Old Testament Conscience Programming for the Future of Present Day Christians
There are preachers, teachers and lay Christians who say the OT prophecies are about Israel and Jesus and do not apply to the Church. I call them the naysayers (the no people).
Before the naysayers can work up a head of steam and start arguing; "This is about the Old Testament (O.T.) covenant of blood sacrifice people and it don't apply to Christians who are under the New Testament (N.T.) covenant of grace." Please see this N.T. scripture and try to understand (Heb. 9:14-28 esp. V.18-23 and V.23 keyword: patterns: defined: an exhibit for imitation or warning, specimen, adumbration: which is defined: foretell, foreshadow, to represent, example, predict, a prophesy)
(Heb. 9:7-28 esp. V.19-26) The naysayers need to remember the grace covenant was put into effect by the death of Jesus when He became our blood sacrifice just like every blood sacrifice in the O.T. had foretold (prophesy) because (Heb. 9:22) without the shedding of blood there is NO remission of sin. BUT:
They also need to remember is (Gal. 3:22-29) the Jewish Law of Moses was the Jew's schoolmaster to bring them to Christ so they would recognize Jesus the Messiah and come to the New Grace covenant sealed by the blood of Jesus. (Luke 5:15) Lots of individual Jews came to Jesus but the nation of Israel and the majority of Jews refused God's offer because of pride, ignorance, false leadership, etc. (Matt. 26:63-67) and killed Jesus because He said he is the Son of God. (John 4:21-24 esp. V.22) Salvation is of the Jews. (Matt. 5:18) Jesus and the twelve disciples/apostles who followed Him were O.T. Jews.
Think about this: The law of God was revealed to Moses and it was directed to the Jewish people on how to serve and obey God. It is named the Torah and is comprised of the first five books of the Bible. The Talmud is the central text of Rabbinic Judaism and the primary source of Jewish religious law and Jewish theology. In reality, the Talmud is a book made up of written opinions by Jewish scholars on how the Torah should be interpreted in serving God.
The Jewish leadership used the Talmud (man's opinion of what God meant) to replace the Torah (God's law and directions in worship and service). (2Cor. 11:13-15) Satan, the devil, is right in the middle of that situation which is still being performed today with the New Testament such as the part of the N.T. church that somehow uses scripture to 'prove' Jesus will not or cannot take a name out of the book of life! Some of the N.T. church even uses God's scripture to justify the homosexual lifestyle is an accepted Christian lifestyle!!
The O.T. was the forerunner of the N.T. Click on the commentary The Holy Spirit & You and read the three article series Covenant: The Holy Spirit Trains Soldiers for Spiritual Warfare. and you will understand how the New Covenant (Testament) was hidden (unrevealed) in the O.T. Abrahamic Covenant (Testament). God set it up the way He wanted it in which you could not have had the N.T. without the O.T. (Gen. 17:7-19 esp. V.7,8,13 & 19 keyword: everlasting) Everlasting is defined: always, to veil, hidden. God pointed out to Abraham what would become the land of Israel (the Jews homeland) forever (always, physical) (Gen. 17:19-21) through Abraham's descendants starting with Isaac (Gen. 35:1-12) on through Jacob whom God renamed Israel who would father (Gen. 49:1-28) the twelve patriarchs who founded the twelve tribes of Israel.
But the veiled part was not revealed until Jesus came and established the Church through the disciples (Eph. 2:11-22 esp. V. 11 keyword: gentiles and V.19 keywords: ye are no more strangers and foreigners but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God then Rom. 8:9-17 esp. V.16 keywords: children of God) in which Jews and Gentiles (non-Jewish bloodline) could partake of the N.T. blood bought, spiritual, Grace covenant, New Testament (covenant) Church.
Advice: (Deut. 6:16-18 & 1Cor. 2:13-16) Don't question God; gladly and with humility thank Him for what He has given you, and me, and all of us Christians.
(Rom. 11:7-26 esp. V.11) That's how the gentiles (non-Jews), you and me, got an opportunity to accept salvation. If Christians read the O.T. with spiritual understanding you will see Jesus everywhere AND Jesus type deliverers who are actually living prophesies AND there are great examples of faith and action by real people, real people just like you, all through the O.T. that can inspire Christians, so, Christians can learn there too. Examples: Jesus and His salvation is: the Honey in the body of the Judaean lion slain by Samson the Jew, the Fire walker with the Hebrews in the fiery furnace, the Water in the Rock that came forth when Moses the Jew smote it and etc.
Joshua's Walk Toward Jericho: Our Example
(Heb. 9:23 keyword: patterns) Patterns is defined: to exhibit for imitation or warning, example, specimen, adumbration. Adumbration is defined: foretell, portend, predict, prophecy, foreshadow.
I am a purple heart, combat vet and I understand how it feels to be going to a geographic location from which I might not return. I was a sergeant and led my men. I'm sure other veterans will understand Joshua's walk toward Jericho very well; at least the Christian veterans will. I suppose everyone in America has seen the war movies but they do not portray living emotions so please bear with me.
Conscience programming for Christians: (Num. 13:8 and V.16 Joshua got his name changed from O-shea to Je-hosh'ua. (Num.17:9) Moses called him Joshua. THEN: Num. 14:6-10 Joshua gave his report concerning the promised land of Canaan AND: Num. 14:25-38 he had to endure the forty year curse God placed on Israel because of their doubt).
