Now, we are studying the character of Joshua. That’s the second session in Joshua. And you all know that Joshua had a book in the Old Testament called his name, after the book of Deuteronomy.
Last time. We knew that Joshua received the mission from the hands of Moses and after the departure of Moses. Joshua led his people and, you know, they all passed over the Jordan river and they had the big problem of “Jericho” and with the help of the LORD, the walls of Jericho fall and he could conquer a great city, Jericho. And also he had a problem with a small village called “Ai“.
With prayers, fasting, and repentance, he could conquer this village.
When we speak about Joshua, we will always face his life with the promises of God.
This man, the book of Joshua, especially, is full of divine promises.
Do not be afraid
The Lord said to Joshua: ”Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, take all the people of war with you and arise. Go up to Ai. See, I have given into your hand, the king of Ai, his people, his city, and his land.“
So again and again, the Lord speaking to Joshua is supporting and encouraging him, and repeating the same promises.
“Do not be afraid nor be dismayed, I’m with you. You will overcome all the problems”.
This is the same promise given to every one of us as believers in the Lord. When we work with the Lord in his field, when we do his mission, we will always be guarded and guided by these great words given by the Lord. Do not be afraid.
So after he had a big problem in “Ai“, and he lost many of his army soldiers, he felt so bad and frustrated, because of his prayer; he regained the trust. He regained hope. In trials, pitfalls and hardships, we need to review the promises. We need to settle down and revise all the great promises given by the Lord.
Also, the Lord advised him in this time to take all the people of war they caught the last time, he took just a few people, because he underestimated “Ai”.
He thought that was an easy mission, so that wasn’t a good way to think about the work of God, we need to have all the people working together.
Again, we all faced with the same idea. The great characters of the Bible that the power of any servant, anyone who is working with the Lord, he is in listening to the voice of God. When we are guided by the voice of God, we are very powerful.
The strength of successful servant is in his obedience and submission to the will of God, and his, you know, care for listening for the word of God.
The law of Moses
Joshua built an altar to the Lord, God of Israel on Mount Ebal, as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded the children of Israel. as it is written in the book of the law of Moses, an altar of whole stones over which no man has wielded an iron tool and they offered on it burnt offerings to the LORD and sacrificed peace offerings. And there in the presence of the children of Israel.
He wrote on the stones, a copy of the law of Moses, which he had written and then all Israel, with their elders’ officers and judges stood on either side of the ark before the priests, the Levis, who bore the Ark of the covenant of the LORD. The stranger, as well as he who was born among them, half of them were in front of Mount Gerizim and half of them in front of Mount Ebal, as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded before that they should bless the people of Israel.
Afterward, he read all the words of the law the blessings and the cursings. according to all that’s written in the book of the Law. There was not a word of what Moses had commanded, which Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel with the women, the little ones, and the strangers who were living among them.”
Because in the late days of Moses, in his last month, the last days of his life, he commanded Joshua and all the people after you pass over Jordan and you now in “Canaan” you need to keep the commandments in your heart. So just after crossing over the river, you will see two big mountains.
One of them called the “Ebal” very close to the river after Jericho, right after Jericho. And the other one is “Gerizim”, which is closer to the “Samaria“ parts. You know, Samaria from the new Testament.
So the mountain “Ebal“ in front of the mountain “Gerizim”, Moses asked Joshua and the people, when this happens, put half of the people on this mountain, the other half on the other mountain, like six tribes on this mountain, the other six tribes on that mountain. And you start to memorize and repeat many times the blessings and the cursings.
It was written in the book of Deuteronomy. It’s called the law of Moses because there is a big and long chapter concerning the cursings. Another chapter for the blessings. Blessed who do this and that, and the curse for those who break the commandment.
So this list of blessings and cursing, people should memorize, should keep in their hearts. So that was a big mission for Joshua to do because, you know, asking hundreds of thousands of people to sit down and repeat the word of God that wasn’t easy. So before doing this, he made the renewal of the covenant with the altar. It’s two cornerstones for the relationship with God.
As we do now in the new covenant that our relationship with God in Christianity is built over the altar, The Eucharist, the covenant related so much to the altar and also to the writings of the father of the apostles in the New Testament, which is the law of Christ, the perfect one.
