Blogging the Bible 51 – Joshua 1-3 – New chapter, new leader

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Three chapters of a new book, and we get into a second attempt to spy out the Promised Land. This time Joshua, one of the few who weren’t daunted the first time around, is in charge.

First, though, Joshua has to step up to leadership.

Be strong and courageous (x3)

This week we ran a ‘Polar Explorers’ holiday club for local kids, with about 20 taking part altogether. Aged between 5-9, some from church families and most not, we had great fun. The most – requested song was ‘Be bold’. The words (with appropriate actions) are,

Be bold, be strong,
for the Lord your God is with you,
Be bold, be strong,
for the Lord your God is with you,
I am not afraid (no, no, no!)
I am not dismayed (not me!)
’cause I’m walking in faith and victory,
Come on walk in faith and victory,
For the Lord your God is with you.

Joshua might have sung that song if only it had been written 3,300 years earlier. In the first 9 verses of this book, God says three times to Joshua, ‘be strong and courageous’. My guess is that he wouldn’t have repeated himself if Joshua was feeling strong and courageous to start with.

I don’t think we can blame Joshua for some nerves. After all, he’d been Moses’ assistant for years, but he might have hoped for a gentler reading into the front seat, perhaps with Moses hanging around in the background for the odd bit of advice. Not to find himself suddenly in charge of a nation that for a generation had only known one incredible leader, just as they faced their greatest challenge. Israel was on the edge of the Promised Land, but unfortunately there were already quite a few people there, who weren’t about to move out quietly just because some God they’d never heard of said so.

God once again gave encouragement based on two things.

First, the evidence of his past faithfulness. God does not change with a change of human leader. Joshua is not Moses, but the LORD is still the LORD. And that LORD promises that he will be with Joshua just as much as he was with Moses, to fulfil the promises he has already made.

Second, the book of the Law. The record of the story so far and of the commands to Israel as the story continues will be a resource for Joshua – one even Moses didn’t have. If he speaks of and meditates on the record of God’s works and words, and if he takes care to lead in line with the book of the Law, he will be successful.

So…

Whatever daunting situation I may face, the God who has brought me this far will not change. If it’s down to me to carry on the work of other people who seem more able then I think I am, then I know the God who brought them this far will not change just because I’m in charge now.

And the more I can keep the inspired record of God’s past work and words in my mind and mouth, the more I will be able to play the part he gives me in his unfolding story.

The promise still stands. Whether it’s in the Polar Explorers’ favourite song or in Joshua 1:9,

The LORD your God is with you.

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