“How long will you put off …”

We continue to read the book of Joshua (a name which is the same as ‘Jesus’ and means ‘Saviour’) and we see Joshua urging of the nation, now in their promised land, to go and take possession and settle in the area of the land that had been allotted to them. Five of the tribes had done this, but today’s chapter 18 shows how Joshua now had to urge the remaining seven, “How long will you put off going in to take possession of the land which the LORD, the God of your fathers, has given you?” (verse 3). They responded to this urging, “So the men arose and went” (verse 8).

There is a comparison with this in our Hebrews reading today. The message is “and we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (6:11,12).

We live in a world that shows a lot of impatience and anxiety – and there is less and less hope about the future. Jesus in his final sermon forecast that when “… the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled … there will be signs … on the earth distress of nations with perplexity … people fainting with fear and foreboding of what is coming on the world” (Luke 21:24-26).

Let us make sure we possess “the full assurance of hope” as this world falls apart. Our reading in Isaiah (chapter 24) ended on a triumphant note – of the time when “the LORD of hosts reigns on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem and his glory will be before his elders” (verse 23).

But before that, note verse 20, “the earth staggers like a drunken man … its transgression lies heavy upon it, and it falls …” We see this as a fitting description of how our world is staggering today. Its transgression of the ways of God are causing it to fall apart. Let us not “put off” developing the faith and the patience and the earnestness, and a sense of “full assurance” – for, said Jesus, “the one who endures to the end will be saved” (Mark 13:13) and will then be ready to inherit the wonder of what God has promised.