SO: (Josh. 5:10-15) Let us consider Joshua. Can you see him there on the plains of Jericho? He had been foaming at the mouth ready and trembling with eagerness for forty years to enter the promised land but he had been restricted OR had he been prepared OR both? You decide. Do you think Joshua remembered the Egyptians who had enslaved the Hebrews (Gen. 16:1-16) were actually blood kin to the Hebrews through Isaacs's half-brother, Abraham's son, Ishmael, by an Egyptian slave woman?
Prophesy? Joshua's armour was "weird", kind of peculiar by today's standards; a leather apron that provided "protection" to his loins, a leather breastplate, leather sandals held up by thin leather wraps around his ankles and calves, a small leather shield, a thin leather helmet. His only offensive weapon was his sword that had been honed many times (Ex. 17:8-13) on various whetstones (many battles and many trials) until it was clean and razor sharp.
All this sounds like (Eph. 6:11-17) doesn't it? Today's standards consider Christian armor and sword to be "weird". (Tit. 2:14 & 1Pet. 2:9 keyword: peculiar) As a matter of fact today's standards consider Christians to be "weird" too, kind of a peculiar people!
Joshua's sword glinted in the sun as his sandals clad feet walked steadily toward the enemy in the fortified town called Jericho. Walking, his feet swishing through the grass of the earth, there on the plains this side of Jericho; there; swish, swish, swish, swish; left-right, left-right.
Christian, where's your Jericho? Is it your nosey neighbor that yells at your kids? Is it your cruel, unfeeling, demanding boss you have to face again today? Short on money and bills to pay, that grumpy spouse you have to face when you get home, gettin' ready for Church and nothin' fits? Is your Jericho the public school system that teaches liberal ideas you believe will destroy all your child's tomorrows? Is it that Sunday School class you have to teach and you can't get that "I'm ready" feelin', is it that stupid clock that's running away with your life and you can't catch up, is it almost time to preach and you can't get hold of the message?
Is your Jericho the dread that your own nation's laws are like an assassin's garrote strangling the tender throat of what freedom you have left? Is your Jericho the decision whether to pray or talk on the phone, is it the decision to go to Bible Study or to relax for a couple of hours before you sleep a bit and face tomorrow, is it the decision to lay on the horn and flip off that stupid driver?
Is your Jericho paying tithes and you can barely afford your bills, is your Jericho going to witness to that certain person and that Jericho looks big as a mountain? Every day, Christians face Jericho. We go toward it but we never feel like we're totally ready. Personal note: (Psa. 111:10) It seems like I spend half my life wondering what's next and the other half doubting; not doubting God, BUT DOUBTING ME.
I suppose that's the way it should be BECAUSE: (1Cor. 2:2-5 & Phil. 2:12-14) IT KEEPS ME CLOSE TO AND DEPENDANT ON GOD I hope it does you too! Is your Jericho within you? Doubt, fear, laziness, greed, stupidity, anger, envy, malice, lust, hot temper, jealousy, pride, dread; they are all Jericho to Christians! Sometimes Satan, the Devil, lives in our Jericho too!
Joshua was just a man, a very tough, courageous and faithful man, but still just a man like you and me. You lady Christians, you are tough and faithful too because you are still in the fight and you face the same thing when you start toward your Jericho. Surely Joshua's guts crawled with dreadful anticipation of the arrow, spear, or sword that would penetrate his weak armor and tear the life from his vitals in a bloody, gasping smear.
(Phil. 2:12) "work (work fully, accomplish, finish, fashion, cause, do deed, perform) out your own salvation with fear (be afraid, terror and to keep, hold) and trembling (quaking with fear)." Joshua must have felt just like you and I sometimes do about our works, trials and tribulations! (Rev. 3:5 & 15) "Have I done enough? What if I don't make it to heaven?"
Joshua had seen death many times during the trials of his walk for his God. Surely Joshua reeled from the thought; "What if I say the wrong words, what if I misunderstood, what if I do the wrong thing?"; just like you and I sometimes do? Long, firm, steady strides; swish, swish, swish but inside, inside where Joshua was the most tender and afraid; "This is it! This is the fight! What if I fail?!" Swish, swish, swish. "I can't do it! I'm not ready! Why are these stupid feet carrying me toward a battle I cannot win? I don't know enough! Jericho is a fortified city!"
Swish, swish, swish. "I'm a dead duck! everybody'll laugh! I'll make a fool of myself! I'll let God down 'n He'll hate me for it! I'm not ready! I can't do it!" Swish, swish, swish, swish. Left-right, left-right. "Everything's out of control. I don't have it. I'm weak! I NEED HELP!" (Josh. 5:13) Joshua looked forward and he, wilting inside, saw a man standing over there, he looked like a soldier, a fierce warrior! "He's got a sword too! It's bigger than mine! I'm not ready. I didn't even make it to Jericho. The fight is right here! I thought it would be with my army behind me, but this is one on one. I cannot call my army to fight for me. It is one on one! Me against him!"
Like all Christians do so many times, including you and me, Joshua didn't realize he had to fight a spiritual Jericho of recognition before he could get to the battle against physical Jericho the problem! Just like Joshua; (John 14:23-27 & Heb. 13:5-6) the spiritual Jericho is the recognition of your **source of faith** you must have if you want to win your battle against your physical Jericho. Joshua had been sent by God, it was enough, it was all he had, and he started walking toward the man, sound familiar? AND just like Joshua, YOU CAN THINK OF A LOT OF THINGS IN A SHORT WALK FOR GOD!
