Exposition: Joshua 1:1-9 The First Step

Exposition: Joshua 1:1-9 The First Step 

Moses is dead- then what? Was God’s plan ruined?

No man is indispensable. God’s work does not go unfinished just because there is a change in servants. The same as the carpenter who changes tools while building a house. First he uses a shovel, then a ruler, then a saw, and then a hammer. The tribes were not lost with the death of Moses. Instead the change in leaders rang in a new phase of God’s plan. “Therefore arise and go over this Jordan.” Is what God commanded.

Now this does not mean that Moses was forgotten or that he was not honored and missed. The scripture refers to Moses as “the servant of the Lord”; clearly this is an honored title. Let’s take a second to look at this man’s life. He was at one time an oppressor of his own people, then a murderer. By his own admission he was not a cleaver or charismatic speaker. Yet the Lord used him, because he was obedient. Now in his death he is remembered by the scriptures as the Lord’s Servant.

His life was redeemed by the Lord. Moses heard the voice of God and was obedient, and the Lord changed his life. I look back on things I have done and wonder how God could ever love me, but in this simple scripture I gain hope. Because I hold faith in Jesus, he had redeemed me from my previous life. Because Jesus died and shed His blood for an atonement for my rebellious and self-serving immoral life, I have been made a new creature in Christ. I can think of no greater honor then to be found, by God, to be faithful. To be referred to as the Servant of the Lord, is something I don’t deserve, but bless God He enables me to be. – Amen!

Joshua had some big shoes to fill. I certainly don’t envy him on this. He received the same great promise the Lord gave to Moses, he had to obey the same Law the Lord gave to Moses, he was assured of the same presence from God that Moses had. There was a change in leaders, but nothing else changed in the circumstances. God was still God and God was still in charge.

In verse 2 Joshua receives his first test. “Go over this Jordan”. This seems like a simple charge. However; this was an immediate test of Joshua’s faith in God. God had already found out that Joshua was a good servant to Moses. In verse one it says “the Lord spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ minister”. Joshua has served Moses faithfully for over 40 years. He was a great soldier, and dedicated to the Law of Moses. But sometimes when there is a change in management, subordinates do not react well.

Sometimes when a subordinate is promoted, they lose perspective, and their egos inflate beyond what is helpful. So the Lord had to check Joshua to see if he would remain a good servant. So he gave him a small test. In addition this tests his leadership skills. Some soldiers, even officers are great at taking orders, but do not know how to actually lead. Leadership is a skill that is developed over time.

In the corporate world, business owners and CEOs give tests to new managers in order to develop their skills and confidence. Successful accomplishment of smaller tasks leads to an increase in responsibilities and instills faithfulness and confidence. The process of being lead through difficult tasks and challenging circumstances builds a unique bond between mentor and student.

In Joshua 3.15 we read that the Jordan was overflowing its banks. The Lord didn’t tell Joshua, “build an ark”, like He did Noah. The Lord didn’t tell Joshua to “stretch forth his staff over the waters” like he did to Moses. No the Lord at first didn’t give Joshua any indications on how this feat should be approached. Let us consider also the enemy situation. This situation was not like when God parted the Red Sea for Moses so that the tribes could get away from Pharaoh’s army. They weren’t escaping an enemy. The tribes were crossing over into enemy territory, probably being observed doing so. Later we can read that the crossing was in broad daylight. This was not some secret thing that God was doing.

When I was in the Army, we did not cross a river in daylight if it could be helped. We would wait until nightfall and cross under the cover of darkness. In addition, we would send scouts to ensure that the enemy was not able to observe us crossing. We called these linear danger areas, and many lives could be lost if the enemy attacked you while crossing a linear danger area, especially one that took as much time to cross as a flowing river. This was an extremely dangerous and time consuming maneuver to undertake.

So maybe now you can understand what a test of faith this was. Joshua was to cross the entire nation over the river Jordan, and had not received any indication of how this was possible. Joshua had seen what God had done for Moses. Joshua had been trained by Moses to trust in the Lord. Joshua had seen with his own eyes the penalty of unbelief in God. Joshua know the penalty for murmuring against God, and how much it displeased God. Joshua did not display any of these things. In turn Joshua commanded the people. He did not question God.

What Joshua had was a command and a promise from God. We also have some tasks that God has commanded us to do. We sometimes cannot see how God would expect us to complete. We cannot see how to carry through, but if we do, it we obey, it we take that first step in faith, God responds to our faith. God is faithful and we begin to see a path through the waters. We find a trail in the wilderness, a step up the mountain. It might be narrow, and dangerous, but it is enough to let you through – Amen! That’s what God means when He says, “My grace is sufficient.”

