We are entering into a series on the book of Joshua. We studied Hebrews last year and now want to spend some time in the Old Testament.
[For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. (Rom 15:4 ESV)
We are going back to the second millenium BC. Moses delivered the people out of Egypt. God promised to take them to a land flowing with milk and honey. Along the way they disobeyed God and wandered in the desert for 40 years. But now God is fulfilling the promise to them. Moses has died and Joshua is the one who will lead them into this land.
Book of Joshua
Takes place about 1500 BC. It is a unique writing. In English Bibles the book of Joshua is considered a historical book (along with Judges, 1-2 Samuel, 1-2 Kings). In the Hebrew Bible it is part of the prophetic books. Both are apt definitions. This book is historical but not like the disinterested, largely political histories that modern secular historians write. It is prophetic or theological in that it provides history with a theological lens, and speaks of what God is doing in history. It is an epic writing–in the sense of a nation engaged in matters of state, of warfare. Prophetic, historical, and what heroes achieved.
These people lived in anticipation of, and not the fulfillment of Christ’s coming. They did not know how God would redeem them or that our inheritance is a future heavenly kingdom. But they did know their God was real, he made promises to them, and they were to live their lives in light of those promises.
Joshua is called to go into the promised land. He will have to drive out the people who are there. It will mean battle.
The controlling command given in this passage is the people arise and go.
God has a mission for them. They are to take the promised land he is giving to them. He is moving his plan of redemption forward. They want to see it realized. While Joshua conquerors with the sword
This command is very similar to the command Jesus gives to his disciples to go therefore and make disciples of all nations.
God said, "Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel.
The theme of this chapter is be strong and courageous, do not be afraid
*There is a gap between who we are and what we can do, and what God calls us to do. That gap will be filled with faith or fear.
Prop: We overcome fear and adversity with strength and courage by relying on the provision of God.
Want to look at three ways he provides what we need to make it through any situation.
Provision of Leaders
God’s purposes continue even when people do not. Moses is the greatest figure of the Old Testament. Saved at his birth. Raised in Pharaoh's palace. Called by God. Confronted and challenged Pharaoh, performed miracles, led the people out of Egypt and through the Red Sea, received God’s law, met with God. But his time has passed, and the baton is handed to the next leader. Moses is a servant in God’s house. His kingdom is bigger than one person. His purposes move forward even when people do not. God provides the right leaders for the right time.
Your trust is never to be in servants but in God. God uses leaders.
You need people in your life. You can’t do it on your own. People often fear because they are alone in life. Who are your spiritual leaders? Breakdown in church is that leaders have no idea you are following them, they don’t know you and you don't really know them. Ministry breaks down when relationships break down.
Throughout this chapter there is a two-sided explanation of what is going on. The Lord is giving them a land. The land God promised to Abraham centuries beforehand is coming to fruition. God is giving it to them. But they are also to go and take the land. It is both a gift and a calling. They have an agency in what is being done. They have a part to play.
God uses leaders to accomplish his plan. Ultimately, it is not dependent on them, but he does use them.
Healthy organizations raise up leaders.
This is an indication of a healthy church. Churches should be investing in and raising up leaders. It is part of discipleship.
It is also an indication of the place of leadership in organizations and the church. Christianity is an organized religion. There are leaders. To move the mission forward, to keep churches sustainable there needs to be leadership. The leader’s chief calling is to follow the Lord.
Even more, Joshua appoints other leaders of the people. They are to have alignment from the top down and bottom up. They are to move forward with unity. This is one of the great challenges of the church today. Everybody wants to do their own thing. This is what is challenging organizations right now. People don't want to fall in line behind anything.
**People choose personal preferences over organizational success. If the church is to be successful, we must work together and choose the success of the organization over our personal preferences.**
Leading is not for your own isolated purposes. Leaders are to lead the people in the same direction.
One other note on God providing leaders and people. As we discuss the passing of the baton, let me also add this. God calls Joshua to lead the people into the promised land, not Moses.
