The process of promise

Read: Exodus 22-24, Matthew 20:17-34

Many of us, when we pray, would like to see our entire prayer answered right when we pray it. We’re used to instant gratification. Drive-thrus. On demand. Our prayers have become a reflection of that. Like Veruca Salt, we want it and we want it now!

But what happens when we get everything we want when we want it whether we’re ready for it or not? Did you know some studies show that up to 70% of people who unexpectedly come into large sums of money end up broke within five years? Getting rich quick isn’t always the best thing for us.

Exodus 23:29-30

I’m sure Israel would have loved nothing more than to walk out of Egypt and right into the Promised Land. God could have gone ahead and cleaned house, sweeping out the land and preparing it for His people. But He didn’t. He chose not to for a couple of reasons.

  1. Israel wasn’t ready. Here was an entire nation who had been enslaved for four centuries. While their physical captivity had ended, anyone who has been held against their will can tell you that it takes longer for the mind to adapt to freedom. God had a lot of things to teach His people before they were ready to take the land. He needed to renew their minds to His plans and purposes before they could move ahead.
  2. The land was ready. Israel had some learning to do, but the land was move-in ready. It was inhabited. It was already being farmed. Cities had already been built. There was a population that was tending to it, keeping it profitable. Had God scattered those people, the land would have reverted back to its original state. Fields would go fallow and fill with weeds. The cities would begin to crumble and wild animals would once again take over. The Israelites would have had to start from scratch.

Our land, our promise, may be ready for us, but we may not yet be ready for it. There may be lessons we need to learn along the way. We may need to build up endurance and strength. We may need to renew our minds, changing our old way of thinking. We may need to be broken down so that we can be rebuilt. And while all of that is happening, God has made sure that our promise will be ready for us when we are ready for it. The process is just as, if not more, important than the promise.

It worked

Once all the tribes of Israel had received their inheritance, it was Joshua’s turn. Because of his loyalty and leadership, God said he could have any town he wanted. Any town in all of Israel! There were a lot of towns to choose from. And, it seems, with no hesitation, Joshua chose Timnath-serah. In the hill country. Of Ephraim.

After all the land was divided among the tribes, the Israelites gave a special piece of land to Joshua as his inheritance. For the Lord had said he could have any town he wanted. He chose Timnath-serah in the hill country of Ephraim. He rebuilt the town and lived there.

Joshua 19:49-50 (NLT)

Oh, that hill country! Joshua chose to take land and make his permanent home in the land that wasn’t enough for the descendants of Joseph. That had too many trees and too many Canaanites with iron chariots.

I’d like to think that Joshua took that particular spot to prove a point. The tribe of Ephraim wasn’t satisfied there. But Joshua and his family would be. What Ephraim saw as a burden, Joshua would prove to be a blessing.

If God has given you a blessing that requires work, but you refuse to do the work, do you think it will stay in your possession forever? Of all the places Joshua could have taken, he took the place that another tribe had made little of. Joshua was able to see the potential in the problem and decided it would be for him and his own for generations to come.

If you don’t work your blessing, someone else will.

Daily Bible reading: Joshua 19-20, Luke 5:17-39

Clear it

We’ve seen a lot on the Old Testament how the fulfillment of a promise might look like work. And we see it again in Joshua.

If you are a numerous people, go up by yourselves to the forest, and there clear ground for yourselves…

Joshua 17:15

When it came down to dividing up the Promised Land for all the tribes of Israel, it seemed some didn’t deem the division fair. When the people of Joseph approached Joshua, the response was simple, if you want more land, make more land. Go clear it an possess it.

Don’t avoid taking possession of what God has promised you just because it might involve some sweat equity. God is no dummy. He knows you’ll have more value for something you’ve worked for.

If you need more land and God presents you with a forest, look on the bright side, you’ve not only got land, but you’ve got the lumber you need to build something great.

Daily Bible reading: Joshua 16-18, Luke 5:1-16