The Lord told Joshua in verse 3, “Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses.” The lord has given us the victory. His word is a lamp unto our feet. We are to have our feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. Jesus said in Matthew 28 “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Ghost; Teaching them to observe whatsoever I have commanded you; and, lo I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”

Joshua 1:5 says, “There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee, I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee:” Does this sound familiar?

This is the same command and promise we have today. “Go” and “I am with thee” are what Jesus reaffirms to us who believe. The promise in verse four is almost verbatim of the promise given to Moses in Deuteronomy 2.24. Now these boundaries as outlined in the text were not actually achieved until late in history, but they were achieved. Does this mean that God failed Joshua? No, the promises were conditional. In verses, 6-9 the Lord laid out the conditions to Joshua. The Lord told him to be strong and of good courage, and also to not let the Law depart from out of his mouth, but to meditate on them daily. The Israeli’s failure to keep the directives of God had a direct consequence on their receiving the promises of God.

God always has more good in store for us than we can ever realize. The problem is that we turn away from God. Following the Law does not give us salvation. Faith in the atonement provided through the blood of Jesus does. However, adherence to the principles of the Law will have positive effects on our lives. For instance if you commit adultery you stand to lose out on a lifelong relationship with a spouse that would have otherwise been committed to you the rest of your life. Someone who would have enriched your life and grew with you daily in love and given you peace in your heart and mind. In addition, adultery opens you and your spouse up to sexually transmitted diseases, and health related issues. In addition, even if you don’t lose your spouse, you lose the sacred bond of trust with your spouse, friends and family members.

Your testimony becomes worthless, and you become useless to God for your intended purposes. The spiritual ramifications to everyone involved are immeasurable. Unbelief and sin turn a great evangelical Christian into an eyesore and a point of shame. That is why God gave Joshua encouragement. That is why God gives us encouragement. That is why Paul tells us over and over in his epistles to encourage one another.

Jesus told his disciples while they were in a boat, in a storm in the middle of the night, “It is I, be not afraid”. He told Joshua, “be strong and of good courage.” So we know that Jesus said, “I am with you always.” We know that God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. God’s nature does not change. Knowing this we know that Jesus is with us, we too can be strong and of good courage. We are not in the storm, in the middle of the darkness, all alone. When the waters of stress and fear are rising up and trying to choke the light out of us, He says, “be not afraid.” – Amen.

Be strong! Be courageous! Our strength is the fruit of our faith. That is why Ephesians 6.10 says “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.” Christ has given us Himself and thus supplied everything we need. His Word will prove to be definitive, and practical enough if we honestly try to apply it to our lives. – Amen

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Get Back to the Basics

Sitting here watching the rains come down by the gallons, I wondered away in thought.  It is kind of scary how far off our thoughts can get.  Well at least mine.  We have been reading in 1st Corinthians and I wondered.  How could the first century church get to far off from what the gospel was about?  I mean, the Apostle Paul is still alive, and writing to them.  They had Apollos, Cephas, and other spirit filled followers, of the Way, right there with them.  Paul even sent Timothy to follow up with them and make sure that they were following the teachings they had received.

Jesus commanded us, as believers, to “make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Teaching them to observe ALL I’ve commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

The word observe has several meanings, but they all come down to follow with the eyes of the mind and stick to correctly, or conform ones actions or practice to.  So another way of putting it could be that Jesus said to teach them to conform to the commandments I gave you.  This is what discipleship is.  With that in mind.  What are the most important commandments of Jesus?

If we took all of his teachings and commandments, and the way he lived his life and put it all together, what would be the result?  What are we to conform our lives to?  Now I’m talking to believers, those who have repented, confessed Jesus as Lord, taken up their cross and are followers of the Way of Christ.

Does anyone remember what kind of house Jesus lived in?  Wasn’t it the biggest one on the block?  Wasn’t his chariot the newest thing out of Rome?  Does anyone recall when he was on the Mount of Olive and he said, those who are rich are welcome in the kingdom and the poor need to wait outside?  Well if you remember all these things you have a very different version of the New Testament then I do.

No he said that the Son of man has not where to lay his head.  He walked almost everywhere he went.  He said it is harder for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven then for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle.  He said if you give to the poor and the hungry and visit the prisoners, then you did so to him.

So what is the command?  Couldn’t he just come out and say it?  I can be pretty thick headed.  Hmmm… Well, thanks to Jesus thinking of me, and how I would need to have my hand held all the way, he did tell us very plainly.

When Jesus was asked, “What is the greatest commandment?”  He not only answered, plainly, but went the extra mile.  “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all our mind.  This is the first commandment.  And the second is like unto it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39, KJV)

Once again Jesus reiterated, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35 NIV)  By these two commandment, everything Jesus wanted us to observe is made perfect.

