Monday, January 20, 2014

"The Promised Land ..."

Day #24:  Daily Bible Reading - January 21st

Scripture Reading:  Joshua 16 - 20 ...

The division of the land continues as each of Jacob's sons (and the two sons of Joseph: Manasseh and Ephraim) receive an inheritance in the promised land of Canaan, the land God had promised to Abraham and his descendants more than 400 years before.  Tribe by tribe, name by name, the land is assigned.  It is like the reading of a will and all who are part of Abraham's family receive their share of the inheritance.  There are a number of very important things to consider from these chapters.

First, the inheritance comes from God.  This was not Abraham's land.  Remember that God had told Abraham to leave his father's house and land and go to the place He would show him (Genesis 12:1).  Because the inheritance came from God, the very basis for the inheritance was GRACE.  The people of Israel did not choose this land for themselves or do anything to deserve this land - it was a gift from God.

Second, the detail of the division of the land reveals that God knows each name and the place of each.  It is as Paul says to the men of Athens in Acts 17:  "The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands.  And He is not served by human hands, as if He needed anything, because He Himself gives all men life and breath and everything else.  From one man He made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and He determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live" (Acts 17:24-26).

All of this points to another promised land and another inheritance that God has promised to those who are part of Abraham's family by faith in the "Seed" of Abraham, Jesus, the Christ.  God's Word points to a new heaven and a new earth.  The new "heaven" is the atmosphere and space around a planet created by the Word of God, and the new earth is ... well, a new planet.  Some believe that God is going to simply improve THIS planet, but II Peter 3 says that "the day of the Lord will come like a thief.  The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. ...  That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. BUT in keeping with His promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness" (II Peter 3:10, 12-13).

God will do what He says He will do.  Even the "cities of refuge" remind us that God knows the heart and offers forgiveness to those who draw near to Him.  Always, we look forward to God's promises only through faith in Jesus Christ, knowing that the promises of God come to us through our relationship with Jesus.  It is to those who believe in Jesus that the promises are given - not to all.  GRACE is given to those whom God chooses and to us the inheritance comes.  A thankful, heartfelt response of a life lived for God is the only response worthy of God's love and promises.

"Father in heaven, the joy of knowing You and being part of Your family cannot be compared to anything this world offers.  I thank You for setting Your love on Me, for saving Me through the sacrifice of Jesus, and for Your wonderful promises of a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness, where You will live WITH us - forever!!!"  In Jesus' name, Amen"

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