Cross the Jordan River

September 25, 2016   Joshua 1   Be Courageous and Strong 


   In the previous chapter Deuteronomy 34 we see that Moses has passed away.   It is great that God raises up a new leader for God’s people.  We see that before Moses passes away that he lays hands on Joshua and Joshua is filled with wisdom.   Joshua is going to need wisdom and a lot more than wisdom.   In Joshua 1 God speaks to Joshua and tells Joshua be strong and courageous.   Take courage and be strong.  God tells Joshua twice be strong and take courage.  Once is not enough God tells him twice.  At the end of chapter 1the people tell him to be strong and courageous.  It is a big job.  Joshua knows it is a big job.  He has the job of leading probably over 2 million people out of the desert and into the Promised Land which is a land flowing with milk and honey. 

   Many Christians see Egypt spiritually as the place of slavery.  It represents our life before Jesus.  We were slaves to sin before Jesus.   Those that do not know Jesus do not have God’s power to break sin in their life.  Jesus came to set us free from sin and Moses was sent to free the Children of Israel. .  God wanted his people out of Egypt.   Christians can see that they have Jesus and moved from the place of slavery to sin.  The children of Israel were slaves in Egypt.   Moses led them out of Egypt and Moses led them in the desert for 40 years.   God’s people spend 40 years in the desert because they rebelled against God and over and over again they rebelled in the desert.  They did not walk close to God and things did not go well for them in the desert.   Joshua was called by God to lead them from the desert to the Promised Land. 

    The time they spent in the desert could represent for Christians today the time when we rebel against God.  We can be in the desert and be in submission to God.  Jesus spent 40 days in the desert fasting and seeking God. 

    Joshua lived about 45 years in Egypt the land of slavery.  Joshua lived 40 years in the desert because of the rebellion and unbelief of his brothers and lived about 25 years in the Promised Land.    They have Jesus in their life and greater is he that is in us than he that is in the world.  But many Christians have not moved from the desert.   Christians are learning to put Jesus first.  Christians can move from the desert to the Promised Land.  There comes a time in our life when God calls us to step out and be obedient.   Those times can be challenging. 

   Joshua was one of the spies that went into the land 40 years before and saw how 10 of the spies turned the heart of the whole nation against going into the land.    Joshua is 40 years older than when they first came to spy out the land.   Joshua has had 40 years to think about the giants in the land.  He knows there are going to be battles.  The giants are big and tough.   They will fight for their home land.  There are walled cities in the land.   He saw the walled cities and he knew it was impossible for them to take the land from the people who lived there in their own strength.    This is quite a project.  It is quite an undertaking.  Joshua has served for the last 40 years and now he is the chosen one to lead.  God chooses his leaders.  No one should try and lead spiritually unless God has called them.  God called and commissioned Joshua.  There is the sense that the church does not hire the pastor.   God looks for servants.  Jesus said the greatest among you is the servant.   Jesus is the true head of the church. 

      Joshua also knows and has seen all the issues that Moses has faced with God’s people.    God said they were a stiff necked people.  Joshua has been with Moses and has seen how the children of Israel have been.  Joshua saw the golden calf that they made when he was on the mountain with Moses.  He saw the times when Israel sinned and rebelled against God.   Joshua saw several times when God punished them.

   Joshua saw the times when they wanted to stone Moses to death.   I chatted with a person recently who was very critical.  Their soul was poisoned.   God’s people should not be like that but we can get that way.   Joshua had a pretty good idea of the people that he was leading.   

    When Moses goes to Egypt he tells Pharaoh to let God’s people go and Pharaoh tells him you guys are not busy enough.  So Pharaoh makes them to make bricks but does not give them straw.  They have to produce the same amount as before but without straw.  They were beat when they failed to make their quota.  Ever wonder why that happened?   They go into the desert and want to return to Egypt.  Joshua saw the times when they wanted to go back to Egypt the land of slavery.  Sometimes people just hate change.  God calls us to change.    That is how the devil operates by the way.  He likes to make things impossible.  Keep your quota but scrounge for the straw.   Satan is not fair.        

.   He is about 85 years old when he takes the leadership of Israel.  That is past the age of retirement.  Most of his life is past at this point.  I have started reading another book and the title is What if God Wrote Your Bucket List.  Are you interested in God’s bucket list for you?   It is a good idea to have a spiritual bucket list.  Joshua had a lot of things to think about and Joshua needed a lot of encouragement.  I think he probably felt a little over whelmed with what was in front of him.  I suspect that he had a few nights that sleep did not come easily.   Filling Moses shoes was a big job.  

    Can you imagine how Joshua feels at this point?     The first obstacle is the Jordan River.  It is harvest time and the river is flooded.    The Jordan River can flow rather quickly and in places it is deep in ravines.   It carries a lot of silt or dirt.   At the point where they crossed it was about 40 or so feet wide but it was flooded.  The priests step into the water and the water stops flowing.   What a miracle.  If you do not step into the water you will not see the miracle.  It may seem foolish to step into the water.  The water may have been such that it could sweep them away.  God stopped the flow so we know there was a need to deal with the stream current.    Jesus Culture sings we come alive in the river.  They came alive in the river I believe.  When they took a few steps they entered the Promised Land.   At this point and this time you are here and now everything is changed.  They heard about the giants and now they are in their land.   And you know what they have a giant slayer with them. 

   I think Joshua had a lot on his plate like many of us do today.   There are a lot of unknowns that he has to face.  Joshua 3:4 says you have never been this way before.  We can believe that life is exciting and that God will show himself strong for us.   We can walk in victory.  Every day is new and has its challenges.  Day by day we face things that we have not faced before.  Think about them at the Jordan.  In the morning they are really in the desert.  The priests walk in and the water stops.   Then they walk in and walk a few feet and then they are in the Promised Land.  When they steeped over they were in the enemies area.  But God said go and God gave the land to them.  Where are we walking today? 

     Joshua instantly becomes a target of Satan.   Good is usually opposed by evil.  Satan does not want God’s people to take the Promised Land.   Satan does not want God to be glorified by the miracles that God does in the Promised Land.      Satan does not want Christians to move out for God.   There is not great victory without a great battle.  God gives Joshua some great promises but Joshua still does not know exactly how tomorrow is going to play out.  There will be challenges, obstacles and battles to fight and win.  It is a big task for Joshua and so God encourages him.   Joshua does not have all the resources that we have today but he had God.  Have you ever felt like you did not have the tools that you needed to do what you were facing?   What kind of resources did Joshua have?  Did he have a big supportive staff?    He had a couple of million people who had come out of slavery just 40 years ago. .  He had a bunch of grumbling people who have lived in the desert for the last 40 years.   They lived on manna and a rock that followed them around which gave them water.  He had his fears to fight and discouragement to deal with. 

    Joshua had 2 million people who were looking to him for leadership and direction.  They promised to obey and follow him but when the rubber hits the road things can change.  Some of us have supervised people either now or in the past.    What kind of a task would it be to lead a couple of million people with almost nothing for resources?   For Joshua these people were going into battle.   They really could not go back to Egypt and the only way was ahead.   They had their fears and doubts and Joshua needed to be strong for them even in his own weakness.   Moses was out of the picture.    It is up to Joshua.  There is really no man above Joshua to give help, support and direction.    The things that Joshua had to face could bring a lot of fear into his life.  God says do not be terrified.  Do not let fear rule in your life

    I suspect that many of us have had things to face that were tough.   I think there have been those times when the weight of life and family were heavy upon us.  The weight of paying the bills and health issues and family needs were in our thoughts.  I know that fathers labor with correctly loving and yet discipline their children.   It is a tough haul at times.   There are times we need God to answer and to give direction.   Joshua did not know how he would get a couple million or more people over the flooded Jordan.   Joshua did not know how Jericho was going to fall.  Nor did he know what was going to happen after that battle was won.  Joshua needed direction day by day.   Joshua sought the Lord and needed to hear the Lord’s voice just like we need to today.   Lord what is the answer and what do I need to do?      That morning quiet time when we read and pray and ask God to guide and lead us is so important.  

     Things look pretty difficult for Joshua.  We could spend a lot of time thinking about all that was against Joshua.   He had 1 resource though that made all the difference in the world.   He was on God’s side. Joshua was doing what God had called him to do.   He was committed to God.   He was a servant of God.  God had given him what he needed to be successful in his life.  He had God’s promises.  What are the promises that God gave to him in this chapter?   

     God told him this will happen.  God told him every place you walk I am giving the land to you.  God told him as I was with Moses so I will be with you.  No one will be able to beat you or stand against you.   Those are pretty powerful promises to have from God.   If you meditate on the law and obey the law you will prosper in everything that you do.  That is a great promise for us today.  Yes there will be trying times but you will be successful.     Joshua dies at the age of 110 and his greatest contribution was at the end of his life. 

      God really does not want his people to be in the land of Egypt.   He does not want us in slavery to sin.  Jesus came to set the captives free.  God does not want his people to spend 40 years of their life in the wilderness.  In Hebrews we see that God would not allow them to enter into his rest.   They could not enter because of unbelief.   If you believe God and obey God you have to say no to other things.  A yes to God also means no.  God did not want them in the desert forever.   God provided for them.   They had manna and water.   But God wanted them to enjoy milk and honey.  They had to believe God and step out in faith.  Hebrews tells us why God’s leaders were successful.   Hebrews says by faith. 

    What kind of resources has God given to us today to make us successful?   Well God has given us his word and his promises.  God has given us something else in a different way than what Joshua had and that is the Holy Spirit.  We can be thankful.  If we know God’s will and are willing to obey we do not have to worry about the outcome.    Sometimes we get caught up with the impossible situation that we face and neglect thinking about God who delights in solving impossible situations.  Joshua had God’s promises and God’s presence.   He had a big task but as he walked with the mighty only God he moved the Children of Israel from the desert into the Promised Land.   All obstacles were overcome one by one.    The peoples were defeated one by one and day by day.  God kept his promises.  God was faithful.  God blessed them.     We pray and labor and God in his grace moves and works and God blesses.  God pours out his grace.   Be bold be strong the Lord your God is with you!!