CLAIMING GOD’S PROMISES FOR SPIRITUAL VICTORY REQUIRES A COMMITMENT TO COURAGE AND OBEDIENCE
Personal Perspective in studying Joshua:
I have a hunger for a greater level of spiritual victory in my Christian life. So this will not be the testimony of one who has scaled the Mt. Everest of Christian experience and is looking down on the rest of the poor struggling souls and exhorting them to climb higher. Hopefully, it is more in keeping with the spirit of what we have just studied in the Sermon on the Mount …
- Coming to you as “poor in spirit”;
- “mourning over sin” and yet
- “hungering and thirsting for righteousness” along with my brothers and sisters in the faith.
Important to nail down some background information about the book as a whole to set the stage so that we can fully appreciate the challenge before us in Joshua Chapter 1 (which is an OT Great Commission passage).
2 TRAPS TO AVOID in Studying the Book of Joshua:
Trap #1 – Confusion about the Identification of Joshua –
Joshua is not a type of Pastor John MacArthur or your personal pastor (or name any radio personality you listen to); The people of God today want a human Joshua to follow rather than the invisible Lord Jesus Himself who is the Captain of our Salvation; that is why we must have a plurality of undershepherds … no one leader can bring to the table all that we need; Joshua is not a type of some super single pastor model of leadership … but spiritual leaders do need to pattern themselves after Joshua in many important respects (so there are a lot of leadership lessons … and hence a lot of lessons for those of us who are called to submit to our spiritual leaders as well)
It must be remembered throughout this study that Joshua (name means “Yahweh is salvation”) is a type of Christ who leads us to spiritual victory and into His rest – not in heaven – but on earth as we submit fully to Him, trust in His power and come to experience the abundant life He desires for us.
Trap #2 – Confusion about the Identification of Canaan –
Thinking that crossing the Jordan represents a transition from this life through death into the joys of heaven; But Canaan was actually a place of conflict and conquest! God’s people must take responsibility to be strong and courageous and fight the good fight of faith; Don’t settle for victory one day in heaven; God wants us to experience victory right now in the midst of our enemies; surrounded on every side by challenges; yet obeying Him and experiencing His grace in giving us the victory.
For some … a crisis experience putting them on a different level of intimacy with the Lord … for others … more of repeated experiences of crossing the Jordan River … but in both cases: God has greater levels of spiritual victory that He would like to give us in His grace
(Two commentators especially helpful: Alan Redpath and J Sidlow Baxter — they both recognize that the OT lessons are types and examples to guide us in our new life in Christ)
THEME OF JOSHUA: TAKING GOD’S GIFT OF THE PROMISED LAND
- Both a gracious gift from our sovereign God;
- Yet personal responsibility and commitment required on our part.
FIRST 4 CHAPTERS: CORPORATE COMMITMENT TO GO TO WAR — ENGAGING THE ENEMY
Kids, you all know the story of Joshua and the walls of Jericho falling down … these are the preparation steps leading up to that great victory.
Going to war is a topic much in our headlines these days; stories of heroism, sacrifice, casualties … but a much more important war taking place in the spiritual realm.
3 OBSTACLES TO TAKING GOD’S GIFT OF THE PROMISED LAND (SPIRITUAL VICTORY)
1) People Paralyzed by Fear – Grasshopper Mentality –
Root Problem = Lack of Faith = the Mission is Impossible
We are nobody … we are just going to get squashed
Kids, do you ever wonder what ants think of humans?
Hebrews 11 records the Faith Hall of Fame – all those heroes of the faith – but there is a significant gap between verses 29-30 = the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness;
That is where our story takes place … what has to happen in order to lead up to the walls of Jericho falling down? What are our walls of Jericho in our life?? What has to happen to make them fall down?? So that we can live as heroes of the faith as well??
Num 13-14 – Report of the 12 Spies —
Interesting that the Lord commissioned them to go check out the land – to get a vision for victory = “Spy out the land I am going to give to you” (13:2).
Not charged with determining whether or not to complete the assigned mission.
This was an issue of Obedience vs Rebellion – same with us.
The Lord had demonstrated His glory and power over and over again in amazing ways … yet the people refused to trust and obey.
Issue: Do we believe that the Lord is with us and able to give us the victory …
Or do we look at ourselves vs the obstacles and see ourselves as grasshoppers and the obstacles as Giants that can’t be conquered?
