Joshua 1 Part 2–Taking Command and Following God

Joshua wasted no time honoring God’s command.  Once God gave him the direction to follow, Joshua seized control.  He ordered the tribes to prepare to enter the land and take their inheritance.  He reiterated to Reuben, Gad and Manasseh that they were to prepare for battle, even though they were allowed to keep the lands east of the Jordan river. He reaffirmed Moses promise to those tribes but also made clear they would fight with the rest of Israel as they possessed their promised land.
 
Unlike the many previous stories of the Israelites, the people’s response was amazing, “Whatever you command us we will do; wherever you will lead us we will go!” “Oh, yeah, one more thing–Be strong and courageous!”  He would lead by God’s command and the people would follow.  That was the way God intended His people to respond.  When they did, He was pleased.
 
Our response to God needs to be the same.  When He commands we obey.  Wherever the Lord leads, we choose to follow. We remain faithful and one more thing–we remain strong and courageous. That formula has been the formula that has blessed people throughout time.  It needs not only to be our formula, it needs to be our passion.  Help me, Lord to follow and remain strong and courageous.
 
God Bless You

So Joshua ordered the officers of the people: 11 “Go through the campand tell the people, ‘Get your provisions ready. Three days from now you will cross the Jordan here to go in and take possession of the land the Lord your God is giving you for your own.’”

12 But to the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh,Joshua said, 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.’ 14 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 15 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.”

16 Then they answered Joshua, “Whatever you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. 17 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. 18 Whoever rebels against your word and does not obey it, whatever you may command them, will be put to death. Only be strong and courageous!”

Joshua 1–God Prepares His New Leader

Now Joshua was in charge.  He was no longer Moses’ assistant, He was now the leader of all of Israel.  God knew it would take a great deal of preparation for the job that lie ahead.  Early on, it was clear that Joshua was a great commander of an army, but, Moses trained Joshua to be a shepherd. And for the remainder of his life, Joshua would have to employ the patience and sacrifice of a shepherd to complete the mission that God set before Israel.
 
In the command from God, three things stood out. First, God did not change His plan simply because He changed His leader. God tells Joshua to go and take the land just as promised to Moses.  There was no second place prize or alternate promise–God gave Joshua the same power and authority that was given to Moses.
 
Second, God expected two things from Joshua courage and obedience.  Once again, God commands Joshua to be strong and courageous–there must have been great trepidation on Joshua’s part to lead these people that had disappointed God so many times. But, God also told Joshua to meditate on His word and focus on the commands of God.  God knew that attention to God’s leadership  was critical for mission success.
 
Finally, God reminds Joshua that the Lord would never leave or forsake him.  Joshua could relax because God would be with him every step of the way. Joshua had seen the difficult discussions between God and Moses and knew these people could make one want to walk away.  God encouraged Joshua that He would not leave Joshua to fight alone.
 
The great news is that God is as much in control today as He was in the time of Joshua.  He has not shifted plans in our lives.  He wants us to remain strong and courageous. He wants us to confidently go into battle; knowing that He will not leave us or forsake us. The Lord also wants us to meditate on His word, and not allow it to fade from our lives. As we remain focused upon Him, He will remain active and diligent in the amazing journey we are on.
 
God Bless You

After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, “Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses. 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. 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. Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, 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[a] wherever you go. 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. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Deuteronomy 34–The Death of Moses

That was a tough act to follow…As Moses finally died at the edge of the promised land, Joshua’s true metal was to be tested.  Clearly he watched and learned in the prior 40 years how to lead such a stiff necked people.  Interestingly, God already let both Joshua and Moses know that in a while, Israel would become unfaithful.  But for now, Both Joshua and the people had been trained to trust and follow God. 
 
So Moses died. God, himself buried Moses no one knows where. And Joshua prepared to cross the Jordan and take the land.  The Spirit of the Lord came upon Joshua and he was powerful and brave to face whatever lie ahead. Still time would show the power of being mentored by God’s friend Moses and the influence Moses had on the people as they took the land.
 
