Read the Bible in 2011 ◊ Week 1: Tuesday
Tuesday’s reading was Joshua 1–5. As I started to read, I thought that if you’re not familiar with Old Testament history, then you might want to use M’Cheyne’s reading plan in the right sidebar. It does mix readings from different books of the Bible, but it begins with Genesis and goes straight through the first five books of the Bible before you read Joshua. The history in Genesis and the history of the Exodus of Israel from Egypt provides important background to the events in Joshua. If the pace set by M’Cheyne’s chart is too fast for you, then just slow down a bit, but do read large chunks of the Bible at a time rather than just one or two verses in a sitting, as Geoffrey Thomas encourages us to do. I find reading history in the Bible goes more rapidly for me because it’s narrative, and I’m meeting people and learning how events unfold rather than being presented with ideas to think through.
When the book of Joshua begins, Moses has died and God tells Joshua to cross the Jordan with the rest of Israel and take the land which God has given him. Chapters 1–5 are preparation for conquering the land. In chapter 1 God commands Joshua and he assumes leadership of Israel. In chapter 2 he sends spies to Jericho; they are hidden from harm by Rahab because she has realized the Lord is with Israel, and she, in turn, pleas for and is promised safety for her household when Israel takes the city. In chapters 3 and 4, Israel crosses the Jordan River on foot as God dries up its waters, and two monuments are built, each of twelves stones, one in the river and one beside the river.
In chapter 5, Joshua circumcises the sons of Israel, and the Lord tells Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” (Read Genesis 17, for background on why Joshua did this). Israel observes the Passover, and chapter 5 closes with the appearance of the captain of the Lord’s host to Joshua (English Standard Version: “commander of the army of the LORD”) whom Joshua falls down and worships, and who is identified in chapter 6 as the LORD as He gives Joshua his instructions for taking Jericho.
A verse from Paul’s letter to the Romans came to my mind as I thought about Joshua:
“For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”
How does Joshua instruct and encourage me? I go back to Joshua 1:6–9. Joshua 1:9 is drilled into my memory because of a Bible song tape for kids we listened to over and over again when our children were young. My son loved the song for this verse, and he would kick his heels against his car seat in time to the music. (That’s why I was thinking of my kids as I read Joshua today!).
“Be strong and courageous, for you shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them.
“Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go.
“This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
In Joshua 1:6–9, God commands Joshua three times to be strong and courageous. Be strong and courageous because God has promised; be strong and courageous and careful to obey; be strong and courageous—don’t tremble or be dismayed—for God is with you.
Be strong and courageous: trust. Be strong and courageous: obey. Be strong and courageous: God is with you. This was Joshua’s preparation for battle.
This is instruction for me: trust, obey, God is with me—be strong and courageous.
“…that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”
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Original content: Copyright ©2011 Iwana Carpenter