Joshua 14:6-15 (Part 2) – Like When I Had to Wear That Gamecock Sweatshirt for the 5th Year In A Row…

Posted: July 2, 2017 in Book fo Joshua
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Joshua 14:6-15 (Part 2 of 2)
Caleb Requests His Land

Elena and I have a running bet each year. She is a University of South Carolina Gamecock fan. I am a Clemson University Tiger fan. As you may or may not know, depending on where you live when reading this, the Gamecocks and Tigers are archrivals. Tiger fans and Gamecock fans typically don’t like each other for the simple fact that the other pulls for their hated archrival. In a state as small as South Carolina is, you never have to go too far to find the enemy. Sometimes, like in our case, the enemy lives in the same house. In other larger states, the two rival schools have specific following in particular areas of the state. South Carolina is different in that your neighbor or even your own spouse in your own house can be a fan of the other team. And, in this state, Tigers and Gamecocks are competitive in everything. Some say that if the Gamecocks and Tigers had chess teams, the games between them would be heated. But regardless of what sports the two schools play against each other, nothing compares and nothing matters more than the results of the annual Palmetto Bowl football game. Clemson holds the edge in the series that dates back to 1896 with 68-42-4 record against the Gamecocks. The series was stopped briefly from 1902-1909 due to the fact that after the 1902 game a riot broke out after the game. It has been continuously played every year since 1909 and is currently only behind Minnesota vs. Wisconsin as the longest continuously played rivalry football game in the country. So, with that background, Elena and I started a tradition back in 2009 when we first became a couple.

Each year beginning with the 2009 game, the loser of the game has to wear the colors of the winner’s team to church the following day. When we started the bet, Clemson was a real tear in the series. From 1976-2008, a period of 32 seasons, Clemson had won 23 games, lost 8, and tied 1 in the series. In fact, in the overall series, Clemson, on average, wins 2 games to every 1 game won by the Gamecocks. So, the bet seemed a pretty safe one to me. Clemson was coming off two straight victories in the series in 2007 and 2008 and like I said, from 76-08, Clemson just had Carolina’s number. What happens? Carolina starting that year goes on a five-year run in the series. They win five straight in the series – 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013. I had to wear a Gamecock sweatshirt that is that hideous combination of garnet and black. It is just not in my color wheel! Five years in a row! Even Clemson with its overall advantage in the series (68-42-4) has never won more than 4 consecutive games in the series. This was egregious! Order has been restored in the series with Clemson winning in 2014, 2015, and 2016. But those five years in a row still are a wound that Tiger fans alive during it will never forget. For me, it meant keeping my word for five consecutive years. Pictures of me in five different shots in a Gamecocks sweatshirt can most likely be found on my wife’s Facebook page somewhere. It was humiliating. I am the biggest of Tiger fans. Everyone who knows me knows that I am a Tiger fan. My mood on Sundays in the fall is directly correlated with how the Tigers did on the gridiron the day before. Wearing Gamecock attire is akin, to me, to wearing a scarlet A on my clothing in colonial New England. It was embarrassing and degrading. Oh the pain! Oh the agony of it all! Five straight years! But during that five year stretch (when it got progressively harder each year to put that dreaded Gamecock sweatshirt on), I never failed to keep my word and wear the sweatshirt so my wife could take my picture, several in fact. Oh that fourth and fifth year, I was so hurt by the Tigers losing, that I almost did not wear the sweatshirt. But your word is your word. You have to do it to keep your honor and integrity even if it means having to wear that dreaded garnet and black. Because I did not call off the bet and kept my word, my wife has not been able to get out of wearing that beautiful combination of burnt orange and white for the last three years. Sometimes, it takes a while for having to keep our word to be an advantage for us, but it will always have a positive long-term effect. Oh how I pray that my wife will have to wear orange and white again this November!

