Joshua 1:10-18 (Part 1) – God Is God and I…Well…Am Not!

Posted: May 12, 2017 in Book fo Joshua
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Joshua1:10-18 (Part 1 of 4)

Joshua’s Charge to the Israelites

 

Have you ever negotiated with God? If you get me through this situation, I will be a better person. If you help me live through this, I will never do _____ again. We’ve all done it. Certainly, there were times when I was younger and much more foolish that, when I was making offerings to the porcelain god, I would negotiate with God. If you just stop this nausea, I will never drink again. You know that situation. That’s an extreme example of negotiating with God but we often do it in more subtle ways.

 

Suzanne Gosselin in her article, “Negotiating with God” says, “Often we assume that if we figure out the way God would have me go about things and follow the steps precisely, I can achieve — or at least expect — a certain result.” I love Outreach Magazine. It really has some good articles about the Christian life and how we interact with the world outside the church and how we interact with each other inside the church. It often has really good commentaries on current social issues, from a Christian perspective as well. Really good stuff. However, one of the things I have grown to hate about this online magazine service is their lists. 10 Ways to Tell You’re In a Dying Church. 7 Ways to Improve Your Children’s Ministry. 12 Ways to Empower Your Discipleship Program. 10 Things a Preacher Should Preach About Every Year. 3 Hills Worth Dying On. 5 Biblical Elements of a Missional Spirituality. These are just some of the how-to-do-it better or how-to-avoid-doing-it-badly lists of Outreach Magazine. My wife and I laugh about it now because Outreach has gone so list crazy. And the lists of lists goes on and on. I think these prescribed lists give the impression that if you do these things or avoid doing those things that everything will be hunky-dory or that you will be successful.

 

Many times, I think we are that way with God. We think if we do all the right things that God will give us what we want. Things not going well. I will start giving more to the church. That should fix my problems. I hear people talk about being blessed from tithing. I think I will do that too so God will start blessing me more. Christian life not as fruitful as it used to be. I think I will start getting up earlier every morning and read my Bible or even start writing a daily blog about what I read in the Bible each day, then maybe God will do this or that for me. Feeling dissatisfied that life is not going the way you want it to even though you accepted Christ as your Savior five, ten years ago. Maybe, if I volunteer more at church, God will do what I want him to do. Feeling like there’s no end in sight to some issue that you are dealing with. Maybe if I get more involved with ministries at the church, God will grant me the way out that I want. Negotiating with God.

 

Negotiation, we all know about it. One thing that I have learned is that if there is a major purchase that we have to make in life, I am taking my wife with me. She knows how to negotiate for the best deal. She does her research. She figures out what the best value vs. cost match is for what she wants to purchase and she will make sure she gets treated fairly. She is the Proverbs 31 woman in the marketplace making sure that the money that I provide as the breadwinner of our home is spent wisely and efficiently. She scours the sale papers. She shops at different stores to make sure that we get the best prices. If I tell her I need this or that. She will look for the best deals. Her iPad is her purchasing weapon. Watching her over these past 7 years of marriage, I am definitely taking her with me if we ever decide to buy a new car again. Me, I am bright shiny object kind of guy. If I want something, I just go get it. Damn the torpedoes! Doesn’t matter what the price is. If I want it, I want it. Not patient with the whole shopping around thing. I don’t mean I am foolish and pay way beyond what I think is reasonable, but I am not the type to make sure that I have paid the absolute most reasonable price like my wife does. That’s why she I tell her that among her titles as a stay at home wife is Director of Purchasing.

 

We all negotiate our ways through life. But why is that we negotiate with God. In all other instances, we are negotiating as reasonably equal parties. You have something I want and I will give you compensation for it if you give me what I want. We negotiate. Currency came into being because of these negotiations. But why is that we negotiate with God? We are not equal parties. He is God and we are, well, not God. He is almighty and He is Creator and we are, well, just little human beings. God is the big dog and we are just fleas. God is the basketball and we are just an ant crawling on it. God is the football stadium and we are just the one of the armrests on one of the seats. He is big and we are small. Why do we act as if He is like our equal. God if you do this for me; I will do this for you. Have you ever treated God that way?

