Obedience Leads To Maturity

Practice: praying before during and after Biblical preaching; asking God to use what is being said to convict, educate and inspire you. Ask God to keep you from thinking about other people’s need to hear what is being preached, ask HIM to focus you on your need.

There is really no application in this text for those who have not Biblically converted to Christ Following…and the message is a bit redundant…That is odd because God should realize we are smart enough to get it right if we are told once… seriously!

Big Picture: God provided a way for HIS people to quickly and definitively conquer the peoples HE decided to destroy. Joshua leads the united Israel to accept what God provides and do as HE commands. That is what we sign up for when we give our life to Jesus Christ…it is not ours anymore. As God provides whatever our job is to obey.

The conquest of the land promised to Abraham by His descendants has been fully orchestrated and accomplished by God…just like the rest of all human history! As His people we are to use the documented record of these events to learn, to gain insight, to mature spiritually…Why do we mature spiritually? To REPRODUCE! How is spiritual maturity measured? Those who are mature reproduce healthy, maturing disciples.

At the core of spiritual maturity is obedience to what God commands. It is the map, the road, the vehicle, the journey and the destination: Obedience! This passage shows God bringing about the destruction of thousands using the obedience of HIS people. As HIS people there are lesson for us if we yield to God’s Spirit and obey.

Joshua 11

When Jabin king of Hazor heard of this, he sent word to Jobab king of Madon, to the kings of Shimron and Akshaph, 2 and to the northern kings who were in the mountains, in the Arabah south of Chinnereth, in the western foothills and in Naphoth Dor on the west; 3 to the Canaanites in the east and west; to the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites and Jebusites in the hill country; and to the Hivites below Mt. Hermon in the region of Mizpah. 4 They came out with all their troops and a large number of horses and chariots—a huge army, as numerous as the sand on the seashore. 5 All these kings joined forces and made camp together at the Waters of Merom to fight against Israel.

  • Jabin is singled out as the initiator, he gathers 8 groups against Israel; 160 sq. mi.
  • God gathers them, they don’t gather themselves
  • One large battle: faster, more efficient, greater display of God’s power

6 The Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid of them, because by this time tomorrow I will hand all of them, slain, over to Israel. You are to hamstring their horses and burn their chariots.” 7 So Joshua and his whole army came against them suddenly at the Waters of Merom and attacked them, 8 and the Lord gave them into the hand of Israel. They defeated them and pursued them all the way to Greater Sidon, to Misrephoth Maim, and to the Valley of Mizpah on the east, until no survivors were left. 9 Joshua did to them as the Lord had directed: He hamstrung their horses and burned their chariots.

  • The ultimate confidence builder: when God says don’t be afraid we can obey!
  • God says how it is going to happen and that is how it happens
  • Joshua led them and they followed in doing exactly what God commanded

10 At that time Joshua turned back and captured Hazor and put its king to the sword. (Hazor had been the head of all these kingdoms.) 11 Everyone in it they put to the sword. They totally devoted them, not sparing anyone that breathed, and he burned Hazor itself. 12 Joshua took all these royal cities and their kings and put them to the sword. He totally devoted them, as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded. 13 Yet Israel did not burn any of the cities built on their mounds—except Hazor, which Joshua burned.

  • Hazor is burned, the other cities are left standing…they will be inhabited
  • We can Assume God told Joshua to burn the city of Hazor but not any others

14 The Israelites carried off for themselves all the plunder and livestock of these cities, but all the people they put to the sword until they completely destroyed them, not sparing anyone that breathed. 15 As the Lord commanded his servant Moses, so Moses commanded Joshua, and Joshua did it; he left nothing undone of all that the Lord commanded Moses.

  • These cites are taken in an efficient way to enrich the Israelites
  • God wrote Scripture… God must be satisfied with the level of obedience
  • God says the obedience was total

16 So Joshua took this entire land: the hill country, all the Negev, the whole region of Goshen, the western foothills, the Arabah and the mountains of Israel with their foothills, 17 from Mount Halak, which rises toward Seir, to Baal Gad in the Valley of Lebanon below Mount Hermon. He captured all their kings and put them to death. 18 Joshua waged war against all these kings for a long time.

  • This entire land: The northern & southern parts of the promised land
  • The detail of the conquest seems quick, but it was a longer time then southern

19 Except for the Hivites living in Gibeon, not one city made a treaty of peace with the Israelites, who took them all in battle. 20 For it was the Lord himself who hardened their hearts to wage war against Israel, so that Joshua might devote them totally, exterminating them without mercy, as the Lord had commanded Moses.

  • All the other cities were inflamed with the desire to destroy the Israelites
  • God willed it and did it!

21 At that time Joshua went and destroyed the Anakites from the hill country: from Hebron, Debir and Anab, from all the hill country of Judah, and from all the hill country of Israel. Joshua totally destroyed them and their towns. 22 No Anakites were left in Israelite territory; only in Gaza, Gath and Ashdod did any survive.

  • When the northern end of the promised land was secured Joshua went south
  • Mop up campaign of ‘Giants’ who were hiding in small groups in the hills
  • They didn’t join the original souther battle

23 So Joshua took the entire land, just as the Lord had directed Moses, and he gave it as an inheritance to Israel according to their tribal divisions. Then the land had rest from war.

  • This is the completion of the initial conquest
  • The ‘Land’ had peace
  • Only when God’s will is obeyed is there peace
  • Salvation is ‘Peace with God’


God moves the northern kings to assemble, then gives HIS people the assurance of HIS intention to go before them and destroy their foes. God gives HIS people what they need, our challenge is to move forward with confidence in HIM..

The city that leads the attack on Israel is made an example of. Except the Gibeonites, not one other group tries to make peace. Actively working against God is a place without peace.

Joshua follows the example of Moses: complete obedience, leaving nothing of all that the Lord commanded. Partial obedience is disobedience. Delayed obedience is disobedience.

Every moment is exactly as God wills it to happen and it is recorded specifically as HE desires. God’s control of every aspect of our world is redundantly taught in Scripture for HIS people’s benefit.

In response to God providing, HIS people are careful to do all that HE commands.


Is there an area where you have not obeyed God because you don’t think HE has provided the right situation? What needs to happen for you to obey?

Do you have a lack of peace in your life? Is there way you are working against what God has clearly commanded? (relationships / your role in the church / money) What is your response?

Have you fully embraced a Biblical Theology of God’s control? How is this embrace connected to your spiritual maturity?


As His people we get insight into what God wants us to do, generally and specifically, throught he continued study of scripture. Then we build a lifestyle of obedience; practicing humility and teachability so we can humbly teach others as we mature.

Trusting God’s Justice and Goodness

Today’s passage is easily dismissed and overlooked as just more conquest. But it is just as important as any part of God’s Word. Do we have the humility before the ‘All-Everything God’ to trust HE knows best? Do you believe that whatever your idea of best is, God’s idea of best is better?

Previously on Joshua: The Longest Day:

29 Then Joshua and all Israel with him moved on from Makkedah to Libnah and attacked it. 30 The Lord also gave that city and its king into Israel’s hand. The city and everyone in it Joshua put to the sword. He left no survivors there. And he did to its king as he had done to the king of Jericho.

