If you’re reading along with us using the Resting at the River’s Edge reading plan, yesterday you read Numbers 34 and found the Lord defining the boundaries of Israel. He very specifically identifies the boundary lines on the north, south, east and west.

Israel had not yet battled for the land – it was still inhabited by their enemy. It would take much warfare to reach those boundaries. Yet the Lord defined the boundaries for them. As I read the passage, I wondered why God would do such a thing. Why tell them the vastness of their property when it is all inhabited by the enemy? Why tell them the limits of their property, regardless of how big it might be, before they fight their first battle?

As I continued to read, I experienced a sense of peace and wondered if that was the answer to my question. By telling the Israelites the specific boundaries of the land that belonged to them, God was doing several things:

  • He was encouraging them – building courage into them by declaring that the land already belonged to them. They could fight for it with authority and confidence because God had already given it to them.
  • He was giving them peace, because knowing their boundaries also meant knowing that there would be a time when they had conquered the land and battle would stop. When I’m in a battle, knowing that it will end brings me internal peace. It can be easy to fall into despair in the midst of a battle. Knowing that you are fighting a God-ordained battle and that the battle will one day end brings hope and light into the darkness.
  • He was giving them confidence by assuring the Israelites that He already saw into their future and knew what their boundaries were. In the midst of a battle, I love knowing that God already knows the end of the story; He has already seen it and seen me in it.
  • He was also giving them every reason to remain faithful to and humble before their God. All along, the Israelites have been journeying to the land that God has promised them. He was now establishing the boundaries of the land they were to be given.

I see the love and faithfulness of God, even as he tells the Israelites what their boundaries will be in the Promised Land.

Of course, God has established boundaries for us, too. They represent the length and breadth of “land” that we are to conquer and settle. They include many of the freedoms and the authority in which we walk as co-heirs with Christ. We can have confidence when we fight battles to win these freedoms – God has already established that those freedoms are well within our boundaries. We can be encouraged when the battle seems long, knowing that God has already given us the territory.

The boundaries God has set for us also include specific limits for our life and ministry. Many like to think that there are no limits on what we can do for God. I disagree. God has gifted each of us according to His plan and purpose for our lives. To operate beyond His calling on our lives is to be outside our boundaries. That’s not to say that we should never operate outside our spiritual and natural giftings. Often, God calls us to step into the gap and serve in an area in which we’d much rather stay far away from. God will supernaturally supply our need to accomplish His will in that interim position. We show our faithfulness to Him by going wherever He calls and leads. Setting these temporary assignments aside, however, it’s important that we not push beyond the boundaries that God has set for us. Has He gifted you to be an outstanding small group leader? Be satisfied with that ministry, not looking to expand your territory. In America, bigger is always better. In God’s kingdom, living life fully to the boundaries and not beyond is always best.

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