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winning business team March 25 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Joshua 3, 4, 5, 6

Preparing to Win

A leader faces big challenges, especially if he follows someone successful and has big shoes to fill. Will his leadership be followed? Will people have confidence in him? Can they win with his leadership? The opposition can sometimes be overwhelming. How can his people win and what will be their strategy? How can they prepare for victory? How can we prepare for victory?

If leaders have God on their side, he can help them win. In today's Bible reading, the LORD says to the new leader, Joshua, “Today I will begin to exalt you in the eyes of all Israel, so they may know that I am with you as I was with Moses” (Joshua 3:7, NIV). If God works through Joshua as he did with Moses, then the Israelites will place their confidence in him and follow him. Is God on our side? Is he leading us?

As the Israelites are about to enter the Promised Land and face battles with many nations in Canaan, some of whom are giants in size and strength, the LORD gives Joshua strange instructions. He does not immediately give him a battle plan. He does not tell the soldiers to get their weapons and get suited up for the conflict. No, he tells them to consecrate themselves, or in other words, fully devote their hearts to God and his ways (Joshua 3:5). Why? Because this will be a holy war against the Canaanites. The Israelites are to sanctify themselves. In other words, they are to get rid of their sins and uncleanness, make sacrifices, and dedicate their lives to God, for it is he who will lead them to victory. They need to be ready soldiers, not just with good physical training and skill, but ready in their spirits in total devotion to their heavenly commander. Are we ready in our spirits for spiritual battles? Have we confessed sin and rid ourselves from it? Are our hearts totally devoted to God? (more...)

Leaders need encouragement when they are facing the enemy. God gives Joshua words of encouragement the day before the Israelites cross the Jordan River. He tells him that the very next day the LORD will work a miracle, like he did with Moses, and the people will respect him (Joshua 3:7-8). It is most encouraging when leaders receive an early win; followers place their confidence in them. Sometimes, in God's sovereign plan, that does not happen, but he is still faithful and present with them.

The next day the Levites carry the Ark of the Covenant (a symbol of God's presence) to the Jordan River, which is at flood stage. As soon as their feet touch the edge of the bank, the river parts and walls up a far distance to the city of Adam, and the river bed dries up. Then the Levites stand with the Ark in the middle of the Jordan as the millions of Israelites cross.

Today, we do not have the Ark of the Covenant as a symbol of God's presence. Instead, we true believers in Christ have his Holy Spirit within them. Other people perceive that we are Christians when they see God is with us in the floods of adversity or by the victory he gives us in our daily lives.

After the Israelites are across the river, God tells Joshua to choose twelve men (one from each tribe) to go into the middle of the Jordan and pick out twelve large stones for a monument. It will serve as a memorial to God's power in drying up the Jordan River, as he did the Sea of Reeds (Red Sea), so that their children and other nations will learn to fear and worship the LORD (Joshua 4:20-22). What memorials do we have to show people how God has won the victory in our lives?

When the nations west of the Jordan heard the Israelite's God dried up the Jordan River so they could cross, “their hearts melted and they no longer had the courage to face the Israelites” (Joshua 5:1b, NIV).

After they crossed, the Israelites did not immediately engage their enemies in battle. Instead, the LORD said to Joshua, “Make flint knives and circumcise the Israelites again” (Joshua 5:2, NIV). This seems like a strange request. Why did Joshua have all the Israelite males circumcised? The Bible Knowledge Commentary of the Old Testament, edited by Walvoord and Zuck, ©1985, p. 337 says circumcision was a ritual that symbolized the cutting away of their ties with heathen nations, particularly regarding all sexual sins and perversions that other nations were practicing. It was a covenant first instituted in the time of Abraham when God promised to bless his descendants if they were obedient (Genesis 17:4-14, 23-27). The first generation out of Egypt was circumcised, but apparently out of indifference to God, they did not circumcise their children. Physical obedience symbolized spiritual obedience (Deuteronomy 10:16; 30:6; Romans 2:28-29). Under the New covenant of Christ's death, Christ circumcises our spiritual hearts when we believe in him for salvation. Our sin is cut away. Will we be obedient to God, leaving the life of our flesh behind? (Colossians 2:11).

After the men are healed from the circumcisions, they celebrate the Passover. Why do this? Why take the time to have church when it is time to fight battles? Remember, this is a holy war and God is their commander—he will help them fight their battles. We are not in a holy war, but do we seek God, our commander and defender when we are facing conflicts, or do we just fight our own battles?

The Passover commemorates how God brought the Israelites out of Egypt with a mighty hand and a great deliverance. This is a symbolic encouragement to the Israelites—the same God who fought for them in Egypt will fight for them against the Canaanite nations. Since the first generation of Israelites out of Egypt had not circumcised their male children, the Passover had also not been observed since they were at Mt. Sinai (Exodus 12:43-49; Numbers 9:1-4). This is a good time to do the circumcision and the Passover because their enemies have lost courage to attack Israel.

Today, Christians no longer observe the Passover. Instead, we periodically hold Communion Services. In them we remember Jesus Christ, the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29), “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit” (1Peter 3:18, NIV). Believers in Christ eat a portion of unleavened (yeast-less) bread, Matzo, or crackers symbolizing the death of Christ's body on the cross. Then they drink a cup of wine or grape juice and remember the blood he shed for all to deliver us from our sins. It is a sad ceremony of remembrance, but we can draw courage from it that if he can deliver us from our sins, he can help us win against our enemies. Someday, we will also be in our Promised Land—heaven! There, Jesus will have communion with all true believers from the church age (Matthew 26:29; Revelation 19:6-9).

After the Passover, a heavenly commander, “the commander of the army of the LORD” (Joshua 5:14, NIV) gives Joshua a strange battle plan: have the army march six times around Jericho, once each day, and then the seventh day have them march seven times around it with the priests blowing their trumpets. The seventh time around Joshua is to signal the 600,000 Israelite soldiers to shout. The people in Jericho are terrified when they hear the roar of their shouts and their high impregnable walls fall down flat! Our God fights for us and can do miracles.

Joshua gives instructions to the Israelites to kill all but Rahab and her family and not to take anything devoted for destruction, except precious metals for the tabernacle of the LORD. This is a holy war between God's people and the Canaanites, a wicked, cruel, and despicable people. Although we are not in a holy war, we can learn this lesson: to have complete victory requires complete obedience to our commander.

The purpose of the victory at Jericho is to show Israel that God is fulfilling his promise to drive out the heathen nations from the land (Joshua 1:2-5), and that he is with Joshua as he was with Moses (Joshua 6:2, 27). Because Joshua is obedient, the LORD gives him victory. He can give us victory, too, if we will trust in him and be obedient.

Lessons to Live By

•  If leaders have God on their side, he can help them win. Do we have a personal relationship with God through Jesus? He can give us forgiveness, peace, and spiritual life. He can help us win (more...)

•  What memorials do we have to show people how God has won the victory in our lives?

•  Are we ready in our spirits for spiritual battle? Have we confessed our sins and rid ourselves from it? Are our hearts totally devoted to God? (more...)

•  It is most encouraging when leaders can get an early win; followers place their confidence in their leadership. Sometimes, in God's sovereign plan, that does not happen, but he is still faithful and present with them.

•  Today, Christians have God's Holy Spirit within them. Other people perceive they are Christians when they see the LORD is with them in the floods of adversity or by the victory he gives them in their daily lives. Do others see Christ in us?

•  Christ circumcises our spiritual hearts when we believe in him for salvation. Will we be obedient to God, leaving the life of our flesh (our worldly ways) behind?

•  When we observe a communion service to remember Jesus delivering us from our sins, it can give us courage that he can also deliver us from our enemies. Someday, Jesus will have communion with all true church age believers in our Promised Land—heaven!

•  Our God fights for us and can do miracles. He can break down walls that we cannot budge. Listen to an encouraging song about this.

•  To have complete victory requires complete obedience to our commander. Because Joshua was obedient God gave him victory. He can do the same for us.

This song goes well with this Bible study: Expect to Win

Focus Verse

Joshua 1:9 (NIV) “Have I [God] not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

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A Look Ahead: God gave the Israelites a great victory, however, unbeknown to them, there was sin in the camp. Our Next Lesson is Trouble; How to Handle It. Please join us!

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