What we are reading this week (beginning Thursday, October 7, 2021):
• Joshua 3-9
• Hosea 7-13
• Thessalonians 3 ~ 1 Timothy 1-6
Notes on Joshua
Crossing the Jordan with Joshua was not quite as extreme as crossing the Red Sea with Moses. However, it was a remarkable miracle (3.15-16).
The miracle of parting the Jordan elevated Joshua in the eyes of his people (4.14). This second river crossing miracle also greatly increased the fear and respect of the other nations (5.1)
Jericho would be the first city they would enter in the Promised Land (3.16).
No matter how large the enemies of God may appear to us, we need to remember that their battle is ultimately against him, not us. And the thought and knowledge of what God has done in the past and is capable of doing in the future melts their resolve and destroys their courage (5.1).
Later in chapter five, Joshua bumps into the Commander of the Lord’s army, with sword drawn. Joshua learns an important lesson: God is not for or against our side; we are for or against his. This episode with the commander of the army of the Lord is another theophany, an Old Testament appearance of Jesus (see 6.2).
Reasons to believe this was a theophany: Joshua bowing down to him, and the commander not disallowing this (v14, contrast Revelation 19.9–10), the reference to holy ground, similar to Moses’ experience at the burning bush (v15); and the commander apparently the one speaking in 6.2, referred to as the voice of the Lord.
As we all know, they marched around the city of Jericho once a day each day for six days. On the seventh day, they marched around seven times, then attacked. Makes you wonder how much energy they had left to fight with after that. It helped that the walls collapsed on the enemy! See 6.12-20.
Rahab the prostitute was saved, along with her family, for hosting the spies. She would become the mother of Boaz, who would marry Ruth, and thereby be an ancestor of the Messiah, Jesus. See Matthew 1.5.
There is a time to repent, and there is a time to take action (7.10).
You have to wonder what was going through Achan’s mind as the lots were drawn, and as it narrowed, he was still in the mix. “This is going to work, isn’t it? They will find me.” See 7.17-18.
Immediately following Achan’s sin of taking plunder instead of destroying it all, Joshua in 8.1 gives the Israelites permission to carry off plunder and livestock for themselves after they would take Ai (see also verse 27).
How long would it take to carve the entire law onto stones—and how many stones? (8.32). There was actually plaster covering the stones and this writing was done in obedience to Deuteronomy 27.4 and 8.
The Gibeonites deceived Joshua and the Israelites in order to save their own skins (chapter 9). In a rare moment of weakness, Joshua did not seek the Lord’s wisdom, which opened the door for them to save themselves (9.14).
I always find it amusing that Joshua calls them forward and demands to know why they deceived him (9.22). I would have loved to have heard that conversation:
Joshua: Why did you deceive me? Tell me why.
Gibeonites: Why don’t you ask the other guys why they DIDN’T. Oops, they are all DEAD.
Joshua was furious at the Gibeonites for their deception. He called them “cursed” (9.23). But “cursed” was certainly preferable to “dead,” which is what they would have been without engaging their deception.
Notes on Hosea
The people of Israel had a continuing problem of looking to other—and godless—nations for help instead of the Lord. Their favorites were Assyria (who would eventually dismantle the northern kingdom—AKA Ephraim) and Egypt (7.11).
The rebukes to an apostate nation continue. We find the original of the adage, “They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind” in 8.7.
When the prophet is considered a fool and the inspired are called maniacs, you are in deep spiritual trouble; judgment and a day of reckoning are at hand. See 9.7.
The well-known farmer analogy about breaking up the fallow ground comes from 10.12-13.
There is a difference between the sins of Israel/Ephraim (northern kingdom) and Judah (southern kingdom), but both are in poor spiritual condition (11.12). Hosea’s ministry was in Judah. But both kingdoms will be served judgments in chapter 12.
The great struggle of being human is how we seek God when we are in dire need; but then as soon as he provides, we are in immediately in danger of becoming proud and forgetting about him (13.6).
Another of the rare Old Testament allusions to the afterlife is found in 13.14: “I will deliver this people from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death.” And then a word is added on that Paul quotes in 1 Corinthians 15.55: “Where, O death, are your plagues? Where, O grave is your destruction?”
Notes on 2 Thessalonians
The so-called “Protestant work ethic” finds its source in 3.6-10. I grew up around this, even though I found out many decades later that we were not actually Protestants.
Unbelievers of all kinds should be seen as Paul explains in 3.15: “Do not regard them as an enemy, but warn them as you would a fellow believer.” People are not our enemy. They are either our brother/sister in the Lord, or they are a captive of the kingdom of darkness and need to be rescued.
Notes on 1 Timothy
This should be an interesting read when we think of it as the mighty apostle speaking to his protegee/mentoree/disciple, and to see the things that would be discussed and how the highly respected apostle would say them.
There is a list of things that Paul says are clearly contrary to sound doctrine. Some of these would be found in contemporary churches today. The list includes murderers, the sexually immoral, homosexuals, slave traders, and liars, among others.
He gives instructions on worship in chapter two, including some instructions about women that are debated today without a really clear evangelical position emerging, at least as far as I know.
Qualifications for church leadership are given in chapter three. The address to women in verse 11, in the middle of this, seems to suggest this is addressed to those women who are also leaders in the church.
A number of times, Paul says things that appear to be creeds that were most likely recited regularly in the New Testament church, e.g., 3.16.
End times issues are addressed in chapter four, but instead of speaking of the antichrist, Paul is focused more on the ungodly culture that will exist in that time. Like now.
At the end of this chapter, Paul gets really personal with Timothy, his disciple. Verses 11-16 are wonderful words of encouragement and counsel to his young protegee.
There is instruction about widows, and then some about elders (including on how accusations are to be brought against them). There are some very practical life issues addressed, as well (e.g., see 5.23).
Paul emphasized (“I am telling the truth, I am not lying”) that God had called him to the Gentiles. As we have seen before, this was completely beyond the thinking of the Jews, even those in the church.
Paul wraps up the letter in the last chapter with instructions of slaves and how they should honor their masters (remembering that slavery was a thing in every culture on earth up to that point and would continue to be so for nearly two thousand more years); instruction regarding money, which is always a dangerous issue in the lives of believers; and powerful closing words of encouragement.
Try to read these words from Timothy’s perspective the very first time he read them (6.11-21). After putting down the letter, you would be ready to run out and take on the entire world for Jesus!