This article was adapted from the session titled “Commissioned” in the Winter 2016–17 issue of Explore the Bible: Adults. Explore the Bible is a book-by-book group Bible study that encourages participants to let the Word dwell in them and challenges them to live it out in their own context. Preview one month free at lifeway.com/explorethebible.
Life is full of transitions and surprises that often force you to take on additional responsibilities. A job promotion usually carries more responsibility. A co-worker may need to take a leave of absence, and part of his work gets added to your job. The health of your parents may require you to handle their financial matters.
Joshua chapter 1 records a time of major transition for Joshua and all the people of Israel. Moses had died and Joshua assumed leadership. Joshua 1:1-9 describes God’s commissioning of Joshua for his new task. His commissioning of Joshua included both the promise of His presence and the expectation of obedience. Again and again, the Bible affirms that whatever God calls us to do, He equips us to do, and He expects our full obedience.
Moses’ death must have been a devastating event for the Hebrews. This man, who knew the Lord in such an unusual manner (“face to face,” Deut. 34:10), led the Hebrews out of Egypt and out of a bondage for which they suffered for 430 years. The Lord gave the Hebrews the Law through Moses, as well as instructions for the construction of the tabernacle and the worship that was to take place in it. Moses led the Hebrews through one of their most trying experiences, the 40-year wilderness wandering. He led them to the plains of Moab (east of the Jordan River), on the cusp of entering into the promised land. Doubtless, the Hebrews joyfully anticipated crossing the Jordan River and entering the land that the Lord had promised their forefathers. The death of Moses must have suppressed much of this joy.
With the announcement in Joshua 1:2 that Moses was dead, God summoned His people to focus their attention away from the past. He alerted them to the present and pointed them to the future: “Now you and all the people prepare to cross over the Jordan.”
The Lord then communicated His plan to Joshua as though the victory had already been accomplished: “I have given you every place where the sole of your feet treads” (v. 3). The Hebrews had to fight for the land, but God had promised the land to Moses, leaving no doubt as to their victory.
Biblical writers sometimes used the past tense to describe future events that are so certain in God’s purpose that we may speak of them as already accomplished. Paul said that God has raised us up with Christ and seated us in the heavens (Eph. 2:6). We are not yet in heaven, but God’s salvation is so certain that Paul speaks of it as a past event. The Hebrews’ possession of the promised land was as good as done—because God promised it.
The Lord promised Joshua: “No one will be able to stand against you” (v. 5). Of what assurance did Joshua have for success? The sovereign Lord promised: “I will be with you, just as I was with Moses. I will not leave you or forsake you” (v. 5). As the Lord had been with Moses, He would be with Joshua. The writer of the New Testament Book of Hebrews applied this same promise to believers today (Heb. 13:5).
Our calling and commission may not be the same as Joshua’s, but we can still trust God and His promise in all areas of our lives. When we accept the Lord’s commission, trust His Word, and count on His presence, we will find courage to face whatever God calls us to do.
Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission.
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