Friday, July 13, 2018

Blogging Bible Study: Joshua 14:1 -15:63; Caleb's Determination and the Inheritance of Judah

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

In 14: 4b, we're reminded again that
The Levites received no share of the land but only towns to live in, with pasturelands for their flocks and herds.

Then we see that
The Israelites divided the land, just as the LORD had commanded Moses.  (14:15)

I don't think that was meant to imply that all the land was doled out at the same time; just a statement that it happened.  It kind of appears that some of the tribes were assigned territory, which they took, but the rest were not assigned theirs until later.  The land was divided...just not all in one go.

I think it's very interesting that the first, and most detailed, description of the allotments falls to Judah.   Later, we'll see that the tribe of Simeon is given their allotment within the borders of Judah's, since Judah's is so large, but none of the others require 11 verses to describe the boundaries, and 42 verses to list all the towns in the territory...111 if I've done my math right, plus the territories of Ekron, Ashdod and Gaza.

It's a pretty impressive description.  I don't know if  Judah got that inheritance purely by lot, or if it came as a result of Caleb's promise from Moses.

Let's go back to Numbers 13 and look at the record of the events that led to Caleb's request.

The twelve delegates who had traipsed through the land had returned with their report.
"We went into the lad to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey!  Here is its fruit.  BUT..." (Num. 13 27-first bit of 28).

That 'BUT' caused all kinds of trouble for the Israelites.  The people in Canaan were strong, some exceptionally large, the cities fortified, the land occupied.

But, as you  know, two guys out of the group didn't agree with the 'BUT'.  Caleb heard the fear-based report and jumped up.

Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, "We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it."  (Num. 13:30)

The other ten shouted him down and convinced the rest that going into Canaan was a bad idea.  The argument continued to the next day; Joshua and Caleb both  protesting the negative expectations, saying,

"The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good.  If the LORD is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us.  Only do not rebel against the LORD.  And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will swallow them up.  Their protection is gone, but the LORD is with us.  Do not be afraid of them." (Num. 14:7-9)

Such talk nearly got them stoned.  But they alone of all the folks in the entire nation over age 20 on that day crossed the Jordan and took the land.  And now Caleb  came to Joshua and reminded him of what they had seen and endured and been promised.

"You know what the LORD said to Moses the man of God at Kadesh Barnea about you and me.  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, 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.  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.' " (Josh. 6b-9)

But Caleb wasn't done.  He was just as avid to take the land as he was back at Kadesh Barnea.

"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!  I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I'm just as vigorous to go out to battle as I was then.  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."  (Josh. 14:10 - 12)

What remarkable faith!  What tenacity!  Caleb had a promise...that he waited forty-five years to pursue...and then had to fight for.  And not just any little battle...he was going into the very focal point of the fear that had immobilized Israel forty-five years earlier.  Caleb NEVER gave up on the word he had from God, and he never doubted that God would give him the promise in full.

And Caleb had a daughter who followed in his footsteps.  In the process of claiming his inheritance, Caleb promised his daughter, Acsah, to the  man who would capture one of the cities.  Caleb's nephew Othniel captured the city, and so Acsah was given to him as wife.  And, apparently Caleb gave Acsah an inheritance.  Because she was bold enough to ask for more.

...when she got off her donkey, Caleb asked her, "What can I do for you?"  
She replied, "Do me a special favor.  Since you have given me land in the Negev, give me also springs of water."  So Caleb gave her the upper and lower springs.  (Josh. 15:18a-19)

It was remarkable enough that a daughter received an inheritance; the Negev was a very dry, desert-like area.  Without a constant water supply,  life would be a struggle of constant moving about to find water.  Springs would allow for settlement and cultivation.  Acsah wasn't just asking for water, she was asking for all that came with and permanence.  And Caleb didn't just give her one, he gave her two.  Because she was bold enough to ask.

