Article 16

Living Your True Purpose (Header)

Living Your True Purpose (Article 16)Forgiveness, by CCM artist Matthew West, is from the 2012 album entitled Into The Light. Christ 9 The song was written by Mr. West after he heard an incredible story about a woman who lost one of her four children, a twin daughter, to a drunk driving accident.

As the attached video explains, the man who had caused the crash, that had killed both this young girl and her friend, was sentenced to twenty-two years in prison. But according to Renae, the mother of the deceased child, it was she that felt like a prisoner.

You see, bitterness and hatred had been building up inside of her soul, and she felt miserable and entrapped. It wasn’t until she felt compelled to reach out to this young man — while he was still in prison — and tell him she had forgiven him, that she began to feel released from her anger and her hate. In fact, she actually worked to see this young man’s sentence reduced to eleven years, and she has accepted this young man into her family, as one of her own.

George MacDonald, a nineteenth century Scottish author, poet, and minister, was quoted as having said this about forgiving:

“Forgiveness is the giving, and so the receiving, of life.”

Mr. West indicates that writing this song was very hard, because forgiving someone who has wronged you is extremely difficult. So the chorus became a prayer to God, saying, “Show me how . . .” Humanity must be shown how to forgive, we cannot do so on our own because it goes against our sinful nature. It’s God who knows how to truly forgive.

Recall with me Alexander Pope’s infamous quote from his poem entitled An Essay on Criticism. The quote reads as follows, “To err is human; to forgive, divine.” Mankind’s bent is towards wrongdoing (Psalm 51:5; Matthew 15:19; Romans 3:23), but God’s bent is towards faithfulness, gentleness, goodness, joy, kindness, love, patience, peace, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). All of these spiritual fruits, as they are referred to by the Apostle Paul, culminate into another divine fruit known as forgiveness. Look quickly with me at some biblical examples:

Genesis 3 — Adam and Eve choose to believe the lies of Satan, disguised as a serpent, instead of the truths of their Creator. God knows that humanity has chosen sin over righteousness, and seeks out the man and the woman. Adam and Eve are found by God to be hiding and scared. They are no longer clothed in His glory, but are naked and covered in leaves and vines. God gives them both a verbal scolding. Exclaiming to them the consequences of bringing wrongdoing into the world, but then shows compassion and forgiveness by killing an animal, skinning that animal, and preparing proper clothing to cover the man and woman’s nakedness. In doing this, God established the first example that rings true throughout the Bible, “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Hebrews 9:22), and without forgiveness there is no life (Romans 6:23).

Genesis 6-8 — The world had become over run by evil. God was sorry that He had ever created humanity, and was poised to destroy all that He had made; ready to demolish all that He had once looked upon as “good.” (Genesis 1:10b) But one man, named Noah, found favor in God’s sight. God chose to spare Noah, and his family, and in doing so also chose to spare a portion of His lower creations; those considered a part of the animal kingdom. So an ark was built to house Noah, his family, and all the creatures God selected. The rains came, and the flood waters rose, and humanity’s sins were judged. Yet, God’s tender mercies were placed upon Noah, and all that were housed in the ark. When the waters recessed, and the ark was again set upon dry ground, Noah built an alter and sacrificed animal flesh to honor God’s loving kindness and forgiveness. Again, without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness, and without forgiveness there is no life.

Genesis 22 — God has chosen a specific man to make a covenant with. This covenant would be the foundation by which God would reestablish His lost relationship with mankind. The man’s name was Abraham, and the principle of the covenant would be established through the testing of Abraham’s faithfulness. You see, God had promised to make Abraham the beginning of a “great nation” (Genesis 12:2-3), but Abraham’s wife was barren and could not have children. Nevertheless, God continued to stand by His promise and grow Abraham in his faith. It wasn’t until Abraham was about one-hundred years old, and that Sarah was about ninety years old, that God fulfilled the promise of a child. But a short twenty years later, God asks Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, back to Him. Abraham, now nearing the end of his days, doesn’t question God. He gathers up what is needed for the sacrifice, including his one and only son, and heads out to the holy mountain of God. Isaac, old enough now to know what is expected at a sacrifice, begins to question his father about what they are going to sacrifice. After all, he sees no animal. Abraham stays focused and simply responds with, “God, Himself, will provide.” (Genesis 22:8) Abraham arrives, prepares the alter, binds up his son, and places Isaac on the alter. As Abraham raises his knife to return Isaac to God, he is stopped. God praises Abraham for his faithfulness, and provides a ram for them to complete their act of worship. Once more, God intercedes for humanity, and provides a sacrifice that would represent an even greater oblation. For by this special offering, yet to come, all of humanity would be forgiven, and allowed to experience abundant life.

