In Joshua chapter 1, following the death of Moses, it was time for the children of Israel at long last to inherit the land that God had promised to them.
Joshua was chosen by God to lead the people after Moses. God promised him, “No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go” (1:5-7). Joshua had certainly shown himself to be a faithful servant of both Moses and Jehovah. Israel would be well served by his leadership.
God keeps His promises. Under Joshua, the people would take the land. However, God required faithfulness on the part of both Joshua and the people of Israel. This faithfulness would require strength and courage. While Joshua was certainly up to the task, the children of Israel were not.
After God called Joshua to faithfulness, he in turn called upon the people of Israel to obey God. Verses 12-15 describe a special responsibility that Joshua gave to the Reubenites, Gadites, and half of the tribe of Manasseh to fight with their countrymen to conquer and inhabit the land east of the Jordan.
Their response to Joshua’s command was disingenuous, though perhaps expressed with good intentions. They said, “All that you command us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. Just as we heeded Moses in all things, so we will heed you. Only the Lord your God be with you, as He was with Moses” (1:16-17).
“Just as we heeded Moses in all things”? They hadn’t “heeded Moses in all things”! In fact, an entire generation was lost in the wilderness precisely because they refused the command to enter the land forty years previously! “But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness” (1 Corinthians 10:5).
The emptiness of their words became evident only a short while later. Though they quickly conquered Jericho with God’s help, Joshua 7 records a defeat at the hands of the small city of Ai. Hear the words of Jehovah, just days after the promise of the people to heed Joshua’s commands in “all things.” He told Joshua, “Israel has sinned, and they have also transgressed My covenant which I commanded them. For they have even taken some of the accursed things, and have both stolen and deceived; and they have also put it among their own stuff” (7:11).
In fact, the entire history of Israel serves as a warning against disobedience to God’s commands. “Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come” (1 Corinthians 10:11). They lusted after evil things. They became idolaters. They committed sexual immorality. They tempted Christ. They complained. We must not do any of these things!
The lesson for us? “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed
lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12). We must always be aware of and heed
the commands of God. We must avoid worldly lusts which was against the soul.
We must recognize and accept the obligations of obedience and submission that
come from being God’s children.
By Stan Cox
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