Now the gates of Jericho were tightly shut because the people were afraid of the Israelites. No one was allowed to go out or in. But the Lord said to Joshua, “I have given you Jericho, its king, and all its strong warriors. You and your fighting men should march around the town once a day for six days. Seven priests will walk ahead of the Ark, each carrying a ram’s horn. On the seventh day you are to march around the town seven times, with the priests blowing the horns. When you hear the priests give one long blast on the rams’ horns, have all the people shout as loud as they can. Then the walls of the town will collapse, and the people can charge straight into the town.” Joshua 6:1-5
Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as are mature, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you; however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained. Philippians 3:13-16
Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised. For yet in a very little while, He who is coming will come, and will not delay. But My righteous one shall live by faith; and if he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him. But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul. Hebrews 10:35-39
Today's thoughts from today's verses:
The Israelites getting into the promised land was one thing, but dwelling there safely and securely was another matter. While the promised land was a land flowing with milk and honey, it was also a land occupied by godless people who lived in ways that were fundamentally opposed to the life of faith and obedience God was seeking to produce in His chosen people. So, the inhabitants of the land were a threat to God’s chosen people both physically and spiritually. God’s plan for His people included conquering and displacing the inhabitants of the promised land and it began with Jericho. Our opening passage at the beginning of the week came from Psalm 78 and included these words, “So He brought them to His holy land, to this hill country which His right hand had gained.” The words, “He brought them to His holy land” refer to Israel’s getting into the promised land. This truly required faith dependence and was an exercise of “living by faith.” Israel “occupying” the land by faith is represented by the words, “This hill country which His right hand had gained.” The story of Jericho is the start of God gaining the land by His right hand and it truly required faith dependence. It was the beginning of Israel exercising faith in God’s provision that they would need to repeat over and over again throughout the long process of occupying the promised land.
Israel’s journey of “getting there” is all for the purpose of “being there.” What Israel did, once they were in the land, would become their legacy. As Israel occupied the land much of their legacy was determined by the opposition they faced and how they handled it. From the Scripture above we can say that opposition is anything that keeps us from pressing toward the goal and causes us to fall below the standard to which we have attained. While many of the difficulties Israel faced came from without, the difficulties we need to be concerned about are ones that can come from within ourselves. Here are some of the internal difficulties we need to be cautious about: It is easy for a church that is growing in leaps and bounds to become proud. It is possible for a church with such an extensive and well equipped campus to gravitate in the direction of becoming a Christian sub-culture. And it is possible for Christian service and activity to become a substitute for true spiritual connection with God. Such things happen when, as it says in the Scripture above, we shrink back from living by faith in God alone whose presence, power, and provision can miraculously protect, sustain, and enable us to “occupy” victoriously. Living by faith and “occupying” well for the long haul are matters of diligence and endurance and these are gifts from God that we desperately need Him to bestow on us. May He mercifully grant us the diligence and endurance we will need to face and handle all dangers.
Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:
Lord, deliver me and our church from pride in success, isolation from the world, and substitutes for you. I know these things slip in when we shrink back from genuinely “living by faith.” Grant us the gifts of diligence and endurance so that in faith dependence we “occupy “ well for the long haul. Be merciful to us for our good, your kingdom’s sake, and the honor and glory of your holy name. Amen!
Posted on Thu, August 31, 2017
by Alan Porter