I have to admit I don’t know Middle-Eastern geography. I am not familiar with nations and cities on today’s maps, much less those in Old Testament times. So when Joshua is naming territories that were given to the Jews to fulfill God’s promise to Abraham, my eyes glaze over. Not only do I not know where these places are (or were), the names of these places are hard to pronounce.
What can God possibly say to me through this geography lesson?
One word kept repeating itself as I read Joshua 15 and 16 this morning: borders. The Jews were given the Promised Land, but it didn’t come without clear borders. Those borders were necessary to separate the people of God from everyone else. The Jews were to live inside the borders. The enemy’s influence was to stay on the other side of those borders.
Do we have borders as 21st Century children of God, living in the blessed Promised Land of fellowship with God? Let me share just a few borders God has laid on my heart:
Love God with all your heart, mind, and soul.
Love your neighbor as yourself.
Be holy as I am holy.
Resist the devil.
Flee youthful lusts.
Pray without ceasing and in everything give thanks.
Preach the Gospel.
Present our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God.
Study to show ourselves approved of God.
Now, none of these will earn us favor in God’s eye. None of these will buy our salvation. The privilege of living in the Promised Land is a gift of God, it’s ours by the grace of God, it was bought by the blood of Jesus, the only way to the Father. No, these borders can’t allow us to get around the cross. But living within these borders is amazing, like living in a land flowing with milk and honey.
These borders, like the borders Joshua spelled out for Israel, separate us from the rest of the world. It’s within these borders we find fellowship with God himself, life and peace, and help in our time of need.
But there is a war on our soul. Satan wants to tear down the walls, blur the line, enlarge our borders by telling us lies like: God wouldn’t send a good person to hell, there are multiple paths to God, there are big sins and little sins and little sins are overlooked by God, you are ok just the way you are, laughing at sin on TV or neglecting study of God’s Word or keeping your faith to yourself is no biggie, intelligent men and women reject the Bible as inerrant.
I am challenged to guard my borders. The walls around my heart can’t be too high, my resolve can’t be too strong, my dependance on God can’t be too complete. I want to live within the borders God has given us in his Word. There is nothing outside those lines that can compare.
Father in Heaven, thank you for lovingly identifying the borders. Thank you for providing peace and joy and comfort and blessing to those of us who walk inside those borders. Forgive us when we fall for Satan’s tactics to blur the lines, to step outside your perfect will. I pray for your people today. May we let you identify the borders as we read and study your Word, and may we be willing to fight to keep those borders secure. This is war. You give us the victory. Thank you.