  • The battle had begun as a defense of Gibeon (they made a treaty)
  • The 5 Kings (led by the King of Jerusalem) were surprised and routed
  • The armies in retreat before Israel were killed by massive hailstones
  • Kings hid in a cave while God extended the daylight for and extra day
  • They stood on the necks of the kings, the sun finally set now the 2nd day

31 Then Joshua and all Israel with him moved on from Libnah to Lachish; he took up positions against it and attacked it. 32 The Lord gave Lachish into Israel’s hands, and Joshua took it on the second day. The city and everyone in it he put to the sword, just as he had done to Libnah. 33 Meanwhile, Horam king of Gezer had come up to help Lachish, but Joshua defeated him and his army—until no survivors were left.

  • Approached as the sun set, they surrounded them, and then attacked in the am
  • ‘Took up positions’ can also be translated as ‘laid siege to’
  • The second day of the campaign will be a normal length day so they get busy

34 Then Joshua and all Israel with him moved on from Lachish to Eglon; they took up positions against it and attacked it. 35 They captured it that same day and put it to the sword and totally destroyed everyone in it, just as they had done to Lachish. 36 Then Joshua and all Israel with him went up from Eglon to Hebron and attacked it. 37 They took the city and put it to the sword, together with its king, its villages and everyone in it. They left no survivors. Just as at Eglon, they totally destroyed it and everyone in it.

  • Again they took up positions, the armies are not coming out fo the cities
  • Hebron is a bit bigger, a city with villages surrounding it
  • So at this point it seems like an unnecessary amount of carnage
  • We look at this and say, ‘maybe he can just kill soldiers…’
  • This is what obedience can look like sometimes…

38 Then Joshua and all Israel with him turned around and attacked Debir. 39 They took the city, its king and its villages, and put them to the sword. Everyone in it they totally destroyed. They left no survivors. They did to Debir and its king as they had done to Libnah and its king and to Hebron.

  • Repetition is to show the continued obedience
  • Just like you and I they might begin to say, (‘Do we have to kill them all?’)

40 So Joshua subdued the whole region, including the hill country, the Negev, the western foothills and the mountain slopes, together with all their kings. He left no survivors. He totally destroyed all who breathed, just as the Lord, the God of Israel, had commanded. 41 Joshua subdued them from Kadesh Barnea to Gaza and from the whole region of Goshen to Gibeon.

  • They did as God commanded, no shortcuts, no editing of the command
  • It may not have been made explicit earlier in chapter, this summation does
  • Every life God put before them they devoted to HIM, that was HIS Plan

42 All these kings and their lands Joshua conquered in one campaign, because the Lord, the God of Israel, fought for Israel. 43 Then Joshua returned with all Israel to the camp at Gilgal.

  • One campaign 2 days; a double length day and a single length day
  • How could this all be accomplished in such a short period of time?
  • Why didn’t they attack Jerusalem on their way back to Gilgal?
  • Why did God have the Israelites kill everyone?


City after city is attacked and utterly destroyed as an act of obedience to what God had commanded HIS people to do. (Deut. 20:16-18) Every life was ‘Devoted’ to the Lord.

The army trusted Joshua’s leadership to the point where they trusted God’s plan even if they could not fully understand it.

In God’s Judgement HE used the Israelites to devote to HIM earthly lives, but ultimately God is in charge of the eternal lives of all the humans everywhere. We are born & die according to HIS Plan.

This is an extreme example of the Biblical Principal: God’s people are called to obey without complete information, because HE made us HIS people.


Is there something God has led you to do that you can’t understand why you should do it? Will you do it anyway? What would a Biblical Practice of that process look like?

Why does God allow seemingly innocent people to die? Do you require an answer you agree with? What standards do you use to judge if God is fair or not?

If God Judged these people, can you trust they deserved to be Judged?

If God Saved these people, can you trust God’s decision to give them eternal life?


What we can see of God’s plan is fundamentally limited. Biblically following Christ is about developing a relationship with God where we humbly trust in HIS character; then we can trust HIS Plan!

Absolutely Unlimited!

What is your view of God? Where are you as far as having a solid Biblical Theology? How we view God is the most important thing in this world. We cannot be rightly related to someone who we do not know and understand. Getting to know God is no small deal…there is a lot to learn!

From a informed Biblical Theology flows:

  • How we relate to God
  • How we view Christ
  • How we view His bride
  • How we do relationships
  • How we structure our lifestyle and lifework
  • How we conduct ourselves in public and private
  • How we handle money & resources
  • How we raise children

With a complete grasp of both Testaments, read as God’s people have always read them, we understand a lot about God…one critical thing to understand is that we cannot fully understand HIM in this life. The more we are drawn into the reality of Jesus Christ by God’s sovereign will, we see a better picture of who God is.

A key aspect of the Biblical Gospel of Jesus Christ, is that God loved us humans so much HE encapsulated His divinity into a human body, supernaturally impregnating a woman. He does this so we can see HIM in a relatable way. Why? Because HIS totality is beyond our ability to comprehend…But we can understand enough! Enough to trust Him, enough to walk with Him, enough to let Him Parent you, enough to surrender your life to Christ’s call to be His disciple… I hope today’s passage helps.

Our text today can seem to be a bit basic and repetitive regarding the conquest we are in the midst of. But as we view it from a perspective of the Old Testament Scripture together with the New Testament Scripture, it joins a chorus of God’s Word declaring HIS all encompassing Omni-Everything!

Singular / Self Existent / All Knowing / All Powerful / Unconstrained by time, space, matter or ANYTHING / Essentially Perfect / The Definer of Love / The Author of Grace / The Beginning and The End of EVERYTHING!

Israel pursued them along the road going up to Beth Horon and cut them down all the way to Azekah and Makkedah. ~ 10:10b

  • This ends up being about 20 miles of combat, they needed the extra day!

Joshua 10:16-28

16 Now the five kings had fled and hidden in the cave at Makkedah. 17 When Joshua was told that the five kings had been found hiding in the cave at Makkedah, 18 he said, “Roll large rocks up to the mouth of the cave, and post some men there to guard it. 19 But don’t stop; pursue your enemies! Attack them from the rear and don’t let them reach their cities, for the Lord your God has given them into your hand.”

  • The Kings hide in a cave from the hail and to evade the ‘Light’
  • God demonstrates HE controls the Amorite Gods (Sun & Moon)
  • Here Joshua recognizes God’s plan and uses the time wisely

20 So Joshua and the Israelites defeated them completely, but a few survivors managed to reach their fortified cities. 21 The whole army then returned safely to Joshua in the camp at Makkedah, and no one uttered a word against the Israelites.

  • They basically destroyed FIVE armies with Zero casualties on their side
  • There was no remaining unrest, or further resistance
  • The civilians recognized they were under the control of the God of Israel

22 Joshua said, “Open the mouth of the cave and bring those five kings out to me.” 23 So they brought the five kings out of the cave—the kings of Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish and Eglon.

  • They bring them out into the extended daylight
  • The repetition of who the Kings are

24 When they had brought these kings to Joshua, he summoned all the men of Israel and said to the army commanders who had come with him, “Come here and put your feet on the necks of these kings.” So they came forward and placed their feet on their necks.

  • This is a visceral experience of the victory, a demonstration of absolute control
  • God’s control is being exercised through the nation of Israel

25 Joshua said to them, “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Be strong and courageous. This is what the Lord will do to all the enemies you are going to fight.”

  • This is what God says to HIS people when they trust enough to obey
  • The sin of the Amorites must be complete for now God is enacting Judgement
  • In Genesis 15 God told Abram that his offspring would get this land
  • When the ‘Sin of the Amorites has reached it’s full measure’ (Judgement Hour)

26 Then Joshua put the kings to death and exposed their bodies on five poles, and they were left hanging on the poles until evening. 27 At sunset Joshua gave the order and they took them down from the poles and threw them into the cave where they had been hiding. At the mouth of the cave they placed large rocks, which are there to this day.

