E100: 025 | Why God, Why?

"Today’s passage shows us that God’s ways are not our ways. As the Israelites approached Jericho, God gave Joshua a strange battle strategy: march around the city for seven days, then let out a might shout! The walls of Jericho came crumbling down handing the city to God’s people. The purpose of the whole event was again to remind the Israelites of God’s sovereignty and power." (New Zealand's Rhema Radio)

Read Joshua 5:13-6:27 | (ESV)

The priests blew the trumpets. As soon as the fighting men heard the sound, they gave a loud shout. Then the wall fell down. Every man charged straight in. So they took the city. They set it apart to the Lord in a special way to be destroyed. They destroyed every living thing in it with their swords. They killed men and women. They wiped out young people and old people. They destroyed cattle, sheep and donkeys. (Joshua 6:20-21, New International Reader's Version)
How could He? How could God allow the people of an entire city to be destroyed? This type of wholesale destruction and death is recorded several times in the Old Testament. I don't think God wants

E100: 024 | First Step in Faith

"Today’s passage describes the symbolic crossing of the river Jordan by the Israelites. They’re now in the Promised Land, and are being led by Joshua. Just as the Lord parted the waters of the red sea to begin the Israelite’s journey in the desert, he dried up the waters of the Jordan for the Israelites to pass through to signal the end. They now face the seemingly impregnable city of Jericho." (New Zealand's Rhema Radio)

Read Joshua 3:1-4:24 | (ESV)

Joshua said to the Israelites, "Come here and listen to the words of the LORD your God. ...

Joshua said to the Israelites, "Come here and listen to the words of the LORD your God. This is how you will know that the living God is among you and that he will certainly drive out before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites and Jebusites. See, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth will go into the Jordan ahead of you. Now then, choose twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one from each tribe. And as soon as the priests who carry the ark of the LORD—the Lord of all the earth—set foot in the Jordan, its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap."

So when the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant went ahead of them. Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water's edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah (that is, the Dead Sea) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho. (Joshua 3:9-16)
It is important to note that

E100: 023 | Trust God First

"Today’s reading is about Joshua who followed on as leader of the Israelites after Moses died. God had been preparing Joshua for the great challenge he faced. Joshua had witnessed Moses leading the Israelites, and had seen from Moses how to develop a real, personal relationship with God. God promised to give Joshua land, success and a leadership platform like he gave Moses. Best of all, God promised to be with Joshua. In return, God asked only one thing: obedience." (New Zealand's Rhema Radio)

Read Joshua 1:1-18 | (ESV)

After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses' aide: "Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites. (Joshua 1:1-18)
God's plan, his promise to the Israelites, is not dependent on specific people. It is not dependent even on great leaders like Joseph, Moses, or now Joshua. People come and go but

E100: 022 | Wrath, Justice, and Love of God

"In today’s passage, Moses discovered that while he was on Mount Sinai with God, the people had pressured Aaron into constructing a gold calf image. They then worshipped their new idol which infuriated Moses. Moses pleaded with God not to destroy the people. Moses and God had developed a very personal relationship, an example of the kind of relationship God wants with us today." (New Zealand's Rhema Radio)

Read Exodus 32:1-34:35 | (ESV)

The LORD replied to Moses, "Whoever has sinned against me I will blot out of my book. Now go, lead the people to the place I spoke of, and my angel will go before you. However, when the time comes for me to punish, I will punish them for their sin." (Exodus 32:33)

Then the LORD came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the LORD. And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, "The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation." (Exodus 34:5-7)
The holiness of God requires that sin be both punished and forgiven. At this point in history God provides the rules for which his people can know what is sin and provides a way to satisfy God's wrath through animal sacrifices and the tabernacle while still maintaining contact with his people (Exodus 20-31). Because God is Holy, he is just and justice requires punishment.

Punishment and Forgiveness seem to be opposites. God's love is

E100: 021 | The Holiness of God Demands Boundaries

"Today’s reading is all about the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments show us what God really cares about in three main areas. The first four centre on our relationship with God. The next group addresses our relationship with others and the third group deals with our relationship to things." (New Zealand's Rhema Radio)

Read Exodus 19:1-20:21 | (ESV)

Then the Lord told Moses, “Go down and prepare the people
for my arrival. Consecrate them today and tomorrow, and have them wash their clothing. Be sure they are ready on the third day, for on that day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai as all the people watch. Mark off a boundary all around the mountain. Warn the people, ‘Be careful! Do not go up on the mountain or even touch its boundaries. Anyone who touches the mountain will certainly be put to death. (Exodus 19:10-12, NLT | read the context)
This seems strangely extreme to me from strictly a human perspective. To put this in proper perspective and context one must acknowledge that God is holy. Easy said, but dwell on that a bit.


Mike Taylor writes "What does that mean? It's hard for us to express because it's so alien to us. Holiness is the opposite of sin. It's not merely the absence of sin, or even the hatred of sin, but a total otherness from sin. It's an uncompromising purity, a terrifying dedication to what is good and right."

A. W. Tozer puts it this way "God’s holiness is not simply the best we know infinitely bettered. We know nothing like the divine holiness. It stands apart, unique, unapproachable, incomprehensible and unattainable. The natural man is blind to it. He may fear God’s power and admire His wisdom, but His holiness he cannot even imagine."

John Piper says God "has an infinite love for what is infinitely valuable and an infinite hate for what opposes the infinitely valuable. His delight in praiseworthy things is unbounded, and his abhorrence of what is blameworthy is perfect."

Perhaps the more we try to comprehend the holiness of God the better we can understand the nature of the interaction between God and humans. Why does God act

E100: 020 | Don't Let Fear Narrow Your Vision

"Today’s passage reveals a defining moment for Moses. The most powerful army in the world was bearing down on him and his people were on the verge of a mutiny. He must have felt like he’d made a big mistake. But instead of rationalizing or running, Moses boldly proclaimed his trust in God and they escaped through the parted waters of the Red Sea." (New Zealand's Rhema Radio)

Read Exodus 13:17-14:31 | (ESV)

The Egyptians—all Pharaoh's horses and chariots, horsemen and troops—pursued the Israelites and overtook them as they camped by the sea near Pi Hahiroth, opposite Baal Zephon.

As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the LORD. They said to Moses, "Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn't we say to you in Egypt, 'Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians'? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!" (Exodus 13:9-12)
The Israelites had just witnessed what was probably the second greatest supernatural event in history after the creation of the world. Ten separate, unique, and consecutive supernatural events that God brought to Egypt under the leadership of Moses, all for them.

They were even being led by a pillar of cloud moving in front of them during the day and a pillar of fire at night. This must of been a remarkable sight.

Now God had led them to a spot pinned by the pursuing Egyptians against the great Red Sea. God had shown them his complete control over the natural world and they could only imagine that he had led them to a spot where they were trapped and couldn't get out. He led them out of Egypt only to die in the desert? Wow, what a short term and narrow memory they had!

With a little thought and some honestly I can easily and regretfully s

E100: 019 | Remember God Saves

"In today’s reading we learn about the Passover – the killing of all first-born sons and first-born male animals in Egypt by God. This act served as God’s judgement on the Egyptians for their horrible mistreatment of the Israelites. It also served as a reminder to the Israelites that it was God who had set them free." (New Zealand's Rhema Radio)

Read Exodus 12:1-12:42 | (ESV)

"Always remember this day. For all time to come, you and your children after you must celebrate this day as a feast in honor of the Lord. It is a law that will last forever.

... "Celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread. I brought you out of Egypt on this very day like an army on the march. It is a law that will last for all time to come.

... "Your children will ask you, 'What does this holy day mean to you?' Tell them, 'It's the Passover sacrifice in honor of the Lord. He passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt. He spared our homes when he struck the Egyptians down.' "

... The Lord kept watch that night to bring them out of Egypt. So on that same night every year all of the Israelites must keep watch. They must do it to honor the Lord for all time to come. (Exodus 12:14, 17-18, 26-27, 42, New International Reader's Version)
Always Remember. The Lord doesn't forget but humans do, so the Lord created a marker for his people, the Israelites. God instituted a feast, a celebration to take place each year, a holiday, to help them mark this event forever, to help them remember what took place in Egypt - God freed his people from slavery.

