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Joshua 22:5 Obey All the Commands

Posted by adventbiblestudy on March 15, 2016


Joshua 22:5 Obey All the Commands

Joshua 22:5 NLTse But be very careful to obey all the commands and the instructions that Moses gave to you. Love the LORD your God, walk in all his ways, obey his commands, hold firmly to him, and serve him with all your heart and all your soul.”

At first glance Joshua 22:5 appears to be a repeat of the same address Moses gave at the end of their journey. It turned out, that wasn’t the end of their journey, but the beginning of a new phase containing a whole new set of lessons. The same is true in the sequence of the prophecies pointing to the Messiah. In Genesis to Deuteronomy, prophecies taught basic study lessons showing a number of methods to locate parallel texts. Once a basic understanding of Bible Study is achieved, God moved onto the next series of lessons introducing a number of symbols pointing to Jesus and His ministry on earth as well as Heaven. Once these have been studied and their fulfillment explained by New Testament texts, the next logical series of lessons was introduced. Moses records a number of lessons focusing on the role of the priests and how they were to reflect the life of the Messiah. Once we have accumulated the proper knowledge to study scripture, learned a number of symbols pointing to Christ, reviewed responsibilities given to the priests, Moses added a number of prophecies revealing how the priests would treat the Messiah. God wanted us to see how mistakes the priests made will be repeated throughout history. The end of Moses’ contribution to the Bible contains a number of prophecies teaching lessons on a deeper personal level. These prophecies use Israel and the religious leaders in both Moses’ and Jesus’ time as symbols pointing to later times in history, including our own. This prophecy picks up where Moses left off. One lesson learned from earlier prophecies shows us how important it is to look at surrounding texts. This prophecy is no different.

Joshua 22:1-9 NLTse Then Joshua called together the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh. (2) He told them, “You have done as Moses, the servant of the LORD, commanded you, and you have obeyed every order I have given you. (3) During all this time you have not deserted the other tribes. You have been careful to obey the commands of the LORD your God right up to the present day. (4) And now the LORD your God has given the other tribes rest, as he promised them. So go back home to the land that Moses, the servant of the LORD, gave you as your possession on the east side of the Jordan River. (5) But be very careful to obey all the commands and the instructions that Moses gave to you. Love the LORD your God, walk in all his ways, obey his commands, hold firmly to him, and serve him with all your heart and all your soul.” (6) So Joshua blessed them and sent them away, and they went home. (7) Moses had given the land of Bashan, east of the Jordan River, to the half-tribe of Manasseh. (The other half of the tribe was given land west of the Jordan.) As Joshua sent them away and blessed them, (8) he said to them, “Go back to your homes with the great wealth you have taken from your enemies–the vast herds of livestock, the silver, gold, bronze, and iron, and the large supply of clothing. Share the plunder with your relatives.” (9) So the men of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh left the rest of Israel at Shiloh in the land of Canaan. They started the journey back to their own land of Gilead, the territory that belonged to them according to the LORD’s command through Moses.

Joshua addressing the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh is the first detail we notice. The texts also explains these tribes settled east side of the Jordan River. Notice how God draws attention to each of these details by repeating them. The question is why are these details so important and how do they apply to Jesus fulfilling prophecy? Looking at the key words we see obey is repeated a number of times. This shows the key thought is centered on obeying God’s commandments. This helps us locate parallel texts in the Gospels. We have to find out how Jesus referred to these texts. Jesus addressed two people questioning Him about the commandments.

Mark 12:28-34 NLTse One of the teachers of religious law was standing there listening to the debate. He realized that Jesus had answered well, so he asked, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” (29) Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The LORD our God is the one and only LORD. (30) And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ (31) The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” (32) The teacher of religious law replied, “Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth by saying that there is only one God and no other. (33) And I know it is important to love him with all my heart and all my understanding and all my strength, and to love my neighbor as myself. This is more important than to offer all of the burnt offerings and sacrifices required in the law.” (34) Realizing how much the man understood, Jesus said to him, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” And after that, no one dared to ask him any more questions.