You see, often this theme appears throughout the Old Testament, until it is ultimately played out in the New Testament through the sacrifice that God, Himself, makes. The supreme sacrifice, hinted at in Genesis chapter twenty-two, that would cover all sins that mankind had committed throughout history, during the period it took place, and since. That offering, of course, was God’s only begotten son — Jesus Christ. God’s son willingly became sin, though He had never sinned, so that through His death humanity could be forgiven (Isaiah 53:5; 2 Corinthians 5:21). Forgiveness truly is divine, and it is strong enough to cover over all our wrongdoings. All we need do is accept it (1 John 1:9), and then give it to others (Mark 11:25).

So, as we close out this article on forgiveness, ask yourself these questions that Matthew West posed in his video clip:

Is there someone I need to forgive?

Is there someone I need to ask for forgiveness from?

Can I forgive myself for what I have done?

Have I really embraced God’s forgiveness?

God has proven that He is ready, willing, and able to forgive us. All we must do is accept God’s forgiveness, and forgive others, then be ready to embrace life — abundant life!

“But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through Him! For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through His life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” (Romans 5:8-11)

Living Your True Purpose by J. Scott Harden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at jasonmin.wordpress.com.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://www.jsnmin.org.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

The “NIV” and “New International Version” trademarks are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by International Bible Society. Use of either trademark requires the permission of International Bible Society.

Forgiveness lyrics and music written by Matthew West. Copyright © 2012 Sparrow Records.

Video made available by Jason Ministries and Sparrow Records; Copyright © 2013 All Rights Reserved.

If your church or organization would like to talk with J. Scott Harden about a speaking engagement, or a writing project, please get in touch with Mr. Harden through Jason MinistriesTwitter account or Facebook page.

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Article 8

God (Elohim/Deity) is known by many names, and we have looked at but only a select few. We’ve seen him as Yahweh — the Self-Existing One. He is Jehovah — the One who IS. He is Adonai — Lords and Masters, and El Shaddai — God who IS enough. He is El Hakkadosh — the Holy One. He is Chesed — Love, and Davar — the incarnate Word of God. Yet of all of God’s names, His favorite name must be Abba — Daddy.

Jesus used this Arabic expression when in the garden of Gethsemane. In Mark 14:36, we read that Christ, while praying for the possibility of not having to suffer for humanity’s sins, cried out in despair, “Abba, Father!” The Apostle Paul wrote, in his letter to the Romans, that as believers we have “received the Spirit of sonship. And by Him [the Holy Spirit] we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’” (Romans 8:15)

The CCM group known as NewSong reminds us to call out to our heavenly Daddy, in the song entitled Your Favorite Name is Father. The chorus reads, “Your favorite name is ‘father.’ You love to hear your children calling. You’re there to catch us when we’re falling. Your favorite name is ‘father.’” God is our “Abba Avinu,” our divine Daddy, and He cares so very much for us.

Even something as seemingly minor as our names, matter to God. Did you know that understanding just what our names mean can open up opportunities for us to glorify God? Scripture tells us that God concerned Himself with human names to the point that, when necessary, He would rename those whom He called. Abram was called by God, the Father, to become the father of His chosen people. God renamed Abram “Abraham,” which means in Hebrew “Father lifted up.” Abraham’s grandson (Jacob) was renamed by God, “Israel,” which in Hebrew means “Turns the Head of God.” On and on throughout Scripture we see many of Abba Avinu’s chosen renamed. So, why rename them? Do names really matter to that degree? Yes, I believe they do. Look with me at Jacob, again.

