Thinking about what has transpired in the past and thinking about what lays ahead can be both lifting and perplexing, and both of these experiences can be relevant to either of the two directions that one may be looking at, at any given time. And, as hard as I try, there are still unanswered questions that I am resigned to not getting answers to until I see our Lord face to face.
In my latest walk through the Bible, the desire of my heart is to see true faith displayed by those who have gone before me in the Bible and to come to know and hopefully understand God and myself, better than I have ever done before. I just finished Joshua yesterday and I continue to be honestly amazed at the many things I had forgotten about or things that I hadn’t really noticed before. The part that really bothers me is sometimes I encounter a part of the Bible where I feel I am pretty conversant with what is about to unfold and then I hit parts of the Bible where I wonder who put this new section into God’s revelation. I wonder if my memory is failing me or did what I am reading about just not register all those times before.
I could give you a lot of examples but to keep it short, I forgot how long Caleb waited to receive his promised inheritance. Forty-five years is the answer, how the heck could I forget something like that. And for some reason of which I do not fully comprehend, I have regained a much stronger respect and appreciation for the many individuals God used to unfold His purposes along the way. I actually got teary eyed yesterday when I read where Joshua died. He was 110 years old and to say that he was a servant of the Lord is an obvious understatement. I’m 74 years old and I have a hard time getting my socks on and Joshua was taking possession of the promised land when he was over 100.
Tell me that doesn’t affect what you pray and ask for.
Another thing that is happening is that I am reading between the lines a lot more. When both Moses and Joshua give their final departing summaries to Israel, one can’t help but sense the urgency and love that they both felt for their people and what they personally had learned about their walk with God.
Back in late December of last year, I felt strongly led to go through the Bible yet once again, only this time much very slowly and carefully. I’m not talking about just reading, I’m talking about painstakingly slow, so that I really look carefully at each word. I can give you an example is the difference of time spent. Joshua is not a big book. One could easily read it in an afternoon. I spent over twenty-five hours in Joshua this time and even though I am acutely aware of how long this is going to take, time and time again I receive the assurance that there is no need to hurry, none whatsoever, and to keep on doing exactly what I am doing.
It’s hard to just stay in the Old Testament and I’ve been cheating a bit every once in a while. I’ve also gone through Matthew, Mark and about half of Luke and I confess I’ve also been reading through some of the shorter epistles and I treat myself to Hebrews every once in a while. We’re probably taking about a 90/10 ratio between my studies in the OT and the NT. And my inner witness says that OK, as long as I stay on course, and yes, I take that both literally and figuratively.
And then there are those NT scriptures that come blistering into my mind out of no where every once in a while that just kind of floor me. This is a bullet the Holy Spirit sent me yesterday. Remember when one of the disciples (Philip) asked Jesus to show them the Father in John 14? Remember what Jesus said?
John 14:9 New NIV “Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?”
How profound is that? How could any ordinary human being ever even contemplate saying something like that? But Jesus did. He is God’s Son. And if you believe, like I do, that Jesus appeared throughout the OT at various times, prior to His incarnation, that statement He made becomes even more profound.
This time, as I go through the Old Testament, I’m also following all the places where Israel is situated, on a map and I find that it seems to be providing a different feel for the immensity of entering into the promised land and the many difficulties that Israel encountered.
And how about those red flags that I hadn’t seemed to notice before? The part that really bothers me is that in this particular case, the situation was actually highlighted and it still didn’t seem to sink in. Remember when the distribution of the promised land was complete and the men from the tribes of Reuben, Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh where given the go-ahead to go back to their wives, children and possessions on the East side of the Jordan in Joshua 22? Remember how the 2.5 tribes of Israel decided to construct an alter on the West side of the Jordan and how that quickly became a supposed problem which was effectively rectified by the voicing of their intent? So the supposed infraction was clarified and all was well. But …. where was the Tent of Meeting (Tabernacle) situated? It was still in Shiloh, on the West side of the Jordan, with the remaining 9.5 tribes of Israel. No Tabernacle means no offerings, no sacrifices, other than the three compulsory festivals that ALL OF ISRAEL had to attend each year. Yet the tribes of Reuben, Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh had asked to have their portion of the promised land on the East side of the Jordan and their request had been granted. When the alter they had made was misconstrued as a functional alter, it was even suggested by the present Priest and the leaders from each of the other tribes, that Reuben, Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh reconsider their choice and take their possession on the West side of the Jordan, with the rest of Israel. Even though the alleged offense was clarified, the fact still remains that the tribes of Reuben, Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh did NOT have access to the Tabernacle UNLESS they journeyed to where it was. That’s a red flag. It’s similar to saying that we could only go to church three times a year, bearing in mind that offerings and sacrifices were an extremely important part of the daily walk of Israel.
I’ve read through the OT a good number of times and previously when I read this part, I attributed this situation to the offensive alter as a misunderstanding that was clarified and all was well. Not so. And it also shows me that God sometimes gives us what we ask for, knowing full well that it makes us more vulnerable to falling away from Him versus drawing closer. I don’t know about you but that makes me think that I should be darn careful for what I ask for.
These are just some of my latest ponderings, I hope they lift you as they have lifted me.
Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!