  • Public show of dominance, as God has told them HE wants it done
  • The practice of taking the punished off the impaling pole carries forward

28 That day Joshua took Makkedah. He put the city and its king to the sword and totally destroyed everyone in it. He left no survivors. And he did to the king of Makkedah as he had done to the king of Jericho.

  • Joshua is finishing exactly as God has commanded and will continue
  • Same goal: God wants the Amorites fully devoted to HIM (HIS Judgement)

The Kings hide in response to God’s power, but they mistakenly believe HE is somehow limited. Scripture teaches that HE is unlimited, our response is belief.
The God of Scripture has absolute control of both the natural and the supernatural. Confidence in The Omni-Everything God allows us to live without fear.
Joshua pays attention to what God is providing and makes the most of it. As God’s people we are given the opportunity to be stewards in meaningful ways.
Joshua keeps doing what he has been commanded by God to do until he is told otherwise. The ultimate example of finishing well is our Lord Jesus Christ

Have you been convinced by a thorough study of scripture as to whether the God of the Bible is limited or not?
If God controls all things at all times, how should we specifically live based on that?
What are some specific things you would consider ‘Good Stewardship’ of the Biblical Gospel message?
Is there something you have not finished well? What did you learn from that experience?

Scripture testifies to God’s Omni-Everything! As HIS people we can make the smallest and biggest decisions in our life based on that reality.

Inhabiting The Promised Life as A Disciple of the Biblical Christ

As followers of Christ do we need some kind of explanation for miracles like this? (Old NASA Rumor) Slowing of Earth’s rotation? Earth wobbling on it’s axis? Some form of bending light? Did we require a explanation for God parting the Jordan river… or for that matter the Red Sea? Perhaps nothing physically changed yet God made everyone in the area He divided out see the sun and moon stand still…

We’re not going to learn how this miracle happened…we will learn some other things. We will learn about sacrificial integrity, displayed by Joshua. We will learn how doing the right thing puts you into partnership with God. What that looks like is believing what God tells you SO MUCH that you ask Him to do something only HE can do. This moment of partnership between God and Joshua is unparalleled / unprecedented.

As His people we are all called to that kind of partnership, not on this scale, but in ways that can have eternal impact. Our integrity and obedience opens our eyes to what God is doing all around HIM! Then it is partnership time, true partnership with God! To HIS glory!

Joshua 10:1-15

Now Adoni-Zedek king of Jerusalem heard that Joshua had taken Ai and totally destroyed it, doing to Ai and its king as he had done to Jericho and its king, and that the people of Gibeon had made a treaty of peace with Israel and had become their allies. 2 He and his people were very much alarmed at this, because Gibeon was an important city, like one of the royal cities; it was larger than Ai, and all its men were good fighters.

  • Word travels fast in the land of Canaan
  • The alliance that was formed just weeks ago is called into action
  • Notice that the guy who leads this fight is The King of Jerusalem
  • Jerusalem is closest to Gibeon (driven by fear)

3 So Adoni-Zedek king of Jerusalem appealed to Hoham king of Hebron, Piram king of Jarmuth, Japhia king of Lachish and Debir king of Eglon. 4 “Come up and help me attack Gibeon,” he said, “because it has made peace with Joshua and the Israelites.” 5 Then the five kings of the Amorites—the kings of Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish and Eglon—joined forces. They moved up with all their troops and took up positions against Gibeon and attacked it.

  • This King calls himself: ‘Lord of Righteousness’
  • The word ‘Gibeonite’ means ‘Good Fighter’ V2 (Provide a local advantage)
  • Better to eliminate them before they can help the Israelites
  • They basically laid siege to the city, surrounded it
  • It is to the Israelites advantage to get them all out in the open country
  • This is God working… He is always at work

6 The Gibeonites then sent word to Joshua in the camp at Gilgal: “Do not abandon your servants. Come up to us quickly and save us! Help us, because all the Amorite kings from the hill country have joined forces against us.” 7 So Joshua marched up from Gilgal with his entire army, including all the best fighting men. 8 The Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid of them; I have given them into your hand. Not one of them will be able to withstand you.”

  • Joshua could have said: ‘This will take care of my Gibeonite problem’
  • His honoring his oath, his integrity, was not dependent on what the others did
  • Honoring His oath was not determined based on what the outcome would be
  • He got the army ready to go and his integrity is rewarded with partnership
  • God tells Him what HE is going to do: HE will eliminate them ALL

9 After an all-night march from Gilgal, Joshua took them by surprise. 10 The Lord threw them into confusion before Israel, so Joshua and the Israelites defeated them completely at Gibeon. Israel pursued them along the road going up to Beth Horon and cut them down all the way to Azekah and Makkedah.

  • 15 miles from Gilgal to Gibeon, march at about 3 miles and hour (5 hour march)
  • They show up at 3am and it is mass confusion
  • The Amorites are routed and begin to retreat, they don’t retreat to Jerusalem
  • They go west then south through the valley
  • The route described covers about 20 miles!

11 As they fled before Israel on the road down from Beth Horon to Azekah, the Lord hurled large hailstones down on them, and more of them died from the hail than were killed by the swords of the Israelites.

  • All 5 Kings and their men retreat down a thoroughfare
  • As they run away the Amorites are pelted with big hail (softball size?)

12 On the day the Lord gave the Amorites over to Israel, Joshua said to the Lord in the presence of Israel: “Sun, stand still over Gibeon, and you, moon, over the Valley of Aijalon.”

  • Time sequence: Joshua likely said this as the pursuit began
  • The Amorites worshiped the Sun and the Moon as Gods
  • Joshua (& Yahweh) wanted to display HIS power over their deities
  • ‘The Ultimate Demoralizer’

13 So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, until the nation avenged itself on its enemies, as it is written in the Book of Jashar. The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day.

  • Gibeon is sworn ally so in essence the 5 Kings attacked Israel (avenged)
  • Book of Jashar (Book of The Just Ones) Citing another source that recorded it
  • If God wanted us to have this book He would have preserved it
  • Net effect: another day (12 hours) of light by which to mop up the Amorites
  • The Israelites were partners, not just servants. God fought for AND with them

14 There has never been a day like it before or since, a day when the Lord listened to a human being. Surely the Lord was fighting for Israel! 15 Then Joshua returned with all Israel to the camp at Gilgal.

  • This is how Joshua was allowed by God to perceive the event
  • Human perspective, divinely guided to communicate exactly what God wants

The Book Experiencing God: How I started living 22 years ago

Love relationship > Obedience > God Speaks > Join Him (adjustment in your life)

Miracles rest on testimony, not on scientific analyses. While it is interesting to speculate on how God might have performed any particular Biblical miracle, including Joshua’s long day, ultimately those claiming to be disciples of Jesus Christ (who authenticated the divine record of the Bible) must accept them, by faith.” ~ Russell Grigg


Joshua is an example to us in how He honors his word displaying ‘Non-Situation Driven Integrity’: Doing the right thing no matter what!

God was at work getting the Amorite Kings to attack, Joshua’s obedience puts him in a place to work hand in hand with God, a place of joining God where He is working as His partner.

