Stephen Caswell © 1999
At the beginning of 1999 we face an exciting new year. We have challenges different from any other year before now. We are fast approaching the turn of the millennium. Incredible problems face the leaders of governments worldwide. They do not seem to have the answers for the worlds problems of famine, disease, war, unemployment, and civil unrest. What lies ahead for you and your family? Is your future uncertain? Is there instability in your work place? How can we confidently enter this new year when there is so much uncertainty? Does God equip His people for the tasks He calls them to? Can we have confidence in times of uncertainty? Joshua faced a similar situation when God commissioned him to lead Israel into the land of Canaan.
The D Day Invasion Force
The War had been raging in Europe for some five years now. The struggle had been long and hard. In the spring of 1944 the Allies prepared one of the largest invasion forces ever assembled to that time. They wanted to be ready and every effort was made to accomplish that. They carefully evaluated their forces and those of their enemies. They planned considering many alternatives. They considered their enemies strengths and weaknesses and many things right down to the tides and the weather. The channel crossing was also of the utmost importance. Once the D Day invasion had started there could be no going back. Many lives were at stake and bad plans could be devastating. Can you imagine the strain upon the generals as they worked through all of this. And in particular General Ommaha Bradley the commander in chief of the allied forces.
Similarly: The Children of Israel had been lead out of Egypt by Moses and the Lord had performed many miracles to enable them to do this. But because of sin and unbelief they wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. Moses had been a faithful leader, a great man of God. Now he was dead, and Joshua felt intimidated by the size of the task and the stature of his predecessor. This was when God commissioned him for the task of possessing the promised land. Can you imagine the weight of responsibility that lay upon him? He had to lead 2 million people into hostile territory. I can fully understand his predicament. I have been uncomfortable about taking on tasks of no significance when compared to this one.
Brothers and sisters do you feel overwhelmed by the job requirements before you this year? Are you fearful of what lies ahead at work, university or school? Perhaps you have been asked to take on a ministry you feel inadequate for? Maybe you feel intimidated by the future! Perhaps you feel that you are not equipped to handle the ministry you are called to. What does the Bible have to say to us about taking on tasks for our God? This morning we will see that God gives Joshua two things.
Firstly He gives Joshua a Commission, to lead Israel into Canaan.
Secondly He gives Joshua the Provisions to carry it out.
a. God's Person Prepared
God understood exactly what Joshua was going through at this time; so He encouraged His servant. Joshua had been Moses aid. He had faithfully served him. He had been appointed as Moses replacement by God Himself. We read of this in Deuteronomy 31:1-7. Now Joshua needed to be reminded of God's call for him. He needed to hear the Lord speak to him as He had to Moses. So this is exactly what God does. The Lord says " Moses my servant is dead. " v.1-2 His work is now finished, but I have a task for you to do. God knew Joshua. He knew that he was the right man for the job. He had trained Joshua under Moses! In the same way God knows you and has a plan for your life. He has shaped your circumstances and life to prepare you for His service. Are you being obedient to His plan?
In these first 9 verses God refers to Moses as His servant 3 times. This was important. If Joshua was to be successful He must know that he is serving the Lord, his Master. Right at the outset of his commission, God impresses upon Joshua that this great leader, Moses, was a servant. Joshua had to learn to be a servant. At the end of his life, God refers to Joshua as His servant [Josh 24:29]. Have you submitted to God's rule? Are you His servant?
b. God's Plan is Presented
God had chosen Israel to be His special people. He had promised to give them the Land of Canaan. But he needed someone to lead them in so that he could accomplish His plans. In Joshua 1:2 God commissions Joshua giving him the task.
"Moses My servant is dead. Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them -- the children of Israel.
He was to lead the people across the Jordan River and go into the land of Canaan to possess it. God spelt out the boundaries in verse 4. This task would not be accomplished quickly. It would take commitment and continual trust in God if all the land was to be possessed. He would have to conquer walled cities and face giants. But there was a condition to possessing the land. In Joshua 1:3 we read: " Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses.
God would bless whatever they attempted for Him, No more! This is true today. God will not bless what we do not attempt. William Carey coined this famous quote, " Attempt great things for God , expect great things of God! "
In the first 4 verses God lays out His Commission for Joshua. But so that Joshua would not be overwhelmed by the enormity of the task God then revealed His provision so that he would be victorious. His provision would equip Joshua for the task. He does this from verse 5-9.
