This Week’s Reading: Joshua 1-10
You have seen all that the Lord your God has done to all these nations because of you, for the Lord your God is He who has fought for you… But you shall hold fast to the Lord your God, as you have done to this day. For the Lord has driven out from before you great and strong nations; but as for you, no one has been able to stand against you to this day. One man of you shall chase a thousand, for the Lord your God is He who fights for you, as He promised you (Joshua 23: 3, 8-10).
All his life, Joshua loved God and served Israel with passion and faith. As Moses’ assistant, Joshua was privileged to very close encounters with God. He was close by, if not standing in the cloud of glory, when the Law was given to Moses as stated in Exodus 24:
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Come up to Me on the mountain and be there; and I will give you tablets of stone, and the law and commandments which I have written, that you may teach them.” So Moses arose with his assistant Joshua, and Moses went up to the mountain of God. And he said to the elders, “Wait here for us until we come back to you. Indeed, Aaron and Hur are with you. If any man has a difficulty, let him go to them.”” Then Moses went up into the mountain, and a cloud covered the mountain (Exodus 24: 12 -15).
Joshua lived sold out for God, his life consumed with time in the tabernacle of God, as described in Exodus 33:11, “The Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. And he would return to the camp, but his servant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, did not depart from the tabernacle.”
When commissioned by Moses to act as an intelligence agent, Joshua completed the mission in full confidence of God despite the million Israelites who balked at national takeover of the Promise Land. One can only imagine how devastated Joshua and Caleb were when they returned from Canaan with a good report and their words failed to rally the support of Israel:
But Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes; and they spoke to all the congregation of the children of Israel, saying: ““The land we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. If the Lord delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, ‘a land which flows with milk and honey.’ Only do not rebel against the Lord, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the Lord is with us. Do not fear them” (Numbers 14:6-9).
Not only did Israel reject their counsel, but the nation rose up to permanently silence Joshua’s protests, taking up stones against Caleb and Joshua, which was quickly preempted when God appeared on the scene in the cloud of glory. Judgement against Israel quickly followed for the entire nation except these two men, bold and brave, who stood in Yes to God when the rest of the nation shouted a horrified No.
Joshua suffered forty years of wandering in the wilderness alongside the rebellious nation even as he served Moses. Joshua was chosen by God to lead Israel into the Canaan:
And the Lord said to Moses: “Take Joshua the son of Nun with you, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand on him; set him before Eleazar the priest and before all the congregation, and inaugurate him in their sight. And you shall give some of your authority to him, that all the congregation of the children of Israel may be obedient. He shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall inquire before the Lord for him by the judgment of the Urim. At his word they shall go out, and at his word they shall come in, he and all the children of Israel with him—all the congregation (Numbers 27:18-21).
No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. (Joshua 1: 5-7)
God clearly laid out the battle plan: obey and win. Following God was crucial and with God leading, Canaan would soon be Israel’s to occupy.
Mercifully, God showed the Israelites that without a doubt, He was large and in charge. Israel could nothing without God. By supernatural grace, the nation crossed the Jordan River on dry ground at the harvest time when it overflowed its banks. The waters miraculously split when the priests stepped into the river with the ark of God upon their shoulders. One by one, each man, woman and child passed by the holy ark of the covenant, each seeing the power of God for themselves as they cut through the spring waters of the Jordan on dry ground before the battle plains of Jericho.
Incredibly, the waters somehow stopped up in a heap in a nearby town called Adam, in a God breathed holding pattern, while twelve tribal leaders hoisted boulders up upon their shoulders, carrying the testimony of the crossing. Besides the worshiping priests, Joshua stooped down twelve times and heaped up an altar in the midst of the Jordan. The Jordan remained dry until the last priest stepped onto the shores of Canaan. At Gilgal, the twelve tribal leaders solemnly laid their stones, both markers a testimonial for the generations of that day when God split the Jordan for His people, an unbudging sign of God’s amazing power and provision. Like the Red Sea miracle of their parents, these grown children rejoiced, knowing full well they could never have crossed those waters without their God.
When the Canaanites and Amorites heard about God’s entrance strategy into Canaan, the Bible says, “their heart melted; and there was no spirit in them any longer because of the children of Israel.” (5:1). Nice intimidation tactic against the enemy. The crossing was as much a confidence boost for Israel as it was a warning shot to Jericho that new owners would soon be occupying.
It was a good thing the Canaanites were freaked out, because just miles away from Jericho, Israel faced a huge test of their obedience: God told Joshua to get out the flint knives and circumcise every male in the camp. Talk about a tough leadership moment! Fortunately, these were the kids who had watched their parents suffer forty years of judgement for rebellion against God; with resignation, every man suffered the pain, humiliation and necessity of circumcision by God’s command. As the nation prepared to invade Canaan, God hit the reset button:
Then the LORD said to Joshua, “This day I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” Therefore the name of the place is called Gilgal to this day. Now the children of Israel camped in Gilgal, and kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight on the plains of Jericho. And they ate of the produce of the land on the day after the Passover, unleavened bread and parched grain, on the very same day. Then the manna ceased on the day after they had eaten the produce of the land; and the children of Israel no longer had manna, but they ate the food of the land of Canaan that year (Joshua 5: 9-12).
Israel’s history in the desert had taught the clear lesson that obedience to God would ensure victory in Canaan. For us, the same rule applies. God’s instruction to Joshua holds true today even as we navigate the wars and wins of our own life. Our success still depends on a dynamic living relationship with Almighty God and obedience to His Word flows easier from a place of trust in our God. Our expectation of His hand to move on our behalf in connected in direct proportion to our obedience to His Word. Our destiny is as hinged to fear of God as was Joshua’s. From the tabernacle to the Promise Land, Joshua held fast to God with huge results: a whole nation moved into their destiny as God’s Chosen Ones.
What will happen if we take God at His word and obey? How will our family, our city, our nation be impacted by the power of just one man or woman who clings in love and trusts in Almighty God with applied obedience?
Let’s Pray: Father God Almighty, help us, like Joshua, to place priority of time with You more than any other demand, that we may be readied to cross over into our inheritance in You. As warrior priests, may we linger before You and know Your love, and may we expect victory simply because we are convinced of Your greatness. Teach us, O God, to obey You as we trust Your goodness and power in our lives. Lord God, You are faithful. Your Words are true. Your Testimony is great. We are so thankful to be Your children. Come down in love, Lord God, that we may each supernaturally cross any barriers that try to keep us from Your Promises this day. We ask this in the Name of our beloved Lord Jesus. Amen.
1. Joshua never left the tabernacle while Moses was alive. Have you ever experienced a season with God when you could devote days, weeks, months to time with God? What does your current time look like?
2. Joshua told the priests to step into a flooded river with the ark of God upon their shoulders. The priests obeyed with huge results. When have you obeyed God and seen miracles?
3. Jericho was freaking with fear when the Israelites crossed the flooding Jordan without peril, as that was most likely their first line of defense. Have you seen God show up and shock your enemies or opponents? How did it feel?
4. Circumcision was the holy command for every male Jew, to be done at eight days of age or upon conversion. Why do you think the nation had to be circumcised before they went to war in Canaan?
5. What does the Lord want to circumcise in your life? Are you willing? Can you see the pain with purpose payout?
Next Week’s Reading: Joshua 11-21