If you can’t say it properly, and instead say ‘sibboleth,’ you die.
Jephthah defeated the Ammonites and all was wonderful and happy again, right?
Across the Jordan come the people of Ephraim wondering why they didn’t get to join in the victory. Since Jephthah didn’t include them, they’re going to burn his house down. Jephthah points out that he did actually give these guys a call, but they just let it go to voicemail. So, in their absence, off he went with what he had and defeated the Ammonites. So he brings his men up as well and there’s a big fight with the people of Ephraim – and Jephthah and his men win.
They captured the crossings of the Jordan river and started doing tests – somewhat like the soothsayer in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, except instead of having to answer what your name and favourite colour (Blue… No! Yelloooooooooow!), you just have to say the password.
Apparently, the people from the other side of the river said it wrong, so if they didn’t say it right, they’d be killed. Forty two thousand of them were killed.
To be honest, I find the Shibboleth / Sibboleth thing kind of amusing. As I was reading it I imagined the Jordan River being the Tasman Sea. Imagine if every time someone landed in Australia they had to say “Fish and Chips.” You say “Fush and chups,” and you get killed on the spot. Sounds like a perfect way to determine whether someone should live or die, right?
Anyway, that’s not really my point.
I was thinking about the Ephraimites, and how they suddenly came over to attack Jephthah because he left them out of the victorious battle against the Ammonites. Except that according to Jephthah, he did actually ask them to come by. The beacons were lit. Jephthah calls for aid! The problem was that the Ephraimites ignored the call, and continued going on about their own business.
Seemingly, that is, until they realized that Jephthah actually won. Suddenly there was credit to be shared around, probably loot to be divvied up and celebrations to be held. Up comes Ephraim to join in on the party and stake their claim on the spoils of war.
I’ll admit that I’ve been on both sides of this coin at different stages of my life. I know that there have been times when I’ve come in at the end of something being done and made sure that I received some of the credit for doing it. On the other hand, I’ve worked hard at other things, only to have some other person come along at the last minute and take the credit for it. Let me tell you something, the latter option has made me livid before. Maybe I wouldn’t go so far as to kill them or go to war, but hey…
The thing is, don’t do it, and not just because someone will start throwing passwords in your direction and killing you if you say Shibboleth wrong.
In the last chapter, the Israelites crossed the Jordan – they finally entered the promised land. Here, we see the final part of that process.
But this entire chapter is dedicated to one final step associated with it: Remembering.
Once the people have crossed; God tells Joshua, and Joshua relays back to the Israelites for 12 men – one from each tribe – to go back into the Jordan and pick up a rock from where the priests are currently standing with the Ark of the Covenant. Once they’ve each got one, they’re going to build an altar.
He said to the Israelites, “In the future when your descendants ask their fathers, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’” ~ Joshua 4:21-22
How often do we need to be reminded of the things that God’s done for us? How often do we question, doubt or simply just forget that we actually have God, the Creator of the Universe, looking over us?
When I look back on my life, one thing’s clear: He’s been watching out for me. I am confident that God has a destiny in plan for me – because otherwise, I highly doubt that I’d be here right now. I made plenty of efforts to destroy myself during my younger years, and somehow came through them – and in truth, came through them relatively unscathed compared to what could have been.
Yet I still, to this day, have a tendency to hesitate when God asks me to do something. When he calls, I falter.
Because in that moment, I’m not thinking about all the things that God’s already done. I’m not thinking about the fact that he’s kept me safe throughout the years. I’m not thinking about the blessings that I’ve received from him.
I’m busy thinking about what could happen if things go wrong.
I think we all need to build reminder altars in our lives, to the things that God’s done and provided for us. Little landmarks that we can walk past and say, “That’s where God did this.” Little things that we can tell our children, like the Israelites were to tell their’s about crossing the Jordan on dry land.
So, growing up in Tasmania, we lived in Launceston but had family down here in Hobart. There was always one part of the journey that I liked in particular.
You see, on the way to Hobart from Launceston, you have to cross the Jordan river.
Then you go past Jericho.
This is actually for real, so of course it was like it had been made for me, as a kid. Joshua crossing the Jordan and going on to Jericho.
