Write a Description of the Land, and Then Come to Me
Upon the Israelites’ entry into Canaan after the Exodus, the land was first distributed to five tribes (Judah, Ephraim, Manasseh, Reuben, Gad). But the remaining seven tribes had yet to receive their portion. When Joshua prayed to the Lord, He reproved the Israelites, saying, “I promised your forefathers that I would give them the land flowing with milk and honey, so why do you hesitate and delay in fear? Appoint three men from each tribe to walk through the land and write descriptions of it and bring them to me. Then I will divide the land to you as an eternal inheritance for you and your families to live in for all time.”
Joshua 18:6 You shall describe the land in seven divisions, and bring the description here to me. I will cast lots for you here before the Lord our God.
Twenty-one individuals, three people from each of the seven tribes, came to draw a “book” (Josh 18:9). How can a single map be called a book? In Hebrew, “book” is sepher; the map was drawn in such detail that it could be referred to as a book. There would have been dozens of pages. In the Revised New Korean Standard Version, it’s translated as, “They drew a picture of the land that their tribes had inherited and brought it to Joshua.” Although the Bible does not record how many months it took to draw this map, the historian Josephus said it took seven months to survey and draw the description.
“Description” signifies vision, revelation, and dreams. Those without vision go about begging day and night. Never the master, they run errands for others. They cannot afford their children’s schooling. Those who lack vision and dreams in faith will come to ruin. If you have been such a person until now, begin to envision one through today’s message. Write a description and present it before God for He said that it would surely be realized. We are receiving the Word that is unparalleled in all the world – shouldn’t our lives be on par with it?
Today’s text is not merely a historical account.
The Old Testament is a book that prepares for the First Coming of Jesus; the New Testament, one that readies for the Second Coming Jesus. From the Old Testament, it is in the book of Exodus that a people is prepared for Jesus. It opens with the dividing of the Red Sea and closes with the parting of the Jordan River. In the book of Joshua, God prepares the land for Jesus. What Moses started off with the Exodus, Joshua brought to an end with the distribution of the land in Canaan.
The Old Testament is not merely a story of the past. Jesus came and lived out the prophecies of the Old Testament. We mustn’t be ignorant of this and say, “The Old Testament has passed.” The Old Testament has not ended. The Garden of Eden that appeared in the beginning of Genesis reemerges in Revelation 21-22, the final conclusion of the New Testament, which records the rediscovery and restoration of the lost Garden of Eden (i.e., Paradise Lost).
All are sinners, but those who believe in Christ are a new creation (2 Cor 5:17): this we must believe. We mustn’t doubt saying, “ I’ve stolen, swindled, and sinned countless times; how can someone like me become a new person?” All we have to do is believe. How can we be brought to repentance for our innumerable transgressions? But Jesus took all sins upon Himself and, with His wretched death on the cross, got rid of them once for all. Though we are incapable of living in goodness to our dying day, all we must do is believe in the atonement of sins through Jesus. When Jesus asks, “Do you believe that I died for your sins?” We must simply reply, “Yes, I believe.” Afterwards, we can repent for our self-committed sins. He said, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Hell awaits the unrepentant. There is no one righteous in this world (Rom 3:10), a world that is no different than a grave. But how thankful we are that Jesus took the blame in our place! No matter how strict of ascetics we may be, we still cannot expiate our sins. However, Jesus atoned for our original, inherited, and self-committed sins once for all by the splintering, bursting, and rending of His holy body and the shedding of His precious blood. If a president puts a stop to an execution, the one who was sentenced to death is now free. Similarly, the Bible tells of the restoration of Paradise through the First and Second Coming of Jesus. Let us realize that today’s text in Joshua is not merely an uninteresting story of old.
“O’ how long will you put it off?”
After crossing the Jordan River, Joshua continued the bloody wars to conquer the land of Canaan (Josh 15:1-17:18). But there seemed to be no end in sight to the fighting and, when the Israelites had taken hold of less than half the land, they began to reason to themselves, “Let us stop fighting. Why not just make do with the little land we have?” Ten years had passed without a place to call their own and their fears grew along with their age. Households were filled with complaints about the unceasing warfare. Every waking moment was spent in battle, and they sustained casualties.
These Israelites infuriated God and He had them transfer the Tabernacle from Gilgal (Josh 4:19; 10:43) to Shiloh, making it their new headquarters. Through Joshua, God rebuked them, saying, “How long will you put off entering to take possession of the land which the Lord, the God of your fathers, has given you? You sluggards who detest even bringing your hand back up to your mouth, fools fail to catch their food. Be diligent to possess the land!” (Judg 18:9-10). This sentiment of God is written 17 times in the Bible.
