By Josh Petras on September 3, 2023
By Josh Petras on September 3, 2023
Well, I invite you this morning to take your Bibles and turn to the book of Joshua. Joshua, chapter 5 is where we will be studying this morning. And as you turn there, I'd also ask you to go ahead and pull out that handout that was in your bulletin. We give that to you every single week to take notes. And on the back, there are always application questions, questions that we discuss in fellowship groups, even though this week, we don't have fellowship groups. It's so good to take those questions and look at them and think about the week ahead. I want you to look at that handout because at the top of your handout, there is a verse and before we get to Joshua 5, I want to think about Joshua 5 through the lens of 2 Timothy 3:16. So on your handout, the top there it says 2 Timothy 3:16. Does everybody see that everyone sees that there? Good. Okay. Let's read it together. Here's what it says. It says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,” What that means is all scripture, that's every single book, every single chapter, every single verse, every single word, is breathed out by God, it's God-breathed. It's as if it's from God's very mouth. And every verse we read is profitable. That is, it's useful. And it's useful for some specific things, for teaching, reproof, correction, training in righteousness. Those four things that Paul lists there, that's all two pairs, when he talks about teaching and reproof, he's talking about doctrine, teaching right doctrine and correcting wrong doctrine. When it talks about correction and training, he's talking about behavior that is, again, demonstrating, revealing false ungodly behavior, and training us in righteousness. That's how Scripture is. Every single verse we read in the Bible is from God. And every single verse we read is useful to the people of God, both in growing in our knowledge of him, and growing in the way we honor him. Now, why do I bring this up? I bring this up because, this morning, we are going to be studying in the book of Joshua. For the past few times, as Bobby has been preaching through Romans and Zechariah, when I teach, I've been teaching through the book of Joshua. And I know some of you have said, Josh preached there, Joshua. Thank you, all of you who have said that which has been all of you. So good job, good job. We all done anyway. The reason is because I've done Joshua 123, and 4, and now we get to Joshua 5. And when we read Joshua 5 today, there is going to be some weird stuff that we read in Joshua, chapter 5, and we're going to read it and go like, man, what, what am I supposed to do with this? Am I supposed to study it? I don't know. Let's just jump to the Gospels where it's safer. And the answer to that is, no, we're going to read Joshua 5 with the lens of all Scripture is inspired. And all Scripture is profitable. Hey, how many of you are reading through the book of Genesis with us going through Toralogy? That's awesome. Go to the first five books of the Bible. Yeah, this is going to help you because as you get further along in Genesis, there's way weirder stuff and we're going to read in Joshua 5 today, and you’ve got to know, okay, when I get this, I don't want to just go I'm not sure what to do. No, let's learn how to study God's Word together. We need all of the Bible. God gave us all of it because he knew we needed all of it. So, let's take a look at Joshua 5. So if you would, please stand for the reading of God's Word. I'm going to read Joshua 5:1-9; we'll study the whole chapter, we'll look at the first nine verses to start. The Word of God reads,
As soon as all the kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan to the west, and all the kings of the Canaanites who were by the sea, heard that the Lord had dried up the waters of the Jordan for the people of Israel until they had crossed over, their hearts melted and there was no longer any spirit in them because of the people of Israel. At that time the Lord said to Joshua, “Make flint knives and circumcise the sons of Israel a second time.” So Joshua made flint knives and circumcised the sons of Israel at Gibeath-haaraloth. And this is the reason why Joshua circumcised them: all the males of the people who came out of Egypt, all the men of war, had died in the wilderness on the way after they had come out of Egypt. Though all the people who came out had been circumcised, yet all the people who were born on the way in the wilderness after they had come out of Egypt had not been circumcised. For the people of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, until all the nation, the men of war who came out of Egypt, perished, because they did not obey the voice of the Lord; the Lord swore to them that he would not let them see the land that the Lord had sworn to their fathers to give to us, a land flowing with milk and honey. So it was their children, whom he raised up in their place, that Joshua circumcised. For they were uncircumcised, because they had not been circumcised on the way. When the circumcising of the whole nation was finished, they remained in their places in the camp until they were healed. And the Lord said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” And so the name of that place is called Gilgal to this day.
That's the reading of God's word, you may go ahead and have a seat. And let's pray together as we study this text this morning. Heavenly Father, we do acknowledge that all scripture comes from you. It is all your very Word to us. And we need every word of it. Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from your mouth. And so Lord, we pray that you would use this passage this morning to equip us, you would use this passage this morning to mature us, you would use this passage to help us behold your glory, and make us more faithful followers of you. I pray these things in your Son's name. Amen
Well, now that I've read the chapter, you understand the introduction. This is an awkward chapter. Because there is a lot of circumcision. There's a whole lot of circumcision going on here. In fact, every publisher does this, you know, right there in verse 3 or verse 4, it talks about Gibeath-haaraloth; and it has a footnote in my ESV Bible, and you jumped down and it says, Gibeath-haaraloth means, the hill of the foreskin. All publishers, well, I know you as the right answer. Thank you for being honest this morning, right? You read this, you're like, what do I do with this? This is weird. This is strange. This is not what I signed up for. I feel like I need to wash my hands after reading this. And so, can we just go to John 3:16, instead. That’ll be so much easier, we'll be done, right? That's usually what we think we don't know what to do with this. Maybe we should have just skipped ahead to chapter 6, and then talked about Jericho. And maybe we should have, except it's in the Bible. And God put it there. And he doesn't apologize about it. He doesn't blush about it.