Matthew 19:16-26 NLTse Someone came to Jesus with this question: “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” (17) “Why ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. But to answer your question–if you want to receive eternal life, keep the commandments.” (18) “Which ones?” the man asked. And Jesus replied: “‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. (19) Honor your father and mother. Love your neighbor as yourself.'” (20) “I’ve obeyed all these commandments,” the young man replied. “What else must I do?” (21) Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (22) But when the young man heard this, he went away very sad, for he had many possessions. (23) Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is very hard for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. (24) I’ll say it again–it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!” (25) The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked. (26) Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.”

As we can see, Jesus had an answer for each individual This shows us there is no one answer that fits every situation and individual. We also see one person was touched by Jesus’ answer, while the other left disappointed.

Now we have two sets of contrasting stories about God’s commandments. Moses addressed Israel, while Joshua addressed only the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh. Jesus addressed one man who accepted His answer, while the other walked away disappointed. How do we find the connection? One way is to look at the introduction and summary for the chapter. This is known as studying the context. Since we are using the introduction of Joshua 22 in the study, we need to look at the conclusion of chapter 21 to see how the author led into the subject.

Joshua 21:43-45 NLTse So the LORD gave to Israel all the land he had sworn to give their ancestors, and they took possession of it and settled there. (44) And the LORD gave them rest on every side, just as he had solemnly promised their ancestors. None of their enemies could stand against them, for the LORD helped them conquer all their enemies. (45) Not a single one of all the good promises the LORD had given to the family of Israel was left unfulfilled; everything he had spoken came true.

After many battles and conquests, the fight for the promised land seemed to be over. It all began at Jericho where God displayed His power. First God separated the waters of the Jordan river much like He did at the Red Sea when Israel left Egypt. The journey began and ended by crossing a river on dry ground with water built up on both sides. Its one thing for God to stop the flow of a river at any location. Its quite another when God holds the water down stream in its present location. Why didn’t God allow the water down stream to continue to flow? Next God brought down the walls of Jericho to show how He will be with Israel in all the coming battles. Now they finally have rest. After years of war this must have sounded like good news. Families were separated from their husbands and fathers. Many families lost their loved ones. Others prospered as treasures from the cities were captured and goods distributed. Many mistakes were made and lessons learned. Now it was time to rest and enjoy the land they fought for. Did they remember all the blessings God gave them? “The LORD your God will soon bring you into the land he swore to give you when he made a vow to your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It is a land with large, prosperous cities that you did not build. The houses will be richly stocked with goods you did not produce. You will draw water from cisterns you did not dig, and you will eat from vineyards and olive trees you did not plant. When you have eaten your fill in this land, be careful not to forget the LORD, who rescued you from slavery in the land of Egypt. (Deuteronomy 6:10-12 NLTse).

At first glance, the summation of Joshua 22 seems to have little to do with the theme we are studying. We have to stick to proven Bible study rules to see what details the verses contain.

Joshua 22:28-34 NLTse “If they say this, our descendants can reply, ‘Look at this copy of the LORD’s altar that our ancestors made. It is not for burnt offerings or sacrifices; it is a reminder of the relationship both of us have with the LORD.’ (29) Far be it from us to rebel against the LORD or turn away from him by building our own altar for burnt offerings, grain offerings, or sacrifices. Only the altar of the LORD our God that stands in front of the Tabernacle may be used for that purpose.” (30) When Phinehas the priest and the leaders of the community–the heads of the clans of Israel–heard this from the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh, they were satisfied. (31) Phinehas son of Eleazar, the priest, replied to them, “Today we know the LORD is among us because you have not committed this treachery against the LORD as we thought. Instead, you have rescued Israel from being destroyed by the hand of the LORD.” (32) Then Phinehas son of Eleazar, the priest, and the other leaders left the tribes of Reuben and Gad in Gilead and returned to the land of Canaan to tell the Israelites what had happened. (33) And all the Israelites were satisfied and praised God and spoke no more of war against Reuben and Gad. (34) The people of Reuben and Gad named the altar “Witness,” for they said, “It is a witness between us and them that the LORD is our God, too.”