The miracles recorded here do not require an explanation for those who have surrendered their lives to Jesus Christ. The ‘Self Existent’ All-Sovereign Lord of The Universe can manipulate, create, replicate, impersonate or make anyone see, hear and think whatever HE wants…If HE is who Scripture says HE is.

There is a place of partnership with God that we can experience through our integrity and obedience where we are so in-sync with God that HIS will becomes ours: ‘Flow’.

Joshua asked God to do exactly what God want to do: ‘He listened to a human’.


Do you believe in ‘Situational Ethics’? If so how does that ‘World View’ correspond to the message of Scripture in general and today’s passage in particular?

Where might God be working around YOU? Is there something you need to change in your life in order to join HIM in that work?

How comfortable are you with the idea that miracles are left unexplained? Are you waiting on an explanation before you really believe?


‘Practical Principles’ are found in the proper reading of Scripture. We use those to develop ‘Practical Patterns’ of lifestyle that consist of specific ‘Practical Practices’ we do, not just talk about.


As Christ’s Body, when we walk with God in obedience and integrity, it puts us in a position to join HIM in HIS work. This means practicing basic, daily things that Scripture clearly calls us to do and be; developing a lifestyle of doing the right thing no matter the situation.

As Christ’s People we are not to evaluate God based on our circumstances!

Elisha & Resurrection Power

II Kings 4:8-37

“One day Elisha went on to Shunem, where a prominent woman lived…..she said to her husband, ‘behold now, I know that this is a holy man of God who is continually passing our way. Let us make a small room for him so that whenever he comes to us, he can go in there.'” (v.8-9)

“One day he came there, turned into the chamber and rested there…..he said, ‘you have taken all this trouble for us; what is to be done for you?’….she answered, ‘I dwell among my own people’…..and he said, ‘about this time next year, you shall embrace a son’…..the woman conceived, and she bore a son, as Elisha had said to her.” (v.11-17)

“When the child had grown, he went out one day to his father among the reapers. And he said to his father, ‘oh my head, my head!’ The father said to his servant, ‘carry him to his mother’….the child sat on her lap till noon, and then he died.” (v.18-20)

“She called her husband and said, ‘send me one of the servants, and one of the donkeys, that I may quickly go to the man of God and come again’. And he said, ‘why will you go to him today? It is neither new moon or Sabbath.’ She said, ‘all is well’….so she set out and came to the man of God at Mount Carmel.” (v.22-25a)

“When the man of God saw her coming, he said to Gehazi his servant, ‘look, there is the Shunammite. Run at once to meet her and say to her, is all with with you? Is all well with your husband? Is all well with the child?’ And she answered, ‘all is well.'” (v.25b-26)

“Gehazi went on ahead and laid the staff on the face of the child, but there was no sound or sign of life. Therefore he returned to meet him and told him, ‘the child has not awakened.’ When Elisha came into the house, he saw the child lying dead on his bed. So he went in and shut the door behind the two of them and prayed to the Lord….” (v.31-32)

“Then he went up and lay on the child, putting his mouth to his mouth, his eyes to his eyes, and his hands on his hands……the flesh of the child became warm…..the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes.” (v.34-35)


– We do what we do because we are what we are.

– Be discerning with God’s people, supportive, encouraging, serving, and praying.

– Don’t judge the Lord based on your present, difficult circumstances. Your conclusions about Him will be wrong.

Seeking God As A Regular Practice

This world is full of messages and information that are deceptive and the deception is evil and destructive. In order to not be deceived by this world you must have 2 things: God’s Spirit within you AND the practice of seeking Him for EVERYTHING! God’s Presence is the only source of true discernment. Only HE knows the whole story, the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

As the nation of Israel began to conquer and inhabit the promised land, they had the presence of Yahweh in their midst, God chose to inhabit their community. Now that Christ has come the 1st time…The Holy Spirit indwells believers, resulting in the presence of God inhabiting their community, OUR Community! God gives us His presence but He does not force His guidance on us, He wants us to ask for it. He is the ‘Ultimate Gentleman’.

One of the biggest problems in discerning what is really true is we have to overcome our pride, we think we know the deal…Far too often we believe we know what the truth is so we stop inquiring and processing information. The practice of remaining curious, humbly realizing that we don’t have all the information is a way we guard against pride that leads to deception.

The Nation of Israel had seen what happens when they seek God and are led by Him, and they had seen how thing go when they try it their way, in this text we see how a complacency and lack of seeking God goes.

Joshua 9

1 Now when all the kings west of the Jordan heard about these things—the kings in the hill country, in the western foothills, and along the entire coast of the Mediterranean Sea as far as Lebanon (the kings of the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites) — 2 they came together to wage war against Joshua and Israel.

  • They heard about these things, the annihilation of Ai
  • They convened a War Council, they made a pact (common enemy)

3 However, when the people of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai, 4 they resorted to a ruse: They went as a delegation whose donkeys were loaded with worn-out sacks and old wineskins, cracked and mended. 5 They put worn and patched sandals on their feet and wore old clothes. All the bread of their food supply was dry and moldy.

  • Gibeon was closest to where the Israelites were
  • They had the best information, and chose to try something other than fighting
  • They crafted a deception…

6 Then they went to Joshua in the camp at Gilgal and said to him and the Israelites, “We have come from a distant country; make a treaty with us.” 7 The Israelites said to the Hivites, “But perhaps you live near us, so how can we make a treaty with you?” 8 “We are your servants,” they said to Joshua. But Joshua asked, “Who are you and where do you come from?”

  • They presented themselves and asked for a peace treaty
  • The Israelites were suspicious and questioning

9 They answered: “Your servants have come from a very distant country because of the fame of the Lord your God. For we have heard reports of him: all that he did in Egypt, 10 and all that he did to the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan—Sihon king of Heshbon, and Og king of Bashan, who reigned in Ashtaroth.”

  • Claiming to be their servants because they have heard about their God
  • They are careful to not include anything that has happened in the last month

11 “Our elders and all those living in our country said to us, Take provisions for your journey; go and meet them and say to them, ‘We are your servants; make a treaty with us.”’ 12 “This bread of ours was warm when we packed it at home on the day we left to come to you. But now see how dry and moldy it is. 13 And these wineskins that we filled were new, but see how cracked they are. And our clothes and sandals are worn out by the very long journey.”

  • A compelling tale that makes the Israelites think they are from a great distance
  • They accept the info with further inquiry

14 The Israelites sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the Lord. 15 Then Joshua made a treaty of peace with them to let them live, and the leaders of the assembly ratified it by oath.

  • After hearing their story they looked at the evidence the Gibeonites offered
  • They perhaps tasted and smelled their foodstuffs
  • Joshua made peace & oaths were sworn based on a story and moldy bread
  • The evidence was real but it was without true context (the context was a lie)
  • Without the proper context, information can be deceiving…

16 Three days after they made the treaty with the Gibeonites, the Israelites heard that they were neighbors, living near them. 17 So the Israelites set out and on the third day came to their cities: Gibeon, Kephirah, Beeroth and Kiriath Jearim. 18 But the Israelites did not attack them, because the leaders of the assembly had sworn an oath to them by the Lord, the God of Israel.

  • It only took three day to find out they had been duped
  • Perhaps they had gone on a couple of scouting missions, talked to other locals

The whole assembly grumbled against the leaders, 19 but all the leaders answered, “We have given them our oath by the Lord, the God of Israel, and we cannot touch them now. 20 This is what we will do to them: We will let them live, so that God’s wrath will not fall on us for breaking the oath we swore to them.” 21 They continued, “Let them live, but let them be woodcutters and water carriers in the service of the whole assembly.” So the leaders’ promise to them was kept.

