After the death of Moses the Lord’s servant, the Lord spoke to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ assistant. He said, Moses my servant is dead. Therefore, the time has come for you to lead these people, the Israelites, across the Jordan River into the land I am giving them. I promise you what I promised Moses: ‘Wherever you set foot, you will be on land I have given you. Joshua 1:1-3
Remember this, keep it in mind, take it to heart, you rebels. Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, "My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please." From the east I summon a bird of prey; from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose. What I have said, that I will bring about; what I have planned, that I will do. Listen to me, you stubborn-hearted, you who are now far from my righteousness. I am bringing my righteousness near, it is not far away; and my salvation will not be delayed. I will grant salvation to Zion, my splendor to Israel. Isaiah 46:8-13
Yet, my brothers, I do not consider myself to have “arrived”, spiritually, nor do I consider myself already perfect. But I keep going on, grasping ever more firmly that purpose for which Christ grasped me. My brothers, I do not consider myself to have fully grasped it even now. But I do concentrate on this: I leave the past behind and with hands outstretched to whatever lies ahead I go straight for the goal—my reward the honour of being called by God in Christ. Philippians 3:12-14 (Phillips)
Under Moses, the people of Israel came near to the promised land of Canaan. 12 men were sent to spy out the land. 2 men gave a good report and 10 men gave a bad report. God had commanded them to go in and possess the land, but the bad report led to Israel disobeying God. In consequence, Israel wandered in circles for 40 years in the wilderness until all of the generation above 20 years old had died, except for Joshua and Caleb (the 2 men with the good report). What God says to Joshua in the Joshua 1 passage above is extremely significant. The time has come for Joshua to lead God's people into the promised land.
The promised land is often used to paint images of other special things God has in store for his people. Often Heaven is called the promised land. Crossing over Jordan into the promised land becomes an image for the transition (death) from life here (physical life) to life in Heaven (eternal life). The promised land paints another image for us that is very important for us in the here and now. We must keep clearly in view that God brought Israel out of Egypt in order to bring them into the promised land and that they rebelled against what God was doing. So, up until now (Joshua 1) Israel was a "brought out" people" but not a "brought in" people. God saved his people from Egypt and this is a great image of our redemption. We were slaves to the old life of sin (Egypt) and God rescued us (the parting of the Red Sea) to bring us into new life in Christ (the promised land). Unfortunately, we are often like Israel under Moses. We have been wandering around in the wilderness for years somewhere in between being brought out (redemption) and being brought in (sanctification).
But there is tremendous hope for us and our Joshua story encourages us in that hope. Israel is given the opportunity under Joshua to get it right. In the Philippians passage above, the Apostle Paul says, "I leave the past behind and with hands outstretched to whatever lies ahead I go straight for the goal." Our goal is to "enter in" and begin experiencing our relationship with Christ in all its fullness so that he is free to transition us fully from the old life to the new life. "The time has come" for us to leave the wilderness and "enter in." The time has come for us to live fully for God.
Lord, I am so thankful that you redeemed me and that I am forever yours. But, I know, Lord, that my Christian experience has had a lot of "wilderness" in it. I confess that the "new life" you desire for me has eluded me in so many ways and that I have simply not believed like I should that a "promised land" experience with you was possible. Today I choose to believe. I believe that just as surely as you brought me out you can bring me in. So, I come to you, Lord Jesus, and I give myself to you afresh. Show me how to "enter in" and experience my relationship with you in all its fullness so that my life truly becomes a "new life."
Posted on Tue, June 9, 2015
by Alan Porter