Don’t rest too soon

Joshua chronicles the conquests of Israel as they drive out the inhabitants of the promised land…well…most of them.

But one could argue that Israel doesn’t seem to be too concerned about that.  Chapter 14 closes with the statement “and the land rested from war.”

Rested?  Now?  There are still people in the promised land that shouldn’t be there.  Don’t you remember what Moses said?

Yet in Joshua we see a few times when Israel ignored that…hey…they were “resting.” – see Josh 15:63, 16:10, and 17:12.  All times when they didn’t drive out the Canaanites.  Note – it’s not that GOD couldn’t drive the inhabitants, Israel “couldn’t” and “didn’t”.   Why wasn’t God empowering them to drive them out like he had the other times?   I tend to lean on my trusty ESV study notes here:

Perhaps statements of what Israel “could not” do are to be read as early evidence of spiritual slippage—of failure to follow the Lord “wholly” (see 14:8)—which will become increasingly evident in the book of Judges

Again, loving my reading of Pink’s commentary “Gleanings in Joshua” – he digs WAY deep into this –

The above failures are to be accounted for by God’s withholding of His power and blessing upon their efforts. Andy why did He not show Himself strong on their behalf?  Because they had failed to do their duty, for instead of finishing the work the Lord had given them to do, they became slack and took their ease…

the lessons for us to learn therefrom are obvious. God grants His people no furloughs in the “good fight of faith.” (1 Tim 6:12)

He then ties it in with 1 Cor 16:13 which just blew my mind:

13(A) Be watchful,(B) stand firm in the faith,(C) act like men,(D) be strong.

  1. Be watchful
  2. Stand firm in the faith
  3. Act like men
  4. Be strong

I’ll close with one more Pink thought —

Unless we be vigilant in guarding against temptations and dangers on every side, are faithful in holding the truth of the Gospel both doctrinally and practically, are undismayed by those who oppose us – conducting ourselves boldly and bravely – we shall have no strength with which to overcome our foes.

So, you want to learn how to live a victorious life now?  Live by faith in the Gospel.  I know.  Too simple, right?  Aren’t there “7 Steps” we can find somewhere?   🙂

Your Best Life….Later

For you Francis Chan fans…you will recognize that as a title from his book Crazy Love, which I have started to read.  (Thank you, brother Tim.)

Obviously, I was pretty anxious to dig into this chapter with the tongue-in-cheek poke at the your best life now, prosperity “gospel.” (Resisting the urge to open that door…)

Chan discusses our behavior in this life, and how if we really are living by faith and really following scripture (like treating everyone we meet as treating Christ? Matt 25:45), like where is our focus in finances – to be comfortable here? Or are we truly giving in faith?  He points our that “God so loved the world that he GAVE…” – therefore our model has been set – why would we as Christians NOT be characterized by a life of holding loosely to the things of this world, and giving things away – especially to the “least of these.”   Just so we are clear – Chan doesn’t let us off the hook by pointing to the usual “least of these” – the astonishingly poor – but also those that I love to get irritated by…”the person driving painfully slow in front of me, the checker at the grocery story who seems more interested in chatting then ringing up my items, the member of my own family with whom I can’t seem to have a conversation and not get annoyed.”  OK.  OW. Stop.

I find it no coincidence that I’m reading thru Joshua as well.  I received a stack of old commentaries from our departing Senior Pastor – one of them a treasure from Pink “Gleanings In Joshua.”  In it he compares the crossing of the Jordan with the death of Christ and points out three things, underscoring my “Your Best Life….Later” tap on the shoulder from the Holy Spirit:

  1. Redemptively, the fruits of Christs work on the cross – far more have benefited from since his death, than were saved during his public ministry
  2. His death brought life and salvation to other nations – expanding the promise given to the nation of Israel

And finally —

A portion of the inheritance is entered into and enjoyed by him before the Jordan is crossed, but the principal part of it lies on the farther side of death.

Israel enjoyed the fruit of God’s promise on the other side of the Jordan, but it came after years of massive warfare – driving out the people and claiming what God has promised them.

For those who trust in Christ, we too will enjoy the fulfillment of His promise in Heaven, but it will come after years of spiritual warfare here on Earth – and that day will bring us rewards that this life can never give us. Our best life will truly be later.