After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD spoke to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, saying, “My servant Moses is dead. Now proceed to cross the Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the Israelites. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, as I promised to Moses. From the wilderness and the Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, to the Great Sea in the west shall be your territory. No one shall be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous; for you shall put this people in possession of the land that I swore to their ancestors to give them.”
Here is the destination, the land of milk and honey that God had promised His people when they were slaves in Egypt: “I will bring you into the land that I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; I will give it to you for a possession. I am the LORD” (Exodus 6:8). God’s people have come to their promised rest, rest from slavery, rest from wandering, and rest from their enemies.
God had promised this land centuries ago to Abraham’s descendants: “Every place on which you set foot shall be yours… No one shall be able to stand against you” (Deuteronomy 11:24; see also Genesis 13:17; Exodus 23:30-31). But while ownership of the Promised Land came from God’s faithfulness, possession of the land will come from the people’s faithfulness. God has graciously given them the land and brought them to it; now they must step out in faith, put one foot in front of another, and claim what is rightfully theirs. The whole land belongs to them, but they will only possess and enjoy what they claim in faith: “Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you”.
Here, yet again, the things that happened to the Israelites in the Exodus “happened to them to serve as an example, and they were written down to instruct us” (I Corinthians 10:11). There is important instruction for us in this, that God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 1:3). But we must step out in faith, and claim those blessings. God will not make us more godly than we really desire to be.
A. W. Tozer, in his book That Incredible Christian, writes about these spiritual blessings that “are to us what the Promised Land was to Israel, to be entered into as our faith and courage mount”. Concerning the riches of blessings that are given to us in Christ, Tozer adds:
God will not force anything on you. As Joshua fought his way into possession of the Promised Land you also must fight on toward perfection, meeting and defeating whatever enemies would stand in the way to challenge your right of possession. The land will not come to you; you must go to the land… The man, for instance, who is satisfied to live a defeated life will never be forced to take victory. The man who is content to follow Christ from afar off will never know the radiant wonder of His nearness. The man who is willing to settle for a joyless, barren life will never experience the joy of the Holy Spirit or the deep satisfaction of fruitful living.
How goes it with us today: are we standing on the promises or sitting on the premises?
- Can you think of a promise that God has given that you want to possess and live into more fully? If so, take a few moments to talk with God about it.
- Take a few moments to meditate on the promise of God’s presence renewed to us in the New Testament: “So God has said, ‘I will never leave you or forsake you.’ So we can say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:5-6)