First, let me state that I have never been a great reader of the bible; I was never a tower of biblical knowledge, one who could recite chapter and verse. In fact I had not memorized a scripture until just recently. I don’t want you to think I’m some biblical giant and somehow above others. I’m nothing more then someone learning and growing in the Lord. Not because I’m something special, but more because I was unwilling to learn these things without the intense pressure of a battle with cancer. That in it self is a lesson I hope no one else has to learn.
It was last weekend. I arose early on Saturday, as I seem too lately. I think it is God’s prompting to speak to me in the silence of the morning. I arose that day, checked the weather, emails, and headlines. As if I was trying to avoid why I was up in the first place. I’m not sure why I feel I need to do those things first, other then it is my last way to say I’m in charge. To say, “I really got up to do these things and when I’m done I guess I could spend some time reading my bible.” We like to feel in charge don’t we, even if it is an illusion? Anyway, I finally got my bible out, organized my pens, paper, in my final attempt to be in control and start only when I had everything perfect, I opened the bible to Joshua. I not sure why but I felt I needed to read this book. I read Joshua 1: 1-9.
“1 After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, it came to pass that the Lord spoke to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ assistant saying: 2 Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them-the children of Israel. 3 Everyplace that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses. 4 From the wilderness ad this Lebanon as far as the great river, the River Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your territory. 5 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. 6 Be strong and f good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give to them. 7 Only be strong and 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. 8 This book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall mediate on it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous and then you will have good success. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage, do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
I was struck by the verses I read, I felt the Lord tell me this is all you need to know to make it through this trial and through life. I saw that God had promised His people a land, a promise made long before Joshua showed up. Yet now was the time for God to provide His promise. Think back to Abraham, a 99-year-old man and a wife barren were told you would have a son. They believed but felt they needed to solve this obvious physical limitation of being too old to have a child by have Abraham sleep with another woman. But God was not concerned with the physical limitations of our earthly bodies; the laws of this life do not limit Him. He created it! No God had Sarah bear her own child, a son named Isaac. Now Abraham could see the beginning of the Lord’s promise that he would be the father of a great nation. But God asked Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Isaac. Abraham having learned God will provide, obeyed God and took Isaac, bound him, and was about to sacrifice him when God provided a substitute at the very last moment. Fast-forward to Isaac’s son, Jacob, and his son Joseph sold into slavery by his brothers. However God used this to bring Jacob and his family to Egypt, thus surviving the famine. Did Jacob wonder where was the land God promised my grandfather? Was this it? Was going to Egypt the Promised Land? No, Egypt was slavery. Fast-forward to Moses who was raised in the house of Pharaoh as a result of Pharaoh’s own decree to kill the Israel’s male children to keep Israel from becoming too powerful and a threat to Pharaoh. God used Pharaoh’s attempt to defeat the Israelites to make Pharaoh raise the man who would free the Israelites! Moses then leads Israel from Egypt into the desert only to wander for 40 years. Now we pick up with Joshua chapter 1, Moses has just died, the nation of Israel, now over 2 million people, is at the doorstep of the Promised Land, the land promised to Abraham. Now God is about to fulfill His promise. I was struck by the fact that God did not just give the land to Israel, why such a long route to the promise? Why so many struggles to get to here? But, here they stand, with just the Jordan River between them and God’s promise, it was time. And what did God tell them to do?
Joshua 1:2 Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them-the children of Israel.
There was still action required on Israel’s part. Now therefore, (God’s timing) Arise go over this Jordan (action on our part) to the land which I am giving to them the children of Israel. God was providing, all God asked Israel to do was to arise and cross over the Jordan. Our salvation is the same. God provides the salvation, but we must arise and accept the gift. The gift is a promise made long before but then there comes a time for us to accept the gift. “Now, arise,” implies there is a time when we are to accept God’s promises, whether that promise is salvation, healing or Israel’s entry into the promised land. And just like the promise land our salvation was always there, we only have to accept it. No matter how we try to force our way into God’s promises, it is on His time line that we receive them.
In Verses 3-4 God describes His promise.
3 Everyplace that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses. 4 From the wilderness ad this Lebanon as far as the great river, the River Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your territory.
When God makes a promise it has dimensions it has definition. When God delivers His promise it is not vague and He does leave us to wonder what He is giving us. Satan would like to mask the promises of God from our eyes, so we would never realize what we have and who we are in Christ. God on the other hand is specific but we have to listen. Believe me He will speak to you and you will know God’s will for your life when we quite the noises of life and the distractions Stan throws at us to keep us too busy, or too worried to listen. As it says in Isaiah 30:21 “Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying This is the way, walk in it” Whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left.”
Finally in versus 5-9 the Lord tells us how we should go about claiming His promises.
5 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. 6 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 to them. 7 Only be strong and 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. 8 This book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall mediate on it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous and then you will have good success. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage, do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
First we are promised that God will be with us. That when we are standing with God no man, no trouble, no problem will stand before us.
As it says in 1 John 4:4, “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” Then as assurance, God tells us, “As I was with Moses I will be with you.” In life we face many challenges and each one builds upon the next, each one is an opportunity for God to revile Himself to us, and therefore allows us to remember what God had done for us and thus know what God will do for us. God never wastes a single hurt in your life. If we choose to rely on God then He is able to use any circumstance for His glory. If we choose to handle life trials on our own then we will quickly learn our inadequacies and miss out on opportunities for God to demonstrate His love for us.Romans 8:28, And we know that all things work together for good to those who love the God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
Finally, God instructs us on how we are to act based on the fact that God is with us. We are to be strong and courageous. And we are to be strong and courageous by obeying God’s law, and we do this so that we may prosper. As Israel was perched to cross over into the promised land to receive the promise God spoke generations before, God was ready to deliver their blessings, but there would still be challenges to conquer. Israel would still have to defeat the inhabitants of the land, much like we still face challenges after we accept Christ. God never told us life would be easy and without trials, in fact He told us exactly the opposite. In James 1:2-3 it says, My Brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that testing of you faith produces patience.” And James 1:12, Blessed is the man who endures temptation” Both of these verses speak to the fact that we will have trials and we will be tempted. But God promises us the way to overcome the trials we face in our Promise Land just as He promises’ us the Promised Land itself. We are to meditate on His word day and night, never letting it depart from our mouths and do not be afraid or dismayed, for our God is with us wherever we may go. That is a simple statement but once grasped in our minds and in our lifestyle we are forever changed.
I loved the way these verses spoke to me of how to handle promises and trials in life. By taking action based on god’s promises, by listening to God so we may know His will, then by staying in His word we can claim His promises and face the inevitable trails of life with courage knowing He is always with us, that He will never forsake us or leave us.