Thursday, April 29, 2010

Claiming Your Destiny

Joshua 1-7

When I sat down to work on this, I tried to avoid the topic of destiny. I mean, we spent the first session talking about destiny, and I didn’t want to seem like I was stuck on one topic. But, I guess God’s not done with this one.
Last time we talked about making the choice of destiny, this time we’re going into the process of moving into your destiny, and to do so, we’re going to follow Joshua as he lead the Israelites into the promised land.

Removing Hindrances 

There’s always something that tries to hold us back from entering into the fullness of God’s plans. For the Israelites, like I mentioned last time, it was the older generation, that had seen the miracles in Egypt but still doubted God. But it was also Moses and Aaron. In Numbers 20, God tells Moses that he will not lead the people into Canaan because he did not honor Him. So then we get to Joshua 1:2, where God tells Joshua, “My servant Moses is dead. Now you must lead Israel across the Jordan River into the land I'm giving to all of you.” Find whatever is holding you back, and get rid of it!

The Promise

Once we get our eyes off of the hindrance, then it’s time to focus on the promise that we’ve been given. Joshua 1:3-9, God tells Joshua about the land, and reminds him that He will be with them. He even says ‘do not be afraid or discouraged.’ (v9) God wants us to succeed! We just have to trust in Him!

We Can’t Do This Alone

Independence is such an important theme with the American people. We celebrate the day that we move out of our parents’ house; we want to be able to accomplish things on our own. But that’s not the way God wired us. He even said in the garden, "It isn't good for the man to live alone.” (Gen 2:18)

The tribes of Rueben, Gad, and half of Manasseh had started to set up their towns on the east side of the Jordan. But before he allowed it, Moses made sure they would help in conquering the rest of the land. So when Israel was ready to move out, Joshua went to them, reminding them of their word. And the eastern tribes, of course, held up their end of the bargain. (Joshua 1:10-18)

Joshua sent two spies into Jericho to find out about its defenses. They come upon Rahab, who hid them and let them escape when the guards came looking for them. (Joshua 2)

Sanctify Yourself

During the 40 years in the desert, none of the boys born were circumcised, the symbolic gesture representing Israel’s covenant with God. So, before moving into Jericho, Israel renews its covenant with God by circumcising the men, followed by celebrating Passover. After these things, God said to Joshua, "Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you." (Joshua 5:9) The Bible then goes on to say that the next day, the people ate the food of Canaan, and God did not send any more manna. Granted, God not sending something sounds like a bad thing, but considering they’d been eating manna every meal, every day, for forty years…well, they were probably beyond sick of it, so being ‘promoted’ to the crops of the land was the bigger blessing. When we turn our eyes back to God, that’s when His favor and blessings are poured out on us.

Follow the Plan

Israel had a sizeable army by the time they crossed into Canaan. They could’ve easily marched in under their own might. And, just as easily, could’ve had their posteriors handed to them. Instead, Joshua meets with the captain of the Lord’s army, and he gets strategy for the day. We’ve all heard the story, but think about how absolutely ridiculous the idea sounds. And the people follow, to the letter, and the city falls, just like God promised. When we try to do things our way, they often fall flat. But God’s plan always gives results.

Give God the Glory

First, a brief word about the first fruits. The idea of first fruits is connected to the idea of the tithe, it’s a portion of…well, anything provided, given to God, in order to redeem the rest. And, as the name implies, it’s the first portion. So if you had a ewe (that’s a female sheep, fyi) that gave birth to her first lamb, that lamb would be sacrificed. Unclean animals (and, obviously, people) were redeemed by another sacrifice, the first harvest of a crop was offered, etc.

In the case of Canaan, Jericho was the first city conquered, so the spoils, in the spirit of first fruits, were all given to God. Every man, woman, child, and animal (save for Rahab and her family) were wiped out. The city itself burned to the ground, and Joshua cursed anyone who would ever return and rebuild the city. But, one of the Israelites, Achan, got a little greedy and kept a few things, thinking it wouldn’t hurt. But, once Joshua found out, Achan and all his family were stoned, and their bodies and all of his possessions were burned. So let me say very clearly…do not try to deny God what is His.

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