How great of a leader would Jacob have been without his name change? As a man, his character was being defined by what his heavenly Father was doing in his life. People surely would have followed him despite his name, if God was really ordaining him as his chosen ruler over His nation. Sure, God could’ve made Jacob into the patriarch He called him to be without the name change, but Jacob’s name meant “He grabs the heel” and this name described his old nature. That name “Jacob” symbolized his former life as a shyster, a con-artist, someone who was shady in character. That wasn’t Jacob’s new life, he no longer was living a life of deception. Jacob was now following God’s statutes. Jacob was now Israel — “Turns the Head of God.” Israel had God’s attention, he had the Father’s favor. Now that is a man capable of leading a nation, a man people can follow. A man who’s name and character had been changed, by God, for the completion of His divine plan. (You can read Jacob’s complete story in the book of Genesis, primarily in chapters 25-35.)

Even the Apostle Paul went through a name change. The man whom God used as His instrument for spreading the Gospel message through out Asia-Minor (a.k.a. Anatolia), and Rome, and who also was moved by God to write 13 of the 27 books in the New Testament, was originally named Saul. Saul, whose name in the Hebraic language means “Inquired of God,” was the son of a Pharisee and was himself a Pharisee. Saul studied the Mosaic traditions under the teachings of Gamaliel, and was known as a “Jew of Jews.” Strangely enough, Saul was also a citizen of Rome. You see Saul, though raised in Jerusalem, had been born in Tarsus, which was the capital of the Roman province of Cilicia. This birth right enabled Saul to claim a dual citizenship, between Israel and Rome.

Saul was in Jerusalem when Christ was crucified, and he became an integral part of the Jewish leader’s attempts to silence the Gospel message in Israel. Saul, too, was the man who held the cloaks of the men who stoned Stephen to death, and it was also Saul who was charged by the Jewish leaders to hunt down and kill all who preached the resurrected Christ. It would be this charge that would send Saul throughout Judea, and beyond the borders of Israel, executing the followers of Christ.

Now while Saul was traveling the road leading to the Greco-Roman city of Damascus, to continue his persecution of the followers of Christ, he saw the very message he was trying to silence appearing before him — the resurrected Jesus, Himself — the incarnate Word of God. From that moment on Saul devoted his life to spreading the Gospel message, not silencing it, and sometime after his decision to follow Christ he began to answer by the Roman name Paul, which means “small” or “humble.”

Whether God, the Father, changed Saul’s name to Paul, or whether Saul did this on his own, we really don’t know. Scripture and history don’t really tell us one way or the other, but what is significant here is the meanings of the names being changed. Saul, the Hebrew, was a man very proud of his blood line. He was a man living large in the ideals implanted into his life by the Pharisees and the Sanhedrin. Remember Saul’s pedigree made him a “Jew of Jews,” a man who “Inquired of God” to elevate himself above the Jewish masses. Paul, on the other hand, as a follower of Jesus came to realize just how small he was before God and humbled himself to serving the resurrected Christ and mankind. As with Jacob’s/Israel’s names, the name “Saul” represented his old life, but the name “Paul” connected him with his new one. (You can read of Saul’s transformation into Paul in the book of Acts, largely in chapters 7-13.)

So with that being said, was William Shakespeare correct when he wrote this phrase, in his tragic play Romeo & Juliet, “A rose by any other name is still a rose”? Certainly on a cellular level this statement is true, physically creation is what it is, but where people are concerned this phrase is false. Humanity is more than cellular, we are also mind and soul. Names and titles can affect people’s attitude, behavior, character, emotions, and thoughts. Just as a costume or fashion ensemble effects human behavior and thinking.

