Sunday, May 27, 2018

Be Strong and Courageous, and Don't Give Up! In Due Season, Will Reap!


Good morning!

Greetings in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

After the death of Moses the LORD’s servant, God spoke to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ assistant. He said, “Moses my servant is dead. Therefore, the time has come for you to lead these people, the Israelites, across the Jordan River into the land I am giving them.  I promise you what I promised Moses: ‘Wherever you set foot, you will be on land I have given you—  from the Negev wilderness in the south to the Lebanon mountains in the north, from the Euphrates River in the east to the Mediterranean Sea in the west, including all the land of the Hittites.’  No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. For I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you.

Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them.  Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do.  Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”  (Joshua 1:6-9)    

God spoke three times Joshua, the newly appointed leader of the Israelites, “be strong and courageous.”   Although Joshua followed Moses for forty years as Moses’ top assistant, taking over the entire leadership of the great leader Moses was a daunting task to Joshua.   Joshua was about to lead the entire nation through the completely new world of the Promised Land.   For the forty years, Joshua faithfully waited for this moment -- getting into the Promised Land.   In fact, not only getting in the Promised Land, but also he was the lead of the nation!

All of the people with him were a new generation.   All of the old generation who got out of from the bondage of slavery in Egypt perished in the wilderness.  Only were the very few faithful with the new generation.  Joshua was one of the very few.  

Indeed, God quickly brought the entire nation of Israel to the Promised Land.   It only took about one year and three months after the departure of Egypt.  They were able to see the Promised Land, which was given to the people of Israel through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, their forefathers.   Finally, the promise was about to be fulfilled.   All of the Israelites were excited and in joy.    They looked back their slavery in Egypt, and some of them were in tears.   They could their own land and house to raise their children.   The celebratory mood was prevailing in the entire camp of the Israelites.

God said to Moses, “Send out men to explore the land of Canaan, the land I am giving to the Israelites. Send one leader from each of the twelve ancestral tribes.”  God wanted to show the Promised Land before they went in.  So Moses did as the LORD commanded him.  He sent out twelve men, all tribal leaders of Israel, from their camp.   The twelve tribes sent their own man, and the people of Israel was camped in the wilderness of Paran.

Moses gave the men these instructions as he sent them out to explore the land: “Go north through the Negev into the hill country.  See what the land is like, and find out whether the people living there are strong or weak, few or many.  See what kind of land they live in. Is it good or bad? Do their towns have walls, or are they unprotected like open camps?  Is the soil fertile or poor? Are there many trees? Do your best to bring back samples of the crops you see.” (It happened to be the season for harvesting the first ripe grapes.)

After exploring the land for forty days, the men returned to Moses, Aaron, and the whole community of Israel at Kadesh in the wilderness of Paran. They reported to the whole community what they had seen and showed them the fruit they had taken from the land. This was their report to Moses: “We entered the land you sent us to explore, and it is indeed a bountiful country—a land flowing with milk and honey. Here is the kind of fruit it produces.  But the people living there are powerful, and their towns are large and fortified. We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak!  The Amalekites live in the Negev, and the Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites live in the hill country. The Canaanites live along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea and along the Jordan Valley.”

Yes, the Promised Land was really good.  As promised, it was a truly land of flowing with milk and honey.  All kinds of fruits were on the trees.   However, they saw the people living there powerful, and their towns large and fortified.  They even saw giants, the descendants of Anak!   The eyes of the ten spies fixated the powerful people and fortified cities in the land, not the promise of God.   The report of the ten spies started with good but ended with bad. 

Caleb and Joshua, the minority among the twelve spies, listened quietly.   They looked each other, because they could not believe what they were hearing.  They could not be slient any longer.   Then Caleb broke the silence, and raised his hands, while trying to quiet the people as they stood before Moses.   He poured out his heart.   In faith, “Let’s go at once to take the land,” he said. “We can certainly conquer it!”     Yes, what they saw was really scary even to Caleb and Joshua like the other ten spies, but they remembered the promise, and believed the promise of God.   Caleb and Joshua did not rely on what they saw – those giants, the fortified cities and strong people living there.   
                                                                                  
Caleb and Joshua raised their voices, and asked the people around them to be faithful before God, while believing the promise of God.  The other men who had explored the land with them sharply disagreed. They shouted in one voice, “We can’t go up against them! They are stronger than we are!”   Of course, it was a really rationale conclusion.  There was no way to fight against the stronger people already living in the Promised Land.  They were just a bunch of ex-slaves.   Moreover, their were there giants, the descendants of Anak.   They knew nobody even defeated the Anakies.  All perished before the Anakies.    

