Joshua 1-3 shows the leadership of Joshua and his ability to lead people where they should have already gone. The new generation listened and were prepared to go where their ancestors were unwilling because of carnality and fear. Surely this new generation of Israelites had enough of wandering aimlessly in a desert land! rarely does opportunity knock more than once, unless it is the unfinished plan of God. The point of raising up a nation from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was to have a people for God’s own glory. To have a witness to the majesty and power of Elohim. I am sure that just as the early nation had set backs because of lack of faith, we to have been the object of our own disobedience. When we think through the work of God in the Old Testament to make a people, a specific people, and peculiar people for His own work, we must remember God’s plans will not be thwarted by us. There were upwards of over 1 million people who died after being delivered out of Egypt. Oh what could have been, but it was not to be! We all have missed the perfect will of God, yet God is patience with us, he doesn’t give up on us – I am thankful for that, because there are times I give up on myself!
We could look at these first chapters in Joshua like a Second Exodus, for there is familiar language and actions that were done crossing the Red Sea and the Jordan. For example the memorial stones gathered and erected to answer the questions of the young ones when they see the stones. Forgive me for the side note here – our nation has been embroiled in a rebellion that is trying to destroy the journey so many people in America have been through and the destruction of the Memorial monuments that were erected for us to explain bad talk about their meaning. We cannot sanitize our lives from all the wrong we have done, but we can learn from the mistakes and evil by remembering and being reminded about the events of human actions. We live history, sometimes it is really ugly, sometimes glorious, but either way it is life of mankind. How are others to keep from making the same wrong decisions? Teach them when they ask about the memorials. There are many events i wish i could go back and do over, but i have to remember those events formed me and others for who we are today – do i throw out the baby with the bath water because the water is dirty- No, we confess and move on in life, having learned from it.
Okay, back to Joshua, there was a significant attitude shift at Jericho, we are going forward, we will trust the LORD and press forward to the Land that was meant to be ours forty years ago. Just as Moses sent spies into the land for 40 days, here we find the objective was view the land, not take a vote of whether they should go across. The Spies meet Rahab the harlot, living on the outer wall of the city. We know how she used the scarlet ribbon to designate her home. Side note – you think that’s where “the red light district” phrase came from? Rahab brings a testimony about what Jericho already knew, they were living where God had given Israel to live. There was faith in Jericho! The people were ready, knowing that this massive nation that camped on the river of Jordan would take the Land. Rahab secured safety for her family and a covenant similar to that fatal night of the Passover when God delivered Israel from Egypt. Rahab has a great testimony and even though she is a “gentile” she is included in the linage of Jesus. God rewards faith – everyones faith!
Finally the day comes to make ready and go across the Jordan. God enabled them to walk across on dry ground, the Ark of the Covenant and the Levities in the lead. Can you imagine what it must have been like to finally advance out of the Wilderness? Or even to watch from Jericho as nearly 1.6 million people descend on the city! Jericho had heard what God did in Egypt and the Red Sea, now they were watching an enactment of the power of God before their eyes! And so the journey begins finally. How many today are waiting to do what God told them to do years ago? Well, it’s time to get ready and Go!
From Moses to Joshua
Deut. 31, 34 select verses; Joshua 1-2. In Deut. 31 we read a repeated statement to Joshua, “BE STRONG AND COURAGEOUS.” This statement is also repeated in Joshua 1 in various ways five times. Obviously taking the reign and reins from Moses would be an overwhelming assignment from God. Moses had served God forty years. He was the Friend of God; He had a closer relationship than any human. Moses was not perfect we know, for even his own disobedience at Merabah with the “smiting the Rock” twice carried a severe consequence in that he would not lead the people of Israel into the Promised Land. Moses was the one who fought with Pharaoh to release the people for Egyptian slavery, he received the LAW on Mount Sinai, it was his leadership over the last forty years in the wilderness that keep the people safe and secure until a generation died. We can think what it must have been like for Moses, this great hero to hear – “You will not lead the people to crossover into the Land.” One act of disobedience? Really? This reinforces the doctrine that NONE are righteous, no not one. God does not bless disobedience. Moses even argues with Good to let him lead the people – finally God tells Moses, No and that it!
I have learned that in pastoral ministry I may want to lead the church to achieve memorable and monumental heights; but I was not the person, but I was preparing the people for the person who was coming behind me This is remarkably similar to John the Baptist and Jesus. While this can and does have a disappointing effect, I have to remember that this is not about my GLORY but God’s and HIS Kingdom. I like Moses and many pastors have been allowed to share some of God’s Glory in the work of the ministry. Moses and we have to remember this is the WORK OF GOD not man. So, Moses is told he is not going across the Jordan, but God does tell him I will let you see the LAND that I and giving to the people. In Deut. 32:48-52 is the recounting of the “Last Mountain” Moses would climb. Moses was the last of his generation to die before Israel went into the LAND. But he had one more mountain to climb. Moses is a leader and a servant of God; great is his testimony – but even though he was an icon in Israel; Israel had to move forward without him.
Now, think about all this and you Joshua have been anointed with the laying on of hands to succeed Moses. Okay, can you see the admonishment to Joshua to “Be Strong and Courageous?” Big shoes to fill right? No Joshua had his own shoes to fill. Just as God had trained Moses for his task, Joshua was also trained for his task. We know that Joshua was a great warrior and how he fought many battles in the Wilderness. This prepared him for what was ahead in the Promised Land. I am sure there have been many a preacher that took over from a long tenured pastor, and probably did so with fear and trepidation.
The wonderful word “As I was with Moses so will I be with you.” What a message! Joshua would go forth in a commanding leadership that was distinguished by a Conquering and Courageous Faith. Just as Joshua prepared the people to cross over; He had already put fear in the people in Jericho. Imagine that for 40 years, the Canaanite people lived in fear of the conquering people led by the Strong arm of God; and Israel never came to conquer for 40 years. This also speaks of the patience and mercy of God for the tribes – they had a choice to get out or be annihilated. Rahab’s story tells us of the fear that gripped the people. “We knew that your God was God.” Josh 2:8-10. Makes me wonder how many lands has God prepared for the Gospel to conquer, yet He cannot get His people to get out of the Wilderness and into the Promised Land?
I like Joshua, he had the mentality of a military general “Lead, follow or get out of the way!” Joshua did not have a business meeting to find out what the people wanted to do – He was commissioned to OBEY God not the people. This brings a great question to the surface – should we have business meetings? I know it is important to listen, but shouldn’t the command of God negate the wishes of the people. The Church was meant to go forth with the Gospel, not debate whether it is right or not. Joshua gave the people 3 days – get ready for we are going across the river into the Promised Land and leave this Wilderness behind! Oh, Joshua was 80 years old. Point You are not done until God says you are done.
In our day of 2020, I had so many grand expectations; I have not abandoned that vision. I do not know what lies ahead, but then neither did Joshua. Let us press forward to the high calling in Jesus. Most of all “LET US GET OUT OF THE WILDERNESS! Be strong and Courageous!