Saturday brings the start of a new year, the year 2022. As we enter this new year, many will make what are called New Year’s resolutions regarding things they want to change and see happen in their lives. Our society makes a big deal about these resolutions telling us that there must be big things in our lives that we know need to change. I am not sure that exactly aligns with how God expects a child of His who is walking daily in fellowship with Him should look at a new year but nevertheless it is something you will be told as you transition into this new year. I want to share something with you that God opened my eyes to from His Word in mid-November that I believe is applicable to this concept of a new year. I pray this note today challenges you and at the same time encourages you. The passage we will review today will be one you have never heard used going into a new year and maybe one you have never heard taught at all.
Exodus 23:27-30 NIV
 “I will send my terror ahead of you and throw into confusion every nation you encounter. I will make all your enemies turn their backs and run.  I will send the hornet ahead of you to drive the Hivites, Canaanites and Hittites out of your way.  But I will not drive them out in a single year, because the land would become desolate and the wild animals too numerous for you.  Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land.
The passage above is referenced here first in Exodus and then two other times in your Bible. The second reference is in Deuteronomy 7:18-24 and then finally in Joshua 24:12-13. Moses records the first two accounts for us and Joshua records the last during his great summation of the history of the Hebrews shortly before his death as the leader that had finally led the Hebrews into the promised land.
The passage is recording a message from God to the Hebrews about how God will deliver the promised land into their hands. God is telling them He will go before them, causing their enemies to be confused and at times simply turn and run from the Hebrews as they begin to take the land. He tells them He will even send the “hornet” ahead of them to drive out certain groups. Bible scholars disagree on what the term “hornet” means but many believe it simply means a stinging insect that will be such a nuisance and menace to the enemies of the Hebrews that they will simply give up and move out of the land, leaving it open for the taking by these children of Israel. In other words, God is the one that is fighting the battles for them.
That brings us to a key point I want us to review as we head into this “new year” from verse 29 and 30. Here we see that God tells them “But I will not drive them out in a single year” and then continues to tell them why He is going to do it over a longer period of time. When you read that, what does it tell you about God and what does it tell you about your own life and situations you are facing presently?
We here in America and our western culture, always want things now. Marketing and advertising agencies across America work tirelessly to convince you to buy or pursue a certain product that will bring you quick satisfaction; quick results. You are promised by them that whatever it is you are “stressed” or “worried” about or simply “dissatisfied” with in your life can be quickly taken away or resolved. Just try their product or follow their exercise or diet plan and all will be well and very soon. While there are many things in our lives that literally need to be dropped immediately for our own good, physically and emotionally, and others that need to be started immediately for our own good, especially spiritual well-being and growth, God wants us to recognize that not everything happens immediately. He knows what is best for us, including not only the “what” but also the “when”.
Take Abraham for example. God told him when he was around 75 years old that He would make of him a great nation. God did not give him the details of “when” though. The Bible tells us over and over that Abraham believed God for what was promised to Him. He believed it strongly and he is commended throughout the Old and New Testaments for that trust and faith in that promise. Abraham and his wife finally got tired of waiting though because they were not seeing it when they thought they should see it. They believed the “what” but were not as confident in the “when”. They were both getting older so Sarah convinced her husband to take her young maid named Hagar and lie with her to yield the child that God had promised them years ago. That was not God’s plan though. Abraham had a child through Hagar but that child, Ishmael, was not the child God was referring to. Ishmael’s descendants are as the stars in the sky, just as are Isaac’s, but this was still not the full blessing that God had promised. God purposefully waited until Abraham was almost 100 and Sarah 90, before Sarah herself bore Isaac, the true child of promise. It was through Isaac that our Redeemer, Jesus Christ, would come. God waited so that all of those that were with Abraham would know that Isaac had to be the child of promise because it was truly a miracle for Sarah to have a child at her age. What do I mean by “all those with Abraham”? Genesis 14 tells us that Abraham had at least 318 trained fighting men in his group of nomads that were born into the household of Abraham. All of these men were children of servants and others that followed and worked for Abraham. There were likely around 1000 people that relied upon and were beholden to Abraham as their leader. God wanted all those people to know that what had been promised was now being fulfilled by God Himself and not by man’s own doing or works. The promises made by God were kept by God alone. For more on that read chapter 15 of Genesis and see how God and God alone seals the covenant between Himself and Abraham. Abraham slept through the whole thing!