Like Joshua, we have to learn from those that mentor us.  We have to be strong and courageous.  We have to manage the circumstances as they are and simply seek God’s spirit as we follow Him humbly and gratefully.  God is God, and we are not.  Like Joshua, we have to listen and lead accordingly–no matter the loss or the enormity of the job.
 
God Bless You

Then Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho. And the Lord showed him all the land, Gilead as far as Dan, all Naphtali, the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the western sea, the Negeb, and the Plain, that is, the Valley of Jericho the city of palm trees, as far as Zoar. And the Lord said to him, “This is the land of which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, ‘I will give it to your offspring.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not go over there.” So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord, and he buried him in the valley in the land of Moab opposite Beth-peor; but no one knows the place of his burial to this day. Moses was 120 years old when he died. His eye was undimmed, and his vigor unabated. And the people of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days. Then the days of weeping and mourning for Moses were ended.

And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him. So the people of Israel obeyed him and did as the Lord had commanded Moses. 10 And there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, 11 none like him for all the signs and the wonders that the Lord sent him to do in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land,12 and for all the mighty power and all the great deeds of terror that Moses did in the sight of all Israel.

Dueteronomy 3 Part 2–Be Strong and Courageous

At age 120, Moses had seen and heard it all.  He was raised as a prince.  He was chased as a fugitive, he was trained as a shepherd and called as a leader of the chosen people of God. Now, at the end of his life, Moses is directed to hand the reins over to Joshua and coach him on what direction to take God’s people.  So From his mouth comes the great command–“Be strong and courageous.”
 
What Moses was saying, in effect was that there is no magic bullet here.  As a leader, one is called to lead with strength and with courage.  Beyond that, God is in charge for clearing the land and inhabiting his people into this heathen controlled paradise.  Joshua had to listen to God, follow Him closely, and then have the courage to trust God, and the strength to lead the Israelites in the way the Lord commanded.
 
I am sure Joshua took the advice to heart.  The story that lies ahead was one of unfettered obedience and gracious acknowledgement that God is God. The other great news was that they Israelites in fact, followed and obeyed.  
 
In our journey, we are also called to be strong and courageous. We are not called to solve God’s problems, we are called to allow Him to solve ours.  We can never overestimate our ability to do life.  Neither can we underestimate God’s willingness to prepare us for and protect us on the journey.  Like Moses and Joshua, God simply calls us to be strong and courageous. He will bring us to the end with joy and an eternal perspective.  We must remain quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. If we will–He will do the rest.
 
God Bless You

Then Moses went out and spoke these words to all Israel: “I am now a hundred and twenty years old and I am no longer able to lead you. The Lord has said to me, ‘You shall not cross the Jordan.’ The Lord your God himself will cross over ahead of you. He will destroy these nations before you, and you will take possession of their land. Joshua also will cross over ahead of you, as the Lord said. And the Lord will do to them what he did to Sihon and Og, the kings of the Amorites, whom he destroyed along with their land. The Lord will deliver them to you, and you must do to them all that I have commanded you. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the presence of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you must go with this people into the land that the Lord swore to their ancestors to give them, and you must divide it among them as their inheritance. The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

Deuteronomy 3–Bittersweet Victory

The days had finally arrived.  The people of Israel had finally made the transformation from liberated slaves to empowered chosen people of God.  Moses had passed the baton to Joshua and had properly mentored and encouraged him to lead these people–but in the shadow of almighty God. God made provision for the women and children, he properly encouraged the able-bodied fighting men and now all that was left was to possess the land.
 
