At Christmastime, we make festive promises to each other and wait with excitement for those promises to unfold. What gifts will we receive? Which out-of-town visitors will come? What treats will we enjoy? We look forward with much expectation. Indeed, the anticipation is often greater than the realization.
In the Book of Joshua, the Israelites conquer and dwell in the land of Canaan, the fulfillment of a promise made to Abraham over 400 years earlier (Genesis 17:8). The Lord appointed Joshua (Hebrew for “Yahweh saves”) as the leader to take the Israelites into the Promised Land, battling their way to their destiny—a place of rest. “Thus the Lord gave to Israel all the land that he swore to give to their fathers… Not one word of all the good promises that the Lord had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass” (Joshua 21:43-45).
Did this peace and rest last? Those of us who know the continuation of the story read on in the Book of Judges of Israel’s constant battles and frequent rebellion against God. Their rest was temporary.
In the New Testament, the writer of Hebrews reflects back and says, “For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on” (Hebrews 4:8). Yes, Joshua brought the Israelites to their rest, but it was short-lived, as sin still ruled in their lives and in the land. There would be something greater that could only be fulfilled by Jesus (Greek for “Yahweh saves”). This inheritance is what we look forward to, one that has been promised by Jesus, the greater Joshua. But how long do we continue to wait? Remember that “with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise…” (2 Peter 3:8-9).
Are you putting your hope in the fleeting promises of this world—ones that will disappoint and fade? Or are you putting your hope in the One who will bring you to the place where you will have eternal rest?
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.” (1 Peter 1:3-4)