Summary: How God gives new hope during the changing of the guard.
Notice the “Now then…” statement by God.
Why does God say this in reference to Moses? It almost sounds like He’s glad Moses is dead and gone.
For us to fully appreciate why God is saying, “Now then…” we need to understand some things about Moses.
Especially chosen by God to be the leader of His people.
Left behind a powerful legacy (Deut. 34:10-12)
But he wasn’t perfect. His own sin kept him out of the Promised Land. Just like the others of his generation who had been unfaithful to God, he would have to wander in the desert and eventually die there before God would allow the nation of Israel to enter the Promised Land.
This gives us a brief synopsis of Moses’ life and also gives us some insight as to why God tells Joshua, “Moses, by servant, is dead. Now then…”
1) IT REMINDS US THAT GOD’S PLANS ARE NOT DEPENDENT UPON ONE PERSON.
i) Moses was God’s man for that season.
(a) He was the right one to stand before Pharaoh.
(b) He was the right one to lead Israel out of bondage.
(c) He was the right one to deliver the Law to the people.
(d) He was the right one to lead and organize the building of the tabernacle.
ii) It’s interesting how Deut. 34:7 describes Moses at his death.
(a) Moses was still as strong and healthy as he had ever been.
(b) God caused Moses to die so that the people could enter and possess the Promised Land.
(c) God removed Moses so that His plan could be accomplished.
iii) With Moses gone, who’s going to lead Israel?
(a) That’s when God comes to Joshua and says, “Moses… is dead. Now then, you…” and the finger of God designates Joshua as the leader of Israel.
(b) Does that mean Joshua is going to be a better leader than Moses? No.
(c) Does that mean Moses failed and now Joshua gets the glory? No.
(d) Does that mean Moses was a wimp and Joshua is the man of steel? No.
(e) It only means that Moses was the right man then, and Joshua is the right man now.
iv) The first thing God’s “Now then…” statement means is that His plans are advanced or fulfilled using different people at different times for different purposes.
2) IT REMINDS US THAT WE CANNOT LIVE IN THE PAST AND MAKE PROGRESS INTO THE FUTURE.
i) God didn’t want Joshua playing the game of WHAT IF.
(a) What if Moses was still alive…
(b) What if I can’t lead the people like Moses did…
(c) What if the people rebel against me, like they did against Moses…
(d) What if is only a waste of time.
ii) Jesus warned that “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”
iii) Paul encouraged the Philippians when he wrote, “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 3:13-14).
iv) God’s “Now then…” statement reminds us that we cannot live in the past and make progress into the future.
3) “NOW THEN…” WILL ALSO REMIND US THAT WE ARE NOT YET WHERE GOD WANTS US TO BE.
i) To Joshua it meant there were rivers to cross, battles to fight, problems to solve.
(a) The nation of Israel was standing on the banks of the Jordan River. The Promised Land was on the other side. But their leader is dead. Then comes the message to Joshua. “Moses…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.”
(b) They were not yet where God wanted them to be.
ii) To us it means there are rivers to cross, battles to fight, problems to solve.
(a) The church is standing on the banks of a river, looking across. On the other side are the good things God has planned for us.
(b) It’s at this point that we need to hear God’s message, “Now then… get ready to cross the river.”
iii) Just like the nation of Israel, crossing the river will mean a new beginning.
(a) Sure, they had made their share of mistakes in the past.
1. The golden calf incident
2. The complaining against Moses
3. The grumbling and murmuring about the manna
4. The unwillingness to trust God’s promises
(b) The church has also made its share of mistakes in the past.
2. Doubting God’s promises
3. Doctrine of works
4. Programs before people
(c) There is something positive we can do though. Do you know what it is? We can admit the mistakes of the past, put them behind us, and trust in God’s promises to carry us across the river to the place where He wants us to be.