March 21, 2015

Joshua 9-12 All the kings west of the Jordan in the hills and foothills and along the Mediterranean seacoast north toward Lebanon—the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, Girgashites, and Jebusites—got the news. They came together in a coalition to fight against Joshua and Israel under a single command.

The people of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai and cooked up a ruse. They posed as travelers: their donkeys loaded with patched sacks and mended wineskins, threadbare sandals on their feet, tattered clothes on their bodies, nothing but dry crusts and crumbs for food. They came to Joshua at Gilgal and spoke to the men of Israel, “We’ve come from a far-off country; make a covenant with us.”

The men of Israel said to these Hivites, “How do we know you aren’t local people? How could we then make a covenant with you?” They said to Joshua, “We’ll be your servants.” Joshua said, “Who are you now? Where did you come from?”...
The men of Israel looked them over and accepted the evidence. But they didn’t ask God about it.

So Joshua made peace with them and formalized it with a covenant to guarantee their lives. The leaders of the congregation swore to it.  And then, three days after making this covenant, they learned that they were next-door neighbors who had been living there all along!...  But the People of Israel didn’t attack them; the leaders of the congregation had given their word before the God of Israel. But the congregation was up in arms over their leaders. The leaders were united in their response to the congregation:... And that’s what happened; the leaders’ promise was kept.

But Joshua called the Gibeonites together and said, “Why did you lie to us, telling us, ‘We live far, far away from you,’ when you’re our next-door neighbors? For that you are cursed. From now on it’s menial labor for you—woodcutters and water carriers for the house of my God.”  They answered Joshua, “We got the message loud and clear that God, your God, commanded through his servant Moses: to give you the whole country and destroy everyone living in it. We were terrified because of you; that’s why we did this. That’s it. We’re at your mercy. Whatever you decide is right for us, do it.”
And that’s what they did. 

 It wasn’t long before My-Master-Zedek king of Jerusalem heard that Joshua had taken Ai and destroyed it and its king under a holy curse, just as he had done to Jericho and its king... So the five Amorite (Western) kings—the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, and the king of Eglon—combined their armies and set out to attack Gibeon.  The men of Gibeon sent word to Joshua camped at Gilgal, “Don’t let us down now! Come up here quickly! Save us! Help us! All the Amorite kings who live up in the hills have ganged up on us.”

So Joshua set out from Gilgal, his whole army with him—all those tough soldiers! God told him, “Don’t give them a second thought. I’ve put them under your thumb—not one of them will stand up to you.”  Joshua marched all night from Gilgal and took them by total surprise. God threw them into total confusion before Israel, a major victory at Gibeon.... 

The day God gave the Amorites up to Israel, Joshua spoke to God, with all Israel listening:  “Stop, Sun, over Gibeon; Halt, Moon, over Aijalon Valley.” And Sun stopped, Moon stood stock still  Until he defeated his enemies...

Meanwhile the five kings had hidden in the cave at Makkedah. Joshua was told, “The five kings have been found, hidden in the cave at Makkedah.”.. Then Joshua said, “Open the mouth of the cave and bring me those five kings.”... When they had them all there in front of Joshua, he called up the army and told the field commanders who had been with him, “Come here. Put your feet on the necks of these kings.”  They stepped up and put their feet on their necks.
25 Joshua told them, “Don’t hold back. Don’t be timid. Be strong! Be confident! This is what God will do to all your enemies when you fight them.”  Then Joshua struck and killed the kings... 

That same day Joshua captured Makkedah,...Joshua, all Israel with him, moved on from Makkedah to Libnah and fought against Libnah. God gave Libnah to Israel.... Joshua, all Israel with him, moved on from Libnah to Lachish. He set up camp nearby and attacked. God gave Lachish to Israel. Israel took it in two days... Horam, king of Gezer, arrived to help Lachish. Joshua attacked him and his army until there was nothing left of them. No survivors...Joshua, all Israel with him, moved on from Lachish to Eglon. They set up camp and attacked. They captured it.... Joshua, all Israel with him, went up from Eglon to Hebron. He attacked and captured it.... Then Joshua, all Israel with him, turned toward Debir and attacked it. He captured it, its king, and its villages... Joshua took the whole country: hills, desert, foothills, and mountain slopes,...  Joshua’s conquest stretched from Kadesh Barnea to Gaza and from the entire region of Goshen to Gibeon. Joshua took all these kings and their lands in a single campaign because God, the God of Israel, fought for Israel.  Then Joshua, all Israel with him, went back to the camp at Gilgal.

When Jabin king of Hazor heard of all this, he sent word to Jobab king of Madon; to the king of Shimron; to the king of Acshaph; to all the kings in the northern mountains; to the kings in the valley south of Kinnereth; to the kings in the western foothills and Naphoth Dor; to the Canaanites both east and west; to the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, and Jebusites in the hill country; and to the Hivites below Hermon in the region of Mizpah.  They came out in full force, all their troops massed together—a huge army, in number like sand on an ocean beach—to say nothing of all the horses and chariots. All these kings met and set up camp together at the Waters of Merom, ready to fight against Israel.

