Parent Category (Pocket Sized Thoughts [Roger Jacobs])

Pocket Sized Thoughts – Joshua – Part 31

Choose this day whom you will serve … as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (24:15)

Joshua’s second ‘final’ speech is to the whole nation as they presented themselves before God. He reminds them of their origins and how that the parents of Abraham, the ‘father’ of their race served idols. From this idolatry, by way of Egypt, God saved them and brought them to a place where they would worship the true and living God and enter into a covenant relationship with Him. To this end, they were a privileged people, saved for special purposes. They then had a choice which Joshua sets before them : they could serve the Lord, or they could serve idols which their hearts were prone to. Joshua makes his choice clearly before them all (last part of v.16). The influence of a godly life affects their response. Their reply is recorded in stone as a witness against them should they ever depart from the true and living God. But, once that life has been removed and a new generation emerge who have not directly seen, or known the works of the Lord, other forces come into play and spiritual life, strength and vigour begins to decline as they lust after other things. We thank God for those who have blazed a trail ahead of us; let us honour their memory by following the Lord with all our hearts and only serving Him.

PRAYER :- “Lord, may my days really count in serving You.”

Pocket Sized Thoughts – Joshua – Part 30

Love the Lord your God.” (23:11)

Joshua is now old and his time on earth has almost come to an end. His work is done and now the Lord’s work must be carried on by another. The last two chapters of the book that bears his name are mainly his final words. Firstly, he speaks to the elders, judges and heads of Israel. There is no one successor to Joshua but they are to be as the spiritual guardians of the nation. Joshua’s words are those of warnings and promises. The central exhortation is two-fold :- listen and love (v.11). They were to listen to God’s commands and ensure that they first were to be above reproach. If they failed, or disobeyed in any way, how could they possibly guide the nation? And, they were to love the Lord. If God was the first affection in their hearts, they would avoid anything to displease Him. If love for God was strong, they would not seek satisfaction anywhere else. True love for God will keep us from disobedience and keep us from idols. May the Lord truly help us to love the Lord first and foremost, not to leave that primary place and substitute love for Him with other things. How vital this is if the work of God is to go forward with good success and so, not to know the shame of defeat.

PRAYER :- “Lord, let my love for You be always stronger than a love for anything else.”

Pocket Sized Thoughts – Joshua – Part 29

They gave the Levites out of their own inheritance” (21:3)

No portion of land was given to the Levites as the Lord Himself was their inheritance. However, each tribe set aside a number of cities, 48 in total, for the Levites to live in. In this way, the priestly, spiritual service was not in isolation from the rest of the nation, but rather, lived among them. This is God’s way of maintaining His testimony to all people. Monasteries, convents, sanctuaries and even mission stations are alien to the ways of God. He and His ‘ministering’ people are to be totally accessible at all times. With this final allocation, the last work of dividing up the land came to an end. Every word that God had spoken had been fulfilled (v.45); all that He promised had become reality. This is always the case with God’s word and hardly ever the case with man’s. This difference alone should establish our faith in Him. As if to confirm the testimony of God’s faithfulness, there is a lovely picture in verse 11. The city of Arba, which means the ‘Strength of Baal’ had previously belonged to father of all the children of Anak, the giants who had defied Israel and brought so much unbelief into the nation (see Numbers 13:33). This same city, as a result of conquest, was now being given to Levi and thus, a glorious change of use was being observed. The source of Anak, their father, no longer existed – all had changed and the new name, Hebron, meaning ‘Fellowship’ typifies the change of use. Our God is able to transform everything for His new, wonderful and eternal purposes from the degraded purposes of the past.

PRAYER :- “Lord, thank you that You always want those who ‘minister’ to You to dwell in the land.”

Pocket Sized Thoughts – Joshua – Part 28

They shall take him in … and give him a place” (20:4)

As part of the division of the land, the vital importance of allocating the cities of refuge was made early on. Summary/mob justice was not allowed to become a permanent feature in the land; the rule of law must be maintained. Pre-meditated murder had no sanctuary, but death through accident at the hands of another gave the chance to flee to the cities of refuge. It has been said that the roads were kept clear and the bridges in good repair, so that there should no delays in the person’s flight, in case the revenger of blood caught up with him and killed him. Once in the city of refuge, the case was carefully heard by the priests, who stood for mediation. The man who had fled, his life was literally in the hands of the mediators. Only after the closest, fullest and most impartial investigation, could a man’s guilt be confirmed, or annulled. The court of divine justice has and will find us guilty of sin and offending a holy God. Our only hope of appeal and salvation is to flee to our heavenly Mediator, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will assess our case. If our plea for mercy is genuine, He will not turn us away from His grace so as to avoid the punishment of death our sins so surely deserve. It has also been said that there were constant and many signposts pointing the way to the nearest city of refuge. Let us pay heed to those signs and not ignore the clear way to salvation.

PRAYER :- “Lord, thank you that there is such abundant mercy to be found in You.”

Pocket Sized Thoughts – Joshua – Part 27

And the area … was too small for them.” (19:47)

The division of the land proceeds in a fairly routine way until we read about the motivation of the tribe of Dan (v.47). Here is faith and a heart reminiscent of that of Joshua and Caleb of old. Routinely, they were given their borders, but then they came to conclusion that their inheritance was too small for them. Rather than lodge a complaint, they stirred themselves into immediate action. Without delay (perhaps taking to heart Joshua’s words of the previous chapter), they rose up and took Leshem, making it their own by re-naming it after their own name. Thus , the transfer of ownership becomes complete. Leshem means fortress and it would have stood as a perpetual reminder of the inadequacies of faith in the Lord’s people. This, the tribe of Dan would not tolerate. They could have thought, “Oh, this will do, it’s enough.” But, they had a heart of holy dissatisfaction, went out, conquered and thus, enlarged their border. Are we content in lesser things? Does God not want to add to that which we already have? If our sphere of faith and godly influence is too small, then, instead of complaining, let us seek the Lord as to how our ‘border’ can be enlarged.