It was written in Deuteronomy, chapter 11. and It’s repeated in Deuteronomy chapter 27, “shall be when you have crossed over the Jordan, that on Mount Ebal you shall set up these stones, which I command you today and you shall whitewash them with lime, and there you shall build an altar to the Lord, your God, an altar of stones you shall not use an iron tool on them.“
So he was doing exactly the commandment of Moses. This reminds us of the words in the last book, in the Bible, the Book of Revelation. when the Lord said, “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy and keep those things which are written in it for the time is near.”
So there is a real blessing in reading the Bible. There is a real blessing in listening to the word of the Bible. There is another blessing when you keep that words in your heart because the time is near. So the days are running and we need to study the word of God.
Another problem happened in the life of Joshua after a few months when he started moving inside “Canaan” and he’s going to face many Kings, many kingdoms, and many tribes everywhere. There were some people called the “Inhabitants of Gibeon”. Gibeon was a place in Canaan, but these people were smart and they believed that Joshua is the man of God and the people of Israel, no one could overcome them.
So they made a fake story. They deceived him, they went to Joshua telling him we are not living in Canaan. We are not very close to this area. We are living very far from here, but we heard that you are the man of God and no one can, you know, overcome your people. So we need to follow you.
We need to belong to you, we are not going to be your enemy anyway, because we are living very far from here. So please we need the kind of agreement that we are secured in our relationship with you. So when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to “Jericho” and “Ai”, you know, they started making this story.
So when they went to Joshua, they said: “These wineskins, which we filled were new and see, they are torn and these our garments and our sandals have become old because of the very long journey “, then the man of Israel ( Joshua ) took some of their provisions, but they did not ask counsel of the Lord.”
That’s the problem. So they listened, they followed their words. They believed in these people without checking the will of God, they had to go ask the counsel of the Lord. But at this time Joshua was deceived by these people.
Joshua made peace with them, made a covenant with them to let them live and the rulers of the congregation swore to them. So, you know, by giving a covenant kind of a swear, you cannot change.
“It happened at the end of three days after they had made a covenant with them, that they heard that they were, their neighbors who dwelt near them. Then the children of Israel journeyed and came to their cities on the third day, their cities were Gibeon, Chephirah, Beeroth, and Kirjath Jearim “ many countries or cities are very close to the areas of the inhabitants of Israel. So that’s good for every servant. because there is always a moment of deception that, the evil spirits always try to deceive the good man.
When you forget to pray when you do not ask the counsel of the Lord in any decision. That’s the time of deception. So we need in taking any decision to take some time speaking to God and thinking and checking what exactly we are going to do. It happened because Gibeon was like a big number of people, it’s a big nation. So other Kings in the area of Canaan, saw Gibeon becoming part of Israel.
they wanted to revenge. They wanted to attack them. “ The men of Gibeon sent to Joshua at the camp at Gilgal saying,” do not forsake your servants ( because they have a covenant.); come up quickly save us and help us for all kings of the Amorites who dwell in the mountains have gathered together against us.”
God allowed this to happen, because of getting the lands of the Amorites, there should be kind of a war of big fight between the Kings of the Amorites and the people of Israel, so the Amorites started this fight being against Gibeon and Gibeon now in good terms and peace covenant with the Jew.“
Joshua ascended from Gilgal. He and all the people of war with him and all the mighty men of valor.” and that was a big fight. And because of this actually, Joshua won the battle “ and the LORD said to Joshua, do not fear them, for I have delivered them into your hand. Not a man of them shall stand before you.” These were many Kings of Amorites, so many arms. It wasn’t an easy battle.
It was much greater than what happened with Jericho. So again, the Lord appeared to Joshua telling him, do not fear anymore, I’m with you. I will deliver them to your hand.
Joshua asked the Lord a strange request
“Therefore came upon them suddenly having marched all night from Gilgal “. So Joshua took his army and he attacked them. “ The Lord routed them before Israel, killed them with the great slaughter at Gibeon, chased them along the road that goes to Beth Horon, and struck them down as far as Azekah and Makkedah “ it was a big battle and because the arms were strong and the fight will take many hours, it happened like the day was ending. And in these old days, any battle should stop at night. So when the sun sets, there is no way to fight anyone.
Joshua asked the Lord a very strange request. “ Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day, when the Lord delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel:” Sun stand still over Gibeon and Moon in the valley of Aijalon, so the sun stood still and the moon stopped. “So imagine at 8:00 PM, the people could see the sun and the moon standing beside each other to make the light for the inhabitants of Israel to complete the fight.