Get rid of the fear of comparison.
Well, you're not as good looking as … You're not as smart as … Forget what others are doing on Facebook. They have it so good. You are not them; God has gifted you for your own purpose and called you to serve the people you are around. We don't need to be faithful with the calling of other people. Focus on what he has called you to. Joshua… is not Moses. Well Moses met with God face to face. God spoke to Moses out of a burning bush. God called Joshua because Moses died and he was next in line.
Provision of Direction
Do you fear making a decision and doing something? Many are in this place. You need to get rid of this. The way you do it is not by moving forward in a cavalier way, “I'm not afraid of anything.” Fear the Lord. Know what he calls you to do and move forward.
It’s amazing how the Bible is disappearing from churches today. And I think that is the primary reason churches are disappearing. God gives us his word to know him and what he requires. People don’t read it and don’t know it, and they go out to fight battles in his name that he has not called his people to fight.
You need to know God’s word.
Says to meditate on it day and night. What does it mean to meditate? Put on some yoga pants and start stretching? Clear your mind, empty it??
In Hebrew word meditate used of the moaning of a dove (Isa 38:14; Isa 59:11) or the growling of a lion over its prey. It’s the repetition of words. Meditating is reminding yourself, rehearsing the words to yourself. It’s getting it in your heart. It is the speaking truth to yourself to get rid of falsehood.
Repetition is the mother of memory. We are rehearsing, reminding what the word tells us. We are saying it. Fighting through doubt. Straightening our thoughts and emotions. Getting God’s word. Sound theology. Healthy.
Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go."
Get rid of the fear of not knowing what to do. There is power in knowing what to do and what not to do. When you know what God calls you to do and are honoring him, then be bold in what you do. He calls us to go into new areas and establish his glory. It’s hard, but we need the ambition to overcome obstacles and the humility to hear his voice.
-Feel called to get married? What does God call me to do? How do I honor him?
-Feel called to start a business but fear the risks. What does God call me to do? What do I think about that? Are there things his word tells me not to do? How does he tell me to honor him in this role?
-Parenting. Do you know what God’s word tells you to do? Do you know what God calls you to be?
Before you ever do anything. It’s about who you are. People focus on what you do and how you do it. But who are you? Finding identity in something bigger than what you do. Joshua is not simply a great military leader. He is not just Moses’ assistant. Not just the Vice President of Israel. He is a disciple, and he is to know the Lord. Fall short on this and you will fall short on everything else. Main calling is to be faithful to the Lord. If he misses this, nothing else will ultimately matter. Can't lead others to do something you are not doing.
Let me also say this. You are more important to God than what you do for him. Yes, we want to be faithful. But our relationship with God is more important than our accomplishments. Come home from work, kids don’t care if you had a great day or terrible day, they are just glad you are there to play and be with them. Church of 50 and 5000.
It’s not just what you do, it is how you do it.
Paralyzed by indecision because of trying to please people rather than God.
Get rid of the fear of things needing to be perfect. So much critique today. Wait, you like that guy? You work for what company? More young people are sitting at home doing nothing because they are paralyzed by critics. God will call you to work with imperfect people. This is one of the things hamstringing the church. People want a perfect church. In church you call people brother and sister who are not perfect, who are working on things, and who have blind spots. You will have to do the same thing at work. In school.
Provision of God’s word. They have a leader, but they are called to trust God and his presence. Close connection between God’s presence and his law.
Provision of Presence
Joshua has a difficult task. Many challenges lay ahead. Some will be daunting. *It’s not about what Joshua is able to do, but what God can do through him. It’s not about what you can do but what God can do through you.*
What does it say about us, and our faith, if we never attempt to do something that is or appears to be greater than us and our abilities? I trust God so much I am only going to do what seems sufficiently easy for me. Or doesn’t seem too difficult or stretching.