Here we have two accounts of asking in faith.  One was asking on the basis of a promise, the other on the basis of relationship.   Neither would have gotten the inheritance without asking.  What is in my heart that I need to believe enough to step forward and ASK to see come to pass?  Do I believe it should come?  Do I have a promise from God, is my relationship such that I can dare ask for the desires of my heart?  Do I even know the desires of my heart well enough to make the request?
Can I state, as Caleb did, that I have followed the LORD my God wholeheartedly?  If not, what is holding me back? How can I move beyond that into wholeheartedness?

Friday, July 6, 2018

Blogging Bible Study - Joshua 13:Moses' Allocations

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

We begin now to look at the allocation of the Promised Land to the 11 tribes of Israel...if you put Manesseh and Ephraim together as the tribe of Joseph.  But they really are counted as two separate tribes, which reflects the 'double portion' inheritance Joseph received.  Levi, we shall be reminded, has no territorial inheritance.

I'll be  honest, most of this is just a list of cities and territories and I am not going to go into geography lessons for the next 9 chapters. There are maps in the backs of your Bibles that can illustrate those divisions far better than I can. Instead, there are tidbits sprinkled around and amongst the geography and that's what we'll be looking at closely here.

Just for a moment, let's have a reminder of  Josh. 11:18 - Joshua waged war against all these kings for a long time.

Those kings were defeated, as stated in chapter 11, but it took awhile for those victories...which leads us to 13:1 --

When Joshua was old and well advanced in years, the LORD said to him, "You are very old, and there are still very large areas of land to be taken over." 

Keep in mind that all the major kings in the area had been defeated.  Those 'very large areas of land' were occupied by pagan people who were without the military leaders that had been protecting them.  With the military gone, it should have been a rather simple matter to expel the folks who were living in the land.
Verses 2 - 5 list towns and areas that still needed to be cleared of the '-ites' that live there.  God promised to drive the Sidonians out in front of the Israelites, and instructed Joshua to include all the listed territory in the land that was to be divided amongst the 9 and a half tribes whose inheritance was to be west of the Jordan.

Which brought up the allotment for the folks whose inheritance would be east of the Jordan -- the tribes of Reuben, Gad and half the tribe of Manasseh, whose inheritance actually spanned the Jordan.  The rest of the chapter is a listing of what Moses set down as the portions for those folks.

There are two verses in that listing that are worth noting, as they emphasize a point:

But to the tribe of Levi he gave no inheritance, since  the offerings made by fire to the LORD, the God of Israel, are their inheritance, as he promised them  (v. 14)

But to the tribe of Levi, Moses had given no inheritance; the LORD, the God of Israel, is their inheritance, as he promised them.  (v. 33).

That information will be repeated again and again, in odd places throughout the geographic descriptions of the territorial allocations. 

Levi receives no territory.

Levi's inheritance is the God of Israel.

The Levites had no territory to claim or defend...only villages scattered throughout the nation, defended by the tribe surrounding them.  Their primary task was to serve God and His house.

Are there any 'areas' in my life that God's kingdom needs to take over?  Anywhere I find myself following the influence of those who do not honor God?  Or what about those places that I want to control myself...have I given up what I might claim as 'my inheritance' (read: 'my rights') in order to serve God and His kingdom, trusting Him? 

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Celebrating 70

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

So, yeah, I missed the Joshua study again last week.

We were out of town; My Sweet Babboo's parents were celebrating 70 years of marriage.

The entire family came in...with the exception of the spouses of the only two married grandchildren, who couldn't get off work.  So all four kids, their spouses, and all 10 grandchildren.  Between us, we represented Indiana (the ol' stompin' grounds), Alabama, California, Florida and Pennsylvania.

It was pretty low-key, as far as celebrations go.  We took the folks out for dinner on Saturday (their anniversary was actually the 27th, but we couldn't make Wednesday work for a gathering) and basically hung out for the weekend.

Oh, and we sang at church.

I think I've mentioned the musicality of my inlaw family;  My FIL was a barbershop singer back in the day; both My Sweet Babboo's brothers are barbershoppers and I even think his sister sang with a Sweet Adeline chorus a bit.  The folks, their kids and their kids-in-law all sing in a church choir or barbershop chorus.

Two of the grandkids sing regularly and a third is a musical theater participant.  The others are, um, not particularly pursuing vocal music at the time.