That’s what’s going on here. Joshua first readies and announces to the people of Israel that they’re about to move out. It’s time to break camp and enter the promised land.
Tonight, I feel like I’m preparing a sermon. There’s three points that stand out to me as I was reading this chapter.
First of all, though, the overall picture. Here it is, the moment that the Israelites have been waiting for. It’s time to cross the Jordan river and enter into the Promised Land. They’ve been wandering for over forty years, through the wilderness and desert surrounding these lands, and finally it’s their time, finally they’re standing there, with one final thing to do.
Cross a river – that’s in flood for the harvest.
So three things come out of this:
1. They consecrated themselves.
To consecrate, is to make one’s self holy. If I go to my trusty source of Merriam Webster and look up Consecrate, I get these two definitions in particular:
- To make or declare sacred; especially: to devote irrevocably to the worship of God by a solemn ceremony.
- To devote to a purpose with or as if with deep solemnity or dedication.
Before stepping into the promised land, after all the journey that we’ve been through, we need to be dedicated. We need to be devoted to God.
Reading that definition is challenging for me. Especially the first one. To devote irrevocably to the worship of God – that means, there’s no going back. Once your life’s consecrated, it’s God’s, devoted, dedicated, given to him without any reservation to take it back into our own control. That’s a hard one – and one that I haven’t taken, and find it a struggle even to imagine that one day I could take it.
Irrevocable’s a pretty strong word, but that’s what God gave us. He’s not going to revoke the grace that has been provided to us through Jesus’ sacrifice.
2. It required a step of faith.
Let’s remember, this river was flooding – it was harvest time, so the Jordan would have been racing pretty heavily. Joshua sat there and told the priests to set foot in the river, and march the Ark of the Covenant out into the middle of the river.
This wasn’t just a step of faith for the priests – although it would have been a pretty big one for them – it was a big thing for everyone. The Ark of the Covenant was their physical connection to God, and here they were watching the priests just carry it into the flooding river.
And let’s not forget Joshua. Here was the real test of his leadership. Imagine how long his leadership would have lasted if those Priests had washed away with the Ark of the Covenant?
Stepping into the promised land doesn’t just take being holy and a good person, it takes a step of faith.
3. They crossed over on dry land.
Following on from the step of faith, God did the rest.
Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing. ~ Joshua 3:15-16
As soon as their feet touched the water’s edge, the water stopped flowing. They took that step of faith, and then God did the rest to let them walk into the promised land.
I wonder – what stops us from taking that step of faith ourselves? We hear so many stories, not just from the bible, but from the very people we know and trust, of God coming through when a step of faith is taken, and yet still we hesitate. I crave, I absolutely crave to one day have such faith that I would be able to step into the Jordan, with complete confidence and knowledge that God’s going to stop the flow from way upstream.
Then the LORD said to him, “This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob when I said, ‘I will give it to your dsescendants.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you will not cross over into it.” ~ Deuteronomy 34:4
You know, throughout this journey of the Israelites, from Egypt to Canaan, I’ve consistently used the Promised Land as a metaphorical reference to our own individual destinies in God. The fulfilment of the plan that he has for our lives.
First of all, going to the very end of the chapter.
Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face. ~ Deuteronomy 34:10
As far as prophets go, Moses is the top of the crop, he’s the one who knew God face to face.
But even then, he wasn’t perfect. The reason he was standing on Mt Nebo and not entering the promised land was because he didn’t trust God completely. He ended up disobeying God and doing his own thing – and it was something that would seem to us, so minor, but it was a big enough thing to God that Moses was not allowed to cross over into the promised land.
And that’s the thing that most stands out to me as I read this chapter. Mt Nebo, the mountain that Moses climbed at the end of his life, and gazed out over the promised land, over the gift that God had promised his fathers, and his nation.
It doesn’t say how Moses reacted, but I think he would have been heartbroken. Standing there, looking out over the promised land at the destiny God had, knowing that he could have gotten there if he had only trusted God that little bit more when it mattered.
When it comes to the end of my life, I don’t want to stand on Mount Nebo, looking out over the destiny that God actually had in mind for me. I want to cross the Jordan and walk into it, and look back across the river, at the journey that I’ve taken to get there.
And so comes to a close the book of Deuteronomy, and the Pentateuch.