Like we all do Joshua's reeling thoughts locked on a memory and he drew strength from that memory. (Ex. 32:15-17) Joshua remembered the long days and nights he had waited at the foot of Mount Sinai for Moses to come down. (Ex. 19:16-20) That had been frightening as the whole mountain quaked, the rumblings, swirling clouds of lightening-laced smoke and flickering, flashing lights even in the daytime AND: they were especially frightening during Joshua's nervous, sweaty, goose bumps, big-eyed nights when he strained at every sound but Joshua had stuck it out. Even back then he'd had this very same sword that was now clutched in his sweaty hand.
(Ex. 32:18-28 esp. V.19) Joshua remembered Moses' hot fury because Israel had sinned as soon as Moses turned his back. Moses had broken the stone tablets of the law written by God's own hand, he'd chewed Aaron up one side and down the other, he'd ground their golden calf idol into powder and slain the transgressors. He whispered; "Moses! Moses!" Then he thought; "It's up to me now, I'm by myself, it's all on me!" Ever been there? With that flighty, cantankerous, milling around flock you've got, I know you have Pastor!
(Ex. 17:1 keyword: Sin then 8-16) Joshua's thoughts flickered back (#2) to the battle (Ex. 16:1) just after they had left the wilderness of Sin on their (#1) journey out of bondage in Egypt toward the Promised Land. (#3) That was when King Amalek brought his hordes against homeless Israel there in the valley of Rephidim. Israel had finally learned to work together as they fought Amalek that awful day. When Moses held his arms up Israel prevailed, when Moses' arms lowered Amalek prevailed. Israel was nearly overwhelmed when Moses' arms grew heavy and lowered over and over again.
Prophecy? Christian do you remember (#1) when you heard from God's people that you could escape your bondage of sin and eternal death? (#2) (Ex. 16:1) Do you remember fighting through the spiritual wilderness of sin to get to your spiritual River of Jordan? You ask; "Fought through?" (#3) Remember the temptations from friends and family to do something together instead of going to church? Remember your own thoughts as you fought yourself to get ready and go to church? (#4) (Josh. 3:4-17 esp. V.4 keywords: sanctify yourselves) Remember when you knelt before God and asked Him to forgive you of your sins and to please save you.
(#5) (Ex: 14:18-31 & 15:3-10) You did not realize God held back Satan, the devil, (Eph. 6:12 keyword: wrestle: defined a fight) and his horde of devils so he couldn't spoil your spiritual crossing of the spiritual river Jordan to get to get to the spiritual salvation AND (Josh. 4:23 thru 24:29) You had not yet realized after you got to the spiritual promised land of salvation you would have to spiritually fight self, the world and the devil to keep it and you would need God, through the Holy Spirit, and God's Word to help you win. Five the Biblical number of grace! Prophecy? Of course it is! And you and I are exactly where Joshua is in our battle to keep our spiritual promised land of salvation.
They'd told him later how Moses had wept bitter tears, the blood vessels in his neck had distended and threatened to burst, he groaned great groans of distress, his whole body trembled, his face was bright red with effort as he strained to hold his arms up and Moses cried and cried streaming tears as he was losing his own battle while he fought for Israel. Finally Aaron and Joshua's friend, Hur, had understood, they'd sat Moses on a stone, held Moses' arms high and Israel had destroyed Amalek.
WORK TOGETHER AND WIN! Does your church? Is your church focused as one person on the salvation of souls? I didn't think so. Mine isn't either and that hurts. Christians say; (Matt. 28:19-20) "That part of Matthew don't apply to me! Jesus sent Disciples to evangelize the world." God says to those Christians; "Those twelve were My whole Church at that time AND: (Rev. 1:19 thru 3:22) it applies to My whole church now!" Has God ever asked you in the dark, stillness of the night; "Are you a part of My whole Church?"
After you read this, He will ask you, so start thinking about your answer. Joshua remembered how heavy and tired his own arms were and how bloody his own sword and clothes were while they searched the stinking, blood soaked battlefield in the valley of Rephidim gathering the Israelite dead and wounded. Do you hold up your Pastor's heavy arms? Does he hold yours up? Do you pray desperately for your congregation? Does your church have a witnessing program, nursing home visitation, youth group, or-----?
Do you help the weak and the new Christians grow stronger? Do you visit the old members who can't come to church much anymore? Do you mow their lawn or run errands they can't run anymore? Do you listen to their beautiful stories of the "good old days" when their lives meant something to other people? Those beautiful, fragile, helpless lives mean something to God and YOU'D BETTER HAVE A CARE. Do you---------, well, do you? ARE YOU A PEACEMAKER, A BACKBITER OR A GOSSIPER? Are you a-------, well, are you?
AGAIN: (Ex. 16:1) Joshua didn't know, couldn't know and wouldn't have understood if he had been told his journey was also part of a gigantic prophesy in which Israel was following a type of the path every person who would become a Christian would have to follow in the far distant future. A "Moses" (the Holy Spirit) comes and draws a sinner to come out of their bondage in their Egypt. (Ex. 16:1) The sinner starts his journey through the wilderness of Sin led by the Holy Spirit and there are struggles (battles) as they go toward salvation.
