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May 2, Day #123 – God is Not Interested in Excuses

In Joshua 19:1-21:9, we see that the apportionment of the land continues for the last six tribes of Israelites who have been slow about staking their claim. These tribes include Benjamin, Simeon, Zebulun, Issachar, Asher, Naphtali, and Dan. As we said yesterday of Ephraim and Manasseh, this could only be due to their unbelief, disobedience, and unwillingness to go in and claim what was already theirs. Joshua could see through their excuses. Almost sarcastically, he begins in 17:15, “If you are so numerous,” and ends in with, “You can drive them [the Perizzites and Rephaites] out” (verses 18-18). Their weak statements are reminiscent of the excuses that Jesus addressed in His parable of the great banquet (cf., Luke 14:15-20). The Israelites are engaged in the process of receiving a divine inheritance, and they’re whining about it. Who does that? We must understand that, as Jesus touched upon this in His parable centuries later, it must have been a perennial problem among the Jews, but Jesus is simply saying that excuses are not worthy of His blessings. We need to be careful that we recognize the benefits that God has given us and praise Him – without excuses – for those blessings. God is not interested in our excuses - He wants obedience. Chapter 19 closes with the portion allotted to Joshua. Significantly, the leader is the last to receive his portion (cf., Matthew 20:16; Luke 15:11-31). In Joshua 20, we see the Lord’s instructions to Joshua to designate “cities of refuge” in the land (cf., Numbers 35:1-34; Deuteronomy 19:1-13).

Psalm 54:4 says that “surely God is our help; He is the One Who sustains us.” This verse summarizes our entire existence before God. In reality, apart from God, we do not and cannot exist. He alone created us, and He alone sustains us. In love, mercy, and grace, God brought each person into existence. He continues to sustain us every moment - even if a person displays direct and open contempt for God - which is how many people choose to live their lives today. Remove God from the equation, and you have no equation. All creation suddenly becomes meaningless and nonexistent, and it collapses. You are left with nothing because you have removed the Creator - the Initiator - of everything. By giving mankind a degree of freedom to make choices about life, God might allow a person (foolishly, and for a time) to live as if He doesn’t exist. And a person who does this still demonstrates that he has real (albeit limited) freedom. But such a person also leads a self-deceived life - he may believe or think he can sustain himself - but surely, what can he do to keep his own heart beating if it should stop … and for how long? Such an “arrogant,” non-existence can only and ultimately implode into a pile of useless ashes – empty nothingness – to be swept into the dustbin of history.

In John 2, we see the first miracle of Jesus when He turns water into wine at a wedding in Cana. Christ’s mother informs Him that “the wine was gone” (verse 3). This miracle points to the new life that we have in Christ, and John tells us that “this was the first of His miraculous signs” (verse 11). John also tells us that, in performing this sign, Jesus “revealed His glory and his disciples put their faith in Him” (verse 11). All of Christ’s signs served this purpose – to demonstrate His glory and to elicit faith in Him as the One Who could bring about salvation. Miracles are extraordinary works that symbolize or portray spiritual truths. Changing water into wine is a dramatic, substantive change that takes an ordinary drink – created water, which has no spirit, and recreates it into an extraordinary drink – wine. The water is transformed by filling it with spirit. By this miracle, Jesus demonstrated His authority and power over creation – He is the Creator and the Re-creator of life – and He typified the new life that we receive in Christ. In verses 12-24, we see Christ – in righteous anger - clearing the temple of those selling animals and exchanging money. These buyers and sellers were engaging in contemptable and unacceptable behavior by turning “His Father’s house into a market” (verse 16). Jesus was not interested in their excuses.

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