For a long time now – to this very day – you have not deserted your brothers but have carried out the mission the LORD your God gave you. … return to your homes … But be very careful to keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the LORD gave you: to love the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to obey his commands, to hold fast to him and to serve him with all your heart and all your soul.Joshua 22:3-5
It is good for us to take note of what Joshua said to the fighting men of the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh as he released them to go back to their homes and families on the east side of the Jordan after they had helped their kinsmen in the conquest of Canaan. They had carried out their mission faithfully as they had promised Moses (Numbers 32:16-22).
Joshua commended them for their perseverance in the task of helping others, difficult as it was, and acknowledged that they deserved a well-earned rest, but, in the same breath he warned them that this ‘rest’ did NOT include being slack with regard to the requirement to continue to persevere in their walk with the LORD – to ‘hold fast to him and to serve him with all [their] heart and all [their] soul.’
I see the principle here as having particular application to myself as an octogenarian retiree! Of course, I know I can never ‘earn’ my standing before God by taking this principle seriously, but I need to take it seriously BECAUSE OF my standing before him, which is a gift of his grace through what the Lord Jesus Christ has already DONE for me through his death and resurrection. This leads me to strive to live my WHOLE LIFE TO THE VERY END in the light of this principle as the ONLY FITTING response.
As Jesus warned his disciples just before he died: “All men will hate you because of me, but HE WHO STANDS FIRM TO THE END will be saved.” (Mark 13:13), a point which is taken up by James, “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12) and the Author of Hebrews, “We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first.” (Hebrews 3:14). It is tempting to feel ‘battle-weary’ in the task of following Jesus and seeking to be faithful to HIM in the work of HIS Church, but it is important to remember that ‘home’ and ‘rest’ are ultimately in heaven! In the meantime, by God’s grace, I’ll resolve to ‘NIGHTLY pitch my moving tent a DAY’S MARCH nearer home.’ (‘Forever with the Lord’ – James Montgomery)!