The book of Ecclesiastes teaches us that there are seasons in our lives.
Ecclesiastes 3:1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: 2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; 3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; 4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance…
Last week we saw how Israel went through a season of rebellion and chastisement. The Lord led them to the door of entering into their Promised Land, but because of their unbelief, they were denied the privilege and the result was forty years of wandering in the wilderness. During that season in the nation Israel, a whole generation died. Today we come to a passage of scripture that shows us that season for Israel is passed and they are once again at the doorstep of promise.
Joshua 1:1 Now after the death of Moses the servant of the LORD it came to pass, that the LORD spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ minister, saying, 2 Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel.
Moses is dead and Joshua is their new leader. God is once again ready to take them in and enable them to claim their Promised Land.
What season of your life are you currently in? Have you been wandering in a wilderness? Are you ready to move forward? If God so opens the door, are you ready to step out in faith and follow? Sometimes God has to take us through a wilderness before He can lead us into the land of Promise. That’s not because God doesn’t want to bless us, but because He first has to first break us before He can bless us.
Joshua 1:3 Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses. 4 From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast. 5 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. 6 Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them. 7 Only be thou strong and very courageous …
9 Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.
Three times the Lord told Joshua to be strong and courageous. Was Joshua a timid man? Perhaps there was no man, other than Caleb, that even came close to the courage of Joshua. Why then did the Lord repeatedly encourage him to be courageous?
For one thing, he was filling some big shoes. Scripture says of Moses – “And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face.” (Deut 34:10) He was not a Moses; he was a Joshua. Yet the Lord didn’t need another lawgiver. The Lord needed a general and Joshua was the man. Perhaps the Lord encouraged him because he was now bearing some enormous weight upon his shoulders. He has two million plus people, including women and children, who are looking to him for leadership. Another reason perhaps the Lord encouraged him was because of the enemies he had to face. Don’t forget, it’s a land filled with giants and that’s why God called Joshua the general to be the new leader.
The Lord gives Joshua at least three reasons why he should be strong and courageous.
I. In Order to Occupy What Is Given You
Joshua 1:6 Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them.
You will remember from last week’s message that there are giants living in the land. Many of these giants and enemies are living in well-fortified cities, such as Jericho. The children of Israel would not simply march in and take over. There would be many battles to be fought and that’s why God called Joshua the general to be their leader. It would take great courage and strength to fight and defeat these enemies.
Christians are in a battle. Paul tells us that it is not a physical battle, but instead, a spiritual battle.
Ephesians 6:10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
Though it may seem like at times we are fighting physical battles, in reality we are fighting spiritual battles. Therefore, we need to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Can we? Paul wrote to young Timothy, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Tim 1:7)
The things we are studying really happened. These are true stories. Yet the Bible tells us that these things are given to us for an example. There is a spiritual lesson to be learned. Many Bible scholars have concluded that:
- Egypt represents the world and sin. Before salvation, we are slaves to sin.
- Promised Land represents the victorious Christian life.
- Jordan River and the giants of Canaan represent Satan and the obstacles he puts before us in order to keep us from possessing our possessions.
- Wilderness represent what happens to the child of God who fails to trust and obey.
- There is also one other great example. The name ‘Joshua’ is the Old Testament version the New Testament name, ‘Jesus.’ Joshua is Hebrew and Jesus is Greek. Probably a closer pronunciation of what both men were called was ‘Yeshua.’ Consider what the writer of Hebrews tells us –
Hebrews 12:1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.
The phrase – ‘author and finisher of our faith’ could be translated as – ‘the captain and perfecter of our faith.’ As we will see in a few weeks, Joshua, the captain of the armies of Israel, is going to have an encounter with Jesus, the captain of the armies of heaven.
II. In Order to Obey What Is Commanded You
Joshua 1:7 Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest.
The people feared that the physical giants might eat them up. God feared that the spiritual giants might eat them up.
In God’s economy, you cannot separate physical success from spiritual success.
Joshua 1:8 This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.
One has to wonder if these words given to Joshua provided the inspiration for David’s first psalm –
Psalm 1:1 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. 2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. 3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
You can’t separate physical success from spiritual success. Therefore, be careful to not deviate to the right or to the left. I’m not sure exactly what the Lord meant here; no doubt it was a way of saying that we should not stray in one bit from the center of truth; however, I find it interesting that to us, the right often means what is conservative and the left often means what is liberal. If that is so, it might be said – be careful to not add to the law or take away from it. Can peole add to the law and stray from the truth? Sure they can. That’s exactly what the Pharisees did. Can people take away from the law and stray from the truth? They do so everyday. Yet in order to receive God’s blessings, we need to strive to stay exactly in the middle.
God gives three principles for staying in the middle of His Word:
A. Study it continually – “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night…” Psalm 119:105 says, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
B. Observe it faithfully – “…that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein…”
C. Enjoy it abundantly – “… for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.”
III. In Order to Overcome What Will Hinder You
Joshua 1:9 Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.
I have found the best way to overcome fear and discouragement in my life is to saturate myself with God’s Word. God’s presence is in His Word and if I want to see God, I need to look for Him in the pages of scripture. I need to do as the old song says – Stand on the Promises of God.
Standing on the promises that cannot fail,
When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail,
By the living Word of God I shall prevail,
Standing on the promises of God.
Standing on the promises of Christ the Lord,
Bound to Him eternally by love’s strong cord,
Overcoming daily with the Spirit’s sword,
Standing on the promises of God.
Standing on the promises I cannot fall,
Listening every moment to the Spirit’s call
Resting in my Savior as my all in all,
Standing on the promises of God.
Standing on the promises of God my Savior;
I’m standing on the promises of God.
(words and music by R. Kelso Carter)
Are there giants in your life that are keeping you from obeying God? I pray that this message has encouraged you to ‘arise and go over your Jordan.’ The LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.