Why Destroy Everything?

They completely destroyed everything in the city with the sword – every man and woman, both young and old, and every ox, sheep, and donkey. Joshua 6:21 HCSB

My father died eleven years ago and my mother came to live with us. She has her own apartment space in our home with a bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, dining area, living room, and laundry room. Today is her 93rd birthday. For someone who is 93, she is in relative good health and still enjoys brief outings. In her living quarters she has many pieces of antique furniture, glassware, pictures, and other heirlooms that are important to her and bring back many good memories of days gone by.

Many of us own a keepsake box with items that are important to us that bring back memories of past activities. The people of Jericho were evil people in the eyes of the Lord and had rejected Him for multiple pagan gods. They practiced immoral behaviors as a form of worship and perverted the ways of God. The destruction of everything was a judgment against these evil practices. Their behavior was a threat to the Israelites and the right way to live for God. His purpose was to keep His people from being contaminated by the evil practices of the Canaanites. Obviously if any Canaanites lived, they would have been a negative influence on the Israelites. Even animals and objects would be a reminder of the Canaanites and their wickedness.

Challenge: God desires for us to be pure and clean. We must not allow the evil of this world to distract us from our spiritual purpose of living for God. We must reject any objects that are reminders of the evil in our lives before we became believers in Jesus Christ.

One Bad Apple

“But keep yourselves from the things set apart, or you will be set apart for destruction. If you take any of those things you will set apart the camp of Israel for destruction and bring disaster on it. For all the silver and gold, and the articles of bronze and iron, are dedicated to the Lord and must go into the Lord's treasury.” Joshua 6:18-19 HCSB

There is an old saying, “One bad apple spoils the whole bunch,” meaning that one bad person can ruin those around him. This saying comes from the fact that as fruit ripens it produces a gaseous hormone called ethylene, which is a ripening agent. The riper the fruit, the more ethylene it produces causing the other fruits around it to ripen faster. One apple can push all the fruit around it to ripen and eventually rot. It actually does take just one single apple to start a domino effect that ruins the rest of the bunch.

It was tempting for the Israelites to keep some of the goods that they found as they plundered the city of Jericho, but they were warned that they must leave those things that God said to destroy and they must not take anything of value because it was to go into the Lord's treasury. There was no temple but the items taken from the ruined city were probably stored near the temporary tabernacle. If just one person kept just one item it would mark the whole camp of Israel for destruction.

Challenge: Those with whom you select to spend time on a regular basis will impact your life. I have found from experience that it seems the bad always affects the good rather than the good influencing the bad. Be careful who you select as your friends. Know that it is important to follow God's instructions exactly and not partially.

Prostitute Included in Hall of Faith

But the city and everything in it are set apart to the Lord for destruction. Only Rahab the prostitute and everyone with her in the house will live, because she hid the men we sent. Joshua 6:17 HCSB

I grew up in a pastor's home and came to know the Lord as my Savior when I was ten years old. I did not live a wicked and destructive life before coming to Christ. Through the years I have heard testimonies of prostitutes, drug dealers, and murderers who have come to know Jesus as Lord and Savior. Their testimonies seem more exciting and compelling than mine, but the bottom line is that we are all sinners regardless of the type of sin and fall short of God's glory.

It is interesting that God's Word points out that Rahab was a prostitute. She obviously was not Jewish, but at some point she had a conversion experience. Rahab was accepted into the family of the Israelites because of her faith and belief in God. For some reason she rejected the logic that the city of Jericho was well fortified and the people who lived there were much larger than the Israelites. Rahab believed that the God of the Israelites was powerful and could accomplish anything, including the destruction of Jericho. She is even listed in the “Hall of Faith” in Hebrews 11:31. It is amazing how God can transform a person from the worst and most wicked backgrounds into someone who lives to please Him.

Challenge: God can and will transform your life if you will only let Him. He is in the life-changing business and wants to make you into the person He created you to be. Let go and trust Him even when it does not seem to make sense. He will protect you and show you His ways.

