't want to be always pondering the truth of who God is, and never truly following. God explains further in verse eight, just what he's calling them to do. Verses eight to nine [Joshua 1:8-9],“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 good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

Some basic commands, right, that we are supposed to follow as well. Know God, know the Word. Right? Speak the Word. It shall be on your lips, it shall be in your mouth, right? Speak the Word to one another, follow God all of your days. Those are timeless principles that we can always put into practice. But the problem is that a lot of a lot of people, a lot of churches, a lot of cultures that just call themselves religious groups, or are spiritually minded. They don't live that way. I remember in Los Angeles, witnessing there in Burbank and talking to this guy and he just [was saying], “Yeah, we're all just part of energy.” Right, swirling around. Well this piece of energy has a brain too, we need to think about this. Right? We need to think about, what has God's specifically required? And we need to know and digest the Word in such a way that we're like the Scripture says, careful, very careful to do all that is written in it. That means you're supposed to know all of it. That's why I'm preaching this series to whet your appetite for all of God's Word.

Christians who aren't careful to follow the Word are like soldiers with Nerf guns. Right? Not effective and easily defeated. If you feel like you're not effective, and you're easily defeated in life, then feast on the Word of God. If you want to be strong in the Lord, meditate on it, that just means to think about it. Consider it, take time to do that in your everyday lives, and apply it to your heart. And the good news is, as we've seen, the Israelites [haven’t done] this over and over again. But now this is their moment. This is where they start to do what God wants them to do, wholeheartedly. They finally get it.

This is the second point, we're going to speed up here a little bit because we have 24 chapters to cover. Just kidding, we're not covering all 24. And the second half is just, who gets what in the land. So now it's time for action though. And as you think about this, I just want you to think about your own life. And I want you to consider what has God called you to do. What has God called you to be, in life? Because you and I we live out our call every day and we live out who we truly are, every day. But what has God called you to be?
So chapter two. Alright, I'm just gonna overview this. So they send out spies across the Jordan River to Jericho. And you can look up pictures of Jericho and lots of archeological digs and find out lots of interesting information about that. You can look at it on Google Earth and spin around and see what it all looks like. It's very fascinating. It's like a mound of dirt now with rocks underneath right but when they sent the spies across it was this city, the oldest city on Earth we think. With walls all the way around it, and very high walls, probably double sets of walls, built on a hill. So you see this giant wall, staring at you and the land is flat, there's no way to come down on to it. Right? The Dead Sea, it's one of the lowest places on Earth, we think it's the lowest city of sea level, anyway on Earth. And so you see this wall, right, it's protected. And then beyond that, is another wall.

There's two sets of walls surrounding the city, before you even try and go in and take it. And on the outer part of the wall would be the poor people, that's where you would live if you couldn't afford the nice house inside the double set of walls, in the middle of the city. Maybe you didn't have a lot of money, so you lived on the outside. That's where Rahab was. She was on the outer part of the wall, the house probably built right into the wall, it was that wide and thick. So they sent spies and prepared for war. And this second point, it’s time for action.

Rahab is a prostitute and, and yet God uses her to protect all of the people, to protect the spies even. See, God is not as sanitary as we are. His idea of the heart of a person overrides the things that they have done and Rahab becomes this great example of obedience, when faced with the decision of do I follow God or not? Even in that stage of life. So Joshua is before all the people in chapter three, verse five [Joshua 3:5], “Then Joshua said to the people, ‘Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you.’” That L-O-R-D- is Yahweh in the Old Testament. “Yahweh will do wonders among you.”

Chapters three and four largely cover the preparation and the crossing of the river. The people of Israel and there's 40,000 men armed for war, and they cross over. And they do so in miraculous fashion. Chapter three, verses 15 to 16 [Joshua 3:15-16], “and as soon as those bearing the ark had come as far as the Jordan, and the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the brink of the water (now the Jordan overflows all its banks throughout the time of harvest), the waters coming down from above stood and rose up in a heap very far away, at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan, and those flowing down toward the Sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, were completely cut off. And the people passed over opposite Jericho.”

