Joshua: Winning Unity

Joshua • “Winning Unity”

Joshua 1:10-18

September 25-29, 2017

 

In 1961 Thomas van Beek, then a twenty-five year old executive, needed to hire a personal secretary. After a long and discouraging procession of applicants, a bright and charming young lady came into his office for an interview. Her name was Miss Neef. Her references were impeccable, her typing and shorthand were more than adequate, and more importantly, she projected an aura of personal stability, confidence, and energy. Tom hired her on the spot.

 

After Miss Neef’s first week on the job, Tom was sue he had found the perfect assistant. She was an executive’s dream. When she answered the phone, she projected authority; when faced with emergencies, she was always calm. She never seemed to grow weary or frayed from stress.

 

Miss Neef was tireless. At the end of a long day—-even when her young employer was completely exhausted— she was always fresh and energetic. She never ceased to amaze him. He could not understand how she remained so energized, so on top of her game.

 

After twelve years, Tom discovered the answer to that mystery. Miss Neef told him she was ready to retire. She didn’t desire another job offer; she was simply ready to step down as his private secretary.

Tom gracefully accepted her resignation and decided to throw her a going away party. He decided to do it up right.

 

He pulled out all the stops, and then was stopped dead in his tracks. For shortly after the guest of honor arrived—-the guest of honor arrived. And the secret to Miss Neef’s boundless energy was no longer a mystery. Where Tom had been certain for twelve years that his one secretary was two, he discovered that two had been doing the work of one all along. Miss Neef was actually identical twin sisters sharing the same job. They had worked together so effectively that Tom never suspected. Each worked half the time and split the paycheck.

 

For more than a decade, the sisters worked in such a harmonious partnership—communicating, brainstorming, covering each other when needed— that no one knew not even the person who spent forty hours a week with them. They were truly working as one.[i]

 

They were poster children for

Winning Unity

. That’s the title for this week’s study: “Winning Unity.”
I have mentioned to you before an upcoming movie

Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall. It opens in theaters October 20 and I encourage you to go see how befriending one man created a cascading Winning Unity that continues to bear fruit. Check it out. Here’s the trailer along with a challenge to Make a Difference

. That’s the essence of Winning Unity.

http://www.samekindofdifferentasmemovie.com/make-a-difference.php

 

MONDAY: For You To Win God’s Way You Must Demonstrate Winning Unity In This World.

John Donne’s classic tells of the connectedness we all share, and yet, as our study this week will show, you need others in unity to be all you can be.

 

 

 

No Man is an Island’

No man is an island entire of itself;

Every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;

If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less,

As well as if a promontory were, as well as any manner of thy friends or of thine own were;

Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind.

And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee. –

John Donne

 

Joshua tells us of a time when God gave a specific example of the importance that Unity plays in Winning.

10 And Joshua commanded the officers of the people, 11 “Pass through the midst of the camp and command the people, ‘Prepare your provisions, for within three days you are to pass over this Jordan to go in to take possession of the land that the Lord your God is giving you to possess.’ ” 12 And to the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh Joshua said, 13 “Remember the word that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, saying, ‘The Lord your God is providing you a place of rest and will give you this land.’ 14 Your wives, your little ones, and your livestock shall remain in the land that Moses gave you beyond the Jordan, but all the men of valor among you shall pass over armed before your brothers and shall help them, 15 until the Lord gives rest to your brothers as he has to you, and they also take possession of the land that the Lord your God is giving them. Then you shall return to the land of your possession and shall possess it, the land that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you beyond the Jordan toward the sunrise.” 16 And they answered Joshua, “All that you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. 17 Just as we obeyed Moses in all things, so we will obey you. Only may the Lord your God be with you, as he was with Moses! 18 Whoever rebels against your commandment and disobeys your words, whatever you command him, shall be put to death. Only be strong and courageous.”

Joshua 1:10-18

 

Fresh off the words of encouragement from the Lord in verses 1-9 (

review last week’s DD

), Joshua stepped up as the new leader of the nation of Israel and commanded his officers to prepare the people to cross the Jordan and claim the Promised land. One of the intriguing commands given in this passage was to the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh. Even though they had asked for land on the east side of the Jordan River, Joshua told them they too must cross the River with the 9 ½ other tribes to claim the land of Canaan based on the commandment of Moses. What is happening here? There is some background knowledge in Numbers 32 that will help you understand this situation. Look it up.