It’s taken me just shy of twelve months to get this far. I started on 27 July, 2010 – and what a journey it’s been.
When I started, my intention was to provide a – what some might call ‘New Age Interpretation’ of the bible, reading it through as a book that had a lot of good moral teachings, but was wrong in some places, right in others, needed improving in others. That was basically the intention I had, as someone who wasn’t following or in a relationship with God.
It really is a love letter from him, though. Between studying God’s very word, and the influence of some absolutely wonderful people whom I love dearly, things changed.
So thanks: Steve, Donna, Cody, Sara, Anna and Pastor Dave – in particular, you were people who God used, each in a special way, to help bring me back into this relationship with him.
I’m so grateful, now, to know the love of my Father in a way that I never knew before.
Now, I’m just eager to keep going. That said, I’m going to take a couple of days break again now – I know I’ve had more days off than writing this blog of late, but I’ll start with Joshua on Sunday evening.
I love this character’s title. It makes me think I want to write a superhero novel about him.
Okay, so the Avenger of Blood – I’m reasonably sure – isn’t a specific character, but the title is so cool that I feel he should be.
There are times where I’m struggling through Deuteronomy, because almost all of it is stuff that I’ve been through before on this journey so far. I was reading this nodding, acknowledging that I’ve read about the cities of refuge before, until it clicked that there used to be more. Back in Numbers 35, there were six cities. So after a moment’s wondering it clicked that of course, we’re now talking about after they cross the Jordan. There’s not really a specific definition about how long they spent camped out on the Eastern side of the Jordan, but it was supposed to be time enough for the tribes of Dan, Gad and half of Manasseh to settle their families into their new cities before they crossed the river with their brothers. I’d assume, therefore, that it was also long enough for them to set out the three Cities of Refuge for this side of the river.
Anyway, though, that’s not what really stood out to me as I was reading this. It was just a side note.
What stood out to me, which is the other side of the coin from the last discussion of Cities of Refuge, was the Avenger of Blood. The passage doesn’t actually capitalise him, obviously, but I just feel like it’s an awesome title.
Anyway, my assumption of this title is that it probably goes to a blood relative who is out to avenge the death of their kin.
It’s Inigo Montoya! “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” ~ The Princess Bride.
Vengeance is a tricky thing. I’ve mused before about what God would allow these days in regards to violence. Vengeance is a little further again.
And it’s pretty much never good.
There seems to be an innate part of us, though, that screams out for vengeance when we’re wronged; and just as I’m writing this I feel like God’s providing a revelation as to why.
We are images of God, created in his image but not as him. This means that there are potential corruptions within us. God is just, he is perfect, he is honourable.
The issue is that we are selfish, therefore we get this warped sense of what justice is and therefore crave vengeance, because what has been done wrong against us also must be done against the person who wronged us. In our own ego, we justify a thirst for vengeance with justice.
I’ve observed, as I’m sure most people have, the statement of “Karma’s a Bitch.” It’s a common statement that comes from people who feel they’ve been hurt, wronged or let down in some way – and most of the time they have.
If I can go off the Christian path for a second here, though. Before coming back to God, I still had this opinion: Karma is not about the other person, it’s about you. Karma’s not about wishing vengeance on someone else, it’s about having the right attitude in your own heart. So therefore, releasing negative thoughts and energy towards a person isn’t necessarily going to have an effect on them, but it may have an effect on you, because you’re sending out the wrong attitude.
The concept of Karma is abused in our world today by people thinking that some cosmic force will get revenge for them.
We all want vengeance. We want what we perceive as justice to be done – but only when we’ve been wronged.
An attitude of vengeance, though, will not help us to grow – and that’s true regardless of whether you’re a Christian or not. The Avenger of Blood might be a cool title for a character in a superhero novel, but it’s not a title that I really want to have.
We live under Grace, now. If anyone has a right for “vengeance” it’s God, against us for what we’ve done against him. He doesn’t seek vengeance, though, he only sends us love.
What kind of a world would we live in if we all did that? Regardless of what someone does against us, we love them in return.
Can you imagine?
Wow, what a chapter.
Here we have Moses having a chat to the Israelites about going across the Jordan, and in the land on the other side of the river, are several nations: the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanaites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites.