Isn’t it funny we want our kids to be somebodies, we want them to be strong and courageous, and then we work hard and fight to make sure any circumstance the least bit troubling is removed from their paths. They never have a chance to grow strong in their faith. Never learn to earn that teacher’s respect and push through adversity in elementary school so when marriage gets hard at 20 they bail.
Don’t take away and pray away their training ground. Teach them to depend on God, to discern God’s will, and to push through hard things. Trust God’s empowering presence when all hell is breaking loose on you.
Christians are to be the most courageous people there are.
Joshua leads the people. David fought goliath. Moses’ life was saved because Hebrew midwives rejected Pharoah’s command to kill the infants.
Corrie Ten Boom: saved the lives of many people by running an underground railroad to free Jews from her clock store in Holland.
Fred Shuttlesworth: led in integration in the South. His children were some of the first to go… was a riot and he was hit in the face with brass knuckles, his wife was stabbed in the hip with a knife. After going to the hospital he looked at his kids, told them there are to forgive, and had them first in line the next day, first day of desegregation.
William Wilberforce. Decades long fight against slavery.
He who is with us is greater than….
Trust God is with you. He is greater than your trials. Be strong in who he is and what he has done for you.
Fear is a powerful thing. You combat fear with the knowledge of God. He is greater than anything else. God’s word helps you know him.
Tell yourself truth.
What you fear is often stronger than the truth.
Read a recent article about Steven Spielberg and his groundbreaking blockbuster hit movie in 1977, Jaws. This was a thriller about a great white shark swimming the beaches of Maine and it was intended to terrify people. For the movie they made a huge fake great white shark that they could control and it was to be the centerpiece of the movie. They started filming but ran into a problem. The giant fake shark had not been tested in salt water and the salt water proved to be quite a problem. The machine began malfunctioning and was rendered useless.
Without a working shark, Spielberg was forced to come up with an alternative method to enhance the terror and suspense of the film, and so a horror technique was perfected. One of the most notable and influential aspects of Steven Spielberg's groundbreaking blockbuster thriller is the fact that the terrifying beast that is the focus of the movie is unseen for most of the film's running time. This type of approach would inspire countless horror films in later years. The size of the shark is hinted at by showing a dorsal fin above water, a large shadow passing through, and certainly the simple but ominous music of John Williams enhances everything. The great feat is that you are not sure what you are dealing with. Quite possibly, the imagination of what it could be, what could be lurking underneath, is worse than what actually is.
We live in a society driven by fear.
In 2020 we were in a series on the book of Corinthians. These people were going through a distressing situation in which Paul actually advises some people not to get married. Wait for it to pass. Most commentators believe the distress was a famine. I remember reading one commentator say, “The only thing worse than the famine was the fear of the famine.” I think those words may line up with Covid.
Many types of phobias today. Get a prescription for this and that and the other.
Are we addressing our wavering hearts? Are we addressing our lack of trust and confidence in God?
People too often paralyzed by the unknown. What does that person think about me? What is going to happen? Will I get married? Is he going to leave me? Is this job going to end?
Fear robs us of joy, robs us. We stand firm in our faith because we know who God is. We trust in his promises to us. God made promises to Joshua that he would bring the people into a land. As Joshua was strong and courageous that would happen.
Joshua’s means "Yahweh is deliverance" or the Lord saves. It is translated as yesous, or Jesus. Joshua points to a permanent deliverance God would give his people. God would provide a leader for his people, he will lead and guide them and be present with them. When we fall short on being strong and courageous we can go to him, we find help, we find direction, and we find strength.
We know the ending and we don’t stand in suspense and fear of what could happen.
After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses' assistant, 2 “Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel. 3 Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses. 4 From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun shall be your territory. 5 No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. 6 Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. 7 Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success[a] wherever you go. 8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” 10 And Joshua commanded the officers of the people, 11 “Pass through the midst of the camp and command the people, ‘Prepare your provisions, for within three days you are to pass over this Jordan to go in to take possession of the land that the Lord your God is giving you to possess.’”
English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.