Summary: For 40 long years, the Marching Orders for Moses had been: “Take another lap around Mt. Sinai.” Now, at last, Joshua received new Marching Orders. The book of Joshua starts with a bang: Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise and go …
Marching Orders for the New Year
SCRIPTURE READING: Joshua 1:1-2; 6-9
This year both Christmas and New Years day fell on Sunday. That doesn’t happen very often. But it gave us the opportunity to get 2006 off to the right start. At any rate, if your New Years Resolution was to get to Church every Sunday, then … so far so good!
The TEXT tells about a time when the Children of Israel were off to a New Start. Moses had led them for the past 40 years. But now he was dead. In fact, all of the older generation had died off in the wilderness. Joshua and Caleb (good name, by the way!) were the only old guys left.
For 40 long years, the Marching Orders for Moses had been: “Take another lap around Mt. Sinai.” Now, at last, Joshua received new Marching Orders. The book of Joshua starts with a bang: Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise and go … Joshua 1:2 Now THAT is a way to start something NEW! The Message Version puts it like this: "Moses my servant is dead --- so get going!”
We can learn a lot from those Marching Orders. And the first lesson is that THE PAST IS BEHIND YOU.
1. The past is behind you
Joshua and the people faced a paradigm shift of enormous proportions.
• They were about to quit being nomads and become landowners.
• They would soon leave their tents and move into homes.
• They would quit eating Manna and start enjoying harvested crops that other had planted.
• They would go off of Defense and start playing Offense. For 40 years they had avoided trouble by walking around it. Now it was time to face trouble head-on as Warriors.
It was time to leave their “slave days” far behind and enjoy days of freedom in a land flowing with milk and honey.
You see, Moses was dead, but God’s Purpose was very much alive. This was no time to stand around grieving --- or reminiscing about the good old days --- or thinking about all the regrets and the “what if’s” of the past 40 years. It was not time to think about the past at all. It was time to move forward. The saying on John Wesley’s grave helps us carry home the point: God buries his workmen, but His work goes on.
On this New Years Day, maybe thoughts of the past are holding you back. It’s easy to get bogged down in regrets over things we can’t change. Maybe you took some wrong steps last year. Maybe you suffered some painful losses. Maybe someone let you down or you had a big disappointment. It’s time to listen to Joshua’s marching orders: The past is dead. Now, arise and go into the New Year.
Years ago, a thunderstorm swept through southern Kentucky and blew over an old Pear Tree on a farm where the Claypool family had lived for 6 generations. Old Grandpa John Claypool grieved to lose the tree he had climbed as a boy. For all his life, he had enjoyed eating the pears off that old tree.
A neighbor came by and said, “John, I’m really sorry to see that fine old Pear Tree blown down.”
John Claypool replied, “I’m sorry too. It’s a real part of my past.”
“What are you going to do now?” the neighbor asked.
Grandpa Claypool paused for a moment, then said, “I’m going to pick the fruit and burn what is left.”
There’s a lot of wisdom in those words. The past can have its uses. We should enjoy what is of use from the past, and then burn the rest. We may need to grieve over the past; we can even rejoice in the past; but there is no point in longing for the past.
In 33 years of church work, I’ve observed many Churches where people were prone to glance back with a tearful eye at their “glorious past.” They were so caught up in reminiscing … or trying to re-create the past … that they didn’t give any thought to their future.
Surely God had great plans for them, but no one would let go of the past long enough to move ahead. Any church that gives up on the future in order to try to hang on to the past is doomed to failure … eventually that church will fizz out and die. Here at Castle Hills Christian Church, we need to heed the marching orders of Joshua: The past is dead. Now let’s get going into God’s plans for our church in 2006.
The second lesson we can learn from Joshua’s Marching Orders is that THE LORD IS WITH US.
2. The Lord is with you