Entering the Promised Land
Joshua 1:1-9, Hebrews 4:1-11; 11:1-16

On Sunday morning since September we have been considering God's rescue mission for planet earth, as told in the Old Testament. We began with the creation of the world and discovered the basis of our uniqueness as human beings; we then saw how evil entered into human experience and how God promised to send a Saviour. We then considered how God began to prepare for the coming of Jesus by making a covenant or promise with Abraham that he would rescue the world through Abraham's descendent. We then saw how in the test God gave Abraham to give up his only son, God was showing us how ultimately His own son, Jesus would die in our place. As Abraham's decedents become a nation, we next saw how God raised up a deliverer, Moses to rescue his people out of slavery in Egypt. Then last week we observed how, in the desert, God gave the Israelites his Laws to guide them in how to relate to one another. We also discovered how God introduced the tabernacle and sacrificial system to teach God's people the seriousness of sin and need of a perfect sacrifice to take away their sin. Again we saw how the this prefigured the ultimate sacrifice of Christ.

This week we conclude episode one as God leads his people into the land of Canaan. After Christmas we will begin episode two and complete our journey through the Old Testament. So today we come to the theme of the promised land, but we bring to it lots of cultural baggage. We bring our notion of the modern nation state, of democracy as a political system, we bring the memories of the last fifty years, or the holocaust and horrific attempts at ethnic cleansing, we bring the assumptions and values enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we bring the complexity of the Middle East crisis, of the birth of the State of Israel and the continuing tensions between Arabs and Jews, Christians and Moslems. Questions over ownership the land whether we call it, Palestine, Israel or the Holy Land, are largely shaped by our experience, convictions, prejudices and readings of Scripture. In one sense it all depends how far back you go and what we use as our reference point. This morning we are going to trace the idea of the Promised Land from the Old Testament into New Testament. Having seen where it leads us we will stop and take stock of its significance for our faith today. Faced with a majority and minority report from the spies sent in to check out the Promised Land, Israel had the choice (the story is told in Numbers 13-14). They could accept the advice of Caleb and Joshua, believe that God was with them and take a short cut into the Promised Land. Had they done so it would have taken them perhaps 4 days. But in unbelief they accepted the majority report and took a long detour lasting 40 years. Similarly there are two versions of this sermon. The short one and the long one. If you want the longer version its available from the web site.

1. The Promised Land in the Old Testament
How we view the land of Israel/Palestine is a complex issue and one on which Christians hold passionate and sometimes contradictory views. Its good to remind ourselves therefore that the covenant began with God's creation of a paradise in the garden. This was the place where people could receive all of God's blessings and commune in fellowship with Him. This is where the image of land begins in the Bible. This land of paradise was lost in the Fall but a foretaste of heaven is reflected in the imagery of the promise made to Abraham. "The Lord had said to Abram, "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you." (Genesis 12:1). In Genesis 15 God is more specific and indicates the extent of that land, "On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram and said, "To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates." (Genesis 15:18). In Genesis 17 the promise is repeated and amplified. "17:1When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, "I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless. 2I will confirm my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers...You will be the father of many nations....7I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. 8The whole land of Canaan, where you are now an alien, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God." (Genesis 17:1-8).

These promises were restated to Moses. "8So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey--the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites." (Exodus 3:8). As we have already seen in previous sermons, these images are paradigms. The land of the Bible is not and never ever did flow with literal milk and honey. It is indeed a beautiful land but the biblical imagery points to a restored paradise in the future. From the very beginning this Old Covenant shadow would have to wait for the New Covenant for the actual fulfilment of the promise. The land in the Old Covenant was not an end in itself. That is why, as we saw last week, the tabernacle, the place of worship in the Old Covenant, was never intended to have a settled location in God's plan of redemption. It pointed to Jesus Christ who would 'tabernacle' among His people in the incarnation and since Pentecost through the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit. The sacrificial system could never atone for sins but only foreshadow the ultimate sacrifice of the sinless, perfect Son of God.

