Joshua and the Israelites stood at the border of the Promised Land. What should they do? The Lord said to Joshua, “You and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them” (Josh. 1:2 NIV). How was the Lord God going to give them what He had promised? Was He just going to give them the keys? The Lord continued, “I will give you every place where you set your foot” (Josh. 1:3). It was not an invitation to walk wherever they pleased, neither was it an opportunity for world dominion. God’s promise was limited to specific geographical boundaries – the Promised Land. Throughout the whole book of Joshua we see this interesting combination: God promised to do something, but in order for that something to happen some bold action by His people was required. Conquering the Promised Land required faith that was more than mere positive thinking or yes-we-can optimism. This faith meant trusting in God’s promises, believing that He would do what He said. Rahab told the spies, “I know that the Lord has given this land to you” (Josh. 2:9). She then risked her life by hiding the spies in her home. The spies reported back to Joshua saying, “The Lord has surely given the whole land into our hands” (Josh. 2:24), and then joined the army to fight. The Gibeonites believed God would hand the land over to the Israelites, so they desperately sought a peace treaty (Josh. 9). Things happened when they truly believed!
Sometimes God’s intervention is clearly visible: We read that “the Lord hurled large hailstones” on the enemy and stopped the sun for hours (Josh. 10:11-13). Sometimes it is less obvious: He protected them from evil curses and “sent the hornet” ahead of them to destabilize their opponents (Josh. 24:9-12). But conquest of the Promised Land still required serious human participation.
We know God can do everything on His own, but for some reason He chooses to partner with us. What has God called us to do? His fantastic promises are not designed to promote holy passivity but to encourage us to trust Him, to serve Him faithfully, and to fearlessly move forward. This is the challenge for us!
By Philip Nunn
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org