Sunday, June 24, 2018

How long are ye slack?

I was surveying the Book of Joshua recently, and these verses stuck out to me:

1 And the whole congregation of the children of Israel assembled together at Shiloh, and set up the tabernacle of the congregation there. And the land was subdued before them.
2 And there remained among the children of Israel seven tribes, which had not yet received their inheritance.
3 And Joshua said unto the children of Israel, How long are ye slack to go to possess the land, which the Lord God of your fathers hath given you? (Joshua 18:1-3)

At this time, the Israelites had conquered a portion of the land, but not all, and 7 out of the tribes hadn’t yet received their inheritances. It seems there was a bit of delay in finishing the job. It is not clear from the text what the reason was—maybe provisioning became difficult for an extended campaign. Maybe the tribes who had received inheritances had lost their motivation to help others receive theirs. Maybe they were tired. Or maybe so much success made them take victory for granted, and they thought they could win anytime. (All that is speculation, of course.)

I think it is interesting that Joshua doesn’t ask about WHY they are slack. Instead, he asks, “How long are ye slack?” Asking that question helps pin down whether the intent to accomplish the task is really there or not. Because if procrastination is a cover for an intent to avoid it permanently, the answer is something like, “Uh…I don’t know.” But if the answer is a definite time frame, there are often valid reasons for delay.

Joshua’s question is a healthy goad to use on ourselves when we’re slacking off. We all delay something sometime when we know we should be up and doing, and sometimes we just need a good kick in the pants from on high.

Is there anything you’ve been delaying? I know a few things I need to work on. Can you tell how long you’re going to delay? Why not get on it now?

I also think Joshua really internalized the counsel from God to be strong and of good courage. There’s an expectation in his question that the Israelites are strong enough to succeed with the Lord’s help if they will just get going and act. He seems like he’s the kind of guy used to doing five impossible things before breakfast.