Did you ever want to get pumped up on God's delivering power? Try
reading through the first few chapters of the book of Joshua. Chapters
1-12 tell numerous stories of
deliverance, complete with uncountable miracles. Then you arrive at
13-22, dedicated to the division of
the conquered land and the fulfillment of the ancient promise made to
Abraham, and it builds us up in the Truth that God keeps all
Chapter 23 of the book of Joshua gives us an interesting verse: "See, I have parceled out to your tribes these remaining nations, from the Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea in the west, including all the nations I defeated. The LORD your God will drive them out from before you and remove them, so you can occupy their land as the LORD your God promised you." (Josh 23:4,5)
I don't know about you, but this verse made me do a double take. I had just read about how God so miraculously conquered the land, and now I'm reading that He didn't conquer all of it?
True enough, God promised to continue to deliver the people from the Canaanites who remained, but why didn't God just finish the job He and Israel had started? Especially knowing that these same nations would one day become a pitfall for Israel and would draw them away from God...
The Bible gives us some clues as to why, and it's true that the people had been prewarned that this would happen: "He, the God who leads you, will expel the nations little by little. You will not be allowed to destroy them all at once lest the wild animals overrun you." (Deut. 7:22 NET)
Okay, Lord, that kind of makes sense...But couldn't You have given them victory over the wild animals as well? Why not just do everything all at once?
I pondered this question for quite a while, and as I did, I realized that God had a powerful message to teach us through this one fact, and this will be the subject of the upcoming 6 Part mini-series, "Ultimate Rest: Lessons from the Conquest of Canaan."
The first clue that this incident has deep messages to teach us comes from the book of Hebrews, chapter 3, where reference is made to the gift of Canaan as being "rest": "Oh, that today you would listen as he speaks! Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, in the day of testing in the wilderness. There your fathers tested me and tried me, and they saw my works for forty years. Therefore, I became provoked at that generation and said, 'Their hearts are always wandering and they have not known my ways.' As I swore in my anger, 'They will never enter my rest!" (Heb 3:7-11)
Thus, entering into Canaan was considered to be "rest" for the people, who had been slaves in the land of Egypt and had just spent several months as nomads, wandering in the wilderness. Yes, after experiencing all of that, the gift of your promised home would seem like "rest," wouldn't it?
As you read on through Hebrews 3 and 4, however, you begin to understand that there is a far deeper meaning to the concept of "rest" than simply entering into the Promised Land: "Therefore we must be wary that, while the promise of entering his rest remains open, none of you may seem to have come short of it. For we had good news proclaimed to us just as they did. But the message they heard did them no good, since they did not join in with those who heard it in faith. For we who have believed enter that rest..." (Heb 4:1-3a)
Friends, when we believe in Jesus, we enter into "that rest", the same rest God gave Israel when they finally entered Canaan and "...the land had rest from war." (Joshua 14:15b)
But just what does it mean to "rest" in Jesus?
Join us next Saturday for Ultimate Rest, Part 2 and find out.
In His love,
Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author -- "Aboard God's Train -- A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer", Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.
(To access the entire "Ultimate Rest" Mini-series, please click here.)