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The Jews were waiting for their promised Messiah whom they understood would be a son of David and who would rule on the throne in Jerusalem. Jesus was not the conquering king they expected and many had trouble accepting the kind of King He really was. The book of Revelation tells us that Jesus will return one day to rule over the earth. At that time, the ancient prophecies of an earthly kingdom of God will be fulfilled, and no one will doubt that Jesus is the King of kings. Every nation, tribe, and tongue will bow to the King of the Jews. We have the opportunity to recognize Jesus as King or Lord of our lives right now and to live as people of His kingdom with all the resulting blessings.
While the Pharisees and many others had trouble accepting a man from Nazareth as the Messiah, they struggled even more with accepting His claim to be the Son of God. In fact, the reason the religious leaders wanted to destroy Jesus was because of his claim to be God, which was blasphemy to the unbelieving teachers of the law. Jesus had to be man so He could die. Jesus had to be God so that He could pay our debt. If Jesus were merely a good man as some claim, then He was not perfect, and His death and resurrection would have no power to save anyone. Jesus’ deity is why He is the only way of salvation. Our lives should reflect that we recognize Christ as God’s Son, bringing glory to His name.
Jesus came from a humble background and lacked the Pharisees’ formal religious education. That made it difficult for such proud men to acknowledge Jesus, a village carpenter, as the Messiah. It is a struggle for us today to understand that Jesus was born a human, but was also God. Jesus freely chose to become human and He was like us in every way—except without sin. Why is His humanity so important? The writer of Hebrews tells us that Jesus was tempted in every way, just as we are. As such, He can sympathize with our weakness as humans. When He stooped to our level by becoming a man, He made it possible for us to relate to Him, and for God to relate to us through Him.
In the final chapters of Joshua, we see the importance of being informed and being held accountable. Some of the Israelites had a quick reaction to what appeared to be idol worship by several tribes that could have easily resulted in a war had they not slowed down and confronted their neighbor. Division and death could have plagued the land, but instead the tense situation was resolved when some leaders stepped in. God created us to be in community and to be united, not divided. The body of Christ is united by the blood of Christ and dissension can cause detrimental consequences. Jesus modeled how to be a true friend by laying His life down for us and He calls us to do the same for each other. We all need others to help hold us accountable in our walk with Christ.
Joshua was always obedient to the requirements of God that were given to Moses. So he proceeded to carry out the law in relation to the cities of refuge. In the case of deliberate murder, the Law permitted the avenger of blood to exact punishment, essentially a life for a life. But to guard against a miscarriage of justice, cities of refuge were appointed where the accused could flee for safety so that his case could be considered properly away from the emotions that death always brings, providing divine protection for the manslayer. In His mercy God created refuge for all people before we even knew we needed it; He sent His Son so we could find salvation and refuge in Him. In the current spiritual war, the local church is the hands and feet of God’s practical grace and mercy; it should be the place that stands between the enemy and the accused.
When the Israelites were called to do battle in Gibeon, God promised Joshua that He had already won the battle, so Joshua was confident in that promise as he led his army of men. God fought for His people in the seemingly “impossible” battle. God heeds to Joshua’s prayer and makes the sun stand still. Despite Joshua’s greatest efforts, he needed a miracle and God knew that. The Creator of the sun is the only one who can make it stand still and we see that He did it when Joshua asked for it. Through Christ we have the freedom to approach the throne of God boldly, and we have the promise that He is good and He is for us. Our prayer life can easily become wimpy, empty, and when this happens, we miss out on the big, bold miracles only God can do.
God burned with anger against the Israelites because some of them had stolen devoted things from Jericho and hidden them for themselves—even after He specifically told them not to do so. The offense was so great in God’s eyes that Achan was stoned and burned for his idol worship. But when God sees the reverence of the hearts of Joshua and the rest of the people, he gives the city of Ai over to them and even lets them take the spoils and treasures for themselves. Money is not just a financial issue, but a spiritual issue. How we use our money reveals how we worship God. God is not about withholding gifts from His children. He wants to give, but he demands that we give our first fruits to Him. He wants generosity for us because it changes the way we worship.
At the end of the first year of being in the Promised Land, the Israelites were becoming less dependent on God. After crossing the Jordan River and becoming self-sufficient on the produce of the land, the people were one step further away from relying on God for everything. God makes it known that glory belongs to God alone, not to Joshua and not to the Israelites. The two biggest pitfalls to leadership are insecurity and ego. Insecurity tells you that your job is to please people. Ego tells you that the people’s job is to please you. A correct view of who God is and who you are corrects both.
Joshua was one of the two brave spies that were sent out to check out the land God had promised to the Israelites. He then emerges as Moses’ assistant who is called by God to lead the people into the Promised Land. He does not have Moses any longer or all the details, but God has called Joshua to something much bigger than him. In the midst of fear, God told Joshua to be strong and courageous because He is with him, and the same goes for us.
In the final pages of his letter, Paul stresses unity within the body of believers. We are to take encouragement from the scriptures and in Christ as our example in living in acceptance of one another. Paul reminds us that we are competent ministers of the gospel by internalizing the amazing grace of God. Now it is our job to share the gospel with others. At the end of this letter, Paul expresses his affection for the Romans. He also gives them a final warning to watch out for false doctrines and teachings and to beware of those who cause division among them.