 

In Numbers 32, these 2 ½ tribes decided that the land of Gilead on the east side of the Jordan was ideal for raising livestock and since they were shepherds and ranchers, they requested that Moses give them that land as their portion of the Promised land. Here’s what Moses told them:

6 But Moses said to the people of Gad and to the people of Reuben, “Shall your brothers go to the war while you sit here? 7 Why will you discourage the heart of the people of Israel from going over into the land that the Lord has given them? 8 Your fathers did this, when I sent them from Kadesh-barnea to see the land. 9 For when they went up to the Valley of Eshcol and saw the land, they discouraged the heart of the people of Israel from going into the land that the Lord had given them. Numbers 32:6-9

In verses 8 – 9, Moses refers back to their initial approach to the Promised Land described in Numbers 13 – 14. Other than Joshua and Caleb, the report of 10 of the spies discouraged Israel’s heart and led to rebellion against God that sentenced them to 40 years of wilderness wandering until all over 20 years of age died. Moses sensing the discouragement that would happen again says, “

There will NOT be another rebellion! There will be unity in the nation following the Lord. We will all go into the Promised Land together. “ These tribes responded by saying, “We will go into the land with you.

” In our verses this morning, Joshua reinforces the commitment they made to Moses for the unity of the nation.

 

The unity of the nation was vitally important to Israel moving into the Promised Land and we see it emphasized in the first chapter of Joshua. Joshua 1:2 says, “

you and all this people go to the land which I am giving to them, the children of Israel.” You can see it again in the challenge given to these 2 ½ tribes to enter the land of Canaan even though they had already been given possession of their land. Dale Ralph Davis is Minister in Residence, First Presbyterian Church, Columbia, South Carolina. Prior to that he was pastor of Woodland Presbyterian Church, Hattiesburg, Mississippi and Professor of Old Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson, Mississippi. He notes in his commentary on Joshua, that “all Israel” is a concern throughout the book of Joshua.[ii]

 

 

TUESDAY: The Lord Called Israel To Demonstrate Winning Unity.

Winning was a direct result of their Unity. God said, ‘Come on boys, we’re doing this together’ or something like that. So, how were they to demonstrate this winning unity? By fighting their brother’s battles with them.

14 Your wives, your little ones, and your livestock shall remain in the land that Moses gave you beyond the Jordan, but all the men of valor among you shall pass over armed before your brothers and shall help them, 15 until the Lord gives rest to your brothers as he has to you, and they also take possession of the land that the Lord your God is giving them. Then you shall return to the land of your possession and shall possess it, the land that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you beyond the Jordan toward the sunrise.”

Joshua 1:14-15

 

Joshua said, “I know you are already at rest, but you need to join your brother tribes and help them by fighting their battles until they too have rest.”

 

The purpose of fighting other people’s battles with them was to encourage them in their faith.

In Moses’ initial command to these tribes in Numbers 32, he was concerned about their hearts being discouraged over their lack of faith that God would indeed lead them to claim the land of Canaan.

6 Shall your brothers go to the war while you sit here? 7 Why will you discourage the heart of the people of Israel from going over into the land that the Lord has given them

?” Numbers 32:6-7

 

Not going across the Jordan with the nation could easily have fractured the tenuous faith of the other tribes from wanting to go across. However, with these 2 ½ tribes crossing with them even when they already possessed their land it would encourage the faith of the rest of the nation to claim their land.

 

As we will see when we get to the 4

th

chapter of Joshua, the tribes of Reuben, Gad and half of Manasseh brought a significant fighting force to add to the other tribes

12 The men of Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh crossed over, ready for battle, in front of the Israelites, as Moses had directed them. 13 About forty thousand armed for battle crossed over before the Lord to the plains of Jericho for war.

Joshua 4:12-13

 

The same thing is true in living the Christian life. When you feel like you are fighting battles on your own, you can feel discouraged and want to give up. How often do you get discouraged about striving to claim the Promised Land where you live and work for the Lord because the battles too tough. But what a difference it makes in our faith, when you know that you are not alone and others are fighting the battle with you. Take a few minutes to hear an excerpt from Vance Havner’s sermon…

You’re Not Alone, Look Who’s Here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bA-XbA7NGaU . It’s also a chapter in his little book Playing Marbles with Diamonds

. Worth a listen or a read. You Are NOT Alone!

Each autumn one of the wonders of nature that alerts you to the coming of winter is the sight of a flock of geese flying south for the winter. As each bird flaps its wings, it creates and uplift for the bird behind it. By flying in a V-formation, a flock of geese increases its flying range by 72% compared to each bird flying alone. When the lead goose grows tired, he rotates back in formation and another goose flies up front for a while. As they fly, the geese in the back honk to encourage those up front to keep up their speed and momentum.[iii]

 

 

These geese face incredible odds, extreme circumstances and weather, daily battles to survive and to reach their final destination, but the only way they survive is through uniting together and fighting those battles together.

What a difference it can make in your faith, when you know that you are not alone and others are fighting the battle with you.

 

How can we demonstrate winning unity by fighting other people’s battles with them?