And you think, “God's done this before, right?” He parted the Red Sea and they all came through and now he's parting, the Jordan River, this great name of this river, he's partying that and they all get to go over on dry land. But notice that they had to step in the water before the water parted. And I love this. It's a great preaching point, the Scripture doesn't make a big deal of this at all. But notice that they had to be obedient in their faith before they saw the wonder of God. “God, can't you just like, you know, zap them ahead of time as we go towards cities, you know, just send down lots of lightning and, you know, fire and brimstone?” He's going to do that later, right? “Can't you just keep doing that? I mean that would be so much easier.” But when life is easy, you learn little about God. Except maybe how gracious he is and how kind he is. But when they put their soles of their feet in the water then… can you imagine just the sound of a river backing up for an estimated 10 plus miles? Just the sound of that. It's not that at all dried up, it rose up in this giant heap. The Jordan River was normally about 100 feet wide at that crossing, but it was at flood stage so it was much bigger, it overflows the banks. In Joshua chapter four verses 13 to 14, continue the story [Joshua 4:13-14], “About 40,000 ready for war passed over before the LORD for battle, to the plains of Jericho. On that day the LORD exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel, and they stood in awe of him just as they had stood in awe of Moses, all the days of his life.”

The people have their leader, and they're following him. Now, the geography is such that if you're on a high hill and you see this river nearby, they were only a few miles away from the Jordan River. Okay, within eyesight, and they see this great mass of people, with 40,000 soldiers armed for war, leading the way.

Jericho is preparing for war. They're not taken by surprise. There's no way to come up upon Jericho by surprise. So, all of these things are in motion. So, what do they do? They hold the Passover. What is the significance of that in chapter five, verse 10 [Joshua 5:10]? That they are obedient people. Still they’re holding the Passover. And if you ever wonder what happened to the manna, and when it stopped, it's now. The manna stopped after this point. This is the last time the free honey wafers were on the ground with the dew in the morning. Okay, they ate of the produce of the land. And from that point forward is when all the manna stopped.

Then in chapter five, verse 13 [Joshua 5:13], we see the commander of the army of the Lord appear to Joseph which would have also emboldened him further. Chapter Six, the fall of Jericho. So, Joshua is ready. Right? We're ready for war. God, what's the plan? What's the plan? We've got all the fighting guys, you want them to flank and go around? Draw them out? Burn the city? How do you want us to do this? You know, we could just send arrows over the wall and just light the whole thing on fire. What do we do? We could tear it down brick by brick that was also a method. We could starve them out. We could be here for a couple years and just starve them out. Right? What do we do?

Turn to Joshua chapter six, and look in verses two to five [Joshua 6:2-5]. “And the LORD said to Joshua, ‘See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and mighty men of valor. You shall march around the city, all the men of war going around the city once. Thus shall you do for six days. Seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. On the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. And when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, when you hear the sound of the trumpet, then all the people shall shout with a great shout, and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and the people shall go up, everyone straight before him.’”

That is a crazy plan! If you don't trust God. I'm thinking Joshua's thinking, “Let me get this straight. Your plan is that we're going to walk around the city and yell at them. That's the plan? The men of war in front then, followed by seven priests, blowing the ram's horns. (Normally the horns of the altar had ram's horns, a signal of strength. People in Jericho didn’t know that but the people of Israel they knew that). Then followed by the Ark of the Covenant. This is the representation of the power of God going before us. And then all the people millions, right? Millions, walking around not saying a word, circling the city. And day seven, you want us to shout?”

What would you do at that point? These walls were probably 10 to 15 feet wide, they think. It's just gonna take a while, if we attack it. You see a lot of times in life, we think we've got the plan. But then when you actually start to go forward with the plan, it seems a little ridiculous. Like, “Lord, I'm not sure this is really what you want of me. I mean, if you want me to share the Gospel with someone, I'm gonna get fired. That sounds a little ridiculous. Can’t I just live out my faith and never say anything?” But you got to speak the Word. You got to let it out. “Lord, I know so and so's in sin. I mean, if I talk to them about it, it's just gonna, it's gonna hurt my relationship with them. The plan seems slightly odd at this point, God, can't you just send them a word at night and then they get all convicted?”