So, the question is, what do we do with it? And I want to say I actually love this chapter. Because it's so surprisingly practical. And, thousands of years later, it's so incredibly relevant. And it gives such clear direction for God's people and God's expectations for them. And so, this morning on your handout, we'll have three lessons we'll get to. We'll get to the first one in a little bit. But let's just think about this passage. Because if you're surprised on a Sunday morning, here in September to show up and read about circumcision, it's no less surprising to those who are reading the original narrative. I mean, let's just remember what the book of Joshua is. It's how God has rescued his people out of Egypt forty years earlier, he's finally bringing them into the Promised Land. They are by God's power, going to conquer the land, get the Canaanites out of the land, and take the land that God had promised them. And we actually see if we look at Joshua 4:19 says, “The people came up out of the Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and they encamped at Gilgal on the east border of Jericho.” So, there they are chapter 4:19. They come out of the River Jordan, that God had miraculously stopped for them. And they're right there. They're close to Jericho. And in fact, if you look at Joshua 6:2, it says, And YHWH said to Joshua, see, look, I have given Jericho into your hand with its king and mighty men of valor. So, chapter 5, is this interruption in the narrative? Like you don't need it? Here they are, they come into the land, chapter 6, they go take the land, what do we need this interruption for? In fact, if you read chapter 5, it actually seems like a surprise. I mean, just imagine you're there. Joshua 5:2, and you've crossed and you're now behind enemy lines. And YHWH says, make flint knives, and you're like, that's right, baby, because we're going to war let's do this thing. And then it says, and circumcise the sons of Israel. Well, wait a second timeout. That's not what we signed up for. We thought we were going to battle here. It's a surprising interruption. It's also a surprising revelation of sin that had been hidden for so many years. We see this that the text is highlighting that Israel had not been circumcising their men for forty years. That brings us up in Joshua 5:5, that those who were born on the way had not been circumcised, it reiterates it again in Joshua 5:7, and why it's repeating itself, is saying this was wrong that they did this.
And to understand this, let's turn to Genesis chapter 17. Let's hold our spot here in Joshua 5 and turn in your Bible for you. Well, I want to hear those pages rustling to Genesis chapter 17. Because you need to see that this is a shocking statement that they had been practicing this because there was such a connection between being an Israelite and circumcision, it was so key to their identity. To find out that they were an Israelite, who hadn't been circumcised was like finding out someone was a Texan but didn't own a 10 gallon hat. Like it's like, it's so caught up in their identity that you’re just shocked that that wasn't the case. But this is what it was supposed to be. And when we're in Genesis 17, this is the chapter where Abraham gets renamed into Abraham. And these first eight verses God is reiterating his covenant he's made to him. He says in Jenesis 17:1, I am God Almighty, walk before me and be blameless, that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly. We're going to read this on Tuesday, if you're reading your Genesis with us, and if you haven't, jump on in, you could jump into Genesis 16, starting tomorrow morning. If you've read in verse 3, Abram falls on his face. Then God reiterates all these promises to him. He says, “I’m going to make you a father of many nations,” you're going to have a great people that come from you, your particular nation, there'll be kings that come from you. If you look at verse 8, he says, “I will give to you and your offspring after you, the land of your soldier needs, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God. I mean, Abraham came from nothing. God has made him incredibly wealthy, and God has promised him a secure future based on nothing, based on just God's grace. And God says to him, verse 9, “and God said to Abraham, ‘as for you, you shall keep my covenant you and your offspring after you throughout their generations. This is my covenant which you shall keep between me and you and your offspring after you. Every male among you shall be circumcised, you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you. He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised, every male throughout your generations, whether they're born in your house, or bought with your money from any foreigner who is not your offspring.’” This is basically saying, every single person that's a part of your nation, in order for them to join, to qualify, to identify is they need to be circumcised. Look at Verse 14, “Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people, he has broken my covenant.” If you don't participate in this, you are not even part of the Covenant community, you're not even part of God's promised people.
Let's jump forward to the book of Exodus, Exodus chapter 12. As we're turning there, we do read in the New Testament that the after Christ that the issue of circumcision was to do with, are you circumcised in the heart? It's a spiritual reality. But I want us to look at the very end of Exodus chapter 12. To see again, how essential this was to Israelite identity, and therefore how shocking it is that they were not practicing this in Joshua, chapter 5, the variant of Exodus. God is giving instructions about the Passover. This is the greatest act of deliverance in the Old Testament, God had in one night rescued his people from bondage to Egypt, through the sacrificial death of a lamb who died in their place. And what they're doing is he's giving instructions for how to celebrate that event in the coming years. And here's what he says, “You always said to Moses and Aaron, this is the Statute of the Passover. No foreigner shall eat of it.” Now, look at this. What he's saying is, no one who's not a Jew, known who's not part of this nation that was rescued, can participate. Okay, this isn't a tourist stop that someone who's interested in Israelite history could just jump in on the Passover one year. What he's saying, he says, “but every slave that is bought for money may eat of it after you have circumcised him.” No foreigner or hired worker may eat of it. It shall be eaten in one house, talks about the bones and all that stuff. Look at verse 48. If a stranger shall sojourn with you, and would keep the Passover to YHWH, let all his males be circumcised, then he may come near and keep it, he shall be as a native of the land, but no uncircumcised person shall eat of it. So, you know, the Old Testament you see with Israel is there evangelism is not so much a go and televangelism but a come and see that people would see this great nation as they see not only how God has blessed them or how righteous they are, they could turn and join this nation, they could become one of God's people. Ethnicity wasn't the issue. But if they're going to do it, there was an entryway into it, they had to be circumcised. And so before, you know, if you look at Israel's history, there are two big celebrations. There are two big acts that show who they are. There's the one-time act of circumcision, then there's the regular act of remembering their deliverance and Passover. Yeah, they couldn't participate in the second one, if they hadn't participated in the first one. They couldn't participate in the regular remembrance of God's grace, if they didn't do the one time thing of identifying with God's covenant people.
