Joshua 15-16

jos15.jpgGreetings!  I don’t have much to comment on with these chapters.  They are important historically, as they describe specific places, boundaries and people.  Some skeptics doubt that the Israelites really spent 40 years in the desert before taking over the Promised Land, but these records are quite reliable and accurate.  Archeology has proved doubters wrong again and again and it is likely to happen again in this situation.

Allotment for Judah

15     The allotment for the tribe of Judah, clan by clan, extended down to the territory of Edom, to the Desert of Zin in the extreme south.

2 Their southern boundary started from the bay at the southern end of the Salt Sea, 3 crossed south of Scorpion Pass, continued on to Zin and went over to the south of Kadesh Barnea. Then it ran past Hezron up to Addar and curved around to Karka. 4 It then passed along to Azmon and joined the Wadi of Egypt, ending at the sea. This is their southern boundary.

5 The eastern boundary is the Salt Sea as far as the mouth of the Jordan.

The northern boundary started from the bay of the sea at the mouth of the Jordan, 6 went up to Beth Hoglah and continued north of Beth Arabah to the Stone of Bohan son of Reuben. 7 The boundary then went up to Debir from the Valley of Achor and turned north to Gilgal, which faces the Pass of Adummim south of the gorge. It continued along to the waters of En Shemesh and came out at En Rogel. 8 Then it ran up the Valley of Ben Hinnom along the southern slope of the Jebusite city (that is, Jerusalem). From there it climbed to the top of the hill west of the Hinnom Valley at the northern end of the Valley of Rephaim. 9 From the hilltop the boundary headed toward the spring of the waters of Nephtoah, came out at the towns of Mount Ephron and went down toward Baalah (that is, Kiriath Jearim). 10 Then it curved westward from Baalah to Mount Seir, ran along the northern slope of Mount Jearim (that is, Kesalon), continued down to Beth Shemesh and crossed to Timnah. 11 It went to the northern slope of Ekron, turned toward Shikkeron, passed along to Mount Baalah and reached Jabneel. The boundary ended at the sea.

12 The western boundary is the coastline of the Great Sea. These are the boundaries around the people of Judah by their clans.

13 In accordance with the Lord’s command to him, Joshua gave to Caleb son of Jephunneh a portion in Judah—Kiriath Arba, that is, Hebron. (Arba was the forefather of Anak.) 14 From Hebron Caleb drove out the three Anakites—Sheshai, Ahiman and Talmai—descendants of Anak. 15 From there he marched against the people living in Debir (formerly called Kiriath Sepher). 16 And Caleb said, “I will give my daughter Acsah in marriage to the man who attacks and captures Kiriath Sepher.” 17 Othniel son of Kenaz, Caleb’s brother, took it; so Caleb gave his daughter Acsah to him in marriage.

18 One day when she came to Othniel, she urged him to ask her father for a field. When she got off her donkey, Caleb asked her, “What can I do for you?”

19 She replied, “Do me a special favor. Since you have given me land in the Negev, give me also springs of water.” So Caleb gave her the upper and lower springs.

20 This is the inheritance of the tribe of Judah, clan by clan:

21 The southernmost towns of the tribe of Judah in the Negev toward the boundary of Edom were:

Kabzeel, Eder, Jagur, 22 Kinah, Dimonah, Adadah, 23 Kedesh, Hazor, Ithnan, 24 Ziph, Telem, Bealoth, 25 Hazor Hadattah, Kerioth Hezron (that is, Hazor), 26 Amam, Shema, Moladah, 27 Hazar Gaddah, Heshmon, Beth Pelet, 28 Hazar Shual, Beersheba, Biziothiah, 29 Baalah, Iim, Ezem, 30 Eltolad, Kesil, Hormah, 31 Ziklag, Madmannah, Sansannah, 32 Lebaoth, Shilhim, Ain and Rimmon—a total of twenty-nine towns and their villages.

33 In the western foothills:

Eshtaol, Zorah, Ashnah, 34 Zanoah, En Gannim, Tappuah, Enam, 35 Jarmuth, Adullam, Socoh, Azekah, 36 Shaaraim, Adithaim and Gederah (or Gederothaim)—fourteen towns and their villages.

37 Zenan, Hadashah, Migdal Gad, 38 Dilean, Mizpah, Joktheel, 39 Lachish, Bozkath, Eglon, 40 Cabbon, Lahmas, Kitlish, 41 Gederoth, Beth Dagon, Naamah and Makkedah—sixteen towns and their villages.

42 Libnah, Ether, Ashan, 43 Iphtah, Ashnah, Nezib, 44 Keilah, Aczib and Mareshah—nine towns and their villages.

45 Ekron, with its surrounding settlements and villages; 46 west of Ekron, all that were in the vicinity of Ashdod, together with their villages; 47 Ashdod, its surrounding settlements and villages; and Gaza, its settlements and villages, as far as the Wadi of Egypt and the coastline of the Great Sea.

48 In the hill country:

Shamir, Jattir, Socoh, 49 Dannah, Kiriath Sannah (that is, Debir), 50 Anab, Eshtemoh, Anim, 51 Goshen, Holon and Giloh—eleven towns and their villages.

52 Arab, Dumah, Eshan, 53 Janim, Beth Tappuah, Aphekah, 54 Humtah, Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron) and Zior—nine towns and their villages.

55 Maon, Carmel, Ziph, Juttah, 56 Jezreel, Jokdeam, Zanoah, 57 Kain, Gibeah and Timnah—ten towns and their villages.

58 Halhul, Beth Zur, Gedor, 59 Maarath, Beth Anoth and Eltekon—six towns and their villages.

60 Kiriath Baal (that is, Kiriath Jearim) and Rabbah—two towns and their villages.

61 In the desert:

Beth Arabah, Middin, Secacah, 62 Nibshan, the City of Salt and En Gedi—six towns and their villages.

63 Judah could not dislodge the Jebusites, who were living in Jerusalem; to this day the Jebusites live there with the people of Judah.

