Summary of “Joshua and the Flow of Biblical History” Francis Schaeffer

IMG_20170827_083008Many years ago in Bible College I took a class called Hebrew History and the book of Joshua was our starting point.   I don’t remember much of that class’s content, but I do recall the texture of wonder in my soul as musings of the text were considered, both in class and in my study.

According to Schaeffer, a major theme (and I agree) is the significance of our choices.  The book of Joshua centers on this reality of our “choices.”   Between the God Who is There or the idols that surround us, we are to choose whom we will serve.  God’s faithfulness to his promise to the fathers of Israel possessing the land was realized, but there was much to be gleaned by the “choices” God’s covenant people made—either negatively or positively.

Joshua before his death distributes the land to the different tribes of Israel and finally gives them his last “speech” (Joshua 24: 14-15):

14 “Now, therefore, fear the LORD and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. 15 If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”

The focus is not on their “stuff” but on their “loyalties” whether it is Godward or Manward—their worship is the ultimate issue.   And their worship like ours is seen in the choices that they daily made.  In Chapter 2 Joshua chose to recognize that Israel’s true leader was the Captain of the host of the LORD who was before him.  Chapter three focused on the national portion of the Abrahamic covenant.  The Jews chose to cross the Jordan—from that time until now, their choices would either result in blessing or cursing (i.e., the conditional aspects of the covenant).  Chapter 4 and 8 show how Rahab and the Gibeonites chose to deceive in order to become part of the people of God—they knew and heard of the renown of God’s name.

In chapter 5 two memorials were erected: one of stones and another of circumcision, both of which were signs of remembering and obeying the God of the covenant however impractical it seemed to the eye.  Chapter 6 shows how Achan’s choice to disobey God’s command lead not only to the temporary defeat of Israel’s army but also brought death to him and his kin.  Moreover, in the chapter 7 at Mt. Gerizim and Ebal blessing and cursing was established within the covenant—choose life Israel.  Chapter 9 Caleb once again shows himself faithful to God while standing opposed to Israel’s disobedience of taking the rest of the land.  He chose God, as he had done 40 years prior.

Chapter 10 the two and a half tribes that returned east of Jordan chose to serve the living God and those west of the Jordan lovingly and passionately entreated them thinking that they had turned to serve the gods of the land.  In chapter 11 the cities of refuge are set up and the one who has accidently committed homicide has a choice to run and be safe from the avenger of blood in this place.

The whole book demonstrates how choice—our choices effect history in a deep way; our family, our affiliations, our nation.  We are not to “Forget who we are” as Scripture constantly reminds.   We are not machines, but created in God’s image and we must choose rightly, not like Adam, but like Abraham.

What struck me here is that we can’t make a choice in the present that we are not in the habit of making in the past.  The little choices are not little in the least bit, instead they are monumental and oh the blindness within that argues contrarily.  Joshua understood this so well that at the end of his life both his “life” and “words” matched his professed convictions.  Israel knew it.  What a man, what a Great God he served.  What will you choose with the little time left on earth believer? The God of creation or the idols that promise so much but can’t deliver?  Whose word will you ultimately bank your life on?  The Creators or the creatures?

Reflections From 2 KINGS 19-20: “WHAT MADE HEZEKIAH ISRAEL’S BEST KING?”

crown-8-persian-persepIt’s painful reading through Hebrew history, beholding Israel’s continued cycle of rebellion, idolatry and waywardness.  To see this lifestyle in her leaders is especially difficult to behold.  This was their legacy, a people chosen by God who for the most part hated Him.  They instead chose to worship and serve the creature not the Creator who is blessed forever.

Today however reading about Hezekiah felt like a breath of fresh air, for unlike most of the previous monarchs and unlike any of the rulers in Israel’ history, Hezekiah’s heart was fully devoted to the LORD God as the text reads in (18:3-6):

“He did right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father David had done. He removed the high places and broke down the sacred pillars and cut down the Asherah. He also broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the sons of Israel burned incense to it; and it was called Nehushtan. He trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel; so that after him there was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor among those who were before him.For he clung to the Lord; he did not depart from following Him, but kept His commandments, which the Lord had commanded Moses.”   

He did not hold syncretistic sympathies with Yahweh, but was instead a faithful ruler in both word and deed.  His loyalty to God, according to the text, surpassed all the kings in Israel’s history because he never stopped following God whole heartedly (This includes king David and Solomon who are authors of sacred texts).

And yet, this truth did not keep him insulated from troubled times.  On the contrary, evidenced through the Assyrian kings’ taunts of Israel and Yahweh (19:8-13):

“Then Rabshakeh returned and found the king of Assyria fighting against Libnah, for he had heard that the king had left Lachish. When he heard them say concerning Tirhakah king of Cush, “Behold, he has come out to fight against you,” he sent messengers again to Hezekiah saying,10 “Thus you shall say to Hezekiah king of Judah, ‘Do not let your God in whom you trust deceive you saying, “Jerusalem will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.” 11 Behold, you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all the lands, destroying them completely. So will you be spared? 12 Did the gods of those nations which my fathers destroyed deliver them, even Gozan and Haran and Rezeph and the sons of Eden who were in Telassar? 13 Where is the king of Hamath, the king of Arpad, the king of the city of Sepharvaim, and of Hena and Ivvah?’”

Sennacherib defied God including him with the rest of the gods of the nations conquered by Assyria.  Despite all this, Hezekiah prays for the glory of God’s name to be upheld (19:15-19):

“Hezekiah prayed before the Lord and said, “O Lord, the God of Israel, who are enthroned above the cherubim, You are the God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. 16 Incline Your ear, O Lord, and hear; open Your eyes, O Lord, and see; and listen to the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to reproach the living God. 17 Truly, O Lord, the kings of Assyria have devastated the nations and their lands 18 and have cast their gods into the fire, for they were not gods but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone. So they have destroyed them. 19 Now, O Lord our God, I pray, deliver us from his hand that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You alone, O Lord, are God.”

The zeal of God had consumed Hezekiah and God answered his prayer because it was offered to God (19:20) and the angel of the LORD killed 185,000 men in the Assyrian camp (19:35).

I’m so grieved over the leadership in our country who; daily deny Your name, oppress Your people, and conspire to harm them.  Oh LORD, arise and rectify that which is so twisted in the land.  My heart grieves, my soul aches so for the sake of Your glory and Name, act now and don’t delay.

(SDG)