Most of us have worn a costume, at some point in our lives, or a fine ensemble of clothing and experienced a change in our behavior; how we felt about ourselves. Maybe it wasn’t a drastic change, but a change nonetheless. In a very similar way, names and titles can also cause this affect. For example, let’s say the name “Carl” happened to be your name, and you discovered that in Nigerian this name means “unintelligent” or “idiot.” How would you feel about your name? What thoughts would begin going through your mind about your parents giving you that name? How would you begin to see yourself, as you reflected on your life and how your name related to your experiences, both past and future? In contrast, say your name is “Aaron” and you discover that in Hebrew your name means “Strong and Powerful.” Now what do you begin to feel and think about your name, yourself, and your parents giving it to you? Our names aren’t hollow words and we can be affected by them, moreover affect others with them.

Now before we all go crazy looking up the meanings to our names, and possibly begin going about changing them too, let’s take a deep breath and allow for some clarification on why I included this topic in this study. Every aspect of our life, no matter how significant or insignificant we see it as being, is meant to glorify and worship our heavenly Father. Our names can be apart of that. Consider this when naming your children, parents. The names you give your children will affect them in some manner, at some point, in their lives. You, as an adult, may consider a name change due to a drastic conversion experience, or maybe upon accepting the Father’s calling on your life, but that should only be done if you are certain the Holy Spirit is moving you to do so. The attempt here was to simply engage our thoughts to the realization that names have meanings and that those meanings can affect our lives.

In closing, I want to bring your attention to the names in Noah’s genealogy. They are found in Genesis chapter 5, verses 1-29, and are as follows: Adam, Seth, Enosh, Kenan, Mahalalel, Jared, Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech, and Noah. Now note their Hebraic meanings. Adam means “Man.” Seth means “Appointed.” Enosh means “Mortal.” Kenan means “Lamentation,” or “Sorrow.” Mahalalel is an “el” construct meaning “Blessed of God.” Jared means “Descending.” Enoch means “Instruct.” Methuselah means “When He Dies, Judgment.” Lamech means “Made Low,” and lastly Noah’s name means “Comfort.” According to a study of Biblical names, conducted by the founder of Koinonia House, author, and Biblical scholar Chuck Missler, when these particular names are placed into a sentence structure we read these words:

Man (Adam) is appointed (Seth) mortal (Enosh) sorrow (Kenan); the blessed of God (Mahalalel) will descend (Jared) instructing (Enoch) that when He dies, judgement (Methuselah) will bring the lowly (Lamech) comfort (Noah).

The Gospel message hidden in the genealogy of Noah. You see? Our names, God’s names, all names are important. Get to know Abba, Father’s many names and truly begin to worship Him.

His Name Is . . . by J. Scott Harden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at https://jasonmin.wordpress.com/.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

The “NIV” and “New International Version” trademarks are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by International Bible Society. Use of either trademark requires the permission of International Bible Society.

Your Favorite Name Is Father lyrics and music written by Eddie Carswell and Michael O’Brien. Copyright © 2005 Integrity Media, Inc., 1000 Cody Road, AL 36695. All Rights Reserved.

If you want to use these lyrics, please contact the authors, artists or labs.

Chuck Missler‘s study entitled “Meanings Of The Names In Genesis 5,” Copyright © 1996-2012 by Koinonia House Inc., P.O. Box D, Coeur d’Alene, ID 83816, can be found at: http://www.khouse.org/articles/2000/284/

If your church or organization would like to talk with J. Scott Harden about a speaking engagement, or a writing project, please get in touch with Mr. Harden through Jason MinistriesTwitter account or Facebook page.

Article 4

The Ten Commandments, starring Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner, Anne Baxter, Edward G. Robinson, Yvonne De Carlo, Debra Paget, and John Derek, is a 1956 epic film that tells the story of the Hebrew’s exodus from Egypt.

The Ten Commandments, which was the last film that famed director Cecil B. DeMille presided over, is one of the most financially successful films ever made, grossing over $65 million at the US box office. If you adjust for inflation, this makes it the sixth highest-grossing movie domestically, with an adjusted total of $1,025,730,000 in 2012.

The film received seven Academy Award nominations including “Best Picture,” and won the award for “Best Visual Effects.” The American Film Institute (a.k.a. AFI) later voted The Ten Commandments as the tenth best film in the epic genre.

