Joshua 14-18 specific verses are found in 13:13; 15:63; 16:10 and 17:13. In these verses we find that the tribes of Israel did not fully obey the LORD in driving out the Canaanite tribes from the Promise Land. The Promise Land inheritance began in Genesis 12, 15, 17 and 22:16-18 as the promise to Abraham. This promise was repeated to Isaac and Jacob, the Patriarchs of the nation of Israel. It has been hundreds of years since the Promise was given to Abraham. But the promises of God are sure. God is not slack concerning His promises as some count slackness, but will bring about that which He has promised. This inheritance was brought about because of the faithfulness and love of God for His “peculiar” people. Abraham, Isaac nor Jacob got to enjoy the Promised land. Each one lived temporarily in the land, but the Land was inhabited. Moses saw the Land, but it was Joshua that brought the people into the Promised Land – a land that was described as “flowing with milk and honey.” The Promise of God included that “wherever the sole of your foot will touch, that I have already given to you.” Israel needed only to take possession of that which had been Promised. I believe there are many believers and churches that are afraid to move forward on the Promises of God. Fear is a paralyzer!
The Nation of Israel that entered into the Promised land had for years tasted of the goodness of God through daily provisions. Their clothes nor shoes wore out for 40years! The people had the presence of God daily and evening in the Cloud of Smoke and the Pillar of Fire. We today have the very presence of Christ indwelling in us, the Holy Spirit inhabits our flesh. We should be able to go forward with confidence and boldness in the power of God! Yet we all will hesitate or only parasitically accomplish what we know God wants us to do. In the verses I listed above we read that tribe after tribe failed to drive out the Canaanite people fully. They spared them and conscripted them to labor. This is not the command from God. Destroy the people, their, children, their flocks and all that they possess. Pretty clear, we may not like it but this was the command of God. God prepared the Canaanite people with fear through the powerful acts displayed along the way. The early victories were affirmation that God was with them. In times of disobedience to God tactics, Israel suffered. We experience the same today in our churches. God has not asked us to think of how we should do His work; He has clearly outlined what our mission and task is for us. Israel wound up becoming enslaved all over again by the very people they were to dispose of; they became the captive not just physically, but spiritually. The nation of Israel always had gods of their past with them. See Joshua 24:14–16. I believe that Israel got comfortable with partial obedience and possession of the Promised Land. I also believe that churches get comfortable when they have a building, money in the bank and members in the seats. The vision wanes and apathy sets in to the people of God. Instead of evangelizing the lost, we accept members with just a cursory filling out of a decision card. I know that there are lost in the church today as members and serving on leadership teams. Churches have become a place where attendance records rewarded. All a person has to do today to be put in leadership positions is show up for church services. Please do not think I am saying leadership is that way in all cases. There are many many churches that get things done correctly.
Back to Israel, they actually embraced the enemies. They gave their sons and daughters to be married with the Canaanite people. They adopted their customs and cultic worship. There became a mixed multitude of people in the Promise Land. Darkness has more affects on the Light that the reverse. We cannot compromise with our convictions. Obedience to ALL of God’s commands is not optional.
Why is the Church in the state of decline today? Evangelism is nearly none existent – the world has taken our culture captive. Christianity has already lost the cultural battle; churches now listen more to what it takes to get people to come to church, then going and bringing people to Jesus.
In chapter 18 we read of how seven tribes did not even take possession of their inheritance. Joshua asks the question “How long will you put off entering to take possession of the Land that the LORD God of your fathers, has given you?” Can you imagine being given an inheritance and not taking possession of it? This isn’t some lottery winner afraid of coming forward, these are the people of God that have waited for years to be in the Land. How Long Will you Wait? We could be asked the same thing today – Church how long will you wait before you “occupy” the community that God has given you? Will we continue to be disobedient to the commands of God? Or will be get after the vision and mission that our God and Savior has called us to do? The world is waiting, why are we?
Ecclesiastes 3:15 “That which is has been already and that which will be has already been for God seeks that which has passed by.” I just finished the Winter bible study in Jeremiah. It is a sad book, and quite understandable why Jeremiah is called the “Weeping prophet.” Oh, how far Israel and Judah had fallen from the LORD! Jeremiah is tasked with bringing the warning of impending judgment from God on the city of Zion and Jerusalem. The people of Judah and Benjamin are all that remain after the Assyrians took Samaria and the Northern Kingdom and disbursed them to the four winds of the known world. The kings of Judah refused to acknowledge that God was behind the discipline and judgment. The Northern kingdom fell along with Samaria in 722 BC. God uses the gentile kings to bring judgment on HIS PEOPLE. Something we must remember that the prophets preached and prophesied against the “Church of the Old Testament.” I wonder why is it that God can get Gentile nations to do His will, but cannot get HIS own people to be faithful? I cannot imagine what it would be like to hear God say – Do not pray for these people, I will not hear or answer your prayers.
I’ll be doing a conference for the next two weekends, one in Hawaii and the other in Fort Worth. Both conferences have to do with renewal and revival of the Church. Looking at the Church today, especially in America, must cause God to lament. It seems that the “local church” is only good for one complete generation – the founding people. Sometimes it may extend to a second or third generation. Church planting was and I guess still is in some areas of United States the tactic to curb the dying churches. However, that alone cannot be expected to remedy the growing number of closed churches across all denominations. We could blame the people in the church, the pastor, the community or even the culture for apathy and decline in the church. But the real reason is not new – the Church is a spiritual entity and should be handled and treated like the spiritual body it is supposed to be.
Now I realize that not all churches are a product of God in their formation. Many churches have been formed out of spite for other people. Sometimes that is good and necessary, but not always. My work has been with pastoring and church revitalization situations. Trust me it wasn’t my idea! It is difficult and demoralizing at times to try and convince the Church that they are not in tune with God. Change has to happen in the church – but the change I’m talking about is the change in the Church people! Many times the changes that are tried consist of changes music, pews to chairs, lights on stage and dark in the audience, café and atriums and dress down clothing. However, what I see in this attempt is to draw the world into the church – to get attenders that are comfortable – Oh, I forgot you can carry you Big Gulp into the service.
How did we get this so far way from the awe and reverence of God? No way would a high priest go into the Holy of Holies with some of the attire we wear into the sanctuary. My thought – the World has dictated to the CHURCH what is acceptable and what is now in our church services. Sometimes I feel like I’ve just gone to a youth rally instead of Church! We as the Church body of Christ should take out lead from Christ Jesus – Be Holy as I am Holy! Holiness in character, action, behavior and thought. How we do something can be just as important as why we do something.
Now, I have rambled – my thought for today is the origin of why America is in the condition it is in – Judges 2:11-15 explains what happened then, and what is happening now to us. The people of God – turned from God and served Baals [other gods]; the forsook the LORD [rejected HIM] they provoked the LORD to anger and the anger of the LORD burned against them so that HE was not with them, but actually against them – so that they were severely distressed. Israel and American churches [believers] have left God and served humanism. I mentioned the problems we have today in the CHURCH is a spiritual problem. REPENT and RETURN was Jeremiah’s message – they refused and God let Nebuchadnezzar to take them captivity. What will America do? Refuse until it is too late? Or is it already to late for the Winds of Revival to blow?