Allotment for Ephraim and Manasseh

16     The allotment for Joseph began at the Jordan of Jericho, east of the waters of Jericho, and went up from there through the desert into the hill country of Bethel. 2 It went on from Bethel (that is, Luz), crossed over to the territory of the Arkites in Ataroth, 3 descended westward to the territory of the Japhletites as far as the region of Lower Beth Horon and on to Gezer, ending at the sea. 4 So Manasseh and Ephraim, the descendants of Joseph, received their inheritance.

5 This was the territory of Ephraim, clan by clan:

The boundary of their inheritance went from Ataroth Addar in the east to Upper Beth Horon 6 and continued to the sea. From Micmethath on the north it curved eastward to Taanath Shiloh, passing by it to Janoah on the east. 7 Then it went down from Janoah to Ataroth and Naarah, touched Jericho and came out at the Jordan. 8 From Tappuah the border went west to the Kanah Ravine and ended at the sea. This was the inheritance of the tribe of the Ephraimites, clan by clan. 9 It also included all the towns and their villages that were set aside for the Ephraimites within the inheritance of the Manassites.

10 They did not dislodge the Canaanites living in Gezer; to this day the Canaanites live among the people of Ephraim but are required to do forced labor.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Eusebius – The Church History

eusebiusI recently finished Eusebius’  The Church History, translated and edited by Paul L. Maier.  Eusebius is nicknamed the “Father of Church History” for good reasons.  He traced its paths for the first 300 years after the resurrection.  He quotes many people extensively whose writings we wouldn’t have otherwise.

It was dry in spots, but very informative overall.   Eusebius has his critics and Dr. Maier highlighted various errors in his writings while still concluding that he was highly reliable.  Some of the themes in the book could have been written today.  Here are some highlights, a few of which are just interesting factoids and a few of which are very important.

  • Clement (a Church Father) thought that  the Book of Hebrews was written by the Apostle Paul but not attributed it to himself because, “In writing to Hebrews prejudiced against him [Paul], he wisely did not offend them at the start by adding his name . . .”
  • The graphic depictions of the persecuted Christians were chilling.  Some of the rulers spent a great deal of time coming up with more and more bizarre tortures and methods of execution.
  • The persecution of the Christians were not a 24 x 7 x 365 Empire-wide affair.  They were extremely serious in some places at some times, but there were various periods of peace and tolerance.

His sections on what was considered canonical were fascinating, especially in light of the weight that liberal scholars give to works like the alleged gospels of Thomas, Mary, Judas, etc.  There are really good reasons those weren’t considered as legitimate by the early church.

  • The early church recognized heresies when they saw them and addressed them thoroughly.

Writings published by heretics under the names of the apostles, such as the Gospels of Peter, Thomas, matthias, and others, or the Acts of Andrew, John and other apostles have never been cited by any in the succession of church writers.  The type of phraseology used contrasts with apostolic style, and the opinions and thrusts of their contents are so dissonant from true orthodoxy that they show themselves to be forgeries of heretics. 

  • Dionysius wrote, “I myself have read the writings and teachings of the heretics, polluting my soul for a while with their abominable notions, though deriving this benefit: I was able to refute them for myself and loathe them even more. ”  Amen!
  • Iranaeus (roughly 115 – 200 A.D.) was very clear that the Gospels were just the four in the Bible and were written by those whose names they bear.
  • The early church was much more disciplined than the church today (at least in the U.S.). They would excommunicate and eject false teachers.
  • He believed that Matthew and Luke were written before Mark (the conventional wisdom today seems to be that Mark was written first).
  • The catalysts for the Gospels of Mark and John were fascinating:

When, by the Spirit, Peter had publicly proclaimed the Gospel in Rome, his many hearers urged Mark, as one who had followed him for years and remembered what was said, to put it all in writing.  This he did and gave copies to a ll who asked.  When Peter learned of it, he neither objected nor promoted it.  Last of all, John, aware that the external details had been recorded in the Gospels, was urged by his disciples and divinely moved by the Spirit to compose a spiritual Gospel.

  • He quoted a work titled Concerning the So-Called Gospel of Peter and some of the reasons it was rejected.
  • He quotes Origen (185-254) as saying that “I learned by tradition that the four Gospels alone are unquestionable in the church of God.  First to be written was Matthew . . .”

I also thought a bit about what wasn’t in the book that one might have expected to see:

  • Only a couple passing references to Mary, Jesus’ mother, and absolutely nothing that would even hint at a serious role for her in Christianity (that is, nothing like the veneration from the Catholic Church).
  • Nothing about the superiority of Rome and the Bishop of Rome – the role is mentioned, but not as if he was in control of the whole church or even gets more than one vote.  Hosius, The Bishop of Spain, was charged by Emporer Constantine to provide directions on money given to churches.

Poster people for the Second Commandment

bible.jpgIn a thread at Marshall’s place a liberal theologian was claiming that Paul was wrong in some of what he wrote in the Bible.  Finding this amusing from a person who claims to be a Christian, I said, “Hey everyone, [name withheld to spare him further embarrassment] is right and St. Paul is wrong. Just wanted to clear that up!”

His response:

Thanks! I’ll cop to that on some things. Absolutely. Specifically, any thoughts of his that are defined primarily by his time and place and culture.

Oh, where to begin.  It never occurs to these pretenders that all they are doing is making a god in their own image.  They find a few points of agreement with the Bible, as if having your Venn diagram overlap a bit with another group made you one of them (Hey, the KKK is pro-life but that is about the only thing on which we agree).

They assume that wherever they disagree with Paul that they must be right and Paul must be wrong.  But they think we’re arrogant and “bibliolators” for taking the claims of the Bible to be true.  So they know what God really thinks but Paul didn’t, eh?  They pick and choose what they like and assume they have it right. 

They are just your basic Dalmatian Theologians, believing the Bible is only inspired in spots and that they are inspired to spot the spots.  They follow their hearts, but live in ignorance of Jeremiah 17:9: The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?  They claim to follow Jesus, but ignore his views on the Old Testament, marriage and so much more.

