Are we living in the Promised Land? Or are we still living like slaves in Egypt?
This term we will be looking at the story of Joshua and how God delivered his people from slavery in Egypt and gave them the Promised Land to be their own land, to occupy and become their permanent home. One of the things we learn is that this land was not just sitting there empty, they had to take possession of it:
Thus, the Lord gave to Israel all the land that he swore to give to their ancestors. And they took possession of it, and they settled there. (Joshua 21.43)
The story of the conquest of the land is an important episode in the history of Israel, and it does raise some challenging questions about God commanding violence, but our series will focus not so much on the history but on the present challenge for every follower of Jesus to “take possession of” and “occupy” our own promised land.
Jesus has not promised us a physical place to live, but a spiritual reality – the fullness of life:
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10.10)
On the cross, Jesus defeated the enemy and won for us a life characterised by the assurance of forgiveness and eternal life, freedom from sin (i.e. righteousness), power over our enemies (like fear, temptation, rejection and despair), and restoration from the past. The Holy Spirit makes this new life a reality in our hearts, brings us into a loving community/family in the church, and gives us the Fruits of the Spirit: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control (Galatians 5.22-23).
But is this our experience? Do our lives display the reality of what Jesus has won for us? The words of Peter the apostle will be something of a subtext for this series, reminding us that we already have all we need to live in the new reality of the Kingdom of God – we just have to take hold of it:
His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. (2 Peter 1.3-4)
As we re-tell the stories of how Joshua led the people to take possession of the land that was already theirs by God’s promise and provision, we will reflect on what Jesus has won for us and how we can take possession of it. Each preacher this half term will be seeking God and asking the Holy Spirit to highlight the breakthroughs and promises that God wants to make real to us through each passage. “Lord, set the captives free!”
So join us as we take this journey together!