The “land” was given to Abraham by God. It was to be the land of His “blessing” (Genesis 12:1-3). God’s gift of grace calls forth our response – “Abraham went, as the Lord had spoken to him” (Genesis 12:4). God had spoken. Abraham had acted upon God’s Word. Was it all plain sailing after that? No! There were trying times ahead of Abraham, times when he had to keep his eyes on the Lord. Receiving God’s gift of salvation does not guarantee that we will always walk with the Lord. We fall into sin – when we take our eyes off the Lord. “Now there was a famine in the lan. So Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there, for the famine was severe in the land” (Genesis 12:10). What are we make of this? What was going on here? Here are two different ways of looking at this situation – “Even when we are where God wants us to be, all will not necessarily go well for us materially – no matter what the prosperity gospel teaches. Abram was in the land God had sent him to, but that land was afflicted by famine (Genesis 12:10). The Lord does, however, guarantee to provide a way out. While there was famine in Canaan, there was enough food in Egypt and so Abram went there to wait till the famine in Canaan was over (Genesis 12:11)” (Africa Bible Commentary); “During a time of serious famine, Abram left the place of God’s choosing and fled to Egypt, a symbol of the world. This move bred trouble” (Believer’s Bible Commentary). Was Abram led by the Lord to go to Egypt? or Did he take a wrong turning? One thing we can say is this: When Abraham arrived in Egypt, he needed to be very careful. There’s a lesson for us here: We are not to rest content with receiving God’s gift of salvation. We are to press on from the beginnings of our faith. We are to press on to a greater enjoyment of our salvation. This growing joy in the Lord is more than looking back and saying, “There was a day in my life when I accepted Jesus as my Saviour.” We look back with thanksgiving. We say, “O happy day that fixed my choice on You, my Saviour and my God” – but we must not remain in the past. The life of faith is for here-and-now. The vow that we made to the Lord when we first came is to be renews day-by-day: “So God, who heard my solemn vow, in daily prayer shall hear my voice till in my final breath I bow and bless the day that fixed my choice” (P. Doddridge, this version - Jubilate Hymns). Abraham let the Lord down. He had accepted the Lord’s will for his life, and then he had lost his way. Did he lose his way by going to Egypt? or Did he lose his way once he had arrived in Egypt? Whatever may be said about Abraham losing his way, there is somethinbg we must not overlook: Abraham found his way back to the Lord. He learned from his mistakes.If his time in Egypy taught him anything, it taught him this: Be careful. Abram saw that “the men of Sodom were wicked, great sinners against the Lord” – and Abraham made sure that he kept well away from that place (Genesis 13:8-13, “Lot got grass for his cattle. Abram got grace for his children”, Believer’s Bible Commentary – Lot plunged into worldliness. Abraham progressed into holiness). We are not saved by our great holiness. We are saved by the grace of God – the God who gives to us His salvation. We receive this salvation through faith in Christ – “it is not our own doing, it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8). We need, however, to be reminded, again and again, that our joy in the Lord will only grow strong when we are learning to walk with Him on the pathway of holiness – “we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, for good works … ” (Ephesians 2:10).
“The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth” (Genesis 6: 5) – This is great sin. “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord” (Genesis 6:8) – This is even greater grace. God could have looked on the whole human race , and said, “Enough is enough. That’s us finished.” He didn’t do this. He didn’t give up on us. He kept on going – with His purpose of grace, His plan of salvation. Beyond the flood, there was the new beginning. God was doing a new thing. This was the work of His grace. It had nothing to do with human righteousness. It had everything to do with divine mercy – the saving grace of God. When you read about the flood, look beyond the destruction – and see the salvation of God.
We thank You, Lord, for Your Son, Jesus Christ. He is our Lord. He came from heaven, where He is worshipped by angels (Hebrews 1:6). He is our Saviour. He came to earth where “He suffered death, so that, by the grace of God, He might taste death for everyone” (Hebrews 2:9). Help us, Lord, to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus – to catch a glimpse of His heavenly glory and His saving grace.
We thank You, Lord, that You invite us to become Your “children” (Hebrews 2:13) – through faith in Your Son, Jesus (John 1:12). When we hear Your voice, calling us to come to Jesus, help us to open our hearts to Your love (Hebrews 3:7,15) – and receive Your Son as our Saviour.
When, Lord, You speak Your Word to us, You say to us, “Do not harden your hearts” (Hebrews 4:7). These are words that we need to keep on hearing – again and again. This may not be what we like to hear – but it’s what we need to hear. Help us to hear what You’re saying, to pray for Your “mercy” and “grace” (Hebrews 4:15-16), and to receive Your “eternal salvation” (Hebrews 5:9).
You call us, Lord, to “go on to maturity” (Hebrews 6:1). You’re showing us that there’s a very real “difference between good and evil” (Hebrews 5:14). You’re calling us to leave sin behind (Romans 6:1-2) – and to press on to “the better things that belong to salvation” ((Hebrews 6:9). Help us to hear what You’re saying to us – Don’t become “sluggish” (Hebrews 6:12); “Take care that you don’t become “worthless and near to being cursed” (Hebrews 6:8); Pray for “earnestness in realizing the full assurance of hope until the end” (Hebrews 6:11). Help us, Lord, to listen to You, to learn from You, and to live for You.
“See how great he is!” (Hebrews 7:4). We read these words, Lord, and we think of Jesus. He’s the greatest man who ever lived. He’s so much more than a great man. He’s Your Son. He’s our Saviour. Thank You, Lord, for Jesus. Help us to come to Him and receive His great salvation.
