(Joshua Chapter 12)
The 12th chapter of Joshua could put you to sleep.
Seriously, it's a list of the kings that Moses and Joshua defeated. Lots of names. Many of them hard to pronounce, and none of them I'd bet you've heard of before you read their names.
So, that begs the question, why bother?
This chapter of Ocean Road has tripped me up for a while. Actually, for about a year. I stopped writing after the last chapter somewhere near the end of 2015. And as I sit to write today, it is November 15, 2016.
After a lot of thought, I'm going to toss out one point that has landed on my heart recently. A thought that I need to hear, and is challenging me to act in faith in ways I haven't in a long time.
So here goes...
There is a literary battle between two words that we need to tackle.
It tells us that Moses defeated 2 kings, and gave the land they gained as an inheritance to three different tribes of people. (For you history buffs he gave the land to the people of Reuben, Gad, and half of Manasseh's tribe).
It also tells us that Joshua defeated 31 kings, and that he gave the land they gained as a possession. (It says he gave it to the tribes of Israel, not naming specific ones. I'd venture to guess that everyone else that didn't get land from Moses, got hooked up here).
That's what made me curious.
The difference between how the land was handled.
And here is what I figured out.
When you inherit something, it's given to you after someone has died.
When you possess something, you own it right there and then, at that moment.
You wait for an inheritance, and you can receive it by saying yes.
You have a possession, but you have work to do to make it happen.
How does this matter in reference to the story in Joshua?
I recently came across some sermons from the late Charles Spurgeon. I have to admit, I don't usually study sermons from great orators and preachers from the 1800's. And at the risk of sounding vain, I felt really smart to be able to say I was doing it. Lame. I get it. But past my own pride, I began to run into thoughts from Spurgeon that helped me unpack the 12th chapter of Joshua.
I found a sermon by Spurgeon talking about, you guessed it, inheritance & possession.
He hinted that we are leaving something on the table.
In our waiting to receive an inheritance later,
we are forfeiting the opportunity to take possession of our calling today.
Soak that up.
Are we sitting on our butts, when we could be taking hold of something greater, today?
We can rest assured that we will receive the full inheritance of living in heaven with Christ after our death someday, if we receive him today. There is no doubt about that. And my words here are not, in any way shape or form, to lessen that blessing.
What is heavy on my heart, is the thought that there is more to do here, before we go there. What if our efforts here, could bless someone else, so they received the inheritance to a life with Christ in heaven one day, too? What if how we lived our life before our daisy pushing days came...relieved pain, gave encouragement, and helped heal people who were hurting mentally, emotionally, or physically?
And the only perspective point in this chapter came to me, not on the banks of North Carolina, but as I wrote back in my office in New York. Over a year later. I think I finally landed on it. Humbled by it. Convicted by it. Inspired by it. By this...
Our ignorance is holding others back from their deliverance. (*35)
"No part of scripture is of private interpretation - no bit of the promised country may be hedged in as the peculiar portion of a few. It all belongs to all the redeemed if they have but faith to make it their own."
from "Taking possession of our inheritance. Sermon #2086"
Yeah, I realize the lack of subtlety there.
I'm hit by it, too.
I'm reminded of my own selfishness.
I'm reflective on where I've missed opportunities.
And it's that reflection that needs to release us in a new direction.
Maybe that's what we can all take from a list of names in the book about an Old Testament guy like Joshua. Maybe it's a reminder that our life isn't about waiting for an inheritance, but rather walking in faith to take hold of something greater.
I'll leave us with one more quote from the Spurgeon in his sermon I mentioned above.
"Why should you hesitate? You blame the sinner when he delays. Surely the saint is to be blamed, too, when he also linger."
I mean, I don't know if you have that lump in the throat, kick in the pants, holy crap feeling after hearing that. I sure do.
That's what I mean about things getting specific.
When we understand the subtle clues in the difference between two words. When we embrace the opportunity to possess our calling, so others can receive their inheritance.
When we get specific, we can truly make an impact.
(35) Our ignorance is holding others back from their deliverance
35. Where have you been holding back? What have you settled in to comfortably, that you could and should be stepping away from to invite others to Christ? What simple step can you take today to better someone else's world? How can you show love, grace, mercy, compassion, etc...into the part of the world God has given you to impact? How can you take hold (possession of) what God is asking of you today, so that others will also be able to receive the inheritance of a life with Christ?
About the book
Brett W. Gould
Author. Speaker. Teacher. Coach.