But we have a tradition that began with the folks' 40th anniversary celebration...the entire family sang the special music at church on the celebration weekend.  We did it again for the 50th...the 60th...and now the 70th anniversary, adding the grandkids as they got old enough to participate.

Thanks to the advances in technology, here is the performance from the 9 AM service at St Paul United Methodist Church in Elkhart, Indiana on Sunday, July 1st.  All 20 of us are singing, although some of the grandkids might be doing so rather quietly. 

And, as it seems the video file is too big to upload to  Blogger, here's the facebook link.

It is an amazing blessing to get to celebrate them.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Blogging Bible Study: Joshua 11:16 - 12:24 - The Conquests

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi
I'mma gonna be honest here...we get 10 1/2 chapters of ACTION!  MIRACLES!  BATTLES!...and then we switch gears and get a bunch of lists and geography.

It's easy to bog down and kinda lose momentum.

And I'm not going to itemize all the geographic descriptions and lists; you can read those for yourself in your own Bible.  But there are a few things in this that are worth taking note of.

I've heard the book of Joshua criticized for being inconsistent; for first implying that there was a swift campaign and a swift victory and then describing years of fighting that never really conquered the land. Which one is it? the critics cynically ask.

Well...I'm gonna take a middle approach. I am not entirely sure everything is recorded in strict chronological order. Kinda like Genesis 1 and which chapter one gives a big picture and the chapter two elaborates on some details.  Not two different stories, as some would want to claim, but two different looks at the same story.  I think Joshua is also written in the same sort of fashion; related logically, thematically, more than chronologically.

Because  11:16 - 17 lists off the territory conquered, and then verse 18 states

Joshua waged war against all these kings for a long time.

Of course, 'long time' is pretty subjective and we really don't know what that means.  But we do know that, ultimately, he conquered every major city and its king in the area.  Only Gibeon made peace with them...because the Gibeonites feared the God of the Israelites.

Furthermore,  there is an interesting thought in 11:20 - was the LORD himself who hardened [the pagan kings'] hearts to wage war against Israel, so that he might destroy them without mercy, as the LORD had commanded Moses.

Why did God harden their hearts?  For the same reason He hardened Pharoah's heart...they had already decided not to honor or follow the God of Israel.  There is the exception of Gibeon, certainly a city of '-ites' just like the rest of them.  But the Gibeonites chose to fear God and acted accordingly. They were the only ones.  The rest REFUSED to honor the God of fact, part of the reason Joshua and Israel were to destroy them was because they were under judgement for failing to honor God from long before.  God didn't turn them against him; they already had turned against him.  They made the choice; He made the choice absolute.

Everyone has a choice.  What they might not have is an opportunity to reverse that choice. That does not make God unjust.

Here's another point worth noting...11:22 states that

No Anakites were left in Israelite territory; only in  Gaza, Gath and Ashdod did any survive.

Just park that for future reference. The fact that Anakites remained in Gath was significant later in Israel's history.

Verse 23 is a summation of much of the book of Joshua:

So Joshua took the entire land, just as LORD had directed Moses, and he gave it as an inheritance to Israel according to their tribal divisions.  Then the land had rest from war.

Chapter 12 is a list of all the city-states and their kings that the Israelites, under Moses and then Joshua, defeated in settling into the land promised to their fathers.  Thirty-one in all on the west side of the Jordan; you can read them, they are all listed.   It was enough to occupy the land, but it didn't clear it completely.  That job would fall to the individual tribes to clear out the rest of the pagan population in each of their own territories.  The military might of the '-ites' was broken; large military campaigns were done.

There's a song by the Newsboys that states 'Everyone Gets a Shot'...the basic premise that, on some level, every person decides for or against God....whether he or she will follow God or follow... something else.  We have free choice.  But we need to pay heed to those Old Testament folks who made bad choices and then were hardened in that choice.  It's a sobering lesson.

Make ALL life choices....carefully. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

It's a busy summer...

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Despite my best intentions, I didn't  get the Joshua post written last Thursday so I could publish it on Friday, since we hit the road Friday to take the Actor's Pile to him.