Judges 18:9-10 And they said, “Arise, and let’s go up against them; for we have seen the land, and behold, it is very good. And will you sit still? Do not hesitate to go, to enter, to take possession of the land. When you enter, you will come to an unsuspecting people with a spacious land; for God has handed it over to you, a place where there is no lack of anything that is on the earth.”
Proverbs 13:4 The soul of the lazy one craves and gets nothing, but the soul of the diligent is made prosperous.
Once he had sent out three men from each of the seven tribes (21 in all), Joshua knelt with uplifted arms and prayed, “Lord, enable them to go out by faith alone. Bestow Your grace upon them so that every time they behold the land, they write a description of it by grace.” He was truly a man of great faith and more than qualified as a leader. Church leaders today (i.e., pastors, elders, eldresses, deacons, deaconesses) must pray for all the saints in this way. If Joshua had not reprimanded them at that time, the Israelites would have failed to survey the land, to say nothing of possessing it. After Joshua hastened to have the temple of God, that is, the Tent of Meeting, relocated to Shiloh, he dispatched the 21 men to write a description of the land and return to him “there.” “There” is the “Tent of Meeting” that held the ark of the covenant, the symbol of God’s presence.
A land that has been given, not will be given
Joshua said, “…the land which the Lord, the God of your fathers, has given you” (Josh 18:3). It is a land that has been given, not will be given. Unbeknownst to you, you have already received it. God knew you before you were woven in your mother’s womb. You did not earn the covenant, but it was granted to you. Thus, you can rest assured in that promise. The land becomes ours when we go forth in faith and say to the powerful Anakites, “This land was given to us by God. You’re oblivious to the fact that you’re living in our land.” In those days, terrifying rumors concerning the people of Israel spread, and all the Canaanites who heard were struck with fear. Similar to how tenants scatter when the original landowner returns, the Canaanite tribes plowed the fields and built the houses so that the Israelites could immediately settle in. To expedite the process, God sent the hornet to drive out their adversaries. One man put a thousand to flight: a hundred men, ten thousand. Their enemies fled because one person’s shout sounded like the firing of a cannon (Josh 23:10; Deut 32:30; Isa 30:17; Lev 26:8).
Joshua 23:10 One of your men puts to flight a thousand, for the Lord your God is He who fights for you, just as He promised you.
No longer say, “I can hardly support myself let alone save any money.” You can do all things. God’s promised Word is the eternal covenant He established with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Though we did not hear it ourselves, our forefather of faith heard. All that is required of us is to have faith (Gal 3:7-9). We may not know his face, but Abraham is our forefather of faith. I have been to the dwelling site of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and the graves of Adam and Eve. I asked a resident there, “Is this really the right place?” They replied, “Why do you doubt what happened thousands of years ago?” I prayed tearfully at the graves of Adam and Eve and also at the graves of Joseph and his and Benjamin’s mother, Rachel. I ascended Mt. Gerizim and Mt. Ebal, the mountains of the blessing and the curse, to pray there and measure them.
We must believe in the Word of God.
God asks us what thoughts we have at the present. We are liable to idle our life away. Nothing is impossible for those who believe. Map out what has not yet been realized. Envision your dream. That is the faith we must have. We must be obedient to the will of God. Our thoughts make us hostile toward God and keep us from pleasing Him. Our thoughts must not be separate from His thoughts, but they must be put to death. The mind set on the flesh is death with everything leading to a dead end (Rom 8:5-14). God said to write a description in faith. Faith is the assurance of things hoped for (Heb 11:1). Therefore, our life must embody faith the moment we open our eyes. “Lord, please help me become Your precious child who believes only in Your Word,” and, according to our prayer, it’ll be. We don’t believe because of the words of others, but we believe because it is the Word of the living God. That is how the Word becomes “my gospel” as spoken of by Apostle Paul (Rom 16:25; 2:16).
We must love the Word of God. Not thinking “That’s plausible” but believing wholeheartedly that the Word is truth. Pyungkang Church saints are the Lord’s beloved. God’s grace is perpetually with you, your families, businesses, and households. Just like a bridal party at a wedding, the prophets of old watch over us.
Psalm 125:2 As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds His people From this time and forever.
