“One of Joshua’s most famous assignments was as one of the twelve spies who went in to scope out the Promised Land in Numbers 13 . . . the very land he was ready to lead the children of Israel into here in Joshua 1. If you remember, Joshua and Caleb were the only spies who had a favorable report from the Promised Land and were the only ones who showed faith. Forty years had passed since that time of being spies and now Joshua is called upon to lead them into Canaan. The promise that God had given Abraham many years before was now just a few steps away and all that preparation of Joshua was now being tested.
Some things were for sure at this point. Joshua had witnessed the people’s constant complaining and idolatry in their wanderings. He had seen how they were truly, “stiff-necked people” (Exodus 33:5). He had also witnessed God’s power, deliverance and miracles. He also knew that the best was yet to come. They were finally going to claim their inheritance. But something tragic had happened . . . Joshua’s mentor and Israel’s infamous leader, Moses had died. “After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, 2 “Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise . . .” (Joshua 1:1-2).
Those last three words are really big words, “Now, therefore arise . . .” (Joshua 1:2). This was the time that Joshua’s faith was going to be tested in a huge way. Faith Is Always Tested. Change was obvious. Something traumatic had happened in the history of Israel . . . their famed and cherished leader was dead and they were on the edge of the greatest blessing of their existence. With Moses, a true man of God had died, but nothing of God had died.”
“God gave Joshua the assignment. He reiterated to Joshua what he had told Moses to do. God doesn’t need worthy men . . . He makes men worthy. It was time for Joshua to “step it up” and take over. He had some big shoes to fill and the only way he was going to succeed and the people were going to follow was if he had faith. When your faith is tested you must see several things.
“God Has Been Preparing You. Standing right there on the other side of the Jordan River poised and anxious to go over, Joshua had to realize that God had been preparing him for this all his life. All that time serving as a general in the army, working alongside Moses as his aide, going up on Mount Sinai to encounter the very presence of God, sitting outside the Tent of Meeting, etc.
All of that was preparation for this moment right here. Anytime we find ourselves in a place that our faith will be tested, it didn’t just pop up out of nowhere. It was orchestrated by God and when you look back you will see God was putting all the pieces together way back and preparing you for that day.
With his faith being tested he had to know that God Always Keeps His Promises. “3 Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses. 4 From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun shall be your territory.” (Joshua 1:4). God had promised them this land to Abraham over four hundred years before. God hadn’t forgotten but was just working “the plan.” God’s plans are always perfect and never too late, never too early, but always on time. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10).
With his faith being tested he had to know that God’s Presence Was With Him. “No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you.” (Joshua 1:5). When God puts a task before you, He is never going to leave you. He will always be with you. God’s presence is always going to be a powerful and protective presence. “No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life.” (Joshua 1:5). This is God’s timetable you are on, this is God’s plan you are following, this is God’s vision planted inside you. So God is going to be with you to make sure it succeeds!
God’s presence is always going to be a personal presence. “Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you.” (Joshua 1:5). Joshua is standing here thinking, “God spoke to Moses “face to face” (Exodus 33:11) . . . God was with us throughout the wanderings as a cloud by day and a pillar of fire at night . . . God met with Moses in the Tent of Meeting and on the mountain . . . God was always with Moses. God is going to always be very close to me.
Not only is faith always tested but Faith Requires Courage. Strength and courage are mentioned four times in this chapter. If it is mentioned four times in one chapter, then it must be really important! Three times God tells Joshua very clearly, “Be strong and courageous.” (Joshua 1:6,7,9). At the end of the chapter the people reiterate God’s command in their pledged allegiance to Joshua as their leader after Moses, “Only be strong and courageous.” (Joshua 1:18). Some people might say, “Isn’t faith enough. As long as I have faith why do I need courage as well?” When you and I are in a place that our faith is being tested that means we are at a point in life where there is no physical reference point.
Physically and spiritually we are in “uncharted waters.” “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1). That is exactly where we need to be and when we are there even though we know “letting go” is the right thing to do that first move of obedience is still very difficult. When I was growing up I was so afraid of jumping off my grandparent’s porch. It wasn’t but about four feet off the ground but I wouldn’t jump. I would watch my cousins do it and they were fine. My uncle would get on the ground and beg me. I knew he wouldn’t let anything happen to me but I just couldn’t do it. I would get to the edge, but I just couldn’t take that step. I was paralyzed by fear until I had the courage to take that first step.
We must have courage to step out in faith and that courage must come from God. Courage is “a quality of mind or spirit that enables us to meet danger, opposition, or the challenges of life with fearlessness, calmness, and firmness.” When you have courage you might still feel afraid but through the power of God you can follow through and act with confidence. There were going to be difficult days ahead. Joshua was going to lead the children of Israel to take the Promised Land from the hands of skilled warriors. Joshua had seen all the challenges and headaches Moses had to face. He had seen how the people had rebelled against Moses and now he was their leader.
There were going to be challenges along the way. Even though it was God’s plan, it wasn’t going to be easy. They were going to have to cross a “flood stage” river, they were going to have to fight battles once they crossed over, etc. In our twenty-first century mindset we often think God’s will is supposed to be fast, simple, easy, etc. God’s will sometimes takes a long time to come to pass. They had waited over four hundred years for their promise. God’s will is often not simple but complex with many parts to it. God had promised them the land but they had to get rid of the current inhabitants. God’s will is rarely easy and will always require discernment, dedication and determination. They had to fight God’s battles in God’s way once they got into the land.
Faith will be tested and require courage. Faith Rests In God’s Word. “. . . being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. 8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” (Joshua 1:7-8). God challenges Joshua with several things in relation to His Word. Know God’s Word. We must spend time everyday reading and studying God’s Word. Meditate On God’s Word. This is where you really begin to make God’s Word a part of who you are.
Meditation is more than just quickly reading a large section of the Bible each day. To meditate you choose a shorter passage and really think about its message and ask God for help interpreting and applying it to your life. Apply God’s Word. “. . . so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it.” (Joshua 1:8). Do what it says! The Bible is not a buffet line. We can’t pick and choose what we will obey. God’s Word is not up for debate.
“One thing is for certain . . . there will be some things that are not for certain. Here are some of the things we know for sure:
•There will be challenges and it won’t always be easy.
•There will be sacrifices we will have to make along the way.
•We will have to consistently exercise our faith.
•We will need courage that can only come from God.
•We will have to be determined to follow God’s plan in His Word.