For January 26, 2020
I’ve often wondered what the thoughts of Joshua were as he watched Moses walk away from the Israelite camp on his way to Mt. Nebo where he was to die. For 40 years, he served the Man of God faithfully as a first-hand witness to the majesty, power, and faithfulness of God demonstrated towards His Chosen People: Israel.
Now, he hears from God—personally:
After the death of Moses the LORD’s servant, the LORD spoke to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ assistant. He said, “Moses my servant is dead. Therefore, the time has come for you to lead these people, the Israelites, across the Jordan River into the land I am giving them. I promise you what I promised Moses: ‘Wherever you set foot, you will be on land I have given you—from the Negev wilderness in the south to the Lebanon Mountains in the north, from the Euphrates River in the east to the Mediterranean Sea in the west, including all the land of the Hittites.’ No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. For I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you. Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:1-9 (NLT)
Joshua was in Egypt with Moses when Egypt was devastated by the 10 Plagues, which facilitated the release of God’s Chosen People from 400 years of Egyptian bondage.1 Most notably, it was the final Plague: the Death of the Firstborn, which saw the institution of two important observations that are yet observed by devout worshippers today: the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Feast of the Passover.2
Joshua saw how the Lord protected the Children of Israel at the Red Sea. There God parted the waters so that His Chosen People could walk across “on dry ground” directly in front of the pursuing Egyptian army, which was destroyed by the receding waters as they tried to capture them.3
He also watched Lord lead His People by a Pillar of Cloud during the day, and by a Pillar of Fire at night. In addition, he saw the Lord meet Moses at Sinai where The Law was instituted; a Law which yet governs and informs the moral and spiritual standards of God’s people around the globe today.4
Moreover, Joshua benefited from God’s miraculous provision of manna, quail, and water that sustained a nation through their time in the wilderness.
Incidentally, Joshua and Caleb were spies who gave a favorable report—confident of God’s victory—when they returned to the Wilderness of Paran after exploring the land of Canaan for 40 days.
Although all 12 spies agreed Canaan was a “land flowing with milk and honey,” just as God promised. Yet 10 spies gave an evil, disheartening report that incited the people to stone Joshua and Caleb, establish a new leader, and return to Egypt.5 However, God appeared miraculously to vindicate Moses, Aaron, Joshua and Caleb and condemned the ungodly, unbelieving rabble to wander in the wilderness for 40 years.
All Joshua’s contemporaries (including Moses) were gone; having died in the wilderness, with the exception of Caleb. Now as his future hopes, dreams (and fears), opportunities, expectations, service, and victories became “today’s reality,” he held on to the promises and commands of God. And as a result, he discovered ultimate victory just as the Lord promised (in verses 5 and 9):
No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. For I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you. This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.
I believe Joshua needed to look no further than his own name, which means: “Jehovah is salvation,”6 to find the faith and encouragement required to preserve him through the arduous task set before him.
For the odyssey would begin in just 3 days. Then he would lead God’s Chosen People: the Nation of Israel across the Jordan River—miraculously again—on dry ground into the land of promise.
Ultimately, Joshua was a first-hand witness to the faithfulness of God, and as he advocates Jehovah worship at the completion of his mission, he articulates the following resolve to trust and serve the Lord forever (emphasis mine):
But if you refuse to serve the LORD, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the LORD. Joshua 24:15 (NLT)
Just as Joshua trusted God and experienced His faithfulness, we Christians today can trust in Jesus’ Matthew 28:20 (NIV) promise for our assured victory as He accompanies us forever: “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age!”
Therefore, when your future becomes now, trust in the Lord. For He is ever-faithful and will fulfill His divine plan through you. What a Wonderful Savior!
- Please see: Exodus 7:14-12:32.
- Please see: Exodus 11:1-13:16.
- Please see: Exodus 14:13-31.
- Even the most cynical agnostic can find validity in the moral and spiritual applications of The Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:1-17.
- Ironically, the Wilderness of Paran was approximately 11 days from Kadesh-Barnea, the southernmost border of the “Promised Land,” by foot traffic. (Please see: Exodus 3:15-17, Numbers 13:1-14:10).
- Please see: Payne, J. Barton, “hawa” II, 2nd printing, vol. 1, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, Harris, Archer, and Waltke, eds., (Chicago: Moody, 1980) 211.