God said to Joshua: “Don’t worry about them. This time tomorrow I’ll hand them over to Israel, all dead. You’ll hamstring their horses. You’ll set fire to their chariots.”  Joshua, his entire army with him, took them by surprise, falling on them at the Waters of Merom. God gave them to Israel, who struck and chased them all the way to Greater Sidon, to Misrephoth Maim, and then to the Valley of Mizpah on the east. No survivors. Joshua treated them following God’s instructions: he hamstrung their horses; he burned up their chariots.  Then Joshua came back and took Hazor, killing its king. Early on Hazor had been head of all these kingdoms.... 

Just as God commanded his servant Moses, so Moses commanded Joshua, and Joshua did it. He didn’t leave incomplete one thing that God had commanded Moses.  Joshua took the whole country: .... Israel fought and took all the rest. It was God’s idea that they all would stubbornly fight the Israelites so he could put them under the holy curse without mercy. That way he could destroy them just as God had commanded Moses....Joshua took the whole region. He did everything that God had told Moses. Then he parceled it out as an inheritance to Israel according to their tribes.

And Israel had rest from war.

These are the kings that the People of Israel defeated and whose land they took on the east of the Jordan, from the Arnon Gorge to Mount Hermon, with the whole eastern side of the Arabah Valley.  Sihon king of the Amorites,...And Og king of Bashan,... Moses the servant of God and the People of Israel defeated them. And Moses the servant of God gave this land as an inheritance to the Reubenites, the Gadites, and half of the tribe of Manasseh.

And these are the kings of the land that Joshua and the People of Israel defeated in the country west of the Jordan, from Baal Gad in the Valley of Lebanon south to Mount Halak, which towers over Seir. ..The kings were: The king of Jericho, of Ai (near Bethel),... of Jerusalem,...of Hebron,...of Jarmuth,...of Lachish,...of Eglon,...of Gezer,...of Debir,...of Geder,...of Hormah,...of Arad,...of Libnah,...of Adullam,...of Makkedah,...of Bethel,...of Tappuah,...of Hepher,...of Aphek,...of Lasharon, ...of Madon,...of Hazor, ...of Shimron Meron,...of Acshaph,...of Taanach,...of Megiddo,...of Kedesh,...of Jokneam in Carmel,...of Dor (Naphoth Dor),...of Goyim in Gilgal,...of Tirzah....A total of thirty-one kings.

Mark 2 - After a few days, Jesus returned to Capernaum and word got around that he was back home.  A crowd gathered...He was teaching the Word when four men carrying a paraplegic removed part of the roof and lowered the man on a stretcher...Impressed by their bold belief, Jesus said to the paraplegic, “Son, I forgive your sins.”  Some of the religious leaders sitting there started whispering among themselves.  “He can’t talk that way!  That’s blasphemy!  God and only God can forgive sins.”  Jesus knew right away what they were thinking, and said, “Why are they so skeptical?  Which is simpler, to say to a paraplegic, ‘I forgive your sins,’ or say, ‘Get up, take your stretcher, and start walking’?  Well just so it’s clear that I’m the Son of Man and authorized to do either or both...” (Jesus now looked at the paraplegic man).  “Get up.  Pick up your stretcher and go home.”  And the man did it---with everyone watching him.  They rubbed their eyes incredulous--and then praised God, saying, “We’ve never seen anything like this!”

Then Jesus went again to walk alongside the lake.  Again, a crowd came to him, and he taught them.  Strolling along, he saw Levi, son of Alphaeus, at his work, collecting taxes.  “Jesus said, come along with me.” He came.

Later, Jesus and his disciples were at a house having supper with a collection of disreputable guests.  Unlikely as it seemed, more than a few of them had become followers.  The religious scholars and Pharisees saw him keeping this kind of company and lit into his disciples...Jesus overhearing, shot back, “Who needs a doctor, the healthy or the sick?  I’m here inviting the sin-sick, not the spiritually fit.”

The disciples of John and the disciples of the Pharisees made it a practice of fasting.  Some people confronted Jesus about why those disciples fasted but his followers didn’t.  Jesus said, “When you are celebrating a wedding, you don’t skimp on the cake and wine.  You feast.  Later you may need to pull in your belt but not now.  As long as the bride and groom are with you, you have a good time.  No one throws cold water on a friendly bonfire.  This is Kingdom come!”  

One Sabbath day Jesus was walking through a field of ripe grain.  As his disciples made a path, they pulled off heads of grain.  The Pharisees told on them to Jesus:  “Look, your disciples are breaking the Sabbath rules!”  Jesus said, “Really!  Haven’t you ever read what David did when he was hungry, along with those who were with him?  How he entered the sanctuary and  ate fresh bread off the altar with the Chief Priest right there watching... Then Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made to serve us; we weren’t made to serve the Sabbath.  The Son of Man is no lackey to the Sabbath.  He is in charge!”