In this story we see the three tribes living east of the Jordan river built an alter which appears to be a duplicate of the alter in the Tabernacle. This enraged the other tribes living in the promised land west of the Jordan river who felt it was their duty to make war against their brothers and destroy them and the alter. Instead of jumping to conclusions, they sent a small group of leaders including Phinehas the priest to find out the details. They found out the three tribes had no intentions of sacrificing on the alter. It was built as a reminder of God and His Tabernacle on the other side of the river. All seemed well at the time. The question is, what spiritual lesson is this teaching?

Scanning a few generations ahead, we see these three tribes happen to be part of the northern kingdom of Israel. A lot of things went wrong in Israel after king Solomon’s reign. God split the country into two kingdoms, Israel in the north and Judah in the south. Few people know this fact. Samaria may be one of the most misquoted and misunderstood details in the Bible.

1 Kings 16:24 NLTse Then Omri bought the hill now known as Samaria from its owner, Shemer, for 150 pounds of silver. He built a city on it and called the city Samaria in honor of Shemer.

Omri was the seventh king in Israel. He built Samaria which became the capital of Israel. Now you know, when Samaritans are mentioned in the New Testament, it is referring to someone from the capital of Israel. Now we can see the spiritual meaning all of this is pointing to when we look at stories about Samaritans in the Gospels.

John 4:4-7 NLTse He had to go through Samaria on the way. (5) Eventually he came to the Samaritan village of Sychar, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. (6) Jacob’s well was there; and Jesus, tired from the long walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime. (7) Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Please give me a drink.”

In this story Jesus addresses a Samaritan woman. The question is, is she a Jew, or one of the many foreigners living in Samaria? When we look back at history recorded in the Bible, we see how Judah conspired and financed the overthrow of Samaria. Of course Assyria carried a number of Jews away and resettled Samaria with slaves from all over the region. Mixing races seems to be a tradition in the region at that time. The Bible removes all doubt.

John 4:12 NLTse And besides, do you think you’re greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us this well? How can you offer better water than he and his sons and his animals enjoyed?”

Once we see the unnamed woman referred to Jacob as an ancestor, there’s no doubt she is a Jew from the northern nation of Israel. It didn’t matter to Jesus. He still reached out to her.

Now we can see how this address to the three tribes living east of the Jordan river applies to the prophecies Jesus fulfilled and how He sent people back to scripture. Joshua said they were, “very careful to obey all the commands and the instructions that Moses gave to you. Love the LORD your God, walk in all his ways, obey his commands, hold firmly to him, and serve him with all your heart and all your soul.” This is something Jesus came to remind the Jews about.

After Samaria fell, Jerusalem was overthrown by Babylon. The same thing happened. Most of the population was scattered all over the region and people from other countries were brought in to repopulate Jerusalem. What’s makes a Jew from Jerusalem better than one from Samaria? God looks at all of us as equals. That is one of the points Jesus is trying to make. He is still trying to get the point across today. Jerusalem and Samaria are symbols pointing to other factions, including those we see in the last days. Today we see more divisions in the Christian faith than we can count. When we look at those differences in doctrine, tradition, and especially prophecy, we see the differences are nothing compared to differences that separated Jerusalem and Samaria for generations. Yet in the early days of the Christian church, differences were set aside. People learned to listen to God’s Spirit and unite. They learned and taught one message, the prophecies they saw Jesus fulfill. How did we forget this simple message and why has God’s message been replaced by hundreds of others? It took Jesus’ death on the cross for His disciples to finally put away their prejudice. What is it going to take before churches here today put away theirs?

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