I wonder how old Joshua was when God said to him, “You are growing old, and much land remains to be conquered.” Just for fun, I googled: “how old was Joshua in the Battle of Jericho?” The answer came back that he was 101 years old. Whether I trust google or not, one of the commentaries I read placed Joshua at between 90 and 100 when this conversation with God took place. He was not a young man to be sure.
If you’ve ever used the excuse, “I’m too old” when it comes to doing something fun or unusual, I don’t think we have any business doing that. Think of what Joshua accomplished in conquering the land at his age. Now, we hear there is even more land. From the sounds of it, God is going to take care of those other areas. “I myself will drive these people out of the land ahead of the Israelites.”
So, the land division will soon begin. I was a little surprised that they didn’t do it immediately after the victories left the door wide open. But it appears that Joshua was waiting on God’s instructions. He knew better than to just divvy up the property and live happily ever after. That was not how Joshua, or God, operates. Now we see that the region will expand beyond what was originally conquered.
Sometimes God expands our territory before our eyes. Think about a time when he opened up something for you to do, in His Name, when you least expected it. Maybe it was a call to teach Sunday School, or sing in the praise band. For us, it was “move to Mexico, and I’ll meet up with you there.”
There is a cool prayer that was popular some years back based on the book, “The Prayer of Jabez,” by Bruce Wilkinson. It takes and expands on the prayer found in 1 Chronicles 4:10, “Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request.” I remember being told, be careful what you ask for because God has a habit of answering those kinds of prayers.
We see a bit of a flashback here to the land conquered under Moses’ leadership on the east side of the Jordan. God had already allotted this region to Rueben, Gad, and ½ of the Manasseh tribe. I presume that those tribes were already living there, but our text doesn’t say that. Joshua is preparing now to be told by God how to divide up the land. We’ll look forward to that in the readings to come.
For now, I’m really focusing on the prayer Jabez prayed. As I write this, we’ve entered the season of Lent, the 40 days leading up to the festival of Easter. Each year I try to use this time to dig deeper, draw closer to God, or clear away the distractions. I’ve been praying about how I can honor God during these days. (Now if you’re reading this outside of these particular 40 days of the year, I would encourage you to set aside the next 40 days for this “exercise” or “discipline.”)
Don’t let the negative connotations we’ve often associated with those words to get in the way of a beautiful opportunity to deepen your relationship with God. Are you ready for him to expand your territory?
Let’s pray … Lord, thank you for your Word and how it speaks to me. Just when I am feeling a little unsure of my place in this world and what I should be doing now, your wisdom and counsel speaks to my soul. Thank you for the reminder that you have made me for such a time as this. Help me to step out in bold faith and trust you. Use me to help others. In Jesus’ name. Amen.