Daily Bible Readings – Monday July 23, 2012

Prayer Psalm: 52

Prayer Point:  This prayer is rooted in life. David, an innocent man on the run from king Saul, has been betrayed by Doeg the Edomite. David does not seek vengeance himself, but leaves justice to God. By faith, he sees himself not as a desperate fugitive, but as God sees him, “an olive tree flourishing in the house of God” (see verses 8-9). Meditate on that for a while and pray that you will be able to trust God and praise him from the midst of your fear.

Matthew 26:36-46

We forget that Jesus was in every way a human being as well as being God. Where do you see Christ’s humanity on the night before his death? Jesus taught us to pray in the Lord’s Prayer, “your will be done.” How does Jesus demonstrate this prayer as he pours out his heart to his Father?

The cup that Jesus refers to is the “cup of God’s wrath”, an expression that appears in Isaiah 51:17-22. In what way do Jesus’ disciples fail him? Does the disciples’ failure diminish in any way his willingness to die for them and for us?

Romans 13:1-11

What is the ‘continuing debt’ that Christians never finish paying in this lifetime?
What does Paul say is the one command that summarizes the second half of the Ten Commandments (see Romans 13:9-10 and Exodus 20:13-17)?
What are we to do as we wait for the return of Jesus (this is what Paul means by ‘the night is almost over the day is almost here’)? Should we spend time speculating about when Jesus is coming or is God calling us to do something else?

Joshua 7:1-13         Achan and the Devoted Things

Just a quick review of what “devoted” means: Let me explain this word “devoted”. According to the footnotes in the NIV, “The Hebrew term refers to the irrevocable giving over of things or persons to the LORD, often by totally destroying them.” When I think of “devoted” ‘to destruction’ is not the image I have in mind. What it means, of course, is that there would be no booty – no spoils of war – to be garnered by the people. If something is “devoted to God” the violation of it will prove to be fatal. In other words: hands off the gold (or anything of material value).

What happened to make the LORD’s anger burn against Israel? (“But the Israelites acted unfaithfully in regard to the devoted thing; Achan, … of the tribe of Judah, took some of them.” (Joshua 7:1 NIV))

This next question we looked at two weeks ago. I bring this up now only to underscore the Israelites’ lack of resolve.

What is the promise of the people to Joshua? (Unfortunately the answer to this is the same as their lapse of memory: “Just as we fully obeyed Moses, so we will obey you.” This promise they will keep – they were not obedient to Moses nor will they be obedient to Joshua. These errant people also promise that “Whoever rebels against your word and does not obey your words, whatever you may command them, will be put to death.” (Joshua 1:18 NIV))

I don’t know how much time had elapsed since the people made this promise, but they had just witnessed the miraculous collapse of Jericho which should have served as a reminder of the LORD’s faithfulness.

Flush with victory, Joshua is emboldened to continue the conquest of the land. He turns next to the city of Ai. The favorable report of the spies encourages Joshua to send a diminished force of about 3,000 men of valor to conquer the city. What actually happens? (The men of Ai routed the Hebrews killing about thirty-six of them.)

What becomes of the courage and spirit of the people? (“The hearts of the people melted and became like water.” (Joshua 7:5 NIV))

So Joshua complained to the LORD about the most recent devastating event and wondered why he just didn’t allow the people to remain on the eastern side of the Jordan. Why was it necessary that the Israelites conquer the territory west of the Jordan? (The answer to this question can be found in the Book of Genesis Chapter 17. The people have no commitment nor resolve and presume there would be no cost in their conquest of the Promised Land. The LORD would do all the work and they would just sit back and watch the show. But that is not the reason why the Israelites had suffered this recent defeat.)

What was the LORD’s retort to Joshua? (“The LORD said to Joshua, ‘Stand up! What are you doing down on your face? Israel has sinned; they have violated my covenant, which I commanded them to keep. They have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen, they have lied, they have put them with their own possessions. That is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies; they turn their backs and run because they have been made liable to destruction.” (Joshua 7:10-12a NIV))

What demand does the LORD make of Joshua? (“I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction.” (Joshua 7:12b NIV))

The LORD tells Joshua to issue a command to the people: “Go consecrate the people. Tell them, ‘Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow; for this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: That which is devoted is among you [i.e., the devoted things are do not belong to you!], O Israel. You cannot stand against your enemies until you remove it.” (Joshua 7:13 NIV)

Oh, by the way, Achan was discovered to have taken some of the booty. So Joshua had Achan and his entire family stoned to death for bringing the displeasure of the LORD upon all the people. This incident was also to serve as an object lesson to the people.

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