But, Moses still held out a bit of hope that God would show grace and allow him the joy of entering the land he had spent so much of his life preparing for.  Sadly, God said no.  It was a hard punishment for an otherwise brilliant leader.  The lessons are numerous: 
 
1)  No matter how difficult things become, we have to trust and obey the Lord God. As leaders, if we fail to do that the implications could be catastrophic, 
2)  God prepares each of us for a purpose; we must be content to serve as the Lord has planned for us to serve.
3)  God does not change His mind.  Even though we want him to many times, God’s plans are final.
4)  What lies ahead for us in eternity is so much more than the finest things we can find here on earth.  So set your heart and mind on the eternal.
 
Moses had to be content to simply look out at what God had for his people.  He would never be able to taste the fruit from the land of inheritance. Still, God would bless him in ways he could not yet imagine; by simply allowing him to see his student so completely trust and follow God–that the mission he started would finish with so much more than he would have ever dreamed.  It was now Joshua’s time, and Moses had to be thrilled to know he prepared this man for what lie ahead.
 
God Bless You

 I commanded you at that time: “The Lord your God has given you this land to take possession of it. But all your able-bodied men, armed for battle, must cross over ahead of the other Israelites. 19 However, your wives, your children and your livestock (I know you have much livestock) may stay in the towns I have given you, 20 until the Lord gives rest to your fellow Israelites as he has to you, and they too have taken over the land that the Lord your God is giving them across the Jordan. After that, each of you may go back to the possession I have given you.”

Moses Forbidden to Cross the Jordan

21 At that time I commanded Joshua: “You have seen with your own eyes all that the Lord your God has done to these two kings. The Lord will do the same to all the kingdoms over there where you are going. 22 Do not be afraid of them; the Lord your God himself will fight for you.”

23 At that time I pleaded with the Lord: 24 “Sovereign Lord, you have begun to show to your servant your greatness and your strong hand. For what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do the deeds and mighty works you do? 25 Let me go over and see the good land beyond the Jordan—that fine hill country and Lebanon.”

26 But because of you the Lord was angry with me and would not listen to me. “That is enough,” the Lord said. “Do not speak to me anymore about this matter. 27 Go up to the top of Pisgah and look west and north and south and east. Look at the land with your own eyes, since you are not going to cross this Jordan. 28 But commission Joshua, and encourageand strengthen him, for he will lead this people across and will cause them to inherit the land that you will see.” 29 So we stayed in the valley near Beth Peor.

Numbers 27–Joshua Assumes Leadership of Israel

This is one of the most poignant stories in the old testament.  It is a picture of God and Moses ending their journey across the desert together.  Clearly, God was not surprised, but neither was Moses.  Moses knew this would be the end and even at the point of his death, He behaved like a true and Godly leader. 
 
Moses did not beg for a second chance, nor did he make an excuse or try to shift blame. Moses’ only response was for God to give the people a great leader. God did not have to ponder the choice.  He had been preparing the replacement for 40 years–Joshua.  God gave Moses specific instruction about the passing of authority to Joshua.  Amazingly, as would become the motto of Israel under Joshua, “Moses did as the Lord commanded him.”  Moses passed the leadership to Joshua that very day.
 
It would be an amazing thing for the Lord to speak as openly to us as he had his friend, Moses.  In the history of Israel, there is no relationship more open and more friendlike than the relationship between God and Moses.  Joshua watched his mentor for 4 decades as Moses and God wrangled about the stiff necked Israelites.  Joshua, like Moses, knew the passionate love God had for these chosen ones.  He also knew the critical nature of God’s strict regimen for their preparation to take the land.  He would now take the mantle of leadership and complete what God promised Abraham.  
 
We are blessed, through the Holy Spirit to have a direct relationship with God like Moses and Joshua did.  We seek Him personally, and our prayers are made to God directly. The Lord takes us where we are, and moves us to be like Him.  We simply are asked to trust and follow the Lord’s lead as did Moses and Joshua.
 
God Bless You

 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go up this mountain in the Abarim Range and see the land I have given the Israelites. 13 After you have seen it, you too will be gathered to your people, as your brother Aaron was, 14 for when the community rebelled at the waters in the Desert of Zin, both of you disobeyed my command to honor me as holy before their eyes.” (These were the waters of Meribah Kadesh, in the Desert of Zin.)

