Moses has died. Joshua now finds himself at the helm of God's people with the charge to enter them into the Promised land. God gives him words of encouragement as well as instruction. These words can a lesson for us in our journeys as well as purpose. Pastor Jason shares from Joshua 1:1-9.
Ravenna Church of the Nazarene
530 Main Street, Ravenna, KY 40472
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**not a word for word transcript, but the sermon manuscript**
BE STRONG AND BRAVE
Text: Joshua 1:1-9
Back in June, I had the privilege of being ordained as an elder in the Church of the Nazarene. To be ordained as a minister is not a right, it is a privilege. The privilege was earned, but earning it is not the end of the road but a milestone in the journey.
Former General Superintendent R.T. Williams charged those he ordained with, “I give you this certificate of ordination clean and white. I require that you keep it that way.” Those are weighty expectations, not only morally but to carry on the work. I am tasked with filling the shoes of great pastors who have shaped me and those who ordained them. To me, those are big shoes and a big task. What if I say something wrong? What if I lead us in the wrong direction?
While I wrestle with those type questions, some of you are struggling with your own. Your at the door to a life milestone, following legends in your field, or facing an uncertain tomorrow. We are not alone, and the Bible shares about a man named Joshua who is in such a position.
READING OF THE TEXT
1 After the death of Moses the LORD’s servant, the LORD spoke to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ assistant: 2 “Moses my servant is dead. Now you and all the people prepare to cross over the Jordan to the land I am giving the Israelites. 3 I have given you every place where the sole of your foot treads, just as I promised Moses. 4 Your territory will be from the wilderness and Lebanon to the great river, the Euphrates River—all the land of the Hittites—and west to the Mediterranean Sea. 5 No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. I will be with you, just as I was with Moses. I will not leave you or abandon you. 6 Be strong and courageous, for you will distribute the land I swore to their fathers to give them as an inheritance. 7 Above all, be strong and very courageous to observe carefully the whole instruction my servant Moses commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right or the left, so that you will have success wherever you go. 8 This book of instruction must not depart from your mouth; you are to meditate on it day and night so that you may carefully observe everything written in it. For then you will prosper and succeed in whatever you do. 9 Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” (CSB)
I know Joshua is the character at the center of our focus, but we need to pause and talk about Moses. The writer of the letter of Hebrews penned this about Moses, “Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s household, as a testimony to what would be said in the future.” (Hebrews 3:5) Simply stated, Moses was a man of God.
Moses had faithfully trusted God and led His people to the doorstep of the Promised land. He had gone toe to toe with Pharaoh, a grumbling people, rivals, and obstacle after obstacle. But Deuteronomy closes with Moses’ death. Deuteronomy 34:5-7 says, “So Moses the servant of the Lord died. He buried Moses in the valley in the land of Moab facing Beth-peor, and no one to this day knows where his grave is. Moses was one hundred twenty years old when he died; his eyes were not weak, and his vitality had not left him.” As great a leader as Moses was, as faithful a servant to God, he still died. A leadership change was happening.
Joshua had been Moses’ assistant for years. He stood by the leader in battle and when rivals challenged Moses’ leadership. Now Moses was dead, and the people were about to enter the land to take possession. Moses’ death was a comma in the history of God’s people, not a period, as one theologian put it. It was not the end.
Joshua was appointed by God to lead them into this unknown period. There was no way Joshua could be Moses, but the people did not need another Moses in this moment. They needed Joshua to lead them as Joshua. He was to lead God’s people on a campaign of conquest. The law of God had already been given to them; they had already been led through the wilderness. It was a time for military tactics and might, Joshua had that experience. And to accomplish this God given task, Joshua would need all his experience, strength, and wisdom to inspire God’s people to move forward with all that they had.
God tells Joshua two things as he prepared. “I have given you every place where the sole of your foot has tread.” The Lord has been faithful to Joshua and God’s people. Then God tells Joshua, “No one will be able to stand against you, as long as you live. I will be with you, just as I was with Moses. I will not leave you or abandon you.” He is promising Joshua that Joshua can have faith because God will not drop him..
In verses 1-5, God is telling Joshua to carry forward in the absence of Moses. Looking at verses 6-9, God charges Joshua with carrying forward faithfully. God speaks no “what if you fail” language. Joshua is to have that same attitude of victory. Adam Clarke translates verse 7 as God telling Joshua, “Be strong and play the man to the uttermost.”
It is easy to read this call to strength and bravery as the amount of effort that Joshua would need to exert. But no has that strength by themselves. Verse 9, “Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” God’s presence will be with Joshua. Joshua’s strength will be enhanced by his faith in Almighty God!
Remember though, God is holy, and He will not be in the presence of sin. Verses 7-8 is God’s instruction for Joshua to remain close to Him. Joshua is to study God’s Word. Keep in mind, the words Joshua had are not what we have now. All Joshua had was the instructions of Moses. But Joshua is to take what he had and that would allow Joshua to walk and lead faithfully in step with God.
HOW DOES THIS APPLY TO ME?
Joshua was a man of faith because he would listen. He listened and learned from Moses and then would go from this conversation and be obedient. Friends, we must be people of that faith.
Hebrews 11:6 says, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Faith is believing in the same God as Joshua. And that is the same God who offered Joshua His grace to follow Moses to lead a stiff-necked people into battle.
Now, we have more complete understanding than Joshua. He only had the instructions of Moses; we have the fullness of God’s Word. And all scripture reveals Jesus. Paul wrote in Ephesians 1:3, “Praise be to God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” Faith in Jesus is the pathway to the promises God offered Joshua, promises Joshua experienced.
It is the presence of God that is important. Jesus told us, “I am with you always.” As long as He is with us, our strength is supported by Almighty God! In Acts 1:8, Jesus told His disciples, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you.” God’s power is connected to God’s presence.
To fill shoes and step into tomorrow, we must stay in His presence and seek to draw closer. How do we do that? By staying in God’s Word. However, faith is more than mentally believing and just putting Bible verses into your brain. That is where the Pharisees went wrong in Jesus’ day. They believed in God and had the knowledge, but they missed in application. The theology we absorb must grow legs and become practical. We must live out the faith in our hearts and minds with our mouth, hands, and feet. We must be strong and courageous.
Chester Mulder wrote, “This type of program demands man’s undivided loyalty.” Joshua understood his success was depended on God and that God was His Commander-in-chief. He used his talents and time for God’s plan and not his own, willing to follow where God led him.
Some of you today have been living according to your own plan with your own strength. Let God be in charge. Place your faith in Jesus, then follow where He leads. Others of you have placed your faith in Jesus, but today you know God is calling you to more. He is calling you to preach, be a Sunday School teacher, missionary, or something else for His kingdom. Perhaps God is calling you, but not given you any ideas or details. You already believe in Jesus and have experienced His grace, so follow where He leads you.
Regardless, God will do the work but you must be brave and strong to step forward.
Season 1 Episode 33, "Most important question." The text for the message is from Mark 8:27-30, part 1 of a series called The Son of Man. The question we are trying to answer is "What is the most important question?"