Well meaning friends and relatives will ask; "Hey man, are you becoming a Jesus freak, come on fishing, partying, or whatever with us instead of going to church"; the Devil tempts us to stay in our personal Egypt of being lost; "Hey man, you're tired, sit back, relax, go shoot a round of golf, wait 'til next Sunday, go hunting, they ain't nothin' in that church but a buncha hypocrites, stay home and watch the game, etc."
Self says; "I don't feel like going to church today, I don't want to dress up, I want a day off from everything, everybody will stare at me!" Finally each sinner will come to their Jordan and a prescribed set of Godly necessities must be met before the sinner can cross the Jordan of salvation. You can read all about it in the commentary Breath of Life. God holds back Satan, the devil, just like He did the Jordan River (prophesy) so you can safely cross without the "river water" hindering your progress.
(Josh. 5:7-8) Even the circumcising of the children of Israel is a painful prophesy (representative, example) of your painful time of realizing there was no way out and you would have to confess your helpless lostness and repent during the salvation event when your sins are cut away by the washing of Jesus' blood (Josh. 5:9) and that was when God rolled away the reproach of your spiritual Egypt (Rom. 2:29) and your circumcision was spiritual because it was of the heart (mind, soul, self, me) instead of the flesh.
(Col. 2:13-15) You are now saved. You've crossed Jordan and entered God's Promised Land (salvation) (Eph. 6:11-12 then V.13-18 & 1Pet. 5:6-11 esp. V.8 & 10) AND THAT'S WHEN THE WAR REALLY STARTS for your survival as a Christian just like it did with Joshua and ancient Israel. (1Cor. 2:9 & Rev. 21:1-4) Israel's promised land cannot be symbolic of heaven because heaven is a place of safety, beauty, peace, pleasure and plenty (Matt. 10:22) but Israel's promised land is a place of war, travail and struggle just like your Christian walk with God.
Learning God's word, prayer, the recognition of the Holy Spirit's work within you and obedience to God's word is the only way you can stay saved. (Josh. 4:19-22) The twelve stones that mark Israel's crossing are a prophesy that, succeed or fail as a Christian, you will never forget that you did cross your Jordan (you got saved) (Matt. 16:26 keywords: gain the whole world) which is the most important thing that will ever happen to you (Rev. 3:15-16) whether you decide to keep it or not.
At this time there is a disagreement among churches and denominations about you can backslide or you cannot backslide: please click on the commentary The Holy Spirit & You and read the two menu articles BACKSLIDING: QUEST FOR THE TRUTH and read them for your life. The truth is that important!
(Gen. 15:1-5 & 17:1-15 esp. V.4 keywords: many nations) It appears as if Abraham is the "father" of all the modern nations in the Middle East and the constant animosity and wars, even in this modern age 7-1-2012, are a huge "family fight". (Gen. 25:1-8) Don't forget that Abraham had several more children by a second wife and several concubines but (Gen. 17:19 keywords: Isaac & everlasting covenant) Isaac was the "chosen child" of prophesy.
SEE: the Jesus commentary for more information about this "chosen child" lineage that resulted in Jesus. Remember: Despite all these other tribes and nations Abraham, Isaac and Jacob/Israel are God's chosen lineage! NOTE: (Ex. 1:1-5) Seventy people of the Jacob/Israel bloodline came into Egypt, Joseph was already there. (Ex. 38:26) The males of Israel 20 years and older numbered 603,550 so, counting the families, there was possibly 2 to 3 million Hebrews in the Exodus from Egypt.
Think about it: If each man had a wife the number would be 1,207,100 people. SURE: there must have been at least three generations in some of the families, son, father and grandfather that were counted among the men BUT: factor in the children, they had numerous children in those days. SO: Consider how the Canaanite tribes, Israel's kinfolk enemies, must have also grown in number in that same 470 year time span as is addressed below, 30 years under Joseph's friendly pharaoh, plus 400 years of bondage, plus 40 years in the wilderness equal 470 years.
SO: (Gen. 25:20-34 esp. V.34 keyword: despised) Did you know Amalek was a descendant of Esau, Isaac's firstborn son, who sold his "despised" birthright and have you realized Joshua was a descendant of Isaac's second born son Jacob, who was later named Israel. Jacob had bought Esau's birthright and Esau and Jacob/Israel were twin brothers. (Gen. 28:5) I'll bet you didn't know the boys also had a Syrian mother!
(Gen. 26:34-35) Did you know Esau two wives of the despised Hittite bloodline and later he married the daughter of a Hivite, who were all Cannanites and it was a grief (bitterness) of mind to Isaac and Rebekah? WHY? Because Esau's Hebrew bloodline had 470 years (the years again>>>30 'til friendly Pharaoh's death + 400 in bondage + 40 in the wilderness = 470) to spread through the (Gen. 9:25-27 then 10:15-19 keyword: cursed) Canaanite tribal bloodlines. WOW! Think about it!
A person, (Gen.25:29-34) Esau, of God's chosen lineage had gone over to the enemy because of his desire for a worldly something (a bowl of soup and a piece of bread), jealousy, anger and pride. Please, for your own sake read (Heb. 12:1-17 esp. V.15 keywords: lest any man fail of the grace of God and V.16 as Esau). The N.T. letter to Christians uses O.T. Esau as a living prophesy of backsliding! Program your conscience Christian, backsliding does happen! Just like (Rom. 1:6-7 and 18-32 esp. V.28 keywords: God gave them over to a reprobate mind and Heb. 6:4-6) they cannot come back when the Holy Ghost (Spirit) leaves them!