As epic as this film is in cinematic history, so too is this story’s monumental affect on man’s history and future. For it’s in this saga of the Hebrew’s exodus from Egypt that we see the formal beginning of God’s salvation and redemption of humanity on display, and where we see a subtle visual of one of God’s earliest of names — El Shaddai.

I realize that for most the name “El Shaddai” is more closely connected in our thoughts and minds to the very popular song written by Michael Card and more famously performed by Amy Grant, rather than the story of the Exodus, but grant (no pun intended) me just a moment and I’ll explain the association.

“God of the mountains” or “el shaddai,” was a Mesopotamian term that was used in reference of a divine mountain. This name was but one of the patriarchal names for the tribal god of the Mesopotamians. Now in Exodus 6:3, “El Shaddai” is seen identified solely with the Creator — the God of Abraham — and with His name, Yahweh, which is why this particular name of God (El Shaddai) could be derived from the Hebrews experience of seeing God’s fire atop Mount Sinai and from hearing God’s thunder from the Israelite camp at the base of the mountain. It could also explain, in part, the more popular interpretation of the name “El Shaddai” as meaning “God Almighty,” but linguistically this interpretation comes many years later from the English translators of the Septuagint (i.e. the Greek translators of the Old Testament).

These English translators determined that “Shaddai” came from “shad-ad,” a root verb that means “to over power” or “to destroy.” It’s also seen translated in the Latin Vulgate as “omnipotens,” which is where our English word “omnipotent” comes from. Yes, God is everywhere. Yes, God is all-knowing, and all-powerful, therefore God is Almighty. But while this is very true of God, I don’t think this quite reveals the essence of what this name really means. Also, long before Moses and the exodus of the Hebrews from Egypt, God makes use of this very name when introducing Himself to the Hebrew patriarch, Abram.

In Genesis 17:1, our Creator used the name “El Shaddai” when He confirmed His covenant with Abram, and his descendants, and renames Abram to Abraham. The more popular name of “God Almighty” certainly could apply here, as God is mighty enough to make this promise and fulfill it, but there appears to be more implied here. Especially if “Shaddai” is seen as a compound word within a compound name.

“El Shaddai” is one of 27 compound names known as “El constructs.” The names are formed by combining a shortened form of the name “Elohim,” meaning “Deity,” with some other name or title, in this case the name “Shaddai.” Split apart “Shaddai” and we get two smaller words: “sha,” which means “who,” and “dai,” which means “enough.” So, a closer look at the Hebraic practice of shortening a name of God (El from Elohim), and combining that shortened name with a descriptive attribute (i.e. Shaddai), and we begin to see that “El Shaddai” could translate as “God who IS Enough.” Pause and ponder that name for a moment (selah) — God who IS Enough!

What an amazing revelation of God to Abraham, and to us. Yahweh wasn’t just making us aware of His might in this covenant. God was saying He was, is, and always will be sufficient to fulfill His promises to us, in us, and through us. Yahweh, is mighty! Yahweh, is enough!

We see another example of El Shaddai as being all sufficient in Genesis 49:22-26, as Jacob (Israel) is blessing his son Joseph. In this verse Israel says:

“Joseph is a fruitful vine, a fruitful vine near a spring, whose branches climb over a wall. With bitterness archers attacked him; they shot at him with hostility. But his bow remained steady, his strong arms stayed limber, because of the hand of the Mighty One [El Shaddai] of Jacob, because of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel, because of your father’s [Israel’s] God, who helps you, because of the Almighty [El Shaddai], who blesses you with blessings of the heavens above, blessings of the deep that lies below, blessings of the breast and womb. Your father’s blessings are greater than the blessings of the ancient mountains, than the bounty of the age-old hills. Let all these rest on the head of Joseph, on the brow of the prince among his brothers.”

See how God is described by Israel to be the mighty provider of Joseph’s blessings? God is shown to be Joseph’s strength to endure hardships. God is shown to be Joseph’s strong moral and spiritual foundation. God is shown to be Joseph’s sustenance and nourishment; not just to him, but to his children too. All in all, El Shaddai is Joseph’s “God who IS enough.”

So, how about you? Is God your strength in hard times, your foundation of truth, your sustainer in all you need, both physically as well as spiritually? Is God enough?