The Passover Feast was established by God as a sign post pointing

E100: 018 | The Power of God

"In today’s reading we see how God appointed Aaron to serve as a prophet and spokesperson for Moses. Together they demanded that Pharaoh allow the Israelites to leave Egypt. Pharaoh denied their request and so God demonstrated his power through a series of plagues that were not only meant to show Pharaoh that the God of Moses was the one true God, but also remind the Israelites that the Lord was worthy of their worship." (New Zealand's Rhema Radio)

Read Exodus 6:28-11:10 | (ESV)

Then the Lord said to Moses, "Go. Tell Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, to let the people of Israel leave his country."

But Moses spoke to the Lord. "The people won't listen to me," he said. "So why would Pharaoh listen to me? After all, I don't speak very well."

..."But I will make Pharaoh's heart stubborn. I will multiply my miraculous signs and wonders in Egypt. In spite of that, he will not listen to you. So I will use my powerful hand against Egypt. When I judge them with mighty acts, I will bring my people Israel out like an army on the march.

"Then the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord. I will reach out my powerful hand against Egypt. I will bring the people of Israel out of it." (Exodus 6:28-30, 3-5, New International Reader's Version)
The 10 plagues were not only for Pharaoh. Not only to make him give in. God could have done that without any plagues with just one word. The Lord had his view on eternity and his audience was

E100: 017 | God Pushes Us Beyond Our Fears

"Today’s reading described how God called Moses to deliver his people from slavery in Egypt. Moses questioned if he wanted this enormous job. When Moses protested his inadequacy, God didn’t argue or object, he simply promised to be with Moses." (New Zealand's Rhema Radio)

Read Exodus 3:1-4:17 | (ESV)

Moses raised another objection to God: "Master, please, I don't talk well. I've never been good with words, neither before nor after you spoke to me. I stutter and stammer."...

He (Moses) said, "Oh, Master, please! Send somebody else! "

God got angry with Moses: "Don't you have a brother, Aaron the Levite? He's good with words, I know he is. He speaks very well. In fact, at this very moment he's on his way to meet you. When he sees you he's going to be glad. You'll speak to him and tell him what to say. I'll be right there with you as you speak and with him as he speaks, teaching you step by step. He will speak to the people for you. He'll act as your mouth, but you'll decide what comes out of it. Now take this staff in your hand; you'll use it to do the signs." (Paraphrase of Exodus 4:10, 13-17 by Eugene H. Peterson in "The Message")
I can relate to Moses in his reluctance and fear. God was pushing him to take a risk. It is much easier to see and accept miracles around you or in someone else than to believe God can do the same in your own life. Moses had a fear of public speaking and even though

E100: 016 | God Is Aware and At Work

"Today’s reading describes the birth and early life of Moses. After his “lucky break” by the river, Moses became part of the Egyptian elite. But inside he was an angry young man who finally took matters into his own hands by murdering a slave in a futile attempt to save his people." (New Zealand's Rhema Radio)

Read Exodus 1:1-2:25 | (ESV)

...The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob. So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them.(Exodus 2:23-25)
Sometimes the way I read something, like reading between the lines, interferes with my understanding of the passage. Most translations I have read use a phrase like "he (God) remembered his covenant with Abraham." When I read this it kind of suggests that God has forgotten about his promise and is distant from his people. But I have to remind myself

E100: 015 | It Was God

"In today’s passage, Joseph could no longer hold back – he revealed his true identity to his brothers and asked the question that had been burning on his heart for years: “Is my father still alive.” Joseph was finally reconciled with his cruel brothers by grieving, praying and forgiving them." (New Zealand's Rhema Radio)

Read Genesis 45:1-46:7 | (ESV)

Joseph said to his brothers, "I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?"

But his brothers weren't able to answer him. They were too afraid of him.

