Summary: Remember, the same issues that Joshua and the Israelites faced we also face. We face change in our lives. We face stress. We face sorrow. When we face these times in our lives, God is commanding us to be strong in our actions and deeds and also to be
STRONG AND COURAGEOUS
“After the death of Moses”
“Moses my servant is dead”
The book of Joshua begins with these two phrases that probably will catch our attention here at NBCC today more than it would have a few months ago. The first 5 words of Joshua 1 are “After the death of Moses” (verse 1) and the first words God speaks in this book are “Moses my servant is dead” (verse 2). These two phrases catch our attention because John Meisenbach, a faithful servant of the Lord for 40 years passed away leaving behind a church family he served well. We are living in the time “after the death of John” and God might well say to us, “John my servant is dead.”
They had been led by Moses for 80 years. Moses was the leader who led the people of God out of Egypt (Exodus 7-13). Moses had been there at the parting of the Red Sea (Exodus 14). Moses was there for the provision of manna (Exodus 16). Moses had prayed for them to be spared from God’s wrath (Exodus 32). Moses brought them the Law of God (Exodus 34). Moses was the leader through all of that and the people were used to him and respected him and for the most part followed his lead. The book of Joshua begins with these significant phrases and we ask ourselves… what did that mean exactly for the people of Israel?
It meant that in Joshua chapter 1 the people of God were undergoing a time of change, stress, and sorrow. They were undergoing change because their leader for more than two generations was now gone and someone was in his place. Things would be different with this new leader. Life would be different. Decisions may not be made in the same way. They were undergoing stress because change is difficult. Specifically for the people of God they were going to go into a land they had not been in before and they were going to settle it. They were enduring sorrow because they had lost a man that was near and dear to their hearts. Grief is normal at the death of someone who is important.
“After the death of Moses”
“Moses my servant is dead”
BACKGROUND OF JOSHUA
Joshua 1 shares with us that Moses died and the leadership of the people of God fell to the one who had assisted Moses for many years, Joshua. Joshua is first mentioned in Exodus 17 right after Moses strikes a rock and water flows from it for the people to drink. Even though he is first mentioned in Exodus 17, Numbers 11:28 tells us that Joshua had been Moses’ aid for many years since his youth and was a constant companion of Moses. Right after the water from the rock episode, Joshua leads the army of Israel at Moses’ direction and defeats the Amalekites. Exodus 17:10-13 says, “So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. 11 As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. 12 When Moses' hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up-- one on one side, one on the other-- so that his hands remained steady till sunset. 13 So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.”
Joshua was Moses’ aid who accompanied him to the mountain of God to receive the Law of God (Exodus 24). That must have been quite a span of forty days and forty nights. Joshua was there when the people crafted the Golden Calf and turned away from God (Exodus 32). Joshua was also among the 12 spies who went into the Promised Land to spy it out (Numbers 13-14) and is 1 of 2 to return in faith saying they should go in and take the land because God was with them.
It is this man who had been the faithful companion of Moses and who had experienced many of the miracles of God that becomes the next leader of the Israelite people. Joshua chapter 1 sees Joshua taking on the mantle of leadership amidst the change, stress, and sorrow. God has some specific words for Joshua as he is taking on his new role.
READ Joshua 1:2-9
“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 Great Sea on the west. 5 No one will be able to stand up 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 forefathers 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 Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; 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 terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."