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A Portal to the Divine

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1)   8-31-08…AM…SBC     2)

“A Portal to the Divine”

Joshua 20-21

Introduction:

Ø      With the task of allotting the lands east and west of the Jordan to the twelve tribes was complete.

Ø      Two final items remained to be taken care of: (1) the designation of the cities of refuge (chap. 20) and (2) the Levitical cities (chap. 21).[1]

Ø      The two groups of cities were related to each other, since the cities of refuge were a subset of the Levitical cities: there were forty-eight Levitical cities, out of which the six cities of refuge were designated.[2]

Transistion:  We want to see this morning that…


Proposition:  God’s Justice, Mercy and Faithfulness must transform us into a real fruit bearing disciple of Christ.


1)      Cities of Refuge          Ch 20              Ex 21:12-14; Num 35:9-29; Deut 4:41-43; Deut 19-1-10; 

A-    Why were they established?

1-      1- The cities of refuge were to provide a long-term place of refuge for those guilty of accidental murder.[3]

2-      But if a person killed another accidentally he was provided a safe haven in one of six cities of refuge.[4]

3-      If the act was a deliberate one i.e. murder, then justice demanded the death sentence; if it was accidental or unintentional, then the criminal was allowed to live a normal life in the city of refuge.[5]  – trial was held in the city of refuge

B-    Where were they established?

1-      Three on the West side of the Jordan – Kedesh, Shechem, Hebron

2-      Three on the East side of the Jordan – Bezer, Ramoth, Golan

3-      Each city of refuge was reachable in a day for those in its area. [6]

Application:

1. The Justice of God - God’s fair and impartial treatment of all people[7]

    1. The justice of God means that God is entirely correct and just in all His dealings with humanity.[8]

    1. As a God of justice (Is. 30:18), He cannot be interested in anything but fairness[9]  

Ø      The judgment on one committing intentional murder (Gen 9:6) is right and appropriate

Ø      Had God chose the punishment for accidental murder to also be death He would been just (appropriate, consistent, right) in this punishment because of the destructions of the image of God (Gen 9:6)

·               the justice of God means that it is fair for God to send people to hell for violating His law of salvation

-        we transgressed His Holiness and we deserve to be punished for violating His standards

-        because of that, if you chose not to submit to God’s way of salvation you will go to hell

·               in reflecting (communicable attribute) the justice of God we as His people must stand for the right and fair dealings in this world and should be righteously angered when justice does not take place

-          Do you uphold the ethical and judicial standard of God in your life? (abortion, murder, etc)

-          Do you uphold the ethical and judicial standard of God in your voting?

Transition:  this text also reflects on another aspect of God’s character

1. The Mercy of God -  God’s goodness to those that are in misery and distress

a.     We see the mercy of God displayed in providing a place of refuge for the accidental murderer

-          God didn’t have to do this, but because He is motivated by love for His creation He did

b.    God’s mercy seeks both the earthly needs of mankind (Ruth 1:8; Heb. 4:16) as well as the eternal salvation of people (Rom. 9:23; Eph. 2:4; Titus 3:5; 1 Pet. 1:3; Isa. 55:7);[10]

c. Jesus taught that mercy is to be reciprocated – Matthew 5:45

·             The mercy of God is best displayed in His sending His Son to die for the sins of the world

·             The mercy of God is seen in that He gives to generously for our daily needs

·             The mercy  of God is reflected when we show grace and mercy to those who don’t deserve? (parable of debt owed)

Transition:  This passage also teaches us about…

2) Cities for Levites                Ch 21

 

A-  Historical Background

1-      The last and crowning act of distribution was now described. The leaders of the tribe of Levi stepped forward and laid claim to the towns which had been promised to them by Moses (cf. Num. 35:1-8).[11]

2-      Though the Levites had the Lord for their inheritance (13:14, 33), they were given towns to live in and pasture-lands to support them. These needs were now provided for.[12]

3-      One important function of the Levites was that they were to be teachers of the law (Deut 33:10; cf. 2 Chr 17:7–9; 35:3; Mal 2:6–9), and they could more easily do this if they lived scattered throughout the land.[13]

·               As we are to be models and teachers of faith to the world around us, they were to be models and teachers of faith to the Israelites around them

·               This can be done easily if scattered throughout the land

4-      Levi’s status as a landless tribe originated in a curse Jacob pronounced on Simeon and Levi (Gen 49:5–7),[14] when they avenged their sister Dinah’s rape by Hamor the Hivite.

5-      It was essential that Israel obey the Word of God in all areas of life because without this their prosperity would cease and their privileges would be forfeited.[15]

6-      But the final word is a sad one. The Levites did not live up to their potential; they did not fulfill their mission. If they had, idolatry and its corrupting influence might never have spread over the land of Israel.[16]

B- 21:43-45        Read

 

1-      These verses constitute a link with 1:6, thereby underscoring the narrator’s theological scheme: the Lord kept his covenant with the patriarchs to give them the land fit for kings. They possessed it, settled in it and had rest from attack on every side (see 1:15; 11:23). Not a promise failed (see 13:1–7).[17]

2-      The historian looked back to the beginning and summarized the Conquest and division of the land with emphasis on the faithfulness of God. [18]

3-      These concluding statements do not ignore the tragedies that would develop during the period of the Judges, but those would be Israel’s fault, not God’s.[19]

4-      Yet the unfaithfulness of Israel in no way made the faithfulness of God obselete.[20]

Conclusion:

1-      The Justice of God[21]

a-      Towards Believers – the Justice of God to them is a glorious sunrise inaugurate a new day

1.      Our just penalty for sin was satisfied when Christ died as our substitute

2.      this message of redemption has been sweet music to the ears of millions

3.      We are now saved from the just punishment of God’s wrath

b-      Towards Sinners

1. To the one who rejects Christ for salvation God’s Justice stands as an eternal horror

2. Because of our sin we are all sentenced to a fair punishment – death       Romans 6:23

3. The heretical belief that God is too kind to punish the ungodly has become a deadly snare for many

4. Many have allowed this teaching to hush their fears and have continued on in sin while death draws

    closer and closer while disregarding the command to repent.