It was a strange miracle and it never happened before that it never happened after Joshua. “ So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, Till the people had revenge upon their enemies. is this not written in the book of Jasher ?.” The book of Jasher is not one of the books of the Old Testament books, but it’s a historical book known to the Jew people.
“ So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day. There has been no day like that before it or after it, that the LORD heeded the voice of a man for the Lord fought for Israel “.
Now, Joshua is doing a greater miracle than Moses, because Moses made miracles, but for this special one Joshua was a unique miracle that did not happen during even the days of Moses, so God is giving more confidence to the heart of Joshua.
And also you can see in this story that nature always working with the hand of God, for the benefit of his people, for the sake of his beloved children. So trusting the Lord, trusting his promises, God can do anything for the salvation of his people.
That’s why the sun stayed still, stood still in heaven just for the request of Joshua, and after like maybe more than 1,400 years, the sun appeared on the day of the Lord’s crucifixion. So nature always participates in God’s plan.
It was written that for Joshua, he left nothing undone “ The Lord had commanded Moses his servant, so Moses commanded Joshua, and so Joshua did “ .Look to this all the words given from God to Moses and from Moses to Joshua were just fulfilled in the life of Joshua. He was a real, honest, and faithful servant.
“He left nothing undone of all that the Lord had commanded Moses “. So to be a faithful servant, you need to do all the commandments. You need to understand the will of God and obey all the commandments.
“Joshua took all this land, the mountain country, all the South, all the land of Goshen, the lowland, and the Jordan plain – the mountains of Israel and its lowlands”,
so Joshua did many experiences because day after day he could see the powerful hand of God. He could enjoy the power of prayers. He could see how merciful and how powerful is his God. So he became very confident and very strong in his leadership although he started very weak and he could not see any good in himself.
How can God ask his people to kill others?
And also expansions happened because all the lands of “Canaan” were inherited by the children of Israel. And you also may understand the concept of prohibitions because there was always a commandment by the Lord to Moses and Joshua that they should prohibit and kill all the men of the Amorites.
nowadays, people cannot understand this and cannot accept it with the idea of human rights, how can God ask his people to kill others? But when you study the situation, when you understand the problem. When we go back in history, more than 3,000 years, 30 hundred years, these men, the Amorites, were like very wild animals.
They were always killing each other. They were having all these idol worship relations and they were offering their children to the idols and they were dancing and singing with these burnt human offerings. So even animals could never do this. So there was the commandment of prohibition, because if any of these men lived again, they will infect the minds of the people of Israel.
They will preach idol worship. That’s why God wanted to make the land is the termination of evil in the decision of God we cannot blame God, the very just judge for his decision to terminate evil. It’s a good decision because that’s for the good people and there was all the fear of mingling with the remnants of evil to understand this when you study the history of the children of Israel after Joshua.
when they started to mingle back with the remnants of these bad people they started to worship idols like them.
Also in the life of Joshua as a great spiritual leader, his vision, and his goal were very clear before his eyes, all his days, as written in Joshua chapter 13: “ Joshua was old, advanced in years, and the LORD said to him “ You are old, advanced in years and there remains very much land yet to be possessed.”
So his mission, the objective is to give the lands to all the people of Israel. That’s his mission in life.
“Now, therefore, divide this land as an inheritance to the nine tribes and half the tribe of Manasseh”. Because you may remember that two tribes and half of “Manasseh” inherited some land on the other side of the Jordan River.
So Moses called Joshua, now we are going back to the days of Moses, I’m just reminding you of the mission of Joshua, Moses called Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel .“Be strong and of good courage for you must go with this people, to the land, which the Lord has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall cause them to inherit it. And the Lord He is the one who goes before you, he will be with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed “. So Moses called Joshua and told him you are the one who will give the land and divide the land for the people of Israel.
When we speak about wars and fights, these were not the goal in themselves.
It’s the kingdom that is the goal to inherit the land. And in our new covenant vocabulary, we are aiming to inherit the kingdom of heaven. So we have this kind of spiritual warfare, but still, it’s not the goal in itself.
The goal is to catch the kingdom is to inherit the promised land, all the achievements were done in a way that was not the objectives in themselves, but they were always related to the law because Joshua was very meticulous in protecting and keeping the low perceived by Moses.
he could achieve many great things till he possessed all the lands of Canaan.
