Read: Joshua 3 – 4:14
Focus: The Lord told Joshua, “Today I will begin to make you a great leader in the eyes of all the Israelites. They will know that I am with you, just as I was with Moses.” Joshua 3:7
As we’ve been reading the book of Joshua so far, has anyone else stopped and said to themselves, what must Joshua be thinking??? We know from the past few books that Joshua was Moses’ assistant, the commander of the Israelite forces that defeated the Amalekites (Exodus 17: 8 – 16), and one of the 12 spies Moses sent to explore the promised land (Caleb and Joshua were the only two spies who trusted God to deliver the land of Canaan to the Israelites as promised). Joshua had good training up to this point, but God gave Joshua a pretty tall order that far exceeded his training or what he could do on his own – essentially God told Joshua to lead this rebellious group of Israelites into a land filled with hostile people who wanted to kill them, take the land from them, and make it their own. As we have learned from several of the recent readings, in anointing Joshua as the leader of the Israelites, God commanded one thing of Joshua again and again… “Be strong and courageous” and promised Joshua that He would be with him. For example, in Deut. 31:23, we read: Then the Lord commissioned Joshua son of Nun with these words: “Be strong and courageous, for you must bring the people of Israel into the land I swore to give them. I will be with you.” In Joshua 1:6 – 7a, 9, we read: “Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them. Be strong and very courageous. This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” God repeatedly commands Joshua to be strong and courageous and to keep his trust that the Lord is with him. Central to this is that God is commanding Joshua to take action. Without knowing the plan beforehand, without knowing where or how Joshua is going to accomplish a seemingly impossible task, he is commanded by God to show his trust in God through action. God tells Joshua that He is with him, He will fulfill His promise to Israel through Joshua’s leadership, and He expects Joshua to be strong and courageous while moving forward.
I think we have to understand that before we can truly appreciate what we see happening in today’s reading. In today’s reading after Joshua has shown his trust in God by taking action, God starts to reveal to Joshua and the Israelites how He will fulfill His promise. He tells Joshua that He will make him a great leader in the eyes of the Israelites like Moses was. Then God performs a miracle to show the Israelites He is with them similar to one He performed when Moses was leading them – God parts the waters of the Jordan River as He did the waters of the Red Sea. As I read this, I can almost feel the excitement that the Israelites must have felt – “how can I be scared of the walls of Jericho, when God is doing the impossible right in front of me by stopping the waters of this mighty river??? If God is with us, who can stand against Him?”
I think God is calling us to the same kind of faith that He called Joshua to have. Personally, I like to have a plan and think through contingencies. While in of itself, that’s not bad, I can see how that can limit my faith; I can also see how it allows fear to permeate my thinking and prevent me from showing my trust in God’s promises and provision. God wants us to be strong and courageous just as He commanded Joshua to be; He wants us to step out in faith even when doing so can be filled with things we just can’t see or know beforehand. God might not be calling you to lead an army of Israelites into the promised land, but I can guarantee that He is calling each and every one of us to step out of our comfort zones and put our trust in Him into action. I can’t say exactly how He is calling you to act – it might be to trust Him by tithing or giving an extravagant gift in service to Him, it might be to trust Him by sharing the Gospel with a friend or relative that you’ve wanted to tell about Jesus but haven’t had the courage, it might be to trust Him by standing up for His Word and principles in a situation where your fear tells you to remain silent, it might be trusting Him through a service or missionary project, or it might be trusting Him in some other way. Regardless, I do know that He is commanding you to be strong and courageous and promising you that He will be with you when you take action that is consistent with His Word and will.
Prayer: Lord, thank You that You always keep Your promises. Thank You for providing us with Your Word so we can know You. Lord, please help me to be strong and courageous. Please show me where and how you would like for me to take a step of faith in service to You without knowing where it will lead or how I will get there, but rather just trusting in You to lead me step by step. In Jesus’ name… Amen.