5. My friend here today the Justice of God is real and if you reject Christ you will know the

    Justice of God when you are punished in the torment of hell for all of eternity

2-      The Mercy of God

a-      We see the mercy of God in how He provided refuge for the murderer and an inheritance for Levi

b-      Mercy is the goodness of God confronting our guilt

c-      It is human suffering and guilt that call for divine mercy

d-     The mercy of God is what gets us pardoned us from the wrath of God’s Justice – Titus 3:5-6

e-      The mercy of God is what sustains us in our quest for sanctification

3-      The Faithfulness of God

a-      We once again see the faithfulness of God in v43-45

b-      Because God cannot cease to be what He is, He also cannot act outside of Himself

c-      God is reliable in His Word whether that word is positive or negative for you here today

d-     God always does what He promises to do and will never be unfaithful to those who trust what He has said

What does this mean for you?

Ø      Be Thankful – more than just a cognizant gratitude

Ø      The way you can show your thanks is by committing your life to Jesus Christ

·               The gospel Jesus proclaimed was a call to discipleship, a call to follow him in submissive obedience, not just a plea to make a decision or pray a prayer.[22]

·               The Bible teaches clearly that the evidence of God’s work in a life is the inevitable fruit of transformed behavior (1 John 3:10). [23]

How transformed are you?


----

[1]David M. Howard, Jr, vol. 5, Joshua, electronic ed., Logos Library System; The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2001, c1998), 379.

[2]David M. Howard, Jr, vol. 5, Joshua, electronic ed., Logos Library System; The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2001, c1998), 379.

[3]David M. Howard, Jr, vol. 5, Joshua, electronic ed., Logos Library System; The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2001, c1998), 381.

[4]John F. Walvoord, Roy B. Zuck and Dallas Theological Seminary, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : An Exposition of the Scriptures (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1983-c1985), 1:363.

[5]D. A. Carson, New Bible Commentary : 21st Century Edition, Rev. Ed. of: The New Bible Commentary. 3rd Ed. / Edited by D. Guthrie, J.A. Motyer. 1970., 4th ed. (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., USA: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), Jos 20:1.

[6]John Jr MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible, electronic ed. (Nashville: Word Pub., 1997, c1997), Jos 20:1.

[7]Ronald F. Youngblood, F. F. Bruce, R. K. Harrison and Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Rev. Ed. of: Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary.; Includes Index. (Nashville: T. Nelson, 1995).

[8]Paul P. Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology (Chicago, Ill.: Moody Press, 1997, c1989), 196.

[9]Ronald F. Youngblood, F. F. Bruce, R. K. Harrison and Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Rev. Ed. of: Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary.; Includes Index. (Nashville: T. Nelson, 1995).

[10]Paul P. Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology (Chicago, Ill.: Moody Press, 1997, c1989), 196.

[11]John F. Walvoord, Roy B. Zuck and Dallas Theological Seminary, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : An Exposition of the Scriptures (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1983-c1985), 1:363.

[12]D. A. Carson, New Bible Commentary : 21st Century Edition, Rev. Ed. of: The New Bible Commentary. 3rd Ed. / Edited by D. Guthrie, J.A. Motyer. 1970., 4th ed. (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., USA: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), Jos 21:1.

[13]David M. Howard, Jr, vol. 5, Joshua, electronic ed., Logos Library System; The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2001, c1998), 387.

[14]David M. Howard, Jr, vol. 5, Joshua, electronic ed., Logos Library System; The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2001, c1998), 387.

[15]John F. Walvoord, Roy B. Zuck and Dallas Theological Seminary, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : An Exposition of the Scriptures (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1983-c1985), 1:364.

[16]John F. Walvoord, Roy B. Zuck and Dallas Theological Seminary, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : An Exposition of the Scriptures (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1983-c1985), 1:364.

[17]D. A. Carson, New Bible Commentary : 21st Century Edition, Rev. Ed. of: The New Bible Commentary. 3rd Ed. / Edited by D. Guthrie, J.A. Motyer. 1970., 4th ed. (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., USA: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), Jos 21:43.

[18]John F. Walvoord, Roy B. Zuck and Dallas Theological Seminary, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : An Exposition of the Scriptures (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1983-c1985), 1:364.

[19]John F. Walvoord, Roy B. Zuck and Dallas Theological Seminary, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : An Exposition of the Scriptures (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1983-c1985), 1:364.

[20]John F. Walvoord, Roy B. Zuck and Dallas Theological Seminary, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : An Exposition of the Scriptures (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1983-c1985), 1:364.

[21] Tozer:  The Knowledge of the Holy – the Justice of God, p86-89.

[22]John MacArthur, F., The Gospel According to Jesus : What Does Jesus Mean When He Says "follow Me", Includes Index., Electronic ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Academic and Professional Books, Zondervan Pub. House, 1997, c1988).

[23]John MacArthur, F., The Gospel According to Jesus : What Does Jesus Mean When He Says "follow Me", Includes Index., Electronic ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Academic and Professional Books, Zondervan Pub. House, 1997, c1988).

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