Summary: Four things we need to take into the New Year.
“Facing the New Year”
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.”
In our background Scripture we find that Moses, the great leader of Israel was dead. Joshua, one of the two faithful spies, was the new leader. He and Caleb were all that remained of the people from forty years ago. Do you remember that incident? God raised up Moses to lead His people out of the bondage and slavery of Egypt to take them to the Promised Land. God had given it to them. In a matter of days they left Egypt, crossed the Red Sea, and stood on Canaan’s border.
God had given them this land and they didn’t take it. They were afraid even with God going before them. So they timidly send 12 men to spy out the land – one from each tribe. After they returned, 10 of the men shared fearful reports of giants in the land and fortified cities. Joshua and Caleb reported grape clusters so large it took two men to carry them. They said the land was lush and rich and fertile. Yes, there were giants and fortified cities but - God was greater than the enemy. They recommended taking the land immediately.
The people rejected their report and rebelled against Moses and God. As a result they wandered in the wilderness for forty years until the entire nation died out one by one. Even Moses was gone. Now they once again stood on the border of the Promised Land – the land God had promised them.
As I have thought about this incident it reminded me of us entering the New Year. There will be giants in the land. You can count on it. There will be giant problems; giant threats of destruction; giant obstacles to overcome.
Do you watch the news and follow the presidential race and debates? I do a little bit but I find it makes me so depressed and negative and leaves me so gloomy that I can only take so much of it. Each candidate is telling how terrible our nation is and how they can fix it. It’s like listening to the ten frightened spies. They spread their fear to everyone and cast doubts over the promises of God.
Like the Children of God about to go into the frightening Promised Land; we stand on the brink of a frightening New Year. If we are going to go into it and take it – we will have to have four things to make it.
The first thing that is essential is Hope. Hope is an expectation of good to come. Someone defined it as “a trusting expectation that God will keep his word.” Life is very hard when one is without hope. That is the simple reason people commit suicide. They may give all sorts of excuses and reasons and blame any number of things or people – but the bottom line is that they lose their hope. They don’t expect life will get any better. The future holds no promise of good to come. They have come to believe that the future will hold more of the same pain as the present – or even worse. The ten fearful spies feared death and destruction for the future instead of the blessings God promised them. In other words, they choose to believe their doubts and fears and what they dreaded – rather than God. Their actions called God a liar. And God withdrew his blessing from them.