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JANUARY 7, 2024

JOSHUA OVERVIEW

JOSHUA 21:43-45
REV. MICHAEL DENSMOOR                   SERIES: UNSHAKEABLE

The transcript below has been slightly edited to make it easier for reading.

Joshua 21:43-45, I'd like us to read it together:

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Thus the Lord gave to Israel all the land that he swore to give to their fathers. And they took possession of it, and they settled there. And the Lord gave them rest on every side just as he had sworn to their fathers. Not one of all their enemies had withstood them, for the Lord had given all their enemies into their hands. Not one word of all the good promises that the Lord had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass.

This is a great verse for us to start this series on Joshua with, because this verse is the hinge of the Book of Joshua. This is the verse that summarizes the whole first six books of the Old Testament. We know the Pentateuch, the first five books written by Moses, and Joshua is actually the fulfillment of that. The Old Testament’s not complete and the Pentateuch is not complete without the Book of Joshua, because Moses leads them to the edge of the Promised Land, but they can't go into the promised land led by Moses. So Joshua is the story of God fulfilling everything that He promised, starting back in the Book of Genesis. 

 

I want us to look at this theme of how God is working to fulfill His promises - not just the promises He had made to Abraham, not just the promises He's made to Israel, but also the promises He's made to us today. Our God is a god that is 100% trustworthy and faithful to those promises. He's at work in your life today, using you to usher in His kingdom. As we look at the Book of Joshua, we will focus on these verses and reflect back continually on how all the promises of God came to pass. One hundred percent! Not a single one failed despite all the problems, despite all the things that were going wrong in the history of Israel. 

 

Just this morning, I was reading how Abraham has taken his wife and given her to other kings saying, “She's my sister.” They can't have kids. I'm sitting there thinking, “This is how God was going to bring a kingdom around.” Remember, God's faithful to His promises. Not a single one of His promises have ever failed to happen. You can ask my daughters after the service how many of my promises were empty. I'm sure if you ask any parent here, any friend here, how we've struggled to fulfill our promises, we  would see a great contrast with our God. Not a single promise wasn't fulfilled by God. This is what we want to look at as we turn to the Book of Joshua.

 

Joshua is interesting because it's not written to the people at that time. When Joshua, or whoever wrote the book (one of Joshua's companions), wrote the book, they're writing the book to relay stories of things that have already happened. They're not writing it about an event that's going to happen - some prophetic story of something that's going to happen. They're writing about something that already happened because they're writing this book to tell people of what already has been accomplished by God. 

 

That's why when you and I now come, read, and study the Book of Joshua over the next few months, you and I are going to be coming to look at these passages from the standpoint of what is God saying to this audience. Just as Joshua wrote this book to his audience so that they might reflect back on what God has done, so too when we read it on this side of the cross and interpret it looking at the fulfillment of the cross, we ask the question, “What does this mean for me today? How does this apply in our lives today?” 

 

Today we're just going to take a a quick overview of what the structure and main theme of the book is like. Next week, we'll start an expository of each of the chapters as we go through it. But I want us to get a sense of why Joshua has been given to us and why is it important for us to study the Book of Joshua. 

Spirit-Filled People

The first thing I want us to do is to look and reflect on the fact that I've chosen Joshua because it’s is a book that talks about the best and greatest generation in the Bible. These were the best people following God. They were faithful they were getting rid of the sin in their lives, they were exhibiting what every pastor would hope his church would be like, they were what every godly parent wished their children would be like, they were living out their faith day-by-day without hesitancy and believing that if they honored God, God was going to do incredible work.

 

I want us to start by looking at these Spirit-filled people. I think that is the best way for us to describe who these people are - they were people filled with the Spirit. Just as you and I today are people filled with the Spirit, you and I now come to meet this generation in the Book of Joshua and realize that Israel was a chosen nation. They were chosen for a purpose: to live in the power of God. The problem is, they weren't doing it. Israel wasn't living in the way God had chosen them to. God had a purpose and calling on their lives. 

God has a calling on our lives as a church. Our desire is that our church, the people in this in this room, will recognize that we are a chosen people. God, of all the people of the world, chose you to be His disciple and brought us together to be this holy nation, this priesthood of believers. 

If you remember, going back to the story of of Genesis, God had called a man. In Genesis 12, He says, “Abraham, I want you to leave your home. I want you to travel to a land I'm going to give you. In this land, I’m going to do three things for you: I'm going to give you a great name, I'm going to make you into a great nation, and I'm going to give you this promised land.” So Abraham did it. He left and went through many years in that land, and hadn't had a single child. 