  • The people wanted to attack but the leaders feared God because of their oath
  • Since they could not make war against them they enslaved them
  • They were to cut & haul wood and carry water (constant, hard work)
  • They were allowed to live but as slaves

22 Then Joshua summoned the Gibeonites and said, “Why did you deceive us by saying, ‘We live a long way from you,’ while actually you live near us? 23 You are now under a curse: You will never be released from service as woodcutters and water carriers for the house of my God.”

  • Why would you do this and be enslaved?
  • Joshua pronounces a curse on them
  • They will be servants of the temple / tent of meeting / altar of sacrifice

24 They answered Joshua, “Your servants were clearly told how the Lord your God had commanded his servant Moses to give you the whole land and to wipe out all its inhabitants from before you. So we feared for our lives because of you, and that is why we did this. 25 We are now in your hands. Do to us whatever seems good and right to you.”

  • They recognized the reality of who God was & how He was leading His people
  • They figured their best chance was to fool them not fight them

26 So Joshua saved them from the Israelites, and they did not kill them. 27 That day he made the Gibeonites woodcutters and water carriers for the assembly, to provide for the needs of the altar of the Lord at the place the Lord would choose. And that is what they are to this day.

  • Joshua would not sacrifice His integrity to please the people
  • He found a solution that let the Israelite honor their oath and further God’s plan
  • God held the Israelites to their oath, (Saul broke it and was punished)


The inhabitants of Canaan / The Promised Land recognize the threat the Israelite represent and they reacted in two ways: some cities band together to fight and one smaller group create an elaborate deception to escape destruction.

The Gibeonites presented information and evidence to the Israelites that was not what it appeared to be. Facts out of context are in essence lies and deception. Deception is aided by pride because instead of questioning assumptions are made.

God’s people looked at what the world presented as the truth and did not consult the author of all truth to discern truth from lie. A lack of routine practice of seeking God resulted in them being deceived.

God’s people , led by Joshua, displayed integrity and feared God after being deceived by not going back on their oath and taking ownership of their foolishness.

The Gibeonites were saved from the just wrath of Yahweh because in their own way they honored Him and recognized his absolute sovereignty. Their destiny would be to serve the Israelite’s worship of God.


When faced with a hard situation do you look to fight or attempt deception to overcome obstacles?

How curious are you regarding the information you see about the world around you? What do you use as a guide to process that information?

How do you regularly inquire of God? What does your practice look like?

When you have made bad decisions who do you blame and why?


God’s people should be aware of the deceptiveness of the information the world is giving them and guided by Scripture we are to practice regularly seeking God’s guidance rather than when we are unsure.

The Biblical Practice of Relational Renewal

Recap of the book of Joshua up to now:

Moses dies, Joshua is to lead into the promised land / They untie and share in sacrifice / Rahab and the spies model active faith / God brings them across the Joran by miracle / They take time to memorialize that event / God deepens the connection with His people / The miracle at Jericho teaches them devotion / disobedience effects the whole community / Sin is dealt with and the forgiven community is victorious…now what?

Now the Israelites will be led by God to renew their covenant relationship with Him, together as a nation. This event is meant to connect the nation back to the 2nd giving of the law in Deuteronomy 5-28 (Covenant Renewal…AGAIN)

The Place: Shechem. Abraham was there, Jacob’s Ladder & Well, Samaritan Woman & Jesus. It is a place where revelation and relational renewal has happened. Relational Renewal is a principal God wants His people to practice! We need renewal, it is not an option, it is commanded, demonstrated, ritualized and practiced… Practice is the key part: you can talk about renewing your relationship with God but it actuality requires intentional practice.

Ch. 8:30-35

30 At that time Joshua built an altar to the Lord, the God of Israel, on Mount Ebal, 31 just as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded the people of Israel, as it is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, “an altar of uncut stones, upon which no man has wielded an iron tool.”

  • 1st thing (one they got there) was to build an altar
  • This was part of what had been commanded for them to do in Deuteronomy 27
  • Uncut stones: all of the previous alters by Abraham, Issac & Jacob
  • Use of uncut stones differentiated Yahweh’s alters from Canaanite altars

And when you have crossed the Jordan, set up these stones on Mount Ebal, as I command you today, and coat them with plaster. Build there an altar to the Lord your God, an altar of stones. Do not use any iron tool on them. Build the altar of the Lord your God with field stones and offer burnt offerings on it to the Lord your God. Sacrifice fellowship offerings there, eating them and rejoicing in the presence of the Lord your God. And you shall write very clearly all the words of this law on these stones you have set up.” ~ Deuteronomy 27:4-8

  • Very Specific instructions for the Altar and the Stones to display the Law

And they offered on it burnt offerings to the Lord and sacrificed peace offerings. 32 And there, in the presence of the people of Israel, he wrote on the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he had written.

Artist rendering of the Altar on Mt. Ebal built by Joshua
  • They sacrificed, it cost them something…time to build and then animals
  • They were plastered stones on the alter with the Ten Commandments on them

33 And all Israel, sojourner as well as native born, with their elders and officers and their judges, stood on opposite sides of the ark before the Levitical priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord, half of them in front of Mount Gerizim and half of them in front of Mount Ebal, just as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded at the first, to bless the people of Israel.

  • The entire nation was gathered, just like us they need to be together
  • Six tribes on either side is symbolic that we all can be on either side
  • Natural amphitheater makes it so from Shechem you can hear on both mounts
  • We saw a part of what was commanded in Deuteronomy
  • This ceremony of renewing the Covenant was ‘To Bless The People’
Shechem from a distance, nestled between Mt. Ebal and Mt. Gerizim

34 And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessing and the curse, according to all that is written in the Book of the Law. 35 There was not a word of all that Moses commanded that Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel, and the women, and the little ones, and the sojourners who lived among them.

  • What makes sense is that he read from Deuteronomy 5 through 28
  • Beginning with the ten commandments through the blessing and curse
  • All that Moses commanded is recapped in Moses ‘Farewell Address’
  • The whole assembly, gather around God’s Presence (Ark) and God’s Word
  • Everyone was included (Rahab’ Family)

The last thing read was the Blessings and Curses.

Curses & Blessings:

Curses for: Making Idols / Dishonoring Parents / Moving Land Markers / Oppressing The Marginalized / Sex with Animals / Sex with Relatives / Secret & Paid Killing

‘Not Carrying Out The Whole Law’

Blessings for Obedience: City / Country / Offspring / Crops / Land / livestock / Food Preparation / Defeat of Enemies /Status / Buildings / Favorable Weather

‘Total Prosperity’

This provides no place to just be ‘Good’ or not as bad as that guy… There is no 3rd place! C.S. Lewis said: “There is no neutral ground in the universe; every square inch, every split second, is claimed by God and counterclaimed by satan.” It is a call to: ‘Be perfect as our Father is Perfect’, a call to surrender your life to Christ…the only way to be perfect!


The renewal of the covenant relationship with God requires sacrifice. The sacrifice we have the privilege of making is laying down our lives for Christ and the Gospel.

God Unifies His people around The Scriptures, the centrality of it in our lives gives us our ‘Cultural Identity’ and surrounds us with blessings.

There is no spiritual neutrality…our relationship with God is either one of blessings or of curses. For the Israelites it was surrender to God’s ways…for us it is the same.

God desires His people to hear His word together and be accountable to each other for obedience to it.