Living the Word Applications: Demonstrate a winning unity by…

 

WEDNESDAY: A Community Commitment v. 16-18.

16 And they answered Joshua, “All that you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. 17 Just as we obeyed Moses in all things, so we will obey you. Only may the Lord your God be with you, as he was with Moses!”

Joshua 1:16-17

 

Notice the repeated use of the words “

us” and “we

.” The Reubenites and the Gadites and the half tribe of Manasseh were so committed to one another they were willing to cross over the Jordan and fight their brother’s battles.

 

As followers of Jesus Christ, you must be committed to your fellow believers. You must be committed to our church body, our members, and our mission in the world. This doesn’t mean that you aren’t committed to helping other Christians, but it does mean that your community commitment is to

this

church body. This means you are involved in the lives of this community of believers. Increase your commitment level by involving yourself in Sunday school classes where you come to build deeper relationships with others in this church body. Increase your commitment level by serving alonsdied others of us in various ministries. Demonstrate winning unity by a community commitment.

 

THURSDAY: Being Present For Others In Their Battles v. 14-15.

The very presence of these 2 ½ tribes WITH the other tribes going into the Land of Canaan encouraged the hearts of all of them. When you know of battles that others are facing, be present with them in their battle by getting involved. While you may not know what to say, your presence with them for even 30 minutes can encourage them in the battle. Here are some suggestions:

  • Mow someone else’s yard
  • Edge a neighbor’s sidewalks
  • Take meals to home bound persons
  • Help neighbors restore their homes i.e. iServe
  • Breakfast/lunch for someone who has lost loved one – do it for a year (remember that after the casserole dishes go home, the grief remains)
  • Call the church and find out who is in the hospital and then make a hospital visit
  • Give a gift of kindness and remain anonymous
  • Babysit for a couple with children so they can have a date night
  • Buy a meal for a first responder who is eating where you are.
  • Thank a service man/woman in uniform
  • Thank a police officer for his/her service
  • Write Thank You notes
  • Volunteer at Grace Bridge
  • Pray for Marcy and tell her so. Respond to CaringBridge
  • Adopt a widow or widower and create a new ‘family’ for them
  • Bake cookies and take a batch to all your neighbors – get acquainted
  • Clothe a child
  • Be a Big Brother or Big Sister
  • Go on a mission trip to Togo or Ciudad Acuña
  • Volunteer to help at Beach Club Bible on Tuesdays

 

It’s amazing how many opportunities there are for you to help your brothers and sisters fight the battles they are facing.

 

For years now I have made it a habit to stay close to my friends who have lost loved ones. I make it a point to meet with them weekly, remember key dates like birthdays and anniversaries and holidays. Sometimes it’s little more than buying breakfast or lunch, a phone call, or a handwritten note. My favorite is buying breakfast. Just remember that the grief lingers long after the casserole dishes go home.
 

 

 

 

FRIDAY: Be Transparent About Your Battles…Ask For Help v. 14.

Did you notice how Joshua reminded the Israelites about their prior commitment? He was being transparent, asking for help. Is it true of you that one of the difficulties you have is admitting that you are in a battle and asking for help? Even Joshua, this great leader, was transparent enough to say, “We’re facing some big battles and we need your help.” How many of you don’t want to be transparent when you’re in a battle or struggling because you don’t want to be a problem for others?

 

But, it’s important to note that being transparent and asking for help encouraged unity.

 

All of you will face battles of some sort in the coming months, but you are not to face the battles alone. Some of you will face:

  • Financial issues
  • Loss of job
  • Relationships with your spouse
  • Children who have gone off the reservation
  • Health issues from the mundane to life threatening
  • Aging parents and grandparents
  • End of Life Issues
  • Threats of war and catastrophic losses
  • Temptations with sin
  • Struggles with drugs and alcohol
  • Pornography

 

No matter what your battle, you don’t have to face your battles alone.

You’re Not Alone…Look Who’s Here,

and not only is He here, I make a good friend and I care. How can I serve you?

 

In closing, I want you to know that there is one more fascinating fact about those geese flying in a V-formation. Any time on the journey that one of the geese becomes sick or wounded and falls out of formation, one or two geese will drop out and follow him down. They will stay with him until he is able to fly again or is dead, then they will rejoin another formation. If these geese have enough instinct and mercy to pull out and help their sick or wounded or hurting, then shouldn’t we as the church?

 

Demonstrate winning unity by fighting other people’s battles with them. There is no shortage of opportunity to plug in.

[i] http://scopenewsletter.com/illustrations/a-natural-partnership/

[ii] Davis, Dale Ralph. No Falling Words: Expositions of the Book of Joshua.

Baker Book House, 1988. 20.

[iii] Maxwell, John. The Power of Partnership.

InJoy Ministries, 1999. 76-77.