 

God comes to Abraham when he's 99 and says, “Next year, your wife's going to have a baby. Abraham’s laughing his head off. He's says, “Are you kidding me? I'm 99 years old!” Abraham’s wife is listening outside the tent, and she's laughing hysterically. She thinks, “Are you kidding?” I love this phrase in the Bible, “because the ways of women are no longer upon me.” I won’t have to interpret that for all of you, do I? 

 

Sarah thinks, “There’s no way I can be pregnant, I'm 90 years old!” God says, “That's not a problem for Me. What you think is impossible is not a problem for Me.” Why? Because God says, “I chose you.” I think you and I need to recognize that today. God stepped into Abraham's life, into an impossible situation. I don't know what your problem is today, but your problem is not impossible. 

 

From your perspective, it seems impossible. God's perspective says, “You can't get pregnant? Sarah, you don't have your menstruation anymore? That's not a problem! Abraham, you're old and all shriveled and dried up? That's not a problem! Next year, you're going to have a son. Why? Because it's not impossible for Me. I've got a plan and I've chosen you. If I've chosen you and I've made a promise to you, I will do it.”

 

Abraham had a child, and this nation started to grow. Soon, Joseph was born and then into slavery. Now Joseph is down in Egypt, and it seems like the whole plan is falling apart. Famine falls on the land, the Israelites all moved to Egypt, and now they become slaves for 400 years. Instead of being a great nation with power and great land, they are slaves. They are working for the Pharaoh. There is no hope of a future. 

 

But then Moses comes along. God raised up Moses to bring this nation out of slavery and into the wilderness. God says, “Here's the Promised Land. This is the promise I made to Abraham. Go and take it.” But we know how the story goes. They didn't do it. Now Moses, because he had been angry with them, struck the rock twice when God had not instructed him to do so. Moses was barred and forbidden from going into the Promised Land. 

 

Now the old generation, the people of Egypt, have all died off in the wilderness. Those who had been born in the wilderness were ready to go into the Promised Land. But there's one major problem they're facing: Moses is dead. The one that they've known their whole life, the one through whom the power and protection of God has been given to them, the one who had been the voice of God in their life, he's dead. There is no hope anymore. How do you go into this land which is well fortified with armies, walls, and barriers? They think, “How is it that we this people, this chosen people by God, can go and take what He promised us? We're ill equipped. It is hopeless for us.” God says, “You're My chosen people.” Spirit-filled people are ones that recognize God has a plan and is working to fulfill that plan through you. God's promises didn't die when Moses died. God's promises will always be fulfilled. 

 

But it's not just that. Israel now is this nation on the brink of coming to the Promised Land, but they’re also a people that are different from the people who had been set free from Egypt. As I'd mentioned earlier, this was the finest generation in the Bible. They are the people that are the most faithful to God. They have done everything. They have followed God and now they are asked to go in there. But they are different from the generation that Moses had led. 

Moses's generation was one that was set on gratifying the desires of their flesh. They were the ones that were set free, but didn't want to live like they were free. In Abraham, you got justification by faith. In Moses, you got freedom from slavery - redemption. You have these beautiful pictures of our doctrines. In the life of Abraham, saved by faith alone. In the life of Moses, freedom from slavery - redemption. 

But now these people are being sent into the Promised Land and they have to choose to live like the name that they've taken, like the status they've been given. I see this in our lives as well. We came to faith in Christ and we express that faith through our step of baptism. We've declared that, “I am Jesus’s because He has purchased me. I am saved not because of my good works. I'm not saved because of my religious obedience. I'm saved by faith alone, in Christ alone - not because of my performance. I am now set free. I'm no longer under the burden of the law. I don't have to keep striving to keep my salvation. I've been set free. I've been adopted as a child.” 

The problem is, and what we're going to see in the Book of Joshua, you might be justified, you might no longer be a slave, but are you victorious? I love in Indonesia. You're driving down the street and you see these bumper stickers on the car that says, “The Victorious Christian Life.” I don't know about you, but do you feel like your Christian life is victorious? Are you walking around going, “It is so good to be a Christian! I am stoked! God's Spirit is working through me. Everything I touch is healed! Everything I do becomes profit! Everything is great in my life!” 

