Joshua 21 ends talking about how they settled in the land that God had promised. It says how they had rest on all sides and how none of their enemies had been able to withstand them. It finishes with verse forty-five, “Not one word of all the good promises that the Lord had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass.”
All had come to pass. Not one word had failed, but we know that they didn’t go into all the land promised yet. We know that some of the Canaanites were put to forced labor, not completely demolished. It didn’t look exactly like it may have been projected or imagined, but God was still faithful.
Joshua messed up in making that peace pact, but God didn’t abandon him or the Israelites. When they settled in the wrong areas or weren’t able to drive a people out, but turned them into forced labor, God didn’t abandon them.
His story takes into account all our mess-ups. He weaves it all into a story of a faithful God who is always true, always right, always good, always faithful to His word.
We have to remember that at any given time, it’s possible for it to look like God is the one who messed up, who failed, who lied or at least got it wrong. Here’s where faith kicks in. We have to know Him. Part of knowing Him is knowing that He is unchanging. He will always be faithful. He will always be true. He cannot lie. He is always perfect and loving and good. We have to know who He is, so we know that it’s our understanding that’s in the wrong, not God. He’s seeing the big picture and we’re not.
I’ll give you a New Testament example. Jesus tells the disciples straight out that Lazarus’ sickness will not end in death. Several verses later Jesus announces to His disciples that Lazarus is dead. Was Jesus wrong? Did God not know the future or was He not powerful enough to prevent the death? Of course not! Jesus knew the rest of the story. We only see in part. Lazarus rises from the dead and brings God glory. In fact, the Scriptures tell us that because of God’s love for the family, Jesus delays to go to them. There was a moment of suffering, but it left behind a memory of a miracle. God had not failed.