So the patriarch Abraham receives the promise of the land but never possessed it himself. This is not to spiritualise the promise away. It will ultimately be experienced in paradise. This was the promise of the covenant, not the permanent and everlasting possession of the Middle East. In Hebrews 11 we learn that by this non-possession the Patriarch learned to look forward to the city with foundations whose architect is God. This is the only legitimate interpretation of the Abrahamic Covenant for Christians. "10For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. 11By faith Abraham, even though he was past age--and Sarah herself was barren--was enabled to become a father because he considered him faithful who had made the promise. 12And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore. 13All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. 14People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16Instead, they were longing for a better country--a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them." (Hebrews 11:10-16)

In a very materialistic modern world it is important to stress once again, in Hebrews, the heavenly does not mean allegorical or spiritual or non-literal. Just the reverse, the heavenly is the consummate true state of reality. So, the Jerusalem above, the heavenly city for which the Patriarchs were looking, is not a nebulous ethereal idea. It is the ultimate reality which we can only experience foretaste in our present state. To our Zionist friends who have sacralised what is in reality an apartheid system, it is pertinent to point out the the Land never belongs to Israel in the Torah. The Land belongs to God. Land cannot be permanently bought or sold. It cannot be permanently given away, let alone stolen or confiscated as has occurred in the Occupied Territories since 1967. The Land is never at the disposal of Israel for its national purposes. Instead it is Israel who are at the disposal of God's purposes. The Jews remain merely tenants in God's Land. "The land must not be sold permanently, because the land is mine and you are but aliens and my tenants." (Leviticus 25:23). As we shall see after Christmas when we continue the story, the entire possession of the Land promised to Abraham was never realised. Dominion over the land remained a constant struggle, an aspiration never fully achieved. Solomon, even at the zenith of his reign and power, ruins the prospect by introducing foreign gods, tolerating the noisy and abominable worship assemblies of his heathen wives and their priests just over the Kidron valley from the Temple Mount on the Mount of Olives.

During this period invading armies sent by God chasten the Jews for defiling the Land. In fulfilment of the promises made through Moses and the Prophets, the Jews were dispossessed and driven out, exiled from the promise of the Land that had been given to their forefathers. Jerusalem was safe from foreign armies only as long as the shekinah glory of God dwelt in her midst. That is the significance of Ezekiel's visions in which step by step he sees the departure of God's glory from the city. Once the shekinah glory of God had departed, Jerusalem was as vulnerable as any other place on earth. Its was no longer a consecrated city guaranteed by God's protection.

The exile and dispersion of Jerusalem's inhabitants could not be averted. But the history of the Jews under the old covenant did not end with the exile. At God's appointed time about 49,000 returned in contrast to the estimated 3 million that had come out of Egypt a thousand years before. They returned to only a small part of the original territory and built only a small replica of Solomon's temple. But God's prophets were not distracted from their vision of the greatness of God's redemptive work. In fact they paint a picture of restoration so glorious that it could not be contained within the boundaries of the Old Covenant form of realisation. Haggai and Zechariah, for example, paint a picture of the future that breaks out of the Old Covenant shadowy forms. Jerusalem becomes a city without walls. The reconstructed temple manifests a glory even greater than Solomon's magnificent structure. "The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,' says the Lord Almighty. 'And in this place I will grant peace,' declares the Lord Almighty." (Haggai 2:9)

The language of the restoration prophets is very inspiring but the reality experienced under the return from exile was much less impressive. Indeed this extravagant picture of a great city without stone walls, a wall of fire around it and into which the Gentile nations would come to worship bursts the bounds of the Old Covenant wine skin. This vision found its fulfilment only in the New Covenant when Jesus taught that his followers would no longer worship in Jerusalem or Samaria but anywhere since the shekinah glory of God would be omnipresent with every child of God (John 4).

2. The Land of Canaan in the New Testament
So, according to the irreversible fulfilment values of the New Covenant, the covenant below would no longer be the focus for God's presence on earth. 'But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother.' (Galatians 4:26).

This is not to be perceived in terms of some esoteric nirvana either. This Jerusalem is not a spiritualised or ethereal phenomenon. Indeed, according to the writer to the Hebrews 12:22, when ever Christians assemble for worship, they are already meeting in the presence of the angels in the real Jerusalem. "But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly." (Hebrews 12:22). Once this consummation had been achieved, the New Testament refuses to countenance a return to the paradigms of the Old Covenant. Retrogression to the older, shadowy forms of the Old Covenant were forbidden. God's children have become temples in which His shekinah glory dwells. To suggest therefore that the shekinah is to return to a single local geographical shrine to which Jews and Christians must come to worship in Jerusalem in the imminent future once the Dome of the Rock has been destroyed is to regress from the reality to the shadowy, to re-erect the dividing curtain of the Temple, to apostasize from the New to the Old Covenant, since it impugns the finished atoning work of Christ. The Apostle Paul is quite emphatic in opposing those who attempted to reintroduce a judaizing theology to the church at Galatia.

"I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel which is really no gospel at all... We who are Jews by birth and not `Gentile sinners' know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified. Consider Abraham: "He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham. The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: "All nations will be blessed through you." So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith. All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law." (Galatians 1:6-7, 2:15, 3:6-10).

Teaching about the Land is conspicuous by its absence in the Gospels and in the priorities of Jesus. There are four references to the Land in the Gospels and these are all indirect. The strongest is found in the Beatitudes. In Matthew 5:5 Jesus quotes from Psalm 37:11. The inheritance of the land promised to the meek has been universalised to include the earth. The Greek term for 'earth' here is the same word used in the Septuagint for land yet the context of Jesus Beatitudes requires that the perspective be stretched beyond mere possession of Palestine. Either that or all Christians bearing the fruit of the Spirit may claim the land as their rightful possession. Since the Land was such a fundamental part of Judaism at the time of Christ, his silence can only have been deliberate. Like the prophets before him, Jesus did however, predict the destruction of Jerusalem as a judgement upon the Jewish nation (Luke 19:41-44). But unlike the Prophets Jesus did not promise there would be another return to the Land. Instead he predicted the coming of the kingdom of God in terms drawn from Daniel's vision of the Son of Man coming to the Ancient of Days to receive his kingly authority (Matthew 24:30-31; Luke 21:25-28; cf. Daniel 7:13-14).

It can only have been deliberate that Jesus had so little to say specifically about the Land and so much about the world (78 times in the Gospels alone). The turning point for the Disciples comes with the resurrection encounters and Pentecost. Until this point they seemed to share the same understanding of the land as other Jews of the 1st Century. They had looked forward to God's decisive intervention in history which would restore political sovereignty to the Jews within the Promised Land. This is reflected in the words of the disciples on the road to Emmaus, who confessed, 'we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel.' (Luke 24:21). It must also have been the idea in the minds of the disciples, when, before the ascension, they asked, 'Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1:6). John Calvin comments, 'There are as many mistakes in this question as there are words.' Jesus reply shows him correcting not only their concept of time but also their priorities. "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." (Acts 1:7-8).

Jesus now redefines the nature of the kingdom of God and thereby the meaning of chosenness. The expansion of the kingdom of God throughout the world necessitates the exile of the Apostles from the land and indeed the turning of their backs on Jerusalem. They are sent out into the world but never told to return. Subsequent to Pentecost, the Apostles begin to use Old Covenant language concerning the Land in new ways. So for example, Peter speaks of an inheritance which unlike the Land, '...can never perish, spoil or fade.' (1 Peter 1:4). Paul likewise asserts, 'Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.' (Acts 20:32).