“And when the LORD your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy.” ~ Deuteronomy 7:2.
Destroy them totally, get rid of them completely.
Two main reasons come out in this chapter.
First: “For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.” ~ Deuteronomy 7:6.
Second: “You must destroy all the peoples the LORD your God gives over to you. Do not look on them with pity and do not serve their gods, for that will be a snare to you.” ~ Deuteronomy 7:16.
This chapter brings an exceptional parallel to our own lives, and the way that we live our lives. A friend of mine made the statement today that they are no longer going to drink alcohol, and part of the discussion that ensued included a comment about how “compromise can sneak in so easily.” It’s true, too.
As our Father’s children, as members of the Church that Jesus came to build, as warriors in God’s army, we are called to live a holy life. We are called to be a people holy to the LORD our God. Part of that, therefore, is demonstrating holiness to those who bear witness to us. Now I’m certainly not saying that we should go killing Jebusites or Perizzites or Hivites; but we should be eliminating and destroying sin, and eliminating it especially from the places where we dwell.
Canaan was to become the Israelites home, and as a holy people, their home needed to be pure and clean. First, because they were a holy people, but secondly, so as not to become snared.
Compromise really can sneak in so easily. It may not be a sin to drink, but we are told not to be drunk. For some people, all it takes is that first drink and they just can’t stop. I know that in my life, on occasions when I’ve gone out drinking, I’ve let things get out of hand; and that’s coming from someone who does, in most situations, maintain a reasonable level of composure and sobriety when drinking. If it’s easy for me, who rarely drinks to excess, to fall into that place then how much easier is it going to be for a person to whom it’s a regular occurrence?
So therefore we must eliminate it all together.
And it’s not easy, I know that – and so did God.
“You may say to yourselves, ‘These nations are stronger than we are. How can we drive them out?’ But do not be afraid of them; remember well what the LORD your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt.” ~ Deuteronomy 7:17-18.
Remember what the LORD did. This was the reminder to the Israelites, and it is the reminder to us today, too. When we’re struggling, when we don’t think we can defeat a temptation, when we feel like we’re too weak, too small, too much of a failure to succeed in defeating sin, that’s when we need to remember what Jesus did. He defeated death, and he paid the price for sin. We are no longer bound by it, we are no longer subject to its power, because Jesus has bought us and set us free from that bondage.
We can’t defeat it. We can’t resist it. We are too weak – but we are bought by someone who can, and he will give us the power and strength to survive. Just as through God’s strength and power the Israelites knew they could defeat the Canaanites and Hittites and Girgashites and so on, so through God’s strength, we can defeat the temptation to sin.
Some more of Moses’ recalling the story of how the Israelites came to be at this point. Here they are, ready to enter the Promised Land, and Moses indulges in a speech.
It’s fair enough really. They’ve waited forty years, so it’s not like they can’t spend another hour or so allowing Moses to give them a good speech and farewell. After all, he’s already been told that he won’t be going across the Jordan, and he does actually reveal this to the Israelite community in this chapter – that he won’t be finishing the journey with them.
And it’s that part of this chapter that I really want to look at here. Verses 21 to 29.
Moses starts by commissioning Joshua.
Now probably for obvious reasons, for most of my life I’ve connected to Joshua’s character in the bible. This type of message gets repeated across Joshua’s life during this period, when Moses is saying farewell and Joshua’s about to take over the leadership of the nation. Moses tells him:
“Do not be afraid of them; the LORD your God himself will fight for you.” ~ Deuteronomy 3:22
Fear can be such a crippling factor in our lives; no matter what it might be of. What we need to remember is the second part of this – God himself fights for us.
I just wanted to touch on that, but what really stood out to me in this chapter was a bit further on. See, after telling Joshua not to be afraid, Moses begs God to allow him to cross the Jordan after all.
But because of you the LORD was angry with me and would not listen to me. “That is enough,” the LORD said. “Do not speak to me anymore about this matter.” ~ Deuteronomy 3:26
Because of you…
I just want to go back to Numbers fora moment. Back in Numbers 20, the Israelites had arrived in the Desert of Zin, where Miriam died. There was no waer, so they’re getting thirsty and slip straight into their go-to move of whining, and saying how they should have just stayed in Egypt, where everything was apparently wonderful and shiny.
