“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.” (Joshua 1:2-3)
Moses is dead. For a short moment the people of Israel are unsure of their new leader Joshua. He is to fill the sandals of Moses…a tall order. After all Moses gave them the words of God. Moses lifted his arms up as God dealt with the Amalekites. Moses was the conduit in which God set his people free. Now Joshua is to step into this role.
You can almost see the uncertainty in the people’s faces. If Joshua had not been a seasoned warrior and general already, mass mutiny and hysteria would have most certainly broken out. Yet Joshua was the right leader for the job! His resume was full, and he trusted God.
Looking out onto the mass of people that he now commands, for a mere moment Joshua is nervous. People are depending on him. So many lives depend upon him to make the right decisions as their leader. As the momentary panic escapes his chest with a quick exhale, he pushes all doubt aside. ‘I have full confidence in the Almighty to provide us the way’; he thinks to himself.
Though they have yet to cross into the Promised Land, Joshua is just as certain as he was 40 years ago when Moses had initially sent in the spies. Thinking back to that moment when He and Caleb were the only spies to give a positive report while the other ten spread doubt and dissension among the people. ‘Had they only listened then’; he utters to himself, ‘things would be so different now.’ Again Joshua sighs, this time in sadness and regret. ‘Perhaps if we had been more persuasive, they would have listened’, He wonders aloud. He grits his teeth in renewed frustration as he dwells for just another moment on the memory. Then, with rebirth of confidence and stubborn conviction he thinks to himself; ‘I won’t let that happen again!’
Then it happens, all at once. God speaks to Joshua. He had witnessed the glow emanating from Moses as he came down from an encounter with God, tablets in hand. But now as the voice of God speaks to him, he can’t help but quiver in fear. Joshua, the mighty warrior is in the presence of Almighty God. In his quaking and quivering, Joshua hears God say, “Be strong and courageous!” The words of God give him encouragement and instant strength! The One who spoke life into everything promises to be present and available. Joshua has the ultimate adviser known in the entire universe!
God tells Joshua to get the people ready and cross over the river Jordan into the Promised Land. This is the moment that he’s been waiting for! The wilderness has been inhospitable to God’s people. The hot sun scorches the barren rocky earth and destroys any attempt of planting crops or grazing cattle. Crossing the Jordan will provide them new life! A New hope! It is a chance at finally sampling the promises of God in a land that He has granted them.
Many have died before witnessing this day. Those who had not listened to God were all gone. Now redemption, a second chance…Joshua was not about to blow it! He would ensure that the people were ready this time! God again said to Joshua; “Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)
Joshua led with conviction and faith. He prepared God’s people for the crossing and the conquering of the land. He did not want to see the failure of an entire generation again! Later in his epic journey Joshua tells the people; “But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” Joshua 24:15 (NIV)
What faith Joshua possessed! When God told him to get ready and cross the Jordan, he got ready and crossed. When God instructed him to conquer Jericho through a daily march around its walls, he and his people marched! These new territories were foreign to him, and yet he trusted God to lead and to provide!
How about you? Is God calling you to get ready? Is He asking you to make a faith journey across unknown territories? We can’t sit on the sidelines and do nothing when God calls us. We must act! God tells us to gear up and get ready. Our response depends upon how much we trust Him. Will we go? Will we do what the Lord has for us to do? Joshua was a fearless leader who relied upon God to direct His path. May we do likewise in our lives today! We may not have to face huge armies and fortified cities like Joshua did, but may we but faithful to God! May we be prepared to cross our river Jordans when they come…whatever they may be.
-Just a thought.