This month’s Pastor’s Perspective is delivered by Michael Cobb, Dalraida United Methodist Church
For seven years, they were untouchable: twenty battles won, seven kings conquered, and 25,000 miles of choice property were claimed. They had seven years of tremendous success. They were outnumbered but never overpowered. They were under-equipped but never overwhelmed. They were the unlikely but unquestionable conquerors of some of the most barbaric armies in history. The Hebrew people were unstoppable during those seven years. But it wasn’t always like that.
The Bible doesn’t skim over the many times that God’s people messed up. Abraham had too many wives. Jacob told too many lies. Esau sold his birthright. Joseph’s brothers sold him. Four centuries of Egyptian bondage were followed by 40 years in the wilderness. They were free from slavery, but not free from what kept them there. Later came seventy years of Babylonian captivity. The Hebrews certainly had their troubles. They built two temples, and both were destroyed. They were entrusted with the Ark of the Covenant— only God knows where it is now. When they struggled, everyone else seemed to advance. Babylon built her cities. Persia flexed her muscles. Rome stretched its empire. But Israel kept dropping the ball…except for those seven incredible years.
It was the start of their 5th decade as “bedouins in the badlands” until around 1400 B.C. when God spoke to Joshua… and Joshua listened to God. Even more, the people listened to Joshua, and over two million of them marched into Canaan like harvesters in a Kansas wheat field. They witnessed miracles. Jericho’s walls fell. The sun stood still. Seven Canaanite kings were forced into early retirement. By the end of those seven years, a once-homeless nation had become a people of power, presence, and possession. Their accomplishments were so complete that the writer of Joshua offers the following: “So the Lord gave to Israel all the land that he had 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 word of all the good promises that the Lord had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass” (Josh 21:43- 45). Israel experienced the power and presence of God; but most of all, they claimed possession of all that God had promised them.
Are the words power, presence, and possession reflected in your life? Maybe you don’t need to cross the Jordan River, but you sure could use the strength to get through this time. Maybe you’re not facing a Jericho, but heartache, rejection, or depression seem to fall over you. It’s certainly not the Amalekites or Canaanites chasing after you, but maybe, it’s an illness, debt, or some other physical/ spiritual bondage. Maybe you can relate to the young boy I saw at the airport. His parents were sprinting down the concourse in flip-flops and full Disney gear with concerned looks that hinted at possibly missing a connecting flight. The wife matched her husband’s pace, stride for stride, but slowly separated themselves from their son. Eventually, the young lad had enough. He stopped and dropped everything, then crossed his arms and yelled out, “I can’t keep up!” We’ve all been there, haven’t we?
Life has a way of getting ahead of us, and sometimes it feels as if life is taking life from us. It’s not that we don’t try. We simply run out of steam. We run out of the fight. But I believe that God gave us Joshua’s story for those seasons to remind us that our best days can be ahead of us. No matter the season, God has promised his power and presence. He has promised a possession. It’s not a land void of struggle, but Christ’s life as a guarantee in the struggle. So come out of the wilderness and find your life in Him.
“We are more than conquerors through [Christ] who loved us and gave himself up for us.”Romans 8:37
Michael Cobb is senior pastor of Dalraida UMC on Atlanta Highway in Montgomery. See their ad on this page.