The pile of boxes and stuff that he left in his room when he drove to Florida, awaiting the signing of an apartment lease so that he would have, like, a closet to put the boxes and stuff in.

Well, he signed a lease about a week ago, so we loaded the minivan up full and headed south.

Y'all, it had been nearly 14 years since I was last in Florida.

But it was to a women's conference in the very city and very church that now employs my son.

You can't make this stuff up.

His apartment is a furnished lock-off (bedroom and bathroom) on a 4 -bedroom dorm-style room.  Common sitting area, eating area, kitchen and laundry and three other locked-off bedrooms with one guy that he knows slightly and two random dudes assigned by the housing complex.

It's about all that fit his budget.  Starting at the bottom.  But it'll do.

We took our time driving down, stopping for the night in hurry, and we didn't want to wear ourselves out.

So we got there around 11 AM on Saturday, unloaded the car, had some lunch, and went to go check in the hotel whilst he shuffled through the stack of stuff to clear things enough to actually, like, sleep.

We puttered around until we could check in, chilled in the room a bit, then went to an ice cream place and talked for about 2 hours.  The next day, we went to church.

Which is so much like our church that it didn't even feel different.  Had some awesome worship, heard a great word, and got a look at the children's area, which was all decked out for the summer theme, that you totally cannot see from this angle.

He manned the exit door after the service.

Dinner at a dad-place (read: barbeque), then we hugged him bye and headed north for a few hours, stopped and drove the rest of the way on Monday.  Totally avoiding Atlanta, by the way.

Back to work today.

Not sure how often we'll get down to see him...but I bet it's not another 14 years.

Not sure how often I'll get my Friday posts up and how many times I'm going to miss it.  There's a lot going on in the next two or three months...but we'll catch up as best we can.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Blogging Bible Study - Joshua 11: 1 - 15: The Northern Campaign

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi
The Israelites were spreading in Canaan; nine kings had fallen; one city had made a treaty. Word was traveling and the inhabitants were taking note.

Once again, an alliance was formed to attack the Israelites.  We have Jabin, king of Hazor, who called for the muster of armies.  Jobab, king of Madon, is mentioned by name,  the cities of Shimron and Acshaph are listed, but beyond that the list of kings to whom the call went is pretty vague: the northern kings who were in  the mountains, in the Arabah south of Kinnereth, in the western foothills and in Naphoth Dor on the west; to the Cannanites in the east and west; to the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites and Jebusites in the hill country; and to the Hivites below Hermon in the region of Mizpah.  - Josh 11:2 -3

Once more, the kings banded together, turning what might have been a long, tedious series of battles into one big, high-stakes battle. If Israel won, all that territory would be under their control.  If they lost...well, the kings of the '-Ites' were doing their best to see that Israel lost.

They came out with all their troops and a large number of horses and chariots -- a huge army, as numerous as the sand on the seashore. All these kings joined forces and made camp together at the Waters of Merom, to fight against Israel.  (v.4-5).

They had horses, they had chariots...Israel had foot soldiers.  BUT...Israel had something else -- the support of the God of all heaven and earth.

The LORD said to Joshua, "Do not be afraid of them, because by this time tomorrow I will hand all of them over to Israel, slain.  You are to hamstring their horses and burn their chariots."  - vs. 6

The whole army, slain...the advantage of horses and chariots totally nullified.  Joshua and his army of roughly 600,000 foot soldiers, confident in God's promise, burst upon the larger, better equipped but not unified army in a surprise attack.  Without time to hitch up the horses and prepare for battle, with allies they did not know well,  the assembled army could not stand against the veterans of Israel.

...and the LORD gave them into the hand of Israel.  They defeated them and pursued them all the way to Greater Sidon, to Misrephoth Maim, and to the valley of Mizpah on the east, until no survivors were left.  Joshua did to them as the LORD had directed: He hamstrung their horses and burned their chariots. (v.  8)

Jabin was put to the sword, and his city, Hazor, was burned to the ground.  All the kings who were in the alliance were killed, all their cities emptied and plundered.  But only Hazor, the principle city in the region, was burned.