There's so many scenarios where we know the plan. And yet, as we start to take it, it just seems like, “God, I'm not sure about this. What are we going to do, God? What's plan B, I need Plan B, or maybe C. Can you just throw me some options?” Joshua's response, “take up the ark, let's march. It's time to go. It's time to take this city. Get up, consecrate yourselves, tomorrow we are taking this land. And yeah, we're going to march around it once for six days, they're going to blow trumpets constantly. And then on day seven, we're going to do that seven times on the seventh time, we're going to shout and the whole city is going to fall down flat.”

No one had conquered Jericho before this. So Joshua, chapter six, verses 20 to 22 [Joshua 6:20-22]. So the people shouted, the trumpets were blown. And as soon as the people heard the sound of the trumpet, right, this is seventh lap, seventh day… the wall fell down flat! Just like God said, and all the liberal commentators say there was a great earthquake right at that moment. So “the people went up into the city, every man straight before him and they captured the city.”

You look through the archaeological records, there aren't walls in the dirt, there's just a scattering of stone. Verse 21 [Joshua 6:21], “Then they devoted all in the city to destruction [You still trusting God?] both men and women, young and old, oxen, sheep, and donkeys, with the edge of the sword. But to the two men who had spied out the land, Joshua said, ‘Go into the prostitute’s house and bring out from there the woman and all who belong to her, as you swore to her.’”

Stories getting a little uncomfortable for us, isn’t it? In verse 24, “And they burned the city with fire, and everything in it. Only the silver and gold, and the vessels of bronze and of iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the LORD.”

Makes us uncomfortable to read that, doesn't it? Still trusting the Lord? Even when his plan doesn't sound so appealing, even when it's difficult? Obedience requires full commitment. One must understand what God has asked, and then make the decision, are we going to do what God has asked us to do? Take the city by yelling at it. That wasn't the biggest issue. That wasn't the biggest issue. The biggest test was being willing to destroy the city and everything in it. Would you and I be willing to do that? And don't go down to the local Playhouse and see if you can steal their swords or something. That's not how it works. But if you have issues with all the people being killed, even the young ones, I want to offer three brief points for you to consider, because this is the meat of the Old Testament. This is the unpopular thing to talk about and to preach about. But you need to understand this, because you need to understand God. And the more you understand God, the more you can follow him, and love him, and know him.

First of all, point one: Considering this situation, that God is compassionate on all who turned from evil, young or old, right? He is compassionate on all who turned from evil, young or old. Joshua 6:25, “But Rahab the prostitute and her father’s household and all who belonged to her, Joshua saved alive. And she has lived in Israel to this day, because she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.”

“To this day,” is not an add on to the story. It's a, “you can go verify this for yourself.” Right, that is the verbal testimony to the veracity of the story. Go see Rahab, she's there “to this day.” You think God is not willing to offer forgiveness or compassion? He is. Second thing to remember is: that Joshua was God's instrument of judgment at the time. Joshua was God's instrument of judgment at the time, leading the people. Right, this is a society led and ruled by God. So the leader of that society then is God's leader, Joshua was not making these decisions on his own. Right, he doesn't have the authority to just go wherever he wants, and take these people and just take a city. He never had that authority. But he is commanded to be a voice and a vehicle for God, even when it's uncomfortable. Joshua didn't make these decisions through logic, it would have been much easier to stay somewhere else that wasn't inhabited. He didn't make it through cruelty either. But through obedience to a holy God, who knows all things and fulfills both his justice and his purpose of love, simultaneously.

You say, “What is his purpose of love, he takes out a whole city?” Well his purpose of love is that he loves his people so much, that he is not willing for them to pollute their understanding of God, and to mix with other nations and have them turn away from him. He wants them to be holy, he wants them to be righteous. And because of his concern for his own righteousness, and his perfect compassion, he is willing to execute judgment on people through his mind and his decision, and use the vehicle of man to bring that about.

Brings up some questions in our mind, though, doesn't it? Deuteronomy 24:16 says this, right, the Book of the Law, “Fathers shall not be put to death because of their children, nor shall children be put to death because of their fathers. Each one shall be put to death for his own sin.

