So Joshua said to the Israelites: “How long will you wait before you begin to take possession of the land that the LORD, the God of your fathers, has given you? Joshua 18 v 3
Here is another way of getting out of step with God – just hanging about waiting! Some of the tribes were simply not getting on with the task of settling in the country. Most of the areas had been subdued during the period of the conquest, but now comes the problem of settling down. It is as well to remember that the Israelites had been nomads ever since leaving Egypt under the leadership of Moses. There had been long years in the wilderness, and then moving about fighting battles to conquer the Promised Land. There was a nomadic culture, probably trading with the local people to obtain what they needed. (The thought of destroying the very people who provided them with what they needed might have been off-putting too!) So now comes the major test – bigger than any they have fought so far – can they change their culture from being nomadic to settling on the land and working it? So what had they done so far? They had been hanging about and not bothering to get out and claim their territory.
Joshua, ever the effective organiser, hatches a plan. Get a map drawn (v 4), and define all the boundaries (v 7). Then, in God’s presence, decide who has what.
(v 10) Surveying the whole land on foot was not exactly the work of a moment, but it gets things moving once again.
How vital the work of planning and organisation is in the life of God’s people today! Without it we might just procrastinate on the basis of not knowing what to do. But the really big change is of their culture. They were going to have to change from nomadic traders to settled workers.
A cultural change is still the biggest obstacle to settling people in Church life today. The prevailing culture in our society is consumerism – I choose what I want because it makes me feel better. As Christians we have to learn another culture, where the will of our Heavenly Father, and the needs of others have to take precedence.
For reflection: In what ways are you living counter-culturally? Don’t delay in working out the changes that might be necessary.
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