GET READY TO CROSS
JOSHUA 1:1-18 k.v. 9
As we all know, Exodus is the Book that tells the story of Moses and his infamous mission of leading the Israelites out of slavery and into the land God had promised them. But because Moses broke faith with God at some point during the journey, God only allowed Moses to see the promised land from a distance, stopping him just shy of the finished line. Fast forward three books later, we find a new appointed leader in the Book of Joshua. What does God have instore for Joshua, and how does Joshua respond? My message has 2 parts.
Part I. God commands Joshua
After Moses’s death, God was in need of a new servant. The Israelites remained homeless and the promised land was still out of reach. So, God turned to Joshua as the next man up. And in the following 8 verses Joshua receives a break down of God’s new mission for him.
Look at verse 2, “My servant Moses 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.” Joshua’s first order is to prepare for the crossing of the river. The reward would be great! Verse 3 reads, “I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses.” And to be precise, God specifically outlines a detailed footprint of his new land. He tells Joshua, “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.”
But wait, there is more! For reassuring purposes, God will provide for Joshua’s safety and protection. Look at verse 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.” Thus far, God has established great rewards for Joshua and his people, but first they must cross the Jordan River.
Understanding the magnitude of this task, God offers a personal message to Joshua, “Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.” At this point, you almost get the sense that Joshua is starting to feel the pressure. While the rewards are great, the responsibility is much greater. Filling in for Moses is a tall task. And dealing with hundreds, if not thousands of people can be a crushing burden. Just reflect on Afghanistan to get an idea.
So, God adds the word very to remind Joshua that having a conquering spirit is key to this mission! Look at verse 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.” God knows that it takes more than possessing courage. Staying laser-focused to Gods word is of first importance. If Joshua is to have success, and demonstrate good leadership under Gods command, Joshua must be careful to obey all the law and avoid from deviating from Gods word by all means.
And in verse 8, God emphasizes that the only way to come out of this successfully and prosperous is by holding on to the word of God. He says, “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.”
Finally, like any parent knows their children, God can see right through Joshua’s fear in verse 9. The reader can infer that at this point Joshua is afraid, overwhelmed, and full of anxiety. Look at what God says, “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.” It seems like Joshua showed timidity in his posture. Perhaps he was getting inside his own head and questioning his ability to lead. “I don’t think I’m fit for this job” he might have wondered. ‘Am I really ready to take up this responsibility?’ ‘Can I really do this?’
Getting ready to cross takes courage. It takes courage to make a decision by faith. It takes courage to commit to that decision. This was what Joshua was faced with. If we dive in deeper, crossing over can mean many things. For example, it can mean to grow and move on to the next level. To take up new challenges and reach higher potential. To cross over for Joshua meant to complete the unfinished and to cross over for the people of Israel meant to leave the past behind and look ahead to a new life.
Everyone involved in this passage needed to cross. Let us pray that we may discover what getting ready to cross means to us individually. Whatever it is, let’s pray that we can take action and follow through with it courageously. When God is with us then who can be against us?
Part II. Joshua obeys God’s command
So, what did Joshua do? How did he respond to God’s calling? Look at verses 10-11, “Joshua ordered the officers of the people to go throughout the camp and informed everyone to get their provisions ready. In three days, they will cross the Jordan and take possession of the Land the Lord is giving to them for their own.”
The timid, and afraid, and discouraged Joshua was no more. By placing his faith on God, Joshua took Gods calling and ran with it! He obeyed the orders of his Commander and Chief with great courage! His response was full of confidence. He was decisive and firm. In fact, he did not even reply to God. Joshua’s responded by taking immediate action and ordering his officers to get everyone ready. It was a domino effect. The Word came from God, Joshua passed the word along to his subordinates and they obeyed his orders.
Joshua then turns to his frontline fighters. Verses 12-15 we see Joshua assembling his own seal team 6 reminds them what is at stake and what God has instore for them as well. “To the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh and says to them in verse 13,
“Remember the command that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you after he said, ‘The Lord your God will give you rest by giving you this land.’ Your wives, your children and your livestock may stay in the land that Moses gave you east of the Jordan, but all your fighting men, ready for battle, must cross over ahead of your fellow Israelites. You are to help them until the Lord gives them rest, as he has done for you, and until they too have taken possession of the Land the Lord your God is giving them. After that, you may go back, and occupy your own land, which Moses the servant of the Lord gave you east of the Jordan toward the sunrise.
It is worth highlighting that everyone involved required participation and contribution to the mission. These men also needed to fight in order to get their piece of the land. So, with such loyalty and obedience they turned to Joshua and said,
“Whatever you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. Just as we fully obeyed Moses, so we will obey you. Only may the Lord your God be with you as he was with Moses. Whoever rebels against your word and does not obey it, whatever you may command them, will be put to death. And they too reminded Joshua to also be strong and courageous!”
When God commands, we receive mission, and mission gives us courage. When we obey, the word of God strengthens us and God in turn rewards us.
As I reflected on this message, I realized that crossing over to me is to complete unfinished business and move on to the next phase of my life. I have been stuck in my past fears and failures that have hindered me from growing. Falling short in my Air Force Officer’s exam has been one of them. I have failed to courageously complete my goals and grow in every facet of my life. As a result, today’s passage has inspired me to take courage. I have made the decision to recommit my exam preparation and take the test as soon as I get back. I have decided to commit myself in drawing closer to Christ by mediating on his word day and night, and to at least help 1 person cross over as well spiritually. In addition, I am also committed to getting physically stronger and read 10 books to sharpen my mind.
In conclusion, Joshua was known to be one of the twelve spies of Israel sent by Moses to explore the land of Canaan which we know today as Israel. Joshua led the Israelites in an invasion across the Jordan River. He took the important city of Jericho and then captured other towns in the north and south until most of Palestine was brought under Israelite control.
All of this was done with a conquering spirit. Joshua did indeed become strong and courageous. With mission he received courage and with obedience he gained his strength. In the end, God rewarded Joshua and his people with land, including God’s presence and protection, success and prosperity.