Joseph said to his brothers, "Come close to me." So they did.

Then he said, "I am your brother Joseph. I'm the one you sold into Egypt. But don't be upset. And don't be angry with yourselves because you sold me here. God sent me ahead of you to save many lives.

"For two years now, there hasn't been enough food in the land. And for the next five years, people won't be plowing or gathering crops. But God sent me ahead of you to keep some of you alive on earth. He sent me here to save your lives by an act of mighty power.

"So then, it wasn't you who sent me here. It was God. (Genesis 45:3-8, New International Reader's Version)
Joseph is not interested in revenge. He forgives instead. Realizing that the pain and suffering his brothers had put him through was part of God's plan. This knowledge freed him from his anger and desire for revenge.

Ultimately this reconciliation of a dysfunctional family

E100: 014 | Painful Forgiveness

"Joseph’s test of his brothers continues in today’s passage as Joseph tries to buy time to process his anger. Joseph demanded to see his younger brother and kept Simeon with him as a guarantee until his brothers returned. The conclusion of Joseph’s brothers was that God was punishing them for what they did to Joseph. Joseph then needed to find a private place to weep as his desire to again be a part of his family overwhelmed him." (New Zealand's Rhema Radio)

Read Genesis 43:1-44:34 | (ESV)

Then Joseph hurried out, for his compassion grew warm for his brother, and he sought a place to weep. And he entered his chamber and wept there. Then he washed his face and came out. And controlling himself he said, "Serve the food." (Genesis 43:30-31, ESV)
Joseph breaks into tears 5 times during his dealings with his brothers. The last time his crying was loud enough to be heard in the next room. The anger and pain that had been buried for

E100: 013 | Eureka Moment - God is in Control

"In today’s passage, Jacob sends his sons to Egypt to buy some grain, where they encounter their brother Joseph. Joseph realized that his brothers didn’t recognize him, and decided to test them to see if they had really changed." (New Zealand's Rhema Radio)

Read Genesis 42:1-38 | (ESV)

When Jacob learned that there was grain in Egypt, he said to his sons, "Why do you just keep looking at each other?" He continued, "I have heard that there is grain in Egypt. Go down there and buy some for us, so that we may live and not die."

... Now Joseph was the governor of the land, the person who sold grain to all its people. So when Joseph's brothers arrived, they bowed down to him with their faces to the ground. As soon as Joseph saw his brothers, he recognized them...

Although Joseph recognized his brothers, they did not recognize him. Then he remembered his dreams about them...
(Genesis 42:1, 6, 7, 8, 9)
What an intense moment that must of been for Joseph when he flashed back to his dreams as a boy. The dreams that ultimately got him sold into slavery by his brothers. Dreams that predicted that very moment he was living. His brothers bowing down before him. (Genesis 31:1-11) It was at this point

E100: 012 | Life Is Not Fair

"Today we read how Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers and eventually ended up in prison after false accusations were made against him. Through this journey, Joseph matured. His life seemed unfair but he was prepared for it. Why? He put God at the centre and he trusted God’s plan." (New Zealand's Rhema Radio)

Read Genesis 39:1-41:57 | (ESV)

Here is a quick recap of part of the story.
Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. An Egyptian named Potiphar had bought him from the Ishmaelite traders who had taken him there. Potiphar was one of Pharaoh's officials. He was the captain of the palace guard.

The Lord was with Joseph. He gave him great success. Joseph lived in Potiphar's house. ... So Potiphar was pleased with Joseph. He made him his attendant. He put Joseph in charge of his house.

From that time on, the Lord blessed Potiphar's family and servants because of Joseph.

After a while, his master's wife noticed Joseph. She said to him, "Make love to me!"

But he said no. "My master has put me in charge," he told her. "Now he doesn't have to worry about anything in the house. He trusts me to take care of everything he owns.

... When Joseph's master heard her story, he became very angry. So he put Joseph in prison.

... So the man who was running the prison was pleased with Joseph. He put Joseph in charge of all of the prisoners.