Do you allow God access to all areas of your life? Do you really have a deep enough relationship with God; one in which you can call upon El Shaddai in confidence? Do you really know “God who IS enough”?

Selah (Pause/Reflect).

I’ll leave you with this word from God to the Apostle Paul. It comes as a response to a painful plea that Paul made to our Creator to have a “thorn” removed from his life. God’s answer to Paul was not to remove the torment from his life, but to reveal Himself to Paul through the affliction. In this answer came an understanding; Paul came to know El Shaddai even more upon hearing and accepting these divine words:

“My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

His Name Is . . . by J. Scott Harden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at https://jasonmin.wordpress.com/.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

The “NIV” and “New International Version” trademarks are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by International Bible Society. Use of either trademark requires the permission of International Bible Society.

Cecil B. DeMille‘s The Ten Commandments Copyright © 1956 Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved. TM ® & Copyright © 1999 by Paramount Pictures. All rights reserved.

If your church or organization would like to talk with J. Scott Harden about a speaking engagement, or a writing project, please get in touch with Mr. Harden through Jason MinistriesTwitter account or Facebook page.

Article I, part 2


In part one of Article 1, I revealed that Joshua exhibited five key themes, called “megathemes,” throughout his life. These five megathemes, taken from The Life Application Study Bible (NIV), co-published by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. and Zondervan Publishing House, are what I chose to use to help us understand why Joshua is an excellent example of a true worshiper, and these same megathemes began laying the foundation for this study on worship as it relates to each one of us, who are children of the living God.

The first megatheme we looked at was Joshua’s success as the leader of his nation and his family. The second was Joshua’s faith in God. By Joshua choosing to trust in God; not once, but on a daily basis, he allowed God to move in his life which provided opportunities for God to save him and the nation of Israel from their enemies and also allowed God to guide Joshua in his leading of this fledgling nation.

The third megatheme we will examine is divine guidance. Joshua received instructions from God for every aspect of his life, and it was up to him to properly convey those instructions to the nation of Israel. And not just in word but also in his deeds; “talk the talk and walk the walk.” God’s law, the Ten Commandments, guided Israel’s daily living, and His specific instructions conveyed directly through Joshua provided them with the guidance they needed to enjoy all their successes.

Guidance from God for our daily living can be found throughout the Scriptures. We can find it in our prayer time, as well. By staying in touch with God and His principles for living, we will have the needed wisdom to meet the challenges and conflicts that life on earth brings (Psalms 25:4-5; 119:105). By allowing God’s guidance to prevail in his life and staying connected with God regarding all matters, Joshua was able to teach his people another important act of worship — obedience (Joshua 1:7-9).

Joshua is also one of the greatest examples of leadership, our fourth megatheme, in Scripture. Joshua’s confidence in God’s word, God’s plan, God’s strength, and God’s faith in him, a mere mortal man, became the very reason he was such a great leader and it’s a marvelous glimpse at Joshua’s character, courage, and spiritual maturity.

To be a strong leader like Joshua takes an uncanny ability to listen well. When God speaks, we have to have the type of relationship that makes God’s voice as familiar to us as our own family members’ voices are to one another (John 10:27).

We also must have the will to obey God and move when told to move by God. God will instruct us according to His plan, and we have to be diligent in carrying out His plan. Bottom line, strong leadership comes from being led by God Himself. Joshua revealed this act of worship to his elders and to his people by following God’s leading (Joshua 1:9-11; 23:1-3).

Last, we see Joshua as a conquerer. Now that can be seen as a negative characteristic in this post-sixties era where “make love, not war” still rings loud and clear in our politically correct American society, but the megatheme of conquest is not at all a negative trait. It is very much a part of our worship of the Almighty because it requires another act of worship, the will to serve. Remember we stated earlier, the will to serve allows God to do His most mighty of miracles through us all.

Understand that it was God who commanded Israel, through Joshua, to conquer the Canaanites and take all their land (Joshua 1:1-6). This was God’s plan. God was using the Israelites to fulfill His promise to Abraham (Genesis 15:18) and to bring judgment on the evil that was there in the land — the land God had promised Moses for Israel to inhabit (Exodus 3:17).

