The Book of Joshua Series
Conquering the Land
“Joshua, the Son of Nun”
Today we begin a new sermon series in the book of Joshua. I’ve entitled this series “Conquering the Land.” Even though the possession of the Promise Land had deep historical and redemptive significance it is also a metaphor for the Christian life. As believers we should always be progressing out of the wilderness and pressing on in our spiritual journey. As believers we should be forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead. We should be pressing on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Phil.3.13-14) As we journey through the book of Joshua we will see the Lord’s call to enter the land, conquer nations, and take possession of the Promise Land. It is my desire that the Lord will use our study of the book of Joshua to cause us to enter into new territories in our spiritual journey, defeat the enemy, and take possession of God’s promises.
We will begin this morning in Joshua chapter one considering the first eleven verses. Here now the Word of God.
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, 2 “Moses My servant is dead; so now arise, cross this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them, to the sons of Israel. 3 Every place on which the sole of your foot steps, I have given it to you, just as I spoke to Moses. 4 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. 5 No one will be able to oppose you all the days of your life. Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not desert you nor abandon you. 6 Be strong and courageous, for you shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them.
7 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 achieve success wherever you go. 8 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 achieve success. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not be terrified nor dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” 10 Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people, saying, 11 “Pass through the midst of the camp and command the people, saying, ‘Prepare provisions for yourselves, for within three days you are going to cross this Jordan, to go in to take possession of the land which the Lord your God is giving you, to possess it.’”
Joshua, the son of Nun
Joshua was born a slave in Egypt, and was probably around the same age as Caleb, with whom he is generally associated. This would had made Joshua about forty years old at the time of the Exodus. He shared in all the events of the Exodus and held the place of commander of the Lord’s army in their great battles. (Ex. 17:8-16) It was after his first battle that Moses changed his name from Oshea, which means “help,” to Jehoshua, which means “Jehovah is help.” (Num. 13:16) The name Joshua is the Hebrew equivalent of Jesus. And this new name is the key to Joshua’s life and work where we see his dependence on the Lord’s help instead is own strength.
Joshua was Moses’ minister or servant indicating that he was Moses’ apprentice for over forty years. That’s quite an internship! We see Joshua throughout the Exodus and wilderness experience serving at Moses’ side. Here are a few highlights. Moses taught Joshua the Word of God and we see Joshua would go with Moses to the tabernacle and wait for Moses. (Ex.17.14; 33.10-11) He accompanied Moses as he ascended Mount Sinai to receive the Law. (Ex. 24.12-13; 32:17) He was one of the twelve spies who were sent by Moses to explore the land of Canaan (Num. 13:16, 17), with only him and Caleb coming back with a positive report. The Lord had instructed Moses to encourage and strengthen Joshua because he would be the one who would lead the people into the Promise Land and give them their inheritance of the land. (Dt.3.28; 31.32)
Now, after forty years of service at Moses’ right hand Moses is dead and Joshua had some big sandals to fill. 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, “Moses
My servant is dead; so now arise, cross this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them, to the sons of Israel. (Josh.1.1-2) As I attempted to described earlier Joshua succeeding Moses as the leader of the people would have not taken anyone by surprise. But I want to draw your attention to the words the Lord spoke to Joshua, “Moses My servant is dead; so now arise, cross this Jordan.”
So Now Arise, Cross This Jordan
“So now arise, cross this Jordan.” Each word is pregnant with meaning. “Moses My servant is dead; so. “So” The Lord is telling Joshua that since Moses has passed on it time for him to move on. The last two weeks we have heard two sermons about how God has promised to make all things new. Didn’t Daniel Perez and Daniel Young preach great sermons? Both sermons talk about how the Lord calls us to not linger in the past. As Isaiah told us, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Do not call to mind the former things, Or consider things of the past. Behold, I am going to do something new.’” (Is.43.18-19a) And here Joshua stands at the threshold of the Promise Land, mourning the lost of his life long mentor, the Lord says, “So, you knew this day was coming now arise.” “Do not consider things of the past.” “Behold, I am going to do something new.”
Brothers and sisters, there comes a time to move on. The Christian life is more that precepts and principles. The Christian life must include action. Why, because faith without works is dead. (Js.2.17) We must “go” and “make” disciples of all nations. (Mt.28.19) These are action words. We must be doers of the word and not just hearers. (Js.1.22) So now arise, cross this Jordan. The Lord is saying, “Leave the wilderness, cross this Jordan, and claim your inheritance.” Wandering in the wilderness was a result of disobedience and disbelief but now its time to cross this Jordan. Joshua, along with Caleb, had watched an entire generation die in the wilderness because of their disobedience but now it was time to leave the wilderness and cross this Jordan. And brothers and sisters, it is time for us to leave the wilderness, cross this Jordan, and claim the inheritance that has been given to us in Christ. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints. (Eph.1.18)
But to claim our inheritance we have to cross this Jordan. What is interesting is that at the time Joshua stood on the western bank of the Jordan the river was at the height of the flood stage. Chapter three tells us that the Jordan overflows all its banks all the days of the harvest. (3.15) How much better it would have been to cross when the weather was dry and river was low. But God had lead them to the rivers edge at the time when the high waters were raging. However, we honor God in our willingness to trust Him during times of torrent. Everyone faces untamed and uncontrollable situations in life. The Lord knows we had faced many situations like that this last year. But God wants us to face the challenge and cross this Jordan. When we step out in faith God always makes a way where there seems to be no way. And in this case the Lord held back the waters of the Jordan River like He did the Red Sea a generation earlier and the people cross this Jordan on dry land. (3.14-17)
Now arise, cross this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them, to the sons of Israel. Every place on which the sole of your foot steps, 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. No one will be able to oppose you all the days of your life. Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not desert you nor abandon you. (1.2b-5) These are the promises of God to Joshua! The word of the Lord for Joshua was, “Be strong and courageous.” (1.6)
Be Strong and Courageous
The passage doesn’t reveal Joshua’s actual feelings or emotions but we do hear the Lord tell him three times with increasing intensity to “Be strong and courageous.” The Lord begins in verse six saying, “Be strong and courageous.” Then in verse seven, “Be strong and very courageous.” And then in verse 9 saying, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified nor dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” The Lord issues a threefold call to Joshua to be strong and courageous. So, what is going on here?
