The verses gave pause as I read them this morning. A reminder of the goodness and faithfulness of God, yet a reminder of my inclination to not fully enter into that goodness and faithfulness. A reminder that while there is victory in the Lord, I still need to engage the enemy. A reminder that while God has done the work, mine is still to enter fully into His rest. A reminder that while I may fail to fully appropriate His promises, His promises never fail.
Thus the LORD gave to Israel all the land that He swore to give to their fathers. And they took possession of it, and they settled there. And the LORD gave them rest on every side just as He had sworn to their fathers. Not one of all their enemies had withstood them, for the LORD had given all their enemies into their hands. Not one word of all the good promises that the LORD had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass.
(Joshua 21:43-45 ESV)
And so the “Take the Promised Land” campaign concludes. Kings defeated. Enemies devoted to destruction. Land allotted. Cities divvied up. Well . . . mostly.
As I read these verses I remembered that, at least on a couple of occasions, enemies were not removed (13:13, 16:10). That some cities were yet to be occupied (15:63). That clean up still needed to occur. So how could it be said that “all the land” was given and that “all their enemies” had been given into their hands?
Because they were in the promised land. Though they were yet to possess it all, the LORD had already given it all. Just as promised. Through they were yet to have fully moved in, possession had been fully determined and rest on every side had been provided. Just as God had sworn to their fathers. Though there were still enemies in their midst, God had already given them all into their hands. They just needed to engage the enemy.
There is no sense that God had failed in anyway to deliver on His promises, only a recognition that the people were yet to fully appropriate them. The land was theirs. The cities were theirs. The rest was theirs.
God’s good promises were fulfilled. All came to pass. The work was finished. And theirs was to continue to fully enter into that finished work.
Any sense of shortcoming was not a failure to fulfill the promise but a failure to fully enter into the promise. Not a matter of God’s inability to deliver, but of man’s need to pursue and appropriate.
The divine record stands:
Not one word of all the good promises that the LORD had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass.
Any perceived deficiency concerning the promise is our issue not, for God is faithful and His word is sure.
Let God be true though every one were a liar. (Romans 3:4 ESV)
The work is finished. Jesus said so (Jn. 19:30) . . . and it is impossible for God to lie (Heb. 6:18). What’s more, the promises are fulfilled in Him–“Yes and Amen” (2Cor. 1:20).
Mine is to, by faith, pursue all that has been promised in Christ, through Christ. Faithfully entering into the land He has promised. Courageously doing battle with the enemies He has defeated. Confidently entering into the rest He has provided.
Knowing with assurance that His promises never fail.
By His amazing grace. For His all-deserved glory.