April 30: They’re Futile; This Isn’t
Joshua 22:10–24:33; 2 Corinthians 13:11–14; Psalm 60:1–12
If you knew it was time to die, to say goodbye for good, what would you say? How would your final hoorah sound?
In an episode of Northern Exposure, Dr. Joel Fleischman is convinced that he is dying. Joel, who is usually conservative, begins risking everything: he drives a motorcycle way too fast without a helmet, gets a ticket that he rips up, and eventually crashes the bike—all while feeling no remorse. He then returns to his office to learn that he is actually fine; his doctor’s initial inclination was incorrect. Almost immediately, he becomes angry that he didn’t know his fate earlier. In his recklessness, he could have prematurely ended his life.
The risks you take when you think your life is over are quite different from those you’re willing to take when you think you’re fine. The things you say, the person you are, would be very different if you knew tomorrow were your last day.
Joshua, who led Israelites into the promised land, knew his end was coming. As an old man, he commanded the Israelites: “But hold fast to Yahweh your God … Yahweh has driven out before you great and strong nations; and as for you, nobody has withstood you to this day. One of your men put to flight a thousand, for Yahweh your God is fighting for you, just as he promised you” (Josh 23:8–10).
Paul made a similar remark: “For we rejoice whenever we are weak, but you are strong, and we pray for this: your maturity” (2 Cor 13:9). Paul realized that maturity in Christ will always put us in the right place in the end. He concluded his letter to the Corinthians by expanding upon this message: “Finally, brothers [and sisters], rejoice, be restored, be encouraged, be in agreement, be at peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you” (2 Cor 13:11).
What would you say if you were Joel, Joshua, or Paul? What would you do? As Christians, the response should be the same no matter how long we have to live; Christ could come tomorrow. Does that thought give you joy or great fear?
Whenever we experience pain, grief, or encounter enemies, the oppositions of life seem to distract us from our great purpose in Christ. They mask the brevity of our time on earth. Perhaps this is why the psalmist puts it best: “Give us help against the adversary, for the help of humankind is futile. Through God we will do valiantly, and it is he who will tread down our enemies” (Psa 60:11–12).
What hope are you currently placing in the futility of humankind? What actions can you take to refocus your hope on Christ?
JOHN D. BARRY
- And when they came unto the borders of Jordan (which are in the land of Canaan) then the children of Reuben, and the children of Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh, built there an altar by Jordan, a great altar to see too. When the children of Israel heard say, Behold, the children of Reuben, and the children of Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh, built there an altar by Jordan, a great altar to see too. When the children of Israel heard it, then the whole Congregation of the children of Israel gathered them together at Shiloh, to go up to war against them. Thenthe children of Israel sent unto the children of Gad, and to the half tribe of Manasseh into the land of Giilead, Phinehas the son of Eleazar the Priest, And with him ten princes, of every chief house a prince, according to all the tribes of Israel: for every one was chief of their father’s household among the thousands of Israel. So they went unto the children of Reuben, and to the children of Gad, and to the half tribe of Manasseh, unto the land of Gilead, and spake with them, saying, Thus saith the whole Congregation of the Lord, What transgression is this that ye have transgressed against the God of Israel, to turn away this day from the Lord, in that ye have built you an altar for to rebel this day against the Lord? Have we too little for the wickedness of Peor, whereof we are not cleansed unto this day, though a plague came upon the Congregation of the Lord? Ye also are turned away this day from the Lord: and seeing ye rebel today against the Lord, even tomorrow he will be wroth with all the Congregation of Israel. Notwithstanding, if the land of your possession be unclean, come ye over unto the land of the possession of the Lord, wherein the Lord’s Tabernacle dwelleth, and take possession among us: but rebel not against the Lord, nor rebel not against us in building you an altar, beside the altar of the Lord our God. Did not Achan the son of Zerah trespass grieviously in the execrable thing, and wrath fell on all the Congregation of Israel? and this man alone perished not in this wilderness. Then the children of Reuben, and the children of Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh answered, and said unto the heads over the thousands of Israel, The Lord God of gods, the Lord God of gods, he knoweth, and Israel himself shall know: if by rebellion, or by transgression against the Lord we have done it, save thou us not this day. If we have built us an altar to return away from the Lord, either to offer thereon burnt offering, or meat offering, or to offer peace offerings thereon, let the Lord himself require it: And if we have not rather done it for fear of this thing, saying, In time to come your children might say unto our children, What have ye to do with the Lord God of Israel? For the Lord hath made Jordan