Has God changed his mind? Or are all people complicit in their own sin and their own actions of sin? Are we all guilty of our sin? Or are there some who are actually righteous, some who are actually, “good people”? And here's the thing, right? All “have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Right? Romans 3:23.

Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death….” Not our arbitrary death, but a perfect, loving, holy God who brings about his full justice. When the world cries for justice, this is what they are asking for. Ultimately, that is true, real justice. To bring all things right, to set all things right, under the feet of Jesus Christ. To put all things in subjection to him, that everyone will one day bow the knee and confess that Jesus is Lord. But it's difficult to think about. Because we think more of our own sin and our own compassion and our own decisions; as though we would be more merciful than God. Ezekiel chapter 18, which we'll get to, I don't know, maybe later this year. Ezekiel 18:23 says this, “Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord GOD, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?”
We see that, Rahab turned immediately. She could have called a garrison of people to kill the spies. And she could have stayed with her own people, but she immediately recognized the truth of who God was. And as she turned, God made a way for her to live.

At the end of Joshua, chapter 24, he talks about mixing with the nations and how that would turn you away. It's nothing wrong with other nations, they are all created by God, in the image of God, it’s not a racist thing. It's a, “Who do you follow?” thing? He loved his people too much, to just let them turn away. That's comforting to me. Because I turn away, I sometimes follow my own way. We sometimes sin, and we sometimes make decisions as if we don't follow God. But God is compassionate and draws us to himself. In the Old Testament the messages is, “Turn to God.” And in the New Testament the messages is, “Turn to Jesus Christ, who is God. Repent and live, have faith in God. He is gracious and will forgive all of your sin.”

A third way to understand this, and this is difficult, there's not a lot of passages to go to for this particular understanding. But I offer it anyway because I think it's true. And I think it actually helps us think through things [and it is]: that children are normally accounted as those saved by God's grace. Though still sinful, God is merciful and gracious to the young children. The only verse in support of this, theologically, would be 2 Samuel 12:23, where David's child dies. And he said, he will not come to me, but I will go to him, meaning that David thought he would go when he died to be in the presence of God and his child would be there. And I offer that just to encourage, to add to the understanding that God is compassionate. It's difficult to develop a whole theology of you know, how old is a child that fits that description? And is that we're all the aborted babies go and all those kinds of things? I think so. But I offer you this, that God is loving and more compassionate than you and I are. And I'm willing to trust him with all those things that I can't fully understand.

Joshua 6:27 says this, “So the Lord was with Joshua, and his fame was in all the land.” His fame was in all the land. This really isn't the main point of Joshua, though. War and obedience. That's not all there is. There's so much more to this. And Joshua, praise God, flushes this out for us. Go back to chapter one, and look in verse nine. And here's the motivation for all that Joshua was about to do.

Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, [Why? Why should I be strong and courageous? Why should I not be frightened? Why should I not be dismayed or discouraged?] for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

You can do a study in the Old Testament of all the times it’s said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” You and I know that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit now that Christ has paid the penalty on the cross and risen victoriously over sin and death. And now the Holy Spirit has been poured out and it's been poured into our hearts. Right, Romans 5:5, but the love of God has been poured into your heart through the Holy Spirit whom he has given to you. Every believer is a temple of God. It's not like today we're a temple and tomorrow, we're not, right? God is still with us. And as we read the Old Testament, we have to remember what the ultimate motivation is, in all the things that people do, they trust and know God. To trust someone with your life, you better have confidence in who they are. Confidence that God is with us. Right? Favorite phrase, every December, right? God is with us. Immanuel, it means, “God is with us.” That's all-year theology, not just December theology.

So we see that his motivation was God. Joshua was a person who always trusted the Lord in his life. He is known for trusting the Lord. Joshua 14:7, he talks about when he was 40 years old, and he first went to spy out the land of Canaan. This is, you know, 38 some years ago. Joshua 14:7 says, “I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadesh-barnea to spy out the land, and I brought him word again as it was in my heart.”

