09 Jul Histo-RAY Commentary by Ray Moore – Joshua 1:1-11
JOSHUA – Possessing the Promise
“Leadership is the activity of influencing people to cooperate toward some goal they come to find desirable” Ordway Tead
OVERVIEW OF JOSHUA
After the death of Moses, the Lord spoke to Joshua and commissioned him to take over the leadership of the Hebrew people. Based on that, Joshua commanded the people to get up and be ready to go in three days.
Joshua faced many challenges or there would have been no need for God to tell him “Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged.” (Joshua 1:9) Joshua could not carry out his commission without the supernatural power God promised would be available.
JOSHUA 1:1-5 GOD’S PROMISE TO GIVE
1:1 God had set His plan in motion when he called Abraham out of Haran and led him to Canaan. In Genesis 12:2, God had said “I will make you into a nation and I will bless you.” In the very next chapter, when Abraham stood on the land, God said, “All the land you see I will give to you and your offspring forever.” Genesis 3:15 Abraham was followed by Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. After 400 years in Egypt, the family had grown into a nation—a nation of slaves struggling under the hand of Pharaoh. God heard their cries and moved to fulfill His promise to Abraham. God called Moses who led them out of Egypt. God told Moses, “I have come to rescue my people from the hands of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey.” Exodus 3:8 Moses was hesitant but God said, “I will be with you.” Exodus 3:12
The first verse of Joshua describes the calling of a new leader. Moses is dead. Joshua is re-introduced by direct call of JAHWEH himself. In Deuteronomy 34:9, we learn that God had chosen him and prepared him. Now he and the Israelites stood on the west bank of the Jordan River ready to fulfill a promise given to Abraham hundreds of years before.
Joshua was the son of NUN. He is named 205 times in the Old Testament–148 in this book. His name is mentioned in Exodus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, and Judges. He is mentioned two times in the New Testament. In Stephen’s speech as he was being killed and again in the book of Hebrews.
1:2 Let’s not forget Joshua had been one of the spies and had personally seen the enemies Israel would have to defeat.
The Jordon River begins just below Mount Hermon and flows south into the Sea of Galilee and then into the Dead Sea. Joshua and his people were located just north of the Dead Sea and east of Jericho. If the Israelites had listened to Joshua and Caleb and entered the land from the south years earlier, they would not have been facing the Jordan at this point.
1:3-5 There is no disputing the precise boundaries of the land they were to take. A great desert to the south, the Lebanese mountains to the north, the Mediterranean Sea to the west, and the Great River Euphrates to the east.
The word “give” appears in both verses 2 and 3 indicating that Joshua’s work was really God’s work. “Give” is one of the most common words in the Old Testament occurring over two thousand times. It is one of the 15 most common words in the Old Testament.
What a promise God gave to Joshua, “No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life.”
Note: When we stare at the Jordan River in our lives, what do we see? The swirling muddy waters of spiritual failures, sins, fears, habits, some physical problem, broken relationships, etc? Like Joshua, we need to take our eyes off the river and fix them on the God of the river.
In addition to the promises to “give”, God now adds principles for Joshua “growth”.
JOSHUA 1:6-8 GOD’S PRINCIPLES FOR GROWTH
Like Moses, Joshua began his leadership at the age of 80 so he had decades of experience to strengthen his faith.
1:7-8 At the center of Joshua’s faith would be the Word of God, “the Book of the Law.” The word “meditate” could be interpreted “mutter”. As one writer put it, “When one continually mutters God’s Word to himself, he is constantly thinking about it. Knowledge of God’s Law isn’t enough; we must also be careful to do what it commands”
JOSHUA 1:9-11 GOD’S PRESENCE TO GUIDE
1:9 Surely one of the greatest verses in the bible. These words echo through the heart of anyone who ever tried to serve the Lord. “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Fear and discouragement go with the territory in any kind of ministry. The ONLY antidote is the constant awareness of the presence of the Lord.
1:10-11 In verse 10, the scene switches from God’s instruction to Joshua’s instruction to the officers. The word “ordered” showed Joshua’s authority and is an important concept through out the scriptures. This word occurs 496 times in the Hebrew bible.
Joshua’s situation at that time is similar to the one Moses faced 40 years earlier. In both cases, the obstacle occurred at the beginning of the leaders’ ministries. Both were impossible to overcome by natural means. Both demanded implicit trust in and absolute dependence on God’s miracle working power.
PRINCIPLES FOR TODAY’S CHRISTIAN
- Christian leaders must be absolutely convinced that they can trust God enough to enter every situation with confidence.
- In times of trouble, trust in God and in His promises, principles, presence, and plans.
- At the center of all we do is God’s Word; our number one task is to be careful to obey it.