Following God's Will
"There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life:
as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee:
I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.
Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land,
which I sware unto their fathers to give them."
(Joshua 1: 5, 6)
Following the will of God requires direction from His Word, obedience in our lives
and a strong, courageous faith.
There are many ways to study the manifold wisdom of God as it is revealed in the Bible.
We can examine the history recorded in the Bible.
We can study the geography of Bible lands and places.
We can study the times God intervened in the affairs of men and changed history.
These are valuable ways to understand the Bible and discover the will of God.
In this message, we will be looking at people who were involved in the great events
that shaped the nation of Israel.
Human beings are the instruments through which God works in this world.
Some of these people were heroes of faith.
Others were examples of spiritual failure.
All of them offer us valuable spiritual lessons that we can apply to our lives.
in this message we will look at Joshua.
Joshua and Caleb were the only two men in Israel who had come out of Egypt as adults.
Every other adult Israelite had perished in the desert.
Much had been accomplished in the years of the Exodus.
Israel entered Egypt as a family of seventy souls.
They came out of Egypt as a mighty nation of six hundred thousand men, besides women and children.
In the wilderness, they had been given the Law and the Tabernacle.
These were the foundation stones on which a great nation would be built.
As the book of Joshua begins, Israel is standing at the threshold of the Promised Land.
This nation had a glorious past, but they also had a wonderful future.
The work of Joshua was the next step in taking the people of Israel into the land that God had promised
to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
The work of Joshua is a great testimony to the truth of the old saying, "Trust in God and do what's next."
The first message God had for Joshua was the simple and obvious fact that Moses was dead.
For a large part of his life, Joshua had been a servant and faithful follower of Moses.
Joshua was one of only two adults who had survived the years of wandering -- Caleb was the other.
Joshua had lived a remarkable life already when God gave him the job of leading
the people of Israel into the Promised Land.
The first lesson Joshua needed to learn was to let the past be the past and to lead the people of Israel
into the future.
Moses was dead.
The people of Israel could remember him, memorialize him and honor him,
but they could no longer follow him.
Therefore, Joshua was to lead the Israelites forward with three goals in mind.
First, he was to lead the people across the Jordan River into the land God had already promised to them.
God had already revealed to Moses that this land would belong to the people of Israel.
Second, Joshua was to lead them as they conquered the land.
Third, after defeating the enemies of the Israelites, he would divide the land among the tribes of Israel.
God did not go into details here.
God did not tell Joshua exactly how these goals would be accomplished.
He simply told Joshua that these were the goals he should keep in his mind as he led the Israelites.
It should be obvious that, if we do not know where we are going, we cannot know how to get there,
or even when we arrive.
Every child of God should prayerfully seek to discover God's plan for his life. (Ephesians 2:10)
God specifically described the geographical location of the land He was giving to the people of Israel.
This land reached from the wilderness of Sinai in the south, to Lebanon in the north
and from the Euphrates River in the east, to the Mediterranean Sea in the west.
Over the years there have been many wars and disputes about the ownership of this land.
This description is clear, and we must remember this is the Word of God.
God assured Joshua of victory.
No man would be able to stand before the armies of Israel.
This was not because Israel had a great army, but because Israel had a great God.
God promised an eventual and ultimate victory, not that Joshua would win every battle.
Because of the sin of Achan, the people of Israel were defeated at Ai,
but they eventually conquered the city.
God promised Joshua that He would be with him, as God was with Moses.
Joshua had witnessed the leadership and provision of God in the life of Moses,
and now he was assured that he would have the same leadership and provision in his own life.
The Orders of God to Joshua
Joshua 1:6-9: "Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou
divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them.
Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law,
which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left,
that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest.
This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night,
that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein:
for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.
Have not I commanded thee?
Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed:
for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest."
God gave Joshua His promise, and He showed Joshua his personal duty in the light of this commission.
Three times in these verses, Joshua is admonished to be strong and of a good courage.
Joshua certainly needed physical strength and God had given him that, but he also needed spiritual strength.
The situations that would require strength are clearly revealed in these verses.
First, Joshua would need strength and courage to divide the land among the people.
Of course, he would first have to conquer the land.
At this time the land of Canaan had no national government.
It was a loose alliance of city-states each ruled by a local king.
Each city would need to be conquered and subdued before the land could be divided.
Joshua would face the challenge of actually apportioning various parts of the land to each tribe.
This would require spiritual strength and courage.
Remember this had never before been done.
Second, Joshua would need strength and courage to observe all the Law that God had given to Moses.
God specifically told Joshua not to turn either to the right or to the left.
He was not to try to make the Law more strict than it was, nor was he only to enforce the laws
that might personally suit him.
Notice the specific promise attached to the keeping of the Law.
Keeping the Law would bring prosperity to the people of Israel.
God was not leading Israel to be like other nations.
He was leading them to be different, and to base their peace and prosperity on their relationship with Him.