So they spread this bad report about the land among the Israelites: “The land we traveled through and explored will devour anyone who goes to live there. All the people we saw were huge.  We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak. Next to them we felt like grasshoppers, and that’s what they thought, too!”   Before this bad report, the hearts of the people of Israel melt like an ice on a hot summer day. 

Then the whole community began weeping aloud, and they cried all night. Their voices rose in a great chorus of protest against Moses and Aaron. “If only we had died in Egypt, or even here in the wilderness!” they complained. “Why is the LORD taking us to this country only to have us die in battle? Our wives and our little ones will be carried off as plunder! Wouldn’t it be better for us to return to Egypt?”  Then they plotted among themselves, “Let’s choose a new leader and go back to Egypt!”    (How easy was for us to complain if we meet a small pain or an inconvenience while following God?   The Israelites were same.   They complained.)
 
Then Moses and Aaron fell face down on the ground before the whole community of Israel. Two of the men who had explored the land, Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, tore their clothing.  They said to all the people of Israel, “The land we traveled through and explored is a wonderful land!  And if the LORD is pleased with us, he will bring us safely into that land and give it to us. It is a rich land flowing with milk and honey.  Do not rebel against the LORD, and don’t be afraid of the people of the land. They are only helpless prey to us! They have no protection, but the LORD is with us! Don’t be afraid of them!”  (Numbers 14:8-9)

But the whole community began to talk about stoning Joshua and Caleb.   Joshua and Caleb thought that they were killed by their own angry people.   God steeped in, and they were rescued from being stoned.  The God tried to destroy them for their unbelief, but Moses interceded.   God accepted Moses’ plea, and God did not destroyed them.   Then God said, “I will pardon them as you have requested.  But as surely as I live, and as surely as the earth is filled with the LORD’s glory, not one of these people will ever enter that land. They have all seen my glorious presence and the miraculous signs I performed both in Egypt and in the wilderness, but again and again they have tested me by refusing to listen to my voice.  They will never even see the land I swore to give their ancestors. None of those who have treated me with contempt will ever see it. But my servant Caleb has a different attitude than the others have. He has remained loyal to me, so I will bring him into the land he explored. His descendants will possess their full share of that land.  Now turn around, and don’t go on toward the land where the Amalekites and Canaanites live. Tomorrow you must set out for the wilderness in the direction of the Red Sea” (Numbers 14:20-25)

As God said, the following day, the people of Israel went back to the wilderness without putting even one foot on the Promised Land.   After that, they wondered the wilderness about thirty nine years till all of the unfaithful and rebellious generation perished.   Only left were Joshua and Caleb, and the next generation who did not directly experienced the God’s miraculous hands and signs.

Thirty nine years later, right before the eyes of Joshua, again there was the Promised Land.   Joshua precisely remembered what had happened before.  In faith, Joshua and Caleb did their best to try to convince the angry people to hold tight on the promise given through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  Due to the unbelief, the Israelites had to wonder around for 49 years on the wilderness, and Joshua had to wait till God presents His promise again.   Finally, Joshua came back to the same place.   However, for this time, not as an assistant to Moses, but the leader of the whole nation, he stood before the Promised Land.  He remembered how he fought again the rest of his fellow ten spies, the entire people of Israel, and even himself because he saw the terrifyingly power people, the fortified cities, and the giants.  The pressure from his fellow ten spies, and the rest people of Israel was paramount.  He himself was actually in fear due to what he actually saw.   However, Joshua did not allow his eyes on these things.  Joshua fixed his eyes on God while believing the promise of God.   This was the faith that pleased God.    God also help Joshua to push back the enormous pressure from his peers, the entire people of Israel and his own doubts and fears.   It was a true victory in faith.    God also truly valued this faith.   Thirty nine years later, God set him as the new leader of the entire nation of Israel.  



Joshua now stood tall and strong in faith before God and the people of Israel.   He was fully ready to get into the Promised Land and occupy the land.  No more retreat and no more doubts and fears.   His eyes directly fixed on God and ready to do God’s will in the name of God.  In his heart, there was no more debates but faith in God.   God was with Joshua, and Joshua was in God.   God’s mighty hand and His glorious acts were waiting for him along with the people of Israel. 

Once Joshua was forcefully pushed away from the promised land with the rest of Israelites, not because of lack of his faith, but because of the unbelief of the Israelites.  He could not understand why he had to suffer together with the rest of unbelieving people.  However, the set time of God came.  Joshua stood before the Promised Land with God, who truly believed his entire life while going through the hardship of the wilderness for forty years. Joshua endured the enormous pressure of his peers and the rest of entire people of Israel.  Joshua was ready before God’s eyes.  Joshua stood with God while looking down the Promised Land, which Joshua waited and waited long time without losing his faith in God.

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.  (2 Peter 3:8) 

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.  (Galatians 6:9)

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