Last week, in “Ultimate Rest,” Part 2, we saw that through the story of the initial conquest of Canaan, God teaches us that our ultimate rest comes only when we put our trust in Jesus Christ–for salvation, for deliverance, for strength, for freedom from worry, for everything.
When we read through the story of the initial conquest, however, we see that God only drove out part of the nations: “See, I have parceled out to your tribes these remaining nations, from the Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea in the west, including all the nations I defeated. The LORD your God will drive them out from before you and remove them, so you can occupy their land as the LORD your God promised you.” (Jos 23:4-5)
Wait. Why would God have left some nations in Canaan? God knew that these same nations that would be left behind would cause Israel to sin. He warned them over and over again to NOT have anything to do with them: “Be very strong! Carefully obey all that is written in the law scroll of Moses so you won’t swerve from it to the right or the left, or associate with these nations that remain near you…” (Josh 23:6-7)
If God knew these nations would be a snare for the people, why didn’t He just expel them all in the beginning?
When we read back through Deuteronomy, we realize that God didn’t ever intend to drive out all of the nations at once: “He, the God who leads you, will expel the nations little by little. You will not be allowed to destroy them all at once lest the wild animals overrun you.” (Deut 7:22)
God knew that the land was too vast for the people initially, and that they would actually need those other nations in order to not be overrun by the wild animals.
There is yet another reason, however, that God may have had in mind when He decided in His wisdom to let these nations remain. Perhaps God was working a little “test of faith” into the ultimate system.
You see, it is like this: If we are sheltered from all temptation, we will never grow strong in our faith. We will never learn what it means to stand up in the face of adversity. We will never learn how to wield the “sword of the Spirit” and the “shield of faith.” We will never understand the need to “stand firm” and to be continually in prayer (see Eph 6:10-18).
What lesson does this have for us today?
Just this: When we give ourselves to God, He doesn’t promise us protection from trials and temptation. In fact, through the story of the initial conquest of Canaan, we can understand that He actually promises to leave these things in our lives, for it is only in going through temptation, through trials of various kinds, that we can learn to stand firm, that we can learn what it means to fight the good fight, to fully rely on God, to have our ultimate rest.
Let’s stop wishing away our trials and temptations. Instead, let’s embrace the opportunity to learn to rely on God through them; for in so doing, we are entering into our ultimate rest in Jesus.
This all sounds good in theory, doesn’t it? But what is the practical application that it has for us today?
Join us next week for “Ultimate Rest,” Part 4 and find out.
In His love,
Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author — “Aboard God’s Train — A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer”, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.
(To access the entire “Ultimate Rest” Mini-series, please click here.)