Have you intentionally renewed your relationship with Christ on a regular basis? Why or why not?

What sacrifices do you make and will you make to honor God in your life?

How can you get God’s Word into a more central and prominent place your life?

Do you consider your relationship with God to be communal or individual?


God wants our relationship with Him to be regularly renewed and reinvigorated, honoring Him means intentionally practicing aspects of rededication.

2nd battle of Ai (Diagram Below)

Todays passage is what is know as the second battle of Ai. The first battle wasn’t much a of a battle…This time the nation of Israel is victorious, first and foremost because they are once again rightly related to Yahweh, having dealt with the disobedience of Achen.

This battle is won by God inspired leadership, God given creativity in the planning and then God fearing obedience by all of the troops in Joshua’s Army. There is no great miracle; no stopping a river or turning city walls to rubble, just excellent military planning and execution.

We see how when God’s people are untied under Him as a forgiven community of leaders and servants there is no stopping them. God is forging HIS nation through adversity and experience so they can glorify HIM. There are also lessons for us, principals that can guide us as the Body of Christ.

Two weeks ago, the end of chapter seven:

24 Then Joshua and all the Israelites took Achan, the silver, the robe, the bar of gold, his sons, daughters, cattle, donkeys, sheep, goats, tent, and everything he had, and they brought them to the valley of Achor. 25 Then Joshua said to Achan, “Why have you brought trouble on us? The Lord will now bring trouble on you.” All the Israelites stoned Achan and his family and burned their bodies. 26 They piled a great heap of stones over Achan, which remains to this day. That is why the place has been called the Valley of Trouble ever since. So the Lord was no longer angry.

  • Beginning with Adam & Eve, sin must be paid for with a sacrifice
  • When the sacrifice is as God has prescribed, the guilt is forgiven
  • God is satisfied, the price was paid

Joshua 8:1-29

1 And the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not fear and do not be dismayed. Take all the fighting men with you, and arise, go up to Ai. See, I have given into your hand the king of Ai, and his people, his city, and his land. 2 You shall do to Ai and its king as you did to Jericho and its king. Only its spoil and its livestock you shall take as plunder for yourselves. Lay an ambush against the city, behind it.”

  • Now that the price has been paid for the sin God says: ‘Forget about it!…I have’
  • Yahweh declares He will still go before the Israelites and take the city of Ai
  • Valuable items & animals can be taken (God sets the terms for devotion)
  • God provides the genesis of a plan…back side ambush
  • God gives Joshua the outline, and because he is connected, creativity as well

3 So Joshua and all the fighting men arose to go up to Ai. Joshua chose 30,000 mighty men of valor and sent them out by night. 4 He commanded them, “Behold you shall lie in ambush against the city, behind it. Do not go very far from the city, but all of you remain ready.

  • Sends out the ambush force (30,000) by night to their hiding place
  • They are to be as close as they can without being seen and ready to go
  • As it turns out there is a perfect place for them to hide…

5 I and all the people who are with me will approach the city. When they come out against us just as before, we shall flee before them. 6 They will come out after us, until we have drawn them away from the city. For they will say, ‘They are fleeing from us, just as before.’ So we will flee before them. 7 Then you shall rise up from the ambush and seize the city, for the Lord your God will give it into your hand. 8 And as soon as you have taken the city, you shall set the city on fire. You shall do according to the word of the Lord. See, I have commanded you.”

  • Joshua’s army will do just what they did before…but this time not from fear
  • They are counting on the enemy to be overconfident, to overplay his hand…
  • Joshua is commanding with the authority of Yahweh

9 So Joshua sent them out, and they went to the place of ambush and lay between Bethel and Ai, to the west of Ai, but Joshua spent that night among the people. 10 Joshua arose early in the morning and mustered the people and went up, he and the elders of Israel, before the people to Ai. 11 All the fighting men who were with him went up and drew near before the city and encamped on the north side of Ai, with a ravine between them and Ai. (1)

  • The ambush group of 30,000 got situated overnight going around behind Ai
  • Joshua’s other force (30,000?) camps where they can be seen at sunrise

12 He took about 5,000 men and set them in ambush between Bethel and Ai, to the west of the city. 13 So they stationed the forces, the main encampment that was north of the city and its rear guard west of the city. But Joshua spent that night in the valley. (1)

  • He put 5000 men as northwestern ambush between Bethel & Ai (done at night)
  • Between Bethel and Ai…This was land with some history (It’s all connected)
  • Genesis 12:8 & 13:3-4 Twice Abram makes an altar to the Lord there

14 As soon as the king of Ai saw this, he and all his people, the men of the city, hurried and went out early to the appointed place toward the Arabah to meet Israel in battle. But he did not know that there was an ambush against him behind the city. (1)

  • At 1st light King sees Joshua’s army across the ravine and goes to meet him
  • He certainly leaves a force in the city as back up (City Guard)
  • He wants to meet the Israelite army on the plain at the mouth of the valley
  • He thought this was the whole Israelite army…

15 Joshua and all Israel pretended to be beaten before them and fled in the direction of the wilderness. 16 So all the people who were in the city were called together to pursue them, and as they pursued Joshua they were drawn away from the city. 17 Not a man was left in Ai or Bethel who did not go out after Israel. They left the city open and pursued Israel. (1&2)

  • They fled a easterly direction back along the valley
  • The army of Ai is seen chasing Joshua’s army from the walls of both cities
  • The ‘City Guard’ of Ai & the fighting men of Bethel leave their cities to chase
  • The 5000 men west of Bethel let everyone go to chase before they follow

18 Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Stretch out the javelin that is in your hand toward Ai, for I will give it into your hand.” And Joshua stretched out the javelin that was in his hand toward the city. 19 And the men in the ambush rose quickly out of their place, and as soon as he had stretched out his hand, they ran and entered the city and captured it. And they hurried to set the city on fire. (2&3)

  • Joshua gives the ‘Anointed Signal’ doing exactly what God says (no questions)
  • Somehow the 30,000 men waiting behind Ai could see the signal and moved
  • In short order they set Ai to burning, the city guard all left. No resistance

20 So when the men of Ai looked back, behold, the smoke of the city went up to heaven, and they had no power to flee this way or that, for the people who fled to the wilderness turned back against the pursuers. 21 When Joshua and all Israel saw that the ambush had captured the city, and that the smoke of the city went up, then they turned back and struck down the men of Ai. (3&4)

  • Joshua’s men had stopped retreating
  • All the fighting men from Ai & Bethel were between Ai and the Israelite Army
  • Everyone sees the smoke coming from Ai
  • One army knows it’s city and families are being consumed, they give up
  • One army knows their God is running things, they become supremely confident

22 The other Israelites came out from the city against them, so they were in the midst of Israel, some on this side, and some on that side. And Israel struck them down, until there was left none that survived or escaped. 23 But the king of Ai they took alive, and brought him near to Joshua. (3&4)

  • They had them trapped from all sides
  • Destruction was total, except the King

24 When Israel had finished killing all the inhabitants of Ai in the open wilderness where they pursued them, and all of them to the very last had fallen by the edge of the sword, all Israel returned to Ai and struck it down with the edge of the sword. 25 All who fell that day, both men and women, were 12,000, all the people of Ai.

  • All of the fighters they killed in the open ground (7-8K at most)

26 But Joshua did not draw back his hand with which he stretched out the javelin until he had devoted all the inhabitants of Ai to destruction.27 Only the livestock and the spoil of that city Israel took as their plunder, according to the word of the Lord that he commanded Joshua.