A lot of us are struggling, maybe even struggling like Moses's generation. Moses's generation was sent out to follow God, but they didn't do it. Instead, they were a generation who who lived in unbelief and fear. God had promised them a land and had brought them out of Egypt. He said, “Go, step into this land. Take it for I am leading you. I am with you.” Instead, they go and send spies into the land. The spies say, “They’re giants! They’ve got big noses and big walls. There’s no way we can conquer them!” 

They had the mentality of a slave trying to live a life of the Spirit. That doesn't work if you're going to walk around today thinking like a slave, but trying to be a Christian. We need to think like a son, not a slave. A Spirit-filled life starts by thinking correctly. Moses's generation, because of fear and unbelief, refused to put their faith and trust 100% in God. As a result, they all had to die in the wilderness. It took God maybe 40 days to get them out of Egypt, but it probably took Him 40 years to get Egypt out of them. 

How much are you and I struggling today like Moses's generation, “Let's go back to Egypt?” Every time we face another problem, our immediate reaction is, “Let's go back to what I can control. Let me go back to what I can do, what I can perform.” We always fall back into our sinful characteristics, relying on ourselves, and thinking we're good enough to solve the problem. Gratifying the desires of the flesh is saying, “I'm going to be jealous. I'm going to be envious. I'm going to use anger. I'm going to use the things I can control so that I can get what I think I deserve.” That's Moses’s generation. They didn't want God to do it for them. They didn't believe God could do it for them. Instead, they didn't live the life that God had chosen them to live. 

However, what we see in Joshua's generation is different. Where Moses's generation was about gratifying the desires of their flesh, Joshua's generation is about walking in the Spirit. They were following God step-by-step, moment-by-moment. It wasn't just a handful of people, it was an entire population living and worshiping, acting and worshiping - everything they do it seems, in the Book of Joshua, is followed by worship. They do something, they worship. After that they do another thing, they worship. They recognize that everything they are being given isn't because it's them, it's because of God doing the work. 

God gave us justification by faith through Abraham and deliverance from slavery by Moses. But what we learn from Joshua is that even though we're saved and salvation can't be taken from us, we need to live a life of conquering our enemies by following God and relying on the Spirit. You and I think that we've got enough. “I've been baptized, it's good. I'm saved, that's good enough.” God is extending to us something so much more. 

The Spirit-filled life is a blessing from God that just overwhelms anything that you're going to experience in your life. When you go through decades of following Christ day-by-day, moment-by-moment, you get a sense of peace in your heart when you step into problems and stress over and over again. You realize, “I don't need to react like I used to. Why? Because I have confidence that God is working to fulfill His promise through me. I have confidence that whatever problem I'm facing today, God is on my side. I choose to conquer my enemies. I choose to live out the faith that has saved me.” 

We just finished the book Galatians. I think when it talks about salvation by faith alone, in Christ alone, through faith alone, it fits very nicely with the Book of Joshua. Now that you're saved and you know you're saved, what does it lead you to do? It leads me to live a life of trusting God for the impossible. It lives a life of saying, “God has put me here for a purpose. When I face the problems in my marriage, when I face the problems with my parents, when I face the problems in my career, I'm not afraid. I don't react anymore out of of unbelief. Now I am going to overcome the devil and I am going to live a life of blessing. Why? Because God's promises never fail.” 

Joshua teaches us how to move out of the Wilderness of Doubt and how to live in the Land of the Spirit, overflowing with milk and honey. How many of us today are living in this Wilderness of Doubt? God is extending to you a vision of committing yourself fully to Him, filled with the Spirit, filled with the Word, so that you will live a life overflowing with the blessings of God. 

A chosen nation, the finest generation in the Bible, but we also see we have this courageous leader in the Book of Joshua. When I look around our church, I see a church of men and women who are being called to be leaders as well. You might be a leader in your family. You might be a leader in your office, in your community. You might be a leader in the church. But all of us have been given some sense of leadership that God is asking us to embrace. 

Spirit-filled people embrace the job that God has called them to do. Each of you have a job to do. My mother, who couldn't even pray in a prayer meeting, knew she had a job to do. She would buy Bibles for my brother's girlfriends who were Buddhists, Catholics, or had never gone to church. She would take them to church. She knew she had something to do and she would do it. Why? Because she was led by the Spirit of God. 