Blow the Horns

Early on the seventh day, they started at dawn and marched around the city seven times in the same way. That was the only day they marched around the city seven times. After the seventh time, the priests blew the trumpets, and Joshua said to the people, “Shout! For the Lord has given you the city. Joshua 6:15-16 HCSB

I have had the opportunity to visit Israel twice and I am planning to go again in March of next year. On my last visit I purchased a souvenir called a Shophar which is actually a ram's horn. One can blow from the small end to make a sound. It can only play afew notes and is primarily used for making noise rather than for music. At one of the visits to a national park in Israel, I observed a young lady blowing a Shophar. It was her cry for peace in the land.

The trumpets that the priests blew were actually Shophars. The priests blew these all seven days while everything else was silent until the last day when Joshua commanded the people to shout. We can only imagine what the Israelites were thinking. I am sure some were thinking, “We have marched around the city for seven days and now we have marched around the city seven times today yet nothing has happened.” Certainly, there had to be many who were ready to stop and go back to camp. Some may have wanted to go back to Egypt. God often works in mysterious ways and sometimes uses unusual methods to accomplish His will.

Challenge: Are you willing to follow God's plan for your life, even when it does not make sense? Shout to God verbally or in your heart to proclaim Him as Lord and Savior. You have something to shout about: Through Jesus Christ, God provided a way for you to defeat your enemy, Satan, and gain eternal life in heaven.

Marching Orders

Joshua got up early the next morning. The priests took the ark of the Lord, and seven priests carrying seven trumpets marched in front of the ark of the Lord. While the trumpets were blowing the armed troops went in front of them, and the rear guard went behind the ark of the Lord. On the second day they marched around the city once and returned to the camp. They did this for six days. Joshua 6:12-14 HCSB

Occasionally in my professional life a supervisor has given me instructions for a specific task that to me did not seem logical or beneficial. I always complied because the request came from my superior.

Just imagine if you had been one of the priests or armed troops under Joshua's command. There was no logic to what they had been asked to do. It certainly would not have seemed the best way to conquer a city that was fortified with large walls. Certainly they must have thought that Joshua had lost his mind when they did the same thing for six days without any recognizable results. One can only imagine what the conversations would have been among the troops each evening after marching around the city blowing horns. The people of Jericho must have been ridiculing and jeering the Israelites. With each day the laughter and jeering had to get more intense.

Challenge: What has God asked you to do that seemed to be a waste of time or even impossible? Are you willing to blindly follow God's commands regardless of how illogical or impractical they might seem? God desires for you to trust Him and follow His leadership at all times, even when it does not make any sense.

The Third Key to Success

This book of instruction must not depart from your mouth; you are to recite it day and night so that you may carefully observe everything written in it. For then you will prosper and succeed in whatever you do. Joshua 1:8 HCSB

My daughter, Sarah, is going through an advent study by She Reads Truth. Wanting her three year old son, Logan, to understand and see Christ in the Christmas season above anything else, she purchased some advent cards designed specifically for kids from She Reads Truth that correlate with the study she is doing. She repeated the verse Micah 6:8 a few times and Logan had it down. He usually repeats it out loud after her in little sections. Sarah had a plan to take one word out of the verse at a time until he knew it, but he did not need that. Yes, I am a proud grandfather.

The third key to success is to constantly read and study God's Word. This verse commands us to recite it day and night. It is to be on our minds every moment of every day. We should constantly be seeking to do what God commands. If we don't read and memorize God's Word and His principles, how can we know how to live?

Challenge: The three keys to success are 1) Be strong and courageous; 2) Obey God's laws; and 3) Constantly read and study God' Word. Without these three keys one cannot be successful. You may not be a success by the world's standards but you will be a success in God's eyes, which is much more important. Check out www.shereadstruth.com and the topical memory system from Navigators at www.navigators.org

Second of Three Keys to Success

Above all, be strong and very courageous to carefully observe the whole instruction My servant Moses commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right or the left, so that you will have success wherever you go. Joshua 1:7 HCSB

Our church has a school with over 200 kindergarten through eighth grade students. Each morning they gather for a chapel service. They pledge allegiance to the American flag, the Christian flag, and the Bible. After a song they have a short devotional thought that is usually led by one of the teachers or one of the ministers at the church. I had the privilege of leading chapel this morning. The students have been going through the Ten Commandments. I began my devotional talking about the rules of football, the rules of the road, and the rules that parents have at home. Most, if not all of the rules are designed to protect us and to keep us from getting hurt. God's laws or rules are designed to protect us from harm.

