Dear Hope Family,
If you happen to notice that our steady progress through the Old Testament book of Joshua seems to have hit a very-fast-forward button this week, do not be alarmed! Our jump from Joshua 7 to Joshua 14 actually has a method behind the apparent madness.
To be candid, while “all Scripture is God-breathed and profitable” (2 Timothy 3:16), not all Scripture is equally easy to preach from! Old Testament scholar Dale Ralph Davis reflects, “Probably even the most stout-hearted reader of Joshua begins to crumble and nod as he enters chapters 13-21. Watching war movies always tends to be more exciting than participating in land surveys . . . Somehow chasing a Canaanite out of the hill country is far more stimulating than plodding over his former land counting villages and tracing borders.” Rest assured, we are not cherry-picking our favorite passages and certainly not avoiding “problem passages” or thorny theological material; rather, geographical details, lists, and descriptions are a little lost on modern readers and listeners.
However, what might seem detached and dull from our vantage point would have been absolutely riveting for the people of God experiencing the land survey and dividing up the inheritance. In Genesis 12:7, God had made an outlandish promise to a landless refugee named Abram and his barren wife, Sarah – “to your offspring I will give this land”. For folks who held no property and had no children, this must have been at once a wild and distant dream. Yet, now, in this place of promise, God is fulfilling his outrageous, gracious pledge to bless his people. And with each border traced, with each plot line measured, with each geographical survey, the people of God were able to experience the reality of God’s provision and itemize his goodness down to the square inch! What could be more exhilarating?
This is the God we serve – trustworthy, generous, faithful, kind. This is God who keeps his promises. This is our God who invites us closer and closer still – close enough to count our blessings and itemize his care so that we can extend his kingdom as far as the curse is found.
Grace and peace,