43-44 And so God gave Israel the entire land that he had solemnly vowed to give to their ancestors. They took possession of it and made themselves at home in it. And God gave them rest on all sides, as he had also solemnly vowed to their ancestors. Not a single one of their enemies was able to stand up to them—God handed over all their enemies to them. 45 Not one word failed from all the good words God spoke to the house of Israel. Everything came out right.
Israel is coming into possession of their land - after about 40 years of wandering in the wilderness because of their rebellion and unbelief - after they had dispossessed the strong armies that inhabited the region. They are about to take possession - but the one who gave them the land was God himself. There are times in our lives when we think that the actions of our own hands and the schemes of our own brains have been exactly what brought about the success we are enjoying. This seldom is the case - in fact, if we listen closely to what scripture tells us, all we possess and enjoy is a result of God's ordering our steps to obtain it.
Several key concepts are laid out for us in this passage:
- God is to be trusted - he does not make promises he will not keep. We often find this hard to believe because we are used to human efforts to keep promises. We must never lose sight of the fact that God is not limited by human ability or intent. He is divine - and he will do what he says he will do.
- God gives us rest on all sides. The place of rest is conditioned on obedience. It is very difficult for us to find rest in our rebellion. In fact, the place of rebellion is a rut, well-worn by continued re-walking of the same paths. Rebellion keeps us in the rut - repentance breaks us free of the rut and brings us into new places.
- God plans on us enjoying what it is that he provides for us. There is much joy in giving a gift that will be enjoyed. As a grandparent, one of the biggest things I have learned about giving gifts to the boys is that I need to make sure they have at least one really fun gift that they will enjoy. I have learned to put all the socks, underwear, and clothing in one big bag - or simply give a gift card to meet those needs. Then I put that toy, game, or special thing in another bag - the one they will open and enjoy! God is the giver of both the practical and the "fun" gifts in our lives - he plans on us enjoying them both. He might "package" them differently, but the outcome is the same - they are for our enjoyment.
- God's plan includes the protection of his family. Israel stood in a place of peace - not one enemy left to taunt or terrorize them. God had seen to that by giving careful counsel to the leaders in their taking of this land. God's protection of his family is ultimately his doing - we may participate in times of obedient movement, but he is the one in constant vigil over those he loves.
The closing words - not one word failed - speak volumes about the character of God. He does not idly speak. His words are active and alive - they carry a punch. There is assurance that comes when the words of God are spoken. This passage ends kind of like the stories we read when we were children - you know the words, don't you? The end of the story was, "And everyone lived happily ever after." Well, this passage ends with similar words, but with a deeper meaning - "Everything came out right."
For everything to come our right, God must be in charge. Nothing left to the doing of man can be guaranteed to come our well. God is the one who orders the steps - he is the one who assures the ending will be as it should.