Chelmsford Anglican Bible Conference 2014

18 Oct

This is a live(ish) blog from CABC 2014

The focus for this year is the book of Joshua, taught by Dale Ralph Davis.

Session 1 – Swallowing it whole: The book of Joshua in 1 swat
Reading – Joshua 21:43

1 – Watch for hinges
The book talks about God fulfilling His promise to Abraham through his descendants, bringing them into the Promised Land.

Whole book can be summed up by chapter 21:43-45.
It shows God’s faithfulness (chapters 1-21) and the responsibilities of His people (chapters 22-24).
This is echoed in Romans, where the summary comes in 11:33-36 of God’s faithfulness (chapters 1-11) and the responsibility of His people (chapters 12-16).
This shows 21 chapters of Grace and 3 chapters of obligation.

2 – Dig up the roots
It is important to read introductory content (chapter 1). It covers Moses (his relationship with God, the power God gave him and the impact that his death has), the land (God’s gift, linking to the promise in Genesis), assurance (“I will be with you”, emphasising God’s name “Yahweh”), requirement and the situation of the tribes sending their troops to aid the other tribes as the conquer the rest of the land.
This all points to the fact that this comes from the promises of God, not the gift of a great leader like Moses.

What we read is important, as it impacts who we are and how we do things.

We see the tribe of Mannaseh repeating God’s promise to Joshua – God’s encouragement so often comes to us through other believers.

3 – Match up the book ends
It starts on a funeral (Moses) and ends on 3 funerals (Joshua, Joseph’s bones and Eleazar). It confirms the promise of God, that all 4 are buried in “promised dirt”!
Why did Joseph want his bones to be taken to the Promised Land? It shows his belief in the promise of God. Possibly Joseph was focussing on the resurrection, with his understanding coming from the promise of Canaan. Certainly there was an assumption of the resurrection from the dead by Jews in the OT (see Psalm 37)

4 – Learn the lingo
Abar – to cross over (1-5).
Lakad – to take or capture (5-12).
Halaq – to divide the land (13-21).
Abad – to serve (22-24) – retaining the land by serving God.
Knowing the way the book is divided doesn’t help if we don’t know who it is pointing to. In each section it is pointing to the things that God is and is doing.

Session 2 – Meeting up with those God: What we are to be about
Reading – Joshua 5:1-12

The historicity of the Biblical text is very important. You can’t say that the second floor is fine if you start destroying the ground floor.
If you say that something in the Bible didn’t happen then it is has no meaning for our faith.
“God has given us His word as a revelation of Himself.” Our study of the Bible should be theocentric!

1 – God is odd in the people that He calls.
Rahab – In 2:10-13 she hears the testimony of what God has done, has a realisation of who God is and then seeks refuge in the mercy of God. This is Rahab’s truth. She sees that God is a dangerous God and so seeks sanctuary from this danger by fleeing TO that very same God.

The writer really wants us to know about Rahab, as you can remove it and never miss it. The writer means to provoke by including a pagan prostitute coming to faith in God.
Before any Canaanites are killed a remnant are saved through Rahab. And that is then brought into the ancestors or Jesus.

2 – God is odd in the circumstances He chooses
Why does the writer take 2 chapters to say what could be said in 1 sentence?
Because of God can help Israel pass the impassable and impossible River Jordan then they will know that He can help them with the “little” things too!
The writer also explains the geography (brackets at the end of verse 15) so that we understand how strange the circumstances are so that we know that it HAD to be God who did it!
Sarah – to old to have children and yet has a child because of God.
Egypt – brought to it’s knees by God.
Philistia – forced to return the Ark of the Covenant because of God’s actions against their gods.
Jesus – a virgin birth by the power of the Holy Spirit.
God regularly chooses to work in scenarios that are impossible, to show that it has nothing to do with human strength but everything to do with His.

The writer takes his time over these chapters because he savours the things that God has done.

3 – God is odd in the way He works
God wants rocks, big rocks! (4:1-10) and He wants rocks to teach people, to remind them of what He has done.
This shows us that He wants us to remember because the miraculous are not His regular way of doing things. Not that He can’t do the miraculous every time, because He clearly can (hence the memorials), but because He provides through his “regular providence”. God is present both in the miraculous and OUTSIDE of the miraculous!
We see this again with His use of soil (5:11-12). God has been providing manna for years. As soon as they eat the food of Canaan the manna stops, because He has already provided through the land of Canaan.

4 – God is odd in the values He prizes
In 5:1-10 we see that God holds the covenant of circumcision, of Israel being set aside, above all else, even the victory over Canaan.

Session 3 – The art of war and lists: Dealing with the literary handmaids
Reading – Joshua 11:1-5

In Joshua we see the eradication of whole tribes and peoples authorised by God. This can, for some, raise the “Old Testament God” who is all about death and suffering
Key to understanding is to go to the Bible and see what it says and doesn’t say about what is going on. In Genesis 15 God tells Abraham that his descendants will be given the land after 400 years. Why 400 years?, because the Amorites “iniquity” has not reached it’s peak yet. So God gives the people living in Canaan 400 years to give up their ungodly actions.
God uses Israel as His instrument of judgement on the Canaanites. It is not because Israel is righteous, but because of the Canaanites wickedness. It is not peaceful happy people being beaten by a zealous nation, it is a wicked nation being punished by a righteous and just God.
Can we preach war? Looking at story of the battle of Jericho and we see that only a verse and a half cover the fighting, the rest show Israel following God’s commands with marching around the city, trumpet blowing and the final shout. The centre of the focus is God’s presence with His people, the Ark of the Covenant (mentioned 9 times).
And then, just before Israel shout to bring the walls down, Joshua tells them about what they are to do and not to do. Why? Because dramatic victory is not as important as ordinary obedience!

At the start of chapter 11 we have a lot of detail about who was coming against Israel. This is to make a vivid impression to make sure that we truly understand what Israel were up against. It ensures that we realise that the victory gained is due to God, not the Israelites.

We are then told of the faith of Caleb (chapter 14), where he recalls the promise made to him by Moses and how he has made it to this point, 45 years later, to gain the fulfilment of that promise.
This contrasts with chapter 17, where Mannaseh bemoan what they are given.

Session 4 – First things in a last chapter
Reading – Joshua 24:1-15

You seek for first-commandment commitment from God’s people by pressing grace upon them.

1 – The story of grace (2-13)
Joshua speak from a concern over who may come after him to lead them.
He reminds them about the grace that God has shown them, from all the way back to Abraham up to the (then) present day.
He reminds them that Abraham was a pagan, yet God still called him from that place into relationship with Him.
He points out the God kept them alive with manna and quail in the wilderness and then fed them with the food of the land of Canaan.
Joshua tells Israel that God has always been there, pulling them out of trouble wherever they have found it.

2 – The claim of grace (14-15)
It is an exclusive commitment to serve only God.
No gods in Canaan were fussed if people didn’t worship them. God being upset by people not worshipping Him was a unique situation.
Yahweh is the ONLY intolerant deity from the ancient Near East!
Joshua is reminding Israel of everything God has done so that they may avoid forgetting and remember the grace shown to them, rather than rejecting God.

3 – The realism of grace (16-28)
Joshua reminds Israel that they are not capable of worshipping and serving God.

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