SO: Blood kin had fought each other in a bloody battle there in the valley of Rephidim! Do you see the double prophesy there? #1) Physical war between the physical twins: The prophesy is fulfilled by the constant state of animosity and war between the blood kin Arabs (Muslims) and their blood kin Hebrews (Jews, Israelites/Israelis) of past, present and future!
#2) Spiritual war between the Christian twins: Just like every Christian including you and me. (Rom. 7:19-24 & Heb. 3:6-14 esp. V.13) How many times have YOU (1Pet. 1:23 & 1Cor. 5:17 then Rom. 2:29) the spiritually born again Christian fought the carnal (human nature with its frailties and passions) YOU with its physical cravings, desires and impulses of your humanity there in your valley of Rephidim? Me too; but I'm learning and doing better. (Eph. 6:10-18) You and I are brethren (male and female) and we are a work (growth as a Christian) in progress (Heb. 4:11-16 & 1John 1:7 thru 2:1) and through our advocate (intercessor, consoler, comforter) with the Father, Jesus, we can win!
Did you feel like twins who had been fighting each other? I'll bet the living you picked up a lot of the dead and wounded you there in your Rephidim after you fought your battle with yourself, the carnal you against the spiritual you. Look back Christian, remember, like Joshua did, on the day he marched toward his Jericho, and draw strength from your victories and draw knowledge from your losses; you are still here, you are still God's spiritual child through the Holy Spirit, you still have your sword of the spirit which is the word of God, you're still in the fight, just like Joshua!
(Ex. 32:29 TO 33:13 esp. V.11 & 13) In his memory Joshua again saw Moses' tender tears as Moses had wept those many times he had told Joshua about the time he had talked to God face to face as a man speaks to his Friend while Joshua waited in the outer part of the tabernacle.
(1Tim. 3:16) It had to be God manifested in the flesh of Jesus that Moses spoke to just like the Son of God, Jesus, (Dan. 3:25) in the fiery furnace with Sha'drach, Me'shach and A-bed-ne-go. BECAUSE: (Ex. 33:16-23 esp. V.20) A divine visitation of God in His Jehovah glory, the Jews call it the Shekinah (not a Bible word) glory of God, is too awesome, powerful, beautiful, radiant and wonderful for mortal man to experience and live.
No mortal man could see God's face in the glory of His Being and live. Joshua remembered Moses had made him memorize the special part of the prayer Moses had prayed (Ex. 33:8-11 esp. V.11) while God spoke to Moses face to face. With all his heart Joshua whispered that prayer to God; (Ex. 33:13) "Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, shew me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I might find grace in thy sight: and consider that this nation is thy people."
Long, athletic, warrior strides; swish, swish, swish, swish, left-right, left-right; "I sure wish Moses was here. He knew God face to face. God told me things in my heart but I've never met Him face to face as a man speaks to his Friend like Moses did. In this life Joshua would never know Moses had spoken to Jesus. "I'm so stupid, so inept! I don't know anything!" Ever been there? I have, many times.
(Josh. 1:1-9 esp. V.8) Joshua remembered how the Lord had given him instructions after the terrible time Moses had died. Joshua did not realize the Lord had programmed his conscience at that same time with those same words; "This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth;-------". It was all the same to Joshua. The Lord had said do it and that's what Joshua intended to do; after all he was Moses' minister wasn't he! BUT: It had been much easier when Moses gave the orders. So, dragging his fragile humanity along with him like some terrible burden, Joshua walked HIS PATH, just like you and I do.
JOSHUA HAD TO TRY. Having thought about his friend and mentor Moses (Lev. 25:38) Joshua couldn't help but remember Moses' sweet smile and tender tears when he had told Joshua many times how God had made a promise; "I am the Lord your God, which brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, to give you the land of Canaan, and to be your God." BUT: Doubt, always the doubt but somehow upon remembering God's words Joshua's weak knees stiffened and his flagging courage rose up; "I'm in it because God told me to. He told me to be here and I'm here; whatever comes I'm listening to the Lord.
TRY! (Eph. 6:17) If I die, I'll die with the sword of the Lord in my hand and my enemy's blood dripping from it." Modern Christian conscience programming. TRY! (Josh. 5:13) Joshua thought; "OK! Here it is! Run or fight or surrender. I'm not a loser. I'd rather die than surrender to Jericho, at least I'll die trying to do what I think is right" TRY! Ever been there? I have, many times. (Prov. 15:3 keywords: The eyes of the Lord are in every place) God knows my heart. That's all that will ever count: TRY, TRY FOR THE GLORY OF GOD! Go on, just like Joshua. Both of us, you and me, our consciences programed by God's O.T. word!
Joshua unconsciously hunched his shoulders a bit, he crouched slightly forward and his stride shortened to better keep his balance, his body was now coiled and ready to unleash his battle prowess as he walked toward the man with the sword. His dark Semitic eyes glittered dangerously as he shifted his shield and clutched his sword nervously. Sweat from his armpits ran down his sides. Joshua was as ready as he could ever be. BUT: Surely Joshua imagined the thrust and parry, the darting and circling of the coming battle.
Ever been there, ever been that confused when you wondered if you were serving the Lord to bring honor and glory to His name OR: serving the devil through some horrible spiritual mistake OR: serving yourself for bragging rights? Have you ever asked yourself; "Lord, oh God, Jesus, am I doing the right thing for the right reason? What do I say? What do You want me to do? Show me You! I NEED HELP!" TRY!
