Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Favored: Joshua and Caleb Notes

Some notes on my contribution to the sermon prep study group - a bit shorter than usual and missing some of the Hebrew stuff I discussed, but I thought I'd throw this up anyway.  It's obviously geared toward the theme of God's favor for the "Favored" sermon series:

Numbers 13-14: Only Joshua and Caleb end up confident in the Lord. Out of the 12 spies (and ultimately the Israelites at large), only they trust completely in God’s promises. Joshua and Caleb accept the trustworthiness of God and his Word and his ability to do what was promised. What makes Joshua and Caleb unique is that they expect and trust in God’s favor and see everything through that lens - everything is interpreted in terms of God’s favor expressed in his Word to them. They choose to see God’s favor both in present circumstances and in the future. By contrast, the others experience only fear and the imminent danger of failure and death. They choose to see things through a different filter than faith and favor. This lack of faith in God and lack of seeing things in terms of God’s favor leads to disobedience and utter lack of faithfulness towards God, bringing God’s project with Israel almost to a screeching halt.

Joshua and Caleb, however, see God’s favor in what others would see as disaster. In the face of the seemingly dire report of 13:28-29, Caleb, for instance, sees only the certainty of success in 13:30. As a result, only Joshua and Caleb will be allowed to enter the promised land since only they see God’s favor there. For those who decided that the land did not represent God’s favor to them and thereby rejected God’s favor, God honored that decision and reserved that favor for Joshua and Caleb alone, as can be seen especially in 14:39-45.

After Moses’ death, Joshua and Caleb continue to see things in terms of God’s favor throughout the rest of their lives as they move in to the land to claim what God had promised. In Joshua 14:6-15, Caleb still expects God’s favor and the fulfillment of God’s promises in bringing that favor in the context of the possession of land. And he gets it. Joshua, meanwhile, in places like Joshua 3-4 and Joshua 24, reacts to God’s favor by acts of remembrance and the institution of future remembrances, choosing to serve God and, by his example and calling to mind God’s past and present favor in the taking of and current possession of the land, encouraging both his and future generations to not take that favor for granted, to abandon it, or to scorn it in any way.

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