God specializes in killing Giants – remember David and Goliath … fall of Jericho …
What Giants do you face that want to keep you from experiencing God’s victory and blessing? Have to face our giants … not run from them.
How many times did Jesus have to address His disciples with the simple command: “Fear not”
Need a Vision of Victory – focusing on God’s Promises
2) People with a History of Failure – Victim Mentality –
Root Problem = Lack of Faith = We are too weak
We are abused and neglected … we will never amount to anything.
Look at the generation Joshua was trying to rally – a lot of baggage:
40 years wandering in the wilderness … experiencing death; tasting death everywhere they turned; waking up every day to the same old routine – where is the promised victory in the land of milk and honey – we have blown it and we will never experience God’s blessing … (true for their parents – entire generation died out) ….
Settling for less than the Lord’s best; conditioned to just make the best of things.
Isn’t that how we often live as believers? That’s just the way I am … given up on fighting certain battles …
Attitudes of discontent; murmuring; grumbling; resisting God’s appointed leadership;
Inexperienced in knowing how to trust and obey – now stepping up to a difficult mission;
The Hope of the Gospel: “You can be what you are not now” – turning Simon into Cephas (Peter) – the rock; turning Saul into Paul
Need an Attitude of Hope – focusing on God’s Promises
3) Leadership Meltdown/Blowup – Big Shot Mentality – huge trap for leadership
Root Problem = Exalting Self (Defined as Lack of Faith/Rebellion – making it all about the leader rather than all about God) – Moses commended as meekest of all men … but failed in that very area and was severely disciplined.
“We are too important to be treated this way by the hoi polio.”
Numbers 20:1-13 Sin of Moses and Aaron —
Simple command (vs 8) “Speak to the rock before their eyes that it may yield its water”
Provoked to anger: “Listen now, you rebels” – Moses had had it with the people
Before he was quick to intercede on their behalf that the Lord might spare them; he was the meekest of all men, not taking offense … putting up with a lot … now he lashes out in anger.
What was so wrong about striking the rock twice with the rod??
(cf. Exod 17:6 at Rephidim – similar incident – told to strike the rock in that instance)
Not treating the Lord as holy before the people.
Seems like such a harsh penalty for just a procedural error??
Primarily a sin of unbelief (same as the people) – Discontent with their lot just like the people were — unbelief in the sovereignty and providence of God – Moses was on the hot spot – not content with letting the Lord do things His way
(Aside: He had trusted the Lord many times previously – using that same rod in obedience to the Lord as an effective leader –
Exod 7:20 – on the spot before Pharoah: struck the water that was in the Nile
and it turned into blood … part of the plagues – the Lord came through
Exod 14:16 – on the spot before the Red Sea – about to be overtaken and
destroyed by the pursuing Egyptians … “lift up your staff and stretch
out your hand over the sea and divide it” – the Lord came through huge)
The Lord wants to be seen as the one giving the victory – we cannot drum up victory.
Key to the whole book of Joshua: Victory is due to the arm of faith (“this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith” — 1 John 5:4) — Baxter
Why were Moses and Aaron not excited at the opportunity for the Lord to be exalted in the eyes of the people; where was the quiet confidence of faith? Not content with how the Lord was running the show; felt that they deserved more support and exaltation.
Need a Submitted Will – Focusing on God’s Promises (again, you should be detecting a theme here)
WHAT WERE GOD’S PROMISES TO HIS PEOPLE? What’s at stake?
1) A LAND TO POSSESS – PLACE OF REST AND INHERITANCE
- Sovereignly given by God to His chosen people
- No more wandering … but settled down with roots and security
- Requires Victory over strong enemies – Satan not giving up this ground without a fight; as many as 7 different heathen nations to defeat and drive out;
- For us, spiritual rest is to be found in the person of Christ who is our inheritance
2) A LAND TO ENJOY – RICHES OF GOD’S BLESSING
“a land which flows with milk and honey”
Not just manna to sustain them physically, but giving them richly all things to enjoy
Parallels to book of Ephesians – all the riches of our spiritual blessings in Christ
(cf. J. Sidlow Baxter: Study the parallels between earthly inheritance of God’s people described in Joshua with heavenly inheritance described in Ephesians – note points of similarity)
3) A LAND TO SHARE – TESTIMONY TO THE WORLD OF GOD’S GLORY
- Not as a monument to their own glory and power but as a testimony of God’s mercy and grace
- We share Christ with others as the supreme revelation to the world of God’s glory
This is what we hunger and thirst for this morning: a deeper experience of:
- grabbing hold of our spiritual rest and victory in Christ
- contentment and appreciation and worship and thanksgiving for all of our blessings
- compassion and love for others that they too might share in these riches
CHAP. 1 — BIG IDEA:
CLAIMING GOD’S PROMISES FOR SPIRITUAL VICTORY REQUIRES A COMMITMENT TO COURAGE AND OBEDIENCE
First Section in Joshua: CORPORATE COMMITMENT TO GO TO WAR –
TO ENGAGE THE ENEMY
Once they have crossed the Jordan River, they are fully committed; no turning back …no calling the rescue helicopters for a quick extraction … God is not going to part the waters and facilitate their retreat … Victory or Death … those are the options.
