– GOD’S RESPONSE TO A GREAT PEOPLE (JOSHUA 17:17)
Ever heard of the expression: “fake it till you make it”? It suggests an innate quest to become, to aspire, to evolve. And one of the greatest contentions individuals grapplewith is the tension between human potential and self-actualization. In fact, our individual and shared pursuits are attempts to bridge these two states of being.
Instinctively, we know we were made for something more, and we strive and grope in our various ways to evolve into the best version of ourselves – our actualized selves. And should we get stuck in our present state, this state of unrealized potentials, dissatisfaction, and frustration begin to eat us up from within.
The Christian faith, in some sense, can be viewed through this lens – humanity, through Adam’s sin, fell short of God’s glory (man’s ideal self), sought for this lost glory through self-determination, but then restored to it in the man Christ Jesus, who’s God’s, ideal man. (Hebrews 2:8-9) And God’s promise to everyone who trusts him is that they will evolve into his likeness at the end of the age. (1 Corinthians 15:49)
Promises are the means God uses in bridging the potential-self-actualization gap. You would remember the promise of God in the garden; the promise of the New covenant in the old; the promise of the Messiah to Israel and the world by extension. These promises were God’s way of saying: “there’s more I’m going to do with man”.
Unlike man, God’s promises are not mere intentions; embedded in them are materials that make for their fulfillment. They cannot but come to pass even in the face of fashioned opposition and well-thought-out fabrications to thwart them.
But oftentimes, we think that the efficacy of God’s promises precludes us from taking responsibility in God bringing about their fulfillment – that we do not need to fight or contend or make effort for what is already ours in Christ. Some Christian circles even think it a contradiction to work for what is already given by grace.
And perhaps they are correct in some sense. We have a lot of scriptures to support such a claim; don’t we? Indeed, they speak the truth in saying we do not work to earn God’s promises, but they err in saying that God’s promises given by grace exempt us from any works whatsoever. At least Joshua didn’t think so.
Joshua was a leader whose hallmark was that he warred with God’s promises. He and Caleb were the only persons who believed that the inhabitants of the land God had promised to give them, were displaceable. And after Moses was long gone and seeded the leadership to him, he, through God’s promises divided the inheritance to each tribe, the tribe of Manasseh and Ephraim being one of them. (Joshua 11:23) He was a fierce warrior.
Manasseh and Ephraim, the half-tribes, had come into their inheritance as promised by God and allotted by Joshua. They were glad – they watched the Jordan split when the priest, the bearers of God, as it were, step foot into it; they witness with great amazement how the wall of Jericho fell flat without any man-made ammunition; and of course, they remember how the red sea folded like a scroll for them to pass through. But now this same inheritance that was a source of joy to them, became a source of dissatisfaction; it was too strait.
Don’t we too often find ourselves feeling confined by blessings we once thanked God for – a ministry, a job, etc. Every cell in our body signals something more, and most times rightly so.
They knew Joshua would have an answer to this. After all, God used him in allotting their inheritance. Their speech was prepared and presented to Joshua: “Why have you given us only one lot and one share to inherit, since we are a great people, inasmuch as the LORD has blessed us until now?” (Joshua 17:14), they said. Joshua did not rebuke them for asking for too much, but rather he challenged them: “If you are a great people, then go up to the forest country and clear a place for yourself there in the land of the Perizzites and the giants, since the mountains of Ephraim are too confined for you.” (Joshua 17:15),
I have good news for you; your inheritance won’t always look like it. That spouse may not always look like the person you’ve always envisioned. That church you pastor may not look like the most mature crop. David’s mighty men lacked direction at some point. (1Samuel 22:2)Hence, you require spiritual discernment. And in addition to discernment, you need courage and faith.
Both tribes, despondent on account of Joshua’s response, recounted to Joshua how difficult it would be to possess the land he had earmarked for them. (Joshua 17:16) Like the children of Joseph, we too get discouraged when we encounter great difficultly while striving to lay hold on God’s promises to us.
But Joshua, well acquainted with God’s promises, andknowing Jacob’s prophecy concerning them, affirmed what they had said, but insisted that they take the fight to their enemies and lay claim on their God-given inheritance. They would have to possess a mountainous inheritance, and with their own hands cut down the woods, and drive out the Canaanites, who had iron chariots and were strong.
And for Joshua. this means did not in any way belittle God’s promise to deliver their inheritance to them, thus emphasizing again that God’s promise does not preclude human responsibility, but rather incorporates it as a testament to God’s commitment to restore man to his ideal state- the crown of God’s creation.
Child of God, this too must be your disposition when faced with contrary tides, and hurdles – you steer throughthem, and you jump over them. No, you don’t fight the enemy with a physical sword, you fight with a spiritual sword- God’s word. Paul writing to Timothy said: “This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare.” (1 Timothy 1:18) And how do we wage this war? By putting God’s word on our lips and by much prayer.
Dear Christian, settle it today: it is only through fervent prayer and much meditation on God’s word that you can have what is already yours in Christ. (Joshua 1:8-9, Ephesians 6: 17-20)
Finally, let us hear Paul: “Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, salutes you, always laboring(striving) fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.” (Colossian 4:12) We too must be like Epaphras, must possess what is rightfully ours on our knees.
P.S- Please feel free to share your thoughts with me – firstname.lastname@example.org
God be with you.