The division of the land to the Israelites in Joshua might seem at first like old, irrelevant news to you and me.
It’s anything but.
Here is one of those key lessons we need to learn about the Bible – God doesn’t traffic in the superfluous. What He inspired the original authors to write may not always yield up its treasures at first glance. But rest assured, if God has spoken it, there is something in it for you and me. It might take a little digging, a little prayer, a little deep thought and meditation – but as the old Gold-rush miners were wont to say “There’s gold in them there hills!”
One thing worth considering is how the Israelite’s conquest parallels the Christian life. While they had entered the land, and Chapter 12 notes they had already waged 31 successful campaigns, 13:1 states: “there remains yet very much land to possess.” As Christians, yes, we are born again – justified before God with the righteousness of Jesus Christ. BUT! We are not by any means home yet. “There remains yet very much land to possess.” There are still bastions of remaining sin which need challenging. Sinful habits, ways of thinking, and tendencies to be distracted by the World, the Flesh and the Devil to be guarded against and waged war with continually. Yes, the Lord has promised a FULL inheritance to us – and we already have one foot in Canaan, but there is a whole lot yet to be done in this process of being conformed to the image of Christ. Of walking in the fullness of His Spirit. Of His character having its full and rightful place in us.
Secondly, the division of the land shows how carefully God appoints the boundaries of people’s lives. Just think – how during this Corona virus event, we are required to interrupt our normal routines, shelter in place and adapt to a whole set of “new normals.”
None of this is by accident.
In the Promised Land, God allotted certain territory to each of the tribes. That meant they didn’t get to choose who their neighbors would be – or, which enemies they’d have to contend with throughout their lives. And it is no less so with all of us. As Paul notes on Mars Hill, this is His way with all humanity. We are not randomly in our places either of ease or discomfort. He is involved in where we live, when, with whom, and with what particular advantages, challenges, friends, enemies and circumstances we’ll each have to face.
Now this is all designed with a specific end in mind – conforming you and me to the image of Christ. He knows just what circumstances, environments and events will best surface our sins so we can face them; goad us to seek His Spirit’s enablement; bring us to prayer; drive us to study His Word and seek out others in Christ to both obtain their help, and offer our own.
What a God!
Maybe you think you’d do much better in your Christian life if you had a different spouse, lived in a different neighborhood, had either more – or less money, didn’t have a particular physical infirmity, had a more enjoyable job, a different educational background, better parents or better hair. Maybe you’d rather have different sins to wrestle with than the ones you do. But no. He knows best. These are the beginnings of our inheritances promised to us by our all-wise, all-loving God.
The question is – how will we dig in, to get out of it everything He has stored up in it to bless us?
Let that soak into your soul a bit today.
God bless, and God willing, we’ll talk again tomorrow.