We tend to think about our own individual spiritual warfare – our struggles for victory; for claiming God’s promises; We forget that we are called to go to battle together as the church of God; we need one another; everyone needs to be pulling their weight; It takes a lot of energy and commitment to overcome inertia and step out in faith and engage the enemy – but that was the first assignment for Joshua as a leader stepping into the shoes of Moses – quite a challenge.
COMMISSION TO GO TO WAR — really a RECOMMISSION – the people had failed earlier under the leadership of Moses and Aaron.
Commission issued by the Commander in Chief to His appointed leader.
Kenneth Gangel: Responding to God’s call for leadership requires experience, strength, and courage. God had granted Joshua considerable experience before Moses’ death. Now he commands Joshua to be strong and courageous.
Jerome Creach: The beginning of a narrative often presents information that is necessary for understanding the rest of the story. Joshua 1 does this largely by connecting the reader to the values and theological ideals of Deuteronomy. It recalls that Joshua is Moses’ successor, commissioned in Deuteronomy 31:23 and reaffirmed in Deuteronomy 34:9. Joshua 1 also points back to the instruction of Moses recorded in Deuteronomy, which, in written form, is now the primary authority for Joshua (Deut. 31:24–29; Josh. 1:7–8). In addition to the direct command to observe Moses’ teachings, the language of Moses’ torah appears in the chapter at every turn, creating further the impression that it is the standard by which Israel will be judged. Joshua 1 has the strong sense of Israel’s unity that also appears in Deuteronomy. Following and referring to Moses’ speech in Deuteronomy 3:18–22, Joshua orders the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh to cross the Jordan armed with the other Israelites before returning to possess their territory east of the river (Josh. 1:12–18). Concern over these tribes and their territorial allotment will occur again in chapters 13 and 22. Hence, Joshua 1 prepares the reader for the remainder of the book by grounding the conquest and possession of the land in the theological interests of Deuteronomy.
I. (:1-9) COMMITMENT ON THE PART OF LEADERSHIP – BE STRONG AND COURAGEOUS —
THE COMMISSION OF JOSHUA
A. (:1-5) Reaffirming the Mission and the Promises
- (:1) Transition in Leadership
“Now it came about after the death of Moses the servant of the Lord that
the Lord spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ servant, saying”
A type of transition from the dispensation of law to grace –
“For the Law was given through Moses, grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.” (John 1:17)
The law could never lead us into possession of the promises. It must be all by grace.
Again, Joshua is a type of Christ … so you couldn’t have a better leader.
So this book should shed important light on the relationship between the law and grace – having been granted a new nature in regeneration we now have a radically changed disposition and attitude to the law as well as power to obey all righteousness after the pattern of our Lord (Pink)
Joshua had been faithful for many years in his role as Moses’ servant before ever he was elevated by God into this realm of tremendous responsibility.
(Num. 27 – only a part of Moses’ spirit rested on him)
Meaning of the name Joshua (“Yahweh is salvation”)
Ministry LeadershipTransitions can be precarious – I have experienced several:
- PEF – college fellowship group
- Teen Haven – inner city ministry in Philadelphia
At least here you did not have to battle with the difficulty of former Leader (who was also the Founder of the ministry) letting go – Moses was no longer in the picture;
Would have been easy for Joshua to feel all alone.
James McConville: So the beginning of Joshua is also a middle, since it presents itself as coming after events previously narrated. The charge to Joshua points back to texts that introduce him in various ways, as the servant of Moses and as the one commissioned to lead Israel after Moses’ death (Exod. 17.8-16; Num. 27.12-23; Deut. 1.37-38; 3.21-28; 31.1-23; 34.9). Joshua 1.1-9 takes an explicit lead from Deut. 31.7-13 where Moses charges Joshua in words similar to God’s words here. Also taken as read is the promise of the land, made ages before to the ancestors of Israel (Deut. 1.8). The description of its extent makes a bracket between the beginning of Joshua and the end of Deuteronomy (Deut. 34.1-4) and harks back to promises recorded in Genesis (Gen. 12.1-3; 15.18-21). The opening of the book, therefore, signals that an expected time has come, a new era in which the person of Joshua would play the leading part and in which Israel would enter its God-given possession.
- (:2) Foundational Mission
“Moses, My servant is dead; now therefore arise, cross this Jordan, you
and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them, to the sons of Israel.”
We lose sight of what a monumental crisis it was for these people to cross the Jordan and expose themselves to the enemy; Privilege as well!
River at flood stage – no simple task to have 2 million people cross over;
It would be a clear declaration of war. A commitment to engage the enemy.
Jensen: The fact that the large size of the Israelite band is not made a prominent factor in the record of the book of Joshua speaks well for the orderliness and discipline with which Joshua maneuvered the hosts. In strict military fashion, reflecting the training he had received under Moses, Joshua delegated the offices under him to mobilize the people to the state of readiness.
What side of the Jordan are you living on?
God desires spiritual victory and rest for all of His children … not just some small elite group.
Think of the spiritual giants who have gone before us … great missionary pioneers … out to fulfill the Great Commission; they are now home with the Lord … we are the ones left to fulfill the mission.
Are we motivated by a sense of Mission – God has called us to Great Things – things that are not humanly possible …. But divinely enabled;
Let other people busy themselves with the tasks that don’t require God’s power.
Richard Hess: vv. 2-5 — This text summarizes the book.
- Verse 2 describes the crossing of the Jordan as found in 1:1 – 5:12.
- Verse 3 outlines the ‘conquest’ of 5:13 – 12:24.
- Verse 4 implies the distribution of the land in 13:1 – 22:34.
The emphasis on all the days of Joshua’s life in verse 5 is found at the end of Joshua’s life in the ﬁnal two chapters of the book. These verses also introduce the character of the LORD God of Israel. He is one of the main actors in the book. Here he reveals himself through his promises on behalf of Joshua and Israel. . .
A second twofold aspect of the book’s message is implied in the two occurrences of the adjective all (Heb. kol) in all these people and in every place. The importance of the participation of all of the Israelites will become apparent in the responsibilities of the Transjordanian tribes and in the sin of Achan.
Helene Dallaire: The hardships that would accompany the leadership position were not unknown to Joshua. He had observed the people’s rebellion at the base of Sinai (Ex 32:1–6), the jealousy of the elders against their leader (Nu 12:1–2), the deep personal struggles Moses had experienced since Egypt (Nu 11:10–15), and the stubbornness of the people in the desert (Nu 14:1–4). Nonetheless, Joshua showed no sign of hesitation or wavering in accepting his new task. He received his call with courage and determination, but would the Israelites accept him as their new leader? The answer is clear. As the end of the first chapter points out, the Israelites make a pledge of obedience to Joshua; they promise to follow his instructions wholeheartedly and to go wherever he commands them to go (1:16–17).
- (:3-4) Scope of the Promise – It’s HUGE – how big is our thinking??
“Every place on which the sole of your foot treads, I have given it to
you, just as I spoke to Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon,
even as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the
Hittites, and as far as the Great Sea toward the setting of the sun, will be your territory.”
David Howard: Repetition of God’s Promises to Moses, then Joshua:
Prophetic events still to transpire related to the fulfillment of this promise. God is not done working with the nation of Israel.
Geography not my strong suit … Karen is my navigator … but apparently Israel did not enjoy dominion that far east until days of David and Solomon. (Jensen)
But our concern this morning is what we can learn about spiritual victory in our day.
There is no possession without appropriation.
Stepping out in faith is the key … we must take that initiative in response to God’s direction.
“Faith is the victory that overcomes the world.”
- (:5) Assurance of Divine Presence and Protection (Prospering them)
“No man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just
as I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you.”
Incredible promise of success and victory; what military commander has ever enjoyed such a guarantee?
How was God with Moses?
- as a baby – his ship was almost sunk before it got launched
- before Pharoah and his court
- before the pursuing Egyptian army, trapped against the Red Sea
- before the riotous and mutinous mob in the wilderness
No abandonment; No disappointments in trusting Christ.
Plenty of enemies will try to oppose us and defeat us .. but they will not be able to stand and succeed; Christ is building His church; the gates of hell shall not overpower it.
B. (:6-9) Responsibilities and Resources
- (:6) Be Strong and Courageous – Victory is Guaranteed
“Be strong and courageous, for you shall give this people possession of
the land which I swore to their fathers to give them.”
Richard Hess: The occurrence of be strong and courageous in Joshua 10:25 is set in the context of Joshua’s encouragement to the people to ﬁght against their opponents, similar to Hezekiah’s usage of the expression in preparing the people to withstand the Assyrians (2 Chr. 32:7). Thus the term could be used in a variety of circumstances but always within a context of God’s presence and support.
Characteristics necessary for victory: bravery, valor, fearlessness, heroism, confidence, nerve, guts, grit, backbone
Our reaction: How can you command something like that? We think: either you have the Right Stuff or you don’t; either you are a Tom Cruise or a Charlie Brown
It doesn’t take any courage to lie on the couch and watch TV …
Resting in our comfort zone doesn’t require courage . . .
Engaging the enemy on the spiritual battlefield … that takes courage!
God remains faithful to all His promises;
What spiritual promises has Christ made to the church with respect to victory over Satan, sin, self and this fallen world?
How can we be strong and courageous?
How did David strengthen himself in the Lord?
Importance of Ephes 6 – armor of God.
- Joshua could be confident because God is competent.
- Joshua could be dependent because God is dependable.
- Joshua could trust because God is trustworthy.
- (:7-8) Be Strong and Courageous — Obedience is Essential / God’s Word is Sufficient
“Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all
the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to
the right or to the left, so that you may have 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 success.”
Robert Hubbard: The danger is that fears, feelings of inadequacy, and doubts may cripple the leader’s resolve, muddle his mind, and shake his confidence. The resulting confusion, wavering, and tentativeness sow despair, if not dissent, among the followers and endanger the mission. The temptation, then, is to back off from risks, to strike compromises, or to retreat altogether. To “be strong and courageous” means to be steady, resolute, bold, and unafraid.
Importance of meditating on the Word – reflecting on it; digesting it slowly;
Kids: don’t chew your food too quickly … take your time ….
No deviation from God’s instructions allowed;
Prosperity and Success should be the goal … don’t settle for anything less.
David Howard: the two words we find here in our passage in Joshua (1:7–8) speaking of prosperity and success are almost never used in the Old Testament to speak of financial success. Rather, they speak of succeeding in life’s proper endeavors. This happens when people’s lives are focused entirely on God and obedience to him. The focus of people’s endeavors is not to be prosperity and success but rather holiness and obedience. A believer’s consuming obsession should be holiness, for God himself is holy (Lev 11:45; 19:2, etc.), to love God with one’s entire being (Deut 6:5), to keep his word with the same fervor (Deut 6:6; 2 Kgs 23:25; Ezra 7:10; etc.), and to “fear God and keep his commandments” (Eccl 12:13). When this happens, then God does bless (usually!), although not always in exactly the ways we might like him to. In this, the Old Testament has the same message that Jesus spoke when he said, “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things [food, drink, clothing] will be given to you as well” (Matt 6:33). Our priority is to seek God.
Gordon Matties: Two word pictures in the text may clarify the ambiguity. One is that God’s instruction is like a path from which Joshua ought not depart (v. 7; cf. Ps 119:105). This is a path of confidence and a source of strength and courage. In the story of God’s presence with the ancestors, and in God’s instructions, Joshua will find the patterns of divine initiative and human response that will guide him into the unknown but promised future. If Joshua continues to live by that story, he will discover the reality of God’s promise. The divine promise is unequivocal; Joshua’s faithfulness is not.
The other picture is of Joshua’s being encouraged (even commanded) to meditate on God’s teachings (v. 8). This is not simply a silent intellectual exercise, but especially a ruminating on Torah through vocal recitation. The Torah is always to be in his mouth (v. 8). The image has two connotations. One is of internalization: God’s instructions are to be a source of constant meditation that nourishes all of life (cf. Deut 11:18-19; Ps 1:2, where the same expression is used). The other is of the mouth as the origin of communication. As God has spoken to Moses, and as Moses has spoken God’s teaching to the people, so now Joshua is to repeat Torah aloud and to impart God’s instruction to all who might hear. In doing so, Joshua fulfills the requirements for the human king (Deut 17:19).
These two word pictures suggest two implications. First, Joshua must pay diligent attention to the way, to the journey informed by God’s instruction. In this action Joshua becomes the model for all listeners to the narrative. The shape of life lived in God’s presence, with strength and courage, can only flourish if nourished by paying attention to the word, which “requires more than a… casual acquaintance,… but also an intimate knowledge” (Hauch: 82). Second, there must be integrity between words and actions. Both are grounded in promise and presence, which are prior to hearing and obedience. The book of the law illuminates the path because it is accompanied by God’s presence.
- (:9) Be Strong and Courageous — God’s Presence is the Difference Maker
(implies God’s favor in protecting and prospering)
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not
tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Cf. the Lord’s promise of His presence in the Great Commission passage.
Cf. the quote in Heb. 13:5.
Why does the Lord have to repeat this basic command so many times?
Richard Hess: The divine discourse ends and Joshua begins to speak and act for the people. He will complete ﬁve tasks before the LORD again addresses him (in Josh. 3:7–8):
(1) commission ofﬁcers to direct and to organize the Israelites;
(2) conﬁrm the participation of the Transjordanian tribes in the ‘conquest’ of the land;
(3) send messengers to spy out the land and receive their report;
(4) address the people concerning preparation for crossing the Jordan River; and
(5) address the priests concerning the ﬁrst act of crossing.
None of these items is explicitly mentioned in the LORD’s charge to Joshua. They all depend upon prior knowledge of the events of Numbers and Deuteronomy.
II. (:10-18a) COMMITMENT ON THE PART OF THE PEOPLE – BE STRONG AND COURAGEOUS —
THE CHARGE TO THE PEOPLE
A. (:10-11) Preparations for Invasion – Logistical Details of Organization
“Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people, saying, ‘Pass through the
midst of the camp and command the people, saying, Prepare provisions for
yourselves, for within three days you are to cross this Jordan, to go in to possess the land which the Lord your God is giving you, to possess it.’”
Combination of Human Responsibility and Divine Sovereignty in action
- The victory requires careful planning and execution
- But God gives the victory
Ryrie: The mission of the spies (chap. 2) apparently took place before this command to prepare was given. What is described in 3:2 may be the same as in 1:11, or may have followed it.
Redpath: The hardest thing for any of us to do is to sit still and do nothing, to wait until we inherit the promises. But God has a great purpose to fulfill in every waiting time, although so often His people miss the purpose because of impatience with the Lord during the time of waiting. I want to think with you about that waiting time, the sitting still and counting the cost of what it means to inherit the blessing in Jesus our Lord.
B. (:12-15) Everybody Must Pull Their Weight
(Some People Don’t Catch the Vision??)
“And to the Reubenites and to the Gadites and to the half-tribe of Manasseh, Joshua said, 13 “Remember the word which Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, saying, ‘The LORD your God gives you rest, and will give you this land.’ 14 “Your wives, your little ones, and your cattle shall remain in the land which Moses gave you beyond the Jordan, but you shall cross before your brothers in battle array, all your valiant warriors, and shall help them, 15 until the LORD gives your brothers rest, as He gives you, and they also possess the land which the LORD your God is giving them. Then you shall return to your own land, and possess that which Moses the servant of the LORD gave you beyond the Jordan toward the sunrise.”
Trent Butler: The book of Joshua deals extensively with the dialectic of unity in geographical divergence. The Christian church may face this as its biggest hurdle. Released from identity with one geographical spot, the church continues to struggle with the problem of expressing its loyalty to the one body when it is separated by so many different conditions produced by its historical development.
Special Circumstances of Certain Tribes (Reubenites, Gadites, half-tribe of Manasseh)
(Cf. Numbers 32) – they had requested land east of the Jordan which was good for raising livestock; but they were still responsible to take their part in the military conquest alongside all of their countrymen.
Principle: Fighting Valiantly Proceeds Resting in the Victory
Jerome Creach: Hebrews 3:7–4:11 ties the promise of rest to the certainty of God’s abiding peace and salvation. The author declares that ultimate rest was available for Israel from the beginning (Exod. 20:11), but the Israelites were deprived of rest because of their lack of faith (Ps. 95:11). Rest did not come in completeness through Joshua; thus David (in Ps. 95:11) declared that the chance for rest is still open. Hebrews recognizes this rest as a state entered by faith and characterized by grace from God through Christ.
Principle: As believers, we can make choices that limit our entrance into the promised land and taking hold of God’s promises. There is something hugely negative here about these tribes who preferred their own selection of land over what God had promised to them.
More Christians today living on the wrong side of the Jordan River – closer to the wilderness wanderings than the land flowing with milk and honey.
Redpath: Look through the terrifying record of the consequences of that choice made by those two and half tribes. Read I Chronicles, chapter 5. You will discover that these tribes, who had tasted of God’s best and enjoyed God’s victory, who had led the army of the people of God into the land of blessing, were the first to be captured by Assyrians when they invaded Israel. Taken captive, they never returned. They went down to defeat and into bondage, even though at one time they had led the people of God in the way of blessing. Judges 5:16 says this: “For the divisions of Reuben there were great searchings of heart.” I should think there were! They chose, they tasted of blessing, they had entered into the land of promise, but they hankered after the world, its pleasures, its indulgence, and its sin, and they were trapped and caught and ensnared in it.
C. (:16-18a) Commitment to Obey God’s Appointed Leadership Unconditionally
“And they answered Joshua, saying, ‘All that you have commanded us we will
do, and wherever you send us we will go. Just as we obeyed Moses in all
things, so we will obey you; only may the Lord your God be with you, as He
was with Moses. Anyone who rebels against your command and does not obey
your words in all that you command him, shall be put to death.’”
Trent Butler: In their conversation with Joshua, the eastern tribes make only one condition: they must see evidence that God is with Joshua as he was with Moses. The text has the easterners acknowledge by their loyalty that Joshua is the chosen and capable model of the leader after Moses, whatever office that leader may hold. They pronounce ahead of time the sentence for anyone who repeatedly fails to obey and follow Joshua. Such a traitor will face execution. Thus Knauf can conclude: disobedience over against a prophet is dangerous to one’s health from then on.
Main application is our commitment to obey the Lord Jesus Himself unconditionally and to meditate upon His Word with the goal of applying it.
Can’t pick and choose when it comes to the Commands of Christ –
Great Commission: “teaching them to observe all that I commanded you.”
We know the history … not an easy mission for the Israelites; they only experienced mixed success; Why didn’t the Lord give them instant and complete success??
Arthur Pink: Why didn’t the Lord drive out all the Canaanites completely and immediately?
(Ex. 23: 29,30) – “little by little” – thus Israel was kept in a state of constant dependence before the Lord. That is one of His principal designs in all His dealings with people; to wean them from self-reliance and teach them to lean more and more upon Himself.
The spiritual application to the Christian of the above is simple and informative. God has nowhere promised to give him victory over all his enemies at once, and therefore he should not expect it. Nor would it be good for him if He did – pride and self-esteem would be the immediate outcome. “Therefore will the Lord wait that He may be gracious unto you” (Isa. 30:18). He has many things to say unto us, but we cannot bear them now (John 16:12); and He has victories to give us, but we are not yet fitted for them. As Israel were not to be discouraged by the slowness of their arms, neither must we be dismayed if victory be not ours at once – still less entertain the thought that success will never be achieved by us. In like manner, the possessing of our possessions, the present entering into and enjoyment of our heritage in Christ, is not attained all in a moment, but it is a progressive experience – “by little and little.” Growth in grace is not an instantaneous thing like the new birth, but a gradual one: patience has to have her perfect work.
Richard Hess: For Christians, this opening chapter teaches that leadership of God’s people must be recognized by the people as God’s choice. The test for all such ministry is found in the knowledge of and obedience to God’s Word, something that can meet the practical needs of God’s people (1 Tim. 3:1–10; Titus 1:6–9). Joshua’s command to the Transjordanian tribes and their loyal promise provides an example of the importance of the unity of God’s people and their support of his chosen leadership, as well as a sober note on the seriousness of any division (Josh. 22; John 17; Acts 5:1–11; 1 Cor. 3).
“ONLY BE STRONG AND COURAGEOUS”
Commitment to Courage and Obedience – How are we doing in those 2 key areas?
The gift of victory is there for the taking … but we must be committed to step out in faith and engage the enemy.
Matt 28: 18-20 – in closing … note the parallels in our Great Commission