We are preaching through a series called “Our Promise keeping God”, as we are studying from the book of Joshua.
Last week we went to chapters 12 & 13, today we will cover chapters 14 through 19 and I’ve titled the sermon is “Responding to God’s Faithfulness”.
The context of these chapters is that Israel has conquered most of the land God promised them and now the land is been divided and distributed among the different tribes.
As we read through this account, what stands out to us is the Faithfulness of God towards his chosen people, **God keeping His promise**.
Let me remind you that God was showing this favor to Israel not because they were special people who looked different than others or had some special qualities about them – But purely because of his love for them and for the purpose of his glory.
7 It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, 8 but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers – Deuteronomy 7:7-8
The people of Israel were just like us – God-haters, rebellious, selfish, mean, idol worshippers, and corrupt in all their ways, yet because they were God’s chosen people, people whom he had predestined to be his children before the foundations of the earth was build – He pursued them and continued to shower his loving-kindness – again, and again, and again.
Today we all have gathered here to worship that same living God – the God of Abraham, Issac & Jacob. Brothers & Sisters, please don’t think of it as a coincidence – We are here only because of his loving-kindness towards us – because before the foundations of the earth were laid he predestined you and me to be his beloved children – We are here because he pursued us, his loving-kindness, grace, and mercy were upon us. Not because we are special in any way, but because God chose to be faithful to us.
In chapters 14 through 19, we see God keeping his part of the promise to Israel as he is alloting them the land- so that they can settle and make a living after many years of pain and oppression. Watching God do that should fill our hearts with hope and joy.
Why? – Today, some of you may be experiencing pain, oppression, failure, and defeat – but even in the midst of the chaos, we see God’s faithfulness in small little blessings he brings our way, just like he showed his faithfulness when they were in the wilderness.
Last year when Jane was admitted to the hospital, going through the surgery, I remember one night we decided to count our blessings and there was an unending list of things we could thank God for – our children, their health, provision of finances to meet our needs, our families who stood and prayed for us, church family who loved and cared for us, friends all around the world who showered their love etc, this list was too long.
Yes, he shows his faithfulness and grace in many ways, but the greatest of all blessings we get to enjoy is the freedom in Christ. While we were sinners, the God who created us, choose us & loved us sent his only son Jesus to save us from eternal death and give us eternal life. Jesus came and lived the righteous and obedient life we were supposed to live, fulfilled God’s righteous laws, and exchanged it on the cross with our unrighteousness, granting us freedom from the penalty of sin.
Yes, of course, the Israelites were pleased with the good gifts God was granting them but the greatest gift they were experiencing was God’s presence dwelling among them, the ark of God that symbolized the presence of God was moving with them, it allowed them to periodically offer sacrifices and receive God’s forgiveness.
As Israel was been blessed by God, what was God expecting in return?
As we have been experiencing his faithfulness today, in Christ, have you wondered what is God expecting from us in return?
I believe we can find two clues in these 6 chapters.
Accepting God’s providence & provision with joy and contentment
If we consider the total mass of the land that was distributed among the people, I believe not every piece of the land had the same properties, some were fertile land right next to a stream of water, some were on the hills, some were in the forest, etc.
Therefore, most of the land distribution was not decided based on what Joshua or the leaders thought was right, but it was chosen by casting lot. It was God who decided who gets what? So that there was no quarrel among them.
Joshua 14:2** – Their inheritance was by lot, just as the Lord had commanded by the hand of Moses for the nine and one-half tribes.
And among the twelve tribes, the tribe of Levi was not even allotted any land.
Joshua 14:4b – And no portion was given to the Levites in the land, but only cities to dwell in, with their pasturelands for their livestock and their substance.
Why? Because they were set aside to be servants in God’s temple. Their portion came from the sacrifices that were offered in the house of God.
And in all this providence & provision God made for the people of Israel he expected them to be content, satisfied and joyful.
Brothers & Sisters, isn’t that what God would expect from us as well today.
The parable of the talents narrated by Jesus in Matthew 25:14-30 tells that not everyone has been given the same measure of talents.
15 – To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability.
The parable also tells us that when the master comes back he will ask for an account, and he will search the attitude of our hearts by measuring our faithfulness in handling the good gifts he has offered us.
We accept the providence & provision of God with joy and contentment because we know he is a fair God and he shows no partiality towards us in any way.
In Joshua 17:14-18, we see an interesting incident where Joshua characterizes God’s fair heart towards the people of Joseph.
14 Then the people of Joseph spoke to Joshua, saying, “Why have you given me but one lot and one portion as an inheritance, although I am a numerous people, since all along the Lord has blessed me?” **15** And Joshua said to them, “If you are a numerous people, go up by yourselves to the forest, and there clear ground for yourselves in the land of the Perizzites and the Rephaim, since the hill country of Ephraim is too narrow for you.” **16** The people of Joseph said, “The hill country is not enough for us. Yet all the Canaanites who dwell in the plain have chariots of iron, both those in Beth-shean and its villages and those in the Valley of Jezreel.” **17** Then Joshua said to the house of Joseph, to Ephraim and Manasseh, “You are a numerous people and have great power. You shall not have one allotment only, **18** but the hill country shall be yours, for though it is a forest, you shall clear it and possess it to its farthest borders. For you shall drive out the Canaanites, though they have chariots of iron, and though they are strong.”
