A number of logistical and technical challenges have been conspiring against live-blogging here over the last day or so — hopefully those are now resolved and normal service can return. I am glad that Andrew Fountain has been posting — I hope you are enjoying his posts. I am thrilled to have now been able to make it here — last night at one stage it looked as though storms would prevent me from getting here this morning, but in the providence of God — here I am!
We have just had a great time of worship. It focused around the cross and that phrase in Isaiah 53: “He crushed him”! There was also a sense of commissioning from the risen Christ to go out into the world with a mission inspired by the cross.
Married to Ashleigh with three sons — Jack, Ben and Sam — P-J leads Godfirst Church in Johannesburg, which is now two and a half years old. P-J is involved with helping plant new churches around Johannesburg and Southern Africa. His book, The World Needs More Elders, is helping many churches accelerate their development of leaders.See also Andrew Fountain’s notes on this talk: Joshua Part 2 – A New Phase in the Kingdom.
P-J Smyth spoke first today. He asked us to turn to Joshua 13:1 — the exact halfway point of the book. He began by explaining that this verse acts as a junction between two phases of the book. The first phase is all about being together and fighting battles together — a “we” phase.
Phase 2 begins when Joshua was old and much ground had been taken. “You are very old and there is still much to do.” Now there is a change, it’s no longer all together. It’s time to distribute it. Divide up the land. Pass the ball. The shift is to have trust in others. The purpose is to both hold what was taken already and to push on to more. Each of us has our own inheritance within our joint inheritance. We also have our own individual responsibility within what God has given us all to do together.
The second-half phase is critical to any ministry. This applies to small groups, eldership teams, a church itself, church movements. If we maintain things too tightly, we can drift into “headquarter-ism,” passivity, or frustration. But it is not about unhealthy individualism, either.
Tips from the book. In chapter 13, we see everybody got an allotment. In verse 14, we see that the Levites did not have an inheritance of land, but the offerings. God is their inheritance. They did have a clear role, but a different one to the others. It was not as visible. They did not have clear territories. It wasn’t easy to pin down. There is a role in not having a role!
Caleb, an older man in chapter 14:7, was, in contrast, very specific. “Now, give me my mountain.” ME is okay as long as it is part of the WE. He had waited for forty years because of the corporate need. He loved the together, refusing to do it alone for all those years. There is a time for individual response and a time to move together. Are you still in pursuit of your mountain? Or are you tired of waiting?
Chapter 15:17ff is a younger lady — Caleb’s daughter. She asks for a special favour. We can go to the Father direct. God has an inheritance for each of us. She wasn’t just grateful for what she had, but asked for more. We need to be very cheeky in what we ask for! Simon Pettit used to pray, “Lord, you say we don’t have because we don’t ask. Well, here we are asking …..”
Judah couldn’t do it. Perhaps they should have asked for help. Or maybe it’s just one of those sovereign things that are associated with living in a fallen world. We will have some disappointments. We shouldn’t allow ourselves to be discouraged. We need to be looking forward, longing for heaven. We need battle experience.
The tribe of Joseph in chapter 17:14ff responded by reminding Joshua how blessed they were. In verse 15, Joshua says “go for it.” They replied to that by saying we need more, and reminding him of the strength of the people. Suddenly they seem weak, and so Joshua encourages them further. The “me moment” is really scary, but we must press on through. Joseph seemed to think the others should clear the land for it. Joshua didn’t offer to clear the land for them. Sometimes it’s just us and God. Don’t do too much for them, rather let them do it. Allow their gift to make room for them. But do prophecy and speak faith and life.
Each of us has a specific role. Don’t look at others and say, “Why can’t I be like that?”
Simeon and Judah in 19:1. Joshua gave from Judah to Simeon as they had more than they needed. All have an inheritance, but for some it seems like it’s part of someone else’s. Some of us are “number two” type leaders. It’s still your inheritance in the Lord, but wrapped up in another’s. We need to learn to be content with that. Be delighted with people like Titus.
In chapter 22, we see those who had served others and were told it is now time to return to what is yours. Civil war nearly arises. There is an investigation, and they said that they were concerned that in the future they would be told they were not part of it. We need to take initiative, and sometimes others might even think we are rebels. Leaders at every level need to rise up. Sometimes, like David, we will be called proud and conceited. It is not a question of being motivated by our own glory; rather it is the glory of God. We can’t go much further without each of us being all we are meant to be in God. We need to take responsibility to hold land and take land. Let’s rise to the challenge. We must each play our part submitted to the leadership and the whole vision. We are still together, but each having a part to play in fulfilling the promises God has given us and the vision God gives us.