Audio listeners, there is additional content included at the bottom of this post that is not mentioned in the audio.
Today’s readings are Joshua 22-24
Today we finish up the book of Joshua. It sure did seem to pass quickly! So often, in these precious books, I’ve longed to linger more than a day or two. I hear this sentiment a lot from folks, usually more often as we move on into books such as Esther and Ruth and the Gospels, but my heart longs for as much time as possible in these foundational texts, where our precious Father’s actual voice, fills the pages.
Do you know what I do when I find myself wishing we could slow down and spend more time in the word?
I slow down and spend more time in the word.
However, I don’t slow down my Bible reading or ease up on our study here. Instead, I look at other things that are taking up my time and I gauge the return I’m getting in exchange for that time. I’ve yet to find something in my life that does not bear fruit which I can’t exchange for more time with the Father, which will always bear fruit.
Whenever you are at a point where you are burning the candle at both ends and need to take some things off your plate, begin by pouring a big puddle of super glue right in the center of that plate and gluing your Bible there first thing. That does not move. Time with the Father is something we should protect and never consider sacrificing. There are other gods, idols, and distractions that can be tossed out of the balloon instead.
Anything that takes us away from our time with Him, no matter how noble it may seem or how Godly we declare it to be, is a threat to our relationship with the Father.
If we were truly seeking to honor Him, we will never do so by replacing time in His word with things that we deem better.
I never stop reading the word. I stop doing other things so I can have more time to read the word.
Let’s get to the readings:
Today we have the three Israelite tribes building a replica of the altar and their brethren tribes are justifiably horrified and angered at hearing of it. Enraged might be a better word.
I remember the first time I read this my mouth dropped open, my eyes just about popped out of my head, and I was pretty much shouting at these people through my Bible as some maddened sports fans would be shouting at a tv during a monumental game. I was HORRIFIED! It wasn’t until I’d read a little further that I was able to exhale in momentary relief.
But then it came back to me again – the truth of it. They were not told nor are they authorized to do that. While their hearts may have been in the right place, they were still disobedient and neither the state of their heart nor their good intentions changed that.
Sincerity and intent do not excuse disobedience to YHWH.
At this point only the Levites were authorized to do something such as they had just done. However, these tribes did it anyway. They built an altar and then excused it by saying that they never planned on worshipping it or sacrificing on it or anything. But here they were, going down a very slippery slope. How long would it be before they sacrificed on that altar or decided it would be so much more convenient and made so much more sense to just worship there rather than travel to the promised land? I mean, if they “meant” well and really felt they were honoring YHWH in their hearts, what difference did it make?
Answer: A lot.
YHWH defines how we are to worship Him. He sets the rules. He issues the commandments.
As we’ve read about time and again, will continue to read about, and see it play out in our own times, mankind often tries to supersede the authority of YHWH by doing things on their own terms. Many people (individuals and groups) have taken their self appointed turn at issuing commandments, setting up tradition as law, and attempting to change or doing away with YHWH’s decrees. The eternal truth is that we simply do not have the authority to do this. However, we have the freedom to follow those who think they have this authority. We have the freedom to obey them, and we have the freedom to serve the god that they create.
Who we choose to obey shows who we have chosen to serve.
15 And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15
Did you catch that? If it is evil in your eyes to serve YHWH… These are the chosen people of the Father and yet, to some of these people among His chosen, serving the Father as He instructs was seen as evil. Y’all, these times are here again. Brace yourself. Strengthen yourself in the Word, and stick close to His side!
Joshua 24:26 Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God. You may notice that Book and Law are capitalized in your translation as they are in mine. If you do a quick Bible hub interlinear search you’ll see that the word originally used here is Torah. In this context, Torah, which translates best to “teachings and wisdom of YHWH” is referring to the first five books of the Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Dueteronomy. Joshua has written out an additional covenant which basically is just a renewal of Israel’s current covenant with the Father but with this new generation taking their oath to abide by it. This is similar to our new covenant: there are no new or different laws, no different requirements, but we, as a new people and generation, agree to obey it when we seek to take part in it.
What is the new covenant? Let’s read about that.
The New Covenant
31 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. 33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” Jeremiah 31:31-34
This is reiterated again in Hebrews 8:6-13 with a direct quote from here. There are several other Bible verses explaining the New covenant and they all line up with the terms in this one as well. So what does this covenant say? Let’s look for the key points.
- Who is the covenant with?
- What will be written on our hearts?
- Whose law is it?
- If we are not Israel or Judah, how can we take part in this new covenant? See Romans 11 and Isaiah 56. Better yet, keep reading because this whole book tells the full story that we all need to know.
Tomorrow we begin the book of Judges and we will see many other altars being built and further demonstration of how the Father feels about unauthorized altars in our life. We will also see the one standard by which every king was judged.
Friends, we’ve covered a lot of territory but in some ways, we’ve just suited up for the trip and the rest of our journey is about to begin.
Test everything, hold tight to what is good.~ 1 Thess 5:21
We are saved by Grace alone: Obedience is not the root of our salvation, it is the fruit!