a border between us and you, ye children of Reuben and of Gad: therefore ye have no part in the Lord: so shall your children make our children cease from fearing the Lord. Therefore we said, We will now go about to make us an altar, not for burnt offering, nor for sacrifice, But it shall be a witness between us and you, and between our generations after us, to execute the service of the Lord before him, in our burnt offerings, and in our sacrifices, and in our peace offerings, and that your children should not sa to our children in time to come, Ye have no part in the Lord. Therefore said we, If so be that they should so say to us, or to our generations in time to come, then will we answer, Behold the fashion of the altar of the Lord, which our fathers made, not for burnt offering, nor for sacrifice, but it is a witness between us and you. God forbid, that we should rebel against the Lord, and turn this day away from the Lord, to build an altar for burnt offering, or for meat offering, or for sacrifice, save the altar of the Lord our God that is before his Tabernacle. And when Phinehas the Preist, and the princes of the Congregation and heads over the thousands of Israel, which were with him, heard the words that the children of Reuben, and children of Gad, and the children of Manasseh spake, they were well content. And Phinehas the son of Eleazar the Priest said unto the children of Reuben, and to the children of Gad, and to the children of Manasseh, This day we perceive, that the Lord is among us, because ye have not done this trespass against the Lord: now ye have delivered the children of Israel out of the hand of the Lord. Then Phineas the son of Eleazar the Priest with the princes, returned from the children of Reuben, and from the children of Gad, out of the land of Gilead, unto the land of Canaan, to the children of Israel, and brought them answer. And the saying pleased the children of Israel: and the children of Israel blessed God, and minded not to go against them in battle for to destroy the land, wherein the children of Reuben and Gad dwelt. Then the children of Reuben, and the children of Gad called the altar Ed: for it shall be a witness between us, that the Lord is God. And a long season after that the Lord had given rest unto Israel from all their enemies round about, and Joshua was old, and stricken in age, Then Joshua called all Israel, and their Elders, and their Heads, and their Judges, and their officers, and said unto them, I am old, and stricken in age. Also ye have seen all that the Lord your God hath done unto all these nations before you, how the Lord your God himself hath fought for you. Behold, I have divided unto you by lot these nations that remain, to be an inheritance according to your tribes, from Jordan, with all the nations that I have destroyed, even unto the great Sea Westward. And the Lord your God shall expel them before you, and cast them out of your sight, and ye shall possess their land, as the Lord your God hath said unto you. Be ye therefore of a valiant courage to observe and do all that is writtn in the book of the Law of Moses, that ye turn not there from to the right hand nor to the left, Neither company with these nations: that is, with them that are left with you, neither make mention of the name of their gods, nor cause to swear by them, neither serve them, nor bow unto them: But stick fast unto the Lord your God, as ye have done unto this day. For the Lord hath cast out before you great nations and mighty, and no man hath stood before your face hitherto. One man of you shall chase a thousand: for the Lord your God he fighteth for you, as he hath promised you. Take good heed therefore unto yourselves, that ye love the Lord your God. Else, if ye go back, and cleave unto the rest of these nations: that is, of them that remain with you, and shall make marriages with them, and go unto them, and they to you, Know ye for certain, that the Lord your God will cast out no more of these nations from before you: but they shall be a snare and destruction unto you, and a ship on your sides, and thorns in your eyes, until ye perish out of this good land, which the Lord your God hath given you. When ye shall transgress the Covenant of the Lord your God, which he commanded you, and shall go and serve other gods, and bow yourselves to them, then shall the wrath of the Lord wax hot against you, and ye shall perish quickly out of the good land which he hath given you. And Joshua assembled again all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and called the Elders of Israel, and their heads, and their Judges, and their officers, and they presented themselves before God. Then Joshua said unto all the people, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt beyond the flood in old time, even Terah the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor, and served other gods. And I took your father Abaham from beyond the flood, and brought him through all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his seed, and gave him Isaac. And I gave unto Isaac, Jacob and Esau: and I gave unto Esau mount Seir, to possess it: but Jacob and his children went down into Egypt. I sent Moses also and Aaron, and I plagued Egypt: and when I had so done among them, I brought you out. So I brought your fathers out of Egypt, and ye came unto the Sea, and the Egyptians pursued after your fathers with chariots and horsemen unto the red Sea. Then they cired