Tuesday, February 23, 2016

"An inheritance from the LORD!"

Day #55

Scripture Reading:  Joshua 11 - 15 ...

These chapters in Joshua may at first seem somewhat tedious to read.  Why should you and I care about how the land was divided?  Yet, it is interesting today that the “ownership” of the very land these chapters are talking about is in dispute to this very day, right up to the present time!  God had said to Abraham and to Isaac and to Jacob that this land belonged to them and to their descendants ... FOREVER!!  And now Joshua leads them into this land hundreds of years later, just as God had promised.  History reveals the turmoil this land has seen over the past three thousand years, yet in the years leading up to 1948 God prepared the way once again for the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to possess the land promised to their forefathers. 

What you are reading in Joshua’s account of these things is not only about the land, but even more importantly about the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the only true God, keeping His promises!  This is about OUR God, who speaks in His Word about another “promised land,” and who promises to be faithful to those who are united to His Son Jesus Christ, the “Seed” of Abraham, by faith.  You should be interested in what God did for Israel, because if God is not trustworthy and does not keep His promises to them, how can we be sure He will keep the promises He has made to us?!

At the end of yesterday’s reading, we read in Chapter 10, verses 40-42, “Joshua subdued the whole region. ... He left no survivors.  He totally destroyed all who breathed, just as the LORD, the God of Israel, had commanded. ...  All these kings and their lands Joshua conquered in one campaign, because the LORD, the God of Israel, fought for Israel.”  What a testimony to the power of God, but also to the love of God for His people.  There would be more battles to fight, but they knew now that God was with them!

As we read further into Joshua's historical recounting of the taking of the promised land he makes it clear that everything was done "as the LORD had commanded."  The LORD said to Joshua, "Do not be afraid of them, because by this time tomorrow I will hand all of them over to Israel, slain" (Joshua 11:6).  Once again, it is vital to understand the spiritual state of those living in the land God had promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  ALL mankind exists in utter rebellion against God.  Some rebellion is more obvious, but God says, "the heart is deceitful above all things, and beyond cure.  Who can know it?" (Jeremiah 17:9).  Judgment comes because judgment is deserved.

Having already destroyed all of mankind in the flood, except for Noah and his family, the entire human race owes its every breath to God, their Creator.  If God were to withdraw His presence today for even a moment all people would simply cease to exist.  God owes no one life.  It is only His grace that enables anyone to continue living, and if it is His will that life ends, who can judge our Creator (Romans 9:19-21)?  This sounds harsh, yet it is the clear teaching of God's Word.  In His compassion and mercy God today offers forgiveness and life through Jesus Christ, yet those who reject the Gospel or who do not hear the Gospel will face God's just judgment.  The testimony of creation and mankind’s rejection of the Creator is sufficient to “earn” God’s judgment for eternity (Romans 1:18-20).

The "other side of the coin" is the inheritance that those who are chosen by God receive.  Joshua describes the division of the land in these and the following chapters.  The land is given to the descendants of the sons of Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel.  These were (and are) God's chosen people.  We know that it is up to the person who owns the inheritance to give it to whomever they choose, and that is what God does.  Everything is His and He can give it to whomever He pleases. Therefore, when God promised to give this land to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, He made a covenant, a testament, a WILL ... and God keeps His promise.

Many people today have a difficult time accepting that God chooses some and not others because they begin with the assumption that most people are basically good and since “God is love,” it only makes sense that God would love everybody, send Jesus to save everybody, and welcome everybody into His kingdom.  That wasn’t true in the days of Joshua and Israel, and it isn’t true today.  Unless God chose some to inherit the promised land, none would enter.  Unless God Himself works in the hearts of sinful people to make them new creations, drawing us to Himself, not one would come.  Grace is grace precisely because it is undeserved and unattainable by our own efforts.

Understanding this should help believers to look at this world through God's eyes.  The nations of the world and all those who are separated from God by sin have no hope of an inheritance.  Only those who are "in Christ Jesus" will live with God forever in the new heavens and the new earth.  As the writer of Hebrews speaks of those who lived by faith and inherited God’s promises in Hebrews 11, he mentions Abel, the son of Adam and Eve, and Enoch, Noah and Abraham, and then he explains, “All these people were still living by faith when they died.  They did not receive the things promised, they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. ... They were longing for a better country – a heavenly one.  Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them!” (Hebrews 11:13-16).

God speaks of this city in Revelation 21 and says that He will make His dwelling with His people in this beautiful city, this perfect world, this new “promised land,” forever!!  Will YOU be one of them?  God calls out through His Word today and sends His Spirit with His Word to open blind eyes, to unstop deaf ears, to renew dead minds and to change hard hearts.  Have you heard His call?

Do not be one of those who judge God.  Thank God for His grace and obey His command to go into all the world proclaiming the Gospel so that you may be an instrument in His hands, an ambassador of His kingdom, to save some from the judgment they (and we) deserve!

"Father, Your justice is right and Your way is true.  Thank You for sending Your Son to pay the penalty for MY sin, and for all who believe in You through the work of Your Spirit within us.  How amazing is Your grace, O God!!  As I anticipate the inheritance that awaits, help me to be faithful to You as I live in this world.  In Jesus' name, Amen"

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