“That We Might Have Hope” (Rom. 15:4)
Joshua Chapters One Through Five
Passing On The Promised Land
“What a trip!” We often hear such a phrase coming from the lips of parents at the end of a challenging vacation with the kids. Things don’t always go as planned. The children may not always cooperate. Adults don’t always cooperate. But, no matter how long, short, tough, or grueling our trip has been we have “home” to look forward to at the end.
On The Move
The children of Israel had been on quite a “trip.” Many of the members of that band had never lived in a permanent dwelling. They had been born on the move and had been continually pulling up stakes and moving on again. The younger generation watched as their parents and grandparents dropped in their tracks and were laid to rest in the rocky wasteland.
What was their motivation for going on? “Home” was at the end of the trip. The Promised Land lay waiting.
Joshua, the new commander, gave the order: “Prepare provisions for yourselves, for within three days you will cross over this Jordan, to go in to possess the land which the LORD your God is giving you to possess” (Josh. 1:11). What a momentous occasion, not only for those individuals who were present at that event, but for all of their future generations as well!
It is fitting the Lord would accompany this occasion with a miracle. We read that as the feet of the priests bearing the ark of the covenant touched the waters of the Jordan the waters were cut off. To the south they flowed away and to the north the waters stood as a heap. The Israelites crossed over on dry ground. How their memories must have tingled! The story their parents and grandparents had told of the Red Sea crossing was truly underscored by this similar miracle. The lesson of the miracles was clear as well: The Lord has all power to work all things, even the elements, for the good of His people.
But the lesson wasn’t over. God had another very important bit of instruction for this new generation of believers. Joshua instructed a leader from each of the tribes to select a stone from the river bed at the priests’ feet. These stones were then to be set up as a memorial to future generations. “That (the memorial stones) may be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ Then you shall answer…” The purpose of the answer? “That all the peoples of the earth may know the hand of the LORD, that it is mighty, that you may fear the LORD your God forever” (Josh. 4:6-7,24).
Something Wonderful In Store
What kind of a trip are we on? What is the land like where we are traveling? America may be considered “the land of plenty,” but we know that it is fast becoming a spiritual wasteland. Iniquity and immorality seem to be the rule and norm. Wickedness and violence nearly fill the earth. So how are we to make it? What is it that motivates us when it appears it’s no use to continue on?
Just as the children of Israel had the LORD leading them in the pillar of cloud so we have the Christ leading us! Jesus Christ has walked this earth. He has already faced and defeated every possible temptation that Satan may throw in our path. He has even walked through and conquered the valley of the shadow of death–for us! What a blessing our Savior is!
The Lord has also left us with another powerful motivation to keep us on the right track. Even as the children of Israel had the promised land of Canaan to look forward to, so we have the heavenly Jerusalem which should be our focus. We weren’t created to live in this world of sin and sorrow. The Lord has something much more wonderful in store for us. And just as our taking earthly vacations may teach us to appreciate our earthly homes, so to our daily bouts with sin and temptation should help us to appreciate the eternal blessings awaiting us in heaven.
What a joy to be a child of God! Each day pitching our tent one day closer to the end of our journey.
Now that we have this knowledge what are we to do with it? Again, as the example of the children of Israel is set before us let us not fail in this very important point. We are to instruct our children. The memorial stones were to pique the curiosity of the little children, but it was the parents who were to be ready to answer them. So we too must be ready to answer our children’s questions. Direct them to the scriptures for God-pleasing answers. Help them keep their focus on the heavenly promised land.
A pilgrim and a stranger, I journey here below; Far distant is my country, The home to which I go. Here I must toil and travail, Oft weary and opprest; But there my God shall lead me To everlasting rest. (TLH 586:1)
–Teacher David Bernthal