When you and I want to embrace our mission and why God has saved you, why has God chosen you, why has God filled you with the Spirit, the reason is so that you will be a courageous leader. This life of victory He gives you isn't so that you are just prosperous and good, but so that you have an impact. What was it about Joshua that makes him a great example for us? There's several things in the life of Joshua I see that's really important for you and I. As we embrace our world and testify to it, these things lead us into a deeper commitment to follow God. 

The first is I see in Joshua is that he had a deep awareness of God's redeeming grace. It's interesting, because Joshua was born in Egypt. What's also interesting is Joshua was the first born in his family. Why is that interesting? Do you remember the 10th plague in Egypt? It was the death of all the firstborn sons and animals in Egypt. So Joshua was one who should have been killed. Joshua was under the 10th plague. As the angel went over Egypt killing the first born, it should have stopped at Joshua's house and killed him. 

But God had told the Israelites, “If you want to save your first born, this is what you have to do: you have to sacrifice a lamb. From that lamb, you take the blood and you put it over the door frame of your house. All those under the blood inside the house will be saved.” We call that “Passover” because the angel passed over the house. Joshua every year celebrated the Passover, when he was saved on that night and spared from death. 

Now he's with Moses in the wilderness. For 40 years and every year after that, they celebrated the Passover. Every year, Joshua remembered something, “I should be dead, but because of the blood I’m saved. I've been made alive by being under the blood of the sacrifice.” Joshua could be a courageous leader because he knew why God had redeemed him. He understood and lived out the Gospel message. 

We also see that he was a good leader because he had a humble heart that was willing to submit to godly leaders. We'll read in Joshua 1, where it it talks about Joshua as a servant of Moses. The word “servant” here in the Hebrew, sharath, means pembantu - somebody who is working in your house, cooking, cleaning, and taking care of you. 

When it talks about Moses being a servant of the Lord, it uses a different Hebrew word. The Hebrew word there is ebed. The Greek translation of the Old Testament translates it as doulos. So when it talks about Moses, it talks about him being God's servant, God's doulos - one who has given a trust and responsibility to oversee what's happening in a household. 

When it talks about Joshua, it says, “He’s not a hamba Tuhan, he's not a servant of God. He’s a pembantu rumah tangga. He is a domestic helper washing Moses's clothes.” Imagine, for 40 years he was washing Moses's camel, cutting Moses’s toenails, trimming his beard, and washing his underwear. For 40 years! Joshua could be leading. He is a natural gifted leader. But he willingly submitted and followed the servant of the Lord. He willingly did all these things. Why? Because he knew that God's Spirit was upon this man and he was going to be a partner with him. 

Interestingly, as he's gone through this whole process of living this life, humbly serving -this adult man humbly servicing Moses at the end of his life, it talks about Joshua being the ebed of God, the doulos of God, this honored, entrusted servant in the household of God. If you and I want to be used by God in our generation, you and I need to step forward in humility, recognizing that, “I need to learn. I need to have my character formed. I don't just suddenly become a leader, but God needs to process me.” For some of you, it might be 40 years of processing. But God has a plan to shape us and it starts with a humble heart. 

Thirdly, we also see that Joshua was a man who lived in complete dependency on God. It wasn't just that he had this awareness of the Gospel and a humble heart, but he knew that everything that was happening that was successful was because God was working, not because they were exceptional people. 

Joshua knew because as he was brought out of Egypt, in Exodus 17, they had to fight this battle at Rephidim against the Amalekites. Moses said to Joshua, “You go, take the army into the battle. I’m going up on the hill.” Joshua probably looked at him and said, “Why are you going up on a hill? Why don't you come down and fight with us? Why don't you use that staff of yours that parted the Red Sea and just go wham! wham! and wave it around and everyone will fall over dead?” Moses says, “You go down and fight. I'm going on top of the hill.” 

Whenever Moses stretched out his hands and prayed, Israel was winning the battle. When his hands fell down tired, the Amalekites would start to win. Finally, they propped and held up his arms until the victory was totally secured. All this was a lesson for Joshua. The lesson is: you might have an army, you might have a sword in your hand, you might have a horse to ride, you might have a tank, you might have a big bank account, you might have all these political connections, but not a single one of those things matter if you aren't depending on the Lord. 

I worry for our church, because in our church we say, “We’re good because we depend on our reformed faith. Our church is blessed by God because we depend on Reverend Stephen Tong. Our church is good because we've got this great big building. Look at all the things we have!” Joshua had an army that could win. The problem was, without prayer that army was never going to win. You might have buildings, you might have a leader, you might have permission from the government, you might have money and resources, but none of that matters if God is not fighting on your side. 

