Be strong and very courageous…

26 04 2011

DAY ONE HUNDRED AND TWELVE : Joshua 1 v. 1 – 2 v. 24; Luke 21 v. 5 – 38; Proverbs 10 v. 11 – 20

We begin the book of Joshua – the first book beyond the Pentateuch, belonging to the section categorised as ‘The Prophets’ (Joshua, Judges, 1 and 2 Samuel, and 1 and 2 Kings). In it, the writer records the faithfulness of Israel, God fulfilling the covenant promise, His people inheriting the Promised Land.
The first half of the book (1 – 12) relates to the conquests (which take many years) and the second half (13 – 24) about how the land is divided out and Joshua dispersing the tribes, with final instructions.

JOSHUA
The Lord Commands Joshua – God tells Joshua that, now Moses has died, he is the one to lead the people across the Jordan into the land to inherit it. God says several times, “Be strong and courageous….you will lead these people…”
He promises to be with Joshua, just as He was with Moses.
‘Be careful to obey all the law of Moses; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.’
Do not be terrified or discouraged, but be strong and courageous, Joshua.

Joshua gives notice across the camp that in three days they will set off and cross the Jordan.
All the fighting men (including the Reubenites, Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh, who already have their portions of land east of the Jordan) pledge allegiance to Joshua : ‘Just as we fully obeyed Moses (did they really ??), so we will obey you……only be strong and courageous’.

Interesting to note that God has spoken those words several times to Joshua – ‘be strong and courageous’ – and now he hears them from his own people – a real confirmation to him, if ever he needed it, that God is at work !!

Rahab and the Spies – Joshua sends two spies into the city of Jericho, and they find themselves staying at the home of Rahab, a prostitute (the local brothel would have many visitors, I guess, therefore they might go relatively unnoticed). Ultimately, Rahab helps them escape, when the king of Jericho gets wind of their presence. She makes an agreement with them, that if she helps them escape, when the Israelites arrive and take over Jericho, she and her whole family will be spared. Rahab tells them of the fear that has grown in Jericho in face of the threat the Israelites pose :
‘I know that the Lord has give this land to you….everyone’s courage has failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below…’
As she lets the two men escape down a scarlet rope from her window, right down the outer wall of the city, to freedom, the rope is placed in the window of the house as a sign that everyone in the house will be spared, when Israel attacks.

Of course, it is ‘shocking’ that it is Rahab, the prostitute, who has grasped the true nature of God in all this, and at great risk to her own life, first hides and then helps the spies escape…she shows herself to be ‘strong and very courageous’.

Forty years earlier, spies brough back a message which filled the Israelites with fear…this time, a wholly different message….the Lord will deliver this land into their hands.

LUKE
Signs of the End of the Age – these are the last days of Jesus’s ministry on earth, and He talks with His disciples about the ‘last days’, and the signs of the end of the age. The disciples had been marvelling at the beauty and majesty of the temple, when Jesus tells them it will be destroyed completely. They want to know when this will happen. Jesus lists the signs of the coming devastation and the end times :
– many false ‘Messiahs’ will come
– wars and revolutions will happen
– nation will rise against nation
– earthquakes, famines and plagues will abound
– fearful events and great signs from heaven
– disciples will be persecuted, and some put to death : ‘All men will hate you because of me…by standing firm you will gain life’, but don’t worry about what you will say (‘make up your mind not to worry’….I like that phrase), ‘for I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict’)
– Jerusalem will be surrounded by armies

Jesus speak of the desolation which will come to Jerusalem, and all the inhabitants of Judea will need to flee to the mountains.

– there will be signs in the sky (sun, moon and stars)
– the seas will roar and rage

Then the Son of Man will be seen ‘coming in a cloud with power and great glory’.
God’s people are to ‘stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.’

Just as a fig tree shows signs that the fruit is coming, by the leaves which appear at just the right time, so these signs (above) will indicate the timing and certainty that the kingdom of God is near.
So, Jesus encourages the disciples to be careful, be always watching and praying, so that when the time comes, they ‘may be able to stand before the Son of Man.’

Jesus is making daily trips into Jerusalem during the day, and returning to the Mount of Olives to rest through the night. The ‘end’ is nearing for Him.

PROVERBS
the power of words and whether they build up or destroy

‘the mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life’ – (life-giving, refreshing, blessing)
‘hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs’
‘he who heeds discipline shows the way to life – whoever ignores correction leads others astray’
‘when words are many, sin is not absent – but he who holds his tongue is wise’
‘the tongue of the righteous is choice silver….’

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