Well, we know that Joshua was following in the footsteps of one of the world’s greatest leaders. Just listen to the closing words of the book of Deuteronomy describing Moses life. No prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, 11 for all the signs and wonders which the Lord sent him to perform in the land of Egypt against Pharaoh, all his servants, and all his land— and for all the mighty power and all the great terror which Moses performed in the sight of all Israel. (Dt.34.10-12) I think is fair to say that anyone would be intimidated to be Moses’ successor. Also, Joshua was becoming the leader of a great nation that had a long history of grumbling, complaining, stubbornness, and rebellion. Yes, the previous generation had died in the wilderness for their disobedience but this new generation carried their DNA and the possibility that their would resemble their ancestors would be enough to frighten any leader. And the obstacles ahead were huge. The Promise Land not only had giant produce but the land was filled with giant people who lived in fortified cities. Joshua was going to lead the people to walk where they had never walked. The people had listened to stories about this land for decades but in reality the land was unknown to them. The weight of the responsibility on Joshua’s shoulders would cause many leaders to cower.
No matter the reason the Lord knew that Joshua needed to hear the message to be strong and courageous. With a threefold emphasis the Lord wanted Joshua to know that God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind. (2Tim.1.7) The Lord wanted Joshua to know that whether it was replacing Moses, dealing with the people, or confronting the unknown the children of God are overwhelming conquerors through Him who loves us. (Rom.8.37) And the Lord wants you to know the same thing! It is not because of our ability. It is not because of our wisdom. It is not because we full or confidence. Brothers and sisters we are overwhelming conquerors because Him who loves us. Yes, I can do all things
through Christ who strengthens me. (Phil.4.13)
Call to Courage
I want to dig a little deeper into the Lord’s threefold call to courage. Many commentaries consider verses 6, 7, 8, and 9 to be the center point of this passage and provide the theme for the entire book of Joshua. I want you to see that the first call to courage was based on promises of the past. Be strong and courageous, for you shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. (1.6) And the third call to courage was based on a promise for the future.
“Do not be terrified nor dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (1.9) But the second call to courage is different. It is a command. 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 achieve 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 achieve success. (1.7-8)
Whatever Joshua was experiencing emotionally the Lord wanted him to know that any victory he will achieve, any possession he may acquire, and any success he may obtain is a direct result of him hearing and responding effectually to the Word of God. This should be a call to us to understand that there is no true success in this life apart from us embracing the Word of God. Therefore, we gain strength and courage, as we are careful to do the Word, to not turn away from it, and never depart from it.
Brothers and sisters, as we stand on the bank of the raging river let us be the people who respond to God’s call to courage by embracing His Word. Let us not shrink from declaring the whole counsel of God to the world around us. Let us be strong and very courageous!
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 going to cross this Jordan, to go in to take possession of the land which the Lord your God is giving you, to possess it.’” (1.10-11)
After facing his fears with faith in God’s Word Joshua immediately issues marching orders to the people. Prepare provisions for yourselves, for within three days you are going to cross this Jordan. This isn’t the time for discussion or debate we are going to cross this Jordan. Even though Joshua’s order to prepare provisions for the journey most certainly included the gathering of food and supplies for the journey, I think Joshua is also calling the people to prepare provisions of faith. The people saw the raging river but were they going to have faith that the Lord was going to make a way for them to enter the land. The people heard the stories of how the people who dwelt in the land were men of great size but were they going to have faith that the Lord was going to defeat the enemy. The people knew that God had swore to their fathers to give them the land but were they going to have faith that the Lord was going to give them possession of it. The people knew how to gather provisions of food and supplies but were they going to gather provisions of faith.
What I am suggesting is that Joshua issuing his marching orders included more than just gathering supplies. It was a call to examine their faith in God. I came to this conclusion because after the people heard Joshua’s marching order they responded 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; only be strong and courageous.” (1.16-18)
Response of Faith
The people’s response was a response of faith. Faith to go. Faith to obey. Faith to be strong and courageous. This morning I’m asking you to examine your faith as we prepare to come to the Lord’s Table. The Lord is declaring marching orders for His church. Some of you need the Lord to equip you with faith to believe that God is going to make a way where there seems to be no way. While others need the Lord to equip you with faith to defeat the enemies in your life. While some need the Lord to equip you with faith to take possession of the Lord’s promises in your life. Whatever it is you are in the right place. Ask the Lord to equip each of us with faith so that we would do all things through Christ who strengthens us. (Phil.4.13)
Transition to the Table
Brothers and sisters, the greater Joshua is here today the Lord Jesus Christ who has provided us entrance into the throne room of God’s grace so that we may receive mercy and find grace in time of need. (Heb.4.16) The Lord Jesus Christ, the greater Joshua, has defeated all of His and our enemies by triumphing over them through the cross. (Col.2.15) Through the Lord Jesus, the greater Joshua, we have obtained an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you. (IPt.1.4)