Sunday, June 3, 2018

What God Wants - Our Absolute Faith in Him and His Promise!


Good morning!
Greetings in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. 

“What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?”   (Romans 8:31)


After forty years in the wilderness, Joshua returned the same place where he was sent as one of the twelve spies to explore the Promised Land, which was given to the people of Israel centuries ago through their forefathers – Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  They explored the Promised Land, which was really good to their eyes.   However, their eyes also saw the strong people, the fortified cities, and the giants, whom nobody had ever defeated.   Their hearts melt.   As they return, the majority of the spies (exactly ten of the twelve) reported the goodness of the Promised Land, but they added that they would never be able to get into and occupy the Promised Land because of the strong people, the fortified cities and the fearful giants.   Although Joshua and Caleb, the minorities of the spies, insisted that as God promised, God would give to the people of Israel.  Their voices did not fall into the ears of the people of Israel.    They complained to God, and they even tried to stone Joshua and Caleb.  God rescued Joshua and Caleb, and told the rebellious people of Israel  because of their unbelief, none of them would  go into the Promised Land.   Then God sent them back to the wilderness for another thirty nine years.  

Joshua, who was faithful, now stood tall and strong in faith before God and the people of Israel.   Joshua was no longer an assistant to Moses.  Instead, he was the lead of the entire Israelites.  (Even Moses could not make to the Promised Land.  Once he doubted God and His power.)   Joshua truly believed God before the impossibility at which he confronted thirty nine years ago when he was sent as a spy to explore the Promised Land.   Joshua vividly remembered the strong people, the giants, and the fortified cities, while the Israelites were a just bunch of ex-slaves without any formal military training.   Logically speaking, there was absolutely no chance for them to go into and occupy the Promised Land.   That’s why they did not believe God's promise.   Joshua had never forgotten the painful moment that the entire Israelites had to move back to the wilderness.   The same day could have had been a glorious moment of getting into the Promised Land.   For the next thirty nine years, he saw the ten spies dying one by one in the wilderness.  He also saw the entire generation of Israelites was slowly perishing on the wilderness.   Some of them were his dear friends, and even family members.   He also felt fear and even tasted whenever a close friend and family member died on the wilderness.   But he fixed his eyes on God and His promise, and continued his journey given to him.   When he looked back, Joshua realized that his faith in God and hope in God's promise made him continue the painful and difficult journey. 

Joshua then commanded the officers of Israel,  “Go through the camp and tell the people to get their provisions ready. In three days you will cross the Jordan River and take possession of the land the LORD your God is giving you.”  

Joshua picked two spies from the Israelite camp at Acacia Grove.   Joshua avoided the past mistake of sending the twelve spies by selecting one from each of the twelve tribes.   It was a really logical and rational way to recruit spies by representing the entire twelve tribes of Israelites.   However, this wisdom backfired.   All of the spies did not have an absolute faith in God and His promise.   Surprising to Joshua and Cable, ten of the twelves were more  rational people than being faithful to God.   They were quick to speak rational words and provided a solution packed with an earthly wisdom.   It was a simply disaster.  For this time, Joshua came to God first, and prayed.   Then Joshua hand-picked two spies who were truly faithful and filled with God’s spirit. 
                                                                                                                                                              
Before sending the two spies, Joshua prayed together.  Then he carefully instructed them, “Scout out the land on the other side of the Jordan River, especially around Jericho.”    Jericho was the first city that they would confront as soon as crossing the Jordan river to get into the Promised Land.   It was also known to be one of the most fortified cities in the land.  The first battle against Jericho was critical.    Joshua had to win the battle.   There was no option.  While Joshua was praying, God gave him peace in his heart.  Joshua shared the peace of God with the two spies.    

So the two men set out at night secretly.   They approached to the wall of Jericho, and climbed up quickly and quietly.  Then he slip into the city.   They tried to mingle with the people in the city.   However, it was more difficult than what they thought.   Soon they were spotted by the people in Jericho, and warned, “Israelties are in our city.”   The two spies had to run.  As came to the house of Rahab and they decided to stay there that night.  Rahab surprisingly welcomed them. 

It was not long before someone, who spotted the two spies, told the king of Jericho, “Some Israelites have come here tonight to spy out the land.”  The king was terrified.  He heard about what God did for the Israelites.   God sent down the plagues on Egypt to free the Israelties although the Pharaoh, the Egyptian king, who did not wanted to free them,  sent them out of Egypt.    

King of Jericho decided to capture the spies and kill them before too late.  So he sent to his soldiers to give his orders to Rahab: “Bring out the men who have come into your house, for they have come here to spy out the whole land.” 

