by Steven Chan
- The end of the year marks a time for reflection of what had occurred in the past year and what we have accomplished in our lives. For many the upcoming New Year also represents opportunities to complete what we had started, or to embark on new plans for our lives.
- During such a time of transition, it may be good for us to consider what the inspired Word of God says. One such time of transition occurred in the lives of God’s people in the Old Testament when their outstanding leader, Moses, died without the fulfillment of God’s promise that they would occupy the Promised Land. It is instructive for us to consider what God said to His people after Moses died.
- “Moses My servant is dead. Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them—the children of Israel.” (Joshua 1:2)
The death of Moses, God’s servant who had led them out of Egyptian captivity via the crossing of the Red Sea did not mean that their hope of occupying the Promised Land would remain unfulfilled. The death of Moses did not mark the end of their journey to the Promised Land. God was still with them. He will lead them to inherit the Promised Land.
The faith of the people ought not to be in the servant of God, Moses. Their faith ought to be in the God whom Moses served. So, with the passing of the year of 2017, let’s re-affirm our faith in our God to lead us into the New Year and beyond.
- “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you.” (Joshua 1:5).
God assured Joshua, God’s chosen successor to Moses, that He will be with him just as He was with Moses – when Moses led the people out of Egypt with God’s mighty hand. When God said that “I will be with you”, He meant more than just keeping you company. He meant that He will stand by Joshua and that He will not “leave him or forsake him” under any circumstances: “No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life”. With God’s presence, Joshua would be able to lead God’s people to successfully conquer the Promised Land.
God gives a similar assurance to us today: “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we may boldly say: “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Heb 13:5-6)
Today, God has not asked us to conquer the Promised Land. But God wants us to live a contented life, being content with “such things as you have” – don’t be dissatisfied or be upset with “such things as you have”! Don’t covet what others have – whether their luxurious houses or high-performance cars or luxurious holidays, etc.… Don’t serve the desire to have what others have – for covetousness is idolatry (Col 3:5).
Will we have enough for our needs? God repeats the same assurance: “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we may boldly say: “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear”.
Given the victory over death secured by our Lord, we are exhorted to keep doing His work: “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” (1 Cor 15:58). Are we doing the work of God?
- “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.” (Joshua 1:7)
Joshua needed to be “strong and courageous” to do what the Lord has commanded, and to keep going straight ahead in the path that God has directed – not being led astray and deviate from that path. Only by courageously doing what God has commanded will Joshua and the people be assured of “prospering” or being successful in accomplishing God’s will.
Unfortunately, many are double-minded and hesitant in trusting and obeying God. Recall the frustration of the prophet Elijah on Mount Carmel: “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” But the people answered him not a word.” (1 Kings 18:21).
The silence from God’s people was deafening! How about us today? Will we also remain silent with regards our commitment to follow God?
Some are silent because of fear – despite God’s promise that He is our Helper and we should not fear. But if we remain silent and fearful in spite of God’s promise then be warned: “Now the just shall live by faith; but if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.” 39 But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.” (Heb 10:38-39)
- “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe 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.” (Joshua 1:8)
God’s promise of prosperity and success in doing His Will was premised on Joshua continuing to meditate “day and night” on God’s Word and observe to do all that was written in it.
It is important to note that God did not say: “Sit back and relax, I will do everything for you – it’s all by My grace; there’s nothing you can do to add to what I have done for you!”
If Joshua desired to receive God’s blessings of “prosperity and success” in doing His will, he had to be “strong and very courageous” to do God’s will, and he must continually meditate upon God’s Word so as to do all that He has commanded.
If prosperity and success in doing the Will of God are what we seek for, then we cannot do any less than what Joshua was told to do – as was also affirmed by King David: “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; 2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. 3 He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.” (Psa 1:1-3)
- “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage.” (Joshua 1:9a)
God’s reminder to Joshua was that he was being asked to do what God had commanded. The mission or work was not man’s own plan. It was God who has planned the conquest of the Promised Land. God has therefore “commanded” Joshua to go and do what He has said. This is the same God who had delivered them from the hands of Pharaoh.
This was a “command” – not a “suggestion”! Joshua was obliged to do what God said. He was not permitted to do otherwise – if he desired God’s blessings of successfully leading God’s people into the Promised Land.
- “Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9b)
Joshua should not allow himself to be fearful or be disappointed or discouraged. The reason was because God would be with him at all times and under all situations.
When Jesus gave the Great Commission to go and preach the gospel to all the world, He gave the similar assurance: “All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: 20 teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” (Matt 28:18-20, ASV)
God has promised that He will be with us. The Bible says: “If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?… Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? …. 37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Rom 8:31-32, 35,37)
We ought to be reminded by the words of this beautiful hymn:
“Be with me, Lord–I cannot live without Thee, I dare not try to take one step alone. I cannot bear the loads of life, unaided, I need Thy strength to lean myself upon.
Be with me, Lord, and then if dangers threaten, if storms of trial burst above my head, if lashing seas leap everywhere about me, they cannot harm, or make my heart afraid.
Be with me, Lord! No other gift or blessing Thou couldst bestow could with this one compare— a constant sense of Thy abiding presence, where e’er I am, to feel that Thou art near.
Be with me Lord, when loneliness o’er-takes me, when I must weep amid the fires of pain, and when shall come the hour of “my departure” for “worlds unknown,” O Lord, be with me then.”
May you continue to blessed abundantly in this New Year of 2018 as you walk with the presence of God.