Summary: In Memorizing God’s word, we can obtain: 1) Encouragement from God’s Commission (Joshua 1:1–2). 2) Encouragement from God’s Promises (Joshua 1:3–6), and 3) Encouragement from God’s Written Word (Joshua 1:7–9)
As summer winds down, kids become anxious about going back to school. Besides the prospect of tests and assignments, one factor that tends to provoke dread, is rote memorization. Memorizing dates, names, equations, chemicals etc. is generally viewed as tedious. Many associate all memorization with the memory efforts required of them in school. It was work, and most of it was uninteresting and of limited value. Frequently heard, also, is the excuse of having a bad memory. But what if I offered you one thousand dollars for every verse you could memorize in the next seven days? Do you think your attitude toward Scripture memory and your ability to memorize would improve? Any financial reward would be minimal when compared to the accumulating value of the treasure of God’s word deposited within your mind. (Donald S. Whitney. Spiritual Disciples for the Christian Life. Navpress. 1994. p.25)
The writer of proverbs said:
Proverbs 22:17-19 Incline your ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply your heart to my knowledge, for it will be pleasant if you keep them within you, if all of them are ready on your lips. That your trust may be in the LORD, I have made them known to you today, even to you. (ESV)
The reason why scripture is not a mere list of do’s and don’ts is that we may see real people interact with a real God. For the word of God to be within us, ready on our lips and result in trusting the Lord, we need to understand what exactly was said and to whom. That context is spelled on in a real situation of Joshua and the people of God.
In Joshua 1, Israel was about to undertake a great enterprise as they entered the land of Canaan. This land had been promised for centuries, and the Pentateuch points repeatedly to it. Now the time had come for the nation to enter the land and take possession of their inheritance. But before they could do this, they needed to undertake several steps of preparation. That preparation meant internalizing the promises of God, realizing the one who had made the promises and having the fruit of that digested word flow through their hearts, minds and actions.
Joshua 1 gives practical guidance in hiding the word in our heart that we may know God, His ways, and our way of life. In Memorizing God’s word, we can obtain: 1) Encouragement from God’s Commission (Joshua 1:1–2). 2) Encouragement from God’s Promises (Joshua 1:3–6), and 3) Encouragement from God’s Written Word (Joshua 1:7–9)
In Memorizing God’s word, we can obtain:
1) Encouragement from God’s Commission (Joshua 1:1–2).
Joshua 1:1-2 [1:1]After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD said to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses' assistant, "Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel. (ESV)
The Book of Joshua begins as though it were a continuation of something written previously, which, of course, it is. The phrase “the death of Moses” ties this material in with an earlier event (which is recounted in the preceding chapter in the Bible: Deut 34:1–8). The death of Moses occurred c. 1405 B.C. (Criswell, W. A., Patterson, P., Clendenen, E. R., Akin, D. L., Chamberlin, M., Patterson, D. K., & Pogue, J. (Eds.). (1991). Believer’s Study Bible (electronic ed., Jos 1:1). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.)
• What we find when we become familiar with the narratives of scripture, like other genres, is that the word is not merely a list of rules or irrelevant history, but a living testimony to a living God. We find real people, dealing with real problems and a real God.
Moses’ death was an important event in the life of the new nation of Israel. Yet Moses’ death should not cripple the nation. The Lord was faithful in all ages, and he would be in this instance as well. Joshua was designated as Moses’ successor, and the people were to carry on under him. As one scholar notes, “Yahweh’s fidelity does not hinge on the achievement of men, however gifted they may be, nor does it evaporate in the face of funerals or rivers.” (D. R. Davis, No Falling Words: Expositions of the Book of Joshua (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1988), 18.)
Moses was the great lawgiver and leader par excellence. He is here called the “servant of the LORD.” This labeling of Moses as the Lord’s servant is important in the Book of Joshua, since Joshua, for whom the book is named, is only called the “servant of the LORD” once, at the end of the book (24:29). The Book of Joshua is concerned with showing how God’s earlier promises were now in process of being fulfilled and with how God’s commands were being carried out. Many of these promises and commands were spoken by Moses, who is depicted in this book as the Lord’s special servant.