Series: Thru the Bible
Message – Promotion comes from God
One of the things these next two chapters will begin to reveal is sphere authority, which is something we have learned about many times in here. Joshua was the leader of all of Israel. At all times this authority covered all Israel including the Levities and the Priests. However, there were things which were beyond Joshua’s authority. While the priests were within his sphere or jurisdiction, not everything in the lives of the Levites or Priests fell within his domain. There were things given to the priests directly by God which fell within their sphere of authority – and TO WHICH, Joshua had no authority. Though we do not see an example of Joshua overreaching his bounds here, we do see leaders later in Israel’s future attempt to do so and it meets with the disapproval of God. We only mention it here because this is yet another example of the beginnings of delegated authority within spheres and that some of these spheres overlap.
“(1) Joshua started early the next morning and left Acacia Grove with all the Israelites. They went as far as the Jordan and stayed there before crossing. (2) After three days the officers went through the camp (3) and commanded the people:
“When you see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God carried by the Levitical priests, you must break camp and follow it. (4) But keep a distance of about 1,000 yards between yourselves and the ark. Don’t go near it, so that you can see the way to go, for you haven’t traveled this way before.”
You haven’t traveled this way before, became a theme for Israel during the time of conquest of the land of Canaan.
The location of the ark always before them in their journeys was a fact as well as type of teaching symbol of keeping the Lord ever before them because they no not where they go.
It reminds me of a curious passage in John where Jesus was speaking with Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. He told him that that which is born of the flesh is flesh and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Then Jesus said,
John 3:7-8, “(7) Do not be amazed that I told you that you must be born again. (8) The wind blows where it pleases, and you hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
That is to say that those born of the Spirit follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit and not those of the flesh – therefore those who have only been born of the flesh do not understand the ways of those born of the Spirit. In fact, many of those ways not only run opposite of typical human nature they are completely contrary to it.
So a life-lesson to learn from this statement is that in order to be in step with the Holy Spirit, one must both keep their eyes upon Him and remember that where they are going is not like where they have been.
“(5) Joshua told the people, “Consecrate yourselves, because the LORD will do wonders among you tomorrow.”
(6) Then he said to the priests, “Take the ark of the covenant and go on ahead of the people.” So they carried the ark of the covenant and went ahead of them.
(7) The LORD spoke to Joshua: “Today I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, so they will know that I will be with you just as I was with Moses.”
This is a serious and humbling thought. Serious in that it is right and points unmistakingly to God’s sovereignty over His creation and Mankind in particular, humbling in that it reorients our thoughts aright to realize the truth of our state.
Psalm 75:1-8, “(1) For the choir director: “Do Not Destroy.” A psalm of Asaph. A song. We give thanks to You, God; we give thanks to You, for Your name is near. People tell about Your wonderful works. (2) “When I choose a time, I will judge fairly. (3) When the earth and all its inhabitants shake, I am the One who steadies its pillars. Selah (4) I say to the boastful, ‘Do not boast,’ and to the wicked, ‘Do not lift up your horn. (5) Do not lift up your horn against heaven or speak arrogantly.'” (6) Exaltation does not come from the east, the west, or the desert, (7) for God is the judge: He brings down one and exalts another. (8) For there is a cup in the LORD’s hand, full of wine blended with spices, and He pours from it. All the wicked of the earth will drink, draining it to the dregs. (9) As for me, I will tell about Him forever; I will sing praise to the God of Jacob.
(10) “I will cut off all the horns of the wicked, but the horns of the righteous will be lifted up.”
Psalm 62:5-12, “(5) Rest in God alone, my soul, for my hope comes from Him. (6) He alone is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I will not be shaken. (7) My salvation and glory depend on God; my strong rock, my refuge, is in God. (8) Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts before Him. God is our refuge. Selah (9) Men are only a vapor; exalted men, an illusion. On a balance scale, they go up; together they weigh less than a vapor. (10) Place no trust in oppression, or false hope in robbery. If wealth increases, pay no attention to it. (11) God has spoken once; I have heard this twice: strength belongs to God, (12) and faithful love belongs to You, LORD. For You repay each according to his works.”