Then there is the question begging of saying they are thoughts of Paul’s and assuming God didn’t inspire them.  Paul claims to speak for God and Peter viewed Paul’s writings as scripture.  Presumably this expert thinks Peter was mistaken as well.  So if Paul wasn’t speaking for God and if the ~3,000 specific instances where God is quoted are wrong as well, then the Bible has so many lies that I don’t know why these folks bother to open the book.

And they assume that their views aren’t unduly influence by their time, place and culture — never noticing that their beliefs are virtually indistinguishable from the far political Left and that they discovered Paul’s “errors” regarding same sex unions at about the same time that MTV did.  Go figure.

Sometimes it is just best to let others write all they like and let their words convict them — such as when they put their words over scripture.  Sort of a blogging version of Muhammad Ali’s rope-a-dope strategy. 

I really like this quote by Dionysius, an early church leader:

I myself have read the writings and teachings of the heretics, polluting my soul for a while with their abominable notions, though deriving this benefit: I was able to refute them for myself and loathe them even more. 

Roundup

Kevin started a “burden box” with his family where they write what they are worrying about and put it in the box.  Then they commit to stop worrying about it and let God deal with it.

Do you want the United Nations to tell you how to raise your kids?  Didn’t think so. 

If you don’t want the UN granting your child autonomy rights; freedom of access to information, freedom of association, freedom of religion, freedom of expression, and so forth, visit ParentalRights.org to learn more about the UNCRC. Obama and cohorts have pledged to see this ratified.

I’m still waiting for the political Left to endlessly mock Pres. Obama over his claim that the U.S. invented the automobile in the same fashion that they would have if Pres. Bush has made the misstatement . . . (or on any of the other gaffes Obama has made).

The Dangers Of Overselling Evolution – “Focusing on Darwin and his theory doesn’t further scientific progress” – from Forbes.

To conflate contemporary scientific studies of existing organisms with those of the paleontologists serves mainly to misguide the public and teachers of the young. An examination of the papers in the National Academy of Sciences’ premiere journal, The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), as well as many other journals and the Nobel awards for biological discoveries, supports the crucial distinction I am making.

Examining the major advances in biological knowledge, one fails to find any real connection between biological history and the experimental designs that have produced today’s cornucopia of knowledge of how the great variety of living organisms perform their functions. It is our knowledge of how these organisms actually operate, not speculations about how they may have arisen millions of years ago, that is essential to doctors, veterinarians, farmers and other practitioners of biological science.

100 enlightening Bible Study blogs – my other blog (Eternity Matters Bible Study Blog) is the first item in the first section.

Joshua 13-14

jos13.jpgGreetings!

Land Still to Be Taken

13     When Joshua was old and well advanced in years, the Lord said to him, “You are very old, and there are still very large areas of land to be taken over. 2 “This is the land that remains: all the regions of the Philistines and Geshurites: 3 from the Shihor River on the east of Egypt to the territory of Ekron on the north, all of it counted as Canaanite (the territory of the five Philistine rulers in Gaza, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gath and Ekron—that of the Avvites); 4 from the south, all the land of the Canaanites, from Arah of the Sidonians as far as Aphek, the region of the Amorites, 5 the area of the Gebalites; and all Lebanon to the east, from Baal Gad below Mount Hermon to Lebo Hamath.

6 “As for all the inhabitants of the mountain regions from Lebanon to Misrephoth Maim, that is, all the Sidonians, I myself will drive them out before the Israelites. Be sure to allocate this land to Israel for an inheritance, as I have instructed you, 7 and divide it as an inheritance among the nine tribes and half of the tribe of Manasseh.”

Division of the Land East of the Jordan

8 The other half of Manasseh, the Reubenites and the Gadites had received the inheritance that Moses had given them east of the Jordan, as he, the servant of the Lord, had assigned it to them. 9 It extended from Aroer on the rim of the Arnon Gorge, and from the town in the middle of the gorge, and included the whole plateau of Medeba as far as Dibon, 10 and all the towns of Sihon king of the Amorites, who ruled in Heshbon, out to the border of the Ammonites. 11 It also included Gilead, the territory of the people of Geshur and Maacah, all of Mount Hermon and all Bashan as far as Salecah— 12 that is, the whole kingdom of Og in Bashan, who had reigned in Ashtaroth and Edrei and had survived as one of the last of the Rephaites. Moses had defeated them and taken over their land. 13 But the Israelites did not drive out the people of Geshur and Maacah, so they continue to live among the Israelites to this day.

14 But to the tribe of Levi he gave no inheritance, since the offerings made by fire to the Lord, the God of Israel, are their inheritance, as he promised them.

15 This is what Moses had given to the tribe of Reuben, clan by clan: 16 The territory from Aroer on the rim of the Arnon Gorge, and from the town in the middle of the gorge, and the whole plateau past Medeba 17 to Heshbon and all its towns on the plateau, including Dibon, Bamoth Baal, Beth Baal Meon, 18 Jahaz, Kedemoth, Mephaath, 19 Kiriathaim, Sibmah, Zereth Shahar on the hill in the valley, 20 Beth Peor, the slopes of Pisgah, and Beth Jeshimoth 21 —all the towns on the plateau and the entire realm of Sihon king of the Amorites, who ruled at Heshbon. Moses had defeated him and the Midianite chiefs, Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur and Reba—princes allied with Sihon—who lived in that country. 22 In addition to those slain in battle, the Israelites had put to the sword Balaam son of Beor, who practiced divination. 23 The boundary of the Reubenites was the bank of the Jordan. These towns and their villages were the inheritance of the Reubenites, clan by clan.

24 This is what Moses had given to the tribe of Gad, clan by clan: 25 The territory of Jazer, all the towns of Gilead and half the Ammonite country as far as Aroer, near Rabbah; 26 and from Heshbon to Ramath Mizpah and Betonim, and from Mahanaim to the territory of Debir; 27 and in the valley, Beth Haram, Beth Nimrah, Succoth and Zaphon with the rest of the realm of Sihon king of Heshbon (the east side of the Jordan, the territory up to the end of the Sea of Kinnereth). 28 These towns and their villages were the inheritance of the Gadites, clan by clan.

