God told Joshua to get ready to go. Now Joshua tells the people this same thing. “Within three days you are to pass over this Jordan to go in to take possession of the land that the Lord your God is giving you to possess” (verse 10).
Joshua isn’t wasting any time thinking over the command He received from the Lord. This is the day they have all been waiting for! He and Caleb were ready the last time they came to this point in their journey but the people’s unbelief got them turned away. The people wanted to kill them the last time for trusting in God and in Moses’ directions. This time is a totally different story!
When Joshua calls the people to get ready they respond with a resounding YES! Yes, we will get ready. Yes we will follow where the Lord leads us. Yes we will obey you just as we obeyed Moses. And ANYONE who doesn’t fall in line “shall be put to death” (verse 18b).
I LOVE how the people echo God’s words to Joshua at the end of their firm answer. “Only be strong and courageous” (verse 18c). They recognize this is a big change for Joshua too. They have been following Moses all their lives. This group was born in the wilderness or were very young and have known no other leader than Moses. Now Joshua is stepping into the role that Moses carried so well.
I’m sure they realize that the role was not easy for Moses, even though he carried it for so long. Did he ever tell them of the times he had to intercede to keep God from wiping them out and starting over again? Did he ever let them know how heavy this mantle of responsibility was? Did he confess his sin to them? Did he share with them why he couldn’t go in with them? Did they see him struggle? Did they realize how MUCH he depended on God to help him help the people? They probably saw the hours he spent in prayer but did they realize it was his place of refreshing for this role?
Joshua was going to need that same kind of strength for this task. He learned at Moses’ side and I would bet my bottom dollar that he knew Moses’ struggle. He also knew where Moses received his strength. He knew Moses’ prayers for the people and how he wept over them, trying to keep them in line with God’s words. Joshua also knew that this was his only hope to do the job God called him to.
Joshua didn’t have a degree in leadership or management. Joshua hadn’t “worked his way up the ladder” on the way to this task. But Moses had laid his hands on Joshua and anointed him in front of the people. He was given God’s Spirit, God’s stamp of approval, and Moses’ stamp of approval. ALL these were necessary for the people to follow him. They saw a CLEAR change in the leadership. There was no ambiguity or conflict over who should have become the leader.
I wish the change in leadership was as clear cut today as it was that day for Joshua. I wish the one stepping up to accept the mantel of responsibility was directly appointed by God. I wish the one leaving the office would lay hands on their successor and pray God’s will and wisdom into their life. I wish the people had a godly respect for the successor. I wish more people would pray before casting their votes for our next leader. And I wish the people would rally behind the leader and stop tearing one another and the leaders apart.
Father God, there is a call going out in my nation and around the world for ALL of us to turn back to You. It is founded on Your word and asks us to pray, repent and turn from our wicked ways. I’m adding my voice in this prayer. I’m also adding my voice in praying that the leadership of my country and around the world will turn to You. Without the leaders turning to You, our nation is still in danger.
I’m reminded of the story of Jonah and Nineveh. They turned from the top down. Their king commanded it of his people. I don’t know how that would work in the world I’m in today where the people rebel against ANYONE “dictating” to them about anything. Maybe “bottom up” is the only way to go with these stubborn people. Whatever it takes God! Help me to know my role in this whole process; whatever it may be.