Friday, April 14, 2017

April 14: Joshua 9:3 – 10; Psalm 83; Proverbs 13:4; Luke 16:19-17:10



Overview

            Joshua: The people of Gibeon (Hivites) went to Joshua with worn-out clothes and crumbly dry bread pretending to be from a distant land. They asked to make a covenant with Israel. Joshua and the elders questioned them but were satisfied they were not people they were supposed to destroy. They didn’t ask the Lord about it and made a covenant with them.
            Three days later, they discovered the ruse and marched to Gibeon. They asked the Gibeonites why the deceived them. They said they were afraid and to do with them what Joshua thought was best. Because they couldn’t go back on their oath and kill them, Joshua made them woodcutters and water drawers.
            The king of Jerusalem heard about Jericho, Ai, and Gibeon’s treaty. He was afraid and summoned four other kings of the area (Amorites) to fight against Gibeon because they made peace. The Gibeonites summoned Joshua to protect them. The Lord told Joshua not to fear because he would give the kings into Joshua’s hand. So Joshua took the army by night to Gibeon and attacked the Amorites. God threw the enemy into a panic and they fled. Then God hit them with large hailstones killing more than Israel did.
            Joshua asked the Lord to keep the sun and moon in place so that they could continue to fight the Amorites. The sun didn’t set for about one day. The five kings hid in a cave. Joshua told the men to seal the cave and continue pursuing the enemy. Only a remnant made it back to their fortified cities.
            Joshua had the five kings brought to him. He had his chiefs put their feet on the king’s necks. He told the chiefs that they would be able to do the same to all their enemies and not be afraid. Then he killed the kings.
             Joshua took the cities of Makkedah, Libnah, Gezer, Lachish, Eglon, Hebron, Debir and its towns. He took the whole land from Kadesh-barnea to Gibeon and returned to Gilgal.
            Psalm: Asaph calls on God not to hold his peace against Israel’s enemies. He recounts how the various enemies plot against Israel wanting to wipe them out. He asks God to fight against them as he did in other instances in the past when enemies wanted to take God’s pastures. He asks God to blow them away, burn them up, shame them, and kill them in disgrace. That way they will know that God alone is Most High over all the earth.
            Proverbs: Lazy people want a lot but don’t get it while hard working people get the satisfaction of what they achieve.
            Luke: Jesus tells a story about a rich man who had everything and died. Lazarus was a poor man who begged at his gate and he also died. Lazarus was taken to Abraham’s side but the rich man went to hell. The rich man asked Abraham to send Lazarus to just dip his finger in water and cool his tongue. The rich man and Abraham had a conversation about heaven, hell, and what it takes to warn people about hell. If people don’t respond to God’s Word, even a resurrected person can’t convince them.
            Jesus tells his disciples that temptations will come but don’t be a person who tempts others. It would be better to be drowned than to cause someone to sin. If someone sins against you, rebuke him. If he sins seven times a day and asks for forgiveness each time, forgive him.
            The apostles asked for more faith after hearing that. Jesus said all they needed was a tiny bit of faith for a tree to obey them.
            Jesus also told them that time for resting is only after all the work is done. When they have done everything commanded them, they should say they are unworthy because they have only done their duty.

What Stood Out

            Joshua: “There were more who died because of the hailstones than the sons of Israel killed with the sword” (Josh 10:4).
            Psalm: “They say, "Come, let us wipe them out as a nation; let the name of Israel be remembered no more!” (Ps 83:4).
            Proverbs: “The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing” (Prov 13:4).
            Luke: “We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty” (Luke 17:10).

Insight

            Joshua: Once again, Joshua didn’t ask the Lord for wisdom when the Gibeonites came to him (Joshua didn’t ask the Lord about going to Ai). This time, however, the consequences were not immediate. In fact, the Lord used the incident to spark the beginning of Joshua’s campaign to defeat the inhabitants of the land. It wouldn’t be until many years in the future that the presence of the Gibeonites in Israel would draw people away from the Lord along with others that were not eliminated from the land. In addition, Saul tried to rectify Joshua’s error by trying to kill them but failed. God punished Israel for Saul’s attempt (2 Sam 21).
            God intervened in these battles by panicking the enemy causing them to flee. He killed more of them with hail than Israel did in battle, and he made the rotation of the earth stop and the sun from going down for a day giving Israel longer daylight to pursue the enemy. This is a great illustration of what God can do. He worked in people’s hearts, he worked in nature locally (something that would seem natural), and he worked supernaturally on a global scale.
            He proved to Joshua and to us that nothing is impossible for him. When we face difficulties and troubles, we know God can deliver. We also know that he can turn our mistakes and sins to his advantage.
            Psalm: God promised Israel to be a nation before him forever. When Judah was being more evil than the surrounding nations, God repeatedly told them they would be carried into captivity for their sins. Even then, he told them the eternal promise for Israel would still be kept (Jer 31:36-37). Asaph also knew God’s promise that he would bless those who blessed Israel and he would curse those who cursed Israel (Gen 12:3, 27:29; Num 24:9). However, he seems to have forgotten that there was also conditions to some of his promises. They were to obey the Lord if they wanted God to defeat their adversaries (Ex 23:22).
            The promise to Abraham was unconditional. That means that it is still in effect and there is still a future for Israel that the current nation isn’t fulfilling. That future is when they all turn to Jesus as their Messiah. Paul tells us this will happen when their unbelief stops (Rom 11:23).
            We need to look carefully at the promises in Scripture to see how they apply. Not all of them apply to us, but were meant for a specific time. However, I’m looking forward to the promise that Jesus is going to come back and every eye will see him, including those who pierced him and that is when Israel will turn to him as Messiah (Zech 12:10).
            Proverbs: Lazy people aren’t the only ones who don’t get what they want. Sinners in general are in the same boat. It isn’t that they don’t get what they crave, often they do. What they discover is that their cravings are not satisfied. The man who wants to get rich discovers that when he gets his first million (or more), he still isn’t satisfied. The person who view’s pornography is never satisfied and has to find garbage that is even more erotic.
            A truly diligent person seeks first the kingdom of God and discovers that whatever he has is satisfactory because his sufficiency is in Jesus Christ, not things of this world.
            Luke: I went to Pakistan and was impressed by some of the Muslims I met. When they I thanked for doing something, they would reply, “It is my duty.” I didn’t really know what to make of that. It seemed to me that it was a reflection of their religion requiring them to work for their salvation. Then I find this verse where Jesus says that we should say essentially the same thing and also saying that we are unworthy.
            Barne’s commentary helped me understand. The way he explained it, we are not to look at our service for the Lord as something that he needs. There isn’t anything we can do that will pay God back for what he has done for us. There is nothing we can do for him that would require him to pay us back (Rom 11:35-36). Anything we do is only accomplished by his grace working in us. If we get to some point in our lives that we think otherwise, then we need to remember that we really are unworthy slaves. In fact, when we have done what God commands, it will not be done perfectly.[1]
            When I think about some of his commands such as going and making disciples, how am I doing with that? Not very well at all. It won’t be until we reach heaven that we will be able to do his commands perfectly. Until then, it’s good to remember that we are unworthy servants.

Application

            I need to remember that my sufficiency comes from the Lord. I find all I need in him. If I start to think I’m better than I am, I should remember that I’m an unworthy servant.


[1] Albert Barnes, Barnes’ Notes, (Seattle: Biblesoft, 2005), Luke 17:10, Electronic Database.

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