Tag Archives: Old Testament

Joshua 3: Crossing the Jordan

water-872016_960_720For people of God, the Jordan River carries heavy symbolism.  If you are a churchgoer, take a quick peek in your hymnal.  You will find songs revealing the Jordan as a symbol of death.  Crossing the Jordan and reaching the Promised Land meant  entering the gates of heaven.

Some time after Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River, baptism took the meaning of dying to your old self (upon immersion) and being raised to new life found in Christ (being drawn back up out of the water).

In Joshua chapter three we read the people of Israel needed to sanctify themselves before they could cross the Jordan River.  For this ancient people it involved devoting themselves completely to God and worshiping him.  God was about to perform a miracle and he wanted their undivided attention.

“Joshua told the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.”” Joshua 3:5

Unlike the Red Sea crossing found in the book of Exodus, crossing the Jordan to take possession of the Promised Land required an act of faith on their part–especially by the priests.  God wasn’t going to stop the flow of the Jordan River at flood stage until their feet were in the water.  The priests, however, didn’t go into the water alone.  God was with them in the form of the ark of the covenant, which they carried.

“The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stopped in the middle of the Jordan and stood on dry ground, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground.”  Joshua 3:17

Some thoughts for those who know God through his son Jesus:

  • God sometimes performs miracles at the most extreme times, often only after we step out in faith
  • How many miracles have we missed because we failed to take that first step of faith?
  • Every person passed by the ark (containing the Word of God) as they traveled through the dry riverbed. Much as every person today must encounter God to pass from death to everlasting life.
  • God will accomplish the impossible in our lives if we will trust Him.

 

 

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Joshua 2: Rahab

I blogged about Joshua chapter 1 a while back, see my posts here: A Homily on Joshua Chapter 1 and here: Joshua 1: Be strong and courageous.

Joshua chapter 2 features two spies who are sent to Jericho to gather information about the city prior to the Israelite invasion.  Their job, blend in to a culture foreign to them, one in which they didn’t belong.  As Christians doesn’t life in the workplace sometimes seem just like this; different ethics, language, and temptations we’re not prepared for.

uruk5The spies encounter Rahab, a pagan prostitute and owner of the establishment.  Her house, an inn, was the best place to gather information, that is, until they were labeled spies.  In a startling turn of events, Rahab not only agrees to hide them from the authorities, she lies to protect them.  Her motivation: she fears God and believes He is the one true God of heaven and earth.  In the most unlikely of places the Israelites encounter a person of faith.

…for the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on earth below.  Joshua 2:11 NLT

In exchange for harboring them, Rahab asks for a guarantee she and her family won’t be destroyed when the Israelites invade.  She is given a red cord to hang in her window, a symbol she has chosen to side with the God of Israel.

One has to wonder, how will Rahab be remembered after she is gone.  After all, she’s a prostitute and a liar.  Yet, the Bible chooses to remember her as a person of faith.

It was by faith that Rahab the prostitute was not destroyed with the people in her city who refused to obey God. For she had given a friendly welcome to the spies. Hebrews 11:31 NLT

D.R. Davis in his commentary on Joshua states, “Genuine faith never rests content with being convinced of the reality of God but presses on to take refuge in God.”

How will you be remembered?  Will people remember you by an occasional good deed or will you be remembered for your faith in God, your refuge?

The Old Man and the Sea

IMG_0070I came across a copy of The Old Man and the Sea while cleaning a bookshelf.  A required read in high school, I recalled very little of it.  I was anxious to give it another look.

It’s a short story about a Cuban fisherman down on his luck.  He’s an impoverished old man who maintains a relationship with a boy.

The boy was once taught to fish by the old man.  He repays the elder by finding ways to  attend to his sustenance.  The two used to fish together before the old man’s string of bad luck caused the boy’s parents to insist their son fish with someone else.

A quote from the book:

“Luck is a thing that comes in many forms and who can recognize her? I would take some though in any form and pay what they asked.”

Hemingway successfully walks a tightrope, offering vivid descriptions while maintaining the flow of the story.  He also captures the double-edged sword of angst, which faces the serious fisherman; the plague of drought (not being able to catch any fish) verses hooking the catch of a lifetime (and being able to successfully land it).  Finally, there’s the struggle pitting man against beast.  The old man possesses seasoned and hardened skill while the fish possesses great strength and power.

I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Psalm 119:1-16 (Blessing and Cleansing)

books-1155565_960_720How many of us have attempted to read through the Bible in a year and happened upon the 119th Psalm.  Its 176 verses can be quite daunting.  There are others who attempt to skim through this psalm in one sitting and find it hard to digest. Thankfully, the psalm is divided into stanzas of eight verses each. Each stanza is linked to a letter of the Hebrew alphabet making more practical for the ancients to meditate on and memorize. I have been taking my class through Psalm 119 a couple of stanzas at a time.

Here we go. You get the impression from reading this psalm (believed to be written by King David of ancient Israel) that it’s a compilation of life experiences.  Throughout these experiences David has tried to stay true to the teachings of the Jewish Law found in the Old Testament. I would like to emphasize that this involves more than just complying with the 10 commandments. “Following the Law” would require adherence to the Jewish faith, which includes the observance of all required laws, rituals, sacrifices and festivals described in the Old Testament.

Virtually every verse in Psalm 119 references the Word of God. Synonyms such as the law, God’s word, commandments, statutes, way, judgments, precepts and testimony all reference the awesome nature of God’s Word, placing it on the highest pedestal imaginable.

Stanza 1

The first eight verses highlight the blessings found through obedience to God’s Word.

vv1-3               Those who walk in obedience (whole-heartedly) are blessed.

vv4-6               Highlights a desire to be more obedient in light of God’s commands.

vv7-8               Vow to give thanks as one learns about God’s statutes.

Stanza 2

The second stanza (9-16) focuses on the cleansing aspect of God’s word.

vv9                  A person cleanses his way by obeying God’s Word

vv10-14           A person purifies his way by internalizing God’s Word

vv15-16           We must continuously meditate on God’s Word in order to be transformed by it

Way (v9), the word conveys the idea of transgressing repeatedly, creating a sinful rut of the sort made by the wheel of a cart.

These two stanzas encourage us to go beyond simply reading God’s word and seek to internalize it or meditate on it. Pick one of the first sixteen verses of Psalm 119 and meditate on it daily this week.

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Ps 119:11

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