As we’ve seen, God is great, the great sovereign over his created order. He is able—and certain—to act on behalf of his people. How will he do that?
2. God keeps his promises.
As the narrative proceeds, God reminds Joshua that he has made promises to the people of Israel:
3 Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, as I promised to Moses. 4 From the wilderness and the Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, to the Great Sea in the west shall be your territory (Jos 1.3-4).
The Lord refers specifically to the promise he made to Moses (Dt 11.24), and through him to the people of Israel. And you’ll recall that even earlier, at the burning bush (Ex 3.8), God had commissioned Moses to bring his people out of Egypt “to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey.” And God prefaced that commission by identifying himself as “the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (Ex 3.6). Why does he describe himself that way? clearly because he had made the same promise to the patriarchs, beginning with Abraham (Ge 12.7; cf 17.8), then Isaac (Ge 26.4) and then Jacob (Ge 28.13).
God is the kind of person who 1) remembers his promises and then 2) keeps them. It had been about 600 years since God made the original promise to Abraham; for more than 400 of those years Abraham’s descendants had been in Egypt—not in the Land God had promised them—and for most of those 400 they had been slaves.
But God had not forgotten; he had not reneged; he had not failed to keep the Promise.
One of the evidences of sovereignty is that you’re not in a hurry. If you see the White Rabbit hopping madly by, crying, “I’m late! I’m late!” then you know that he doesn’t have his life under control at that moment.
And so now, six centuries of providentially directed history later, it’s time—time to fulfill the promise, time to give Abraham’s seed the land.
As I’ve noted, you and I are not Israel, and we have no claim to the land from the river of Egypt to the Euphrates.
But if God is the kind of person who remembers and keeps his promises, then he remembers and keeps his promises to us as well.
And there are hundreds of them, more than I can list here.
But there a few that might be profitable for us to recall here where we find ourselves in history.
Some apply to us as individual believers.
- “Those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it” (Mt 16.25).
- “This is indeed the will of my Father, that all who see the Son and believe in him may have eternal life; and I will raise them up on the last day” (Jn 6.40).
- “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also” (Jn 14.3).
- “God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it” (1Co 10.13).
- “The one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ” (Php 1.6).
- “I will never leave you or forsake you” (He 13.5).
- “It is God’s will that by doing right you should silence the ignorance of the foolish” (1P 2.15).
- “Let those suffering in accordance with God’s will entrust themselves to a faithful Creator, while continuing to do good” (1P 4.19).
And others apply to us as Christ’s body, the church, in corporate unity.
- “I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it” (Mt 16.18).
- “Never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord’ ” (Ro 12.19).
- “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart” (1Co 1.19).
- “May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this” (1Th 5.23-24).
- “All who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2Ti 3.12).
He remembers all of these. And he will keep them.