Do not turn to the right or the left
Joshua 1 from the daily reading in the One year Bible
Now it came about after the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, that the Lord spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ servant, saying, 2 “Moses My servant is dead; now therefore arise, cross this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them, to the sons of Israel. 3 Every place on which the sole of your foot treads, I have given it to you, just as I spoke to Moses. 4 From the wilderness and this Lebanon, even as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and as far as the Great Sea toward the setting of the sun will be your territory. 5 No man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you. 6 Be strong and courageous, for you shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. 7 Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go. 8 This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
10 Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people, saying, 11 “Pass through the midst of the camp and command the people, saying, ‘Prepare provisions for yourselves, for within three days you are to cross this Jordan, to go in to possess the land which the Lord your God is giving you, to possess it.’”
12 To the Reubenites and to the Gadites and to the half-tribe of Manasseh, Joshua said, 13 “Remember the word which Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, saying, ‘The Lord your God gives you rest and will give you this land.’ 14 Your wives, your little ones, and your cattle shall remain in the land which Moses gave you beyond the Jordan, but you shall cross before your brothers in battle array, all your valiant warriors, and shall help them, 15 until the Lord gives your brothers rest, as He gives you, and they also possess the land which the Lord your God is giving them. Then you shall return to your own land, and possess that which Moses the servant of the Lord gave you beyond the Jordan toward the sunrise.”
16 They answered Joshua, saying, “All that you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. 17 Just as we obeyed Moses in all things, so we will obey you; only may the Lord your God be with you as He was with Moses. 18 Anyone who rebels against your command and does not obey your words in all that you command him, shall be put to death; only be strong and courageous.”
For quite some time I was accustomed to viewing both the conservative, right leaning news sites and the liberal, left leaning sites. I did this, even though I had a preference toward conservative views, to try to see and understand both perspectives. I am amazed that now, if you go to both right and left leaning sources, you no longer see opposite sides of the same stories. Instead you see completely different stories. Each side only tells the stories which fit their agenda. Whether right or left, neither are fully accurate, so in that they are deceitful and wrong. God has some advice for Joshua, as he leads the Israelites into their promised land, something that we too should consider in our day. He says: Be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go. We should be aware of and support some of the political party views which align with our faith. We should not put our trust in a political party or their ideology. Neither left nor right will lead us fully into God’s truth or to fulfill all that He commanded. Our focus, our trust should be fully in Him. We should not look to the right or left, but rather remain fully centered on God and His commandments and His will for our lives.
In today’s New Testament reading, from Luke 13:22-24 it says: And He was passing through from one city and village to another, teaching, and proceeding on His way to Jerusalem. And someone said to Him, “Lord, are there just a few who are being saved?” And He said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.” In Matthew 7:13-14 Jesus says: “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Fully following and trusting in a political party or ideology will not lead us to the life that God wants us to live. The narrow way that leads to life is neither right nor left, but rather it is centered in Christ.
In today’s text it says: To the Reubenites and to the Gadites and to the half-tribe of Manasseh, Joshua said, “Remember the word which Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, saying, ‘The Lord your God gives you rest and will give you this land.’ Your wives, your little ones, and your cattle shall remain in the land which Moses gave you beyond the Jordan, but you shall cross before your brothers in battle array, all your valiant warriors, and shall help them, until the Lord gives your brothers rest, as He gives you, and they also possess the land which the Lord your God is giving them. Then you shall return to your own land, and possess that which Moses the servant of the Lord gave you beyond the Jordan toward the sunrise.” These tribes had already received their land, their inheritance. They had however been commanded to fight alongside of the other tribes until they all received their inheritance. For us, our inheritance is not a promised land. Our inheritance is to possess all the promises and all the benefits of the kingdom of God. We have been given our inheritance through Christ. Romans 8:15-17 says: You have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ. Jesus says: “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10) An abundant life, with all the promises and privileges of the kingdom of God, is our inheritance, what we have received through Christ. Like the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh, we should do more than just enjoy the benefits of our inheritance. 2 Peter 3:9 says: The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. The reason God delays the return of Christ at the end of the age is grace. It is not so that we who have received our inheritance already would have more time to enjoy it. It is because God’s desire is that none should perish, for all to come to repentance and also receive their inheritance in Christ. Like the tribes which Joshua charged with God’s commission to war on behalf of the others, we too have been charged and commissioned, not to sit back, but to work until all have received their inheritance. Jesus says: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” (Mark 16:15) The gospel we preach is the good news of all the promises and benefits of the kingdom of God, the inheritance available in Christ. May we not look to the right or the left, but wholly remain focused on God. May we not rest until all have received their inheritance.
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit thank You for my inheritance, all the blessings, the promises and the privileges of being Your child, a joint heir with and through Christ. Holy Spirit guide and direct me, that I would not go to the right or the left, that I would not follow the wide way of the world, but rather would remain fixed straight ahead with God and Christ. Empower me and enable me, give me the focus to fulfill my commission not to rest until all have received their inheritance. Amen.