Joshua 16-20 (NLT link) 

Discover His heart: He expects us to possess the land He’s given to us

Generally speaking, individuals approach a difficult task in one of three ways:  A) Tackle the project head on, get it done and move on to easier tasks.  B)  Walk the dog, munch on snacks, shuffle papers, check email, ponder the existence of dust and finally, when it’s truly unavoidable, get it done.  C)  Do all of point B, add a few other unnecessary tasks and finally…save it for another day.  After all, why should we do today what we can put off until tomorrow?

As a student, I was a Type A – did the homework first, before television, before the phone and before dinner, leaving the evening free to do anything I wanted to do.  Having just taken down my Christmas decorations two days ago, I think I have digressed. Procrastination plagues all of us from time to time.  The more difficult or undesirable the task, the easier it is to save it for another day, and attempting to motivate a procrastinator to get the job done is like pulling teeth. Joshua had seven tribes of procrastinators to deal with.  Ugh.

@ Joshua 18
The walls of Jericho had fallen and the Israelites filled the land of Canaan.  Many of the tribes had already conquered and possessed their assigned territories, and the Canaanites had lost a great deal of control and were weakened through the advancement of these tribes.  But a large portion of the land was still in the hands of the Canaanites because seven tribes appeared to be Type C individuals.  Joshua gave them a little pep talk, “How long are you going to wait before taking possession of the remaining land the Lord, the God of your ancestors, has given to you?” (3)  In some circles, this would be called a guilt trip.

The Bible doesn’t record their answer as to why they had waited to take possession of their land.  After 40-plus years in the making to get to this point, they did not take the final step to conquer and possess the land.  Perhaps they didn’t have an answer that would justify their behavior other than why do today what we can put off until tomorrow.

Many factors could have caused their procrastination.  The seven tribes may have been just a little too comfortable in their present situation and the motivation wasn’t there to move forward.  Possibly fear of an unknown territory and the dangers they would face from the enemy paralyzed them to no action.  After a difficult journey, perhaps the challenge of rebuilding, repairing and replanting in this new land seemed overwhelming or maybe they were too lazy to do the work.  It’s even possible they were waiting for the perfect moment in time, perfect weather, everyone healthy and strong, Jupiter aligned with Mars. However, Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 11:4, “Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant. If they watch every cloud, they never harvest,” and this probably applies to soldiers as well.  Well, we don’t know the reason, but we know they were not getting the job done.

If we are moving forward at all in this life, God has put before us a task to gain new ground or claim a promise He has given.  It may be gaining spiritual ground, new heights in the Spirit; it may be a mission, new souls for the kingdom; or it may be a personal achievement, more fit in body and soul.  When we neglect the task to possess the land, we put ourselves in a vulnerable position, as James wrote, “Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.”(4:17)  Not good.

Whatever our task, whatever our assignment, whatever our promise, we can be stirred to action by Joshua’s probing question, “How long are you going to wait before taking possession of the remaining land the Lord, the God of your ancestors, has given to you?” 

Moving Forward:  I’m not waiting for better weather or the right mood, I’m moving forward today towards all He has promised. 

Tomorrow @ Psalms 9-11