Moses and Aaron went out and asked God what was going on, and God gave them this command:
“Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water. You will bring water out of the rock for the community so they and their livetock can drink.” ~ Numbers 20:8
So off goes Moses, he takes the staff and with Aaron, he speaks to the Israelites and then bashes the rock with the staff. It cracks open and water starts to pour out of it.
So God fulfils his promise, but that’s not what he told Moses to do. There are consequences.
But the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.” ~ Numbers 20:12
Now call me crazy, but that sounds pretty clearly that God’s laying the consequence on Moses and Aaron for their actions. This is one thing that the Israelites as a whole can actually shrug off and say it wasn’t their fault; yet Moses tells them that no, he’s not coming across the Jordan into the promised land because of them.
For some reason, we really don’t like taking responsibility for our own actions, do we? It goes right back to day one. Adam and Eve. When God confronted them after they had eaten the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, they tried to dodge the blame. Adam pointed the finger at Eve – and even God!
The man said, “The woman you put here with me – she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” ~ Genesis 3:12
Two key words there: Woman, and you. It was the woman’s fault, and God was the one who put her there, so it was also his fault. Again, it was “because of you“.
I’m not very good at this myself. It’s so hard, isn’t it? To actually take responsibility for our own actions, especially the ones that we know are going to have negative consequences. When it comes to the crunch, its selfish. We’d rather see someone else take the fall than accept it ourselves.
God loves us, nonetheless. No matter what.
Imagine, just imagine what the world might be like if every human adopted two things: Responsibility for ourselves, and grace for others. Just think about that.
More history, more races of people, more nations, more backgrounds and other bits of information to flesh out.
Rephaites, Emites, Horites.
“Horites used to live in Seir, but they were driven out by the descendants of Esau drove them out. They destroyed the Horites from before them and settled in their place, just as Israel did in the land the LORD gave them as their possession. ~ Deuteronomy 2:12
I want to know who these people were, and what their lives were.
As I was reading through Numbers, I’ll confess that I actually felt, at one stage, a bit short changed. The story had the Israelites being told that they weren’t going the the Promised Land yet, and that they were going to wander the desert for a generation. Then suddenly they were at the Jordan waiting to cross and get ready to move into their new home. I couldn’t help wondering where the rest of the story was.
This isn’t much, but it does give a little extra information about where they wandered and so on.
I do admit to being a bit confused – as I was back in Numbers with the discussion about the Midianites and Moabites seducing the Israelites and stuff; I couldn’t quite clarify who they were talking about; but this passage does seem to imply that they cleared through the lands of the Moabites and the Ammonites fairly peacefully.
There’s a bit of a breakdown here about the Moabites and the Ammonites. The Moabites cleared out their region which was previously inhabited by the Emites; the Horites and the Zamzummites, etcetera.
They were a people strong and numerous, and as tall as the Anakites. The LORD destroyed them before the Ammonites, who drove them out and settled in their place. The LORD had done the same for the descendants fo Esau, who lived in Seir, when he detroyed the Horites from before them. They drove them out and have lived in their place to this day.~ Deuteronomy 2:21-22
These are the descendants of Lot and Esau, fairly prominent sideline figures from back in Genesis. It just goes to show that God kept that part of his promise, too. He made the promise to Abraham that he would be the father of many nations, he promised prosperity and descendants beyond the ability to count. Well, the sideline cast – Lot, Esau and of course Ishmael as well – all got their own land, and it was provided to them by God too.
God might have had a chosen people, but he didn’t forsake everyone else on the planet in the meantime. The same is the situation today, he hasn’t forsaken anyone, and more importantly, he doesn’t only provide his attention to those in his fold. Not being a Christian doesn’t mean God’s turned his back on a person, nor does it mean he doesn’t see what’s going on or want to help and love that person.
You know, even if I can get excited about the genealogies and the previous chapter when it came to details of the Israelites journey, there are some bits and pieces that I do still struggle with. This chapter’s one of them. Reading through, it’s a detailed list of where the boundary of the nation of Israel is meant to be.
There’s been a few different places where God described specifically what the boundaries of the Israelite kingdom were meant to be. As far as I know (I am, of course, happy to be corrected on this) though, never in their entire existence as a nation – even at their greatest under King David – did they attain all of the land that God actually had set out for them.