In the last days of Joshua in the last chapters of the book of Joshua, there is another problem that happened. After dividing the lands among the tribes the two and a half tribes who were on the other side of Jordan not in Canaan
“The children of Reuben and the children of Gad and the half of the tribe of Manasseh built an altar there by the Jordan “, there was no commandment to build an altar on this side because there was no altar, but the Ark, the holy Ark and that was in “ Canaan “ with the other tribes.“
A great, impressive altar. Now the children of Israel heard someone say” Behold, the children of Reuben, the children of Gad and half the tribe of Manasseh have built an altar on the frontier of the land of Canaan in the region of the Jordan – on the children of Israel’s side “, they thought that this is the start of ideal worshiping, So all the children of Israel were very frightened and very furious because how come after this great salvation and still Joshua is living and these tribes will follow the idols, they thought that this altar will be for the idol worship.
“The whole congregation of the children of Israel gathered together at Shiloh to go to war against them.” But because Joshua was a wise man, he started to analyze, study, to check what is happening? Why they were very quick and built an altar and they did not tell me. And they know that they come over every year to worship God with us before the Holy Ark.
So Joshua took his time and sent very good wise people to check the problem, to analyze the situation before the fight. That was very wise of Joshua?
“The children of Israel sent Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest to children of Reuben to the children of Gad and half the tribe of Manasseh, into the land of Gilead and with him, ten rulers, one ruler each from the chief house of every tribe of Israel and each one was the head of the house of his father among the divisions of Israel, So he took like representatives of each tribe of the ten with the famous Phinehas the very good respected man by everyone.
They came to the children of Reuben, to the children of Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh to the land of Gilead and they spoke with them saying: “Thus says the whole congregation of the LORD: what treachery is this that you have committed against the God of Israel to turn away this day from following the Lord in that you have built for yourselves, an altar that you might rebel this day against the LORD?”
The people defended their situation and they could tell these rulers never, ever, never think of idol worship. We just make a very similar altar, like the one you have to tell our children, that we belong to these tribes. We are part of this big family of Israel. We are not going to offer any sacrifices on this altar. It’s only like an example of your real altar.
“Therefore we said that it will be when they say this to us or our generations in time to come that we may say, ‘ Here is the replica of the altar of the LORD which our fathers made, though not for burnt offerings, not for sacrifices but it’s a witness between you and us, far be it from us that we should rebel against the Lord, and turn from following the LORD this day to build an altar for burnt offerings for grain offerings, or for sacrifice besides the altar of the Lord our God, which is before his tabernacle“.
So they prove to be innocent. They had their logic.
“Now when Phinehas the priest and the rulers of the congregation, the heads of the divisions of Israel who were with him, heard the words that the children of Reuben, the children of Gad, and the children of Manasseh spoke, it pleased them. Then Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the priest said to the children of Reuben, the children of Gad, and the children of Manasseh”.
This day we perceive that the LORD is among us because you have not committed this treachery against the LORD. Now you have delivered the children of Israel out of the hand of the LORD“ and no war happened because of the wisdom of Joshua and also the very good chosen people by Joshua and the last sermon given by Joshua in his last days.
He knew that he is going to depart, so he gave a great sermon, like the one Moses gave to his people in his last days,” Therefore fear the LORD, serve him in sincerity in truth, and put away that gods, which your fathers served on the other side of the river in Egypt. Serve the LORD.“
And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve whether the gods, which your fathers served that were on the other side of the river or the gods of Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord”
By saying so he is telling his people that I will follow God. I will fear God with my family all my days. To you, you have the free will to choose, but you had seen that the idols of Egypt and the idols of the Amorites were all broken before the real God, our Lord. So choose whomever you like to worship.
Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had known all the works of the LORD which he had done for Israel.” So because of his strong leadership. The people worship God. And also after him for many days, people kept themselves in faith.
So Joshua paid attention to his family and himself, and he was very faithful to his close circle. And the last recommendation with the same, like those given by Moses to his people, stick to the word of God, follow the commandment, fear the Lord, serve the Lord, keep yourself away from worshiping all the idols, and believe in God all the time.
Joshua was a great man. The book of Joshua is nice, is a historical, enjoyable book. You could see in this book, the promises fulfilled in Joshua and the steps of Joshua were following the steps of Moses, You could see how God’s speaking to this great man. And in many times he appeared to Joshua by himself and he had many problems in his life, but he overcame all these problems by the power of prayers by trusting in God, Glory to God, Amen.