All born-again Christians are called to a unique ministry in this life, to prepare them and others, for that life and the eternity beyond, which is our promise from God. No matter into which ministry or into which destiny God calls us, how we build our foundations, is important. For those especially chosen by God for His specific works and callings, He arranges training and shaping of our character; such that we are able, in all things, and at all times, to align with His will and to remain obedient to Him.
Let us look at the calling and the foundations which Joshua received from the Lord.
We can see from Joshua’s life that his shaping began many years before his calling was made public and he received his commission from God.
Joshua appears for the first time in Exodus 17:9-10 as the leader of a volunteer army, already trained in the arts of warfare and leadership. “And Moses said to Joshua, Choose us out men, and go out to fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in my hand. And Joshua did as Moses had said to him, and fought with Amalek.” From this, we can surmise that God had chosen Joshua, like He chose King David, from an early age and for a special destiny.
Joshua was one of the 12 ‘spies,’ one of the 12 pathfinders who went into the Promised Land and scout it out. But at their return, 10 of the 12 had fallen victim to a spirit of disbelief and although they all gave a glowing report that (Deuteronomy 1:25) “it is a good land which Jehovah our God gives us,” only Caleb and Joshua recommended to proceed and possess it. As a result, they were the only ones of that generation who entered the Promised Land. Faced with an enemy who were more numerous and taller than they, 10 of the 12 did not put their faith in the Lord and succumbed to the lies of the enemy and the spirit of disbelief. Because Moses also accepted the words of the 10, he did not walk into the Promised Land but being a leader, he condemned all others, as a result of his sin.
The Lord then told the people in v1:27 that “Joshua the son of Nun, who stands before you, he shall go in there. Make him strong, for he shall cause Israel to inherit it” and in Deuteronomy 31, at the age of 120 and just before his death, Moses declared Joshua as the new leader who will take them into the Promised Land. This time, Moses is clear about the crossing and God’s part in it: God Himself will lead the way (v3), overcome the enemy for them (v4), and be with them and will not leave them or forsake them (v8). But prophetically, Moses also admonishes them to do “according to all the commandments which I have commanded you.”
Then, in Joshua 1:2 the Lord spoke to Joshua, commissioning him saying “My servant Moses is dead. Now, therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people to the land which I give to them, to the sons of Israel.” A few verses later the Lord establishes a foundation of understanding of Joshua’s commission. For us, it is the same, as in Joshua 1:8 we read “This book of the Law shall not depart out of your mouth, but you shall meditate on it by day and by night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall act wisely.”
What the Lord is telling Joshua to do is study and meditate on His word, night and day. For Joshua, it was the commandments and words written by Moses. For us under the New Covenant, it is the whole of the Holy Bible; the Old and the New Testaments.
But what does “meditate” mean? The word mediate in the Hebrew word הגה or ‘hâgâh’ and it means something akin to moan, to growl, to utter, to muse, to mutter, to meditate, to devise, to plot, to speak and to imagine. It relates to the Jewish way of reading Scripture, where the reader pronounces the words softly – in a mutter – to themselves, as they read. The Scripture is not read silently as one would a Bible at home, but audibly, so that the sense of hearing is also engaged when studying Scripture. It is a tradition to be recommended and which Christians need to relearn also, so that the Word of God is received by as many of our senses as possible. Readers are not just soaked in the Word, but are saturated in it. The Word then envelops us and in this enveloping, we may hear new revelations from the Lord as we read in the Spirit.
God commissioned Joshua for three things:
1) Go and lead the people into the Promised Land. v1:2 ”Go over this Jordan, you and all this people to the land which I give to them.”
2) Defeat the enemy who are living there. v1:5 “No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life.”
3) Claim the inheritance which the Lord has given Hs people. v1:6 “you shall divide for an inheritance to this people, the land which I swore to their fathers, to give it to them.”
As Moses admonished Joshua to keep the Commandments and the Laws, so too did the Lord in v1:7 “Only be strong and very courageous so that you may be careful to do according to all the Law which My servant Moses commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may act wisely wherever you go.” These words of admonition are clearly spelt out here as a warning, that we must not depart even slightly from the will of God. God wants us to do things His way and at His time exactly in His manner. And finally, God again reiterated yet again the words of v1:9 “Be strong and of good courage. Do not be afraid, neither be dismayed. For Jehovah your God is with you in all places where you go.”
Regrettably, the words and warnings of Moses and God were not borne in mind as required and eventually Joshua, though he achieved his commission of leading God’s chosen people into His Promised Land, left a legacy which would come back to haunt them all. Slowly, they took their eyes off the Lord and repositioned them, together with their hearts, on the things of man, on the ways of the enemy and upon themselves.
Joshua was not called to start all again as the new leader. Instead he was to build upon the foundation which the Lord has given Moses, the Word of the Lord and which Moses has established before him.
As born-again Christians, we are called to do the same as Joshua:
1) Go and lead the people into the Promised Land. For us it is the eternity – God’s Kingdom in which Christ reigns. Our job is now the Great Commission: To “go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things, whatever I commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19)
2) Defeat the enemy. While we have a defeated enemy, for on the cross, Christ regained and redeemed that which was lost in the Garden of Eden, yet many still remain under bondage of the enemy and the powers and principalities of darkness still rule in most of the world. We are to reclaim back our brothers and sisters from the bondage of the enemy “and deliver those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” (Hebrews 2:15). We are to retake the lands which have been given over to the enemy for ungodly uses. We are to retake our societies and institutions, over which the enemy still reigns.
3) Claim the inheritance which the Lord has given His people. In claiming our inheritance we stand before the enemy and he turns. In claiming our inheritance we stand on Luke 10:19-20 where Jesus tell us “Behold, I give to you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the authority of the enemy. And nothing shall by any means hurt you.” We need to take this authority and exercise it; under it, claiming back rulership and control.
How are we to do this? Using the same instructions as Moses and God gave Joshua:
First: “Be strong and of good courage. Do not be afraid, neither be dismayed. For Jehovah your God is with you in all places where you go.” (Joshua 1:9)
Second: “This book of the Law shall not depart out of your mouth, but you shall meditate on it by day and by night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall act wisely” (Joshua 1:8) which Christ also told us: “But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” (Matthew 17:19)
We can also learn from Joshua that as Christians, we are not to enter life as a typical worldly new boss, and sweep the whole place clear and start it all again – our way, this time. That is not the Lord’s way. We are to rely, be guided by and be discipled by the teachings of our elders and then pass those on to our children and future generations. We do this as we listen with eager ears for the current new rhēma word of the Lord as He shows us how to use His Word in new ways for His new Kingdom. The Christian God is a living God and His Word lives too. He is always the same, but always changing. We need to be where He is now, not where He was yesterday.
Amen and Amen.