29 This is what Moses had given to the half-tribe of Manasseh, that is, to half the family of the descendants of Manasseh, clan by clan: 30 The territory extending from Mahanaim and including all of Bashan, the entire realm of Og king of Bashan—all the settlements of Jair in Bashan, sixty towns, 31 half of Gilead, and Ashtaroth and Edrei (the royal cities of Og in Bashan). This was for the descendants of Makir son of Manasseh—for half of the sons of Makir, clan by clan.

32 This is the inheritance Moses had given when he was in the plains of Moab across the Jordan east of Jericho. 33 But to the tribe of Levi, Moses had given no inheritance; the Lord, the God of Israel, is their inheritance, as he promised them.

Division of the Land West of the Jordan

14     Now these are the areas the Israelites received as an inheritance in the land of Canaan, which Eleazar the priest, Joshua son of Nun and the heads of the tribal clans of Israel allotted to them. 2 Their inheritances were assigned by lot to the nine-and-a-half tribes, as the Lord had commanded through Moses. 3 Moses had granted the two-and-a-half tribes their inheritance east of the Jordan but had not granted the Levites an inheritance among the rest, 4 for the sons of Joseph had become two tribes—Manasseh and Ephraim. The Levites received no share of the land but only towns to live in, with pasturelands for their flocks and herds. 5 So the Israelites divided the land, just as the Lord had commanded Moses.

Hebron Given to Caleb

6 Now the men of Judah approached Joshua at Gilgal, and Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him, “You know what the Lord said to Moses the man of God at Kadesh Barnea about you and me. 7 I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh Barnea to explore the land. And I brought him back a report according to my convictions, 8 but my brothers who went up with me made the hearts of the people melt with fear. I, however, followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly. 9 So on that day Moses swore to me, ‘The land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance and that of your children forever, because you have followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly.’

10 “Now then, just as the Lord promised, he has kept me alive for forty-five years since the time he said this to Moses, while Israel moved about in the desert. So here I am today, eighty-five years old! 11 I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. 12 Now give me this hill country that the Lord promised me that day. You yourself heard then that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the Lord helping me, I will drive them out just as he said.”

13 Then Joshua blessed Caleb son of Jephunneh and gave him Hebron as his inheritance. 14 So Hebron has belonged to Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite ever since, because he followed the Lord, the God of Israel, wholeheartedly. 15 (Hebron used to be called Kiriath Arba after Arba, who was the greatest man among the Anakites.)

Then the land had rest from war.

 The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

The first section just gives the facts and locations about the division of the land.  I don’t have much to say about that, other than that these were real people and places in time.  God had a plan and He executed it.

Caleb and Joshua were the only two of the twelve spies send to check out the Promised Land that wanted to go and take it.  The other ten were too afraid and convinced the people not to go.  Therefore, their lack of faith drew a forty year punishment from God.  But God honored the faith and loyalty of Joshua and Caleb. 

One plus God is a majority, as the saying goes — or even two plus God.  We may live part or all of our lives in conflict with those around us because of our devotion to God.  But it will pay off in the end and give him glory.

Redeem your iPod and your commute and ???

bible3.jpgFaith Comes by Hearing is still offering a free download of the New Testament audio Bible.  I’ve used these for over 10 years (starting with cassette tapes).  I don’t usually give up things or start things for Lent, but someone pointed out that if you listen to these for 30 min. a day then you’d cover the whole New Testament in 40 days.   

Whether you do it for Lent or not, give it a try!

Hey, let’s just skip Socialism and go straight to Communism

From the “I am not making this up” department:

Houston taxpayers could start footing the bill to help first-time homebuyers pay off debts and improve their credit scores, under a proposal before City Council this week.

The “Credit Score Enhancement Program” will give up to $3,000 in grants to individuals who are trying to qualify for mortgages through the city’s homebuyers assistance program. City officials say some applicants fall short of eligibility by only 10 or 20 points on their credit scores, and paying off some debt balances can quickly improve their numbers.

More here.

What’s the net of this?  Some people have too much debt and/or poor money management skills, so to teach them a lesson we’ll pay off part or all of their debt.  That will help them buy a house that they can’t afford and may not have the life skills to maintain. 

What a swell plan!  Perhaps they didn’t notice that giving loans to unqualified applicants is a major factor in the problems we face today.

Roundup

Sign the Focus on the Family petition to prevent government funding of abortions

Amid the grieving, a great act of sportsmanship – great read about some good coaches and athletes who have their priorities in order

Something has gone horribly wrong.  I agree with Maureen Dowd and the NY Times on the wrongness of forcing financial rules-followers to bail out financial rules-breakers.

A thoughtful piece on “ambient pornography” and its deadly impacts. 

Abortion Changes You – lots of personal stories about the unexpected impacts of abortion.  Check it out.

Randy Alcorn has some great tactical tips on how to approach conversations with pro-choicers

Tony has a good piece on some satire about how the Apostle Paul would be received today.  I don’t think that he could get a job at 90% of the churches in the U.S.

Joshua 11-12

jos11.jpgGreetings!

Nothern Kings Defeated

11     When Jabin king of Hazor heard of this, he sent word to Jobab king of Madon, to the kings of Shimron and Acshaph, 2 and to the northern kings who were in the mountains, in the Arabah south of Kinnereth, 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 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.

6 The Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid of them, because by this time tomorrow I will hand all of them over to Israel, slain. 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 Lordgave 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.

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 destroyed them, not sparing anything that breathed, and he burned up Hazor itself.

12 Joshua took all these royal cities and their kings and put them to the sword. He totally destroyed 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. 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.

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 struck them down, putting them to death. 18 Joshua waged war against all these kings for a long time. 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 he might destroy them totally, exterminating them without mercy, as the Lord had commanded Moses.