Joshua and the Israelites under him were faithful in accomplishing this mission of total conquest, for the most part. In Joshua chapter 9, we read the story of how the nation of Gibeon deceived the nation of Israel, thus preventing the annihilation of Gibeon. Gibeon became a slave nation under Israel, and thus became the first country to escape God’s judgment at Israel’s hand. This eventually became a trend in Israel’s behavior, and attention to God’s details wavered in the years after Joshua died. The Israelites’ commitment to God eventually faltered altogether.

To be faithful to God’s call and to love God as we should requires of us more than mere enthusiasm. It requires endurance in our commitment to Him (2 Timothy 4:7-8). There can be no room in our lives for complacency (Proverbs 1:32). God’s work in us, His plan for us must be completed (Acts 20:24). God’s instructions must be completely applied to every facet of our lives (Exodus 24:7; Psalm 119:1-8).

Joshua’s act of worship was to complete the task given him by God, and he did so, outside of Gibeon’s ruse. It was Israel’s failure in future generations that kept them from achieving their full spiritual potential as a people of God. The nation of Israel eventually removed their faith from God and placed their faith time and time again in man-made idols. The desecration of God’s chosen people came about when Babylon ransacked Israel in or around 586 BC, and for the next fifty or so years Israel lived in exile as a conquered people in a foreign land.

An odd way to end, commenting on failure rather than achievement. Just remember, Joshua didn’t fail in his faithfulness to God, though the fact is Joshua was fallible. The deception of Gibeon shows us this. It was the nation of Israel in its later years, though, that really failed. You and I must realize we can only become true worshipers of God if we remain faithful to the end (Matthew 24:5-13), serving God and each other with all our mind, body, and soul. The goal is achievable. Joshua was not a true worshiper because he was perfect, but because he wasn’t. Nothing noted above was a result of Joshua’s own ability, but a result of God doing a good and perfect work in and through Joshua’s life because Joshua was willing to serve God and the Israelites.

This is where conquest comes in as an act of worship. We have to allow God full control of our lives so that He will be able to mold us and make us into the perfect instruments of His glory that He desires us to be. It’s the Holy Spirit working in us and through us that conquers our daily evils, either in us or around us (Romans 8:9-13, 37-39). Realizing we are the temple for which God’s Spirit can reside (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) is one of the most marvelous aspects of worship we can hope to experience under the sun. Joshua, Israel’s elders, and the nation of Israel under them were all examples of what God can do through us when we are faithful to serve Him, wholly (Joshua 24:31). In later years, unfortunately, Israel was also an example of what happens when we don’t.

Let us now quickly recap what we just learned from the life of Joshua. First, we can only experience success if we are faithful in following God’s plan for our lives. Second, faith can’t begin in our lives until we truly believe God can be trusted. We must know that God wants what is best for us. Third, we must allow God’s guidance to prevail in our lives and stay connected with God regarding all matters. In short, we must be obedient to God in all things. Our fourth reminder is in the area of leadership. Strong leadership comes from being led by God. Then our fifth and final reminder concerns the idea of conquest, or being a conquerer. We really must allow God full control of our lives so that He will be able to mold us and make us into His likeness. Always be mindful that it’s the Holy Spirit working in us and through us that conquers all our earthly conflicts and dilemmas. As Paul told us in his letter to the Philippians (chapter 4, verse 13), “I can do everything through Him [Christ] who gives me strength” (NIV).

These five megathemes in Joshua’s life set up the principles we all will need to follow if we are to become the true worshipers that our heavenly Father desires for us to be. Our faithfulness to God allows Him to bless us with many successes. A wholehearted trust in God allows our faith in God to grow in all areas of our lives. Also, obedience to God’s Word allows His divine guidance to lead us in all things, thus making us into the leaders and conquerers He planned for us to be.

The foundation has been laid, so now let’s begin with building a temple of worship in our hearts, minds, and spiritual lives in which God desires to reside.

The Joshua Project by J.Scott Harden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at jasonmin.wordpress.com.
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Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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