unto the Lord, and he put a darkness between you and the Egyptians, and brought the Sea upon them, and covered them: so your eyes have seen what I have done to Egypt: also ye dwelt in the wilderness a long season. After, I brought you into the land of teh Amonites, which dwelt beyond Jordan, and they fought with you: but I gave them into your hand, and ye possessed their country, and I destroyed the out of your sight. Also Balak the son of Zippor king of Moab, arose and warred against Israel, and sent to Balaam the son of Beor for to curse you. But I would not hear Balaam: therefore he blessed you, and I delivered you out of his hand. And ye went over Jordan, and came unto Jericho and the men of Jericho fought against you, the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Girgashites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, and I delivered them into your hand. And I sent hornets before you, which cast them out before you, even the two kings of the Amorites, and not with thy sword, nor with thy bow. And I have given you a land, wherein ye did not labor, and cities which ye built not, and ye dwell in them, and eat of the vineyards and olve trees, which ye planted not. Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in uprightness and in truth, and put away the gods, which your fathers served beyond the flood, and in Egypt, and serve ye the Lord. And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served (that were beyond the flood) or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell, but I and mine house will serve the Lord. Then the people answered and said, God forbid, that we should forsake the Lord, to serve other gods. For the Lord our God, he brought us and our fathers out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, and he did those great miracles in our sight, and preserved us in all the way that we went, and among all the people through whom we came. And the Lord did cast out before us all the people, even the Amorites which dwelt in the land: therefore will we also serve the Lord, for he is our God. And Joshua said unto the people, Ye cannot serve the Lord: for he is an holy God: he is a jealous God: he will not pardon your iniquity nor your sins. If ye forsake the Lord and serve strange gods, then he will return and bring evil upon you, and consume you, after that he hath done you good. And the people said unto Joshua, Nay, but we will serve the Lord. And Joshua said unto the people, Ye are witnesses against yourselves, that ye have chosen you the Lord, to serve him: and they said, We are witnesses. Then put away now, said he, the strange gods which are among you, and bow your hearts unto the Lord God of Israel. And the people said unto Joshua, The Lord our God will we serve, and his voice will we obey. So Joshua made a covenant with the people the same day, and gave them an ordinance and law in Shechem. And Joshua said unto all the people, Behold, this stone shall be a witness unto us: for it hath heard all the words of the Lord which he spake with us: it shall be therefore a witness against you, lest you deny your God. Then Joshua let the people depart, every man unto his inheritance. And after these things, Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord died, being an hundred and and ten years old. And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnath Serah, which is in mount Ephraim, on the North side of mount Gaash. And Israel serve the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the Elders that overlived Joshua, and which had known all the works of the Lord that he had done for Israel. And the bones of Joseph, which the children of Israel brought out of Egypt, buried they in Shechem in a parcel of ground, which Jacob bought of the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem, for an hundred pieces of silver, and the children of Joseph had them in their inheritance. Also Eleazar the son of Aaron died, whom they buried in the hill of Phinehas his son, which was given him in mount Ephraim. Joshua 22:10–24:33
- Finally brethren, fare ye well: be perfect: be of good comfort: be of one mind: live in peace, and the God of love and peace shall be with you. Greet one another with an holy kiss. All the Saints salute you. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the holy Ghost be with you all, Amen. 2 Corinthians 13:11–14
- O God, thou hast cast us out, thou hast scattered us, thou hast been angry, turn again unto us. Thou hast made the land to tremble, and hast made it to gape: heal the breaches thereof, for it is shaken. Thou hast showed thy people heavy things: thou hast made us to drink the wine of giddiness. But now thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of thy truth. Selah. That thy beloved may be delivered, help with thy right hand and hear me. God hath spoken in his holiness: therefore I will rejoice: I shall divide Shechem, and measure the valley of Succoth. Gilead shall be mine, and Manasseh shall be mine: Ephraim also shall be the strength of mine head: Judah is my lawgiver. Moab shall be my washpot: over edom will I cast out my shoe: Philistia show thyself joyful for me. Who will lead me into the strong city? who will bring me unto Edom? Wilt not thou, O God, which hadst cast us off, and didst not go forth, O God, with our armies? Give us help against trouble: for vain is the help of man. Through God we shall do valiantly; for he shall tread down our enemies. Psalm 60:1–12