Friday, June 3, 2011

A Job Well Done

Moses was a great leader. When he raised his rod and smote the rock twice, an abundant amount of water gushed out to satisfy the thirst of the Israelites and animals in the desert of Zin(Numbers 20:7-12). His action was against the commandment of God to speak to the rock. It was to his credit that he was recognized (after accepting God's call) as one having made only one mistake in the area of obedience to God. Due to the disobedience, Moses would not lead the nation of Israel into the Promised Land. The Lord told him to lay his hands on Joshua, son of Nun, and set him before Eleazar and the congregation. Eleazar was the priest who had the breastplate of judgment who Joshua was directed to consult as there was occasion. Moses was to give Joshua a charge that would cause the people to look upon and obey him (Numbers 27:14-22). The Lord allowed Moses to see the Promised Land. After he had seen the land, he died on Mount Nebo and was buried by the Lord in a secret place. The congregation mourned for thirty days. The Lord allowed such an honor to be placed upon his memory.

Our lesson focuses on a new leader, Joshua, who had been a part of Israel's leadership for some time, but in a lesser role. Joshua was full of the spirit of wisdom because Moses had laid hands on him, the children of Israel listened to him, and he listened to the Lord (Deuteronomy 34). Now he is in center stage and we are reviewing God's assignment for him at Joshua 1:1b-6; 11:16-19,21-23.

Prior to Moses' death, the Lord spoke directly to Moses as the leader of the nation of Israel. Joshua was Moses minister, immediate attendant. Moses handed down the orders and commands from the Lord to Joshua. This is an indication that God did not assign conflicting roles. At that time Joshua would also go to Eleazar for direction. After the death of Moses, and the thirty day period of mourning had lapsed, the Lord spoke to Joshua directly to give him spiritual guidance as a leader of the congregation (Joshua 1:1b).

The Lord lets Joshua know that Moses is dead and it is time for him to take action. He must rise and go over the Jordan River with the entire congregation to the land given to the children of Israel. It was promised to their forefathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Deuteronomy 34:4) and he is the energy which will bring them into possession of the promise. It may have appeared impossible, but he had to have faith (Hebrews 11:1). The Jordan River was at flood stage (Joshua 3:15), but nothing is impossible for the Lord (Luke 1:37).

The boundaries of the Promised Land are given; but the knowledge of the boundaries assigned by God was not enough. A condition was attached. 'Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses...' They had to go to overcome all obstacles with the help and by the power of God and take actual possession. The grant of the land was repeated at vs 4. The children of the murmurers are the ones that God allowed to enter Canaan. Their sin cut them short of this large possession and they never replenished all the country within the bounds. Had they been obedient, God would have given them the land granted and much more.

Joshua's overall assignment was not a small task. It began with the crossing of the Jordan River at flood stage when the nation of Israel's population may have approached two million. Then Joshua had to take the Promised Land within the boundaries given by God. This took approximately five to seven years to accomplish.

In order to take the land God encouraged Joshua. No man would be able to stand against His chosen people all the days of Joshua's life - not even the "giants" of the land as reported to Moses earlier by the twelve spies (Numbers 13:33). 'Be strong and of a good courage:...' (Joshua 1:6). God told Joshua not to be afraid in facing an enemy that was stronger and better-equipped. 'as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee' (Joshua 1:5; cf Deuteronomy 31:7,8) This promise applies to all believers (Hebrews 13:5). Perhaps Israel never did "take" the entire stretch of real estate that God promised them because they had a shortage of that "good courage".

God also encouraged Joshua to 'Be strong and of good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land...' (Joshua 1:6). Having been a part of Israel's leadership, Joshua knew well how discontent and unmanageable they had been. It was very important to receive this encouragement as he could expect vexation from Israel and would need to be courageous.

Joshua led Israel into battle and, with God in control, no king was able to stand. News of Israel's mounting triumphs caused kings to confederate. That did not matter. Joshua and his army was successful in battle because God had already promised that land. They simply had to "take" it by faith. It was a long war. All the kings of the Northern Campaign fought until defeated and their cities were either burned or destroyed. Only the Hivites, inhabitants of the city of Gibeon, made peace with the Israelites.

No matter how many battles had been fought and won, there was still one major concern for Israel: the giants. Joshua saved that for last. These "giants" (Anakim) were all destroyed, except for a few in Gaza, Gath, and Ashdod. '...Joshua took the whole land according to all that the Lord said unto Moses; and Joshua gave it for an inheritance unto Israel according to their divisions by their tribes...' (Joshua 11:23). It was a sweeping victory. Joshua had completed the assignment begun by Moses (Joshua 12). There was one final blessing: for the moment, the land rested from war. It was a peace created by God. It was a job well done by His servant, Joshua.

Written by Deborah C. Davis

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