Promises Fulfilled



"For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory."
(2 Corinthians 1:20 ESV)

As part of my studies for Re:Train, I get to pick a book of the Bible to study for the rest of the year for Hermeneutics, Preaching, and Biblical Theology. I picked the book of Joshua because I've always liked the epic stories of the war and conquest in it. What I didn't expect was the major theme of the book, which is God fulfilling his promise, or covenant, to the people of Israel. 

A little historical background; to that point in history, God had made several covenants, starting with Abraham and continuing with his descendants. A covenant is defined as "an agreement that brings about a relationship of commitment between God and his people." In the book of Genesis, God promises to Abraham that He would bless him, make his descendants into a great people, and that they would receive all the land of Canaan to inhabit and build a kingdom (Gen. 12:1-3, 17:1-4 ESV). With Moses at the burning bush, God made another covenant with Israel, to deliver them from Egypt and to bring them up to the promised land of Canaan (Exodus 3:7-9). 

Fast forward to the book of Joshua, and we see a beautiful, epic narrative wherein God fulfills those covenants. He chooses Joshua as the leader and commander of Israel's armies to replace Moses who had died (Joshua 1). Joshua leads an army in conquest over the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, and so many other kingdoms and nations who resided in the promised land. God alone grants them victory over great odds. The Lord causes miracles such as the stopping of the waters of the Jordan (Joshua 3, echoing the parting of the Red Sea in the Exodus), destroying the walls of Jericho (Joshua 5), and making the sun stand still as the armies battled (Joshua 10). And even once He accomplishes this great victory, God is still faithful and fulfills even the seemingly smallest of promises. 

Take Caleb for instance, who was introduced back in Exodus. He was one of the spies who ventured into the promised land to determine if they could invade and conquer. When all the other spies exaggerated the truth to save their own skin and misadvised the people, Caleb was obedient and faithful to God and reported the truth. For this God promised him that he would live to enter the promised land and his descendants would dwell there (Numbers 14:24). A full 45 years later, God fulfills this promise through Joshua who gives Caleb a whole territory for him and his family (Joshua 14:6-15). 

All of this promise fulfillment culminates in Joshua 21:43-45:
"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."

This is so encouraging for me to read, just as it would have been for the people of Israel who read this book for generations after. To know that God is not only faithful in keeping his promises, but powerful, wise, loving, and all knowing. That is so useful to us in our daily struggles. I know that personally, the last few months have been a trial. There have been times where all Stacy and I have to rest in is our knowledge that God has promised that he would provide for us in this endeavor, and I know that God can and does fulfill His promises. 

Because what you may not realize is that we are still living under God's covenant. Just as the Israelites lived under the Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants, we live under a New Covenant. This new covenant is instituted by Jesus, who by His cross and resurrection assumes the role of royal high priest and fulfills all the promises God made in the previous covenants. The conditions are that we believe in Jesus, be baptized, participate in remembrance of Him through communion, and live by all that He taught (Matthew 26:28). By this covenant, God establishes His family in it's final form as a universal worldwide kingdom, which Jesus calls His Church (Matthew 16:18-19).

This is the hope that even the people of Israel were looking towards. Moses was not their savior, Joshua was not their savior, the promised land was not heaven. They had faith in God and his unfolding plan that would come to fruition in the person and work of Jesus. Living on this side of the cross, we know Jesus, and anxiously await the fullness of the new covenant when He returns.

That hope is what makes living the Christian life possible. It's what fuels me to follow Him even through difficult or painful circumstances. The knowledge of God's faithfulness is the fuel that the Holy Spirit will spark into a flame of saving faith in Jesus.

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