1 After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: 2 “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. 3 I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. 4 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. 5 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. 6 Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.
7 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
As I have taken time this morning, New Year’s Day, 2014, this passage of scripture has risen to the surface of my heart and mind. Wiser, more learned people can speak to the historical and theological depths of this passage better than I. If that’s what you’re needing or expecting, be prepared for disappointment.
Instead, I am looking at it from my personal perspective. How does this apply to me? To me, how it becomes relevant to my life is that to move into my Promised Land, something first had to die. In Joshua’s case, it was Moses. In my life, it is my expectations of how my life should have played out. It is my preconceived ideas on how God’s promises should have looked, when they should have taken place, and where.
Had things gone they way I thought they should have, the admonition that appears three different times in this brief passage wouldn’t be necessary.
Be strong and courageous.
If I were the author of my own story, I control all the elements. It’s the lack of control that requires strength and courage. These lead to faith and trust. When God breathes into our lives, we can have a tendency to say, “Okay Lord, I’m good. I’ll take it from here.” That’s often where we get off track. But His plan requires we follow His instructions. That is where verses 7 and 8 come in to play. We need to follow the instructions.
For me, courage isn’t in making big decisions. It’s not in being responsible for others. It’s in making those decisions, being the leader when you don’t have a charted out plan. It’s in knowing the destination before knowing the route, or following the path without knowing the desitination. It’s in trusting your Resource, not your own intellect.
This passage concludes with these assurances from God. When we trust Him, when we accept the call upon our lives, He promises us prosperity and success. That may mean materially, but it most likely doesn’t. I am learning more and more each day that what defines a man is not what he owns. It is not what he drives. It’s in being a good husband, father, member of his community. It’s in helping those who need help.
As was the case in Joshua’s promotion, God’s promise wasn’t just for him. God had first made a promise to Moses and the Israelites. Moses made mistakes that cost him the blessing of seeing the promise fulfilled. But God stayed true to His promise to the Israelites. He chose Joshua. In my life, those I love and am assigned stewardship, they have been given their own promises from God. Others may have lost the blessing of seeing those promises come to fruition. At least, first hand. And God is offering me a promotion. The responsibility, and rewards, are mine if I stay true to the calling.
That can sound intimidating. But God finishes this passage by saying, “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
That’s all I need.