The second key to success is to obey God's laws. God instructs Joshua to carefully observe the whole instruction. What if we only followed part of the rules for football? There would not be any order. What if we only obeyed some of the rules of the road? People would obviously get hurt in accidents. To be successful we must not wander off of the road either to the right or left. We must stay on the straight and narrow road of obeying God's commandments and rules. They are designed to give us success wherever we go.

Challenge: Have you wandered off of the road? Are you only partially obeying God's laws? If you want to be successful you must first be strong and courageous and secondly, you must obey God's laws. Tomorrow we will look at the third key to success.

Three Keys to Success

“Be strong and courageous, for you will distribute the land I swore to their fathers to give them as an inheritance.” Joshua 1:6 HCSB

Self-help and roads to success books seem to be as plentiful as the stars in the sky. Everyone is interested in discovering how to be successful. Many people think that prosperity and success comes from having a powerful position, influential friends, and a drive to get ahead and beat the competition. But God describes three ways that Joshua could be successful in everything he did. Over the next three days we will look at these three avenues to success.

The first thing that God said was important was to “Be Strong and Courageous”. When facing a difficult task we need to show strength instead of weakness. We need to be courageous instead of afraid. We can have confidence when we know that God is with us. God expects us to play a role and to be a part of His plan.

Challenge: Be strong and courageous. Do your part in accomplishing God's plan. Know that God always keeps His promises and will help you be successful if you will follow His leadership and direction.

Facing Challenges

No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. I will be with you, just as I was with Moses. I will not leave you or forsake you. Joshua 1:1-2 HCSB

I , like others, have faced many challenges in my lifetime such as learning to walk, going to school, learning to read, learning to ride a bike, speaking in front of a crowd of people, leading conferences, changing jobs, getting married, and becoming a father and grandfather. I have also faced the challenge of working with difficult people and having people mistreat me.

Life is filled with challenges, but nothing compares to the challenge that Joshua faced. He was about to lead approximately 2 million people into a new land and conquer the people who currently occupied the land. He had already faced the challenge of dealing with people who were complaining and unfaithful to following God's laws. I am sure the task seemed overwhelming not to mention that he was trying to fill Moses' shoes and follow God's instructions. God knew that Joshua had some doubts so He affirmed him and told him that He would be with him and never forsake him. No one would be able to stand against Joshua because God was on His side. All that Joshua needed to do to be successful was to trust God and follow His leadership.

Challenge: Interestingly, the same is true today – if we are going to be successful we must trust God and follow His leadership. What would you attempt to do if you knew that God was with you and you could not fail? No matter what challenges you are facing in your life right now, know that God is with you and will not forsake you.

The Apprentice

After the death of Moses the Lord's servant, the Lord spoke to Joshua son of Nun, who had served Moses. “Moses My servant is dead. Now you and all the people prepare to cross over the Jordan to the land I am giving the Israelites.” Joshua 1:1-2 HCSB

God has allowed me to lead many Sunday School leadership conferences across the United States and even in Belarus. I try to help Sunday School leaders know how they can be more effective as leaders and in teaching God's Word. Having an apprentice teacher is the best way to train and equip new leaders. An apprentice teacher helps with teaching and fills in for the regular teacher when he needs to be gone. The ultimate goal is for the apprentice teacher to develop the skills needed to teach a new class.

Joshua was one of two spies that had come back from Jericho with a report that they could defeat those in Jericho even though they were large in stature and well fortified. He knew that with God all things were possible even though the other ten spies said they could not do it. He had served as an apprenticeto Moses for 40 years and was now ready to take the leadership role. Moses and God had prepared Joshua for this important task.

Challenge: If you are a teacher, enlist an apprentice teacher and begin training him to eventually take your place or teach another class. If you are not a teacher, pray and consider becoming an apprentice teacher. Even at your place of work you should be training new people to do your job.