So after 40 years of wandering in the Wilderness and then mourning the death of Moses, it is finally time for the Israelites to head into the Promised Land. This was the land that God brought them to roughly a year after they crossed the Red Sea.
But first, Israel needs a new leader.
You may recall a man named Joshua.
He was mentioned in Ex 17 as one of the men who held up Moses’s arms during the battle against Amalek. God specifically tells Moses to write down the results of that battle “in the ears of Joshua.”
Then, Ex 32, Joshua is with Moses when he comes down the mountain and discovers the people worshiping the golden calf.
In Ex 33:11, Joshua is referred to as Moses’s assistant.
In Num 13, we discover Joshua was among the 12 spies that Moses originally sent into the Promised Land. While 10 of the men report back that the land is full of giants that cannot be defeated, only Joshua and Caleb encourage the people to obey God and go into the land.
Clearly, Joshua has been shadowing Moses’s leadership and has been watching him closely for a long time.
He was trusted with responsibilities and continually showed integrity in his actions. So it really isn’t a surprise that in Deut 31, God tells Moses to commission Joshua as his successor.
Unlike his predecessor, Joshua does not shrink away from this honor. This could be a sign of total trust in the Lord or that he is foolishly optimistic.
Think about what Joshua has witnessed Moses go through for the past 40 years. The fickle moods of the people along with their complaints and their rebellion, not to mention the level of personal obedience Moses was held to –
Leading the nation of Israel was not an easy job!
The good news here for Joshua is that God makes the same promise to him that He gave to Moses.
“Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses.”Joshua 1:3 English Standard Version
In the next 15 verses, we hear God tell Joshua to be “strong and courageous” three different times and then the people say it again to him as well.
If we jump back to Moses’s conversation with Joshua when he is commissioned, we see that Moses says the same thing in Deut 31:6.
That is 5 times that Joshua is told to be “strong and courageous!
This is yet another great example of God’s sovereignty mixed with man’s free will to choose. The fact that God is declaring this land will belong to the people does not negate Joshua’s responsibility to lead them well!
When something is repeated over and over in the Bible, we should take notice and ask why. In this case, leading the nation of Israel in the Promised Land was going to be a daunting, if not a terrifying task.
Remember, Joshua was a real man with real insecurities and fears.
Even if he does not expose them as Moses did, Joshua needed this reminder! And so do we when stepping into a role or a project that is a huge responsibility. Joshua is no more capable of success than any other man without the Lord’s instructions and promises to help him.
What exactly are the promises God makes?
- “I will be with you.”
- “I will not leave you or forsake you.”
- “I am with you where ever you go.”
It is because he understands this that we see a very confident Joshua prepare the nation of Israel, which is roughly 2.5 million people, to cross the Jordon River.
And these promises are not just for Joshua. They belong to us as well. If you have the Holy Spirit dwelling inside you, you have access to the Lord every minute of every day. You do not have to be controlled or paralyzed by your fear.
Friend, when you go to God seeking wisdom and courage in humility, He will be there.