We are on the last week of the series YOUnited States of America where YOU have a part. YOU have a part in this country today, and YOU have a part in making history for the future generations. So far we’ve talked about:
- Our rights and how to leverage our individual rights for the benefit of others.
- Praying on our knees in order to fight for God’s truth.
- We live on Holy Ground as this is the land God made, He is here with us and has a mission for us.
- Bravely and courageously standing for God’s truth, even when you are the only one.
We’ve talked about some wars, our country’s important documents, even some people who make a huge mark in history:
- American Revolutionary War 1775-1783
- The Bill of Rights
- Some of our Founding Fathers like John Adams
- Declaration of Independence – July 4th, 1776
- President Abraham Lincoln
- Civil War 186-1865
- Emancipation Proclamation
- James Parks
- Arlington Cemetery
- World War II 1939-1945
- President Franklin D. Roosevelt
We’ve also talked an awful lot about Joshua, the Israelite slave, turned Commander of the Israelite Army, turned aide to Moses, turned leader of the Israelites who leads God’s people into the Promise Land once and for all.
Some More History…
It’s time for your history test…and the answer is nothing that I talked about in the past four weeks.
What war was just before the American Revolutionary War (Remember the American Revolutionary War was when the American British was trying to break off from England)?
The French and Indian War 1754-1763 (Seven Years’ War)
This war occurred just before we were the United State of America. We became the USA in the first year of the Revolutionary War (1775-1783) just 12yrs after the French and Indian War.
So what was the French and Indian War about?
It was a war for territory between the colonies of British America against those of New France, each side supported by military units from their parent country and by American Indian allies. At the start of the war, the French colonies had a population of roughly 60,000 settlers, compared with 2 million in the British colonies. Needless to say, the outnumbered French particularly depended on the native Indians.
The war began with a dispute over control of what’s called the “Forks of the Ohio” where the Allegheny River and Mon-on-ga-he-la River meet the Ohio River. It was also the site of the French Fort Duquesne which is now a state park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The war began at the Battle of Jumonville Glen, just south of Pittsburgh in May 1754, during which Virginia militiamen were under the command of 22-year-old George Washington. A year later, he leads his men into a battle at Fort Duquesne.
On July 9, 1755, already a year into the war, the battle at this fort is raging between the British Colonial troops and the Native American tribes who are fighting for New France. The Red Coats (British America) were not doing too well. Two thirds of the British Red Coats died at that battle. Of the Red Coat officers only one remained. He became the number one target of the Natives. Thirteen times the order was given to shoot him down. Twice the horse was shot out from under him. And eventually the order to kill him was withdrawn because the natives recognize that he is a favorite of Heaven and is protected by the Great Spirit.
After the battle, the British officer removed his cloak to discover not one, not two, but four bullet holes. Yet there was not a single mark on his skin. He also acknowledged that the hand of God protected him. In later years, he would become the commanding general of the Continental Army and the first president of the United States. Today, we honor George Washington with a single, plain monument that rises to a height of almost 556 feet and towers above the DC landscape. It’s one of the tallest structures in the world.
The monument was modeled after the Egyptian obelisk, a four-sided pillar, standing upright and capped with a pyramid. Both the obelisk and the pyramid were sacred constructions to the Egyptians. They were built by slaves, covered with magic spells, and maintained by cultic priest. It was said they contained sacred mysteries which would transform the men they honored into Gods. As impressive in construction and design as these stone monuments may be, in the end, they rise to remember those who were merely mortal. Which is why the designer of the Washington Monument chose this design.
The Washington Monument stands 555 feet tall. It’s made of marble, granite, and bluestone gneiss. It’s the world’s tallest stone structure. Four-sided pillars capped with a pyramid were monuments that were sacred constructions to the Ancient Egyptians. They believed the monuments contained sacred mysteries which would transform the men they honored, into Gods. This inspired the designer of the Washington Monument. As the video said, “As impressive in construction and design as these stone monuments may be, in the end, they rise to remember those who were merely mortal” like George Washington who was shot four times without a signal mark on his skin.
Now the Hebrew slave Joshua, who we’ve been talking about was absolutely no stranger to the Ancient Egyptian monuments. His blood and sweat had literally gone into the very bricks the monuments were made from. He was a labor, not a soldier, much less a commander. Yet when the Israelites, former slaves, left Egypt and their camp was attached by the Amalekites, Joshua was the one chosen to lead the defense.
This is where we get to meet Joshua for the very first time. Later he would become the great leader who would bring God’s people into the Promised Land. But as a general of the Israelite army, he was gaining valuable experience for the greater battles ahead.
Something you should know about the Amalekites is that they were a fierce roaming tribe that lived in the dessert and made their livelihood by conducting frequent raids on other settlements and carrying off with their goods. And they killed for pleasure. These were brutal, ruthless people, and when the Israelites entered the region, the Amalekites saw this as a perfect opportunity for both pleasure and profit. But these men were moving in on the wrong group.
While the people of Israel were still at Reph-i-dim, the warriors of Amalek attacked them. 9 Moses commanded Joshua, “Choose some men to go out and fight the army of Amalek for us. Tomorrow, I will stand at the top of the hill, holding the staff of God in my hand.”
10 So Joshua did what Moses had commanded and fought the army of Amalek. Meanwhile, Moses, Aaron, and Hur climbed to the top of a nearby hill. 11 As long as Moses held up the staff in his hand, the Israelites had the advantage. But whenever he dropped his hand, the Amalekites gained the advantage. 12 Moses’ arms soon became so tired he could no longer hold them up. So Aaron and Hur found a stone for him to sit on. Then they stood on each side of Moses, holding up his hands. So his hands held steady until sunset. 13 As a result, Joshua overwhelmed the army of Amalek in battle.
