As we’ve been following the Israelites in their exodus, wanderings and their battles, one thing is very clear: when their eyes are on God, their life makes sense; when their eyes are on their desires and passions, their life is in disarray. Their attitude is summed up in Hebrews 5:11. Paul tells his readers that they no longer try to understand what God wants for them to grow. In fact, he says they are dull of hearing. In Greek, this word means “ignorant.” It’s not that they didn’t hear what God wanted, but they said, “Big deal. I don’t care what you have to say. I’d rather listen to myself and keep my eyes on everything the world has to offer me.”
When the Israelites forgot God, they started to do what they wanted to do. And this happened to always be evil in God’s eyes. And since God had told them what the consequence would be, they were always disciplined. For years and years they would be in bondage to their enemies. Finally, they would acknowledge their need for rescuing and would cry out to God in repentance for what they did. God in His great compassion would provide a savior through a judge of Israel. They would be saved and would “hear” from God again with ears that are open and eyes focused squarely on Him. Though life would be in order again, they neglected to tell their children about God, His standards, and His love. When the judge and their parents died, the kids did evil themselves and so the cycle continued for many, many decades.
I’m afraid that we are so similar. Things go well for us and then we start to lose sight of God because we don’t “need” Him as much. We start walking further away from Him and when problems come our way, we cry out to Him. Thankfully, He is always faithful and unchanging and once again shines a light onto the path back to His side. As you read chapter 8 on the Judges, I encourage you to ask God to help you to have ears to hear and eyes focused solely on Him.
Wow! I just realized I didn't send out the parent Page yet. Please forgive me (and PLEASE remind me if you don't have it by Monday). Sometimes I get wrapped up in things and pretty soon all my plans are gone.
I do hope you are spending time together as a family discussing the lesson for the week. Please encourage your young ones to read and think about what is happening. This week the Israelites enter the Promised Land and almost immediately begin taking the cities. Two big miracles happen new the beginning of this week's story. First, the Jordan River parts so the Israelites can cross on dry ground. That did not happen until the priests stepped into the water. God loves to see our faith in action. The second big miracle is when the wall of Jericho come crashing down. God said He would be going ahead of them and fighting the battles. It is obvious God is doing just that over and over again.
I hope to see you all in church Sunday!
“I will never leave you nor forsake you.” “Be strong and courageous.” “Be strong and very courageous.” “Be strong and courageous.” “Do not be terrified.” “Do not be discouraged for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” In just a few short sentences, God was trying to help the new leader of Israel understand something. Can you guess what it was?
You see, 40 years before, Israel was in this same exact situation. They stood at a seeming impasse, left with a choice of proceeding with God to fight against enemies that were giants or choosing the “safe” route and staying in the wilderness. The nation was so consumed by fear and dread that they chose not to follow God’s plan for them to bring them into the Promised Land. So God let them have exactly what they wanted, the Wilderness.
Forty years later, Joshua is standing in the same spot. I think that you already know what God wanted Joshua to understand from the encouragement above. Joshua took God at His word and the rest is history. God has Promised life, freedom, provisions to us. But sometimes we just stare at these gifts and fear the unknown, not really taking God at His word. So once again we go back to our “comfortable” wilderness where we have a hard time hearing from God. As you read chapter 7 this week, ask God to help you know the ways in which He is trying to show you the Promised Land and the ways in which He is truly with you.
“A land filled with strong cities and giants! We will surely die!” The Israelites were at the edge of the land promised to them hundreds of years before. They had been living on manna for over a year and finally were given the chance to eat real food again. But they couldn’t get over the report of the spies who had gone into the land, it was a good land but Oh so scary!
They were given a choice: trust God to bring them safely into the Promised Land or believe that God couldn’t do it. So naturally, these people who had seen God’s glory with their very own eyes decided…“I’m too scared, I’m not trusting you.” They chose the wilderness because it was something they knew. And you know what happen, God said, “You want to stay in the wilderness? Then I will allow you to have exactly what you are asking for.” And this started the 40 years of wandering around in circles. Grumble and complain, complain and grumble. That was the refrain of God’s people.
The Israelites failed to occupy the Promised Land because they were afraid. But I wonder if I was there, would I have been afraid? How many times have you or I failed to occupy the Promises that God has set aside for us? How many times have we lived in a wilderness, potentially of our own making? Sure God provides during it, but we aren’t thriving. As you read chapter 6 this week, ask God to help you know how to live life fully, accepting His word of promise in your life.
Grumble, grumble, grumble. Yea! God provides. Grumble, grumble, grumble, Yea God provides! Grumble, grumble, grumble, Yea God provides. And on and on it goes. Life is hard, Satan attacks, grumble, grumble, grumble. Then God helps us to see just how good He is. Thought I was talking about the Israelites didn't you? Although this fits them pretty good...it also fits us. God is always providing, God is always blessing, God's love is always shinning on us. But we let our bad moods, our worries, our selfishness--get in the way. We focus on them and stop seeing God's love shinning down like the sun. The Israelites had the same problem. God dealt with them again and again. He grew angry, He punished, but still He provided and He NEVER stopped loving. In spite of all the trouble they caused, the Israelites still made it to the Promised Land. In spite of all the grumbling we do, in spite of our lack of faith, in spite of our "I'm going to do what I want to do" attitude, we will still enter the Promise Land one day too. But it will only happen if we truly believe the only way it will happen is because of God's grace allowing Jesus to die in our place.
I wish I could say I was different, that I don't grumble. I can't! I wish I could say I would have been side-by-side with Caleb and Joshua. I can't! I wish I could say I never doubt God is real. I can't. But I know one day God will say, "Welcome home Chuck, your name is in the Lamb's Book of Life." Heaven is my Promised Land, I hope it is yours too.
It is so cool that we can share such wonderful stories and lessons with our kids. What a difference you can make in their lives by encouraging them to study, trust, obey and serve our MIGHTY GOD!
Your weekly parent page is attached. God bless you all!
Sometimes we read the Ten Commandments and think that God is a great overseer or dictator who makes rules and is excitedly watching us to see how we fail miserably. But we miss the part right after those verses that talk about the Tabernacle and how God desires to dwell with us. We read about the rules that we have to keep, but totally miss that God provides a way for when we break those rules to have our blame placed upon a blameless sacrifice.
God’s vision from the beginning was to be with us, to dwell with us, to walk alongside us. And so God continues to relentlessly pursue the apple of His eye, men and women created in His image. As you read this week, ask God to help you see not only from your Lower Story perspective, but to see the deeper message from God’s Upper Story perspective. He has made a way.
We take turns writing when God gives us an idea. The author will be noted.