PRAYER :- “Lord, let me always see that there is more to be known of You and done for You.”

Pocket Sized Thoughts – Joshua – Part 26

How long are you slack to possess the land.” (18:3)

As the land became subdued, worship was re-established at Shiloh where the Tabernacle was once more set up. As they became focussed and God-centred once more, the word of exhortation and rebuke rang out loudly in their ears. “How long will you delay before possessing the land which the Lord has given you?” It was a very valid question and not to be dismissed. There is a danger that we can slacken off in our Christian lives, especially if we become weary and tired in the work. As we worship the Lord, we must allow for words of exhortation, rebuke, correction, encouragement, etc. God needed to speak, through Joshua, to the people again, reminding them of their God-given responsibility to possess that which, through Him, was theirs. We must not settle back and allow the status quo of mediocrity to dominate and determine our lives. There is no shortage in the work of the Lord. Let us gather round Him and His throne to receive fresh vision and strength and allow the word of God inspire us to stir ourselves up again to go out and conquer once again in His name.

PRAYER :- “Lord, let my faith be real and do not let me slide into spiritual complacency.”

Pocket Sized Thoughts – Joshua – Part 25

If you are a great people …” (17:15)

Like their twin brother Ephraim, the half tribe of Manasseh also failed to drive out all the former inhabitants of the portion of land allotted to them. They complained about their inheritance. Quite rightly, Joshua challenges them. He says in effect, “If you are a great as you say you are, then go and prove it.” There was plenty of land still to go around, though giants with chariots of iron stood in the way. A different strategy was needed as they cut down trees to make a way into the centre of their inheritance. Don’t rely upon past achievements, or even present reputation. Be exhorted and arise. Be strong in the Lord and the power of His might and drive out those things, habits and sins which have stayed far too long in the ‘land’ which God has given you to inherit. There is so much to possess and to be done for God and His Name. What a privilege to be invited into this great work – let us not fail Him in any way.

PRAYER :- “Lord, let my words be backed up by reality so that my faith be genuine.”

Pocket Sized Thoughts – Joshua – Part 24

They did not drive out the Canaanites.” (16:10)

The tribe of Joseph receive a double portion in the form of his children, Ephraim and Manasseh. Half of Manasseh had already received their claim on the east of the river Jordan. The other half shared with Ephraim. Despite the strength of 1½ tribes, they were unable to subdue and drive out the Canaanites. They failed to fully possess their inheritance. Subsequent history shows that although Ephraim became the dominant tribe in the northern kingdom of Israel, they became ‘leaders’ in that kingdom’s decline (see Hosea’s prophecy). They were meant to be doubly fruitful, for so is the meaning of their name, but they turned back in the day of battle (Psalm 78:9). They assumed that the things allotted to them by God’s choice would be automatic. They failed to exercise their God-given strength in possessing their God-given inheritance. Nothing is automatic in the kingdom of God. Though He freely gives, God does not reward laziness. We must be strong in faith, devotion and in the going through of trials. Then, we will subdue our enemies and possess our inheritance. Otherwise, we will sadly share the same fate as Ephraim. May the Lord preserve us from that happening to us.

PRAYER :- “Lord, keep me strong, so that I do not accept compromise.”

Pocket Sized Thoughts – Joshua – Part 23

He gave her upper springs and nether springs” (15:19)

As the division of the land proceeds, there are still battles to be won as some of the old inhabitants of the land stubbornly refuse every attempt to defeat them. This was especially true of Jerusalem (v.63), the Jebusites testifying to Israel’s inability, weakness and lack of faith in God’s Word. In sharp contrast, there is (again) the example of Caleb. Having already obtained Hebron as his inheritance, he is in such a position of victory, he is able to offer his daughter in marriage to any who would overcome the inhabitants of Kirjath-sepher. Othniel (‘Lion of God’) steps forward, determined to win not only Achsah, Caleb’s daughter, but also to win the honour of being a son-in-law to Caleb. With righteous boldness, Achsah also asked for springs of water in what was otherwise an arid land. Due to his position of victory, Caleb was able to doubly grant this request, which became a source of life for others. What an inheritance she obtained! Don’t despise your apportioned lot in life, neither be jealous of others. Instead, be bold in faith and ask God to give you something which will transform the ordinary into the extraordinary, for His own name’s sake.

PRAYER :- “Lord, thank you for all that You have won and freely give.”

Pocket Sized Thoughts – Joshua – Part 22

There remains still very much land to be possessed.” (13:1)

As Joshua reached old age, the work of conquering had not yet been completed; much land still remained to be possessed. Our work is only done when God takes us to Himself. We must never rest on past laurels of victory; to do so would be to invite trouble indeed. While we sleep the enemy is active. In this sense, there is no retirement in the kingdom of God. The time will come when we are physically unable to do things but God wants us to be always in that fighting frame of mind to our last breath, the sword of prayer still held strongly in our hand. In this, the example of Caleb stands out prominently. Forty years he had waited and all through that time of delay and possible frustration, his consistent, undying testimony was that he “wholly followed the Lord” (14:8). He was as strong in his 85th year as he was in his fortieth. His body was older but his faith was undiminished. The promise still held good and as a ‘reward’, he was given Hebron, a key, central city in the land. We don’t have to wait until we are 85, but let the example of Caleb inspire us to greater exploits when naturally we may have been written off by some. There is still much to be done in and for the kingdom of God, even by older, ‘retired’ people.

PRAYER :- “Lord, help me to whole-heartedly follow You, without holding back, even in my old age.”