He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens: Jesus shows He is also the keeper of the keys and doors. In this quotation from Isa. 22:20-23, Jesus expresses His power and authority, especially to admit and exclude.
What Shebna did with his position of honor and authority was that he made himself a fancy and prestigious tomb! In that day, this was a display of significant power and wealth. In this, Shebna represented nearly of Jerusalem with his obsessive self-interest. To this Jesus makes it clear that his position was not one given by birth or merit but one given TO him by God Himself and one which can just as easily be removed.
Rev. 3:8-11, “(8) I know your works. Because you have limited strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name, look, I have placed before you an open door that no one is able to close. (9) Take note! I will make those from the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews and are not, but are lying–note this–I will make them come and bow down at your feet, and they will know that I have loved you. (10) Because you have kept My command to endure, I will also keep you from the hour of testing that is going to come over the whole world to test those who live on the earth. (11) I am coming quickly. Hold on to what you have, so that no one takes your crown.”
This is a lesson to all of Israel which they would have been wise to keep in their minds, but they did not. God had already warned them of this pride they would most certainly possess and it’s cure both in the Shema and in a later command.
Deut. 6:4-9, “(4) Listen, Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is One. (5) Love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. (6) These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. (7) Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. (8) Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead. (9) Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
Deut. 8:1-20, “(1) You must carefully follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase, and may enter and take possession of the land the LORD swore to your fathers. (2) Remember that the LORD your God led you on the entire journey these 40 years in the wilderness, so that He might humble you and test you to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep His commands. (3) He humbled you by letting you go hungry; then He gave you manna to eat, which you and your fathers had not known, so that you might learn that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. (4) Your clothing did not wear out, and your feet did not swell these 40 years. (5) Keep in mind that the LORD your God has been disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son. (6) So keep the commands of the LORD your God by walking in His ways and fearing Him. (7) For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land, a land with streams of water, springs, and deep water sources, flowing in both valleys and hills; (8) a land of wheat, barley, vines, figs, and pomegranates; a land of olive oil and honey; (9) a land where you will eat food without shortage, where you will lack nothing; a land whose rocks are iron and from whose hills you will mine copper. (10) When you eat and are full, you will praise the LORD your God for the good land He has given you. (11) “Be careful that you don’t forget the LORD your God by failing to keep His command–the ordinances and statutes–I am giving you today. (12) When you eat and are full, and build beautiful houses to live in, (13) and your herds and flocks grow large, and your silver and gold multiply, and everything else you have increases, (14) be careful that your heart doesn’t become proud and you forget the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery. (15) He led you through the great and terrible wilderness with its poisonous snakes and scorpions, a thirsty land where there was no water. He brought water out of the flintlike rock for you. (16) He fed you in the wilderness with manna that your fathers had not known, in order to humble and test you, so that in the end He might cause you to prosper. (17) You may say to yourself, ‘My power and my own ability have gained this wealth for me,’ (18) but remember that the LORD your God gives you the power to gain wealth, in order to confirm His covenant He swore to your fathers, as it is today. (19) If you ever forget the LORD your God and go after other gods to worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will perish. (20) Like the nations the LORD is about to destroy before you, you will perish if you do not obey the LORD your God.”
(8) Command the priests carrying the ark of the covenant: ‘When you reach the edge of the waters, stand in the Jordan.'”
(9) Then Joshua told the Israelites, “Come closer and listen to the words of the LORD your God.” (10) He said, “You will know that the living God is among you and that He will certainly dispossess before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites, and Jebusites (11) when the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth goes ahead of you into the Jordan.”
(12) Now choose 12 men from the tribes of Israel, one man for each tribe. (13) When the feet of the priests who carry the ark of the LORD, the Lord of all the earth, come to rest in the Jordan’s waters, its waters will be cut off. The water flowing downstream will stand up in a mass.”
