April 28, 2009
Don’t Bother Me with Details!
by Katherine Britton, Crosswalk.com News & Culture
So Joshua took the entire land, just as the LORD had directed Moses, and he gave it as an
inheritance to Israel according to their tribal divisions. Then the land had rest from war.
– Joshua 11:23
Every so often I take out my old “Dear Diary” from when I was eight years old, and thumb through it for the sake of hilarity. Most entries go something like this:
“Today I woke up at 7:47 a.m. Then I ate pancakes for breakfast! I love pancakes! Then I did school, and I brought my magnifying glass with binoculars with me to co-op. Then we played outside in the afternoon. I scraped my knee when I fell off my bike, but I rode all the way around the house on the grass!”
Amusement carries me through about three “Dear Diary” entries, and then the skimming begins. After I’ve read through a week of what I had for breakfast, I’m usually done observing my former status as a “cute kid.” Every little detail that I thought was so important when I was eight just doesn’t thrill me now.
Unfortunately, I’ve have a tendency to take the same approach to certain portions of Scripture. You know the ones I’m talking about – “This is what Moses had given the tribe of Gad… from Heshbon to Ramath Mizpah and Betonim, and from Mahanaim to the territory of Debir.” All the territories and distances and kings of what city etc. are very much like those breakfast entries. That’s nice, God, but frankly, I don’t really care anymore.
I didn’t think it was possible to make a sermon out of such details, but a pastor proved me wrong on Sunday. In fact, he made a sermon out of all nine chapters detailing which tribes and clans got what land when the Israelites finally took Canaan. And – unbelievably – I found myself reveling in the “inane” details.
Consider that this doling out of territory was 600 years in making. A promise made to Abraham 600 years before this moment, before Egypt happened, before Abraham even had an heir of his own kin. Six hundred years later, God’s promise that Israel would possess the land of Canaan finally comes through – and in all that time, God has not lost sight of the details. In the midst of this plan that span more than half a millennium, the Lord of Israel comes from the span of heaven and picks out every plot of earth that every clan will inherit.
We serve a God who controls both the universe and the finest breath of wind, who orchestrates all of history and the little details for our lives. Nine chapters about plots of land? Apparently, he cares enough about the details to include them in divine revelation. And yet how often do we pass over these same details tucked away in Scripture – even when we’re searching for assurance of God’s hand in our life!
As Abraham Piper writes, “It's true that knowing Michmethah is east of Shechem ranks very low in the list of facts that are important to know from the Bible. But it matters, because the sum of all the dull details that God has accomplished proves that whatever he promises, he will do.”