In the parable of the vineyard which Jesus narrated in Matthew 20:1-16, we see the owner gives the same wage to every worker of the day, even to those who worked only half a day. The last shall be first and the first shall be last.
Beloved, God chooses to distribute what belongs to him according to his perfect will for us and we expect ourselves to be content and happy within at all times.
In fact, what he wants us to treasure the most in our hearts is His son Jesus, and the spiritual fulfillment and satisfaction he gives to us every day of our life.
The world we live in today is driven by competition that creates cravings to want and have more than what’s already been given to us by our loving Father.
The Internet and Social media is the tool the enemy is using to create such cravings and desires, distracting us from experiencing and living within the means God has already provided for us.
Of course, we can’t run away from the new technology advancements, they are good in some sense and do add value and exposes us to many good things which were not accessible earlier.
I have been there many times, and I know what it is like.
And therefore, to be rooted and grounded in the Gospel is much more needed & important for us in today’s generation. Because the Gospel opens our eyes to the brokenness of this world and reminds us of our true identity in Christ. It reminds us that our identity is not in the things we possess or the places we live in, but in Christ alone is our hope, he is the only true treasure we need for the longings of our soul.
1 Timothy 6:6-12 – But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.
Brothers & sisters, in response to God’s faithfulness to us, let us learn to accept his providence and provision with joy and contentment.
The second expectation he would have from us is to ..
To walk in obedience to his word
Brothers & sisters, Obedience matters to God.
I want you to read with me Joshua 14:6-14
6 Then the people of Judah came to Joshua at Gilgal. And Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him, “You know what the Lord said to Moses the man of God in Kadesh-Barnea concerning you and me. 7 I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh-Barnea to spy out the land, and I brought him word again as it was in my heart. 8 But my brothers who went up with me made the heart of the people melt; **yet I wholly followed the Lord my God. 9 And Moses swore on that day, saying, ‘Surely the land on which your foot has trodden shall be an inheritance for you and your children forever because you have wholly followed the Lord my God.’ 10 And now, behold, the Lord has kept me alive, just as he said, these forty-five years since the time that the Lord spoke this word to Moses, while Israel walked in the wilderness. And now, behold, I am this day eighty-five years old. 11 I am still as strong today as I was in the day that Moses sent me; my strength now is as my strength was then, for war and for going and coming. 12 So now give me this hill country of which the Lord spoke on that day, for you heard on that day how the Anakim were there, with great fortified cities. It may be that the Lord will be with me, and I shall drive them out just as the Lord said.”
13 Then Joshua blessed him, and he gave Hebron to Caleb the son of Jephunneh for an inheritance. 14 Therefore Hebron became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite to this day, because he wholly followed the Lord, the God of Israel. 15 Now the name of Hebron formerly was Kiriath-arba.
In these verses, we see Caleb’s obedient and willing heart to serve the Lord. He reminds Joshua of the times when he obeyed the servant of the Lord Moses’s instruction to wholeheartedly, and the promise Moses made to him. And in verse 11 he again expresses his willingness to be sent for war if need be. In return, Joshua blesses him and allocates him the land his heart desired.
In response to God’s faithfulness to us he expects Obedience from us.
Why? Because …
- Obedience to God proves our love for Him (1 John 5:2-3)
2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.
- Demonstrates our faithfulness to Him (1 John 2:3-6)
3 And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. 4 Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, 5 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: 6 whoever says he abides in him
ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
- Glorifies Him in the world (1 Peter 2:12)
12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.
- Opens avenues of blessing for us (John 13:17)
17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.
My dear friends, we have all seen and experienced God’s faithfulness to us in innumerable ways, the greatest one is the redemptive work of Christ on our behalf.
- Why is it difficult to flee from sin when it’s easy now since we are not in bondage to sin?
- Why is it difficult to stop engaging in the evil & lustful thoughts in our minds when we can engage with God?
- Why is it difficult to turn away from that dishonorable images, social media posts, reels, and videos when we can turn away and imagine the cross of Calvary where our loving savior died for our sins and iniquities?
- Why is it difficult to forgive one another when we have received forgiveness from our heavenly father?
- Why is it difficult to love when we have received the agape love of God in abundance because of Jesus?
- Why is it difficult to follow him and do his will when Christ sacrificed his heavenly glory and came to dwell among us, to be ridiculed, dishonored, tortured, and killed for our sake?
- Why is it difficult to confess our sins to one another and repent when he had surrounded us with brothers and sisters, elders and leaders to watch over our lives?
Isn’t it because we are forgetting to value and cherish his faithfulness towards us.
Because we choose to ignore him.
- When we wake up in the morning we choose to pick up our phones instead of going on our knees and meditating on his spoken word to us.
- When we are confronted with challenges and setbacks in our life, workplace, schools & colleges we choose to apply our own wisdom and understanding instead of seeking God and his will.
- When we go to bed, instead of closing our eyes thinking and thanking God for the day we choose to close our eyes on the last movie or television program or something on the mobile we watched.
Friends, our obedience matters to God, and unlike the Israelites, we have been given the Spirit of His Son Jesus to help us in these matters.
Romans 8:1-4 Paul writes
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
As we now partake in the communion, let’s remember his faithfulness towards us.