(14) When the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carried the ark of the covenant ahead of the people. (15) Now the Jordan overflows its banks throughout the harvest season. But as soon as the priests carrying the ark reached the Jordan, their feet touched the water at its edge (16) and the water flowing downstream stood still, rising up in a mass that extended as far as Adam, a city next to Zarethan. The water flowing downstream into the Sea of the Arabah (the Dead Sea) was completely cut off, and the people crossed opposite Jericho. (17) The priests carrying the ark of the LORD’s covenant stood firmly on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan, while all Israel crossed on dry ground until the entire nation had finished crossing the Jordan.”
Memorial stones of Remembrance
“(1) After the entire nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the LORD spoke to Joshua,
(2) “Choose 12 men from the people, one man for each tribe, (3) and command them, ‘Take 12 stones from this place in the middle of the Jordan where the priests’ feet are standing, carry them with you, and set them down at the place where you spend the night.'”
One way in which God promoted Joshua in the eyes of all of Israel was by speaking to him, commanding him – but this was not a lone venture – it was done in cooperation WITH Joshua. It was, if you will, Koinonia. Without Joshua carefully listening to and obeying what was commanded, the promotion would not have taken place.
Notice God commands Joshua and Joshua commands the Priests to do the choosing. Many times, authority comes in the form of delegation.
(4) So Joshua summoned the 12 men selected from the Israelites, one man for each tribe, (5) and said to them, “Go across to the ark of the LORD your God in the middle of the Jordan. Each of you lift a stone onto his shoulder, one for each of the Israelite tribes, (6) so that this will be a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ (7) you should tell them, ‘The waters of the Jordan were cut off in front of the ark of the LORD’s covenant. When it crossed the Jordan, the Jordan’s waters were cut off.’ Therefore these stones will always be a memorial for the Israelites.”
(8) The Israelites did just as Joshua had commanded them. The 12 men took stones from the middle of the Jordan, one for each of the Israelite tribes, just as the LORD had told Joshua. They carried them to the camp and set them down there. (9) Joshua also set up 12 stones in the middle of the Jordan where the priests who carried the ark of the covenant were standing. The stones are there to this day.
(10) The priests carrying the ark continued standing in the middle of the Jordan until everything was completed that the LORD had commanded Joshua to tell the people, in keeping with all that Moses had commanded Joshua. The people hurried across, (11) and after everyone had finished crossing, the priests with the ark of the LORD crossed in the sight of the people. (12) The Reubenites, Gadites, and half the tribe of Manasseh went in battle formation in front of the Israelites, as Moses had instructed them. (13) About 40,000 equipped for war crossed to the plains of Jericho in the LORD’s presence. (14) On that day the LORD exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel, and they revered him throughout his life, as they had revered Moses.
(15) The LORD told Joshua, (16) “Command the priests who carry the ark of the testimony to come up from the Jordan.” (17) So Joshua commanded the priests, “Come up from the Jordan.” (18) When the priests carrying the ark of the LORD’s covenant came up from the middle of the Jordan, and their feet stepped out on solid ground, the waters of the Jordan resumed their course, flowing over all the banks as before.
(19) The people came up from the Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and camped at Gilgal on the eastern limits of Jericho. (20) Then Joshua set up in Gilgal the 12 stones they had taken from the Jordan, (21) and he said to the Israelites, “When your children ask their fathers in the future, ‘What is the meaning of these stones?’ (22) you should tell your children, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ (23) For the LORD your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed over, just as the LORD your God did to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed over. (24) This is so that all the people of the earth may know that the LORD’s hand is mighty, and so that you may always fear the LORD your God.”
Notice again, God is continuing His work of inviting the Gentiles to the brightness of His rising (His power and His great name) through His interactions with the Israelites.
This is our final lesson of the night and is one we have and will continue to teach and that is that God is ever mindful of all His creation, loves all His creation, makes provision for all of His creation and in any one action is very likely acting for the benefit of the whole – not just the players on the field at the moment.
I hope this message will bless you richly…not because I taught it, but because it reveals Christ. He alone is our blessing and if in any way – whether big or small, 100% accurate or even just partially so – I have revealed our great God and Savior to you in a relationally knowable way, then this was time well spent on both our parts.
We at Living Grace Fellowship encourage you to place your trust in Jesus Christ, deliberately choosing Him and bowing the knee to Him as your Master and Lord, so as to come to realize Him as your Savior.
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