Have you ever wondered why the Bible includes long sections about geographical boundaries and horizons? At first glance, they seem about as interesting as a property title document. Take Numbers 34:8-9 for example: You shall draw a line from Mount Hor to the Lebo-hamath, and the termination of the border shall be at Zedad; and the border shall proceed to Ziphron, and its termination shall be at Hazar-enan. This shall be your north border. . . . and so on through chapter thirty-five. In the book of Joshua, similar details fill nine chapters (13-21). Certainly, Israel needed the information, but why record it for us? I think God wants to impress on us His faithfulness and the greatness of His purposes.
A promise underlies the boundary passages. God made it to Abraham:
Now lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward; for all the land which you see, I will give it to you and to your descendants forever. I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth, so that if anyone can number the dust of the earth, then your descendants can also be numbered. Arise, walk about the land through its length and breadth; for I will give it to you. (Gen. 13:14-17)
The nation experienced God’s faithfulness—He enabled Israel to capture the land tribe by tribe. These were not boundaries in the sense that they restricted the people; they were horizons toward which the nation could expand. God specified their inheritance and He provided all the necessary resources to win the land. When news arrived that Israel’s armies had reached the designated border, it confirmed God’s faithfulness.
Jesus’ geographical statement was much shorter, just a few words: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”1
Israel occupied her tiny sliver of land gradually.2 God’s assignment for her required no blitzkrieg, nothing macho; a steady, faithful campaign was all God wanted. It is the same today; God is satisfied with steady progress toward His goal of reaching the ends of the earth with the message of salvation. Every effort to obey that call will experience His blessing.
God’s will, done in God’s way, will receive God’s supply. James Hudson Taylor