Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Sunday, 17 July 2022:
Joshua 9:14, 15 — “So the men took some of their provisions, but did not ask counsel from the LORD. And Joshua made peace with them and made a covenant with them, to let them live, and the leaders of the congregation swore to them.”
God continually warns us not to make decisions based upon our own limited understanding but rather based upon His counsel. The Bible also continuously warns us not to get entangled in covenants and contracts with the ungodly.
Failing to ask counsel from the Lord, rather trusting in their own reasoning, the Israelites became entangled in commitments with the ungodly which resulted in tremendous conflict for the Israelites (war against a coalition of five kingdoms). The Bible warns us time and time again not to establish dependencies with the ungodly or to enter into covenants with them. Today’s Proverbs say that if we have become “ensnared” in a pledge to a “stranger,” we should seek to save ourselves “like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter.” Our faith teaches that unrepentant sinners are trapped in sin. What partnership can the godly have with the ungodly, the servants of God with the servants of Satan? “Do two walk together, unless they have agreed to meet?” (Amos 3:3) How do we agree with both God and man? The Christian is on a mission of reconciliation (reunion with God) that by definition requires God at the center of all agreements – it is impossible to achieve unity and peace without this essential. As slaves to Christ, we have no authority to make covenant with the world. Even among believers, promises are often made falsely, with the wrong motives. Commitments always involve promises based on trust; trust is based upon an assumption about the heart or character of the other party. The Bible says that no one can really know the thoughts, heart, and character of another person — only God knows. (1 Corinthians 2:11; Proverbs 15:11) Often all we have to go on is reputation. As someone once said, “Reputation is what others say about you; character is what God knows about you.” Only God can reveal another person’s true motives and character to you. So, the first place to start when you are considering a partnership with another is in earnest prayer. If the partnership clearly doesn’t conform to the Bible standard, your prayer has already been answered. Beyond that, God can reveal through the Holy Spirit what you do not see through His written word. Key is to not rush into a promise but to wait on the Lord. Another point the Bible drives home is that God expects His people to honor their commitments and promises, even the ones made rashly. Once you have made a decision, you own that decision – your “yes” must be a yes, and your “no” must be a no. The importance of avoidance entanglements with the ungodly and waiting upon to Lord in decision-making cannot be overstated. We can only do what God has told us to do. Does God want you to make that promise?
Joshua 9:19 — “We have sworn to them by the LORD, the God of Israel, and now we may not touch them.”
God expects you to keep your commitments even if you made those commitments without the right information or if the commitment is later discovered to be unfair. We are called to demonstrate godly fidelity despite the infidelity of others.
- Joshua 9:26 — “So he did this to them and delivered them out of the hand of the people of Israel, and they did not kill them.”
God expects you to show mercy while still holding others accountable.
Psalm 80:19 – “Restore us, O Lord God of hosts! Let your face shine, that we may be saved!”
Turn to the Lord for restoration every day.
Psalm 81: 9, 10 — “There shall be no strange god among you; you shall not bow down to a foreign god. I am the Lord your God.”
The modern Christian risks breezing by verses such as this one too quickly: “I’m a Christian; of course I don’t worship other gods.” However, the danger of idolatry is just as alive and well today for the Christian it was for the Jew in ancient Israel, only we have made idolatry more subtle and sophisticated. Our greatest idol is ourselves. Whenever we presume to place ourselves, our desires, our goals, our passions, our “needs” ahead of God’s will and commands, we introduce the “strangest god” of all into the equation, ourselves. We are a far worse idol than a carved image or any other created form – the inanimate object or god of imagination has a big thing over us: it has never sinned against God! Uzzah died when he dared to touch the ark of the covenant in order to keep the holy ark from falling on the ground, presuming that his hand was cleaner than the dirt. How easy it is for us to forget from where we came. How easy it is for us to let pride rob God of His due glory, honor and praise and for us to lose sight of the wonderfulness of the grace He has poured out upon us through His One and Only Son Jesus Christ – “as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us” (if you travel east on a globe, you never get to west). (Psalm 103:12) Even when we think about God, we tend to consider Him from our own perspective – “How does God relate to me?” The fullness of joy is the removal of “me” so that there is only Him – “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” (1 Corinthians 2:2) “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20)
- Colossians 3:5 — Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
- 1 Samuel 15:23 — For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has also rejected you from being king.”
- Galatians 5:24 — And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
- Galatians 6:14 — But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
Psalm 81:11-16 — “But my people did not listen to my voice; Israel would not submit to me. So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts, to follow their own counsels. Oh, that my people would listen to me, that Israel would walk in my ways! I would soon subdue their enemies and turn my hand against their foes. Those who hate the Lord would cringe toward him, and their fate would last forever. But he would feed you with the finest of the wheat, and with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.”
Compare these verses to Romans 1. A person doesn’t realize when they have been “given over” in their disobedience. It is a terrible thing to be turned over by God. Trust and obey! Surrender totally to Jesus, and walk with Him, not the world. Look to God to supply your every need, not idols. Proclaim His praises to everyone!
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 17 July 22: “Sing aloud to God our strength; shout for joy to the God of Jacob! Raise a song; sound the tambourine, the sweet lyre with the harp.” (Psalm 81:1, 2) This Sunday, ‘go to church’ all day long (and from this day forward), wherever you are and through whatever you are doing. Proclaim Jesus to everyone everywhere.