Chris Appleby Ministries

Chris Appleby Ministries


Seeking Refuge       Audio

Joshua 20

You may wonder what this short passage has to do with the conquest of the land. Is it just a bit of padding added in to make up the 250 pages requested by the publisher? Well, no, in fact it’s an important piece of civil ordering for the nation of Israel.

You often hear people complaining about the violence we see in the Old Testament. You may be one of those people. We cringe at the thought of an “eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” It all sounds so barbaric.

Yet, how do people deal with personal injuries inflicted on them by someone else in a world where there’s no police force, no criminal justice system, no courts? One way people deal with it is by the vendetta, seeking vengeance for an injury done to them. But a vendetta, as you probably know, soon becomes a blood feud. It’s often between two families or clans, begun because of an injury by one person to a member of the other family that needs to be avenged. But it easily escalates to the point where each injury is repaid by a greater injury. And the justice of the situation soon becomes irrelevant. You knock out my tooth and I’ll come back with my big brother and knock out two of yours. You kill my sheep and I’ll kill your cow. You kill my brother and I’ll kill your children. It’s like an episode from some crime series, except there’s no police force to help you. The only law is the law of the jungle. The stronger or the more organised will always win.

But what if you want to have a people who’ll live justly among themselves? What if you were God setting up a civil law for your newly formed nation? How would you do it?

What Happens When We Fail?       Audio

Joshua 7-8

Jericho has been destroyed. The people are no doubt rejoicing at how well the battle has gone and now the next stage is to climb the pass to where the city of Ai stands defending the entry into the hill country of Canaan. But things don’t go quite as well as they imagine.

If you skipped over the first verse of ch 7 you might think that Joshua and his spies have been a bit over-confident following the triumph at Jericho. After all they only send 3000 men to attack Ai without really knowing what awaits them. Some commentators suggest that the problem was that Joshua didn’t stop to ask God for guidance. That’s certainly the case in a couple of chapter’s time when the Gibeonites trick him into accepting them as members of their community. But it’s not the case here.

The text tells us clearly what the problem is. A man named Achan has taken some of the booty from Jericho, things that had been devoted to God, and as a result God’s anger has burned against the Israelites.

Joshua’s actions are those of a good leader. He listens to the advice of the spies and sends a small battalion to attack what appears to be a weak city. But they’re totally defeated! And he can’t understand it. What’s gone wrong?

Joshua’s Farewell Challenge        Audio

Joshua 24

The land has been conquered. The people are beginning to settle into their new life in the promised land. Joshua is coming to the end of a long life. So he calls the people to come and hear his final words of encouragement and challenge. What he has to say is critical for their life together and, may I suggest, critical for our life together.

A Review of Covenant History

He calls together the whole nation, to remind them of all the things that God has done for them so far in their history. Listen to what he has to say. 

The Surprising Grace of God

He begins by focusing on Abraham - the father of the nation. Notice his origins. His family worshipped other gods beyond the river Euphrates. Just like you and me, Abraham came out of a culture that was basically pagan. Like many of us here today his family worshipped other gods. But God, in his grace, took him out of all that and led him to a new land.

Overcoming Obstacles by Faith     Audio

Joshua 5-6

It’s interesting to reflect on the importance of symbols. I wear a wedding ring on my left hands as a symbol of the lifelong commitment I’ve made to love honour and cherish my wife. In your workplace you may wear a name badge or lanyard as a symbol of your right to be there. When I was growing up people would wear a symbol like a Mercedes Benz icon with an extra vertical line at the bottom as a symbol of their desire for an end to war. This week you may well have seen images of the 911 memorial on the World Trade Centre site set up as a symbol of the nation’s stance against terrorism and as a reminder of those who died in that attack 20 years ago.

Well, as we progress through the book of Joshua you’ll find that symbols play an important part in the telling of the story.

Two weeks ago we heard about the crimson cord used by Rahab as a symbol of her faith in the God of Israel; last week we heard about the pillars of stone set up by Joshua as a reminder of their crossing of the Jordan, as a symbol of God’s presence with them as they enter the promised land; and today we begin with two even more significant symbols for Israel.

Joshua & The Gibeonites        Audio

Joshua 9

Common Sense isn’t all that Common

I love those movies and TV series that show con-men targeting dishonest or greedy people to steal their money. If you’re as old as me you may remember The Sting, or Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, more recently remade into The Hustle, or perhaps the TV Series Hustle. Now I like them not because I approve of theft but because of the cleverness of their schemes. And today as the adventure continues we find just such a scheme at work in Joshua ch 9.

The Israelites have just come from the foot of Mt Ebal and Mt Gerizim, modern day Nablus, where they were reminded of the blessings and the curses that God had promised to his people. They’re now moving south to continue their conquest of the land.

The whole population of Canaan has heard about them by now and the kings of the land below the hill country join together to prepare a defence. But not the leaders of Gibeon! They’ve seen what’s happened to Jericho and to Ai and they figure the same fate awaits them if they resist. So they take a different tack. They prepare a subterfuge.

They prepare dried out provisions, worn out clothes & sacks, dry and cracked wineskins and patched sandals and go to meet Joshua at his camp in Gilgal. They spin them a good story of how they’ve heard all about them even though they live a long way away.

- Half Truths & Deception

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