In his letter to a predominantly Gentile church at Ephesus, Paul applies the promise of the inheritance of the Land, specifically to obedient Gentile children of Christian believers. "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. "Honour your father and mother"--which is the first commandment with a promise "that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth." (Ephesians 6:1-3). The fifth commandment promised that obedient children would live long on the land the Lord God was giving them. Now Paul applies the same promise to the children of Christian parents living 700-800 miles from the land of the Bible. These children of Gentile and Jewish Christians who submit willingly to the authority of their parents will, Paul promises, enjoy long life on the earth. Land in the New Covenant context has now come to fulfilment in the purposes of God. The limitations of the land type under the Old Covenant has been transcended so that it stretches through the Great Commission to the uttermost ends of the earth. In his letter to the predominantly Gentile church in Galatia, Paul says,

"21Tell me, you who want to be under the law, are you not aware of what the law says? 22For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman. 23His son by the slave woman was born in the ordinary way; but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a promise. 24These things may be taken figuratively, for the women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar. 25Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children. 26But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother... 28Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. 29At that time the son born in the ordinary way persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit. It is the same now. 30But what does the Scripture say? "Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman's son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman's son." 31Therefore, brothers, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman." (Galatians 4:20-31).

In a quite shocking way Paul compares contemporary Jerusalem and its Judaism to Hagar and her slave children, whereas the Gentile Galatian believers are likened to Isaac as children of the promise. This criticism surely applies to the modern city of Jerusalem just as much as it did in the days of the Apostles. Contemporary Jerusalem is literally in legalistic slavery, captive to the minority religious political parties. It cannot be presumed by Christian Zionists that those living in Jerusalem or Israel today without faith in Jesus Christ remain the elect, chosen people of God. Apart from repentance and faith in Jesus Christ on the same terms as people in other parts of the world, the inhabitants of the present Jerusalem continue to be in slavery, without God and without hope in the world. To suggest anything else is to slight Jesus Christ and his sacrifice and at the same time imperil the souls of men by encouraging false presumption.

Chris Wright summarises the main argument of Hebrews, "Hebrews affirmation of what "we have" are surprisingly comprehensive. We have the land, described as the rest into which we have entered through Christ, in a way which even Joshua did not achieve for Israel (3:12-4:11); we have a High Priest (4:14, 8:1, 10:21) and an Altar (13:10); we have a hope which in this context refers to the reality of the covenant made with Abraham (6:13-20). We enter into the Holy Place, so we have the reality of the tabernacle and the temple (10:9). We have come to Mount Zion (12:22) and we are receiving a kingdom, in line with Haggai 2:6 (12:28). Indeed according to Hebrews (13:14), the only thing we do not have is an earthly, territorial city. 'For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.' (Hebrews 13:14).

There is no evidence that the Apostles believed that the Jewish people still had a divine right to the Land, or that the Jewish possession of the Land would be an important, let alone central, aspect of God's future plan for the world. In the Christological logic of Paul, the Land, like the Law, both particular and provisional, had now become totally irrelevant, lost as naturally as the shadows of night disappear with the rising of the sun. The Promised Land in the Old Testament and in the New Testament.

3. The Promised Land and the Christian
I want us to go back to our first reading and see how God's word to Joshua can be a model for us as we too look forward not to a new millennium, not even to a new Britain, in or out of a single Euopean currency, but more importantly to a new heaven and new earth which is surely coming.

