Summary: The reason people followed Joshua was because Joshua followed God.
The art of going forward Joshua 1:10-18
The party aboard ship was in full swing. Speeches were being made by the captain, the crew, and all the guests were really enjoying the week-long voyage. Sitting at the head table was a seventy-year-old man who was kind of embarrassed but was doing his best to accept the praise being poured on him. Earlier that morning a young woman had somehow fallen overboard, and within seconds this elderly gentleman was in the cold, dark waters at her side. The woman was rescued and the elderly man became an instant hero. When the time finally came for the brave passenger to speak, the stateroom fell into a hush as he rose from his chair. He went to the microphone and, in what was probably the shortest “hero’s” speech ever offered, he spoke these stirring words: “I just want to know one thing,” he said, “WHO PUSHED ME?”
“Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people, saying, pass through the host, and command the people, saying, prepare you victuals; for within three days ye shall pass over this Jordan, to go in to possess the land, which the LORD your God giveth you to possess it. And to the Reubenites, and to the Gadites, and to half the tribe of Manasseh, spake Joshua, saying, remember the word which Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, saying, The LORD your God hath given you rest, and hath given you this land. Your wives, your little ones, and your cattle, shall remain in the land which Moses gave you on this side Jordan; but ye shall pass before your brethren armed, all the mighty men of valour, and help them; until the LORD have given your brethren rest, as he hath given you, and they also have possessed the land which the LORD your God giveth them: then ye shall return unto the land of your possession, and enjoy it, which Moses the LORD’S servant gave you on this side Jordan toward the sunrising. And they answered Joshua, saying, all that thou commandest us we will do, and whithersoever thou sendest us, we will go. According as we hearkened unto Moses in all things, so will we hearken unto thee: only the LORD thy God be with thee, as he was with Moses. Whosoever he be that doth rebel against thy commandment, and will not hearken unto thy words in all that thou commandest him, he shall be put to death: only be strong and of a good courage.”
I remember when I graduated from high school they had a special speaker who stood before the student body and said, “Today you have come to receive a piece of paper that acknowledges your hard work and commitment to the program you’ve just completed. From this class will come leaders of industry, teachers and those who will carry the ideals of this institution into the marketplace and around the world, so, do your best, your only limits are your dreams.”
And then when I graduated from the Word of Life Bible Institute and then the London Baptist Bible College the message was basically the same except they both had more of a spiritual emphasis. It was basically, “Go and do your best and with God’s help who knows what you can become.” And when I graduated from Liberty University I didn’t bother going because I figured I had heard it all before. But, the first thing I learned when I walked out into this great world of promise and potential was that it didn’t all come together the way the various commencement speakers said it would.
And I wonder if Joshua didn’t experience the same kind of disillusionment when he walked away from the presence of God. He had heard the command to go and possess the land with all the encouraging words of support and the promises of success but on the way back to his tent I wonder if he didn’t look around and say to himself, “Who am I kidding? If I try to lead these people into the Promised Land they might end up drowning me in the Jordan or I could get killed by the enemies on the other side.” I mean, after all, he knew the effects of warfare and he also saw the way these people had treated Moses.
So, is it possible that Joshua might have had all the same kinds of fears and insecurities that the rest of us wrestle with? Well, I would say, “Yes, he probably could have” considering the fact that he was made of the same stuff as you and I but at the same time I’m also reminded that the last thing God told him to do was to meditate on the word of God. In other words, he was to preoccupy his mind not with the things that were in his way but with the God who was by his side. You see, our attitude has an awful lot to do with our perspective. I mean, is God in charge or isn’t He?