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Thursday, March 24, 2016

The Law, the Land, and the Leader

As Israel prepares to leave the wilderness behind and enter the land of Canaan, God grants Moses three forward-looking glimpses into the Conquest Era before he dies: the Levites made responsible for Bible literacy, a panoramic view of Canaan, and the transfer of leadership to Joshua. 

The Law
Moses pronounces a blessing on each of Israel’s tribes before he dies. He appoints the Levites as responsible for Bible literacy, “but he watched over your word and guarded your covenant. He teaches precepts to Jacob and your law to Israel” (Deut. 33:9b-10). Besides serving in the temple, the Levites were responsible for elevating God’s Word and keeping both the promises of God and the pictures of redemption before Israel.  
The Land
From Mount Nebo Moses surveys the land of Israel and the Lord declares, “This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob when I said, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you will not cross over into it” (Deuteronomy 34:4). God allows Moses to see through tear-filled eyes the land that Abraham saw and owned by faith. What a panoramic view of Canaan Moses saw―”from Gilead to Dan, all of Naphtali, the territory of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the western sea, the Negev and the whole region from the Valley of Jericho, the City of the Palms, as far as Zoar.” This requires an exceptionally clear day and perfect vision, both of which God gives Moses. 
The Leader
Before he dies, Moses commissions Joshua as Israel’s next leader, “Now Joshua son of Nun was filled with the spirit of wisdom because Moses had laid his hands on him” (Deuteronomy 34:9). Moses spent the past 40 years mentoring Joshua to lead Israel; therefore, Moses knew that Israel was in good hands. God answered his prayer to raise up a leader for Israel, lest they be “like sheep without a shepherd” (Numbers 27:17). 
What a life Moses lived!  Even though he wasn’t allowed to enter Canaan, God blessed him and allowed him to see both the land of the promise and the man to take the baton of leadership as it passed to the next generation.  

Older Post 
"When we heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sion and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed. When we heard of it, our hearts melted and everyone's courage failed because of you, for the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below" (Joshua 2:10-11, emphasis added). 
Faith doesn't happen in a "hearing void". Romans 10:17 says, "Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God." People believe the good news because they hear the good news. Anything less is just hope.
Unbeknownst to Israel the inhabitants of Jericho were afraid of Israel and their God. They had been just as afraid forty years earlier when the ten spies returned with their bad report declaring themselves as grasshoppers in the sight of the Canaanites.
Hearing about the exploits of God melted their hearts. It doesn't matter how small and weak we may feel; our enemy is afraid of God when He does for us what we cannot do for ourselves. Sadly, most of what takes place within church and in the people of God can be easily explained: churches borrow enormous amounts of money to build impressive church buildings. So what! Companies do that all of the time. The world awaits to see what God can do for His people that can only be explained by God's activity on behalf of His people.
How much of what the church is involved in can be explained in the natural realm? Why are outsiders unimpressed with the church? What would happen should God show up and do something that can't be explained or done by human effort? It is only when people hear and see what God does do they sit up and take notice. Some will believe, as did Rahab and her family. Everyone else in Jericho had access to the same truth, but they didn't believe and they all perished. Hearing precedes faith.
Your problems are wonderful opportunities for you and others to see God do what only He can do. Or you can handle them yourself with your limited resources and abilities; those around you won't experience "evangelistic hearing," where they are impressed with God and what He will do on "behalf of those who wait for Him" (Isaiah 64:4).

Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading:
Deuteronomy 33:1-34:12; Joshua 1:1-2:24
  • In Moses' summary blessing what does Moses communicate about God to the people as they transition from the wilderness experience to taking the land of Canaan?
  • How is Joshua described?
  • What role was the Book of the Law to have in Joshua's life? Review Deuteronomy 17:18-20 and the post on March 18th.
  • How many spies does Joshua send to Jericho? Remember Joshua was one of the twelve spies sent into Canaan under Moses forty years before. What has Joshua learned from that experience?
  • What does Rahab know about God, how does she know it, and what has that knowledge done for her?
  • How does her response differ from Jericho's other inhabitants? What does this tell you about people in general?
  • What conditions do the spies give Rahab?
  • What does the spies encounter with Rahab do for their faith and affect their report to Joshua?
Turning truth into prayer
Thank the Lord for His mighty power. Thank Him that He still works on behalf of those who trust in Him and wait on Him. Thank Him for your problems. Ask Him to give you the grace to resist working them out yourself and to trust Him to do only what He alone can do.