Joshua 20–21, Acts 1, Jeremiah 10, Matthew 24

If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: Joshua 20–21, Acts 1, Jeremiah 10, Matthew 24. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can't do all the readings today, read Joshua 21-22.

How patient are you on a scale of 1-100? Even if you gave yourself a 100 (meaning: incredibly patient), none of us can compare in patience to God. God is so patient that he cannot be rated on a scale of any kind. One of the deep lessons we learn reading scripture is that God’s patience, while not infinite, is on a level that none of us can even understand. He promised Abraham that his descendants would inherit the promised land called Canaan. Today’s passage records the fulfillment of that promise: 

Joshua 21:43-43: “So the Lord gave Israel all the land he had sworn to give their ancestors, and they took possession of it and settled there. The Lord gave them rest on every side, just as he had sworn to their ancestors. Not one of their enemies withstood them; the Lord gave all their enemies into their hands. Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.” 

In between Genesis 12 and Joshua 21, hundreds of years have passed. Abraham’s family grew large, as God had promised that they would, but they spent 400 years as slaves in Egypt then wandered in the desert for 40 years more. Millions of Jewish people were born, lived, and died before God kept his promise in Joshua 21. Clearly, God was in no hurry to make good on his promise, but he was not lazy about keeping it either. A look at the long timeline of scripture reveals that God usually takes much longer—generations, even—than we would expect to keep his promises. Yet, he did keep them in his time. 

Why does God wait so long? Faith. Each generation that heard of God’s promises and put their hope in the fulfillment of those promises had to exercise faith. They had the choice to reject God’s word and his promises or to believe that God would keep his promise….eventually. Even the people who saw the fulfillment of these promises here in Joshua 21 had to exercise faith; they had to obey what God said, whether that involved marching around Jericho or attacking other cities through more conventional means of warfare. Though the fulfillment was in their grasp, only the obedience that comes from faith could bring God’s word from promise to fulfillment.

God remains as patient as ever when it comes to keeping his promises. Jesus promised to return “soon” (Rev 22:12), yet thousands of years have passed since he made that promise. 2 Peter 3:8-9 told us that this might be the case: “With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” The challenge for us is faith; to continue trusting in God, clinging to his promises, even though the fulfillment might not come in our lifetime. God has a different conception of time than we do and his fulfillments take generations, sometimes, to become true. But today’s passage shows us that God never forgets his commitments; he keeps every one but in his time and in his way.

Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of o