"Well, here it is!" Thought Joshua as he and the strange man stared at each other for what seemed like forever. "He's got his sword out too!" Joshua licked his lips nervously, he could hear his own heart, "thump, thump, thump"! It was hard to swallow. It was hard to breathe but he gritted out the words; "Art thou for us or for our adversaries?" AND:
(Josh. 5:14-15) "Nay; but as captain of the host of the Lord am I now come." Joshua almost wilted as relief washed over him like warm water. He wasn't alone after all! God WAS with him! (Prov. 18:24 keywords: a friend that sticketh closer than a brother) "I'm talking to God face to face as a man speaks to his Friend, just like Moses did!"
Program your conscience right there Christian! (Acts 7:54-60 & 1Cor. 10:13) When it gets tough enough Jesus will show up. (Heb. 2:9-10 keyword: captain) It was Jesus Who had come to fight (Matt. 15:24) side by side with His people and Joshua worshipped Him and by that we know it could not have been an angel. And that precious hallowed ground was, in the mind of God, forever consecrated by Joshua's tears and the prints of his knees. BUT: there was one thing left for Joshua to do: he took off his shoes because he was on holy ground. "NOW I CAN WHIP JERICHO." Please, please click on the commentary The Holy Spirit & You and read the two menu articles I Have Experienced Christian Physical Death and you will be amazed by just how far Jesus' love, help and mercy goes!
Have you ever had to take a walk of faith like Joshua? Have you ever been so relieved when you realized Jesus was really right there with you, really on your side and really ready to carry the battle for you that you just fell on your face and worshipped Him? (John 15:5 Jesus said; keywords: "for without me ye can do nothing") I hope you have because you can't win by yourself and Jesus deserves your worship because only through Him can you win!
Have you ever felt like you had somehow fallen short even when Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, is right there with you? It's simple, just do what Joshua did. Physically take off your shoes because you're on holy ground. TRY it, you'll see and you'll win! The act reflects the attitude of your worship.
(Josh. 6:1-27) Of course, as you know, with the Captain on their side and their own obedience to the exact instructions given to them the children of Israel won a great victory (Josh. 5:1) in that strange battle against the Amorites of Jericho. Read (Josh. 6:1-27) and take time to think about what the people, both sides, were thinking and feeling during those seven days Israel marched around Jericho blowing their ram's horns.
(Titus 2:14 & 1Pet. 2:9 keyword: peculiar) The inhabitants must have thought the Israelites were ridiculous or insane, really peculiar, as it went on and on and on, just like the world looks at the Church. O.T. Christian conscience programming. Quite possibly at least some of the Israelites sometimes felt a little foolish too but they did as their leaders instructed. Have you ever felt foolish because you couldn't answer a question someone asked you about the Bible?
When Israel gave their great shout on the seventh day and the protective wall around Jericho fell it must have been a shock to everybody. (Josh. 6:16-21) But, as instructed, the Hebrews rushed Jericho and killed every man, woman and child. Those terror tactics given by God must have chilled the blood of all the other inhabitants of the land of Canaan! BUT: It was also an act of protection for Israel (Deut. 20:16-18 esp. V. 18 keyword; teach) because those inhabitants wouldn't be able to make friends with Israel and teach God's people to commit the abomination of worshipping false gods! SO:
(1Pet. 2:11) We Christians are strangers to the awful ways of our society and we are pilgrims on our journey to heaven. (Rom. 8:7 keywords: carnal mind & James. 4:4 keyword: friend) If you are a friend to the world and its treason against God you will backslide. (Josh. 6:16-21) It also means to completely destroy the Jericho out of your Christian life; mine too. Christian conscience programming through the activities, obedience, sin and struggles of God's ancient, O.T. people.
NOTE: (Josh. 6:23-25) Ra'hab and her family are not mentioned in this article BUT Ra'hab is a living prophesy of the Gentile church to come.
(Prov. 15:3) "The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good." AND: (Num. 32:23) "----and be sure your sin will find you out."
(Josh. 6:18-19 thru 7:1-26) From a surprising, smashing victory at Jericho TO: a heartrending, embarrassing, terror filled defeat at A'i in such a short time. WHY? (6:18) God gave His warning. (7:1) One person, A'chan, transgressed by taking the "forbidden fruit" from Jericho. AND: (7:5) All of Israel suffered because of that one man. AND: (7:23-25) A'chan's sin was spread among his family and they too were destroyed. The sins of the fathers can be passed down to their children, you see it every day! It is also a perfect example of how the O.T. programs the Christian conscience by the example set.
Here is a true story of how poorly programmed consciences can be shipwrecked. Has your whole congregation ever suffered because of one person? A married deacon started a "hidden" sexual affair with a divorced woman at his job who wasn't his wife. (Prov. 15:3) God's blessing through the Holy Spirit was weakened and, aided by the devil, man's carnal, emotional "self" took over a part of the congregation.
Something was wrong but nobody knew what. Just like in Joshua; there was sin in the camp. The pastor's preaching changed to a salvation message every service. That's good except the church (congregation) was starving to death for a pastoral message and stopped growing and hardly anyone was ever getting saved.