The Word abides with us and surrounds us until it is fulfilled. This very Word was the voice that I heard during my descent from Mt. Jiri after praying and receiving the illumination of the Holy Spirit. I was deaf to any slander thereafter. After building Cheongpyeong, Yeoju, and the various churches and conference centers, there remains one final place. The Word of redemptive history will surely come to pass. You now study and learn the 77 generations of the high priests, for you must do so to understand the Word to come.
Jesus is the eternal high priest of the covenant. There is no eternal covenant nor oath for the other high priests. Jesus alone is the high priest under the oath. All the other high priests died and were replaced, but Jesus who cannot be conquered by death will never be replaced. Presidents are replaced and policies change, however the Word of the Bible never changes. Once God says, “This is it!” you just need to say “Amen,” and believe.
There is no need to worry about the sins we have committed (1 Pet 5:7). All we have to do is believe and repent. Believe, without any doubt, that Jesus came for our sin. When we cry out, “Lord, I will cast all my filthy sins unto You,” then He will say, “I will take it.” We live by faith in Jesus, that is how we live (Gal 2:20). All sins were forgiven, but if we sin again, we’re crucifying Jesus once more. Jesus suffered and died because of our sins, but if we sin again, can we say we are conscious men? The church is a place to help us stop sinning. When we turn 70, our strength begins to fail–no strength to eat, walk, or digest. So we need to start preparing now. Everyone is appointed to die once. When we go to heaven, we are judged by our deeds (Heb 9:27). In front of myriads of angels, we are judged in front of the great multitudes of people who have come and gone ever since the days of Adam, the first man. Just as Moses went up to Mount Pisgah and saw the entire land of Canaan before his death, heaven too is visible beyond time and space. Nothing can hide. Everything is exposed in the light. This light is seven times brighter than the light of our Sun. It is a world where we do not eat or drink, and nothing smells or ages. Jesus will come to restore this world. Such a wonderful world awaits us, so let us endure.
“I want my paintings to resound with the sound of faith”
There is a world-famous painting titled “The Angelus” by Millet. It depicts a scene of a couple praying with their farm work laid aside. Millet’s pieces contain three themes, which are family, faith, and labor. He was raised in a family that served dawn and evening worship without ever missing a day. Although the family was poor, they were never fractious in complaints but were always grateful. Millet was gifted in art from an early age, so he went to Paris to study, but he became disappointed by the vulgar paintings of the art organization and returned to his hometown. For 12 years, he prayed every morning and evening, asking, “God, I want my paintings to resound with the sound of faith.” He first painted in his mind by faith. As he kept doing so, he received the grace of God. Then he became assured that he can paint a piece that can resound with the sound of faith only when he can give thanks for all things, at all times. Finally, one day, Millet painted “The Angelus.” When his friend saw the painting, they exclaimed, “I hear church bells!” Although Millet painted only ninety pieces in his lifetime, he is acclaimed as a great painter in history.
The same blessing is for the saints of Pyungkang when we thank God for His grace and live by faith in His commandments. It’s not too late. A day is like a thousand years. Please pray to God, “I will lay out all my visions, dreams, and desires, and pray before You,” and believe that it will come true. I pray and bless you in the name of the Lord, that every family will overcome the evil world of darkness, cast away their own thoughts, and fill their household, workplace, and business with the thoughts of the Lord, which is what God desires to see.
When running a business, we should be able to hear by faith the sound of money flowing in. Faith can let you hear a rooster crowing inside the egg. Like Millet, when we set our minds to run a business that resounds with the sound of our faith, the fortunes will rush in. Let us always give thanks and pray before God so that no wicked devil and the power of darkness can seize an opportunity. May you all become saints who pray, “God, please surround our home like a fortress so no one in our family falls behind but proudly enters the kingdom of heaven in the name of Jesus Christ.” The Word is living and active in Pyungkang Church. God’s work will surely happen. Let us cast all our anxieties and worries unto the Lord (1 Pet 5:7). When we delightfully read the Bible and the history of redemption series with joy, we will draw closer to God. Never let go of the Word, whether in life or death. Please believe that the Word is our hope, our glory, and our everything above all things. The Word of God is our daily bread, our main food. May we always be healthy in every aspect. Let us not be disheartened even if God were to call us tomorrow. Even when someone threatens to kill us, let us reply without even blinking an eye, “I will pray for you even if you kill me,” and evangelize that person. I ask in the name of the Lord to have such composure of faith. Let us be victorious in all that we do. I bless you in the name of the Lord.
December 11, 2011, 2nd Service Lord’s Day Worship – Huisun Rev. Abraham Park’s Sermon
*This post can also be read in 'Champyungan'. (http://champyungan.com/en/)