Read Joshua 1
The day had finally arrived.
The Israelites spent 40 years in the wilderness living in tents, eating Manna and wandering. All those who were 20 years old or older at the time of their departure from Egypt had passed away. 40 years before when the Israelites faced this challenge, they had rebelled and refused to face it.
We all face big days. Students will always have big tests to prepare for. We all have deadlines. We all look forward with anticipation to important events. How do we face the challenges of life? Are we overcome with anxiety? Do we worry and fret?
Today we will learn from Joshua how God has designed for us to face life.
The short answer is faith. God tells us to trust Him. Joshua is an example of trusting God. He trusted God for the timing. He trusted God for the assignment. Finally, he trusted God for the strength.
First, He trusted God for the timing.
Joshua 1:1-2 says:
1After the death of Moses the LORD’s servant, the LORD spoke to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ assistant. He said, 2“Moses my servant is dead. Therefore, the time has come for you to lead these people, the Israelites, across the Jordan River into the land I am giving them.[i]
“Moses my servant is dead.” This could have been a time of upheaval and trouble. Moses led the people for 40 years. Moses was the one who gave the law and taught the way of the Lord. Joshua had been his assistant for 40 years. These 40 years served as an apprenticeship for Joshua. What is more, in Numbers 27 we are told that Moses laid hands on Joshua and transferred authority to him before the whole community. In this manner, preparations were made for the transfer of leadership.
Even with the preparations, this was a big test for Joshua. He had never been tested like this before.
There is a principle here. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand.” Temptations, experience and tests come into all of our lives. Some are expected and others are not expected. Some tests we have time to prepare for and others we do not. The principle remains. God will not allow the test to be more than you can stand.
There is a condition to this principle. Wait on God’s timing. God said to Joshua, “The time has come for you to lead these people.” A number of times throughout the 40 years the people rebelled against Moses, and wanted to choose another leader. Joshua could have joined the rebellion. However, he was wholly devoted to the Lord.
Another example of a person who had many opportunities to seize power and lead the people is David. On a number of occasions, David could have killed Saul and seized the kingship. Even though Samuel anointed David as a boy and David knew he was destined for the throne, he refused to take it before God’s time.
One area in which I see anxiety to rush God’s timing is in the desire to find a spouse. Anxiety to rush God’s timing also happens in regards to jobs, houses, cars and possessions. It is best to trust God to provide in His time.
Having waited for God’s timing, the day came for Joshua.
Joshua trusted God for the assignment.
Joshua 1:2 says, “The time has come for you to lead these people, the Israelites, across the Jordan River into the land I am giving them.”
How long had Joshua known this would be his role? Throughout the 40 years in the wilderness, he was Moses’s assistant. Moses defined his role or job. At least from a human point of view, Moses was the boss. We do not see Joshua complaining that He was not being used to his potential, or dissatisfied with his role. Compare this to Aaron and Miriam, Moses’s brother and sister. At one point, they took the attitude of saying, “Who does Moses think he is?” They challenged Moses’s authority and leadership. They commented that God also spoke through them and that Moses was not the only one who could lead. This was not a matter of waiting for timing to be right. This was a matter of assignment. What did God want them to be doing?
They saw Moses. Moses was in power. Moses was in control. In their view, they were just as capable, maybe more capable than Moses. The eye of faith sees God. God is in control. Trusting God for our assignment means exercising these eyes of faith.
Please, do not interpret this to mean that anyone should stay in a bad situation. If you are trapped in a situation in which you do not belong, then free yourself. For example, if the law is being broken by you, your employer or by your partner, the situation has to change.
Trusting God for our assignment means being faithful. There will be seasons when you are used way under your potential. A good example of this is Moses’s 40 years of tending sheep in the wilderness. He was an educated competent leader, and he was tending sheep. Moses, Joshua and David all had something in common. They each knew God had chosen them for something special. They all also spent years not doing what they knew they were meant for. Not one of those years was wasted. They each had a deep relationship with God.
There is a saying, “Bloom where you are planted.” I would put it in Biblical terms:
5Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. 6Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.
If you are seeking God’s will in all you do, you can be sure that God will put you where He wants you, and it will be the assignment you were meant for. This is where Joshua was, in the assignment he was meant for.
In this assignment, he trusted God for the strength.
God encouraged Joshua three times to be strong and courageous. In this encouragement, we find two important elements to trusting God. First is the promise of God. God says repeatedly, “I will never leave you or abandon you.” God promised and repeated His promise to give Israel the land. Second, Joshua is encouraged not to abandon God. He is instructed to mediate on the Word of God day and night. He is admonished to keep and do all that the Word of God required.
We have the same promise that Joshua had. Jesus promised He will never leave us. He has promised that He is always with us. He has promised to keep us for Himself. We also have the same encouragement not to abandon God. Jesus said, “4Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.” (John 15:4)
The Psalms tell us of the secret of happiness when Psalms on says:
1Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. 2But they delight in the law of the LORD, meditating on it day and night.
Do you want to know the secret of being strong and courageous? It is here. First, know and trust the promise of God. Second, meditate on the Word of God.
Colossians 3:2 encourages us, “Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.”
If your hope is in the things of earth, you have reason to fear. If it is made of metal, it will rust. If it is made of wood, it will rot. If it is flesh, it will grow old. If it is solid, it can be taken.
Why would we put our confidence and trust in such things? The eye of faith sees the Almighty. Without the eye of faith, we see only the world.
We can learn from the example of Joshua to trust God when our tests come.
[i] Unless otherwise noted Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation. Copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Steam, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.