In Joshua 1:5-6 we read: "No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you. "Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them.
God's First Provision was: a. His Promises
1. "No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life.
2. as I was with Moses, so I will be with you.
3. I will not leave you nor forsake you.
4. for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land
1. God Promised that no one would be able to stand against them all the days of Joshua's life. His enemies were defeated already. What an encouragement to any military leader. To know that you cannot lose. That you will have victory every time. That would have been of great encouragement to Joshua. This promise turned out just like God said. They did not take all the land because they did not attempt to. They only had to put their feet upon it and it was theirs, but Israel failed to do that.
2. Then God promised Joshua that just as He had been with Moses, He would also be with him. God exalted Moses leadership before all the people. God did great signs and wonders through Moses. God talked with Moses face to face. God gave Moses victory and caused him to be successful. What a promise. That the Lord would work miraculously with Joshua as He had done with Moses. And this is what happened. The Jordan river stopped flowing, the sun stood still and the walls of Jericho fell down; to name but a few of God's miracles.
3. God promised that He would never leave him nor forsake him. This further reinforced the promise that God would be with him as He was with Moses.
4. You shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers. The Lord reminded Joshua that He had promised the land to their forefathers. That He would keep that promise and that He would fulfil it through Joshua. Again this would have been a great encouragement to him. And that's exactly what God intended it to be for He says three times in verses 6-9 " Be strong and of good courage. " The focus of that command was to be God and His provision.
Because God promised to:
1. Be with him as He was with Moses.
2. Never leave him or forsake him.
3. Divide the land through him.
4. And cause all his enemies to fall before him.
So Joshua is commanded to be strong and of good courage. God was with him. He could not fail. Victory was guaranteed. God had promised that to him. Joshua needed but to take God at his word and step out in faith.
D Day Landings with Confidence
Can you imagine the confidence that the allies would have had if they knew that they could not lose. That someone greater than men had assured them of victory. They would have gone forward much more confidently. They would not have had the same fear of defeat. I am sure they would have planned with more daring and boldness, so as to win the war more quickly and have peace again.
But what about you and I? We don't see God working miracles through us. How can we know that God will enable us to fulfil the tasks He calls us to? Can we stand against all that Satan or man can throw against us? Will God help us or are we on our own? Do we have any promises of God's help for us in the Church Age?
I would like to share some N.T. Scriptures that speak of God's provision for us.
2 Peter 1:3-4a
as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature,
Hebrews 13:5b-6 For He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." So we may boldly say: "The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?"
Rom 8:37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
Are you claiming God's promises in your life? Have you stepped out in faith?
We have even more reason to be confident of victory, since Christ has defeated our enemy on the cross. God has given us great and precious promises to claim in our service for Him. He wants us to be victorious and overcome the enemy. So let us claim these promises and obey God's call to us. God equips those He commissions!
Not only did God provide Joshua with His Promises He also gave him: b. His Precepts
In Joshua 1:7-8 we read:
"Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. "This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe 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.
Buying a New Appliance
I don't know about you but when I buy something new from the shop particularly something from the High - Fi shop I just can't wait to try it out. And it takes a lot of restraint not to just plug it in and start using it. I usually read the manual as fast as I can so that I can try out the new gismo. If I don't do that I know that I could break something and then I would have to get it fixed. The manufacturer puts the instruction manual in the box so the consumer can get the most out of it and not have problems or breakages. When I brought my video player I had to use it to be able to set the clock and program the channels. Once its done I don't need it again. But if a power failure comes I need to use it again, because I forget how it's done.
Well the same is true of the Christian life. We very easily forget how we should live and what we should do. So we need to continually refer to the Bible and check how we are going. God has given us His Word so that we can live our life to the full and be successful. God does not want us to have failures but victories.
There are three commands related to the Law in v 7-8
1. Observation. To Mind it. To keep all of it's commands without deviating from it.
2. Declaration. To Mouth it. To read all of it and share it to those around about him.
3. Meditation. To Meditate on it. To think about it constantly, day and night.
The Importance of Obedience To God's Word
God's law was to affect how Joshua Thought, Talked and Walked. All of Joshua's life was to be under the standard of God's word. The command regarding the Law of Moses declares twice that he was to be careful to observe all that was written in it. Joshua needed to live uprightly and set an example for the people to follow. The order in which they are listed in verse 8 is significant. Before you can meditate on or obey God's word you must read it. If Joshua was going to do the last two commands, he first had to read the law. Once he had read it he could then meditate on it and obey it. I believe he was also responsible to encourage the people to observe it. He did this very effectively and even near his death he was still exhorting them to obey God's law.