Before this time, Joshua did not have some big military strategy, and he really didn’t have time to come up with one. But as long as Moses’ arms were raised in prayer, Joshua and his army was strong. And more importantly, they were winning. For the Israelite slaves to defeat such a nation, was more than enough proof that God was with them as He had promise to be.
At the end of the battle, Moses built an altar, an honorary stone. It was not a monument to memorialize Joshua. It was not a monument to memorialize Moses. It was an altar, a sacrificial monument, dedicated to Yahweh-Nissi, meaning ‘the Lord is my Banner’. Nissi is taken from two words that mean Refuge and Exaltation (or extreme happiness).
Through Joshua, came not the honor to be remembered, but the challenge to remember the one true God, the real victor of the battle.
When we look at Joshua, we see God building him up to be a great leader – a slave turned general to commander, to Moses’ assistant, into being Israelites leader. But Joshua was something else as well. He was the spiritual memory for a nation that easily forgot their God. Remember, this generation in Exodus will not enter the Promise Land because in a little further in scripture, they disobey God when the 12 spies were sent into the Promise Land to scope it out, but 10 of the 12 came back in a panic sending the 2 million Israelites all into a panic, while Joshua and Caleb stood tall saying if God is pleased with us, won’t He give us this land no matter how strong or big the giants are.
But the people of Israel were so prone to forgetting (like most of us). They just beat the Amalekites, yet in a short while they call themselves grasshoppers compared to the Canaanites. But through Joshua, the next generation would remember. They will have someone who experienced it personally to tell them and remind them of what God has already done for their parents and now for them.
And Joshua stayed true to that. In Joshua 4:4-7, the Israelites, the next generation, just crossed the Jordan River to begin their journey into the Promise Land, finally after 40 years. And you might think, get in there and get it done. Conquer the land. But no, not yet. When they cross that Jordan River (once again on dry land by the way) first, God directs them to build a memorial. A memorial from 12 stones from the river they just crossed. Why? Because God doesn’t want the to forget either. One day Joshua won’t be there, and it will be up to this new generation to pass on who God is.
So Joshua called together the twelve men he had chosen—one from each of the tribes of Israel. 5 He told them, “Go into the middle of the Jordan, in front of the Ark of the Lord your God. Each of you must pick up one stone and carry it out on your shoulder—twelve stones in all, one for each of the twelve tribes of Israel. 6 We will use these stones to build a memorial. In the future your children will ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 7 Then you can tell them, ‘They remind us that the Jordan River stopped flowing when the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant went across.’ These stones will stand as a memorial among the people of Israel forever.”
This may seem like an insignificant step in their mission of conquering the land, but God did not want his people to plunge into their task unprepared. They were to focus on Him and remember who was guiding them. Let alone, mark how God was doing amazing things among them.
The sacred alter Joshua had built was to be a constant reminder of the day the Israelites crossed the Jordan River on dry ground. Cause this was a whole new generation…they weren’t there the first time when the Israelites crossed the Red Sea. The idea was for them to remember but also for their children to see the stones, hear the story, and learn about God.
We too are called to be spiritual memories for a nation who forgot their God. The apostle Paul and Peter referred to the body of believers as Living Sacrifices and Living Stones. Sacred constructions that honor the Lord.
This should remind us to take the time to tell your children, no matter what age they are, what God has done for us – forgiving and saving you, answering your prayers, supplying your needs? Retelling your story will help keep memories of God’s faithfulness alive in them. And we shouldn’t be telling just our children these stories. We are called to tell a nation.
In a nation that easily forgets, we are to be stones of remembrance, monuments baring witness to the power and the promises of God. We are Living Stones. The challenge is before us. Not to be remembered, but to be stones of remembrance rising past our own achievements and successes, and humbly pointing others to the one true, immortal God.
As you are busy doing your everyday tasks, set aside some quiet moments – times to build your own memorial to God’s power that sticks right in your mind, so you don’t get shifted or distracted away from God.
We have a lot normally in our world to distract us from God. But today, those distractions are so much more and louder than ever. So let’s start the memorial by remembering what God has told us just in this series. Many great men were our examples, but to keep it simple let’s focus just on Joshua.
Fighting Our Knees:
First, Joshua had a life of prayer long before he was commander, assistant, or the main leader. Because of this, he had full respect for God. He respected him enough to obey Him, follow His crazy strategies, to trust Him, and especially to love Him.
The ground Joshua fought for was holy. Not for what it was, but for the plans God had in mind for it. It was holy ground because the Lord was with Joshua fighting for him and all of God’s people. It was holy for the mission God gave Joshua – take the land and redeem it for me (God).
Be Strong and Courageous:
Joshua was a great leader because he was a brilliant military leader and a strong spiritual influence, but the key to his success was really his submission to God. When God spoke, Joshua listened and obeyed which took courage. That doesn’t mean Joshua never was scared, but what he did differently than the others was he didn’t let the fear stop him! Joshua choose to follow God’s command to be brave and courageous.
Be a Stone of Remembrance:
Joshua’s obedience served as a model for all. As a result, Israel remained faithful to God throughout Joshua’s entire time as their leader. Joshua was a Living Sacrifice, a Living Stone that honored God. He was the spiritual memory for a nation that easily forgot their God.
Remember to pray. Appreciate your mission, Choose to be brave enough to obey God. And don’t forget what He’s done for you.
Joshua’s boldness rested on his understanding of God, not anyone else. You are Jesus followers so put your understanding right there, and in what God has called you to do.
The greatest freedom was made possible for all mankind through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. “Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” John 8:36
The most common, well known statement in the bible was first stated in the OT, in the book of Leviticus. Jesus used it to say this is the most important things I’ll ever say. Then Paul says it again about 25 years later to say this is still what should drive our behavior as Christians today.
For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”