Summary: Sermon on Joshua 1:1-9 - Overcoming our fears and weaknesses
Overcoming our fears and weaknesses
How many of us have phobias? You know, there are all kinds of phobias out there, phobia of heights, insects, etc. I am sure you have watched Fear Factor before, I was watching an episode the other day, where 3 people were put through an eating challenge, to eat 3 doughnuts of their choice, filled with dried pig’s blood, stink beetles, and earthworms, and drink a glass of curdled, rotten milk. The first 2 tried but quit halfway through, and the last guy calmly finished it and walked away with US$25,000.
It is natural for us as humans to feel weak and fearful. Won’t we love to be able to overcome our fears, our weaknesses? Today’s passage, Joshua chapter 1, verses 1 to 9, provides us with some answers.
The book of Joshua marks a new section of the Old Testament. With the passing of Moses in Deuteronomy, Joshua is now the new leader of a new generation, who is called and commissioned by the Lord to lead His people into the promised land. This stage of Israel’s history also sees them taking control of the land, establishing themselves as a nation, and ushering in the period of the judges and kings. Today we will look at the beginning of Joshua’s ministry or life as Israel’s leader, specifically at God’s call and commission to Joshua. Let us read chapter 1, verses 1 to 9.
1. We see here in verses 1 and 2 that God’s calling to Joshua was clear and specific. Joshua and the people were to cross the Jordan to take control of the land that God had given them. Joshua’s primary role was to lead God’s people, into war to conquer the inhabitants of the land, to distribute the land to the 12 tribes, and to establish God’s covenant with His people through His Word. As students here at SBC, I believe each of us has been called by God and preparing ourselves for His specific mission for our lives. I wonder if we might feel like Joshua as God calls him. Perhaps he might be feeling weak, or inadequate, having to fill the big shoes of a spiritual giant of faith such as Moses. You might be entering into a ministry or taking over a leadership position from a godly saint or pastor who has handed the baton over to you. Or you might be like Joshua who might be experiencing fear, or uncertainty, both at the enormity of the task and future ahead. You might be unsure of your next step, seeking the Lord for His direction, or you might be tasked in your church or agency with an enormous task, perhaps leading a congregation into the next phase of your church life.
Transition - what do we do in situations like this? Let’s look at God’s instructions to Joshua.
2. First, we are to remind ourselves of God’s promises through His Word. God promises Joshua that He would "give them every place where they set their foot" (verse 3) and also describes the lands that they would be given (verse 4). We are familiar with God’s covenant of land, seed and blessing (the Abrahamic, Mosaic and Davidic covenants). This was to fulfill the land aspect or the Mosaic covenant that God had established and promised to the Israelites. In Ex 15:3, after Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, they recognize God as their warrior and deliverer. Joshua was to remember God’s promises as they prepared themselves for war against the Canaanites, that God would lead them into victory over their enemies, that no one would be able to stand against them (verse 5). Like Joshua, we can have courage against our fears because of God’s Word and eternal promises to us. Each of us have God’s promises to us in our own lives, remind ourselves of God’s promises in times of fear and uncertainty, and remember what God has done in your life.
In verses 7 and 8, God charges Joshua to obey, meditate on His laws, so that they would be prosperous and successful. Funny how this goes against most motivational theories or models, the Bible teaches us that obedience leads to success. "Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth." We have heard many stories about Christians who, while in prison camps, had no Bibles but who had portions of Scripture committed to memory. One Christian in a prison camp for three years said that during his imprisonment, his greatest regret was not having memorized more of the Bible. People have told me that in their suffering, they sometimes could only remember small parts of Scripture. In some parts of China, where there is a lack of Bibles, one church has perhaps one Bible that the pastor reads every Sunday, Christians literally copy and memorize chapters, books of the Bible because of their hunger and thirst for His Word. Is the Bible central in our lives? Do we obey all the laws, do we not turn from it to the right or left, do we meditate on it day and night? As we read, study, memorize and meditate on God’s word daily, in times of trouble or trials, we are reminded and strengthened by His Word and promises.