 

That art of negotiating with God that we do as if He were another deal we other people that we are trying to negotiate is what I thought of this morning when I read this passage for the first of the four times we are going to visit it over the next few days. Joshua 1:10-18 says this:

 

10 So Joshua ordered the officers of the people: 11 “Go through the camp and tell the people, ‘Get your provisions ready. Three days from now you will cross the Jordan here to go in and take possession of the land the Lord your God is giving you for your own.’”

 

12 But to the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh, Joshua said, 13 “Remember the command that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you after he said, ‘The Lord your God will give you rest by giving you this land.’ 14 Your wives, your children and your livestock may stay in the land that Moses gave you east of the Jordan, but all your fighting men, ready for battle, must cross over ahead of your fellow Israelites. You are to help them 15 until the Lord gives them rest, as he has done for you, and until they too have taken possession of the land the Lord your God is giving them. After that, you may go back and occupy your own land, which Moses the servant of the Lord gave you east of the Jordan toward the sunrise.”

 

16 Then they answered Joshua, “Whatever you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. 17 Just as we fully obeyed Moses, so we will obey you. Only may the Lord your God be with you as he was with Moses. 18 Whoever rebels against your word and does not obey it, whatever you may command them, will be put to death. Only be strong and courageous!”

 

If you remember correctly from Deuteronomy, during the previous year, the tribes of Reuben and Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh had asked Moses if they could settle just east of the Promised Land. The area was excellent pastureland for their large flocks. Moses agreed to give them land on one condition – that they help their fellow tribes enter and conquer the Promised Land. Only after the land was conquered could they return to their homes. Now, it was time for these three tribes to live up to their agreement.

 

There was a negotiation with Moses by these tribes to get what they wanted. However, the difference between us and them is that Moses took the request to the Lord. He sought God’s approval for the deal for he signed off on it. How do we know if what we are asking is the right thing or just us wanting what we want when we want it? How do we know if we are treating God like a vending machine and just pushing buttons to get what we think we want? How do we know if what we are asking for or wanting is what God wants for us? Are we just being spoiled children of God in trying to manipulate God into doing what we want Him to do?

 

The answer to these questions is Scripture, Scripture, Scripture and prayer, prayer, prayer. Thanks to Scripture, we know what we are supposed to do. And there is intrinsic worth and reward in obeying God. But often the reasons for things are only known to Him, and if we attempt to define what He is doing along the way, we may be disappointed with the outcome. So how is one to escape a deal-making mentality? Part of the solution lies in possessing an insatiable tenacity for God’s will. This is the desire that Jesus modeled when He said, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.” He is God. We are his children. We must seek His will first and not our own. We must realize the relationship is not an equal one. He is great and we are weak. He is God and we are not. We must realize that it is not, in fact, possible to make deals with God, except perhaps in special cases where deal making is part of God’s teaching process (think Hannah asking for a son or Abraham begging mercy for Sodom).

 

In this passage, there was a deal made but it was not as if this tribes demanded their way from God. They asked if it pleased God that they could have this pastureland and it was part of God’s plan. Here we see this tribe being thankful for the provision of God and serving Him in thanksgiving for it. Sometimes though God’s answer to our prayers is not what we want or prescribe. Yet, He knows better than we. We must use Scripture as the measuring stick as to what we want being aligned with God’s will. We must use prayer as a way to discern if what we want is really of God or just our egos. But above all, we must remember the relationship dynamic. He is God and we are his little kids. We must realize that we cannot negotiate with Him. It is not right to treat God like a vending machine and then get mad at him because He does not dispense the drink that we want. Remember the relationship and who is superior and who is inferior.

 

Amen and Amen.

 

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