3.1 Trust in God's Promises and not our Circumstances
God commissioned Joshua to achieve three things: lead the people into the land, defeat the enemy, and claim the inheritance. God could have sent an angel to do this, but He chose to use a man and give him the power he needed to get the job done. Since Joshua had a threefold task to perform, God gave him three special promises, one for each task. God would enable Joshua to cross the river and claim the land (1:3-4), defeat the enemy (1:5), and apportion the land to each tribe as its inheritance (1: 6). God didn't give Joshua explanations as to how He would accomplish these things, because God's people live on promises and not on explanations. When you trust God's promises and step out by faith, you can be sure that the Lord will give you the directions you need when you need them. First, God promised Joshua that Israel would enter the land (vv. 3-4). Over the centuries God had reaffirmed this promise, from His first words to Abraham (Gen. 12) to His last words to Moses (Deut. 34:4). God would take them over the Jordan and into enemy territory. He then would enable them to claim for themselves the land that He had promised them. There would be no repetition of the fear and unbelief that had brought the nation into defeat at Kadesh Barnea (Num. 13).

God had already given them the land; it was their responsibility now to step out by faith and claim it (Josh 1:3; see Gen. 13:14-18). The same promise of victory that God had given to Moses (Num. 11:22-25), He reaffirmed to Joshua; and He carefully defined the borders of the land. Israel didn't reach that full potential until the reigns of David and Solomon. The lesson for God's people today is clear: God has given us "all spiritual blessings . . . in Christ" (Eph. 1:3), and we must step out by faith and claim them. He has set before His church an open door that nobody can close (Rev. 3:8), and we must walk through that door by faith and claim new territory for the Lord. It is impossible to stand still in Christian life and service; for when you stand still, you immediately start going backward. "Let us go on!" is God's challenge to us as we enter the new millennium, and that means moving ahead into new territory.

God also promised Joshua victory over the enemy (Joshua 1:5). The Lord told Abraham that other nations were inhabiting the Promised Land (Gen. 15:18-21), and He repeated this fact to Moses (Ex. 3:17). If Israel obeyed the Lord, He promised to help them defeat these nations. But He warned His people not to compromise with the enemy in any way, for then Israel would win the war but lose the victory (23:20-33). Unfortunately, that's exactly what happened. Since the Jews began to worship the gods of their pagan neighbours and adopt their evil practices, God had to chasten Israel in their land to bring them back to Himself (Judges 1-2). What a promise God gave to Joshua! "As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you or forsake you" (Josh 1:5, niv). God has given this same promise to us today! The Gospel of Matthew opens with "Emmanuel . . . God with us" (1:23) and closes with Jesus saying, "I am with you always" (28:20, nkjv). The writer of Hebrews 13:5 quotes Joshua 1:5 and applies it to Christians today: "I will never leave you nor forsake you" (nkjv). This means that God's people can move forward in God's will and be assured of God's presence. "If God be for us, who can be against us?" (Rom. 8:31) God's third promise to Joshua was that He would divide the land as an inheritance for the conquering tribes (Josh. 1:6). This was God's assurance that the enemy would be defeated and that Israel would possess their land. God would keep His promise to Abraham that his descendants would inherit the land (Gen. 12:6-7; 13:14-15; 15:18-21). The Book of Joshua records the fulfillment of these three promises: the first in chapters 2-5, the second in chapters 6-12, and the third in chapters 13-22. At the close of his life Joshua could remind the leaders of Israel that "not one thing has failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spoke concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one word of them has failed" (23:14).
Before God could fulfill His promises, Joshua had to exercise faith and "be strong and of good courage" (1:6). Divine sovereignty is not a substitute for human responsibility. God's sovereign Word is an encouragement to God's servants to believe God and obey His commands. As Charles Spurgeon put it, Joshua "was not to use the promise as a couch upon which his indolence might luxuriate, but as a girdle wherewith to gird up his loins for future activity" (Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, vol. 14, p. 97). In short, God's promises are prods, not pillows.