I know we don't believe that in this church, because the people that come to the prayer meeting every week on Zoom - you don't even need to leave your house, you don't even need to turn on your camera, you don't even have to shower before - are only ten people. It tells me we don't depend on God. We don't need to pray. Spirit-filled people are those that are driven to the Lord, knowing that despite our resources, they are meaningless if the Lord is not fighting on our behalf. Despite our lack of resources, that's never a problem to fulfill God's promises because the Lord is fighting for us. Joshua had learned that lesson firsthand in Rephidim as he fought the Amalekites. 

We also see that Joshua had a vision for God's glory. Joshua was prepared by the Lord by going up Mount Sinai with Moses. Joshua was there when Israel was making the golden calf down below. Joshua was seeing, with Moses, as God was revealing Himself to Moses on on the top of Sinai. 

A church without a vision of the glory of God is not going to be a courageous church. The more you see God, the more courageous your faith will be. How do you and I become unshakable Christians in an age where every day we're being told religion is useless, religion is for people who wanted to live a thousand years ago? How are you living for God when people around you are constantly telling you that it doesn't matter what you believe, because it all ends up going to heaven anyways? How can you live in a world where they tell you Jesus was never alive, Jesus was just a prophet, Jesus was just one of many gods, and Jesus is just a good moral teacher, and you have nothing to say back to them? How do you live up your faith in a situation like that? 

The only way you and I can stand in a society that is so anti-Gospel is if you and I have seen the glory of God. That's why we worship together. Worship is a picture of the Gospel, so you and I can come and see every week God is glorious. This is why we read our Bibles, so that you and I might come, meet with God, and hear Him speak to us in the Word. This is where you and I get involved in ministry, so we see that God works through us so that His name is proclaimed. As we do this, we get a deeper vision for how God is working and who God is. My prayer for each of you is that you would all fall so deeply in love with God and understand how big our God is, that it will completely transform your mind and heart. A vision for the glory of God. 

We also see that Joshua was the one who had confidence in God's ability to fulfill His promise. Joshua and Caleb were the only two of the twelve spies sent into the Promised Land who came back with a report that said, “Yes, we can do it! Yes, we can conquer this land! Don't worry about those giants. Don't worry about those big walls. All the reports of those ten, that's correct.” They never denied the report of those ten other spies were correct. The problem was, they didn't have a focus on God. They didn't believe that when God promises something, God will do it. 

How often do we compromise because we don't believe that God is going to do what He promised to do? How often are we trying to cut corners, cheat, lie, and manipulate because we don't believe God's plan is the best plan for us? It's a lack of faith. It's going back and being part of Moses's generation - a generation that lived by the flesh, not by the Spirit. But Joshua was different. Joshua was one whom the Spirit of the Lord was upon him. Joshua was one who had complete confidence and belief in the plan of God. As a result, “Joshua was a man filled with the Spirit,” it says in the Scriptures, “and was used mightily by God.” 

 

Chosen people. Spirit-filled people. Courageous people. That's the vision God has for you. That's the kind of Christian who has been molded by God, equipped by Him, and is now being sent like Him into this world to serve, to be a blessing, and to change the world around us. 

But it wasn't just Joshua. It was actually a second Joshua. In the Scripture, in Greek the name “Joshua” is translated “Jesus.” Joshua points us to a second Joshua, which is our Jesus, our Savior. Joshua’s name wasn't always “Joshua.” It was “Hoshea.” Hoshea means salvation. Hoshea meant people can be saved. It actually talks about how I can save people. Hoshea - salvation. Moses then comes along and says, “No, your name's not Hoshea anymore. It's ‘Yehoshua.’ Joshua - God (Yahweh) saves.” 

You and I look in the text to Joshua, and as we reflect on it every story about Joshua points us to another Savior, points us to a greater Savior. That's why we, as Spirit-filled people, are constantly pointing to the Savior. As we are molded in the image of Christ, we are transformed day-by-day to look more and more closely related to Him. 

Joel Beeke, who had spoken here at our church, he said this:

Unlike Joshua, Jesus does not merely rescue his people from physical dangers, but gives them victory over the spiritual evil that alienates them from God.

This is the message of spiritual people to the world. This is the message of our church, pointing to the world, that we are living a testimony. Chosen, justified, delivered, victorious. Pointing to the ultimate Savior, Jesus, who will save us. Joshua is about Spirit-filled people - a vision that we should have for our church in each of our lives. 

Gospel-Centered Living

Joshua is also about Gospel-centered living. If we look at the structure of the Book of Joshua, it's a picture of us; of what the Gospel should look like in our lives. It starts by the first 21 chapters of the book asking us to remember what's already happened. It's asking us to recall all the acts that God has performed with great faithfulness for each and every one of us. 

 

That's why we gather together as Christians - we Gather to remember. That's why we take the Lord's Supper - it's a remembrance of the great faithfulness of God as He has saved us through the second Joshua. That's as we walk, sit, discuss, and talk about God, we talk about how He answered our prayers. We talk about what He's doing in our lives.

 

We remember because we are people who forget all the time. I can't remember something my wife told me three minutes ago. We now have to text each other, so we document these decisions we make because we don't want to forget what we had promised. God is asking us also to remember the whole 21 chapters. 

 

The first 21 chapters of Joshua are remembrances for us. The first 21 chapters talks about the Gospel message and is asking you to recall it. Chapter 1 starts with assurance of your faith. Chapter 2, about how the salvation is by grace alone. Chapters 3 and 4 reminds us of God's power on behalf of His people. Chapters 5 and 6 reminds us of how God conquers our enemies. Chapter 7 reminds us of how God punishes our sins by grace and restores us to holiness. Chapter 8 reminds us how God works despite our sin. God still works to fulfill His promises in your life, instead of throwing you away. 

 

If you go throughout the whole book of Joshua like this, you will see Gospel truths over and over. This is written to people so they remember how God was faithful previously to them. As you remember, you sit around and talk to each other, and you sing with each other, “God, You are faithful. Great is Thy faithfulness, despite the fact that we are not faithful to You.” 

 

It also reveals to us that God wills that His promises will be fulfilled. As Joshua divides up the land, as people take their share of that inheritance, in chapters 10 through 21 you see that as the conquest is given by God and the land is divided, God performs His will. If God didn't will something for you, He never would have promised it. If He's promised it, it's as good as happening. 

 

I think it's very relevant for us today, because we face powerful armies. We face great big city walls in our lives. You and I think, “There's no way this promise of God will ever be fulfilled.” God says, “It's not a problem.” We also face sin and failure in our lives, just like Achan did in Joshua 8. When you and I face these problems, God is speaking into it saying, “You know what? Those sins, those problems, they also aren't a problem for My promises.” Despite your failures, despite your victories, despite the opposition, despite your lack of faith, God’s promises - all of them - are fulfilled. Remember that. Hold on to that. When you're in problems, your emotions start to rule. Remembering causes our minds to engage. When our minds engage, we begin to walk by faith and not by sight. God says, “I am trustworthy. Remember all that I have done previously for you.” 

 

Then in the verses we read today, Joshua 21: 43-45, we see worship. As we look back and remember, it causes something to happen in us: an overflowing response of worship to the faithfulness of God. When you recall how good God has been to you, it causes you today to to lift up your voice and thank Him - that's called worship. 

 

In Joshua 21, these three verses are the big summary verses of the Book of Joshua. Remember, as we read it, listen to the word “all” repeated over and over again: 

Thus the Lord gave to Israel all the land that he swore to give to their fathers. And they took possession of it, and they settled there.

That's Joshua's chapter 13 to 21 right there.

Not one of all their enemies had withstood them, for the Lord had given all their enemies into their hands.

That's Joshua 1-12. Then verse 45:

Not one word of all the good promises that the Lord had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass. 

That's chapters 21 through 24. “All, all, all, all.”

 

God is saying to you today, “All the land I'm providing for you, all of your enemies,” -  maybe you should go home today and list out your enemies. Maybe should write down the things that are causing you to be afraid today - “all of your enemies,” God says, “I put in your hands, taking care of them. You’re worried about your finances, don't worry about it. I got it covered. You’re worried about your love life, don't worry about it. I've got someone. You're worried about your kids, don't worry about it. I'm their God as well and I will give them the faith. Don't worry about all of your enemies. Why? Because all of the promises have come to pass.” Are you worshiping based on who you know God is? Is it causing your heart to overflow in worship towards Him? 