  • Joshua held out the Javelin for the battle AND the devotion of the city
  • He made sure he did it as long as God wanted him to do it: Complete Devotion

28 So Joshua burned Ai and made it forever a heap of ruins, as it is to this day. 29 He hanged the king of Ai on a tree until evening. At sunset Joshua commanded, and they took his body down from the tree and threw it at the entrance of the gate of the city and raised over it a great heap of stones, which stands there to this day.

  • City of Ai was rebuilt at a site nearby (Neh. 7:32) Sister city of Bethel
  • The hanging on a tree was probably impaling
  • Scripture gave a process

If a man has committed a crime punishable by death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his body shall not remain all night on the tree, but you shall bury him the same day, for a hanged man is cursed by God. You shall not defile your land that the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance. ~ Deuteronomy 21:22–23


God teaches His people that once sin is addressed and God has extended grace, the relationship is repaired: HIS forgiveness is perfect so HIS people can be encouraged and brave not overshadowed by their sin!

God uses HIS leaders to plan and execute HIS projects. They seek His guidance, command with HIS authority and succeed by HIS power…even when it is not done with miracles. We are called to do our best in His service!

God puts HIS leaders in a position to be seen and given attention. HIS ‘Christ-Type’ leaders are obedient and complete their assignments. In this story Joshua is an extension of God’s leadership of HIS people.


What is the Biblical basis by which your sin is forgiven, and once it is forgiven how does God view it? How do you view it?

As Christ’s Body, what can we do to promote Visionary Leadership and Faithful Servanthood as we see in this passage?

What roles of Leadership and/or servanthood do you see yourself growing into here @ Midtown Church?


As ‘Biblically Forgiven People’, our relationship with God through Jesus Christ enables us to live with courage and purpose doing everything ‘As unto The Lord’. (Col. 3:23)

Diagram of The Battle

II Kings 2:1-18

Now when the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven by a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. 2 And Elijah said to Elisha, “Please stay here, for the Lord has sent me as far as Bethel.” But Elisha said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel. 3 And the sons of the prophets who were in Bethel came out to Elisha and said to him, “Do you know that today the Lord will take away your master from over you?” And he said, “Yes, I know it; keep quiet.”

4 Elijah said to him, “Elisha, please stay here, for the Lord has sent me to Jericho.” But he said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they came to Jericho. 5 The sons of the prophets who were at Jericho drew near to Elisha and said to him, “Do you know that today the Lord will take away your master from over you?” And he answered, “Yes, I know it; keep quiet.”

6 Then Elijah said to him, “Please stay here, for the Lord has sent me to the Jordan.” But he said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them went on. 7 Fifty men of the sons of the prophets also went and stood at some distance from them, as they both were standing by the Jordan. 8 Then Elijah took his cloak and rolled it up and struck the water, and the water was parted to the one side and to the other, till the two of them could go over on dry ground.

9 When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Ask what I shall do for you, before I am taken from you.” And Elisha said, “Please let there be a double portion of your spirit on me.” 10 And he said, “You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it shall be so for you, but if you do not see me, it shall not be so.” 11 And as they still went on and talked, behold, chariots of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. 12 And Elisha saw it and he cried, “My father, my father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” And he saw him no more.

Then he took hold of his own clothes and tore them in two pieces. 13 And he took up the cloak of Elijah that had fallen from him and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. 14 Then he took the cloak of Elijah that had fallen from him and struck the water, saying, “Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” And when he had struck the water, the water was parted to the one side and to the other, and Elisha went over.

15 Now when the sons of the prophets who were at Jericho saw him opposite them, they said, “The spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha.” And they came to meet him and bowed to the ground before him. 16 And they said to him, “Behold now, there are with your servants fifty strong men. Please let them go and seek your master. It may be that the Spirit of the Lord has caught him up and cast him upon some mountain or into some valley.” And he said, “You shall not send.” 17 But when they urged him till he was ashamed, he said, “Send.” They sent therefore fifty men. And for three days they sought him but did not find him. 18 And they came back to him while he was staying at Jericho, and he said to them, “Did I not say to you, ‘Do not go’?”

Summary Points

-The Lord calls us to make a clean break with our old way of life.

-We have an ascended Master, Jesus Christ, in a glorified body in heaven, ruling the galaxies. We must keep our eyes and affections on him.

-In a mocking and skeptical world, we must speak the truth of what we have seen and heard.

-The last thing you ever want is for God to leave you alone!

The Multiplication of Unacknowledged Sin

Talking about sin is hard. But we need to because the Scripture does. If we claim to love Jesus Christ then we are told directly by HIM that we must obey HIS words, all of Scripture and all principals that agree with the scriptures.

Let us clearly define sin based on the Bible / Scripture. Sin is doing, thinking or believing the opposite of what God wants. Many things are spelled out explicitly, others things less clear but still important.

To avoid sin…

1st we have to know what God would have us do, who He would have us be…And THEN we have to honestly, intentionally and transparently pursue such a life. Disobedience to God’s desires is sin. Ignoring God’s commands, precepts and principals is sin. Taking away a part of what God says, interpreting His Word out of context, is sin. Adding to what God prescribes for HIS people is sin.

God’s Word is meant to convey multiple meanings and have multiple uses. Everything from the big picture to personal application. The centuries long story of how God takes a group of people and HE walks with them to reveal himself and HIS desires for all people. Through these people, HIS people HE demonstrates how no human being can live in a way acceptable to HIS Perfect Triune Holiness. From that nation HE comes in person to make a way for our lives to be acceptable to HIM. By HIS perfect sacrifice for us we can embrace our dependency for a ‘Father’ we need.

There is also a massive amount of human relational information given to guide us in how we live. The characters are all there for a reason: to teach us how we are and are not to relate to our Creator. Every interaction can be mined for application to our lives as Christ followers. This information is only revealed by God’s Spirit in us and our yielding to to HIS tutelage.

As we join the story today, Jericho has been dedicated to the Lord, His desire was for everything thing to be destroyed except Rahab’s family and the metal objects.

Joshua 7

1 But Israel violated the instructions about the things set apart for the Lord. A man named Achan had stolen some of these dedicated things, so the Lord was very angry with the Israelites. Achan was the son of Carmi, a descendant of Zimri son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah.

  • It doesn’t say ‘Achan’ violated God’s instructions, it say ‘Israel’ violated
  • The object of God’s righteous anger is the entire nation (His Body)
  • God knows every little thing, it’s declared throughout Scripture…and life!

2 Joshua sent some of his men from Jericho to spy out the town of Ai, east of Bethel, near Beth-aven. 3 When they returned, they told Joshua, “There’s no need for all of us to go up there; it won’t take more than two or three thousand men to attack Ai. Since there are so few of them, don’t make all our people struggle to go up there.”

  • Map shows the proximity, spies were sent the next day
  • They are confident that it will only take a portion of their fighting men

4 So approximately 3,000 warriors were sent, but they were soundly defeated. The men of Ai chased the Israelites from the town gate as far as the quarries, 5 and they killed about thirty-six who were retreating down the slope.

  • God is the One who decides who wins or loses every battle
  • Soundly defeated, aka ‘routed’; it implies being turned back, retreating
  • Outside the town they had quarries to hold water, the Israelites were trapped
  • 36 soldiers did not return from the battle

The Israelites were paralyzed with fear at this turn of events, and their courage melted away. 6 Joshua and the elders of Israel tore their clothing in dismay, threw dust on their heads, and bowed face down to the ground before the Ark of the Lord until evening.