To keep the Law, Joshua and the people of Israel would have to know the Law.
The Law was more than the Ten Commandments.
There were many specific rules and regulations in the Law, and the people had to know them to keep them.
Joshua was told not to let the Law depart from his mouth.
This suggests that he was to memorize and repeat the Law.
He was told to meditate on the Law day and night.
This suggests that the Law was to be his constant standard of conduct and a basis for judgment
in all matters at all times.
Joshua was told to observe all of the Law, not only the parts that might be convenient.
His knowledge was not to be theoretical, but practical.
The Law was to be a guiding force, accepted as the Word of God and applied to the everyday
lives of the people of Israel.
The promise is repeated that keeping the Law will bring prosperity and success.
Third, strength and courage would be required to conquer fear.
The strength of having clearly defined goals, and of having a clearly understood moral standard
will help us overcome our fears in troubling times.
Fear is a paralytic emotion that freezes our activity.
We need spiritual strength and courage to resist it.
Jesus often told His disciples to fear not.
Dismayed means "to be confused or bewildered."
God did not promise Joshua that he would never face trials or troubling situations.
God promised Joshua that He would be with him, and that he could have the courage and strength
to overcome all the problems he might face.
The Orders of Joshua to the People
In verses 10-11 we read. "Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people, saying,
"Pass through the host, and command the people, saying, Prepare you victuals;
for within three days ye shall pass over this Jordan, to go in to possess the land,
which the LORD your God giveth you to possess it."
God gave Joshua a commission, and Joshua gave the officers of Israel a commandment.
The officers were to go among the people and pass the commandment along to everyone in Israel.
This was not a suggestion that was put to a vote.
Joshua was acting as a military leader, and he expected his officers and the people to do as he said.
Jesus is the Head of His churches.
As His people, we are expected to follow where He leads.
Joshua did meet with his officers and ask them for suggestions about what the nation should do next.
His command involved both specific goals as well as the revelation of the overall plan
that God had given Joshua.
First, they were to prepare food for traveling.
They had three days to prepare, and then the nation would cross the Jordan River.
This was a specific command that the people could either obey or disobey.
Joshua revealed the goal of their movement.
They were going across the Jordan River to possess the land that God had given them.
Israel had been a wandering nation for as long as most of the people had been alive.
All they had known was moving about from time to time.
Now, they were at last moving to their destination.
When the people of Israel left Egypt, God had a definite destination in mind for His nation.
All but two of those who left Egypt perished in the wilderness, but the nation did go into Canaan
and possess the land.
The plan of God does not change because men disregard it.
The leaders of God's work will pass from the scene, but the work of God will continue.
Moses was dead, but Joshua was there to take over and lead Israel where Moses could not go.
Joshua did not lead the people of Israel through the desert.
He led them into the Promised Land.
God has a work for each of us to do.
Please we must understand this.
It is not only for pastors, missionaries, and other full time Christian workers.
God has a work for every Christian to do.
The work of God is more important than any individual human being.
As the leadership of Israel passed from Moses to Joshua, the Word of God remained
the same for both men.
Moses led the people of Israel according to the Law of God,
and Joshua was commanded to do the same.
No matter who the leader may be, God's standards do not change.
The word of God was to be the foundation for the conduct of Israel.
The leaders of the work of God always need spiritual strength, divine guidance, and courage.
The tasks that God has given us to do are daunting.
We face great challenges in preaching and teaching the truth that never changes
in a world of constant change.
We face the challenges of skeptics who minimize or marginalize the Bible.
We need strength and courage to learn the Word and hide it in our hearts
so that we do not sin against God.
God's people still face the twin enemies of fear and dismay.
We need the kind of strength that the Holy Spirit imparts in our hearts to conquer fear
and to face discouragement or confusion about our mission for Jesus.
As God led the people of Israel, He is leading His churches today.
We need to listen to the directions God has given in His Word.
We need strength and courage to put His directions into action in our lives.
We need the strength and courage to go into the future and claim the promises of God.
"He leadeth me, O blessed thought!
O words with heav'nly comfort fraught!
Whate'er I do, where'er I be
Still 'tis God's hand that leadeth me.
He leadeth me, He leadeth me,
By His own hand He leadeth me;
His faithful foll'wer I would be,
For by His hand He leadeth me.
Sometimes 'mid scenes of deepest gloom,
Sometimes where Eden's bowers bloom,
By waters still, o'er troubled sea,
Still 'tis His hand that leadeth me.
Lord, I would place my hand in Thine,
Nor ever murmur nor repine;
Content, whatever lot I see,
Since 'tis my God that leadeth me.
And when my task on earth is done,
When by Thy grace the vict'ry's won,
E'en death's cold wave I will not flee,
Since God through Jordan leadeth me."
-- By Joseph H. Gilmore
This sermon was adapted from several sources by Dr. Harold L. White