Sermon – August 20, 2017

Trust and Action

John Martin – Joshua Commanding the Sun to Stand Still (1848)

Joshua 13-21 – The Promise Making God (Part 1) (mp3)

Last week we thought through what a right-response to God’s promises were.  While faith is certainly front and center, often faith and trust in God’s promises require action and provide meaning and courage for those actions.  We will extend these thoughts this week, and even into the next.  If it is true that there are right-responses to God’s promises, it would be right to ask ourselves what it says about God that he is promise making in the first place.

1. God is a pioneering God
Our God does not simply respond to crisis.  He does not wait for our cry to come to us, and only then provide us with what we might need.  Rather, before our need was ever known, God has already promised us better things.  His provision of the promised land to a people, even when they were only one man, demonstrates this.

2. God is a providing God
The God of our world does not simply wind up the world with the precepts of science and see where things go.  This is no experiment to him.  Rather, he is a God who interacts with his creation, interjecting himself into our experience.  Further, he has not simply dropped bits of knowledge to help us out of our difficulties, but by placing himself in our midst, makes our problems his own and provides for us.

3. God is a powerful God
While Joshua is a great leader, and has provided precisely what Israel has needed, he suffers from the same malady that all have: they are by necessity people of the dust, weak in the flesh, and destined for mortality to take them.  The mission, however, does not stop precisely because God is not so limited.

4. God is a painstaking God
God’s care for his people is meticulous, and it would be overbearing if not for it being so good for us.  Here, God not only gives the people the land, but plots it out for them, sending the tribes to locations that he desires.  Far from being tedious, the level of detail expressed here, in God’s own word to us, speaks of his caring about every facet of our lives.

5. God is a protecting God
God realizes that we are weak, frail, feeble, sinful creatures.  He knows the provision of the land does not guarantee a happy ending for his people.  Therefore, he gives provisions to protect his people: cities of refuge to protect human life, and priests spread throughout the land to protect God’s worship.

Often, the God of the OT is viewed as a God of fury, passion, wrath, and anger.  While true, this can be a sloppy and lazy misreading of the OT.  This is a God of love and care, demonstrated here in his promises for his people.  Love and care, fury and wrath: this is the God of the OT, and the God of the cross.