So, let's jump ahead now to Joshua 5. Because now we see how important this is. It's reiterated, reiterated even more in the Book of Leviticus. Now, as we go to Joshua 5, we're reading about this huge deal. And we're finding out that the nation of Israel for forty years in the wilderness did not practice this. And it's shocking, but it's not so surprising when you think about who Israel was. When you read through the rest of the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, and you read about them in Exodus, and in Leviticus and Numbers and you read, there are rebellious people. And I don't know if they claim sanitation in the wilderness. I don't claim but they just said, no, we're not doing this. They did not obey. You’ve got to remember, they're in the wilderness for forty years, not because they were lost, or because they didn't have Google Maps yet. They're in the wilderness as punishment, because though they saw the works of God, God made promises to them. And they did not act in obedience. They said, we don't trust God that he's going to do what he has said. Look at verse 9 there in Joshua 5. It's an interesting sentence at the end, it says, “And the Lord said to Joshua, ‘Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.’ And so the name of that place is called Gilgal to this day.”
The idea of the reproach of Egypt there's some debate about what that means. Reproach has this idea of shame, embarrassment. And so, it could mean that the embarrassment that the Egyptians were casting upon them, hey, look at them, they fled to just wander in the wilderness. Good luck to them. That could be what it means. I actually think it's the shame of their Egypt like behavior. I think it's the shame that yeah, they escaped from Egypt. But in Israel, or sorry, in the wilderness, Israel was just as rebellious, just as idolatrous, just as unbelieving as Egypt. Remember, Egypt saw the signs God was doing in the plagues, and still didn't obey, just like these people saw the works of God and did not believe and obey. So here we are, there in a brand-new land. I mean, this is their homecoming. They've been waiting for this for forty years, God parts the Jordan River so that Israel could come into land. This is where they are. And God wants them to begin by saying, Hey, you're a new nation. You're a new people. This is a new beginning. And we're going to start with obedience. The old people did not obey the old nation did not obey, they died off. You're now going to obey. That's how I want my people to begin. And so this is again, like I said, this mass circumcision is surprising, surprising, because it seems like an interruption in the text. It's surprising because the nation wasn't doing this. That's weird. And it's also strange, because it's very, very bad. military strategy. This is a bad idea. This is not a good time to circumcise your entire army. And let me explain this there's a story we're not going to turn there. But there's a story in Genesis 34, we're going to read about in Toralogy that is a heavy in kind of dark story. It's this. It's this story about the twelve sons of Jacob these twelve Brothers, but they also have a sister Her name is Dinah. And Dinah is walking out in the in the fields. And there's a man named Shechem. non-Jew, who the text says takes her and lays with her by force. It's a terrible act. It's a despicable thing to do to one of God's people. And her brothers are not happy about this. I mean, they're hot about this Who is he to do this to our sister? Well, this guy check them who does this thing then goes to his dad and says I'm in love with this woman. And so I'd like you to go ask to see if I if we could arrange a marriage. And so Shechem’s dad has the audacity to say like, hey, could we intermarry with one another? And Jacob's brothers who are mad about this see an opportunity? And they say, Yeah, you know what? It just would be impossible for us to intermarry with people who are uncircumcised. So, we'd be willing to do it if your whole city got circumcised, and so the entire town’s people again the this man who had defiled their sister, his whole town gets circumcised on the same day. And Genesis 34 says that while they're still recovering, Levi and Simeon go through the town and kill every single man, because they're in a weakened state where they're unable to defend themselves. That's Genesis chapter 34. And you're going, what am I supposed to do with that? Look, I can only capture one chapter a day. Well, let Pastor Bobby answer that one for you. But the point is, the army of Israel knows that story. And you know what they don't know. Like, we read in chapter 5 verse 1 that their enemies are freaked out. Israel doesn't know that they don't know their enemies are freaked out and are scared, they just know that they're like right over there. And we're now being asked to incapacitate ourselves. So, the next three to four days, so we cannot have any response to any sort of military action against us. And you know what? They still obey. Even this seems like a terrible time to do it. A dangerous time to do it. They still obey. Why? Because God told them to.
