Faithful to the End
One thing is certain, from first to last, God is ever faithful--faithful to the end. God assures us, “My word will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (Isa 55:11). This assurance is trustworthy because it arises from the steadfast character of God.
God is a “person”—that is, he is a personal being that relates to humans in personal relationships. An important aspect of this God-human relationship is learning to trust in God’s character and his eternal promises. When Israel was suffering under Egyptian bondage, Moses anticipated the Israelites’ query, “What is your name so I may tell them who you are?” or, more to the point, “Who is this God that we should trust him?” So it was that through the ten plagues, the crossing of the Red Sea and deliverance from Egypt, and the divine guidance through 40 years in the wilderness, the Israelites learned who God is as he revealed his trustworthy character.
Learning to trust God is an enterprise for every generation. With Moses’s death, Joshua’s generation faced new challenges, but never without the divine assurance, “I am with you, even to the end of the age!” God was present at the crossing of the Jordan, at the fall of Jericho, and in the extraordinary conquest of Canaan. Wherever Joshua’s footsteps, fell God was with him. To be sure, there were plenty of those, “Why God?” moments when God’s presence seemed far removed, or when God chose to hide his presence. On such occasions, one wise old man’s pithy saying on a rainy day rings true: the sun is shining, but you just can’t see it.
Joshua learned to trust God through adversity and through boon. His trust was such that he urged his fellow Israelites to do the same, to stake their allegiance in him. In his old age, after a lifetime of trusting in God, Joshua reminded all Israel of God’s faithfulness. He said, ““Now I am about to go the way of all the earth. You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed.”
But personal relationships is a two-way street. It will not do for one person to be faithful and the other feckless. Thus, Joshua’s testimony of God’s faithfulness was meant to spur the Israelites to reciprocal faithfulness. Following his tremendous and comforting assertions that God keeps all his promises, Joshua issued dire warnings to those who would betray their allegiance to God. Because God is faithful to the end, we too must be faithful to the end.
Joshua’s testimony anticipates the Pauline declaration that whatsoever promises God has ever made, they are all “yes” in Christ (2 Cor 1:20). Accordingly, we confess, “Jesus, Jesus! How I trust him, How I’ve proved him o’er and o’er. Jesus, Jesus, Precious Jesus! O for grace to trust him more.”