Practical Proverbial, from Hebrews, 15 November 2016

Therefore since it still remains for some to enter that rest, and since those who formerly had the good news proclaimed to them did not go in because of their disobedience, God again set a certain day, calling it “Today.” This he did when a long time later he spoke through David, as in the passage already quoted:  “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”  For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day.  Hebrews 4, verses 6-8

We’ve talked about “today,” about how God’s word is active in us right now, the moment we receive it, often whether we receive it or not.   Let’s keep it real:  whether you believe in God or not, God provides life and everything for you anyway and He works His purposes in the lives of all people regardless of what they believe.  And we’ve talked about how God doesn’t expect us to know all the answers to all the questions about Him and His world.   We’re simply supposed to trust that He knows what He’s doing, and He does; proves it again and again.

Yet consider this point:  God still promises us deliverance and rest regardless of what He promised and did before.

Joshua 22 is set in the time after the Israelites have conquered the Promised Land and driven out or killed all the unbelievers and idolaters who lived there.   Joshua summoned the leaders  of some of the tribes together and told them that it was time for them to go home, to go to the places God promised them.   Those who fell in conquest were already with God but those who inherited the land for which they struggled would now receive God’s blessings in it.   As leader of the people, Joshua had the political power to do as he pleased.   Yet as God’s instrument and prophet, he realized that he lacked the spiritual authority to grant his brothers and sisters real peace.   They could live in physical peace with themselves and their neighbors, but Joshua realized that only God could grant and preserve real peace from within.

We have our Joshua’s today.   Military generals throughout history have won battles and some have even ruled justly afterwards.   Political leaders win elections and then have the opportunity to govern with morality, faith, and justice.  Corporate titans of business build successful companies providing goods and services that better us all.   Most important of all, leaders in our families and churches provide the experience, advice and guidance to lead all of us in living with our peers, subordinates and children.  If you don’t see a Joshua around you, leading with moral authority and Godly qualities, then be Joshua yourself and watch all the people who follow your lead.

In doing so, consider you or your Joshua as the forebearer of Jesus in more than just name.  As you’ll recall, Hebrews 3 details how Jesus was greater than Moses (and Joshua) both politically and spiritually.   While Moses and Joshua held the physical (and even moral) authority to carry out God’s commands, they couldn’t originate those commands because they weren’t God.   But Jesus was, and is.   Only Jesus could promise to deliver His people from the sins, guilt, and anguish that plagued them whether or not they lived in Canaan.  If Joshua led the armies to win the peace, then only Jesus could lead the people to preserve the peace.

And it’s the same peace that He offers us today.  My pastor-friend, Mark, said just this past Sunday that one of the blessings of persecution (and a Christian life) is scattering the word of Jesus.   When we move about, we get to take Jesus with us.   When we follow today’s Joshua, we get to live out Jesus for those around us, many of whom don’t know Him.  What we get to share isn’t Pollyanna platitudes:   it’s the sure-hope promise that God will deliver us NOW from the shame and guilt of our wrongdoings; that in our believing, Jesus makes us citizens of heaven here and now so that, when our work here is done, we get to join Him in paradise beyond.

You and I can live our lives in non-violence and friendship towards each other, and we should.  That’s a common-sense thing to do as well as a fruit of God’s Spirit.   Yet that physical peace between us doesn’t amount to much if we can’t expand our understanding of it to accept how God’s truest intentions for our lives is to share in His Gospel rest both today and later.

For more reading:   Psalm 95:7-8, Hebrews 3, Joshua 22:4.

Lord God, I need Your peace in my life.   I want to live in harmony with my brothers and sisters, yet I truly crave the resting presence of You and Your peace.

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