“After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD said to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, ‘Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses.'” – Joshua 1:1-3
“‘Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous…'” – Joshua 1:5, 6
“‘Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do all the law that Moses my servant commanded you…do not turn to the right or left…meditate on it day and night…Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.'” – Joshua 1:7-9
The story of Joshua is one that reveals a God who is on the move and continues to work out His plan even in times of crisis. Israel is on the edge of the Promised Land and Moses has died. What? This is huge! What are we going to do now? Joshua, the second in command, is thrust into the limelight as the successor to the greatest leader of all time! Awful big shoes to fill…No pressure. Needless to say, Joshua is unsure, the people are stunned, and the train has come to a screeching halt. What do we do now? Time for God to bring in some perspective…a heavenly pep rally of sorts! Yes, once again, God shows up and speaks to Joshua.
First, God acknowledges the “elephant ‘no longer‘ in the room”. “I know…Moses is dead, but I am not. Arise and go…” Whether it is the Red Sea or the death of a hero we tend to stand still in times of crisis and question the whole journey. God encourages Joshua (and us) to keep moving. God’s plan has not changed. He continues to move ahead with the plan to save His people. On this journey the baton has been passed from Abraham to Isaac to Jacob to Joseph to Moses and, now to Joshua. God was with all of them and worked through them and He promises Joshua, “I will be with you too!” Jesus continued this message to the disciples when He encouraged them after His death and resurrection,
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:18-20
Does this sound familiar to the words God speaks to Joshua? Of course! Our God is the same and is continuing the same work today in you and I. Just like He encouraged Joshua to stick to the plan and Jesus encouraged the disciples, He encourages us today. The death of Moses did not send God back to the drawing board. This was never about Moses, it was about God and His plan to redeem His people. This reveals to us that from the beginning God has never walked away or scrapped His plan to save the world. Stick to the plan.
So, what is the message? He says it over and over again in this passage and throughout the Scripture, “Do not be afraid! Be strong and courageous”. Yes, things change, but God doesn’t. “Moses is dead, but I am not. I am still here and I want you to arise and go. I will be with you. Be strong and courageous and stick to the plan.”
And the story continues…