Lent Devotion for March 19
"Joshua Becomes the Leader"
Reader: “As I was with Moses…”
Response: “…so I will be with you.”
SCRIPTURE: Joshua 1:1–9
1 After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: 2 “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites. 3 I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. 4 Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Mediterranean Sea in the west. 5 No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.6 Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.
7 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Reader: "The word of the Lord.”
Response: “Thanks be to God.”
After forty years of the same man leading a million people, God establishes a new leader. Joshua was an apprentice all during that time watching Moses and Aaron work with a difficult people. Moses was careful to present Joshua as the new leader by giving him his endorsement and letting the people know that Joshua was God’s chosen leader for the next phase of their journey. The Hebrew name Joshua means “Yahweh is salvation.” In Greek, it is “Jesus.” God had made a promise to Abraham some 650 years earlier that Israel would be His people’s land. Now God was fulfilling that promise. What is clear in the Lord’s statement to Joshua, was that He, God, would be the one to deliver the land to His people. He also specified the borders of the land to Joshua. He was in control of this endeavor as the people trusted. He then gives a strong challenge to be strong and courageous. Hints of the Shema are in the words of instruction. Obedience is once again central to walking in God’s path. One can see why Joshua was chosen. You’ll recall he was one of the twelve spies who checked out the land of Canaan in the first year of the exodus and reported back that God was with the Israelites and that they should take the land. He and Caleb were the only two in favor of trusting God’s word and moving ahead. Their advice was rejected by the people and so, for the next forty years, Joshua and Caleb trekked around in the desert with a stubborn people. Eventually, everyone who rejected the spies’ report died off. Of the original group of a million people who left in the exodus, only Joshua, Caleb, and those under twenty years old at the time of the spies’ report survived to actually cross the Jordon River into Canaan. Not even Moses or Aaron made it. Did you notice that the above passage of Scripture is framed by a phrase at the beginning, which also repeats at the end?
“As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. 6 Be strong and courageous,” and then at the end, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua is a type of Christ figure. He is the one to lead God’s children across the Jordon (symbolizing passing from life on earth through death to life in heaven (Canaan). In the meantime be strong and courageous, God goes before you all this day!
“Deep River” by Norman Luboff Choir and Leopold Stokowski (Watch on YouTube)
I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need for further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still. Show me Thy glory, I pray Thee, that so I may know Thee indeed. Begin in mercy a new work of love within me. Say to my soul, “Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.” Then give me the grace to rise and follow Thee up from this misty lowland, where I have wandered so long, In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
- A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God, p.20