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. 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 usually the time that people start to ask, “Did God really command that?”  I facilitated a Bible study with a committed Christian who, sad to say, told the group that he thought that the Israelites just did what they wanted and put the words in the mouth of God.  But this does not mesh with the Bible at all.  God is quoted directly roughly 3,000 times.  We don’t get to pick and choose which parts are “real,” as that would be forming God in our own image. 

God had given these nations hundreds of years to repent and they didn’t.  They needed to be eliminated, just like we are to try and eliminate sin in our lives.  God is sovereign over all life and death so when atheists criticize God for being “immoral” in clearing out the Promised Land they have no standing to make such a claim.

List of Defeated Kings

12     These are the kings of the land whom the Israelites had defeated and whose territory they took over east of the Jordan, from the Arnon Gorge to Mount Hermon, including all the eastern side of the Arabah:

2 Sihon king of the Amorites, who reigned in Heshbon. He ruled from Aroer on the rim of the Arnon Gorge—from the middle of the gorge—to the Jabbok River, which is the border of the Ammonites. This included half of Gilead. 3 He also ruled over the eastern Arabah from the Sea of Kinnereth to the Sea of the Arabah (the Salt Sea), to Beth Jeshimoth, and then southward below the slopes of Pisgah.

4 And the territory of Og king of Bashan, one of the last of the Rephaites, who reigned in Ashtaroth and Edrei. 5 He ruled over Mount Hermon, Salecah, all of Bashan to the border of the people of Geshur and Maacah, and half of Gilead to the border of Sihon king of Heshbon.

6 Moses, the servant of the Lord, and the Israelites conquered them. And Moses the servant of the Lordgave their land to the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh to be their possession.

7 These are the kings of the land that Joshua and the Israelites conquered on the west side of the Jordan, from Baal Gad in the Valley of Lebanon to Mount Halak, which rises toward Seir (their lands Joshua gave as an inheritance to the tribes of Israel according to their tribal divisions— 8 the hill country, the western foothills, the Arabah, the mountain slopes, the desert and the Negev—the lands of the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites):

9 the king of Jericho      one

the king of Ai (near Bethel)      one

10 the king of Jerusalem      one

the king of Hebron      one

11 the king of Jarmuth      one

the king of Lachish      one

12 the king of Eglon      one

the king of Gezer      one

13 the king of Debir      one

the king of Geder      one

14 the king of Hormah      one

the king of Arad      one

15 the king of Libnah      one

the king of Adullam      one

16 the king of Makkedah      one

the king of Bethel      one

17 the king of Tappuah      one

the king of Hepher      one

18 the king of Aphek      one

the king of Lasharon      one

19 the king of Madon      one

the king of Hazor      one

20 the king of Shimron Meron      one

the king of Acshaph      one

21 the king of Taanach      one

the king of Megiddo      one

22 the king of Kedesh      one

the king of Jokneam in Carmel      one

23 the king of Dor (in Naphoth Dor)      one

the king of Goyim in Gilgal      one

24 the king of Tirzah      one

thirty-one kings in all.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

These were real events at particular times and places.  God authorized this one-time cleansing of the promised land and the elimination of spectacularly evil and unrepentent people.

More on “good people”

scale2

When sharing the Gospel in general or speaking with Muslims in particular (who believe our good and bad deeds are weighed in the balance to determine our salvation), I like to point out that if that is the criteria then I’m in big, big trouble. 

When estimating my good and bad thoughts, words, actions and inactions I would say I’m lucky to be considered 10% good by God’s standards or even mine.  I need Jesus as a Savior because I could never make it to 51% even if that was the real standard. 

That statement often disarms the listener of the “Christians think they are all that” notion, and it has the added benefit of being true. 

Also see “Good People” and Heaven

Joshua 9-10

jos9.jpgGreetings!

The Gibeonite Deception

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

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 The men put worn and patched sandals on their feet and wore old clothes. All the bread of their food supply was dry and moldy. 6 Then they went to Joshua in the camp at Gilgal and said to him and the men of Israel, “We have come from a distant country; make a treaty with us.”

7 The men of Israel said to the Hivites, “But perhaps you live near us. How then 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?”

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. 11 And 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.”

14 The men of Israel 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.

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.

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 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 for the entire community.” So the leaders’ promise to them was kept.

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 cease to serve as woodcutters and water carriers for the house of my God.”

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.”

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 community and for the altar of the Lord at the place the Lord would choose. And that is what they are to this day.

 The Israelites erred by not consulting God, but at least they didn’t break their oath.  We typically don’t get direct revelations like they did, but we err if we don’t consult God and his word. 

He has given us what we need to make good decisions.  He gives us his moral laws, as spelled out in the Bible.  We should not violate those.  He gives wisdom to those who ask for it (Proverbs, James 1).  We can see what is moral and wise then apply our personal preferences and then make decisions in confidence and joy. 

We are constantly either making decisions or living with their consequences (a quote from Greg Koukl), so we must make every effort to use a good decision making process. 

The Sun Stands Still

10     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 were living near them. 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. 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.

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.”

9 After an all-night march from Gilgal, Joshua took them by surprise. 10 The Lord threw them into confusion before Israel, who defeated them in a great victory at Gibeon. Israel pursued them along the road going up to Beth Horon and cut them down all the way to Azekah and Makkedah. 11 As they fled before Israel on the road down from Beth Horon to Azekah, the Lord hurled large hailstones down on them from the sky, and more of them died from the hailstones than were killed by the swords of the Israelites.

12 On the day the Lord gave the Amorites over to Israel, Joshua said to the Lord in the presence of Israel:

“O sun, stand still over Gibeon,

O moon, over the Valley of Aijalon.”

13 So the sun stood still,

and the moon stopped,

till 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. 14 There has never been a day like it before or since, a day when the Lord listened to a man. Surely the Lord was fighting for Israel!

15 Then Joshua returned with all Israel to the camp at Gilgal.

Five Amorite Kings Killed

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.”

20 So Joshua and the Israelites destroyed them completely—almost to a man—but the few who were left reached 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.

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. 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.

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.” 26 Then Joshua struck and killed the kings and hung them on five trees, and they were left hanging on the trees until evening.

