“After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites. I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Mediterranean Sea in the west. No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.” – Joshua 1:1-6
Bill Belichick is the greatest NFL coach who has ever lived. When he eventually hangs up his cleats he will leave his successor in a nearly impossible situation. Whenever the Patriots have a difficult stretch, the fans will long for the days when Belichick was at the helm. That comparison will make this high turnover pressure cooker of a job all the more stressful. This example pales in comparison to the situation that Joshua was facing. For an entire generation Israel was led by one of the greatest men of God who had ever lived. Moses grew up in Pharaoh’s household receiving the best education possible in the entire world of his day. He had stood face-to-face with Pharaoh declaring the LORD’s word including announcing the plagues which would devastate the land. Moses had held out his staff as the LORD parted the waters of the Red Sea and he had ascended Mount Sinai to receive both the covenant document of the Ten Commandments as well as a detailed law-code directly from the LORD. As God Himself had declared when even Aaron and Miriam challenged Moses:
“When there is a prophet among you,
I, the Lord, reveal myself to them in visions,
I speak to them in dreams.
But this is not true of my servant Moses;
he is faithful in all my house.
With him I speak face to face,
clearly and not in riddles;
he sees the form of the Lord.
Why then were you not afraid
to speak against my servant Moses?”
Now, when Israel was about to enter the Promised Land, Moses dies, and the LORD turns to Joshua and says: “You’re up!” How would you like to be in Joshua’s shoes?
And yet, while the LORD tells Joshua that “he’s up” – He doesn’t tell Joshua that He is in charge. This truth should encourage us with the all of the responsibilities that the LORD has entrusted us with. Undoubtedly this is part of the reason why the LORD doesn’t have Moses lead Israel into the Promised Land. Ultimately, Joshua wouldn’t bring the LORD’s people into the Promised Land either. This was the LORD’s doing.
So the LORD calls Joshua to be “strong and courageous” in carrying out the LORD’s instructions. But He never says to Joshua, “You can do it! You have greatness inside of you! I believe in you!” Rather, the LORD says, “You will do it, because I will be for you and I will be with you.” That is what He says to you too.
Look closely at how many reasons the LORD gives Joshua to be “strong and courageous”:
- First, the LORD speaks to Joshua. The LORD doesn’t stop speaking because Moses is dead. Joshua has both the Word of God which the LORD had given through Moses and he has the LORD’s direct guidance.
- Second, we are reminded that Joshua was Moses’ longtime “aide” or “servant.” In God’s Providence, Joshua had served an extended apprenticeship under Moses to prepare him for this moment.
- The LORD reiterates the promise to give Israel the Land. Moses is dead, but the promises of God did not die with him. Furthermore, the LORD makes clear that the initial fulfillment of the Land promise is going to take place very soon.
- The LORD makes an astonishing promise that no mere man will be able to stand against Joshua all the days of his life.
- The LORD promises, “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.” At this point you might be wishing that you were in Joshua’s shoes. This is an extraordinary promise but, in fact, the promise of the presence of God is one that the LORD has made both to His Church as a whole and to every single Christian.
- Finally, the LORD reminds Joshua of His oath. The LORD swore to give this land to Abraham’s descendants, and the LORD always keeps His promises. Now, He was promising to use Joshua to bring this promise to fruition.
Do you sometimes struggle with doing the LORD’s will because it seems so difficult? What promises do you have which will encourage you to “be strong and courageous” and to trust that the LORD will bless your faithfulness?
Q. 2. What rule hath God given to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him?
A. The Word of God, which is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him.