Once he had read the law of Moses, he then needed to think about it's implications and applications. God said that he was not to deviate from it in the slightest. It was not good enough to obey the bits he liked and ignore the rest. God said he was to be careful to observe all of it. Partial obedience is disobedience. God could not bless his leadership if he did not obey. This was very important as success was dependant on obedience to God's word. The Lord says twice obedience would cause him to prosper and once it would bring good success.
Be Strong And Courageous
The Lord promised success to Joshua if he obeyed the law of Moses. The command to be strong and very courageous is again linked with the obedience to observe God's word. It would require much courage and strength to obey God's word.
But what about you? Do you spend time reading God's word? Do you think about it day and night? Do you meditate on those parts that are deeper and hard to understand? Do you obey God's word completely, or do you ignore the bits you don't like ?Our success in the Christian life is very much dependant on our obedience to God's word. God has given us instruction for every area of the Christian life. If we observe it we can't fail.
Colossians 3:16 says: Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. This verse means that God's word is at home in our lives. Daily Bread Bible study notes are helpful and so is Scripture Memory. Another way to learn the Bible is through Christian Music or Christian Radio. Programs like Insight for Living, Back to the Bible and How Can I Live give real blessing.
In Joshua 1:9 we read: "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go."
As well as God's Promises and Precepts, God's Final Provision was: c. His Presence
God's Peace in Difficult Times.
Oceanographers speak about the " cushion of the sea. " The ocean surface is often greatly agitated, but as you descend, the water becomes increasingly calm. At its greatest depths, the ocean is virtually still. Oceanographers dredging ocean bottoms have found animal and plant remains that appear to have been undisturbed for hundreds of years. This is just like the peace that God can bring into our lives when there is turmoil all around us.
The Lord promised that he would go wherever Joshua went. This further emphasises the promises given in verse 5. He promised that He would never leave or forsake Joshua. He had also said that He would be with him like He was with Moses. If God was with him who could be against him? God promised Joshua His presence wherever he went throughout His life. This provision would have encouraged Joshua no end. What could happen to him while God was with him? Even though he would have to fight against giants and fortified cities, he could rest in the fact that the Lord was with him. And He would ensure victory.
That is why God says for the third time in verse 9 " Be strong and of good courage." The Lord says to him not to be dismayed or afraid because I am with you. What an encouragement for Joshua at the beginning of his ministry. The Lord had given him all that he needed to fulfil his commission.
The Lord has given to every believer the promise of His presence. The Church, Christ's body is indwelt by the Holy Spirit. There is no place that we can go where God is not with us. So we should be courageous to wage a good warfare for our God, knowing that we are not alone. Satan would like us to think that we are alone. He would like us to be fearful and dismayed, because then we will not threaten his kingdom. But the truth is that God is always with us. God wants us to be strong and pull down strongholds through Himself in prayer. 2 Cor 10:4-5
2 Timothy 1:7 says: For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
Does God equip His people for the tasks He calls them to? Yes He does provide them with the things needed to be victorious. All believers have received a commission from God. We are all commanded to make disciples from all nations. (Matt 28:19-20) All believers have received this commission. Some also receive a special commission to work in a particular ministry or field. Whatever your commission is, God has also made provision for you to fulfil it. God does equip His people for every task. Whether at work, school or full time service.
1. God has given you His Promises to equip you to win the spiritual battles you face.
2. God has given you His Precepts to enlighten you for the battles you face.
3. God has given you His Presence to enable you for the battles you face.
Has God called you to serve Him in a particular ministry? What has been your response? Do you believe God has equipped you for that task? Have you stepped out in faith? Or are you still on the other side of the Jordan? Have you obeyed His call? Are you making use of His Provision? Are you claiming His promises? Do you spend time reading and meditating on the word of God? Do you obey it? Are you aware that God is with you?
The Lord is looking for servants that He can use in the work force. He is looking for men and women who will take Him at His word and step out in faith. God is seeking to show Himself strong to His servants who will obey His word no matter what.
Are you prepared to be one of those people? Then avail yourself of His promises, precepts and presence. Courageously like Joshua enter into the work that God has called you to.. Make use of the resources that He has provided. For then you will have good success. Benediction Numbers 6:24-26
"The LORD bless you and keep you; The LORD make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace." '