December 24, 2014.
As the year comes to a close and we start to prepare for the next year, I thought it would be a good time to discuss the concept of a strong finish. Though this will not necessarily be the end, it is in some sense the end as 2014 is quickly coming to a close. It has been a good year for me, though it did have its low points as all years do, and I would like to finish strong and begin the next year with a full forward thrust. I want to take this opportunity to announce something that I have been considering for a while about the outlook and direction of this blog in 2015. I am very happy to have had the opportunity to stick to my goal thus far of a daily post (minus the one make up one that I had to do because of the car accident I was involved in) for it has shown me that a resolution is indeed possible to keep, especially if it is in the will of God. Next year, to continue my blog, I want to take on a very ambitious task (a real shocker, I know). I will do a lot of praying and studying over these last few days in 2014 about it, but I would like to tentatively announce that I plan to commentate a series of post through the entire Bible in chronological order. I have yet to work out the logistics, but I have looked into different plans that I wan to tweak and set up as a skeleton outline for the goal. If you have never journeyed through the whole bible and would like to make it a New Years resolution, I strongly encourage you to follow me through, as I want to have practical lessons and connections that we can draw from every section. There will be an assigned reading each day, which if you follow, you will have read through the Bible in a year. I will give more information in the following days as the plan emerges, but for now I just wanted to give a teaser about it so that you can start preparing your mind and plans for it if you wish to join. I think the journey will be a blessing and I hope to learn a lot from it.
But first we must finish strong.
“Then the people of Judah came to Joshua at Gilgal. And Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him, “You know what the Lord said to Moses the man of God in Kadesh-barnea concerning you and me. I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh-barnea to spy out the land, and I brought him word again as it was in my heart. But my brothers who went up with me made the heart of the people melt; yet I wholly followed the Lord my God. And Moses swore on that day, saying, ‘Surely the land on which your foot has trodden shall be an inheritance for you and your children forever, because you have wholly followed the Lord my God.’ And now, behold, the Lord has kept me alive, just as he said, these forty-five years since the time that the Lord spoke this word to Moses, while Israel walked in the wilderness. And now, behold, I am this day eighty-five years old. I am still as strong today as I was in the day that Moses sent me; my strength now is as my strength was then, for war and for going and coming. So now give me this hill country of which the Lord spoke on that day, for you heard on that day how the Anakim were there, with great fortified cities. It may be that the Lord will be with me, and I shall drive them out just as the Lord said.”
If you remember the recent history of the children on Israel, when Moses brought them out of the land of Egypt to journey in to the land that was promised to Abraham’s children, 10 of the 12 spies that were sent into the promised land came back with a bad report, claiming that the peoples that were in the land were too large and mighty for the Israelites to conquer them. There were only two spies, Joshua and Caleb, who came with a different message, a message that if God was for them, there would be no way they could loose. Unfortunately, the voice of the 10 overpowered the voice of the two, and the children of Israel were afraid to go in. Because of this fear and lack of faith in God, God was angry and did not allow the children to enter the promised land, but made them wander in the wilderness for 40 years until all the people over the age of 20 (except Joshua and Caleb) had died from the camp. Then they would be given another opportunity to enter into the land that was promised to them.
When the second opportunity came, Moses had just died and Joshua was the new leader of the Israelites. They trusted in God this time and entered the land. Though they wouldn’t do everything perfectly, they did in fact subdue the land and divided it out according their inheritance. The passage above is Caleb’s request in his old age to take the hill county of Hebron. Caleb had wholly followed the Lord and continued to trust in Him to that day, and believed that God would give the inhabitants into his hand. Caleb knew the power of the Lord.
This was the end game for Caleb. Perhaps not to his death, but this was the ultimate goal, receiving the inheritance as was promised so long ago. It is amazing to think that this 85 year old man still had the vision and strength he did when he was half that age. Caleb was into finishing strong. After wandering in the wilderness for 40 years, seeing his closest friends and family die, he had finally made it to the time that he had long awaited for, and he was not about to give up now. With boldness and confidence in the Lord, Caleb ask Joshua for the hill country based on a promise that Moses made to him years ago. Joshua granted him his request, and the land was indeed given into Caleb’s hand as an inheritance.
“Then Joshua blessed him, and he gave Hebron to Caleb the son of Jephunneh for an inheritance.Therefore Hebron became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite to this day, because he wholly followed the Lord, the God of Israel. Now the name of Hebron formerly was Kiriath-arba. (Arba was the greatest man among the Anakim.) And the land had rest from war.”
I think there was a similar sentiment given to Moses by God towards the end of his life as recorded in the book of Numbers.
“The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Avenge the people of Israel on the Midianites. Afterward you shall be gathered to your people.”
Though Moses had been told that he was not going to be allowed to enter the promised land because of his disobedience at the waters of Maribah (ref. Numbers 20), the Lord was reminding Moses that he still had a job to do. His task was not over and he was to finish strong. When we come to any point in our life that nears the end of a significant segment, whether that be late childhood, just before marriage, your kids leaving for college or towards the end of our life, we need to finish strong. It is never too late to carry out the will of the Lord, as we can always work in the kingdom, though our mechanisms may indeed change. Both Moses and Caleb retained their strength to the end; unfortunately, this will not likely be the case for us. But we can indeed maintain our spiritual strength.
As we end this year, let us keep our drive for the kingdom going and finish strong. Remember that there is always work to do for the Lord, but the work isn’t burdensome, yet uplifting. As the season brings the Christ to the minds of many people, let us tell them the good news. Let us glorify our God in heaven and let our light shine before men. In doing so, we will be laborers in the fields that are white for harvest. Remember our call and what the Lord said to one of the seven churches in the book of Revelation.
“Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.”
While we still have time on this earth, we still have a job to do. And when we are faithful unto death, our reward will be waiting for us on the other side. Not for us only, but for all who accept the grace offered by the Lord Jesus Christ, who died for our sins and in whom we are raised with though baptism to walk a new life, cleansed and made whole. May the new year bring us much success in the kingdom, and may we ever seek to save the lost.
And after living faithfully for so long, let us finish strong.
Suggested Daily Reading: Numbers 20, 31, Joshua 1, 14.
The Lord be with you.