Prone To Wander
"But be very careful to obey all the commands and the instructions that Moses gave to you. Love the LORD your God, walk in all His ways, obey His commands, hold firmly to Him, and serve Him with all your heart and all your soul." Joshua 22:5
The fighting was over. The land had rest. Now Joshua was sending the warriors from the tribes of Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh "home"--not to the land God had promised the descendants of Abraham. They were going to the land they thought was a better fit for them. God's best for them would have been within the boundaries of the land He had chosen for them. However, He allowed, through Moses, their choice of the land east of the Jordan River.
Until now they had followed a commander they could see face to face. As he said goodbye, Joshua reminded them what they needed to do to remain in fellowship with the LORD their God. It required commitment and effort. It wouldn't come easy, but there was a reward for their obedience.
"...if you obey all His decrees and commands, you will enjoy a long life. Listen closely, Israel, and be careful to obey. Then all will go well with you and you will have many children in the land flowing with milk and honey, just as the LORD the God of your ancestors promised you." Deuteronomy 6:2b-3
Think of it. No more moving. No more marching to someone else's orders. All their lives they had either been wandering in the wilderness or fighting alongside their brothers to establish the borders for each tribe. For the first time they were going home to work their land and raise their families--in peace.
After seven plus years, did their families even know them? Would they accept the authority of these strangers who were coming home to take over? The Bible doesn't speak to it, so we have no way of knowing the answer, but I wonder if Joshua provided opportunities for these men to go home once in awhile and reacquaint with their families.
What about the spiritual condition of those who had stayed behind to tend their flocks and the land? It wasn't until the fighting was over that Levitical cities along with the cities of refuge were established. Had it been up to the women to raise the children in the knowledge of the LORD without a place to gather for worship?
Joshua has a valid concern for their spiritual well-being. God spoke to the warriors through Moses and Joshua. The High Priest had also been with them every day and God's will was made known through the casting of the sacred lots. They were every day reminders of their relationship with God.
When they arrived home they would need to make the effort to be diligent in worship, and remember the commandments so they could obey them. Without individual diligence, a lax attitude toward God could (and did) develop.
We have similarities to them. Like them we are raising families, seeing to their needs, engaging them in activities, perhaps working outside the home as well. However, we are so fortunate to be under the covenant of Grace.
We have the Holy Spirit indwelling us and leading us into truth. We have our Bibles and Bible Apps we can take with us wherever we go. We have moment by moment access to Bible teaching and Praise music. We live (fairly) close to our churches and we can initiate fellowship when we want to.
Maintaining a close relationship and fellowship with God wasn't easy in Old Testament times. Every time God gave them rest, they wandered away from Him. Their rest came mostly from peace and prosperity. They were still subject to sin and needed to return to the altar for forgiveness.
The rest we have is internal--spiritual--given us when Jesus said "It is finished." The work was done. A single, perfect sacrifice provided once-and-for-all forgiveness. It's ours to accept and remain in His rest.
"God's promise of entering His rest still stands, so we ought to tremble with fear that some of you might fail to experience it...only we who believe can enter His rest...For all who have entered into God's rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world. So let us do our best to enter that rest...since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe...let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most." Hebrews 4:1, 3a, 10-11a, 14, 16
Let us not wander, but come boldly to the throne. Let us worship the LORD our God through His Son, Jesus Christ. His promises of mercy and grace are ours. He provides rest.
by Marilyn Allison