Summary: Importance of remembrance & testimony in the life of the Christian community.
Joshua 1: 1-9
CALVIN CHRISTIAN REFORMED CHURCH
He faced a formidable task.
Joshua, son of Nun, had been serving as aide to Moses for some 40 years during Israel’s trek through the desert.
The journey is nearly over.
Now the hard work of moving in and taking possession of the land that will be their home is to begin.
Canaan is to be conquered.
And Joshua has to lead, taking over the leadership of the nation now that Moses is dead. "No 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."
Forty years had allowed for much learning to occur. Joshua had seen much. And yet, as we can probably expect, there is tremendous apprehension at such an enormous challenge. Only a total fool would not feel at least some little tingle in the pit of his stomach!
God sees that - even as He issues His divine edict to Joshua He sees that.
And so it is that immediately on the heels of issuing His order to enter Canaan and describing how far the boundaries of the promised Land will extend, a word of comfort is passed to Joshua.
It comes in the form of a promise:
"As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous...." (v.5,6)
Hear what God says:
"I will be with you....."
How will "I be with you"?
"......as I was with Moses."
Do you notice what the Lord does?
He invokes memories within Joshua.
Like I said - much had occurred in 40 years. Earlier pages of scripture record many exploits during Israel’s wandering in the desert, some of great faith and others of downright disastrous human sinfulness and arrogance. All through those forty years, Joshua had been by Moses’ side.
Forty years - one event after another.
Ah, the stories that Joshua would be able to tell his grandchildren.
"Remember these events, Joshua?
As I was with Moses, so I will be with you."
The Lord reaches back into the memory of His servant and pulls out stories. And He flashes them through his mind. What stories, indeed!
Joshua had seen the Red Sea open to allow Israel to pass, and close to swallow the most powerful army in the world.
He’d seen Manna come from heaven and water gush out of a rock.
He’d seen the sun stand still because Moses’ hands remained raised to heaven in prayer.
He’d seen the ground open to swallow rebels who threatened Moses’ leadership.
Remember......... and in that looking back find strength to move forward into the future that God has planned.
"As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you."
Remembering the past, and on that foundation moving towards the future.
I want to suggest to you this evening that this is one of the most basic dynamics of the Kingdom of God in gathering and equipping a holy army to work for the King.
Looking back and then looking forward.
Not because of some desire to perpetuate the past.
Not because of some fear of moving forward.
But because of the radical continuity between the past and the future.
Radical and total continuity because of the one who holds past, present and future in His powerful hands.
It is an echoing cry that comes not only here, in one isolated incident to Joshua, but countless times through the pages of Scripture.
- Genesis 9: When you see the rainbow remember.
- Numbers 15: God commands tassels to be put on the corner of Israelite garments. Use them to remember the commands of God.
- Deuteronomy 4: Remember when you stood at Sinai.
- Deut 15: Remember that you were slaves in Egypt.
- Psalm 105: Remember the wonders that God has done
- Isaiah 46: Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me.
Four chapters after this account, Israel crosses the Jordan, and Joshua commands that stones be gathered from the river to build a monument.
Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites,
6 to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’
7 tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever."