Joshua 1-4 (6-2-18)
This week we began our reading in Joshua, the book I have chosen to represent the Conquest Era in this year’s Bible reading plan. I love the book of Joshua and not just because of my namesake; instead, I love that what God did in and through Joshua and the Israelites in the Conquest Era was awesome and very important in His overall redemptive plan.
The Lord God promised Abraham and his descendants four things:
- they would be blessed and become a blessing;
- they would grow to become a great nation;
- they would be given a land of their own;
- and these blessings would be enjoyed in the context of a close covenant relationship with God.
By the end of the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible), Israel (who is God’s chosen people) has been brought into the blessing of covenant relationship with the Lord and has become a great people.
But they remain outside the Land of Promise, on the plains of Moab.
Now, after so many years of wandering, Joshua, the new leader of God’s people, is ordained to lead God’s people into the land, take it, and divide it among them as their inheritance from the Lord.
The book of Joshua can be divided into four main sections; however, we will study it in five parts.
Guidance Joshua 1-5
Conquest Joshua 6-12
Dominion Joshua 13-21
Service Joshua 22-24
Today, we delve into the guidance that Joshua gave the people as they prepared to go into battle and claim their land.
Listen to God’s words:
Joshua 1:7-8 “Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. 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.”
This is counsel from the Lord to one of the truly great and godly leaders of the Old Testament. Notice that His emphasis is on a carefulness to do all that God has given to them through the law–to not even turn from it slightly to the left or right.
If you are honest with yourself, how critical is it that you know and follow God’s word? I believe that many will be quick to say they hold high this practice, but what does your life say? What do the priorities of your days say? Do you truly work to know God’s word and then to not depart from it even in the slightest? The book of Joshua is saying, “This is critical to a life of success.”
It is surely critical to a life that is honoring of God.
He goes on to say that the Book of the Law shall not depart from our mouths.
What does that mean? It means we are speaking the truths and wisdom of God and not the ideas and wisdom of man.
It means we value and speak of and bless others with God’s word. What better word is there than God’s word?
This leads into the next point, which is to “meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it.”
What does it mean to meditate on God’s word?
The word “meditation” in Hebrew means basically to speak or to mutter.
When this is done in the heart, it is called musing or meditation.
So, meditating on the word of God day and night means to speak to yourself the word of God day and night. So, it’s not just something you do for five minutes; it’s something you do throughout the day. This is why Bible memorization is so helpful, so we can mediate on it day and night. This is why it is so essential we are in the word of God every day, so it is fresh, and we are able to recall what we read and muse on it all day. This is how the Holy Spirit speaks to us–not with new revelation but with drawing to our minds and hearts the words of Scripture, of God’s word. The word of God is the Holy Spirit’s word to us.
Another Scripture that is very similar to Joshua’s exhortation here is found in the first Psalm:
Psalms 1:1-6 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.
Psalms 1:2 says “but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.”
Delight means it gets priority time. You make room to give it priority in your days.
You don’t just try to squeeze it in; you hunger after God and want to hear from Him.
You want Him to shape you and grow you, so you DELIGHT IN HIS WORD.
The New Testament teaching is that we are to hold fast to God’s word.
To hold fast to God’s word is to get your roots deep into His truth.
To hold fast is to read His word daily, putting it deep into the soil of your heart so that your roots are deep, grounded, and secure in the truth of God. So, when then wind blows and the storms rage, you remain!
How do we delight or hold fast to God’s word? You have to get time in it!
Holding fast is regular time eating at the table of God, listening to Him speak life into you.
We make prioritized time to eat food, dress, and prepare ourselves for our day.
We even prioritize our “down time” to refill our tanks by watching TV, cruising the internet, or playing games, but we often neglect the true food of life, the true preparation of our day, and the true rest for our souls by not spending time fanning the flame of our faith by hearing God’s word.
The text goes on to say that only when we are mediating on God’s word day and night will we “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.”
God’s word truly is the light to our path. We will not know the best way if we do not know His way. We will slip into sin and the ways of man if not regularly rooted in God’s word.
Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
So, when the word of God is in my life, it is now a “LIVING WORD” that brings me into the bigger story of God. It illuminates my understanding of who God is, and therefore who I am in relationship to Him.
God’s word helps illuminate the depth of my depravity, my wickedness, and my rebellion from God, and at the same time, it raises within me a deep appreciation and gratefulness for His grace, love, and the new life that Jesus brings through His life, death, and resurrection.
Here is the key: When this deeper understanding and relationship happens, NOW I can make a deeper connection by faith and worship into Jesus–who is the vine, and who is life, and by whom the POWER for change comes!
Do you see it? When I hold fast to the Scriptures, it pulls me into Him. He is now at work in and through me; He is my power, He is my authority, He is my hope, he is my LIFE!
I worship Him, I trust in Him, I lean on Him, and I ENJOY HIM!
2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.”
Proverbs 13:13 says, “Whoever despises the word brings destruction on himself, but he who reveres the commandment will be rewarded.”
You will not prosper or be rewarded if you despise or ignore or deny the word of God.
The word of God is too central to your life and growth and focus to ignore it.
Please hear this teaching today. You cannot thrive in the Christian life without a steady diet of God’s holy word. This is what God wanted Joshua and his people to know and not miss. This was His linchpin emphasis before sending them into war and the land before them.
This is so critical for us still today. Why? Because we are so vulnerable to slipping into the ways of man and adapting to the things that seem to make sense to us or that our flesh longs for.
2 Timothy 4:3-4 says, “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”
Surely these times are among us, so let’s heed the counsel in the book of Joshua and make it an absolute and non-negotiable priority to “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”.
Pastor Joshua Kirstine