One other thing that I find interesting is that God doesn’t actually include the land given to the tribes of Reuben, Gad and the half of Manasseh in these boundaries. He actually still closes the boundaries down in the land that he had intended to give to them.
It is possible to stop before we reach the promised land. It is possible to just lie back on our laurels and rest, satisfied with what we’ve achieved to date and think that we’ve really done enough. The trouble is, that if we stop, God’s not about to move the boundaries of the promised land to suit where we’ve arrived at. He’s not about to just decide that we’ve come far enough, so he’ll extend the promised land to us to ensure that we still get everything that he had planned for us.
When I was looking at Abraham, and particularly the story of Ishmael and how Abraham took his destiny into his own hands, God pointed out to me that even though Abraham screwed up, God was still able to use that. He was able to actually take Abraham’s mistake and still guide him to his destiny. There were consequences, but ultimately, Abraham and Sarah still had their own son.
Abraham wasn’t stopping, though. He was still going, and while he ended up on the wrong path for a while, he was still moving; still growing closer to God.
The problem comes when we stop. If we stop, and just decide that we’ve done enough – that’s when we can’t walk into the fullness of life that God has for us. That’s when we end up on the Eastern side of the Jordan river, gazing across at the promised land – a promised land that Reuben, Gad and Manasseh still helped win – but never move in.
See, as long as we’re moving forward, God can still guide us from our mistakes and lead us into the destiny that he has for us. It may not be ideally like he had planned initially, but we can still get there. What we do when we stop, though, is settle for second best. We settle for a place that ultimately, God didn’t intend for us to be there, but we simply decided to quit the journey and settle, and suddenly we’re on the wrong side of the boundary, outside the promised land.
So we’re getting towards the end of the journey. Here are the Israelites, and they’ve actually managed to defeat most of the Eastern side of the Jordan river; now they just need to cross it and get across to the west side. It has to be admitted, they made a mess of it. Egypt to where Israel isn’t anywhere near as long a journey as the Israelites made it.
Funny, though, how even though it took forty years, God was still in the process of fulfilling his promise. It could have been quite easy for the Israelite to decide that they’d done their jobs. They had, after all, wiped out the Midianites; and had cleared a fair track of land on this side of the Jordan river. They could well have just settled where they were.
And in fact, some of them decided that they wanted to. The tribes of Reuben, Gad and half of the tribe of Manasseh all come to Moses at this point and ask if they can just settle where they are instead of going across the Jordan.
And Moses gives them a serve.
He tells them no, they’re not going to just quit here while the rest of the nation continues on and fights the rest of the battle; they are to follow and join in.
To their credit, though, these guys reply by asking Moses to let them build their cities, fence their flocks, and settle their wives and children, and then they’ll be right there.
This – to me – sounds a bit similar to the person who wanted to follow Jesus, but only once he’d buried his father. Jesus said that’s not how it works.
It’s not quite the same, and hence why it does work that way for Reuben, Gad and the eastern half of Manasseh. Moses tells them that they can have their land, build their cities, fence their herds, but once everything’s set, the soldiers are coming with the rest of the Israelites across the Jordan. They agree to this.
There’s a lot to take out of this chapter, I think the main thing I take from it, though, is the concept of settling. I know from personal experience that it’s a lot easier to half finish something, than to actually finish it. Here’s these two and a half tribes, and they’re looking around and realizing that there’s a massive amount of now-vacant land right where they’re standing. They have a promised land across the river, but where they are is already clear, the work’s already been done. Why put any more effort in? How easy is it for us to stand on the Eastern side of the Jordan in our lives and decide that we can’t be bothered doing any more work, we’re happy right where we are. We don’t need the full promise of God; what we’ve got will do.
We can sit back and rest on our laurels, deciding that we’ve done enough. It’s now time to settle down, relax and live out the rest of our lives in peace. That’s not likely what God has for us, though. God doesn’t need stagnant warriors, he needs moving ones. He doesn’t want us on the eastern side of the Jordan, he wants to see us walk completely into the promised land that he has for us.
God has so much more for us, if we just cross the river and keep walking into his promises.