Joshua Chapter Four (Part One)

Introduction: A key idea in Joshua is that God blesses obedience. Today, we hope to discuss the commemoration of the crossing of the Jordan River.

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Read Joshua 4:1-13

E. The Commemoration of the Crossing. When the people had crossed over, the Lord spoke to Joshua. He was to appoint a man from each of the twelve tribes to take a stone from the middle of the Jordan river and place it on the bank of the river.

The men were appointed and did as instructed. The stones were to be for a memorial of the crossing. The two and half tribes from the East sent their troops, as they had promised.

Applications -

- Cooperative families. Notice in vs. 1 that all of the families were called to cooperate with what God wanted done.

Our churches and communities would be so much further along, if we have more cooperation from all of the families. Some of the challenge seems to be that families are not as strong as they ought to be.

The husband doesn’t necessarily speak for his wife and parents don’t necessarily speak for their children. Everyone seems to have a mind of their own and do their own thing.

Another challenge that seems to be before us is that some families feel as if they are so special that they really don’t need to cooperate like the rest.

Let’s work on developing strong families that cooperate with the move of God. This application calls for family preaching, teaching, programming, and support. It calls for families deciding to work together, instead of separately.

- God’s use of human agents. Notice in vs. 1 that God speaks to Joshua who speaks to the people. This is God’s habit. Every believer ought to find a church where they believe that the leader hears God and shares what God wants for the people.

Comparing the message with God’s word is going to take some of the guesswork out of the situation. “Yes,” leaders can misunderstand God and even lie on God (i.e., say “God said” when God didn’t say), but God still uses human leaders.

If you feel vulnerable with a leader who has been prayed for and vetted, think about how vulnerable you are when a bunch of sheep are in charge. Let’s work on praying for God’s will to be done, as we strive to follow the leader that God has sent us.

- Appointing of helpers. Notice in vs. 2 that there is the appointment of representatives from the various tribes, instead of simply an election. One of the problems with the leader appointing helpers is that the leader may simply appoint people who will say “yes” to him/her.

Thank God for the power of prayer. God can override hidden agendas. One of the problems with simply having an election is that the people may elect the most popular but not the most qualified and surely not the one who gets along with the leader.

In fact, those elected may feel more loyalty towards who elected them than to the leader. This leads to all kinds of confusion. Let’s strive to live by the principle of the leader appointing his/her helpers and trust God to take care of His own.

- Teaching our young people. Notice in vs. 6 the concern with the young people understanding how things developed into what they are. There are too many young people who have no concept of the role that God has played in them being where they are.

As the parents and elders and surely as the people of faith, we need to make sure that we are educating our young people about how God has made a way for His people, often in response to our obedience to His will.

Furthermore, we need to make sure they understand how disobedience has contributed to delays, detours, and punishment. Let’s work on making sure our young people understand how God has brought us to this place.

A great benefit of helping people understand (i.e., teaching) is that it helps us understand more clearly ourselves.

- Following leadership. Notice in vs. 8 that the people followed leadership. Could you imagine how difficult it would have been to get people in our churches, families, or communities to pick up big shoulder carrying stones and carry them to the bank? Someone would want to have a meeting about “why” and “why us.”

Someone would have talked about how we have never done this before. But in our text, they followed leadership, as we need to learn how to do a better job of today. Let’s work on following leadership, as long as it doesn’t lead us contrary to God’s word.

- Keeping our word. Notice in vs. 12 that the two and half tribes that said they would fight with the rest of Israel are keeping their word. In similar fashion, we should be known for keeping our word today.

We can start with our “Church Covenant.” If we did all that we said we would do in our covenant, we would be so much further down the road. 

Vow keeping marriages would be stronger. Oath keeping politicians would make our systems of governance better. Let’s work on being people who keep our word.

- War. Notice in vss. 12-13 that the soldiers are armed in the name of their God. First, in both the Old and New Testaments (e.g., whole armor of God and war in Revelations), we see that God is involved in war. God is not a pacifist.

Second, in ethics, we wrestle with the idea of “just war.” A key idea in the discussion is that all war is not justified and righteous, but some is. 

There seems to be agreement on self-defense being justified. To a lessor degree, helping a friend is justified. Pre-emptive war is highly controversial.

However, to simply take someone’s land because of a divine command is almost absolutely rejected. Third, as rejected as divine command may be, it is what we see in our text.

Thus, we should at least have a greater awareness of what some “radical Muslims” may call holy war.

Let’s pray for the wisdom and spiritual courage to fight, when God says fight and to live at peace, when God calls us to live at peace.

Conclusion: Let’s work on obedience to God. God has much for those who obey His will.

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