Dr. Jim Denison
Thesis: The will of God never leads where his grace cannot sustain.
Goal: Follow God into his future for you, trusting his provision.
I have read that a buzzard can be trapped in a pen which is open at the top, so long as its dimensions are no more than six to eight feet long. The bird always begins its flight with a run of ten to twelve feet. Without such space, it will not even attempt to fly, though its pen has no roof to keep it from the skies. Similarly, a bumblebee, if dropped into an open glass jar, will remain trapped until it dies. It will fly into the sides of the jar, but will never attempt to escape from its top.
It is easy to struggle with our problems, frustrations, and needs, never realizing that our answer is just above us. God’s purpose for our lives is always greater than we can imagine it to be.
Saul of Tarsus used his theological training and cultural education to achieve significance within Phariseeism. God used them to write half of the New Testament and take Christ across the known world. Peter used his gifts of courage and leadership to create a successful fishing enterprise. God used them to lead his church into all the world (Acts 17:6). Matthew used his literary talents and prodigious memory to record tax accounts. God used them to record the Sermon on the Mount.
So it was with the ancient Israelites. Their fondest hope was that they might have a land of their own. But God’s plan was far greater. He intended to make of them a people which would endure in that land for some 15 centuries, so he could bring through them the Messiah who would bring salvation to the entire human race. And so God provided for the needs they knew they faced, and for those they did not even know existed. He still does the same for all of us who will follow him by faith today.
Where is God calling you to take a step which transcends sight? To risk, courage, or boldness? Are you facing a trial which seems beyond your strength? Temptation transcending your power to resist? A decision which you cannot find the will to make?
Where is God calling you to trust in him alone? If you don’t sense such a calling in your heart, get alone with your Father until you do. He never leads his children further into his purpose than we can see with our eyes. When we come to that place which calls us to risk, remember that the will of God never leads where his grace cannot sustain. Step onto his promises, and you will find them ever faithful.
We will watch as God leads the first Joshua to provide for the needs of his people. Then we will watch the second Joshua, the Lord Jesus, as he applies such provision to those who follow him in New Testament faith today. This week is the first Sunday of Advent and the week of hope; it is appropriate that we learn to trust the provisions of our loving Father, new each day of the year.
Claim his provision for your material needs (chs. 18-19)
Each tribe needed land upon which to live. Theirs was an agrarian society, where land was life. And so the geographical location of the tribes would largely determine their future prosperity. Discord about such a significant decision could tear apart their union. Wars over such issues are still fought today.
How would each tribe have what it needed? If the smaller tribes like Benjamin received the largest parts of the land, the larger tribes like Manasseh or Judah could starve. The current redistricting battle in the Texas Legislature shows that such issues have never lost their relevance. How would the nation avoid such infighting and potential disaster?
God’s solution through Joshua was simple: they would “cast lots” (18:10). The land-apportioning ceremony would take place at Shiloh, because it was centrally located so representatives from every tribe could attend the event. This was the location where the Lord intended his tabernacle to stand (see Deuteronomy 12:14); later Jeremiah quoted the Lord as saying that Shiloh was “where I set my name at the first” (7:12).
The tribes trusted the Lord to know and meet their physical needs. And the result was a land distribution which would stand as long as the nation survived.
In such faith, the people followed their leader. Joshua’s tribe gave him the city he asked for: Timnath Serah in the hill country, where “he built up the town and settled there” (19:50). As the nation’s leader, general, and hero, he had every right to choose his land first. He could have chosen the most valuable possession in the entire region. Instead, he took what was left (v. 49). And here he was buried (24:30).
Joshua knew the truth Jesus later taught his followers: “Do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6.31-34). The will of God never leads where the grace of God cannot sustain.
A friend sent me this reading, which I have found worth repeated reading:
There are two days in every week about which we should not worry,
two days which should be kept free from fear and apprehension.
One of these days is Yesterday with all its mistakes and cares,
its faults and blunders, its aches and pains.
Yesterday has passed forever beyond our control.
All the money in the world cannot bring back Yesterday.