  • The loss of 36 soldiers totally unnerves the whole nation
  • The removal of God’s favor is noticeable to the spiritually sensitive
  • They know something is wrong

7 Then Joshua cried out, “Oh, Sovereign Lord, why did you bring us across the Jordan River if you are going to let the Amorites kill us? If only we had been content to stay on the other side!

  • Communal mourning & humbling themselves before God
  • Joshua is dramatic, but he is feeling the weigh of leadership
  • He is talking to God without knowing the whole situation (Every Human Prayer)

8 Lord, what can I say now that Israel has fled from its enemies? 9 For when the Canaanites and all the other people living in the land hear about it, they will surround us and wipe our name off the face of the earth. And then what will happen to the honor of your great name?”

  • Joshua can’t explain his army losing, he thought God was doing his bidding…
  • He is jumping ahead to what he thinks is going to happen
  • Joshua, like us, is only able to see from his perspective in the situation
  • He is concerned about God’s reputation (learned that from Moses)

10 But the Lord said to Joshua, “Get up! Why are you lying on your face like this? 11 Israel has sinned and broken my covenant! They have stolen some of the things that I commanded must be set apart for me. And they have not only stolen them but have lied about it and hidden the things among their own belongings.”

  • Why does God tell Joshua and the Elders to get up?
  • God charges the leadership with lack of supervision and ultimately being lax
  • God addresses them as a singular thing: Israel
  • God says: you did it, you lied about doing it and then you made it your own
  • This is a pattern of how sin is multiplied instead of repented of
  • Without repentance sin only multiplies

The word ‘repent’ has two aspects: one is to admit the wrong, and the second is a intentional move away from that particular behavior / attitude / words / lifestyle. ‘Come Clean and then Change’

12 “That is why the Israelites are running from their enemies in defeat. For now Israel itself has been set apart for destruction. I will not remain with you any longer unless you destroy the things among you that were set apart for destruction.”

  • The spiritual impact is a lack of connection / separation from God
  • The sin that is not repented of has multiplied and is defeating an entire nation
  • In current state of un-repentance, the nation of Israel is under God’s judgement
  • God will withdraw HIS presence unless the situation is rectified

13 “Get up! Command the people to purify themselves in preparation for tomorrow. For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Hidden among you, O Israel, are things set apart for the Lord. You will never defeat your enemies until you remove these things from among you.”

  • Get to work…tell everyone to prepare spiritually
  • HE instructs Joshua to tell all the people:
  • God says there is someone who has hidden things meant to be devoted to God
  • God says this sin will hold back the nation from their promised destiny
  • It must be dealt with, as a community

14 “In the morning you must present yourselves by tribes, and the Lord will point out the tribe to which the guilty man belongs. That tribe must come forward with its clans, and the Lord will point out the guilty clan. That clan will then come forward, and the Lord will point out the guilty family. Finally, each member of the guilty family must come forward one by one.”

  • Everyone will be examined, all 12 tribes worth. Millions down to one person
  • God will point out exactly who the guilty party is

15 “The one who has stolen what was set apart for destruction will himself be burned with fire, along with everything he has, for he has broken the covenant of the Lord and has done a horrible thing in Israel.”

  • When the guilty party is identified all that is his will be devoted to the Lord
  • The price is high because of what it cost (God’s disdain & 36 men)

16 Early the next morning Joshua brought the tribes of Israel before the Lord, and the tribe of Judah was singled out. 17 Then the clans of Judah came forward, and the clan of Zerah was singled out. Then the families of Zerah came forward, and the family of Zimri was singled out. 18 Every member of Zimri’s family was brought forward person by person, and Achan was singled out.

  • At each point of the process Achan could have come forward
  • He is given multiple chances but not an infinite number of chances…

19 Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the Lord, the God of Israel, by telling the truth. Make your confession and tell me what you have done. Don’t hide it from me.” 20 Achan replied, “It is true! I have sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel.

  • Only now when Achan has no other choice does he repent (Too Late)

One day every knee will bow to Jesus Christ! We, HIS followers, joyfully do it now!When Christ returns and MAKES every knee bow, it will be too late for that supplication to save anyone.

21 Among the plunder I saw a beautiful robe from Babylon, 200 silver coins, and a bar of gold weighing more than a pound. I wanted them so much that I took them. They are hidden in the ground beneath my tent, with the silver buried deeper than the rest.”

  • His confession: Beauty from Babylon, Heavy Gold & Spendable Silver
  • He took three things that express pride (the root of all sin)
  • He wanted to feel special / have security / gratify any urge

22 So Joshua sent some men to make a search. They ran to the tent and found the stolen goods hidden there, just as Achan had said, with the silver buried beneath the rest. 23 They took the things from the tent and brought them to Joshua and all the Israelites. Then they laid them on the ground in the presence of the Lord.

  • Twice it says the silver is buried beneath the other stuff, deeper in the ground
  • Why is the silver buried deeper? $100,000

24 Then Joshua and all the Israelites took Achan, the silver, the robe, the bar of gold, his sons, daughters, cattle, donkeys, sheep, goats, tent, and everything he had, and they brought them to the valley of Achor. 25 Then Joshua said to Achan, “Why have you brought trouble on us? The Lord will now bring trouble on you.”

  • God gave specific instruction, Joshua made sure he followed them
  • Notice: ALL the Israelites did it together, demonstrating the pattern God wants
  • Together we establish & maintain ‘Biblical Culture’ regarding dealing with sin
  • It is THE LORD who brings the trouble (Your sin will find you out)

And all the Israelites stoned Achan and his family and burned their bodies. 26 They piled a great heap of stones over Achan, which remains to this day. That is why the place has been called the Valley of Trouble ever since. So the Lord was no longer angry.

  • Judgement was enacted. The Justice of God
  • Valley of Trouble
  • The desires of pride always lead to trouble


The explicit instruction of God regarding the devotion of the entire city of Jericho are disobeyed by only one man amongst the whole army of Israel. This act of disobedience is not seen by God as an individual act but instead HE charges the whole nation with the guilt of it.

In the corporate sharing of the cost of one man’s disobedience, thirty six men die without need: husbands, fathers, brothers, friends…because of a robe, a gold bar and 20 pieces of silver! When we live in God given community we share a communal responsibility to deal with the sin of our community.

The whole nation participates in the exposure, denouncement and punishment of the sin. The cost is great, and everyone has to deal with the up-close reality of God’s judgement. In the end there is grace extended by Yahweh to the people, but it is costly grace! God’s people are to live based on these principals.


What would have happened if Achen had admitted his sin prior to the failed attack on Ai?

What if Ananias and Sapphira would have admitted their sin when Peter asked them?


Why does God make the whole nation pay for the sin of one man?

How might you live differently if you were to acknowledge the effects of your sin on others you share life with?

How well do you repent? (based on the scriptural definition: confession & change) What does that look like?

Why do the Israelite lose their courage a few days after watching God act so miraculously on their behalf, in the destruction of Jericho?

What are some regular practices we can embrace as a community in order to promote transparency regarding sin here at Midtown?


In the Body of Christ we acknowledge our interdependence and communal responsibility to deal with sin as a group, culture that reflects scriptural principals. We intentionally work to establish relationships among The Body that are strong enough to carry the weight of transparency and confession of sin, entrusting our forgiveness and peace to our Lord Jesus Christ.

Ai is the unlabeled city below Bethel