You need to understand three things to get Joshua chapter one. First, you need to understand that after wandering around in the desert for forty years, the Israelites are finally ready to enter the land of Canaan. Second, you need to understand that Moses dies just before the Israelites cross the Jordan River and claim the land God set aside for them to inhabit. Moses – the guy who led the Israelites out of Egyptian bondage, the guy who brought the 10 Commandments down from the mountain, the wise and patient leader who counseled, comforted, and guided the Jews through the desert to the Promised Land – was removed from office and his assistant, Joshua was appointed by God as his successor. Third, you need to understand that Joshua did not want to be Israel’s commander and chief!
Why didn’t Joshua want to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land? Joshua felt unworthy. Joshua was born and raised as a slave. He spent the first forty years of his life serving the Egyptians. Then, he spent his next forty years serving as Moses’ general during the Wilderness Wanderings. Joshua was a good soldier, but he did not feel he could be a good Commander and Chief. Joshua also felt scared. Oh, he wasn’t frightened of the giants in Canaan. He had defeated many giants in battle. Joshua was afraid of speaking to and for God!
How did God help Joshua overcome his fear to lead Israel?
1st – God reminded Joshua it was his time.
“After the death of Moses the Lord’s servant, the Lord spoke to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ assistant. He said, “Moses my servant is dead. Therefore, the time has come for you to lead these people, the Israelites, across the Jordan River into the land I am giving them.” Joshua 1:1-2 NLT
God wasn’t notifying Joshua that Moses was dead. Joshua knew Moses had died – he had just spent the last thirty days mourning Moses’ death (Deuteronomy 34:8). God was telling Joshua that things would never be the way they used to be. Moses was gone and not coming back. It was time for Israel to have a new leader, and that new leader was Joshua.
2nd – God promised Joshua the land of Canaan.
“I promise you what I promised Moses: ‘Wherever you set foot, you will be on land I have given you—from the Negev wilderness in the south to the Lebanon mountains in the north, from the Euphrates River in the east to the Mediterranean Sea in the west, including all the land of the Hittites.” Joshua 1:3-4 NLT
God promised Joshua the same land He promised Moses – “I am going to give Israel the land of Canaan!” The sovereign Lord gave Joshua His word that he would take the land of Canaan.
3rd – God told Joshua that he could depend on Him.
“No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. For I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you. “Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them.” Joshua 1:5-6 NLT
After promising him the land of Canaan, the One who spoke the universe into existence told Joshua “I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you.”
4th – God told Joshua the secret to success.
“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:7-9 NLT
- First, God told Joshua to do what Moses had taught him to do.
- Then, the Lord instructed Joshua to study the Word of God.
To study the Bible means to determine its meaning so you can apply the scriptures to your life (James 1:22-25).
- Finally, God told Joshua to daily meditate on the Word of God.
The word meditate means “to mutter, or to think about something over and over again.” Our wrong thinking is traded for right, godly thinking as we meditate on scripture. The Word of God shows us how to think like God and do His will (See: Romans 12:1-2; Ephesians 4:17-32; Colossians 3:1-10). Notice, God promised Joshua he would prosper and succeed in everything he did if he studied and obeyed the Bible.
Well, Joshua embraced his new leadership role and led the Israelites into Canaan. He did not succeed because he was a great soldier or leader. He succeeded because he believed God’s promises to him. He put his fears aside and placed his faith in God. Joshua believed God was with and would not abandon him. And, Joshua committed himself to study and obey the Bible. The Word of God governed every area of his life.
I am convinced the promises that God made to Joshua apply to us today. I believe the Lord had a role for each of us to play. And, God will be with us as we fulfill that role. He will never leave us or forsake us in battle! I also believe the Lord will make us prosper and succeed in all we do if we base our lives on the truths found in the Bible – His written Word. So, as you go out today into unknown territory, listen to God’s voice, “Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
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