 

Finally, the remainder of Joshua is a book of dedication. Chapters 22 to 24 looks at all these things. As we respond and worship God, it ends by asking us over and over again to dedicate ourselves. There's three assemblies, the people all gather together, and in each of these assemblies they're asked to dedicate themselves to the Lord. 

 

It's a repeated emphasis in the book: will you be faithful to the Lord? Based on all that God has done to save you, based on all the work God’s already done in your life to bless you, will we as a church be faithful to Him? Will you be dedicated to Him? Will you be people who will live without compromise in this world?

 

God had told Israel, “Go in the land, conquer it, erase all the sin from the land, and kill all the Canaanites there so that this land will be pure and holy because if you don’t, they will cause you to worship their gods.” You know what happened? They didn't do it. Then along comes Solomon, and they start to worship in the high places, and then Israel fell into idolatry and God expelled them from the land. Compromise led to their defeat. Compromise will lead to our defeat. God wants to give you the victory, but it requires you to dedicate yourself fully to Him. 

 

Remembrance, worship, dedication. Where do we see that pattern in the Bible? We actually see it over and over again. The book of Romans is a book of remembrance, worship, and dedication. Remembrance - chapters 1 through 11 is all about remembering the Gospel, sin, how we tried to save ourselves, the faith of Abraham, how God would overcome all our problems. As we try to walk and be victorious in the flesh, remember all these things God has done for you. 

 

Then at the end of chapter 11, great worship overflows from the pages of Romans, out of the pen of Paul, as the Holy Spirit is moving him to worship our God. Then the minute he's done worshiping, what does Paul write? He writes this verse of dedication: 

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice

Then chapters 12 through 16 are dedication. 

 

Remembrance leads to worship, and worship causes you to respond. Joshua and Romans overlap. Joshua and Galatians overlap. It’s about you and I asking this question seriously today, who is God in my life? Will I worship and honor Him the way He deserves to, because He has been faithful in my life, because God is a faithful god, because God has fulfilled His promises to me, because God has a plan for me? He's asking for a response from you today: present your bodies, present your families, present your future, present your bank account, present your love life, present your career to the Lord and live as a living sacrifice to do His holy will. 

Deep-Rooted Faith

Spirit-filled people, a great Gospel-centered living, and finally a deep-rooted faith. Very briefly, here are just a few major themes that you're going to see in the book of Joshua. In the book of Joshua we're going to see that this is a book that has a preaching component to it. A lot of people think it's a historical book. It's not a historical book, it's actually a bunch of sermons. It's a prophetic book. It's a book that's given to challenge you. Just as preaching challenges you to do something, so too this is a book that is written to challenge you to live differently. 

Remember, it's not written to Joshua's generation. They already did these things. They were the finest generation. They're the ones we're holding up. Now, the author Joshua is writing this to point us back to them and say, “You see what they did at Jericho? Did you see what they did at the Jordan River? Did you see what they did Ai? Did you see what they did here, and here, and here, at Bethel, and all these places, at Gigal? If they can do it, will you do?” It's a preaching book! So what is it preaching to us? What are the main things that you and I are to take away from the Book of Joshua as we study it? 

The first one is that you and I can have certainty in our salvation. Unshakable people are people who are so rooted in Christ, that there is nothing that will cause them to doubt their salvation. When they go to work and they hear the people talking about how the Gospel is wrong, they're on the street and they hear a sermon from the mosque talking about how Jesus is just a prophet, when they go and they hear that all gods are all different roads that lead to the same heaven. Does it begin to scare you at your roots? “Am I believing the right thing?” This book is written to show you with confidence that by putting your faith in God, by believing the Gospel message that salvation is by grace not through works, you never once have to doubt your salvation.

 

We see this in the Book of Joshua in that the land is a gift. The land was never given to Israel because they performed well. God had promised it to Abraham 500-600 years earlier. When He promised it to Abraham, it wasn't because Abraham was the best person alive. Remember, he's trying to sell his wife to pharaoh and to the king of the Amalekites. He's trying to save himself by his own means. He wasn't a stellar person. Isaac was nothing to write home about, Jacob was a liar, Joseph was egotistical, Israel in the desert wouldn't even believe God. When they're seeing Him part the Red Sea, they still won't believe that He could defeat the cities of of Canaan. These are people of weak faith.  

