Obedience to God means going. Faith means doing. Obedience to God is action.
In Joshua 7, as a result of sin left over from the battle of Jericho, Israel learned how dangerous it is to incur God's wrath. Obedience is not optional.
The battle of Jericho is detailed in Joshua 6. This is the battle the narrative has been leading to, with the descriptions of the preparation of the people and commands of God that required obedience.
In this chapter, further commands are given, and we see that sometimes obedience to God can demand that we obey commands that seem somewhat strange and perhaps even boring. Yet, just as Israel obeyed God through this, we are called to obey God completely as well. No matter how strange or mundane obedience seems, it is only through complete and total obedience that God's plan, and our role in that plan, will be revealed.
(Sunday evening sermon, 9/16/2012)
One prominent theme in Joshua is "obedience." In chapters 3-4, the people are mobilized to head out to conquer the promised land. They were prepared to do so, they consecrated themselves, and then they headed out. But all this was done in the context of obedience, as they obeyed God's commands.
As they crossed the Jordan River, and the water stopped flowing as they obeyed God's commands, 12 men, one from each tribe, picked up a stone to build a memorial that would stand as a reminder of what God did, for themselves, and for future generations.
How do we mobilize and prepare ourselves for God's service? How do we remember him? How do we insure that our future generations will be taught him?
In the book of Joshua, Joshua is seen as a great leader and faithful servant of God. But how did he get there? There are several examples in Exodus, Numbers and Deuteronomy where we can gain insight into how God was leading Joshua, and how Joshua learned the obedience and submission to God that enabled him to be the faithful servant and leader he became.
In Joshua 1, Joshua rallies the people to enter the promised land. Earlier, he had reminded them of God's presence and called them to keep God's words always before them, to do them. In this chapter, through the examples of the tribes of Reuben, Gad and Manasseh, Rahab, and the spies, we learn that obedience is going. To obey God, we have to go.
Joshua begins with a new horizon for Israel. Their old leader, Moses, is dead. Now it's time for them to move forward, into the promised land, with Joshua as the new leader. And because it's a new horizon, God gives them marching orders:
- Be strong and courageous
- Be careful to do all the law
- Keep it before you day and night
- And you will be prosperous in the land.
Attached to these commands is God's promise to be present with them at all times, and his assurance that he has always been with them.
What if we took these orders and modified them for the church? What would attention to God's word and a focus on prosperity within the frame of God's kingdom look like?
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