The anointed man of God was gone. Trouble had been averted in terrifying and terrific ways. The Bible refers to it with a Hebrew idiom, the long, outstretched arm of the Lord. The long, outstretched arm of the Lord had done its sovereign and powerful thing. The superpower of the day had been dethroned, Egypt. Egypt’s land-god, Pharaoh, its pantheon of deities (each plague was a Divine rebuke), and its chariot-empowered army (think F-22’s of the Ancient Near East), were set aside like Lego pieces. And, Israel had witnessed it all. This rag-tag, foreign, unarmed group of former slaves just walked out of town, because the long, outstretched arm of the Yahweh was on their side. Moses was a central character, and sometimes the human leader can become an overly supportive crutch. Joshua begins with the reality that Moses is dead. Now what?
The ‘what’ was the land before them. God had made a promise to Abraham, and though the pathway to the promise was long and twisty (almost always is), here they were. Miracle upon miracle later, they just had one small river to cross and then it was time to let the Lord go before them and use that long, outstretched arm. Easy-peasy, right? Well, not so much.
You and I have a hard time trusting God with our yearly finances, schooling, marriages, or jobs. What if you stood in front of a small country, with dozens of distinct (and armed) nations? Israel of old, and you and I, need something to gird us up. We need a God-sized promise. We need a word from the Lord. And that is just what God delivered, a Word of Promise.
God says in Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you?” Commanded what? “Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed!” Why? How? “For the Lord your God is WITH you WHEREVER you go.” There it is! That is the Word of Promise that fuels our obedience, even when the future looks impossible. We need God. He promises just that. Himself.
You and I have been given a pretty similar call, actually. We find it at the end of the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 28. God has called the multi-national church to take the land, but this time it is the whole world. If you think about it, that is a bigger task than Israel had in Joshua. The Bible has made it clear, the Philistines (or Islam, or secularism, or economic strife, or war) are not our ultimate problem. Death, the Devil, and our sin is the ultimate problem, which course through the latter issues. Jesus called the disciples and us to the task of making disciples by baptizing and teaching under His authority. But there is an attached promise that makes all the difference. Guess what it is?.
Sound familiar? God knew what He was doing when he wrote history and had it all interpreted and taught to us in Scripture, huh?
Friend, you and I share in that Great Commission, but you might have some personal stuff in front of you that might look pretty daunting. Remember, you need One Thing, God. He is with you. Everywhere. Forever. God with Us.