Summary: Overview of the book of Joshua
The Law of the First Step - Joshua
Turn with me in your Bibles today to Joshua 1. We have been going through the OT, we have seen God deliver the Jews from slavery in Egypt, bear with them and teach them during 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, and bring them to the edge of the Promised Land. We saw last week that Moses knew he was going to die, so God lets him give a final address to the Jews, encouraging them to be completely committed to following the law of God. Then God takes Moses up on Mt. Nebo, lets him see over into the promised land, and then buries his body there on the mountain. Deut. 34:10-12 reminds us “Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face, who did all those miraculous signs and wonders the LORD sent him to do in Egypt--to Pharaoh and to all his officials and to his whole land. For no-one has ever shown the mighty power or performed the awesome deeds that Moses did in the sight of all Israel.”
That brings us to the book of Joshua. Genesis is a book that gives us the “beginnings” - Exodus teaches about “redemption” - Leviticus teaches about “holiness” - Numbers teaches about “testing” - and Deuteronomy teaches us about “instruction” and “wisdom” in obeying God’s word. Joshua is a book that teaches us about “faith in conquest” or “stepping out in faith.” If we could take the whole book and summarize it, it could be boiled down to one main idea, which some people have called “the law of the first step.” And it’s this:
Sometimes God waits to act until you begin to move in faith.
The 40 years of wandering in the wilderness were really like a school of faith for the Jews. It started in Egypt, where God brought the plagues, showed his strength over the Gods of Egypt, and parted the Red Sea for them. This was like their elementary school. They saw the basic power of God and didn’t have to do anything but follow. Then they entered the wilderness. They advanced a few grade levels, and the lessons given required them to exercise a little more faith. Now they are coming to the advanced lessons on faith. God has led them, trained them, prepared them 40 years, and now they are ready to go in and conquer the land. Now they come to the point of stepping out in faith, trusting God, where THEY are actually the ones who are taking the effort and acting in obedience to God, and God supplies them the strength they need.
This morning, we are going to look at some of the familiar stories many of us learned in SS, but we want to look at them a different way, through the perspective of the lesson of “stepping out in faith.” Remember, this was the same set of lessons God taught Abraham as we looked in the book of Genesis - continuing to lead him out of his comfort zone and to test his obedience. God told him, “leave your homeland, and while you’re on your way, I’ll show you where to go.” He said, “Take your only son, the one I promised you, and kill him as a human sacrifice to honor me” - never telling him that God was going to stop him at the last minute. God calls us out of our comfort zones, and to live by faith. We are going to look in Joshua today and learn some of the lessons about what is involved when we step out in faith.
Look first in Joshua 1:1-2 - After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ assistant: “Moses my servant is dead. 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.”
Stepping out in faith . . .
1. Involves embracing change! The first lesson we learn in Joshua about stepping out in faith is that we can’t rely on the past. God calls us to change. There are many people who live in the past. They love the past. They relive the “good old days” all the time. But the problem is we are never called to live in the “good old days” - and even if we could, we’d find that they probably weren’t all that good.
I can remember as a boy loving to watch Tarzan movies. I can remember the Mike Henry movies from the 70’s, and how much I liked them. Of course with DVD’s out now, you can get all kinds of old Tarzan movies for $3 at the grocery store. A few months ago I bought a VHS video of an old Tarzan movie that I remembered loving growing up. The only problem was, it wasn’t nearly as good as I remembered it being. Many times we live in the past, and long for the past, but God has called us to live in the present and look to the future. And if we are going to follow God, we need to be willing to embrace change.