2. Obey God's Word not our Feelings (1:7-9)
It's one thing to say to a leader, "Be strong! Be very courageous!" and quite something else to enable him to do it. Joshua's strength and courage would come from meditating on the Word of God, believing its promises, and obeying its precepts. This was the counsel Moses had given to all the people (Deut. 11:1-9), and now God was applying it specifically to Joshua. During the years of his leadership, Moses kept a written record of God's words and acts and committed this record to the care of the priests (Deut. 31:9). He wrote in it a reminder to Joshua to wipe out the Amalekites (Ex. 17:14). Among other things, the "Book of the Law" included "the Book of the Covenant" (24:4, 7), a record of the journeys of the people from Egypt to Canaan (Num. 33:2), special regulations dealing with inheritance (36:13), and the song that Moses taught the people (Deut. 31:19). Moses kept adding material to this record until it included everything God wanted in it (v. 24). We have reason to believe the entire five Books of Moses (Genesis through Deuteronomy) comprised "the Book of the Law," the greatest legacy Moses could leave to his successor. But it wasn't enough for the priests to carry and guard this precious book; Joshua had to take time to read it daily and make it a part of his inner person by meditating on it (Ps. 1:2; 119:97; see Deut. 17:18-20). The Hebrew word translated "meditate" means "to mutter." It was the practice of the Jews to read Scripture aloud (Acts 8:26-40) and talk about it to themselves and to one another (Deut. 6:6-9). This explains why God warned Joshua that the Book of the Law was not to depart out of his mouth (Josh. 1:8). Warren Wersbie says, "If you don't talk to your Bible, your Bible isn't likely to talk to you!"

In the life of the Christian believer, prosperity and success aren't to be measured by the standards of the world. These blessings are the by-products of a life devoted to God and His Word. If you set out on your own to become prosperous and successful, you may achieve your goal and live to regret it. "In whatever man does without God," wrote Scottish novelist George MacDonald, "he must fail miserably, or succeed more miserably." The questions God's people need to ask are: Did we obey the will of God? Were we empowered by the Spirit of God? Did we serve to the glory of God? If we can answer yes to these questions, then our ministry has been successful in God's eyes, no matter what people may think. God's commandments are still God's enablements for those who obey Him by faith. Gabriel's words to Mary are as true today as when he spoke them in Nazareth: "For with God nothing shall be impossible" (Luke 1:37). The very word that God speaks has in it the power of fulfillment if we will but trust and obey!
Trust God's Promises not our Circumstances. Obey God's Word not our Feelings

3.3 Focus on God's Objectives not our Convenience (1:9, 16b-18)
We must focus on God's ultimate objectives not our present convenience. Put another way we must live for the challenge of tomorrow not in the glow of yesterday. It seems incredible that the decedents of independent, stubborn and rebellious nomads would commit themselves so completely to Joshua. What made the difference between
this generation and the one that died in the wilderness? Their spiritual prespective. Unlike their forefathers, this new generation had their eyes firmly focused on the Lord. They had seen that He was serious about His requirement of obedience from His people. Also, for forty years in the wilderness they had daily experienced his faithfulness. With these experiences embedded in their memories, they unreservedly committed themselves to God and his chosen leader. This kind of dedication turned their distant dreams into obtainable realities.

In our five year plan we have set ourselves 50 key objectives which we believe are based on God's word and reflect God's will for our church. Many of these objectives, like the Millennium Project extension, are being, or have already been achieved, by God's grace. Some of the objectives have been prioritised by the PCC for the year 2000 and more information about them has been given in the letter you have received or is waiting for you in the corridor. We are here today because of God's promises and provision. As we look to the future, we will need your faith, your energy, your sacrifice, your partnership to achieve them. Next Sunday on our anniversary we have an opportunity to indicate how we each wish to contribute.

The Promised Land in the Old Testament - Canaan. The Promised Land in the New Testament - Heaven. The Promised Land in the life of the Believer. Trust God's promises, obey God's word, focus on God's objectives and you and I will enter the Promised Land. I began with an illustration of how Israel entered their Promised Land. I want to close with an illustration of how we may ourselves enter ours.

Close with illustration of C.S. Lewis from the Narnia story about heaven.

In this sermon I have drawn on material from C. S. Lewis, Francis Schaeffer, Charles Swindoll and Warren Wersbie.