by Rev Joel Yong
But when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and to Ai, they on their part acted with cunning and went and made ready provisions and took worn-out sacks for their donkeys, and wineskins, worn-out and torn and mended, with worn-out, patched sandals on their feet, and worn-out clothes. And all their provisions were dry and crumbly. And they went to Joshua in the camp at Gilgal and said to him and to the men of Israel, We have come from a distant country, so now make a covenant with us.
The Gibeonites knew of the power & ability of God in leading His people to many victories.
To escape being destroyed- they pretended to be travelers and tricked the Israelites into an agreement of peace.
When found out- they pleaded with Joshua, saying it was out of the fear of God that made them resort to such desperate measures.
Matthew Henry writes of this: “The Gibeonites do not justify their lie, but plead that they did it to save their lives. And the fear was not merely of the power of man; one might flee from that to the Divine protection; but of the power of God himself, which they saw engaged against them.”
God’s might is such that even enemies of Him and His people cannot help but acknowledge that they cannot resist such an awesome God.
Is there an obstacle or person in your life that is giving you trouble? They may not know it yet but there will be a day when they too have to yield to the power of God who has called you as His own.
So fear not. Yield to His power over your life today- even your enemies will yield to Him someday.
by Rev Jason Phua
Bible Readings: Hebrews 2:1-18; Psalms 103:1-22
READ (Verse chosen for reflection)
Hebrews 2:18 “For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”
Jesus not only set the example for holiness, he became the answer when we are tempted to do things that are unholy. Only through Christ can we respond in holiness to temptations that come our way. This is because as Hebrews 2:10 also says “For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.” The founder of our salvation is Jesus and so the answer to the working out of our salvation is also Jesus.
What does it mean that Jesus is the answer? It is not about having a special kind of anointing nor does it take a special kind of knowledge above the Bible. It is about knowing how Jesus faced and responded to temptations; and so we do likewise. We are able to do likewise not because of ourselves; but because when we proclaimed Jesus as Lord, the Holy Spirit “resided” in us as His “temple”. Since the Holy Spirit and Jesus are One; Jesus is able to help those who are tempted if we look to Him.
So how did Jesus face temptations? The Word of God is always an excellent place to start and in particular Matthew 4. In Matthew 4, notice that Jesus responded to each of Satan’s temptations with “it is written”. The amazing thing is that whenever Jesus did that, Satan effectively retreated. However, we must understand that the power of God’s Word is only as strong as our understanding, conviction and application of it in our lives though the work of the Holy Spirit. Treating the Word of God as a “ritual” or “formula” is not the answer. It is only by truly “feasting” and “applying” God’s Word in the varying circumstance of life; can we truly fix our eyes on Jesus and grow in holiness. Yes, Jesus is the answer.
Lord Jesus, You are the answer to all that we are facing in this world. Help us Lord, to feast on Your Word and apply them to our daily lives. This is so we can grow in You and You alone. Amen.
by Rev Joel Yong
But Joshua commanded the people, You shall not shout or make your voice heard, neither shall any word go out of your mouth, until the day I tell you to shout. Then you shall shout.
I wonder if he remembered the other 10 spies at this point.
And how they spoke hopelessness in their reports to the rest of Israel and though Caleb and Joshua himself spoke of good things – it did not convince the people.
Because while asking the people to circle Jericho – he told them to keep quiet.
This – keeping quiet- is not part of the listed instructions from God!
And the Lord said to Joshua, See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and mighty men of valor. You shall march around the city, all the men of war going around the city once. Thus shall you do for six days. Seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. On the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. And when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, when you hear the sound of the trumpet, then all the people shall shout with a great shout, and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and the people shall go up, everyone straight before him.
Why did Joshua add it in then?
I think he knows about the power of negative words and thought.
So he instructs them to keep quiet- lest a foolish Israelite says “Why do we keep marching around Jericho for and wasting our time?”
Negative words to your spouse can kill their hearts.
Negative words to your colleagues can kill team spirit too.
Instead speak words of faith and hope- it spurs broken hearts and restores hope!
And at the seventh time, when the priests had blown the trumpets, Joshua said to the people, Shout, for the Lord has given you the city.
For Joshua and his people … it tore down city walls and gave them a city!
by Rev Joel Yong
When all the nation had finished passing over the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, Take twelve men from the people, from each tribe a man, and command them, saying, Take twelve stones from here out of the midst of the Jordan, from the very place where the priests’ feet stood firmly, and bring them over with you and lay them down in the place where you lodge tonight. Then Joshua called the twelve men from the people of Israel, whom he had appointed, a man from each tribe. And Joshua said to them, Pass on before the ark of the Lord your God into the midst of the Jordan, and take up each of you a stone upon his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the people of Israel, that this may be a sign among you. When your children ask in time to come, What do those stones mean to you? then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever.
Each stone represented a tribe. The memorial stones were set up so the generations after might remember what God did for their ancestors and follow Him in their present day situation.
That is the reason why we build memorials.
We have significant people and events to remember.
The monument will stick out and look out of the ordinary so that we do not mistake it for an everyday construction.
Birthday and anniversary celebrations are monumental events in life.
They are marked by parties and cake.
What monuments have you built in your life?
What and who gets the attention summoned by such monuments?
by Rev Joel Yong
Before the men lay down, she came up to them on the roof and said to the men, I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you devoted to destruction. And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the Lord your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath. Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that, as I have dealt kindly with you, you also will deal kindly with my father’s house, and give me a sure sign that you will save alive my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death. And the men said to her, Our life for yours even to death! If you do not tell this business of ours, then when the Lord gives us the land we will deal kindly and faithfully with you.
We often look at Rahab’s story with interest.
She lies about having seen the spies and is rewarded for it.
The error we often make is going away from Rahab’s story thinking ‘little white lies are fine so long as you are trying to help someone.’
But that is not the point of this story.
Rahab – showed faith in the God of Israel when she believed that Joshua’s men would definitely conquer the land according to the stories she has already heard about how God blesses Israel.
Here is what lying does- it breaks relationships and by lying – Rahab broke her relationship with her king. She was no longer allegiant to him.
But now she professed a new loyalty- she was loyal to Israel and the Lord!
She showed this by protecting Joshua’s men.
No wonder she was blessed later on- when her city was taken over by the Israelites.
It is the same with the story of the Hebrew midwives who lied and refused to kill Hebrew baby boys as ordered by the Egyptian Pharaoh. God rewarded them because they broke allegiance to Pharaoh and showed allegiance to God by honoring His ways.
So the king of Egypt called the midwives and said to them, Why have you done this, and let the male children live? The midwives said to Pharaoh, Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women, for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them. So God dealt well with the midwives. And the people multiplied and grew very strong. And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families. Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, Every son that is born to the Hebrews you shall cast into the Nile, but you shall let every daughter live.
So the story of Rahab is not just about white lies but about the true ruler of our hearts and lives.
Who rules your life?
by Rev Joel Yong
Deuteronomy 33:29 GW
Happy are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the Lord, the shield of your help, and the sword of your triumph! Your enemies shall come fawning to you, and you shall tread upon their backs.
In Moses’ final blessing- he reminded Israel of who they were.
Often we forget because the world tells us different things.
We think we are losers, or maybe winners.
We think we are sinners, or maybe saintly.
We think we are ugly and unlovable.
We think we are God’s gift to all women/men.
But we are none of these.
We are the redeemed of God.
Forgiven and set free.
Changed and given hope.
We are who we are because of who He is.
That is the equation of our identity.
Beware of lies the world tell us about who we are or can be.
by Rev Joel Yong
Deuteronomy 29:18-19 GW
Beware lest there be among you a man or woman or clan or tribe whose heart is turning away today from the Lord our God to go and serve the gods of those nations. Beware lest there be among you a root bearing poisonous and bitter fruit, one who, when he hears the words of this sworn covenant, blesses himself in his heart, saying, I shall be safe, though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart. This will lead to the sweeping away of moist and dry alike.
Moses reminded the people of the danger of having members in their midst who turn away from God and unto sin.
It wasn’t meant to promote a “holier than thou” mindset.
It was meant to show how quickly unbelief spreads.
Tolerating those who teach disregard of God’s ways in their midst, would lead to apathy developing in the faith community and ultimately a turn away from God’s teachings.
Who we associate with, influences us to become like them.
The one who occupies the dominant amount of time and focus in our lives- that is who we become to be like.
Be very careful to let God have an overwhelming amount of your time and focus in contrast to all others.