27 At sunset Joshua gave the order and they took them down from the trees 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.

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.

Southern Cities Conquered

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.

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 handed Lachish over to Israel, 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.

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.

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.

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. 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.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

The Israelites seem to have learned their lessons, at least temporarily, and are following God’s instructions to clean out the land.  It is interesting how many different ways God used to defeat Israel’s enemies (e.g., hail).  It is as if He wants to remind them that it is really him winning the battles and they just need to follow instructions.  Otherwise they might think they have some special fighting abilities or strategy that is causing them to win.

Joshua 7-8

jos7.jpgGreetings!  Sin has consequences.  God made it quite clear that He gave them the victory over Jericho, but He also gave them clear guidelines on what not to do, including taking some of the plunder.

The people were panicked.  This was the beginning of a seven year conquest of the Promised Land and the only battle they would lose.  But they didn’t know that.

Achan’s Sin

7     But the Israelites acted unfaithfully in regard to the devoted things; Achan son of Carmi, the son of Zimri, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of them. So the Lord’s anger burned against Israel.

2 Now Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is near Beth Aven to the east of Bethel, and told them, “Go up and spy out the region.” So the men went up and spied out Ai.

3 When they returned to Joshua, they said, “Not all the people will have to go up against Ai. Send two or three thousand men to take it and do not weary all the people, for only a few men are there.” 4 So about three thousand men went up; but they were routed by the men of Ai, 5 who killed about thirty-six of them. They chased the Israelites from the city gate as far as the stone quarries and struck them down on the slopes. At this the hearts of the people melted and became like water.

6 Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell facedown to the ground before the ark of the Lord, remaining there till evening. The elders of Israel did the same, and sprinkled dust on their heads. 7 And Joshua said, “Ah, Sovereign Lord, why did you ever bring this people across the Jordan to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us? If only we had been content to stay on the other side of the Jordan! 8 O Lord, what can I say, now that Israel has been routed by its enemies? 9 The Canaanites and the other people of the country will hear about this and they will surround us and wipe out our name from the earth. What then will you do for your own great name?”

10 The Lord said to Joshua, “Stand up! What are you doing down on your face? 11 Israel has sinned; they have violated my covenant, which I commanded them to keep. They have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen, they have lied, they have put them with their own possessions. 12 That is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies; they turn their backs and run because they have been made liable to destruction. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction.

13 “Go, consecrate the people. Tell them, ‘Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow; for this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: That which is devoted is among you, O Israel. You cannot stand against your enemies until you remove it.

14 “‘In the morning, present yourselves tribe by tribe. The tribe that the Lord takes shall come forward clan by clan; the clan that the Lord takes shall come forward family by family; and the family that the Lord takes shall come forward man by man. 15 He who is caught with the devoted things shall be destroyed by fire, along with all that belongs to him. He has violated the covenant of the Lord and has done a disgraceful thing in Israel!’”

16 Early the next morning Joshua had Israel come forward by tribes, and Judah was taken. 17 The clans of Judah came forward, and he took the Zerahites. He had the clan of the Zerahites come forward by families, and Zimri was taken. 18 Joshua had his family come forward man by man, and Achan son of Carmi, the son of Zimri, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, was taken.

19 Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the Lord, the God of Israel, and give him the praise. Tell me what you have done; do not hide it from me.”

20 Achan replied, “It is true! I have sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel. This is what I have done: 21 When I saw in the plunder a beautiful robe from Babylonia, two hundred shekels of silver and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. They are hidden in the ground inside my tent, with the silver underneath.”

22 So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran to the tent, and there it was, hidden in his tent, with the silver underneath. 23 They took the things from the tent, brought them to Joshua and all the Israelites and spread them out before the Lord.

24 Then Joshua, together with all Israel, took Achan son of Zerah, the silver, the robe, the gold wedge, his sons and daughters, his cattle, donkeys and sheep, his tent and all that he had, to the Valley of Achor. 25 Joshua said, “Why have you brought this trouble on us? The Lord will bring trouble on you today.”

Then all Israel stoned him, and after they had stoned the rest, they burned them. 26 Over Achan they heaped up a large pile of rocks, which remains to this day. Then the Lordturned from his fierce anger. Therefore that place has been called the Valley of Achor ever since.

Deuteronomy 24:16 states that children aren’t to be punished for the crimes of the parents, so we can assume that they were involved somehow. 

Ai Destroyed

8     Then the Lordsaid to Joshua, “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Take the whole army with you, and go up and attack Ai. For I have delivered into your hands the king of Ai, his people, his city and his land. 2 You shall do to Ai and its king as you did to Jericho and its king, except that you may carry off their plunder and livestock for yourselves. Set an ambush behind the city.”

Too bad for Achan that he wasn’t more patient.  God had blessings planned for him, but his disobedience cost him his life.  How many blessings do we miss out on because we try to use our timing and not God’s?  Why are we not more patient and obedient, especially when that will give us more blessings in the long run?

3 So Joshua and the whole army moved out to attack Ai. He chose thirty thousand of his best fighting men and sent them out at night 4 with these orders: “Listen carefully. You are to set an ambush behind the city. Don’t go very far from it. All of you be on the alert. 5 I and all those with me will advance on the city, and when the men come out against us, as they did before, we will flee from them. 6 They will pursue us until we have lured them away from the city, for they will say, ‘They are running away from us as they did before.’ So when we flee from them, 7 you are to rise up from ambush and take the city. The Lord your God will give it into your hand. 8 When you have taken the city, set it on fire. Do what the Lord has commanded. See to it; you have my orders.”

9 Then Joshua sent them off, and they went to the place of ambush and lay in wait between Bethel and Ai, to the west of Ai—but Joshua spent that night with the people.

10 Early the next morning Joshua mustered his men, and he and the leaders of Israel marched before them to Ai. 11 The entire force that was with him marched up and approached the city and arrived in front of it. They set up camp north of Ai, with the valley between them and the city. 12 Joshua had taken about five thousand men and set them in ambush between Bethel and Ai, to the west of the city. 13 They had the soldiers take up their positions—all those in the camp to the north of the city and the ambush to the west of it. That night Joshua went into the valley.

