Summary: A sermon of the major themes of Joshua and Judges
Receiving Your Inheritance and Living Into Your calling
Dave Harvey writes about the greatest rescue mission of World War II. Late in the war, American bombers were sent on dangerous missions over southern Europe to cripple the Nazis' oil supplies. Hundreds of crews soared through storms of anti-aircraft shells. Many American pilots were forced to bail from their shot-up planes. The injured airmen drifted by parachute into occupied Yugoslavia, expecting to be captured or killed. Instead, on the ground Serbian peasant rescue teams were already in place. Their sole mission was to grab the pilots and bring them to safety—before the Nazis arrived. Amazingly, those Serbian peasants rescued every single American airman—over 500 in all. Risking their own lives, the peasants fed and sheltered the downed solders. While in friendly hands, they were on enemy soil and still needed to escape.
The story of what became known as Operation Haylard ended with a daring mission, a secret landing strip, and a clandestine evacuation plan. But to travel to the evacuation site, the airmen had to spend weeks following the Serbian freedom fighters, who alone knew the path to the site. Everything, the direction, the pace, and the destination were in the hands of their rescuers. The men had been saved from their enemy, but the journey to freedom had just begun. And then he writes, The story of Operation Halyard sheds light on an important spiritual reality: to be rescued from something sets us on the path toward something. For the airmen it was a journey of survival. For us it's a journey of faith. The One who saved us is now calling us to walk. It's nonnegotiable. Though snatched from spiritual death, we soon discover that the Christian life isn't an arrival; it's an adventure. Christ rescues us then he points us to the path of following him.”
In the third month of the Hebrew’s journey through the wilderness, Moses led the people to the mountain of God, the very same place that God had revealed himself in the burning bush. Moses ascends Mount Sinai to receive the civil and religious laws of God that will guide and shape them into a nation and unify them. Apparently, he is gone for some time, leading the people to panic in Moses’ absence. In their impatience and forgetfulness of the very God who delivered them out of slavery, the people turned to Aaron to fashion a golden calf to worship. Instead of trusting God and waiting, the people chose to take things into their own hands.
How often do we lose our faith and trust in the God who has chosen and delivered us, and instead, choose to take matters into our own hands, do our own thing, or go our own way? And what happens when we do? Not only do we break our relationship with God and miss out on God’s good plans for our lives, we also fail to live out our calling to participate in God’s plan of salvation. One moment we are being rescued from slavery to sin and death, the next we find ourselves, once again, in bondage to the very things that caused us so much pain and confusion in the first place. I think this begs the question: do you have a golden calf? To whom or what are you turning for your hope, your safety, or your security? We struggle with alot of other gods in our society: money, power, fame, possessions, sports, alcohol or drugs, other people and even ourselves. What is your Golden calf? Have you placed someone or something ahead of God?
First, God is with us. The Book of Joshua opens with God’s words to Joshua to “Be strong and very courageous” because He will be with him as he leads the Israelites to inherit the land God promised. God then makes the very same promise to the Israelites. Joshua tells the people that God will make victory possible if the people obey the Law. “Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:5-9 With these words, the invasion begins. No matter what you are facing, ‘Be strong and very ‘courageous’ because God is with you.
Second, always give God the glory. Joshua 2-12 tells the story of Israel’s conquest. The Jordan River is crossed in a miraculous way similar to the crossing of the Red Sea, a major shrine is dedicated to Yahweh, Jericho falls to the power of God’s ark of the covenant, Ai is defeated and all of the peoples stand terrified at God’s might. Chapter 12 closes with a list of the peoples who have been defeated. Through all of this, we see Israel was not fighting alone. It was God who gave the help and strength for this small band of tribes to overcome much more powerful enemies. Israel claimed title to the whole land of Palestine because they had won it with the help of God on their side. There is no mistake: the victories came from God because Joshua and the tribes followed God’s directions carefully. After each victory, Israel always dedicated made sacrifice to God in thanksgiving for His aid. What about you? In your victories, successes and blessing of life, do you take the credit or give God the glory?