The congregation started hemorrhaging members. (1Cor.3:1-2) "I'm just not getting fed spiritual meat here anymore and I won't be back." The pastor started preaching physical instead of spiritual. He'd had a medical problem. One Sunday he described how last Sunday he'd become so involved in the athletics of his preaching his catheter came out and pee ran down his leg while he was preaching. "Really now, isn't that too much information? That's gross, I won't be back." More Christians left.
The deacons confronted the pastor about spiritual starvation and rude grossness. The Pastor flew red and quit. He didn't quit gracefully. That particular Sunday he said, with anger, from the pulpit; "I'm resigning as your Pastor. If you want to know why, ask your deacons!" Then he stormed out in a huff.
A bunch of members got up and followed him right down the aisle without even knowing what had brought on the resignation. Where did that conscience programming come from? (Prov. 6:16-19) Did that Pastor sow discord among the brethren with his statement that did not need to be said? I've talked to a lot of them and they refuse to come back. They were fine people BUT: (1Cor. 12:18) Did they follow God's direction or did they follow man? You decide.
We had three more church splits after that because of self and the devil's conscience programming to cater to man's pride over singing, a quarrel about the written church rules to guide our congregation and loyalty to "my family and my side of the argument" instead of loyalty to God without even considering what the Bible plainly says. The deacon finally resigned his deaconship, took his name off the church roster, divorced his wife, married his girlfriend after she was pregnant and is going to another church in another county. All this happened over a 1-1/2 to a 2 year span of time.
That also split the church because his first wife had a lot of family in the congregation. (Rom. 14:17-19) Their family patriarch was her father and, against scripture and the Holy Spirit, he unjustly blamed the third and current Pastor for playing politics (we went through three pastors in a little over two years) with the problem.
(2Thess. 3:2-3 keyword: unreasonable) He tried to pick a quarrel with his Daughter's ex-father-in-law right in church, in front of the whole congregation, during a business meeting, over a subject that was completely unrelated to Church business. How in the world could the ex-father-in-law discipline his son, the Deacon, who was about 50 years old at the time? The Patriarch dragged several of his family members out of church and some don't go to church anywhere now.
Then the Patriarch came to me and, for effect, he wanted me to take his side of the disagreement. I said; "Do you realize this divorce thing has gotten blown all out of proportion and somebody can go to hell over it." (2Thess. 3:2) Red hot anger, voice loud; "Are you tellin' me my Daughter's goin' to hell!"
(Psa. 34:21 keyword: hate & Col. 3:8 keyword: malice, anger) Gentle but firm; "No, I'm not, but is God going to let hatred, malice and anger into heaven?" As far as he was concerned I had joined the "other side". (1John 4:6-8 keyword: error) I hope he realizes his error because I had stood for "God's side" according to scripture. THEN:
The ex-father-in-law and the rest of his family didn't show up for 2 or 3 Sundays. I called him and they were going to another church where one of his two daughters and her family were members. We talked very reasonably about (1Cor. 12:18) how God sets a person in church as it pleases Him. I'm sure he and the Pastor were also talking.
After another Sunday or two he and his family came back. That's how we got the highly anointed, wildly successful youth leaders. Later on, that second daughter and her family also came to our church and are still with us. They also work in the church and contribute greatly to the successful rebuilding of our congregation.
The most pitiful situation is the family Patriarch's son, the ex-wife's brother. He had been a Christian, a member of our congregation, but had quit because of his own nasty divorce, no, not his fault. Yep, you guessed it, right in that very same congregation a few years before God led me there. God had led me to witness to him a few times.
The last time was where we get our gas. With great tears threatening to spill down he told me he was coming to church and that he wanted to come home to God. Then his Daddy, the Patriarch, threw his fit and the last time I talked to the son he was cold and hard. His Daddy's stupid feud had cooled him down from what the Holy Spirit was attempting to do in his life. (Prov. 6:34 keyword: jealousy)
#1) During all this mess a woman singer stood up right in the preaching service and, raging up and down the floor, angrily shaking her song books, she railed on the Pastor for not calling on her to sing and she and her family stormed out the door.
#2) Another time the choir leader, a Deacon, got mad, quit and went to another congregation because he wasn't getting enough singing time.
#3) The recording secretary and his wife got mad and quit because our second pastor refused to force the long-time church piano player to quit and appoint the secretary's wife as the church piano player in his place! They took another family with them too!
Through pride, anger, stubbornness and spiritual blindness the Patriarch Daddy possibly killed his own son forever. Picture that judgment: The son is kneeling before God with great, gasping sobs of terror, he looks back at his Daddy and says; "Why didn't you give me a chance Daddy?"
The ex-deacon's ex-wife married again and has been reported to be frequenting places that sell alcohol. There were also several other side issues and arguments during that time. The conscience programming of anger, malice, jealousy, possibly even hatred, pride and all the rest of it had driven God's blessing far away and His Holy Spirit's voice was a far, trembling, echo in many hearts. Without God's hedge of protection our congregation was like a covey of quail.
(John 10:12 keyword: wolf) The devil scattered us and shot a lot of us down with his ever blazing shotgun (Gen. 3:1) of subtility (2Cor. 4:4) and blindness. Here's some conscience programming; ultimately it is every man for himself, keep your eyes on Jesus, not man; get in the Bible and stay there; don't be a deserter, it's where God placed you; stand for what's right, keep prayed up and don't stop loving your brothers and sisters. (Josh. 24:15) You can be a winner like Joshua; "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."