14 When the king of Ai saw this, he and all the men of the city hurried out early in the morning to meet Israel in battle at a certain place overlooking the Arabah. But he did not know that an ambush had been set against him behind the city. 15 Joshua and all Israel let themselves be driven back before them, and they fled toward the desert. 16 All the men of Ai were called to pursue them, and they pursued Joshua and were lured away from the city. 17 Not a man remained in Ai or Bethel who did not go after Israel. They left the city open and went in pursuit of Israel.

18 Then the Lordsaid to Joshua, “Hold out toward Ai the javelin that is in your hand, for into your hand I will deliver the city.” So Joshua held out his javelin toward Ai. 19 As soon as he did this, the men in the ambush rose quickly from their position and rushed forward. They entered the city and captured it and quickly set it on fire.

20 The men of Ai looked back and saw the smoke of the city rising against the sky, but they had no chance to escape in any direction, for the Israelites who had been fleeing toward the desert had turned back against their pursuers. 21 For when Joshua and all Israel saw that the ambush had taken the city and that smoke was going up from the city, they turned around and attacked the men of Ai. 22 The men of the ambush also came out of the city against them, so that they were caught in the middle, with Israelites on both sides. Israel cut them down, leaving them neither survivors nor fugitives. 23 But they took the king of Ai alive and brought him to Joshua.

24 When Israel had finished killing all the men of Ai in the fields and in the desert where they had chased them, and when every one of them had been put to the sword, all the Israelites returned to Ai and killed those who were in it. 25 Twelve thousand men and women fell that day—all the people of Ai. 26 For Joshua did not draw back the hand that held out his javelin until he had destroyed all who lived in Ai. 27 But Israel did carry off for themselves the livestock and plunder of this city, as the Lord had instructed Joshua.

28 So Joshua burned Ai and made it a permanent heap of ruins, a desolate place to this day. 29 He hung the king of Ai on a tree and left him there until evening. At sunset, Joshua ordered them to take his body from the tree and throw it down at the entrance of the city gate. And they raised a large pile of rocks over it, which remains to this day.

God gave them an ingenious plan to defeat Ai.

The Covenant Renewed at Mount Ebal

30 Then Joshua built on Mount Ebal an altar to the Lord, the God of Israel, 31 as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded the Israelites. He built it according to what is written in the Book of the Law of Moses—an altar of uncut stones, on which no iron tool had been used. On it they offered to the Lord burnt offerings and sacrificed fellowship offerings. 32 There, in the presence of the Israelites, Joshua copied on stones the law of Moses, which he had written. 33 All Israel, aliens and citizens alike, with their elders, officials and judges, were standing on both sides of the ark of the covenant of the Lord, facing those who carried it—the priests, who were Levites. Half of the people stood in front of Mount Gerizim and half of them in front of Mount Ebal, as Moses the servant of the Lord had formerly commanded when he gave instructions to bless the people of Israel.

34 Afterward, Joshua read all the words of the law—the blessings and the curses—just as it is written in the Book of the Law. 35 There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded that Joshua did not read to the whole assembly of Israel, including the women and children, and the aliens who lived among them.

 The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

We don’t know exactly how much was written on the stones, but archaeologists have uncovered similar stones in the Middle East with much writing on them.

I’m too pro-science to be pro-choice

pro-choice-baby.jpg <=== The shirt says, “Now that I’m safe I’m pro-choice” 

One of my favorite techniques to use when debating pro-choicers is to highlight how pro-life views are in concert with science and how their views are not.  It is easy to demonstrate the scientific fact that life begins at conception.  They may try to argue that but will look pretty foolish when confronted with all the mainstream embryology textbooks that state otherwise (not to mention common sense as well as concessions of the point from so many people on their side). 

Then they may shift to “personhood” arguments (i.e., “OK, the unborn are human beings, but they aren’t persons yet so abortion is morally neutral or even a moral good”).  Then you just point out that they are using philosophical arguments – and weak ones at that – and have ignored the clear facts of science.

You, on the other hand, are firmly on the side of science.  Note all the good things you’ve accomplished:

1. It bursts the myth that you’re anti-science. 

2. It bursts the myth that you just are just pushing your religious beliefs on them.  You haven’t even mentioned Jesus (Though if they want to talk about him you’d be glad to).

3. It shows them how they have taken an anti-science position on this vitally important topic and have completely abandoned the “we only trust what science tells us” falsehood.

Remember that these are powerful arguments.  Don’t use them in a heavy handed way . . . unless you are dealing with a really irritating person on a blog.  Just kidding!  Probably!

Seriously, politely weave them into the conversation and see it if resonates with them.  Remember that members of the media are 90+% strongly pro-abortion so people have gotten away without being challenged on bad pro-abortion reasoning for a long, long time.  It may take them a little time to see the light and admit their errors.  At a minimum you’ve given them something to think about and disarmed them of some of their favorite bad arguments against you.

Just calmly tell them, “I’m too pro-science to be pro-choice.”

As always, remember that forgiveness and healing are possible for those who have participated in the abortion process.

Good and bad ecumenism

cross1.jpgEcumenism is a movement promoting unity among Christians.  It is biblical in concept, given that Jesus prayed for believers:

John 17:20-23 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

But there is good and bad ecumenism.  If the unity is based on the essentials of the faith, that is to be encouraged.  But if it is gained by abandoning the essentials then it isn’t real or desirable unity.

Many times, such as with the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the National Council of Churches (NCC), “unity” is achieved by watering down key doctrines.  Those organizations are virtually indistinguishable from radical left politics. 