Worry and stress is not only caused by fear of something happening or not happening, but it is also caused by not knowing the timing of when that something may occur just as it was with Abraham. God had promised not only a son but also a certain land to Abraham. He never saw that come to pass but he never doubted it. That promise continued as Abraham’s great grandchildren moved into Egypt. There they remained for some 400 years, becoming slaves and treated harshly. They had almost given up hope but others remembered the promise made to their ancestor Abraham and knew God would one day send a deliverer. Some 400 years after they arrived and some 500 years after God made that first promise to Abraham, that deliverer came and his name was Moses. Did Moses deliver them? No, God worked through Moses to deliver them. As they left Egypt though and came to the promised land, even after seeing all of the miracles God had done to deliver them, they balked when it came time to take the land. Only two of the tribal representatives were ready, Joshua of the tribe of Ephraim and Caleb of the tribe of Judah. Due to the fear and doubt of the representatives of the other ten tribes, God had all twelve tribes wander for forty years in the wilderness.
After those 40 years the armies of Israel now stand ready to begin taking the land. Note, it was a very big army as well (See Numbers 26:51). Does God use this mighty army to defeat Jericho? Nope. All they get to do is march around the city and then God lays the walls of this great city to waste when they blow the rams horns. The walls crumbled and fell to the ground all around the city except for where the scarlet rope hung from the window where Rahab lived. This mighty army basically goes in and mops up the mess after the walls fall down. God has begun the process of taking the land and delivering it by “going before them” as we see in our focus passage above. It takes Joshua about seven years to take the majority of the land that had been promised to them. God knew what was best. The promise was fulfilled and He did the fighting for them but it did not all occur immediately or in a single year. God knew they were not ready and allowed them to only take it gradually.
I want to share one personal example with you along these lines of the “when”. Most of you know that for some 26 years I worked for Kimberly Clark here in Paris. I live 19 miles from the plant. My day started early with me typically leaving home about 5:15 AM each day. It was always a quiet drive going into work. That 20-minute drive was my initial prayer time for the day. I did not listen to the radio but prayed during that drive into work each day. My most common prayer was for my three children. I will never forget one morning as I was driving across the overpass on the west side of the loop when God answered one of those prayers for one of my children. It was as if God was sitting in the passenger seat and talking to me. It was not an audible voice but I heard it as clearly as if it was. He told me, “Greg, I love your prayers to me for your kids. I want you to know that this prayer for this child of yours, this one who is my child as well, is answered. What your child is going through will allow me to reach a group of people that no one else would reach. I will do it through him and he will be fine”. So, God was answering my “what”. Next though came the “when”. God then told me, “But Greg, you must trust me regarding when this will occur. In fact, you must recognize that you may not ever see it in your lifetime. I want you to know though that it will happen. I have got it”. From that day on, I was able to give that prayer to God and know He has it in His hands. I was able to give it to Him even though I may never see it fulfilled with my own eyes. He told me you “may never” see it so I take that as I might or I might not. I may even die before it occurs. I do not know the when but in this case, I know the “Who” that has it. My God has it. He has it and He has it mightily – In His Time. God loved my prayers but He also knew I was beginning to bring stress and worry into my life that He did not want to see me suffer through. He relieved me of that stress and worry in the time it takes to transition an overpass at 65 mph. He longs to do the same for you.
So, what am I trying to relay to you today as we walk into a new year? First, let me tell you what “I am not telling you”. I am not telling you that God does not want you to immediately receive victory through whatever situation you find yourself in. There are things you will see immediate results in and there are things that may take longer. You never quit believing God though. What I pray you see is that regardless of what situation you find yourself going into this new year, you do not give up. Keep trusting God for the promises He has given you. It is He that fights your battles for any promises from Him in the first place. He also is the one though that knows the “when” the fulfillment of that promise is best for you and His overall plan. Trust God’s “when” and do not give up. Keep trusting that He knows what is best for you. He knows not only the “what” but also the “when”. He created you as one of His special, called, chosen masterpieces, and wants to see you have victory in doing those works He planned and created you specifically to do long ago (Ephesians 2:10). Trust Him. Trust the great “Who”, the great “I Am”, that is in charge of the what and when.
My prayer for you going into this New Year of 2022 is that your fellowship with the Father that has chosen and adopted you as one of His favored children be the sweetest you have ever experienced. My prayer is that you “Look unto Jesus”, just as the heroes of faith did and may all those around you see the difference He is making in your life. May they run to you to ask how they can have this sweet peace that comes only from a relationship and fellowship with Him. May you see and praise Him as Paul did in Romans 11:36 – “For all things are from Him, through Him and to Him. To Him be the honor and glory forever. Amen!”