Summary: The goal of this message is to help the congregation to fact unknowns in the future without fear and with faith in God’s promises.
These are days around the world when people are learning to confront unknowns. Two hurricanes have hit Florida and a third is on the way. Hundreds of innocent children died at the hands of terrorists in Russia. Warfare continues in the Middle East.
Three years ago, September 11 three thousand Americans lost their lives at the hand of terrorists in New York, Penn. and Washington, DC. Many of us can still remember watching television and seeing the vivid scenes of planes flying into the Twin Towers. PEW Research Center stated that because of September 11, 2001, 64 percent of Americans admitted they cried. Seventy-nine percent told someone, “I love you.” Seven in ten Americans said they felt depressed after the terrorist attacks, nearly half reported having trouble concentrating, and a third said they had trouble sleeping.”
The promise that God gave Joshua in chapter 1:1-9 gives us courage to confront unknowns in the future. Following the death of Moses God gave his assistant, Joshua, the challenge of leading the children of Israel into the Promised Land of Canaan. “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 will lead my people to possess all the land I swore to give their ancestors. Study the Book of the Law continually. Meditate on it day and night so you may be sure to obey all that is written it. Only then will you succeed. I command you – be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:5b-6, 8-9)
In this passage of scripture we have three basic teaching to help us confront unknowns.
First – God’s promise to Moses and then to Joshua and to all of us: “I will be with you.” Whatever happens we know that God is with us.
Second – God’s Word is the guide to success. Our calling is to study, meditate and obey.
Third – God commands us to not be afraid or discouraged. God is in control.
I. God Promises: “I Will Be With You.”
Joshua remembered how the Lord had given them victory in battle over the anti-God Amalekites – Exodus 17. Under Joshua’s command the Israelites only gained victory in was as long as Moses held his arms high reaching out to God of heaven and creation on top of a hill. When Moses’ arms began to drop the battle would shift so Aaran and Hur helped hold up Moses’ arms until sunset. The battle was the Lords. As long as they trusted the Lord they were victorious.
God promises that he will be with us in all experiences whether in joy or pain. How quickly we forget His promise when we are in the thick of battle or conflict. We trust our own reasoning and skills and power and then wonder why we fail.
In Numbers 13 the 12 spies were sent out to spy out the land of Canaan. They came back with a majority report by ten spies and a minority report by two – Joshua and Caleb. The majority report looked to the power of man and not to God. “the people living there are powerful, and their cities and towns are fortified and very large…We can’t go up against them! They are stronger than we are! All the people we saw are huge. We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak. We felt like grasshoppers next to them, and that’s what we looked like to them.” Numbers 13:12, 31-33 NLT
(Numbers 13:30) “But Caleb tried to encourage the people as they stood before Moses. ‘Let’s go at once to take the land,” he said. “We can certainly conquer it.” The majority report prevailed and Israel failed to trust and obey God.
Now we find Joshua (Joshua 1:1-9) given the calling by God after 40 years of wandering in the desert to take over that same territory. God is calling Joshua to go into that same Godless giant filled land and establish it as a nation under God. God gives Joshua the promise: “Be strong and courageous – I will be with you.”
Joshua could go forward and confront the unknown because he knew God was in control. Joshua lived up to his name. When “Joshua” is translated into Greek it becomes (Yeshua) “Jesus” meaning Savior.
We look at the world and see terrorism in many countries. Here is our hope. We know that God is not in heaven wringing His hands. God sees beyond the human suffering and allows people to become desperate to they will begin to seek the Creator and Lord of the Universe and believe in His Son for forgiveness and Salvation.