Numbers 32:12, “… Joshua… wholly followed the LORD.” Right? Both Joshua and Caleb, wholly follow the LORD. It was something that, it was his way of life. It's how he should follow God. And it shows that, in point three here, that it's more than obedience. It's about the heart. Numbers 32:12, both Joshua and Caleb, wholly followed the LORD. Do you know how many kings Joshua would have to prove that with? How many times he would have to fight wars before he died? It says in Joshua 12:24, that he conquered 31 kings! Over and over and over again. Do you trust me? Yep. Take the city. Got it. Do you trust me? Yes, take the city. Got it. 31 times.

So Joshua, at the end of the book here, is towards the end of his life, turn to chapter 23. They have taken much of the Promised Land. Not all of it. You can look back there, the tribe of Manasseh, and Asher and others, three major tribes didn't really take much of any of their land. What's Joshua’s charge to the leaders of Israel, those who are going to come after him? What's he going to say after he's learned and followed God for all these times, you know this would be, find that old, wise person among you, and ask them. But you know, the people who've served God for 40, 50, 60 years. Why do you continue to serve God, year after year after year? With the tragedies and the trials? Why do you do that? What is the motivation?

Joshua 23:6-11, Joshua’s charged to the leaders of Israel, “Therefore, be very strong to keep and to do all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, turning aside from it neither to the right hand nor to the left, that you may not mix with these nations remaining among you or make mention of the names of their gods or swear by them or serve them or bow down to them.” When you're asked to bow down to another god, in whatever form, we are called not to.

Verse eight, “but you shall cling to the LORD your God just as who you have done to this day. For the LORD has driven out before you great and strong nations. And as for you, no man has been able to stand before you to this day.” 31 kings later. “One man of you puts to flight a thousand, since it is the LORD your God who fights for you, just as he promised you.” Verse 11 summarizes everything, “Be very careful, therefore, to love the LORD your God.”

Doesn't make excuses for who God is. He's not lowering the bar, give it your best shot. You know, if you take a few years off and then go take the rest of the land. I know you probably tired, right? At this point, it's probably been about 30 years of fighting, when he gives the speech, 30 years of fighting. What have you fought for, for 30 years? And then chapter 24, verse 23. At the end of the verse, he says, “incline your heart to the LORD, the God of Israel” [Joshua 24:23]. This is the decision for you and I. When you see who God is, when you see clearly his justice, when you see clearly what he's asked in his command to follow. Joshua 24:15. “And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your father served in the region beyond the River [your parents who worshipped other gods], or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell [if you choose to mix in with the other nations and you will serve their gods]. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”

And I think the picture, the portrait of God, as just this loving, only-love God. His justice might be everybody wins, there's no hell, everybody gets there eventually. All religions are the same. We have every path to get to God, all you have to do is just say, “Yes, Lord, take me to heaven.” That's all you got to do. And that's it. But when he says, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” He had just fought 31 kings. He had just had war for 30 years.

It's only when we truly understand God, his justice, HIS justice, and HIS judgment, and HIS love, that you can ask yourself the question, “Will you choose this day to serve the living God?” Not a God of our imagination, but to follow him, to incline our hearts to him, and to fully and completely submit to him. So, what's your decision? Right now? This is a call to follow God, right now, one hundred percent. Choose this day, whom you will serve.

Let's pray.

Lord God, you said it would take great courage to follow you. Lord you have, through Joshua, asked us to incline our hearts to you. Father, there are many things that are difficult in the Scriptures, but what isn't difficult to understand is what you've asked of us. To be all in or not in. Father, we pray that you would give us the faith to follow you, the grace that we need in our lives, to live for you.

Friends, I just I just asked you right now. Pray to God and give him your decision. If you will follow him completely, or not at all. Just take a moment and do that.

Father, none of us are worthy of you or your grace. But I pray Lord God, you would give us the courage and the grace we need to follow you with everything that we are. To not hold back and to fully trust you Lord God. In all things. In your precious Holy Name, Amen.

other sermons in this series

Sep 24


2 Peter: A Stable, Growing Faith

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Sep 17


1 Peter: Living a Life of Hope

Speaker: David Jordan Scripture: 1 Peter 1:1– 5:25 Series: Journey Through the Bible

Sep 10


James: Authentic Visible Faith

Speaker: David Jordan Scripture: James 1:1– 5:20 Series: Journey Through the Bible