The Life of Faithfulness, part two
We’re continuing this week with our study of Joshua and the life of faithfulness. If you missed part one, be sure to go back and read last week’s post. Today, I want us to keep thinking about Joshua’s commission recorded in Joshua 1:1–9, and to consider what that commission has to say about our commission given to us by Christ.
First, as we read the commissioning of Joshua, where Joshua is sent to go into the Promised Land and take possession of it, the emphasis is squarely placed on God’s promise of provision for Joshua and the people, much more so than on Joshua’s call to action. God tells Joshua to “arise (and) go” in verse 2, but the remainder of the verses are filled with what God will do:
- It is God who is “giving” them the land, not primarily that they are taking the land, according to verse 2.
- “Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon (future tense), I have given to you (past tense), just as I promised” (v.3).
- And God describes the full boundaries of that promised territory in verse 4.
The focus is on God’s promise. They are entering the land that God is providing for them. God will give it to them; Joshua is only called to live faithfully, to obey God’s call to “go,” and to lead the people to do the same.
Last week, we saw that fruitfulness follows faithfulness, that blessings follow obedience, but this week we need to see the God’s promises precede our faithfulness. God’s promises pave the way for our obedience. We’re not walking a lonely, difficult road and hoping that we can just make it to the end so that we can enjoy the reward; we’re walking the path laid out for us in advance by God and we’re empowered by his presence as we go.
God’s promise paves the way, and God’s presence gives us the power we need to walk faithfully. That’s what we see in verses 5–9:
No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. 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. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”Joshua 1:5–9, ESV
God’s commissioning to go and lead the people into the land is bracketed by this command to “be strong and courageous,” a command which itself is buttressed by the promise of God’s presence.
God is encouraging Joshua, he is strengthening Joshua, he is calling Joshua up. “Be strong and courageous” is what you say to someone who is about to enter into a season or a place or an event where that person may naturally face fear. Be strong. Don’t fear. Why? “Because God is with you” is the answer given in verse 9: “Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, FOR the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
“I will not leave you or forsake you,” God tells Joshua. And the wonderful message of the book of Hebrews is that believers in Christ can take that word that God gave Joshua, and we can hear it and believe it as God’s word to us today.
Hebrews 13:5–6 tells us that God “has said ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you,’ so we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?’” Do you see the promise for your life of faithfulness? If you’re doubting, if you’re afraid, if you’re being challenged by man, if you’re being challenged by your own flesh, whatever it is that you face, you can hear God’s Word to you that he is with you, and you can respond with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear.”
God has said he will be with us, so we can say “I will not fear.” Our strength comes not from within, but from with-out. Our strength comes from the Lord, because the Lord is always with us.
This was the backbone of God’s commissioning to Joshua. In a way, that commissioning is a re-commissioning for God’s people, bringing back into the forefront the commission given to Adam: as God’s image-bearers and vice-regents, they’re to go and take dominion over the land that God has given them. They are going to reestablish God’s recognized rule and reign.
Joshua’s commissioning looks back to Adam’s commissioning, and it points forward to the commissioning given to us in Christ. Christ has also commissioned us to go and to reestablish God’s recognized rule and reign, only he’s commissioned us to not just reestablished that over a certain portion of land, but over all the earth. Read the Great Commission from Matthew 28, and notice the similarities of promise and command that we saw in Joshua 1:
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”Matthew 28:18–20, ESV
Like Joshua, we’ve been told to go. Like Joshua, we’ve been given this commission by the One who has all authority. And like Joshua, we’ve been given the empowering promise of God’s presence to help us as we go.
God has commanded us to go and make disciples of all nations. Faithful living today means proclaiming the message of Jesus as the crucified and risen Lord of all creation. And if that seems daunting, if it seems overwhelming to think of this command to make disciples of Christ, we’re to remember his promise: he’s with us always, even to the end of the age. We have all we need for faithful obedience to our commission, because we have him.
Bert Watts has served since December 2016 as the Senior Pastor at Mountain Creek Baptist Church, where he has been on staff since 2012.