The first book I want to go deeper in is Joshua. Since I first learned of who Joshua was, and how God used him, I have been interested in his story. I have read the book at least once all the way through, and I love how this book transitions into the story of the Judges, king Saul, and David. I am positive that the study of a man chosen by God to lead His people to their inheritance will produce a new found love for our God who so graciously gives us what we do not deserve.
We first learn of the young Joshua in Exodus 17. The Israelites are under attack from the Amalekites and Moses sends Joshua out as the leader of the group who would fight them. Moses raises his hands to the Lord during the fight, and because he keeps them up, Joshua and his army defeat the Amalekites. God tells Moses to write down the defeat and make sure that Joshua hears about it, as God will eventually destroy Amalek. In my view this is not just the first time we hear of Joshua, but also the first time we see God rewarding him with a promise for his obedience.
We see throughout the books of Exodus and Numbers that Joshua is a man curious about God, always wanting to obey and be in His presence. In chapter 24 of Exodus Joshua goes with Moses on the mountain to receive the 10 commandments. In 33 we read that Moses would go to a tent outside of the camp to meet with God, and then go and tell the people what God said, but Joshua would stay in the tent. He was a man after God, to know Him was his desire.
Numbers 13, God tells Moses to send scouts to see the promise land and bring back word to the rest of Israel on what they find. Joshua is one of the scouts. The report is favorable, but the other scouts (excluding Caleb) are afraid of the people in the land that God is giving them. The entire Israelite people grumble before the Lord saying it would have been better to stay in Egypt. Because of their rebellion and unwillingness to trust that God would deliver the land over to them, they were made to stay in the desert until the entire grumbling generation had passed away. Only Caleb & Joshua remained because of their unswerving faith that God would deliver on His promises.
And in Numbers 27:18 the Lord tells Moses, “Take Joshua son of Nun, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand on him.” God tells Moses to do this in the sight of the people so that Joshua will become their new leader, after Moses is taken to be with his fathers. This is where we pick up the book of Joshua.
1 After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: 2 “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites. 3 I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. 4 Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Mediterranean Sea in the west. 5 No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. 6 Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.
Until this point the Lord had not spoken directly to Joshua. How awesome it must have been for him to hear the Lord telling him that he would be the one that would lead God’s people, after so many generations, into the promise land! Because of his faithfulness to Him, God uses Joshua to fulfill the promises He gave to Abraham, Issac, Jacob & Moses. After hearing about them from generations past, Joshua gets to lead the people and usher in the next generation of God’s people. And if all of that wasn’t enough, God promises Joshua that He will be with him, never to forsake him, making Joshua strong so that none can stand against him.
7 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
God tells Joshua 3 times to be strong and courageous. I imagine at the time God is speaking to Joshua he is both elated and nervous. ‘Why me? What have I done to deserve such honor?’ he must have thought. God knows the cries of our hearts. He knows if we are scared, sad, happy, or nervous. He knew that Joshua was faithful, but being a man needed to be encouraged. Be strong and courageous.. words I long to hear as I step faithfully out in this world to do the Lord’s will. Joshua was a man chosen by God, even from birth to perform this task of leading His people. We are also specifically chosen for certain tasks. The question is, will we be strong and courageous enough to go forward with what God is telling us to do? “In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.” Ephesians 1:11
God then tells Joshua to be careful to obey His law. God promises that if Joshua will keep this law that he will be successful. Have you noticed that this is directly applicable to us as well? God’s commandments are not arbitrary laws, but perfect laws that require study and obedience. To obey God’s laws is to love Him, and to not turn to the right or left of what God has told us to do. Because God’s law is perfect it has the ability to tell us right from wrong, therefore keeping us on track with what He wills for us.
Here’s an example: Let’s pretend you have a decision to make. You need to decide between taking job A or job B. By reading God’s word, and knowing His laws, we come to know where our time should be focused, and with whom we should be interacting. If you hold up job A against God’s law and it doesn’t line up with the things God deems as good, you should decline. If you hold up job B and it does coincide with what is pleasing to God then you should accept. God gives you His will in His word (which all falls in line with His commandments), answering the question of which job to take by comparing it to His standards.
To take it even further, God tells Joshua to meditate on His law day and night, and then he will be prosperous and successful. There is so much truth in that statement. Sometimes it seems easier to sin (thinking that no one will notice) and take the easy road rather than work hard, choosing not to sin, and arriving at the same outcome. The thing is that when you sin, even if it seems like no one knows, eventually it will resurface, and there will always be someone that knows what you have done… His name is I AM. “He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart.” 1 Corinthians 4:5
Every sin will come back, and I believe that is why God emphasizes ‘have I not commanded you?’. He is telling Joshua, and us as the readers that His laws are for a purpose, and that by obeying them and following them we will always arrive at that perfect place where God is before us, and we are doing His will. The entire Bible is one record after another of living out God’s commands and laws. “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.” Romans 15:4
And finally, after encouraging him 3 times, God reminds Joshua that this is going to be challenging by telling him to not be afraid, and to not get discouraged. In all that we go through in this life there will be times of hardship, but in the end, if we are chosen by God, we will prosper. It is not this life that should be held with high regard for riches, but the one that will be spent eternally with God. “19 Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6