But I’ve come across many excellent examples of ecumenism.  Interestingly, they were not founded on ecumenism but on a common desire for service, fellowship and worship.  When I step back and analyze them I can’t help but notice the diversity of denominations, ages, races, etc. of Christians united for good.  The following organizations come to mind:

  • Christians @ HP employee network group — we had lunch time Bible studies with a wide variety of people, yet denominational differences never got in the way.
  • Kairos Prison Ministry — people from many denominations unite behind the essentials and accomplish incredible things.
  • CareNet Pregnancy Center — you’ll find a variety of backgrounds helping to save lives now and for eternity.
  • World Vision and similar charities — millions are served by non-denominational, Bible-based organizations.

My advice is to focus on the essentials and living out authentic Christian lives, then ecumenism will follow.  But if you lead with ecumenism you’ll get weak, watered down organizations at best and may end up with something non-Christian.

Joshua 5-6

jos5.jpgGreetings!  Before the Israelites were to clear out the Promised Land they had to prepare spiritually.  Circumcision was symbolic of setting the Israelites apart from the rest of the world, as well as circumcising the heart from sin.  It linked them back to Abraham, who started the ritual.  They also celebrated the Passover, which was a reminder of God’s liberation of them from slavery in Egypt.

Circumcision at Gilgal

5     Now when all the Amorite kings west of the Jordan and all the Canaanite kings along the coast heard how the Lord had dried up the Jordan before the Israelites until we had crossed over, their hearts melted and they no longer had the courage to face the Israelites.

2 At that time the Lord said to Joshua, “Make flint knives and circumcise the Israelites again.” 3 So Joshua made flint knives and circumcised the Israelites at Gibeath Haaraloth.

4 Now this is why he did so: All those who came out of Egypt—all the men of military age—died in the desert on the way after leaving Egypt. 5 All the people that came out had been circumcised, but all the people born in the desert during the journey from Egypt had not. 6 The Israelites had moved about in the desert forty years until all the men who were of military age when they left Egypt had died, since they had not obeyed the Lord. For the Lord had sworn to them that they would not see the land that he had solemnly promised their fathers to give us, a land flowing with milk and honey. 7 So he raised up their sons in their place, and these were the ones Joshua circumcised. They were still uncircumcised because they had not been circumcised on the way. 8 And after the whole nation had been circumcised, they remained where they were in camp until they were healed.

9 Then the Lordsaid to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” So the place has been called Gilgal to this day.

10 On the evening of the fourteenth day of the month, while camped at Gilgal on the plains of Jericho, the Israelites celebrated the Passover. 11 The day after the Passover, that very day, they ate some of the produce of the land: unleavened bread and roasted grain. 12 The manna stopped the day after they ate this food from the land; there was no longer any manna for the Israelites, but that year they ate of the produce of Canaan.

God provided manna for 40 years!  The starting and stopping of the manna should have been an eternal sign for the Israelites that God would provide.

The Fall of Jericho

13 Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?”

14 “Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the LordI have now come.” Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lord have for his servant?”

15 The commander of the Lord’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.

This is a reminder of the encounter between God and Moses in Exodus 3 (the burning bush).  Joshua realizes that this is a representative of God.

6     Now Jericho was tightly shut up because of the Israelites. No one went out and no one came in.

2 Then the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men. 3 March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. 4 Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. 5 When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have all the people give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the people will go up, every man straight in.”

6 So Joshua son of Nun called the priests and said to them, “Take up the ark of the covenant of the Lord and have seven priests carry trumpets in front of it.” 7 And he ordered the people, “Advance! March around the city, with the armed guard going ahead of the ark of the Lord.”

8 When Joshua had spoken to the people, the seven priests carrying the seven trumpets before the Lord went forward, blowing their trumpets, and the ark of the Lord’s covenant followed them. 9 The armed guard marched ahead of the priests who blew the trumpets, and the rear guard followed the ark. All this time the trumpets were sounding. 10 But Joshua had commanded the people, “Do not give a war cry, do not raise your voices, do not say a word until the day I tell you to shout. Then shout!” 11 So he had the ark of the Lord carried around the city, circling it once. Then the people returned to camp and spent the night there.

12 Joshua got up early the next morning and the priests took up the ark of the Lord. 13 The seven priests carrying the seven trumpets went forward, marching before the ark of the Lord and blowing the trumpets. The armed men went ahead of them and the rear guard followed the ark of the Lord, while the trumpets kept sounding. 14 So on the second day they marched around the city once and returned to the camp. They did this for six days.

15 On the seventh day, they got up at daybreak and marched around the city seven times in the same manner, except that on that day they circled the city seven times. 16 The seventh time around, when the priests sounded the trumpet blast, Joshua commanded the people, “Shout! For the Lord has given you the city! 17 The city and all that is in it are to be devoted to the Lord. Only Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in her house shall be spared, because she hid the spies we sent. 18 But keep away from the devoted things, so that you will not bring about your own destruction by taking any of them. Otherwise you will make the camp of Israel liable to destruction and bring trouble on it. 19 All the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron are sacred to the Lord and must go into his treasury.”

20 When the trumpets sounded, the people shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the people gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so every man charged straight in, and they took the city. 21 They devoted the city to the Lord and destroyed with the sword every living thing in it—men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep and donkeys.

22 Joshua said to the two men who had spied out the land, “Go into the prostitute’s house and bring her out and all who belong to her, in accordance with your oath to her.” 23 So the young men who had done the spying went in and brought out Rahab, her father and mother and brothers and all who belonged to her. They brought out her entire family and put them in a place outside the camp of Israel.

24 Then they burned the whole city and everything in it, but they put the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron into the treasury of the Lord’s house. 25 But Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute, with her family and all who belonged to her, because she hid the men Joshua had sent as spies to Jericho—and she lives among the Israelites to this day.

26 At that time Joshua pronounced this solemn oath: “Cursed before the Lord is the man who undertakes to rebuild this city, Jericho:

“At the cost of his firstborn son

will he lay its foundations;

at the cost of his youngest

will he set up its gates.”

27 So the Lord was with Joshua, and his fame spread throughout the land.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

The Israelites began the conquest of the land in a most unusual way, and all the better to show that it was really God doing the work.  All they had to do was follow instructions.  Again we see God’s grace in saving the prostitute Rahab and her family.  Her faith saved her, just as it saves us.