Once Rahab  heard about God, His might acts, and His people, and she pondered about the mighty God.  She wanted to know more about the God.   When she saw the two spies running into her place,  first in fear of God, Rahab accepted them.   Then she replied to the king's men, “Yes, the men were here earlier, but I didn’t know where they were from.  They left the town at dusk, as the gates were about to close. I don’t know where they went. If you hurry, you can probably catch up with them.” (Actually, she had taken them up to the roof and hidden them beneath bundles of flax she had laid out.)  So the king’s men went looking for the spies along the road leading to the shallow crossings of the Jordan River. And as soon as the king’s men had left, the gate of Jericho was shut.  

That night, Rahab went up on the roof to talk with them. “I know the LORD as given you this land,” she told them. “We are all afraid of you. Everyone in the land is living in terror.  For we have heard how the LORD made a dry path for you through the Red Sea when you left Egypt. And we know what you did to Sihon and Og, the two Amorite kings east of the Jordan River, whose people you completely destroyed. No wonder our hearts have melted in fear! No one has the courage to fight after hearing such things. For the LORD your God is the supreme God of the heavens above and the earth below.” 

“Now swear to me by the LORD that you will be kind to me and my family since I have helped you. Give me some guarantee that when Jericho is conquered, you will let me live, along with my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all their families.”   Rahab truly believed the God of Israel would decided to destroy Jericho to fulfill His promise.

“We offer our own lives as a guarantee for your safety,” the men agreed. “If you don’t betray us, we will keep our promise and be kind to you when the LORD gives us the land.”

Then, since Rahab’s house was built into the town wall, she let them down by a rope through the window.  “Escape to the hill country,” she told them. “Hide there for three days from the men searching for you. Then, when they have returned, you can go on your way.”

Before they left, the men told her, “We will be bound by the oath we have taken only if you follow these instructions. When we come into the land, you must leave this scarlet rope hanging from the window through which you let us down. And all your family members—your father, mother, brothers, and all your relatives—must be here inside the house. If they go out into the street and are killed, it will not be our fault. But if anyone lays a hand on people inside this house, we will accept the responsibility for their death.  If you betray us, however, we are not bound by this oath in any way.”

 “I accept your terms,” she replied. And she sent them on their way, leaving the scarlet rope hanging from the window.

The spies went up into the hill country and stayed there three days. The men who were chasing them searched everywhere along the road, but they finally returned without success.

Then the two spies came down from the hill country, crossed the Jordan River, and reported to Joshua all that had happened to them.  “The LORD has given us the whole land,” they said, “for all the people in the land are terrified of us.”  (Joshua 2:23b)   God already prepared the Promised Land even before the Israelties got into the land.   It was not just a promise, but the people in Jericho made a confession on God’s plan to give Jericho to the Israelites.   Yes, God had already prepared for the faithful Joshua and for the new generation of the Israelites, who never complained to God, not like the old generation who opposed to get into the Promised Land because they believed more what was seen their eyes than God's promise, which was not visible.   

God wants our faith, an absolute faith in Him and His promise.  Yes, our eyes cannot see His promise right away.  Often our brain tells a different story: our enemies are too strong, completely fortified, and even giants, who have never been defeated.    Of course, with our own might, we will surely be defeated, because our enemies are stronger than us.   However,  when we truly and completely believe in Him, everything changes.   Why? The battle no longer belongs us, but God.   Our God, then fight for us, who created heaven and earth, and has been governing his creation since the creation.    We need an absolute faith in Him.    If not, we, ourselves, will be automatically  in the way between God and the enemies.  We block His true might and power.   Let’s look at Joshua, who believed God and His promise before the impossibility and continued believing His promise for the next thirty nine years. Yes, it was really a long period.   For thirty nine years, he could not see anything that gave out any hint that God’s promise was on the way.    Even so, he always believed that God’s promise would be fulfilled.  Finally, the God’s time came, and God made all things changed all together:  the entire Israelites believed like Joshua, which was completely opposite to what he experienced thirty nine years ago.    Second, the people of Jericho also told the exactly same fate that God would destroy Jericho and give to the Israelites, His chosen people.   Third, God made the king of Jericho terrified.  Even Rahab, a lowly person in Jericho, repeated the same promise of  God given to His chosen people!  What is the reality now?   The same God is with us, who was with Joshua.  Only wants God from us is an absolute faith in Him.   God has already prepared for us, and is waiting for us. Our God is the omnipotent God, who is infinitely faithful to His people.   Praise Him, who is worthy of our highest praises.   His name be praised from now and forever!

What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?   Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?  (Romans 8:31-32)

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