For the last week, we have been reflecting on REST. which makes sense because the series is entitled, "REST. Period." I pray that it has been a blessing to you to reflect on rest as it is talked about in the Word. Today, we continue based on a passage of scripture in Joshua 23. One of the unique aspects of this reflection about rest is that today we focus on how to stay in the zone of rest. Joshua is sharing his final words with the all of Israel and he wants them to continue to enjoy the rest that the Lord has given them for such a long time. Here it is:
23 A long time passed. The Lord had given rest to Israel from all their surrounding enemies, and Joshua had grown very old. 2 Joshua summoned all Israel, their elders, their heads, their judges, and their officers. He said to them, “I’ve grown very old. 3 You’ve seen all that the Lord your God has done to all these nations because of you. It is the Lord your God who fights for you. 4 Look. I’ve allotted to you these remaining nations as a legacy for your tribes, along with all the nations I have destroyed. They stretch from the Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea.5 The Lord your God will force them out before you and remove them from you. Then you will take over their land, exactly as the Lord your God has promised you. 6 Be very strong. Carefully obey everything written in the Instruction scroll from Moses. Don’t deviate a bit from it either to the right or to the left. 7 Don’t have anything to do with these nations that remain with you. Don’t invoke the names of their gods or take oaths by them. Don’t serve them or worship them. 8 Hold on to the Lord your God instead, exactly as you’ve done right up to today. (Joshua 23:1-8)
As old as Joshua is at this point on his journey, his conviction to maintain faithfulness to God has not changed. He has seen God do so much on behalf of the Children of Israel and his desire is that they remain in the rest that the Lord has afforded them for all of these years. So, in his final words to them, he tells them to be strong and obey. Friends, those were Joshua's final words thousands of years ago, but those words are still relevant today. Be Strong and Obey. If they would continue to do all that the Lord has commanded them as it is written in the scroll from Moses without deviation to the right or to the left, they will stay in the zone of rest. If they will hold on to the Lord their God and not call on other gods or build alliances and relationships with other nations, they will stay in the zone of rest. Be very strong and Carefully obey!
When is the last time someone advised you to be very strong AND carefully obey?
I know. Probably not very recently. We offer so many other words of "wisdom" or "opinion" but often neglect to encourage each other to be obedient. I believe his final words can be summarized in verse 6. Be very strong and Carefully obey. He knew that his people had a tendency to wander. He had grown up with them and had led them and now as he is preparing to take his final rest, he wants them to continue to enjoy the rest of God. He wants them to live at peace with God. he wants them to hold on to the Lord their God as they had been doing under his leadership... but he knew his people.
Do you know your people? What kind of advice do you give to them when they ask or when you know it might be a long while before they hear truth again? What were your final words to the last person you gave advice to? When was the last time you advised someone to be very strong and to carefully obey?
Friends, I pray that we would advise others to stay in the zone of rest, to stay in the places that God has called them, to stay in the mindset of honoring God in every way. It is so easy to be distracted by what is all around us and by even what is inside of us - our own selfish desires for popularity or conformity. But today, as we continue to reflect on the rest that only God can give to us, we ALL must focus on being very strong in our faith, our character, our spirit. We must ALL focus on being careful to obey all that the Lord has instructed us to do in this season of our lives. And to tell you the truth, strength of faith and character, careful obedience never goes out of style. This is advice for the ages.
Growing up, there was a song that I heard quite often that comes to mind as I am writing today -
Trust and Obey
For there's NO other way
To be happy in Jesus
But to trust and obey
BlogFam, do you believe this? Joshua's final words reflect his desire for his people to maintain their rest, to experience happiness, peace of mind, and deep joy. Joshua knew the ONLY way for them to do so was for them to be very strong and to carefully obey. I pray that each of us would have the courage to advise those we love in this way. I pray that we would not falter in the advice we give to others. I pray that our conviction for all to walk in the will of God, whatever that may be for others, would guide the advice we give. I pray that we would never be ashamed to tell people to be very strong and carefully obey. I pray that we would be honest with them about what it takes to stay in the zone of rest in God and that none of us would deviate to the left or to the right.
GOD LOVES YOU and I DO TOO!!!
Rest IN the Lord...