 

That was the thought that came to mind for some reason this morning. I think it is because the passage is about God honoring a 45 year old promise. God never breaks a promise. Like during that five year stretch where Clemson lost to Carolina five years in a row, I had to keep my word. It was a small, insignificant thing. A humorous little bet between a husband and a wife. We would think any less of each other if we did not keep our word heading into the 2017 college football season as we are now. The results of the 2017 Clemson-Carolina game (in Columbia, SC this year) will determine the “winner” of the 9th Annual “Sunday After” Shirt of Shame. We do not have to keep our word on this but it is just a small matter of integrity. To us, if we roll back against the bet, just a little tiny shred of integrity will be lost. It’s not like it an earth shattering thing but it is about integrity and reliability nonetheless. That’s what I think about when I think of God and his promises. Let’s read Joshua 14:6-15 together this morning with that thought in mind:

6 Now the people of Judah approached Joshua at Gilgal, and Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him, “You know what the Lord said to Moses the man of God at Kadesh Barnea about you and me. 7 I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh Barnea to explore the land. And I brought him back a report according to my convictions, 8 but my fellow Israelites who went up with me made the hearts of the people melt in fear. I, however, followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly. 9 So on that day Moses swore to me, ‘The land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance and that of your children forever, because you have followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly.’

10 “Now then, just as the Lord promised, he has kept me alive for forty-five years since the time he said this to Moses, while Israel moved about in the wilderness. So here I am today, eighty-five years old! 11 I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. 12 Now give me this hill country that the Lord promised me that day. You yourself heard then that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the Lord helping me, I will drive them out just as he said.”

13 Then Joshua blessed Caleb son of Jephunneh and gave him Hebron as his inheritance. 14 So Hebron has belonged to Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite ever since, because he followed the Lord, the God of Israel, wholeheartedly. 15 (Hebron used to be called Kiriath Arba after Arba, who was the greatest man among the Anakites.)

Then the land had rest from war.

When Joshua gave Caleb his portion, it fulfilled a promise God had made Caleb 45 years earlier. God has integrity and reliability. Do we have the same integrity and reliability? Would we honor a 45 year old promise? God would and does. Even today, He is honoring a promise that He made thousands of years ago. There are promises God has yet to fulfill, but with His integrity and reliability we have no doubt that He will keep His promises.

That’s the takeaway this morning. God always keeps His promises. God promises will always come true. If He says in His Word that I am saved when I proclaim with my mouth and believe in my heart that Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior and that He was bodily arisen from the dead, then, I must trust and rely on that. If God takes 45 years to fulfill a promise made to Caleb, then, I can rely on what God’s Word says and on what God says to me through the Holy Spirit, even if it is not happening as fast as I want it to. God has an eternal view and I have a temporal one. What seems like an eternity of five years to me is just a whisp of wind for a fleeting millisecond to God. I must trust that He has my best interest at heart and trust and obey Him. I must trust that He will only give me what is best for me. I must trust that sometimes the best kept promise of God is not to give us what we want because our desires are often not what is best for us. Sometimes, we may desire something that is perfectly in line with God’s will but He may seem to be delaying on keeping His word to us, but He is God and He knows when and where and how and what we need. He sees the big picture and we see only what is right in front of us.

Sometimes, God wants us to not get so caught up in the promise that we forget to enjoy the journey to the promise. Along the way, God is teaching us things that we need to know and need to experience so that when He does grant His promise to us, we will be ready for it. Would Caleb have really appreciated the land that he was given if it was just, bam!, given to him 45 years earlier. Think of all the things that Caleb had to go through in those 45 years. I bet he was beyond thankful to God for the land to be at rest once he conquered his land. I bet he was oh so thankful just to be in one place and building a life after all that wandering. I bet he was thankful to God for even the smallest things about his land that he would not have even cared to notice 45 years earlier. So, if you think God is not answering your prayers or keeping some promise to you. Think again. God is a promise keeper. He is truth so He cannot lie to you. He will keep His promises to you. You must simply trust that this period right now where the promise seems unfulfilled is a time that you must learn to trust in the almighty, eternal God who will fulfill His promises to you when He deems that you are ready to appreciate and understand what He is doing for you. Don’t forget to enjoy the journey to the promise. Let go and trust in God that He is developing you and moving you to that place of promise on His timetable. Trust in the Lord for He is reliable, trustworthy, and true. He is a God of His word. He is integrity.

Amen and Amen.

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