March 26th 2023: Ian Middlemist

Joshua 1

In this passage of scripture we have a war theme. When marching to war three things are vital:

  1. There needs to be clear direction and purpose for the mission ahead. A regiment needs clarity for its purpose.
  2. To know unity, togetherness, camaraderie.
  3. We are to actually go, to make those first steps with bravery and courage.

These things often seem to be absent in church life.

  1. People appear to be proactive but they are motivated by a fear of inability that can lead to just doing something.
  2. Someone can have a clear idea in their homes and expect every one else to get it, but their vision isn’t communicated clearly to everyone.
  3. There can be such lethargy in church life. We become depressed and don’t get engaged, preferring to build more walls. It’s just disobedience. Jesus Christ said to His disciples, ‘Go!’

By the presence of the Holy Spirit all of these three things are present in this passage. As God’s people march onwards, they have the sure promise of God’s hands.

  1. God’s word and His promise.

As the Israelites stood to enter the Promised Land, they are ready, posed to march forwards. God’s main emphasis to Joshua is upon the law of God. Very early on in history of the planet, people were ready. They were a people of the Book. A spiritual reality of Christian life must be being a people of the Book. These people weren’t merely readers of the book, they were lovers of the words. They loved the writings of Moses. Without the book of the law of God, they would be lost and confused. They read and loved the book. They engaged with it.

Joshua was to have special revelations from God through the priest, “And he shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall inquire for him by the judgment of the Urim before the Lord. At his word they shall go out, and at his word they shall come in, both he and all the people of Israel with him, the whole congregation.”  (Numbers 27:21). Joshua was to stand before the priest, receive special communication from God and tell the people.

“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful 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.” (Joshua 1:8)

There are three things are in this verse. The law is to be on his mouth. He was to talk about, meditate on it and do the work of God.

  1.  He was to keep it on the mouth, speaking it, not just internalising it.
  2. He was to meditate on it day and night. We have increased as Christians in our love to grow and meditate on God’s word. We can draw deep lessons and be taught new things when we read the word. We are to absorb the word, chew over its truths – God, His person, His ways, His gospel.
  3. Do it. This word is to be living and active in our lives. Are you keeping the word on your lips, meditating on it, as if it were your life? Are you putting it into practice?
  • God’s Presence.

When he commanded Joshua to conquer the land, God said, ‘Do not be afraid.’ Joshua didn’t need to be afraid because God was going to be with him every step of the way. The command most frequently found on the Lord Jesus’ lips was ‘fear not.’ Men and women are prone to fear under the shadow of death. The Lord assured Joshua He was going to be with him.

Today, we are more and more a people who are afraid to make a stand, therefore we don’t often have fear. We hide ourselves away. We’re not afraid because we fall often or because we tried and failed. We’re afraid because we haven’t made that step and tried. If we’re going to see revival, we need to become a people who know reality, who are courageous in the midst of our fears.

The greatest gift the Lord Jesus gave the church was the Holy Spirit. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are not the most important, it’s the Holy Spirit. The pinnacle of Christian experience is the Lord Jesus Christ. “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever,” (John 14:16).

Jesus Himself is the first comforter. The Holy Spirit is the second. Have you trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ as the first comforter? In Jesus Christ we have the help of the helpless. He will abide with you. If we’re to be involved in the battle, we need all the comfort and reassurance we can get. If we’re truly in the work, we will know this comfort and encouragement. The encouragement and strength you really need is the Holy Spirit. Comfort comes from the Latin words meaning strength.

The Holy Spirit, the paraclete, comes not to console after the battle, but to fortify us before and in the midst of the battle. He will be with us through it all. You are going to face difficulties again and again. Right now, get to appreciate, to look to and to believe that the Spirit of God is with you. Christ is sufficient. He speaks comfort. That’s the strength of the Holy Spirit.

  • Let’s go! The first steps.

Joshua is a vital book. It bridges the gap between the Torah and the history teachings section of the Old Testament. It speaks to us of God’s redemptive purposes. Moses is dead but the purposes of God are not. The Israelites spent 40 years in the wilderness of wandering with Moses.  Then Moses dies. Surely, there must have been people there wondering if God’s purposes had also died? There is temptation to think, because a strong leader has died, other purposes have died. How dejected some must have felt. The Kingdom of God isn’t dependent on such things. The purposes of God are sure, so is the strength God gives for us to move and take those first steps.

Joshua stands in a moment of transition. God says, ‘Remember my promise.’ So we need to go and believe. The purposes of God are not over – not in your personal life, not in this church, not in the global church. We have Christ’s own promises which cannot fail.