During that time I received two invitations that were really special. One pastor invited me to come to their mortgage burning celebration. They had paid off their mortgage in record time and were celebrating with a dinner. Later on another pastor, the 5'4" guy who has been so influential in my life, invited me to their special homecoming meeting.
I looked both pastors right in the eye; "You know what's going on out at my church. I thank you for your wonderful invitation but I may be the only person in my congregation praying for my pastor on any given Sunday so I'd better not." Those two battle scarred veterans of the Christian wars certainly understood.
Was The Devil In It? RIGHT IN CHURCH?
You can refresh your memory about the devil's methods at the beginning of the first part of these seven articles. Here it is in a nutshell. (Matt. 4:3 keyword: tempter---> a test, a trial) In reality the Devil is a "tester" and pass or fail can determine a Christian's eternal destination! BUT:
(1Pet. 5:8) "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:" The worst scenario of being tempted (tested) is (James 1:13-15) (V.14) "But every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust (a longing for what is forbidden) and enticed (to entrap, delude)". In the above congregation some of the people joined the devil in his battle to destroy themselves. THINK ABOUT IT!
PROOF: (Luke 22:3-48 esp. V.1 keywords: then entered Satan into Judas & Acts 1:16-20 esp. V.18 keywords: reward of iniquity) JUDAS and (Luke 22:31-62 esp. V.31) SIMON PETER. Think about this. Every individual Christian AND every congregation will be tried by the devil. SO: Wouldn't it be terrible if the devil felt you OR your congregation were so useless to God you were not even worth his trouble to tempt, fight, or accuse because you are on the way to hell!
Think about it! If you've been a Christian very long I'm sure you've seen the same thing in whatever context it happened there in your place. Sure, the devil was in it, in every bit of it, helping people program their consciences, cajoling, egging up human emotions, causing trouble, suggesting, priming, aggravating and programming consciences.
(John 5:28-29) Sure, the devil tried his best to seduce people right out of church and into a miserable resurrection of damnation. (Psa. 27:4-14 esp. V.14 keywords: wait on the Lord) Sure, the devil assisted Christians to self program their consciences to not wait on the Lord, (1Cor. 12:18 keywords: set the members in the body) to run away, desert their congregation in time of trouble and to not stand for what was right.
(1Cor. 12:7 then 10 keyword: discerning) They were too involved with god SELF of their emotions to discern the evil spirit that was leading them around by the nose just like a recalcitrant heifer with a ring in it's nose and a rope tied in it! Old Lucifer's foot print was all over what happened to my congregation just like the pattern God showed us in EDEN with Adam and Eve (Luke 16:2) but Christians performed the acts and said the words and they will have to give account to God JUST LIKE ADAM AND EVE!
I hope, I hope and I pray, our situation programs your conscience to serve God and not yourself AND to be a peacemaker and a builder-upper in kindness, patience, love, meekness and ABOVE ALL to make a stand for God, according to the word of God as you are led by the Holy Spirit.
I won't belabor the personal events, situations, or words said that involved me. A new pastor took over. Our (my congregation) situation as of 7-6-12: No Sunday school because of no attendance, no Saturday night or Sunday night services because of no attendance. The youth program had gone down to five little fellers, God sent us an inspired couple (parents of two daughters), children's church attendance is up to about twenty five children and God saved 14 sweet little souls during vacation Bible school. Several of them have unsaved parents.
The congregation is slowly growing as other Christians come and take up membership, most Sundays the church is 50% to 75% full. God's blessing and leading, through the Holy Spirit, is back and through our hard work, lots of prayers and obedience to God we are building God's kingdom. It's beautiful to see and to be involved with.
How do you think God will judge the above events? How would you judge the above events if you were God? (John 7:24) Jesus said "Judge not according to appearance, but judge righteous judgment." (John 5:30) Jesus said; "----as I hear I judge---." (John 12:48) Jesus said; "----the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day." (Matt. 7:2) Jesus said; "For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged." SO:
Put yourself in my church seat. What would you have done? When confronted, asked for advice, or forced to judge a situation I went straight to the scripture and let the chips lay where they fell and I always did it with love and humility. It's my church because God put me there and there I made my stand on God's word with love and humility and that is all that will ever count. SO: If you have run away, OR: kept silent when you should have spoken up, OR: spoken things that are contrary to God's word THIS is your chance to repent of your sin. Nobody will ever know about it but God and you so do it!
There is hidden conscience programming in the story of A'i that is only revealed by the Holy Spirit. (Josh. 7:1 thru 8:30) Compare the above events to what happened in the battle for A'i. #1) (Josh. 7:2-3) Nobody consulted God. Joshua depended on what man told him. #2) (7:3-4) They left part of the "congregation" out of the fight and decided to do it themselves (a split, a divided congregation). #3) (7:5) The "congregation" was defeated. #4) (7:6) Joshua, the pastor, "woke up" spiritually. #5) (7:7) Joshua tried to send God on a guilt trip.
#6) (7:8-9) Joshua tried to blame it all on the congregation. #7) (7:10-26 esp. V.10) Just like He would later tell Job; (Job 33:5 & 38:3) God told Joshua to stand up like a man, (Psa. 1:1) don't listen to man, (Psa. 1:2-3) listen to God and be a winner. God even inspired Joshua to coin a phrase that would fuel millions of future Christian sermons; (Josh. 24:15) "----choose you this day whom ye will serve;----but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." Joshua was a winner. What about you?