Just to make sure we understood how important these commandments are Jesus tells us in John 14:15, “If you love Me, keep my commandments.”  So… In loving the Lord we keep his commandments to love the Lord your God and to love one another.  But how do we love the Lord?  How do we express the way to love the Lord?  We live in a world where all we are taught is how to love ourselves.

Let us start with something basic.  Most of us being selfish, still know how to show love to our children, a spouse, a sibling, a pet, a close friend, or to parents.  I know, not all at the same time, but we have at least a starting point. You can express love to the Lord in the same way you express love to one of these that you do love.  Now this is only a beginning and meant to get you to find your own ways to express love for the Lord.

  • Give Thanks
  • Do Things For Him
  • Spend Time
  • Shut Up and Listen
  • Give Praise and Brag on Him

Give Thanks

Let’s start with being thankful. Expressing thanks to someone you love just for being there is a great way to show your love.  I love the fact that my wife is there for me, even when she doesn’t realize it, her presence lifts me up.  Sometimes I just reach over and tell her, Thanks for no reason.  When my son cuts the grass for me, I tell him thanks, because he did not have to do that.  When my wife brings me diner, and yes she does bring me diner.  I know in this day and age that is not the norm, so I thank her for it without fail.  She is not my servant, but shows her love for me in this manner. The Lord does things for you all the time, even when you do not know.  Show your love and appreciation by thanking him, as often as you need to. You should thank Him, as soon as you think of it.

Do Things for Him

That brings us to another point.  Do things for the Lord that He enjoys.  I help my wife with cooking, and dishes, and other household chores.  I make her little drawings, I by her flowers for no reason.  So what are some things we can do for the Lord?  Funny you should ask, because he told us in Matthew 25: 34-40,

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

 Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”

Spend Time

I love to just sit on the bed, or go for a drive with my wife and just enjoy being with her.  I love sitting on a peer with my son and fishing, or just being in the presence of my family without the phone in my hand, or theirs.  Just spending time with them lets them know they are important to me.  Spend time with the Lord.  Get up early and go to sit by the water and just enjoy His presence, or have a cup of coffee and meditate on His goodness.  Spend time with him and let him know you enjoy the time he has to spend with you.  Enjoy his voice.

Shut Up and Listen

Most of the time I spend with family is sitting in the living room or at the dinner table and they just talk about their day.  Most of the time they talk to fast I can hardly keep up with the conversation, much less add my own thoughts.  I often have to stop them and make them start over so I can understand.  They laugh at me a little sometimes, and sometimes they even repeat what they said, to make sure I know what was went on with them.  But just taking the time to listen, and try to understand is another way I show my love.  I care about what they are trying to say, even if I don’t always understand it the first time.  Spending time with the Lord in Prayer and study is a very good way to not only learn more about God, but to show Him that you love Him enough to try to understand Him.  Remember the Lord says to Seek and you shall find.  Ask and it will be given.  Set a specific time of day just to spend in prayer and study His Word.

Give Praise and Brag on Him

When my wife gives me a pat on the back, or brags about me to others, “Boy Howdy!”  I love it because I know she thinks about me, when I’m not there.  I will honestly tell you my wife is the best cook I have ever known.  I mean, I will lay money on it.  She knows it and so does everyone else.  I love to brag at work and tell everyone the latest culinary masterpiece that she developed in the cooking channel that is our kitchen.

The same way is with my son’s playing of the trumpet, everyone in the stadium knows that he is the best trumpet player in the band, and it they didn’t know before I got there, they do when I have left.  Or that my other son is the hardest working, biggest hearted man I know, who will literally give you the shirt off his back. The gentleness in his heart makes me cry every single time I think about him.

This is the way we should brag and praise the Lord.  Hey! Your God is the one who SAVED you from death.  Y our God is the one who formed you in the womb. our God is He who provides everything you have.  Your God is He who parted the Red Sea, and destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.  He is the creator or all that is see and unseen.  He is coming back to wipe away the heavens and the earth and create a new heavens and earth, and guess what, your gona have a front row seat!  Praise God! Brag in Him. “ I will praise You, O Lord, with my whole heart;  I will tell of all your marvelous works.” Psalms 9:1

Knowing that someone loves you is euphoric.  We are created in God’s image.  The Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit are one awesome God and deserve our love and our outward expression of love. So rejoice in the Lord and brag about being His beloved.  “For the Lord gives to His beloved even in their sleep.” (Psalms 127:2) Don’t take Him for granted.  Tell others how much He loves you and them.

This is only a short list of ways to love the Lord your God.  I am sure you have already thought of many more.  It is time to move away from the milk of the gospel and onto to cereals of the doctrine of love in Christ Jesus.  There is no division in Christ.  If you are a follower of Jesus there is no Jew, Catholic, or Protestant.  We are one church.  We are all baptized in to one resurrection, and by His love they shall know we are one in Him.