"Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel."
—Josh. i. 2.
In Canaan the Israelites had a home after homelessness. The insecure and perilous tent-life was past ; they could sit every man under his own vine and his own fig-tree. And when I believe in Christ, I leave the wilderness for the Father's house, where I have all and abound. Here is truth which is inexhaustible. Here is righteousness which pardons every sin and makes the chief of sinners just with God. Here is love whose breadth and length and depth and height are supreme and unutterable. This is the Holy Grail in my hands at length. This is the Land of Promise where my soul is at home.
In Canaan the Israelites passed from impotence to partnership with God. Out in the desert everything was done for them. By miracle their route was indicated, their wants were supplied, their march was shielded. But in the fields across the Jordan, while God remained essential, much more was entrusted to the people themselves. " O to grace how great a debtor I "—it is my humble and adoring psalm to the Lord Whose right arm alone rescues me from bondage and leads me into the inheritance. But, inside the land, I have my part to play and my place to fill. There must be constant prayer. There must be habitual self-denial. There must be daily recollection of Christ. I am God's partner now.
In Canaan the Israelites were secluded from the world, and learned the meaning of separation. No more were they in the heart of the civilisation and idolatry of Egypt ; miles and miles of waterless sand divided them from their old abode. The geography of Palestine has its sermon for me. Positively it says : Dwell much with God, for He has many things to disclose to you, and He will only disclose them if you linger in His company. And negatively it says: Be prepared to curb and limit your fellowship with the world, that Christ's beauty and Christ's message may not be lost by your heart.
In Canaan the Israelites put on the soldier's armour as well as the dress of the scholar and the worshipper. In the wilderness, they had learned God's mind from the mouth of Moses, and, instructed by Aaron, they had brought His offerings to the tabernacle of the congregation ; but now they made the acquaintance of Joshua, " foremost captain of his time." I need Jesus the Prophet, and Jesus the Priest ; but I ought to follow Jesus, too, as Leader in the Holy War. Within me and without are Hittite, Perizzite, Jebusite. I must gird on my sword against them. I must aid my Joshua in His desperate strife. " It's no longer disputing, but out instantly all you can," wrote Oliver Cromwell in 1643.
The land is a good land and large ; let me be very certain that I understand and possess its wealth.