“I will make a new covenant with you” (Jeremiah 31:31-34) – We thank You, Lord,for this great promise of love. You have fulfilled Your promise. “The new covenant in Jesus’ blood” (Matthew 26:28) is “a better covenant” – it is “much more excellent than the old covenant” (Hebrews 8:5-6). Thank You, Lord, for Jesus, our great Saviour. He has died for us so that we might receive His “eternal redemption” (Hebrews 9:12).
We look back, Lord, to what Jesus has done for us – “He loved us and gave Himself for us” (Galatians 2:20). When we remember what Jesus has done for us, help us to look forward to what He will do for us: “As often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26). Help us to pray, “Come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20).
Life is good. Eternal life is better. Help us, Lord, to thank You for the good things You’ve given to us – in this earthly life. Help us, also, to look beyond this world. Give to us a real “longing for a better country – a heavenly one” (Hebrews 11:16). Help us to appreciate Your gift of “abundant life” – and to look forward to our full enjoyment of “eternal life” (John 10:10; 1 John 5:11).
Help us, Lord, not only to rejoice in the comfort of Your Word. Help us, also, to respond to the challenge of Your Word.
Help us, Lord, to seek “the holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). May we not be content with the ‘holiness’ of the Pharisee – “God, I thank You that I am not like other men … “(Luke 18:11-120. That’s not holiness. That’s hypocrisy. Teach us that true holiness emerges out of real humility – “God, be merciful ro me, a sinner” (Luke 18:13). Teach us to pray for Your salvation – and, then, to seek the holiness which is grounded in Your salvation. This is “the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.”
Let Your love flow. May we know that we are loved. May we show Your love. Lord, You have welcomed us. Help us to give “a friendly welcome” to others (Hebrews 11:31). You reached out to us when we were “strangers” (Galatians 2:12). Help us “to show hospitality to strangers” (Hebrews 13:1).
“Created in the image of God” (Genesis 1:26-27) - “God saw everything that He had created … it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). At the end of Genesis 1, things couldn’t get any better. It looked so promising. The future looked bright with hope. It was bright with the light of God’s love. Everything looked so good. Could things get any better than this? Sometimes when we feel like this , there can be trouble just around the next corner! That’s what we have in Genesis 3. It begins with the question, “Did God say?” (Genesis 3:1). This is asking for trouble – big trouble! Before long, questioning becomes contradiction – “the serpent said to the woman, ‘You shall not surely die” (Genesis 3:4). God says one thing. The serpent (Satan – see Revelation 12:9) says something else. He says the exact opposite! From that moment, there was conflict – but there was also the promise of victory. In Genesis 3:15, there’s a great prophecy. It points forward to the death of Jesus Christ, our Saviour. The serpent – Satan – bruises our Saviour’s heel. Jesus was crucified. This is the bruising of his heel. Beyond the pain of crucifixion, there was, for Jesus, the mighty triumph of resurrection. Jesus triumphed over Satan. It was not Satan’s heel that was bruised. It was his head! The heel and the head – what a difference there is between the two! Jesus has the upper hand! The victory belongs to Jesus. The conflict is “fierce.” The victory is “secure.” While we are on this earth, we can never escape the conflict. Satan will keep on badgering us. He will keep on sowing his seeds of doubt – “Did God say?” We are not alone in this battle. God keeps on coming to us. He comes with His grace – and He comes with His question, “Who is on the Lord’s side?” He’s inviting us to walk with Him on the pathway of salvation, sanctification and service. He does not lift us above the conflict – but He does give us the victory: His victory. When Satan comes to us, may God give us strength to say, “No.” When Jesus comes to us, may we receive His strength, the strength to say “Yes”, the strength to say, “By Thy call of mercy … By Thy grand redemption, By Thy grace divine, We are on the Lord’s side; Saviour, we are Thine… Always on the Lord’s side, Saviour, always Thine.”
The concluding message, preached by Joshua, is a call for the people to exalt the Lord. They make a definite and public commitment to the Lord. The Christ-centredness of real commitment to the Lord is summed up in the words of John the Baptist: “He must become greater; I must become less” (John 3:30). We must confess Christ and honour Him – “The One who comes from heaven is above all” (John 3:31). We must listen to what He says to us – “The One whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit” (John 3:34). It will not be easy to live a life of true commitment to Christ. Nevertheless, we have God’s promise: “Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you” (Psalm 55:22).
In all the social details of the division of the land, we must not lose sight of its spiritual basis (Joshua 21:43-45). The important thing is that God, and not man, receives the glory: “Do not rebel against the Lord or against us by building an altar for yourselves, other than the altar of the Lord your God” (Joshua 22:19). If God, and not man, is to be exalted, there must be new birth (John 3:3,5-7). To the man who is obsessed with his own problems – “My heart is in anguish within me … ” (Psalm 55:4-5), God gives “the wings of a dove” (Psalm 55:6), to rise to higher things.
What God did for His people, Israel, was very great. There is a striking contrast between their slavery in Egypt and their abundance in the promised land. God had multiplied His blessing upon them, just as Jesus did when He turned water into wine (John 2:1-11). If the blessing is to be maintained and increased, we must honour the Lord. We must cry to Him for blessing: “Hear my prayer, O God, listen to the words of my mouth.” We must call upon Him with faith: “Surely God is my help; the Lord is the One who sustains me” (Psalm 54:2,4).