God says, “My promise of giving you this land is a gift.” When you read in Joshua and you see how the gift is given, it's to encourage you today. When you go to sleep and you have fear, when you lie on down on your bed with fear, “What will happen if I die?” you're supposed to go back and remember, “God promised the land and He delivered. God has promised to go and prepare a place for me.” Jesus says, “I will come back and I will pick you up. I will bring you there. Do not doubt Me.” Certainty of our salvation. 

We also see the commitment to follow God in the midst of our struggle. Joshua is a picture for us that even though God has promised, He's asking us to move into the land and be victorious - to fight the battles He sent us. Israel's ownership of the Promised Land was unconditional. God promised it in a covenant to Abraham (that covenant was made in Genesis 15) one-sided only. God said He would do that covenant. Abraham was given this promise despite anything Abraham does, so the land was given unconditionally.

However, possession of the land, living on it, and enjoying it required faith. So too you and I today are given spiritual life. God has a life that He wants for you as a Christian, and it's not a life of sitting there not wanting to sing these old songs. It's not a life of sitting there thinking, “Why are these chairs so hard? When can this worship service be over? How come this is so boring?” That's not the Christian life. 

Christian life is where the Spirit is working in your life and you're overwhelmed with a sense of how awesome and beautiful God is that you’re responding by singing full-heartedly, by serving with your full life, by giving yourself fully to Him because He is such a beautiful and wonderful God. 

Some of us think we've got the land. “I'm saved, but my life is filled with uncertainty, depression, anger, and I'm just not enjoying my life.” God is offering you an option. He's saying, “This world is not easy, this world is full of struggle, and it's difficult to be a Christian in this world. But if you commit yourself to Me and follow My way, I am going to overflow your life with a sense of peace and joy that you'll never find anywhere else.” Joshua was a reminder to us to be committed to God while we fight and struggle to take possession, because faith is the victory that overcomes the world. 

Thirdly, we have confidence facing spiritual warfare. As you and I step into the world and this struggle, it's not that I'm committed to struggle for it, but I'm also confident that I will be victorious in it. The Bible talks about our three enemies: the world, the flesh, and the devil. The world’s systems are against us. We know our flesh is against us because I constantly am falling into sin, constantly sinning even though I don't want to sin anymore, and doing what I don't want to do. I certainly know the devil is against me. How do I find myself victorious over that? 

Joshua is a reminder to us that Spirit-filled people fight these spiritual battles. Spirit-filled people endure fighting these enemies. The power of the Spirit gives the promised victory. As your flesh is telling you to do it yourself, the Spirit is reminding you to rely on God. When the flesh is telling you to lie, cheat, steal, and do whatever satisfies you, the Spirit is saying, “Follow the way of God. Rely on Him and He will lift your head up. He will make your name great, because your enemies are not as powerful as God.” 

Finally, in Joshua we see the importance of celebrating our Shepherd. We see the importance of lifting up the name of God and worshiping Him for what He's done. Joshua ends with three different deaths. The last verses of Joshua are three people who died - it reflects on their deaths. 

The first chapter of Joshua talks about the land, “Go in the land. Take the land. Everywhere your foot steps, that land will be given to you.” The end of Joshua talks about Joseph's bones, Joshua's death, and Eleazar the high priest's death. Why are these three deaths important? Because these three deaths are related to Joshua chapter 1. “The land, every place you step will be given to you.” Now, at the end of Joshua, what do you find? These three men were buried in the land. The land was given. God had fulfilled His promises. 600 years might pass, but not a single one of those promises were forgotten, ignored, or unfulfilled. 

 

We celebrate God because of the great things He's doing in and through us in this church as He works in the world. Is that the doxology that's welling up in our hearts? Is that our response to the greatness of God - that He has done this beautiful work in and through us, and He's glorifying His name? 

 

As we study Joshua, may we train ourselves to recognize His faithfulness. May you train yourself to remember His goodness and allow Him to lift our heads high so that we don't walk around in discouragement, but we have unshakable faith to face the enemies around us. 

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Father, we thank You for the great blessings, the gifts that You have given us starting with this land that You had promised to Israel. This land that reminds us that nothing that transpires can ever make void a single promise that You have made. We remember Your promise that Jesus will come again and will establish His eternal Kingdom. We’re reminded of Your promise that there will be no sorrow and no tears. We're reminded of Your promise that You will be with us until the end. So Father, we ask that You remind us as we go through the Book of Joshua how beautiful Your promises are, how certain these things are, so that we might live for You in a world that so desperately needs to see God and experience the love of Christ. Use us and teach us. We pray in Jesus's name, Amen.

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