15 Moses said to the Lord, 16 “May the Lord, the God who gives breath to all living things, appoint someone over this community 17 to go out and come in before them, one who will lead them out and bring them in, so the Lord’s people will not be like sheep without a shepherd.”

18 So the Lord said to Moses, “Take Joshua son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit of leadership,[a] and lay your hand on him. 19 Have him stand before Eleazar the priest and the entire assembly and commission him in their presence. 20 Give him some of your authority so the whole Israelite community will obey him. 21 He is to stand before Eleazar the priest, who will obtain decisions for him by inquiring of the Urim before the Lord. At his command he and the entire community of the Israelites will go out, and at his command they will come in.”

22 Moses did as the Lord commanded him. He took Joshua and had him stand before Eleazar the priest and the whole assembly. 23 Then he laid his hands on him and commissioned him, as the Lord instructed through Moses.

Numbers 26–The Second Census–Joshua and Caleb Remained

It must have been a daunting feat, and a sad day, when the second census was taken by Moses.  40 years had passed since the Israelites were to enter Canaan; and, now they gathered at the shores of the Jordan once again looking across at Jericho. After the census was done–Moses Joshua and Caleb remained as the only remaining adult cast members.  The liberated slaves had all perished, and now a nation of free people remained.
 
Joshua and Caleb never doubted God, or his ability to clear the land.  They simply had to trust Him that in His time He would deliver on the promise He made to Abraham hundreds of years prior.  Well, the time had finally come, and now as the census was taken Joshua was as strong and fit and ready as he had been 40 years prior.  The amazing thing was that he and Caleb never fell prey to the doubts and sin of the people. They learned and followed God closely. They saw God at His best and the people at their worst.  Now, at the end of the journey, Joshua was ready to lead.
 
We have the same opportunity today as Joshua did with israel.  We can watch the world around us react and rebel to the Lord but, we can also choose to remain strong and faithful  in spite of the behaviors and attitudes we face.  It is never an easy approach, but, it is always the right approach.  With it, there is pain, trial, stress and an innate desire to give up.  If we can continue to follow the Lord in the midst of that, He will honor our faithfulness and, like Joshua, we will find ourselves being one of the last ones standing.  Help us, Father, to be the servants that remain faithful through the trials and the storms.
 
God Bless You

The Lord said to Moses, 53 “The land is to be allotted to them as an inheritance based on the number of names. 54 To a larger group give a larger inheritance, and to a smaller group a smaller one; each is to receive its inheritance according to the number of those listed. 55 Be sure that the land is distributed by lot. What each group inherits will be according to the names for its ancestral tribe. 56 Each inheritance is to be distributed by lot among the larger and smaller groups.”

57 These were the Levites who were counted by their clans:

through Gershon, the Gershonite clan;

through Kohath, the Kohathite clan;

through Merari, the Merarite clan.

58 These also were Levite clans:

the Libnite clan,

the Hebronite clan,

the Mahlite clan,

the Mushite clan,

the Korahite clan.

(Kohath was the forefather of Amram; 59 the name of Amram’s wife was Jochebed, a descendant of Levi, who was born to the Levites[e] in Egypt. To Amram she bore Aaron, Moses and their sister Miriam.60 Aaron was the father of Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar.61 But Nadab and Abihu died when they made an offering before the Lord with unauthorized fire.)

62 All the male Levites a month old or more numbered 23,000. They were not counted along with the other Israelites because they received no inheritance among them.

63 These are the ones counted by Moses and Eleazar the priest when they counted the Israelites on the plains of Moab by the Jordan across from Jericho. 64 Not one of them was among those counted by Moses and Aaron the priest when they counted the Israelites in the Desert of Sinai.65 For the Lord had told those Israelites they would surely die in the wilderness, and not one of them was left except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun.