Joshua chapter 1 is a great chapter for anyone, but especially if you’re going through a time of transition.
History has shown that Joshua has been faithful and he and Caleb alone gave a good report about the Promised Land when they spied it out. These two men knew God would go before them and they could take the land, but they were outnumbered by 10 to 2, and Israel remained in the wilderness for 40 more years. A huge test of faithfulness to God is when you’re outnumbered and you still choose to do the right thing. That experience qualified Joshua to be a good leader, and later he would be, so time proved that Joshua believed God. That meant that Joshua obeyed God. Joshua was being mentored by Moses for 40 years, but now it was time for him to take over the leadership of Israel. This was not, however, Joshua’s idea or by Joshua’s own choosing. It was God Who chose Joshua (Joshua 1:2-5), and not Joshua choosing to be the leader.
The old saying, “God doesn’t call the qualified, but He qualifies the called,” seems to be accurate, but God Himself is the One Who commissions those in leadership. God told Joshua, “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” (Joshua 1:2). God assured Joshua that “Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses” (Joshua 1:3). And to make sure Joshua had no doubts, God told him that “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). Joshua had seen all that Moses had been up against, and yet Moses was able to stand, so he knew that whoever God commissions, He commissions with provisions, so God would be all Joshua would ever need to cross over into the Promised Land.
When God was encouraging Joshua, He repeated the word “courageous” three times. That shows the importance behind God’s message to Joshua. God commanded Joshua to “Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them” (Joshua 1:6). A second time, God tells him to “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 wherever you go” (Joshua 1:7). This time God tells him to be courageous but be careful to do all that the Law of Moses commanded them. That meant he was not to swerve to the left or to the right of the Law, because only that will bring them “good success wherever” they go.
God had already told Joshua, and by extension, Israel, to not go to the left or the right of the Law of Moses, so a third time, God tells him, “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” (Joshua 1:9). Joshua was told to be courageous three times, but to be cautious to go the way the Lord prescribed. The Lord also tells him that “the Lord your God is with you wherever you go,” so whatever direction they went, God would go with them. In fact, God not only goes with them, “It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed” (Deut 31:8). If God goes before them, then the direction will be clear, but it will also be prosperous if they walk in obedience to the Law. There is safety being in the stream of God’s will.
After Joshua receives his instructions from God, Joshua now commands “the officers of the people, “Pass through the midst of the camp and command the people, ‘Prepare your provisions, for within three days you are to pass over this Jordan to go in to take possession of the land that the Lord your God is giving you to possess” (Joshua 1:10-11). They have their marching orders, but not before Joshua proved over time to be faithful in obeying God; not before God commissioned him to take over the leadership of Israel after Moses’ death; and not before God encouraged Joshua and reminded Him to walk in the ways of God. Only then would their way be prosperous. It was not until all this that Joshua was finally prepared to take Israel over into the Promised Land. To encourage Israel, Joshua tells them, “The Lord your God is providing you a place of rest and will give you this land” (Joshua 1:13b), and when they cross into the Promised Land, Joshua reassures them that “Your wives, your little ones, and your livestock shall remain in the land that Moses gave you beyond the Jordan, but all the men of valor among you shall pass over armed before your brothers and shall help them” (Joshua 1:14). It will not be “until the Lord gives rest to your brothers as he has to you, and they also take possession of the land that the Lord your God is giving them. Then you shall return to the land of your possession and shall possess it” (Joshua 1:15). In other words, God wants the nation’s military to stay together until the land is safe enough for the women and children to safely dwell in it, but the whole nation is to cooperate until all of this is accomplished. The cooperatin of others is what you will need to be more successful.
Everyone has had to go through a time of transition, and it can be very difficult to adjust, so if you are in a time of transition, then Joshua chapter 1 should encourage you. It was great advice for Joshua, and it is great advice still. God wants us to know, more than three times, that He goes with us and He goes before us, and will not change His mind and forsake us, therefore “It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed” (Deut 31:8). I pray that encourages you in your time of change.
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is a writer at Christian Quotes and also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.