Which leads us to our first point on our handout, the first lesson that we have from Joshua, chapter 5 is this. “Don't let safety keep you from obedience.” Don't let safety keep you from obedience, said like this Christian, the safest choice you can make in any situation is the choice to obey the Lord. Obedience always matters. It's always essential. I mean, we can ask this question, what makes someone a Christian, and you can answer that in a few different ways. A Christian is someone who has real faith in Christ. That is, they've turned from their sin, and they've entrusted their life to Jesus, I'm turning my life over to Jesus, to rescue me. I'm trusting in him. Make some of the Christian would be real affection. We love him supremely. He is our treasure hidden in the field. We're willing to sell everything for him. What makes someone a Christian? Well, right doctrine, we have to believe the right things about Jesus. But the biblical pattern of God's true people is that God's real people obey him. They're submitted to him. They have an any-time mentality when it comes to obedience. says right here, I have these verses on your handout there Deuteronomy chapter 10. It says, And now Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statues of the Lord, which I am commanding you today for your good? God wants us to obey him? Or maybe said more succinctly by Jesus, Luke 6:46. Why do you call Me Lord, Lord, and not do what I tell you? See, obedience is the normal expectation for us, as God's people, and we do it even when it is dangerous. Friends when it comes to obedience, safety is not our primary concern. Stay Safe is a is a is a new religious belief in our society. That's not a biblical mindset. Unless you mean the safety of obeying. We are under no illusion as Christians that there is a cost to obedience in this life. The Scriptures tell us that life experience has proven that to us, teaches us that obedience will regularly be dangerous. Philippians 1:29 Paul says to you it has been granted to suffer for his sake, that's Philippians 1:29 granted to you to suffer. And when I think of ways that we choose safety, when I think of ways that we choose danger, I have a few different ideas in mind here. I mean, one of them is just the danger of rejection, persecution, mockery, being an outsider times when obedience will cost you, friends will make you look funny, you'll receive a harsh word, a broken relationship. And some of you have known this, that obedience has led to you not being invited over for the holidays anymore, not being invited to the family vacation. Obedience has led to the boss passing up on you, because they want someone that is willing to compromise on integrity. There is a cost, and we see this pattern in the Bible that when this happens, God's people still follow. So, I think of two different examples, one from both Testaments. We’ve got Daniel Chapter 3 when Shadrach Meshach and Abednego are told if you don't bow down to Nebuchadnezzar is golden image, he's going to burn you in the fire. And they say who will? Hey, let me let us give you our answer. We're not going to bow down and let it be known to you, oh king that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up, we are obeying the one true God. Or in Acts chapter 4, when John, Peter and John are told they cannot be talking about Jesus anymore in Jerusalem by the religious leaders, they're under threat of being beaten, they say whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than a god, you can go ahead and judge but we are going to keep obeying fellow Christians, we must choose obedience over safety.
I think not only the danger of persecution keeps us from choosing obedience, but there's a second danger. And I would call this the safety of comfort, the safety of things being easy, the safety that comes from not rocking the boat, not spreading ourselves too thin, the safety that comes from leaving a little bit of margin in our life. And I can think of several examples of this kind of safety. You have your coworker who has gotten to see your character who you've gotten close with, you've gotten to work with them. And at some point, you know, you should share the Gospel, you know, you're going to have to because no matter how godly any of us have been in the workplace, no coworkers ever looked at our life without any words, and they've gone, man, you know, Bill's just a really good guy. I think I'm dead in my sins and trespasses and need a foreign righteousness to be transplanted to me, you know what I mean? Like, no, like, they need to be explained things, you have to talk to them, you're at some point, you're going to have to do the awkward thing. They're never going to go, hey, I’ve got thirty minutes, can you explain your worldview to me for the next thirty minutes, whatever you say, I'll give you the mic. Like, that just doesn't happen, right? And so, what's going to happen at some point, you're going to have to do the uncomfortable thing, you're going to have to rock the boat and talk to them about Jesus, not just about Jesus, but about how they would need to repent in order to be forgiven. But sometimes we don't do that. Because it's just easy. I go in, I roll out, I don't want to rock the boat. We choose comfort. We do the same thing with a fellow Christian here at church, I don't want to rock the boat and talk to them about this issue. I see. I'll just let them go. And they'll figure it out in time, when I get love covers a multitude of sins, but we're willing to talk with one another. I think it also has to do with our time, I need to protect all my time slots. And I don't want to mess that up. Let me let me just give you one of your questions on the back; I have a bunch of verses there for you. We’re going to look at those later. I'm going to just put them on the screen now. So, you'd have to feel like you have to turn there or write these down. I want you to see these but just let's just think of all of these different commands the Lord has given us. Okay, so I have up here they got Matthew 28:19. Up here. Yeah, there we go. Matthew 28:19. “Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” That's a command to every single Christian, to be active in making disciples, reaching loss. Here's the next one, Galatians 6:10. “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” We need to be actively thinking of how do I do good to fellow Christians in my church. Here's another one Ephesians 6:4, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Okay, that means I need to not just not upset them and not just give them food and a house and clothing, but there actually should be some training and some discussion, I'm raising them in the instruction of the Lord. Here's another one 2 Thessalonians 3:10. “For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.” That means we need men are to be providers, we see that also, if any man is not provide for his own household, He's worse than a non Christian, the text said, there's all these commands were supposed to obey.
There are all sorts of commands that we have. There are also all sorts of life circumstances that we're in. So, some of us in here are caring for our aging parents, fulfilling the command to honor your mother and father, that takes time. Some of us in here are going through trials right now, we also have this command of to be part of a local church, to be actually engaged with our body. Now role in here, the sermon or rollout, we also have got like little kids, and we've got bedtime routines, and we want to raise them and all that stuff. And we've got all this stuff that's happening all the time. And so what I've been asked before when I've thought myself before it's made, I've got all this stuff I'm supposed to do. So which one of these can I cut for a season? And the answer to that is none of them. Like sometimes will say like, okay, what are my priorities? You know what we'll do this thing like, okay, my priorities are my personal walk with God, my family, my job, evangelism, helping other people at church, and if these ones up top are heavy than the these ones down here have got to go. That's not a right way of thinking. I was helped when I was in college and I was trying to figure out all this different stuff. I was like, I'm trying to get married, I'm trying to work. I'm trying to do school, trying to serve at the church, trying to do all these things. I was helped by night, my disciple who said, don't think of it as a list, he said, think of it as spinning plates. Okay. And some of you know what that's like in life, or you just feel like you're just trying to keep everything up, right. And some plates need a lot of time. And some plates need a little bit of time. And imagine asking that question, which one of these plates Am I allowed to let drop and fall? You know, the answer is, none of them. I don't want any of the plates to fall. And so, Christians, sometimes when we're overwhelmed, like, man, I've got so many different things in my life, we still need to remember like, yes, the Lord is gracious. Let yes, the Lord gives help. You might not be able to do everything as well as and as excellent as you'd like to do. But you can't run from any of those responsibilities in the name of margin. Like some of your work is really busy right now. And so, sharing the gospel might be not as simple as it used to be. Being involved in the church is hard, you're just exhausted to do it. But I'm so thankful on a Wednesday night and my fellowship group, when I when I've got the guy in my group who's like having a hard time keeping his eyes open, because we're expensive, busy. Why? Because you just can't say no, you've got to do it all. We can't do it all as much, we might not be able to as much as we used to. But we need to be involved in helping our church, we need to be involved in sharing the gospel, we need to be involved in caring for our family. I'm like some of you, I've got little people living in my house. So, we got a two year old and almost six year, almost eight year old. And, you know, there are nights where I'm like, hey, you know what we can't do, we can't have seven nights a week where bedtime is just a thing doesn't matter. It doesn't affect me, because I leave for work in the morning. But my wife can't have that. She's got to deal with it the next day, right? If the kids are up till 9:30, or 10, that's not good. But it doesn't mean that sometimes, sometimes we're going to disturb our family schedule a tiny bit. Because we need to minister to this family. We need to serve in this way. We need to get this gospel opportunity, not saying reckless abandon, what I am saying is be careful of the comfort of margin. We weren't meant to live as comfortable as possible. We're meant to be obedient and do all that the Lord has given us. Christians don't fail to obey simply because obedience will take you out of your comfort zone.
Let me give you just one practical example for our church. In fact, you can flip over your handout now because I have a bonus question for you to think about this week. When I think about our church, and what's coming ahead. We are opening a new auditorium across the way here in a little bit. That is really, really exciting. We are also working on planting a church in Long Beach. And I've been really encouraged by that people have expressed interest in being that you want to talk about stepping out of your comfort zone. That's been a huge act of people choosing serving the Lord over safety. But I do know like when we open that new auditorium, you know, Field of Dreams might be just a movie, but it's true. If you build it, they will come. And when more people show up, that means more ministry, more people that need to be discipled, more kids that need to be cared for in the children's ministry. And so maybe for you right now, one of the things you could be thinking about is man, how could we reorient our lives a little bit so we could just be ready to help serve the needs that come with the new building arrives. Friends, God's ways are always best. They're always good for us. So, let's trust him when it's easy, and when it's risky.
Okay, let's go move on to lesson number two. Lesson number two this morning. What else did we learn from this strange chapter? Well, number two is we learned this: “Don't allow work to keep you from worship.” Don't allow work to keep you from worship. Let's look at verse 10. It says Wow, the Passover of Israel or sorry, well, the people were of Israel were in camp that Gilgal. They kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month, in the evening on the plains of Jericho. Again, this is a surprising interruption there on the plains of Jericho, like that's their next enemy. It's within sight, and they're out having a feast. They should be getting ready for war. It said it seems like they're having a party there. They're feasting, but they're not just feasting. What they're doing is they're worshiping me. Let's ask that question. Who was Israel, by definition? What shaped their identity? Well, what shaped our identities. They were God's covenant people. That was the reality they celebrated in circumcision. They remembered the promises God had made to them. But they were also the people that God had delivered out of Egypt. That's what they're remembering the Passover how God and the final plague on Egypt on the last night rescued them in one night when they could not have rescued themselves. And they take time to celebrate not only what God has done. But they take time to remember their very identity, because their identity is caught up in the Passover. In this moment, Israel does not allow their immediate duty to trump their identity. We say that again, Israel does not allow their immediate duty to trump, to take priority over their identity. You see more than soldiers, these people were more than warriors, they were meant to be worshipers. And God delivered them not just to make them happier, but so that they would be his people, and that he would be their God. And they're worshiping here and not just for the past event, but also for what he's doing. Now take a look at verse 11, and 12. It says, “In the day after the Passover, on that very day, they ate of the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain, and the man has ceased the day after they ate of the produce of the land. And there was no longer Manna for the people of Israel, but they ate of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year. This is an amazing little two verse description here. You know, because Israel remember when they were delivered from Egypt to the very first thing they get really good at is complaining. And so, in Exodus 15 and 16, they're complaining that we don't have any food. And so, since Exodus 16, and for the forty years after God provided them bread every morning, God provided for them manna bread from heaven, he provided for his people throughout the wilderness, not just content with saving them, but for caring for them, providing for them along the way. And what did he say? He said, I'm going to take you to a land that's flowing with milk and honey. Now, that's not actual rivers of milk and honey, this isn't like a Cheerios commercial or anything like that. But what he means by that is I'm going to give you a land that has just so much provision, it's so abundant in resources, it's going to have everything you need for a flourishing society. And he gets and that's what he's done. He's taken them to a place where he's caring for them. And so, in this act, they're not only celebrating God's goodness, and now they're starting to eat from the land and going, Wait a second, wow, God provided us all the way. And he's actually brought us somewhere where he's providing for us for the future.
Friends, if you've trusted in Jesus Christ, if you're here this morning, you are a Christian, if you've been saved by the Lord, the Lord did save you, to magnify His grace. The Lord did save you so that you would be zealous for good works. That's what the book of Titus is about. But the Lord saved you, so that you would worship Him. Now, I know around here, we all have a lot of different responsibilities. And this room, there are moms and dads, there are bosses and employees, there are teachers, there are students. I know even here at church, so many of you and I see you every week take on a lot of responsibility. There are people folding bulletins, there are people passing out doughnuts and coffee made their tribe increase. There, there are people teaching the children right now, people helping with music, people assisting with the tech people in here, leading a fellowship group of people in here making sure the parking makes sense people in here driving trolleys like there are a lot of people doing a lot of things to make church go and these are all important. But whatever those identities are, whether here at church or at home or in the workplace, your main identity, if you're a Christian is you are a worshiper, you are saved to worship the one true living God. And what we don't want to allow it to happen is the tyranny of the urgent the duties that we have right in front of us to get in the way of our worship of the Lord. We're so focused on getting the stuff done. We don't actually take the time to worship. And some of you already know what cross reference I'm going to, what section I'm thinking about. I'll have it on the screen here. It's Luke chapter 10. I'm thinking about Mary and Martha, Mary and Martha are hosting Jesus in their house. Mary is sitting at Jesus' feet. And it says in Luke 10:40, but “Martha was distracted with much serving.” I'm thankful that's in there one because I don't need to read into the text to guess that she was distracted. It just tells me. I like clarity. Bible helps me out here. “Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to Jesus and said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.’” Lord, I'm busy over here working She's just sitting listening to you and your word. What does Christ say? Luke 10:41-42. “But the Lord answered Martha, ‘Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things. But one thing is necessary one thing, Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her. It's one thing it's enjoying Christ, it’s hearing his Word, so worshiping him. Now, this is not a command to neglect service for the sake of worship. Certainly, as we serve, we're also called to do good works. But it certainly is a warning to not neglect worship for the sake of work.
Friend, are you letting duty responsibility tasks that have been assigned to you keep you from undistracted worship of the god who saved you? And I mean this in two different ways. One, let's talk about private worship. Are you getting unhurried time with the Lord? I don't just mean you know, five minutes of a quick verse. And then off you go. I mean, are you getting unhurried time? Are you in the morning you get to read your Bible and pray or you to go on a walk? Or maybe it's a long car ride? Are you getting time where you turn off the podcasts, turn off the music, turn off the radio, turn off the TV, and spend time with God. Spend time giving him glory? Some spend time praying to him, meditating on his Word, expressing thanks to him, pouring out your heart before him, giving him worship, delighting in him, treasuring him, or taking the time to do that because that's why we were saved. Not just in our private life, but are we taking the time to rightly prepare for public worship? What I mean by that is church on Sunday, do we come to church on Sunday, ready to worship? Hey, listen, I know Sunday morning, there is a lot that's going on. And I know what the typical Sunday sometimes looks like, no matter what happens every Sunday afternoon on your way home, you go next week, we're going to be more prepared next week or to be on time what ends up happening, you're yanking the kids out of the shower and throwing them right in the car. You're getting breakfast together. You're trying not to spill on your drive over you're hustling, you're getting people on the trolley, you're trying to get them checked in.
You're moving really fast. You grab your coffee calmly Hey, good morning, brother. Good to see you, frantically sit down during the second song. Now you have time to check your phone. Now you're thinking about that you're thinking about that? Do I want to do this nonsense? I don't know. And by the time the end is done, okay, we’ve got to go. We’ve got these people coming over. I'm next. By the time it's all ended, you ask yourself, did I actually get time for focused worship? Did I actually prepare my heart not just to do the stuff, but to focus on the Lord to treasure him to give him my full attention, my full affections, to listen to his word joyfully and be ready to not only believe it, but to obey it. Because guess what? That's actually what we're supposed to do on a Sunday morning. That's actually why we're here. Like we like I'm so thankful for our church. We have so many people planning so many things and getting so much done. But if we leave here on Sunday, we just like did all this stuff right? But in our hearts did not get to worship God, then did it succeed. That wasn't our goal we've met to worship the one true God. So Christian, are you preparing? How prepared were you for this morning? Did you come with your heart in the right spot? Did you come focused, ready to sing to him, ready to listen with all your stuff? Some of us, and I can include myself in this, what we might need to do is go ahead and get our cell phone ready for public worship so we're not distracted. In fact, your phone actually has a church mode. I don't know if you knew that. You just hold those two buttons together at the top of that red button will appear. Just hit that red button, church mode. You're ready to go going forward? Do you come ready? If you notice, every week you're coming in distracted. And the first time you actually think about God is not at all during those first four songs with the time we get to the Word. Well, then maybe you could prepare better. I remember a time early on, we were regularly showing up late to church and this isn't one of those where it was like it was her fault. And I'm covering for her. It's like it was just we couldn't figure it out. Which was weird. Like we didn't have like we had like three dishes in the house. We didn't like we had nothing like why are we late? It's just us, like, how are we figuring this out? And then I'm, I'm getting frustrated. I'm frustrated at myself. I'm just mad at the situation in general. And so like, my heart's not ready. And so, we had to do, this is not a boast. It was our goal that I'd leave the house to get to Starbucks at 7:45, so we could like sit and like read a few passages so that our heart would actually be ready to engage with God. Do we have that readiness? Hey, I know we sometimes get dressed up and cleaned up and put on the happy face is already engaged with people. Are we in ready to engage and give worship to the one true God? Friend, God saved us to worship. And here what I'm amazed by is they're ready to go to battle. They stopped everything to worship him. Let us do the same let's not duty take over worship.
So far, two lessons, what have we learned from the strange chapter? Don't let safety keep you from obedience, don't allow work to keep you from worship. Finally, number three: “Don't begin to think that this is about you.” Don't begin to think that this is about you. And when I say this, I don't mean this chapter two, this chapter is about you and me and all of us. We're learning from it today. But when I mean this, I mean, like this whole life, don't begin to think that this whole religion thing is about you.
Let's look at this final scene, Joshua 5:13-15. It says, “When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, ‘Are you for us, or for our adversaries? And he said, ‘No; but I am the commander of the army of the Lord. Now I have come.’ And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, ‘What does my lord say to his servant?’ And the commander of the Lord's army said to Joshua, ‘Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.’ And Joshua did so.” What an interesting scene. What a mysterious ending to this chapter. Now, by the way, as you look at these three verses, I will let you know some of you know that here at Compass Bible Church, we like to have the children go through the same lesson in their time as we go in here, just willing, you know, these are the only three verses they're setting for the children. We didn't cover, we didn't cover Joshua 5:1-9, we just wanted to avoid the awkward lunch for you. So, there you go. You're okay, you're welcome. So, there you go. But what do we do about this? Joshua meets this mysterious figure, and it's an intimidating thing. He's a man. He's got his sword drawn as if ready for battle. He asked a question, are you for us? Or for our adversaries? His response is interesting. No, but I am the commander of the army of YHWH. That's, that's interesting, because I thought Joshua was kind of the commander of the Lord's army here. And this guy has come in to say, you know, I'm running this thing. Joshua's response is more interesting. He falls down and worships him. The man tells him to remove his sandals, the place is holy. There's a lot going on here. So, who is this guy? Well, as we look at this, I mean, you do see this sounds very familiar. At the end, take off your sandals, to the place where you're standing is holy, if you're thinking to yourself, and that sounds a lot like the burning bush, I feel like I've heard this before. You're thinking right. Just like Moses before he led God's people that had a meeting with God. So, Joshua, before he leads God's people in the battle meets with God. And what he finds is that God is holier than him and greater than him. And it's impressed upon him, that there is one that serving over you, Joshua, there's one that you're going to submit to, you're not actually the leader in this situation. We actually think that this is the second person of the Trinity, the pre-Incarnate Christ, this is God, the Son, the second member of the Godhead, come down to personally lead the army and to give Joshua commands. And he says, I am the commander, I am the general, I am the one who's actually in charge, which is amazing because God himself comes down to lead his people. It's not unlike the way we lead today that everything we do comes from him. In fact, everything that's going to happen after this, in chapter 6 there's a battle, 7 there's a battle, 8 there's a battle, 9 they're dealing with some enemies, 10 there's a battle, 11 there's a battle, 12 here's a battle, we're going to have all of these battles that happen going forward. And what this is supposed to tell us is that it's not Joshua that wins any of these battles, it's God who's the commander, it's God who's going to be one that gives them what he has promised them. And any success that they have, this person is going to get the credit for it, not Joshua. So that's why this happens here on the on the eve of the very first battle plan. If they win, it's because God he's going to get all the credit, and when they don't submit to him, then they will fail. So, this is here to shape our thinking of the rest of this book. But I want you to also notice this and this his answer that he gives. Joshua asked the question, are you for us or are you for our adversaries? And I have been thinking about this answer for the last few weeks, ever since I've started studying this. His answer is no. Hey, are you for us or our enemies? Are you on our enemies’ team? Are you on our team? And this person, God, Jesus Christ, we believe this is he says, no. What a surprising non answer. And in one sense, you could say, oh, you know, that's just like Jesus in the gospels. He never answers anyone's question. Sure. But what happens here is that this this commander of the army, the God, the Son, is shifting our entire paradigm of how we think about God. And I think he's exposing one of the fundamental flaws in contemporary Christian thinking. Let's think about this. Answer the storm in Romans chapter 8 is God for us answer what Christian is God for us? Answer? Yes, God is for us. Praise God, we're going to see that as we get back into Romans, If God is for us, which he is, who can be against us. Then what's the problem? The problem is when we define our relationship with God, primarily by the sentence God has for us. Or when we define our relationship with God exclusively by saying, well, God is for me. There's this mindset today that exists, where we begin to think that God signed up for my team, and forget the fact that the whole thing started, that we signed up for his team, and that God has become kind of this genie who's ready to dote on us whenever we ask. We don't have time to look at this morning.