"Here's what your dream means," Joseph said to him. ... In three days Pharaoh will let you out of prison. He'll give your position back to you. And you will put Pharaoh's cup in his hand. ..."But when everything is going well with you, remember me. Do me a favor. Speak to Pharaoh about me. Get me out of this prison. I was taken away from the land of the Hebrews by force. Even here I haven't done anything to be put in prison for."

Everything happened exactly as Joseph had told them when he explained their dreams. But the chief wine taster didn't remember Joseph. ...

When two full years had passed, Pharaoh had a dream. ...So Pharaoh sent for Joseph. He was quickly brought out of the prison.

...So Pharaoh said to Joseph, "I'm putting you in charge of the whole land of Egypt."
(Genesis 39:1-2, 4, 5, 7-8, 19, 20, 21, 22, 40:12-13, 14-15, 22-23, 41:1, 14, 41, New International Reader's Version)
Here is how Tom Wells sums it up.
"Being sold into slavery served two sets of purposes in Joseph's life. His brothers sold him to be rid of him, and their purpose was served. But God allowed it for his own purpose, to save the people of Israel alive. Unless the grace of God later intervened, the brothers would answer for their evil purpose. But that did not keep them from serving God's purpose. They did so as surely as if that was all they wanted to do!"
God's involvement and guidance in Joseph's life is indirect and probably a little mystifying to Joseph. At times it probably seems to him that he is living in an upside down unjust world. He seems to get the exact opposite of what he deserves. He tells his family about his dreams and they throw him in a well and sell him into slavery. He resists sexual advances from his boss's wife and ends up in prison. He interprets another dream to help a cell mate and that guy forgets about him when he gets out.

He could easily be saying

E100: 011 | Hate, Envy, and Lying All Among Brothers

"Joseph is the man. He is young, he is confident, self assured, 17 yrs old and he is his Dad’s favourite. His job is to report on all that his older brothers do, to his father." (Petra Bagust)

Read Genesis 37:1-36 | (ESV)

The incredible story of Joseph begins here. One of the greatest stories in the bible. Here is this first part told by a first grader:
<a href="http://www.mybibledevotional.com/2010/05/e100-011-hate-envy-and-lying-all-among.html">[Read full post to see video.]</a>
When Joseph came to his brothers, he was wearing his beautiful robe. They took it away from him. And they threw him into the well. The well was empty. There wasn't any water in it. Then they sat down to eat their meal. As they did, they saw some Ishmaelite traders coming from Gilead. ... Judah said to his brothers "...Come. Let's sell him to these traders." ...The traders from Midian came by. Joseph's brothers pulled him up out of the well. They sold him to the Ishmaelite traders for eight ounces of silver. Then the traders took him to Egypt. (Genesis 37:23-25, 26, 27, 28, New International Reader's Version)
I like the way Keith Krell put it.
"God is never defeated by our deceit. Jacob deceived. Jacob was deceived. The brothers hated. They envied. They plotted. They lied. And when you get to the end of the chapter, God has placed Joseph exactly where he needs to be to accomplish God’s purposes."
Imagine being Abraham's great grandson, Joseph. Your grandfather was Isaac and your dad is Jacob. The dysfunction in your family continues. You have just been

E100: 010 | Forgiveness and Reconciliation

"In today’s reading we see how Jacob’s guilt caused him to try to reconcile with his brother. Jacob’s heart was changed through an important encounter with God – a wrestling match." (New Zealand's Rhema Radio)

Read Genesis 32:1-33:20 | (ESV)

Then Jacob prayed, "O God of my father Abraham, God of my father Isaac, LORD, you who said to me, 'Go back to your country and your relatives, and I will make you prosper,' I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness you have shown your servant. I had only my staff when I crossed this Jordan, but now I have become two camps. Save me, I pray, from the hand of my brother Esau, for I am afraid he will come and attack me, and also the mothers with their children. But you have said, 'I will surely make you prosper and will make your descendants like the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted.' " (Genesis 32:9-12)
Jacob prays honestly and humbly before God.
But Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. And they wept. (Genesis 33:4)
God answers Jacob's prayer for help beyond

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