Every once in a while, the Lord likes to make a point of the fact that everything He says comes true. The point is made after the allotting of all the territory:
"Not one word of all the good promises that the Lord had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass" (Joshua 21:45).
And in case you missed it then, a hoary-headed old general named Joshua makes the point again years later in his farewell address in chapter 23:
"And now I am about to go the way of all the earth, and you know in your hearts and souls, all of you, that not one word has failed of all the good things that the Lord your God promised concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one of them has failed" (verse 14).
Not only the good words of God come true but the bad words. And the better to impress this warning on his people, God instructed back in Moses' day that when the tribes were to enter their new home a national show-and-tell was to be acted out in which half the people would shout the blessings of the covenant from Mount Gerizim, and the other half would shout the curses of the covenant from Mount Ebal (Deuteronomy 11:29-32; Joshua 8:30-35).
The Nazca Lines of the high plateau in Peru can only be discerned with any understanding from an aerial view. On the ground all you see is reddish pebbles. From a higher elevation, a menagerie of winsome creatures appears: fish, orcas, llamas, monkeys, spiders, and hummingbirds.
The principle holds true for observing the work of God in my life. From my 57-year perch, I now see that rebellion bore fruit for evil in the long run, though in the short run I seemed to have gotten away with it:
"But my words and my statutes, which I commanded my servants the prophets, did they not overtake your fathers? . . ." (Zechariah 1:6).
God's words "overtake." They catch up. They are living words. Put them on the shelf and they will vibrate till they jump off, or smoke till there's a fire.
But I can trace also in my life the finger of His mercy, which at every juncture blunted the full impact of evil and brought beauty from ashes.
A day is coming when many of us will moan to see that "not one word" of God has failed---all those words we watered down, we relegated to poetry, we tamed into liturgy, we dismissed as culturally conditioned, we claimed had ceased in our day, we shunted off into the millennium, we submitted to the judgment of man rather than submitting the judgments of man to the Word of God.
Hold fast, indeed, warns Joshua (verse 8). Slipping away is easier than you think. Beware of the nations and don't intermarry (verse 12). This is what we've done in America. It's the frog in the pot thing.
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