God Gives Rest

Joshua 23:1-5

1 After a long time had passed and the Lord had given Israel rest from all their enemies around them, Joshua, by then a very old man, summoned all Israel—their elders, leaders, judges and officials—and said to them: “I am very old. You yourselves have seen everything the Lord your God has done to all these nations for your sake; it was the Lord your God who fought for you. Remember how I have allotted as an inheritance for your tribes all the land of the nations that remain—the nations I conquered—between the Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea in the west. The Lord your God himself will push them out for your sake. He will drive them out before you, and you will take possession of their land, as the Lord your God promised you.

Luxurious Travel

If you were given much free time, finances, strength and everything needed for luxury travel, where do you wish to go for vacation? If your work saps or drains energy, you really need to have enough rest. Travel to a particular place surely gives temporary relief but it doesn’t provide enough rest. If you have no sufficient time and budget or if you are not strong enough then, traveling is not pleasant for you.

Christ Jesus the source of life knows that we need rest. He offers rest to anyone who trusts in Him. No budget, no time, not strong enough, no problem. By God’s grace, we can have sufficiency and everything we need of rest in Christ.

It teaches us in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Paul testifies that God’s grace sustain him in his needs. By God’s grace, the Israelites conquered and lived in the Promise Land yet there were still nations to conquer. Joshua reminded that God gave them rest, and they lived in peace even while problems against the Canaanite survivors persisted and had not ceased yet.

1. Peace

1 After a long time had passed and the Lord had given Israel rest from all their enemies around them, Joshua, by then a very old man, summoned all Israel—their elders, leaders, judges and officials—and said to them: “I am very old. You yourselves have seen everything the Lord your God has done to all these nations for your sake; it was the Lord your God who fought for you. 

No on-going war. There was peace when Joshua delivered his farewell speech. Why did he mention them that God gave them rest? The enemies were not destroyed completely, and Joshua implied they will live peacefully if they keep on trusting God. They’ve seen God’s power, and they can’t deny that the Lord fought for them.

The Lord fulfilled has His good promise to deliver them from their enemies.

Before they crossed the Red Sea while the Israelites were escaping from Egypt, Moses prophesied in Exodus 14:13-14, 13 “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. 14 The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

Before they crossed the Jordan River, Moses reminded Israel that as God delivered them from the kings of Hesbon and Bashan, He will deliver them from enemies.

In Deuteronomy 3:21-22, 21 “You have seen with your own eyes all that the Lord your God has done to these two kings. The Lord will do the same to all the kingdoms over there where you are going. 22 Do not be afraid of them; the Lord your God himself will fight for you.”

In Deuteronomy 20:3-4, 3“Today you are going into battle against your enemies. Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not panic or be terrified by them. For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.”

Moses’ declaration of God’s deliverance was not just some pleasant words of encouragement for the Israelites to hear. They are living word of God for the Israelites to hold onto. The same Lord who gave instructions through Moses and Joshua is the same Christ the Lord who promised to be with us when we go and make disciples.

Jesus said Matthew 28:18-20, 18 “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

It’s only by faith to believe that Christ has all authority to fulfill His promise.

When we accepted Jesus as Saviour, His Spirit lives in us. But why many believers cannot sense His presence? Christ’s promise to be with us always is only realized when we are making disciples. Making disciples and Christ’s presence are inseparable truth.

One may deceive one’s self and claim to have Christ. But we can sense much of Christ’s active presence in us when we are making disciples. When Christ is active in our life, He empowers us and we cannot help but to witness and make disciples as a result.

We often forget of Christ’s presence in our life when severe problem attacked us. When we forget that Christ is with us, we tend to solve problems on our own effort, seek the help of so-called experts, and most often, we come to the Lord as last resort.

In Proverbs 3:5-6, Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Does this passage teach how God helps us solve problems? As we seek God’s help, we trust Him to direct the step we make. We pray that He will enable us to decide on the best solution for problem. We pray for peace, positive and optimistic expectation even when we cannot understand all processes that may happen afterwards.

May Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 1:18-20 becomes a reality in us: 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms.

Christ expects us to be with Him in heaven forever. He’s actually interceding for us even now. Let’s hold on and look forward to Christ’s coming again.

2. Promise

Remember how I have allotted as an inheritance for your tribes all the land of the nations that remain—the nations I conquered—between the Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea in the west. The Lord your God himself will push them out for your sake. He will drive them out before you, and you will take possession of their land, as the Lord your God promised you.

Joshua reminded the Israelites that he himself allotted an inheritance for each tribe as the Lord promised them. He did not forget to mention that they defeated their enemies. What God has done through his leadership, Joshua explicitly declared that the Lord would give the Israelites similar victory over their enemies.

It’s not impossible to be shaken when there’s no strong leader, and there were still lands occupied by Canaanite survivors that the Israelites have to conquer.

Joshua was very old. He knew that his time on earth was about to end but he was very confident that the Lord would fight for the Israelites even after his death.

It says in Jeremiah 17:7, 7“Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.

Trust in the Lord is blessedness. Obedience is confidence in Him that He provides for all we need to obey. If we call Christ as our Lord, we acknowledge that we are His servants. Servants obey their Lord. Servants are confident that their Lord would provide personal needs and things needed to accomplish their Lord’s commands.

The Lord showed His love and care to the Israelites when He brought them to the Promised Land. By His power, the Lord defeated their enemies. He gave them rest, and they lived in peace even when there were still nations they needed to conquer.

Even after we trust the Lord for our eternal life, there are still problems that we need to face daily. Problems are instruments of God to draw us nearer close to Him, to redirect us when we are lost, and to display the mighty power of His grace.

Jonah

Jonah’s lifestyle demonstrated a typical lifestyle of many believers.

It says in Jonah 4:6-11, Then the Lord God provided a leafy plant and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the plant. But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the plant so that it withered. When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah’s head so that he grew faint. He wanted to die, and said, “It would be better for me to die than to live.”

But God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?”

“It is,” he said. “And I’m so angry I wish I were dead.”

10 But the Lord said, “You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. 11 And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left?”

The plant provided comfortable shade, and Jonah who was very happy with it. Like Jonah, we’re happy when life is comfortable but when it’s uncomfortable, we’re not happy. When the Lord instructed but didn’t let Jonah to be on his own, it reminds us of His command to go and make disciples and the promise of His presence will come true.

When Jonah disobeyed, God sent storm to redirect him. When we disobey or when we step on the wrong direction, God may send storm of life. But if we obey Him, we will discover that His grace is sufficient enough to sustain us, including needed rest.

Someone ask: How forceful is God’s grace to eliminate guilt feelings? How wide is His grace to cover embarrassment? How powerful in His grace to cure sickness and broken hearts? How sweet is His grace to balance bitterness? How comforting is His grace to appease our frustration and disappointments?

God’s grace is powerfully sufficient to believers. It’s only experienced by faith.

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