As the LORD commanded his servant Moses, so Moses commanded Joshua, and Joshua did it; he left nothing undone of all that the LORD commanded Moses. (v. 15)

Striking the first blow against that massive army was certainly not expected.  But...the Israelites knew they had God's promise of victory.  'This time tomorrow...., ' God had said.

Have you ever stood on the brink of a challenge...a dreaded ordeal to be endured...and thought 'This time tomorrow it will all be over.'  Somehow, that makes the onerous event more endurable...knowing that the clock is running and that it will pass quickly.  Focusing on the other side and not the event itself helps get through it.

Look at that massive, intimidating threat against you.  Do you hear God say, 'Don't be afraid.  I will hand it to you.  This time tomorrow...or next week or next month or next year...the victory is yours.'  Do as He commands in your situation and He will do the rest.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Blogging Bible Study Joshua 10:29 - 43: The Southern Campaign

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Now, we embark upon a list of battles.  The battle with the five kings from Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish and Eglon sparked a long campaign.

For some of those city-states, there were still people left in them even though their king and best fighting men had gone to war and been defeated, there were still people who went to war against the Israelites.

Makkedah, which was the city to which the  defeated kings had fled, perhaps seeking aid or sanctuary, was the first to fall.  Libnah was next, then Lachish, whose king, Japhia, had fallen in front of the cave at  Makkedah.  But Horam, the king of Gezer, had come to battle in defense of Lachish...and was defeated as well.  Eglon, who had also lost their king at Makkedah, was the next city to fall.  Finally, Debir was defeated as well.

All the kings  were hung as the king of Jericho had been hung, the population of the cities obliterated.

Joshua subdued the whole region, including the hill country, the Negev, the western foothills and the mountain slopes, together with all their kings.  He left no survivors.  He totally destroyed all  who breathed, just as the LORD, the God of Israel, had commanded.  Joshua subdued them from Kadesh Barnea to Gaza and from the whole region of Goshen to Gibeon  All these kings and their lands Joshua conqured in one campaign, because the LORD, the God of Israel, for for Israel.  (Josh. 10:40-42).

If you're keeping track....the kings conquered so far are: Jericho, Ai (and the fighting men of Bethel were defeated in that battle as well, although their king apparently was not in the battle),  Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish, Eglon, Makkedah, Libnah, Gezer and Debir.  Nine kings were defeated before Joshua returned to Gilgal with his army, putting all their territories under Israelite control.

That sounds impressive...and, for that day and age it was...but it's not as much as you might think.  Every town of any size had its king and its territory...but, by today's standards, those were pretty small towns and pretty small territory.  All added together, it was a good foothold, but Israel was still a long way from conquering all the land.

Also by our standards, the 'left no survivors' thing seems excessively  harsh.  But there's more to this story than just the Israelites claiming territory; there is also the rebellion and debauchery of the pagan people.  They had rejected the knowledge of God and given themselves over to  the worship of idols, with vile practices, including sacrificing children.  Using the same standard He applied to the Israelites, God decreed that they all had to perish in order to protect His people from falling into similar error.   The instruction of Moses is found in Deut. 20:16-18:

In the cities of the nations the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes.  Completely destroy them --  the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites -- as the LORD your God has commanded you. Otherwise, they will teach you to follow all the detestable things they do in worshiping their gods, and you will sin against the LORD your God.

Also,  check out  Lev. 20:22-23:

'You must not live according to the customs of the nations I am going to drive out before you.  Because they did all these things [vile things listed previously in the passage], I abhorred them'

Here's the point to ponder as we continue through Joshua and see the conquest unfold...God has NEVER intended His people to assimilate into the culture around them.  They have ALWAYS been required to be distinct, and stay distinct.  Our dispensation is different; we are in the age of grace and the ministry of Holy Spirit, so our means of staying distinct no longer involves removing anyone who would teach or act contrary to God's instruction but the principle is the same.  God's people are not to take on the morals, behaviors, actions, etc of the unbelievers around them.  How much compromise have I allowed in my life?

'You are to be holy to me because I, the LORD, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own.'  Lev. 20:26