Go ahead and flip your handout over and go to question number five, you're going to see a question this week that I want you to think about, then the question is, who's at the center of your religion? Who's at the center of your Christianity? Do you have a us centered Christianity or a God centered Christianity? I want you to write down this verse. Okay. I want you to write down 1 Samuel 4. And you could look at that this week. It's an amazing chapter. Let me explain. 1 Samuel is a rough time in the nation of Israel. It's a godless time in Israel. It comes right after the book of Judges, where everyone did what was right in their own eyes. At 1 Samuel 4, you have these two priests, the sons of Eli name Hophni and Phinehas, and their godless men, their priest, and they're sleeping with the temple servants. They're stealing meat from sacrifices to fill their own bellies instead of worshipping God. And in 1 Samuel 4, Israel is in a battle with the Philistines, and they're losing. And godless Israel says, oh, you know what we could do? We could go ahead and bring out the Ark of the Covenant. Because even though we don't worship God and obey God, and don't seem to really want to follow God, we'll just bring him in, because he'll win the battles for us. So here come Hophni and Phinehas, bringing in the ark, because like, this is what we got is and what happens to Israel, they lose, not because God isn't more powerful than the Philistines. No he is more powerful. That's actually what the next few chapters show? No, they lose because God refuses to be used as your lucky rabbit's foot. God is not the kind of God that you could just say, I ignore him. I don't listen to him. I don't obey him. But every once in a while, I'll just call on him to bail me out. Every once in a while, I'll just talk Haiwan and live Haiwan and not include God, but everyone's always going to go God, you got me to throw a song on it. God's going to help me get that promotion, he's going to clean this up. He's just going to forgive me so I can keep living however I want. That's not who God is. You need to be for him. And then yes, he's for us. We align ourselves with him. And then after that, yes, he is a benevolent, kind, gracious God who sides with us and always does what's best for us. But that comes after the fact that we've said he's at the center of everything. And I think most mutations of Christianity we see around us some of the weird stuff that we see around us like churches that don't preach about sin and Christians that don't care about it. Christians that are talking about obedience and Christians don't practice it. Churches that don't study the Bible, and therefore their Christians at their church don't read it. It comes from a mindset that God is for us. And that said, I had nothing else to it. Like we've turned to God and to some big brother that the YMCA has assigned to us. He just goes hey, what are your dreams? What do you want to accomplish? Oh, that's so great. How can we get you there. Now it's not that it begins with us coming to him and submitting to him and saying, my life, this whole thing. Everything I do is not about accomplishing all my dreams and goals, it's about him. Instead, what happens is our life decisions become about a God who supports the amazing me more than a life that submits to a transcendent, glorious God. Fellow Christian, we need to regularly remember, we are not the center of the story. This is not about us, you are not the main point of your life, I am not the main point of my life. If our life were a movie, if your life is a movie, you are not the main character, you're not the supporting actor, are you by God's grace, or a background character who gets to be there? While he is the star, he is the center. He is the one who gets all the fame, he is the one that we want lifted up. And we are those who just want to say like Joshua, we fall on our face, we worship and say, what would you have us do? We submit to him. And therefore, any good that comes in our life is his kindness of being for us as those who submitted over to him. And our text, Joshua realizes who is in charge, he realizes Holy God has come down. You know what's going to happen if Israel is going to win any of their battles, you know what they need? Reverent dependence, where they see the holiness of who God is, they fall down and they say, I'll do whatever you asked me to do. When they do that, they win. When they fail to do that they lose every single battle.
If you're here this morning, and you're not a Christian, this actually is a small picture of what the gospel is. You know, I had the opportunity to preach at the press on Friday night. And as we were preaching on one of the pastors, I came to his Matthew 5:3, Jesus' most famous sermon, the Sermon on the Mount begins with “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” Blessed are those who are spiritually bankrupt. Blessed are those who've looked upon a holy God, it has not gone cool, that guy could help me or Wow, I wonder if I could pull that off to bless those who've seen the holiness of God, who have seen their own sin and who have fallen on their faces, I have nothing to offer this God, I have come up against someone who's holier than me, who's greater than me, who's going to judge me. I need to do something. I need to fall and submit to this God. If you're not a Christian, and you do that, this is the God who forgives. This is the God who gives mercy. This is the guy who will cleanse you for all your sins. If you're astonished by his Holiness, and you happily and humbly fall down and submit all of your life to him. Friends, this is also true, this needs to be true for us. This picture of reverent dependence.
I mean, think about our three points that we've looked at. We looked at a point on obedience. We looked at a point on worship. We looked at a point now on beholding God and realizing like he's the greatest, he's the center. He's the main purpose, he's the end of all of it. You can't do the first two without the third one. Like if we are not stunned by who God is, if we are not seeing Oh, yeah, this is about him accomplishing his purposes, not about him accomplishing my dreams. If we're not thinking man, he's the center of all the glory. It's not about him making my life blessed now that our worship will be sporadic, and our obedience will be selective. But if we worship him rightly, if we see him in his holiness, if you remember that he is the center. If we, like Psalm 115 says, not to us, oh, Lord, but to your name be the glory. If we like Paul in Philippians, it is my earnest expectation that Christ will be magnified in my life, whether I live or whether I die. If we live like that, then we will be useful, then we will be ready to fulfill what God has for us, then we will worship him with all our hearts, and then we will obey him, no matter the discomfort, no matter the costs. fellow Christian, let's treasure the Lord who saved us a treasure, the Lord who redeemed us a treasure, the Lord who hears our prayers, who's keeping us, who's putting people in our life to help us grow, who's using his word to mature us, who's using his spirit to help us walk in obedience, who's keeping us to the end, and one day will bring us to himself. Let's be amazed by that God. And let's treasure him. And let's obey him. Let me pray.
Father, thank You for this morning. Thank you for your Word. God, we are thankful that your word never returns void. And we're thankful that your Word is useful, that we not only can believe all of it, but all of it helps us walk in godliness. God, thank you that it's so evident that you know us and you know our needs and you know the way our thinking about you and about life would be wrong, and how you address those things that are in your Word, Lord. God help us to be better worshipers of you and help us to be more faithful to you. As we behold your glory. We pray these things in your son's name. Amen.
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