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The Old Testament book of Joshua is a record of challenge, faith, leadership and a new beginning. It’s the story of a group of people (a huge group of people, in fact), who are faced with an equally huge decision.

The book of Joshua opens with the nation of Israel camped on the border of the Promised Land alongside the Jordan River. However, this is not the first time they have been in this situation. Their parents (i.e. the previous generation) had stood on the border of this same Promised Land 40 years previously. That generation had faced the same decision – “Do we cross the river and conquer the land that God promised to Abraham and his decedents OR do we retreat back in the direction of Egypt and avoid the possibility of conflict and defeat?”

At that time, God instructed Moses to send 12 men (one from each of the 12 tribes) to spy out the land.

(READ NUMBERS 13)

 All 12 eventually returned and while all of them agreed that the land was everything God said it would be, they were intimidated by the size of the opposition they would have to face. So they brought “a bad report” that stirred the people negatively. Two of those spies – the two who brought a good report – were Caleb and Joshua.

Persuaded by the pessimistic report of 10 of the spies that Moses had sent into the land, the people rebelled out of fear and they tried to remove Moses from his place of leadership. Since God had appointed Moses to that task, the plan to replace Moses wasn’t a very smart move!

Because of their refusal to trust and obey God, the nation wandered in the wilderness for some 40 years. They couldn’t go back to Egypt. They wouldn’t go forward into the Promised Land. So they wasted 40 years. During that time a whole generation died in the wilderness.

(READ NUMBERS 14).  

Now, 40 years on, it is Joshua who is leading the people of God, not Moses. While Moses was still alive, Joshua was Moses’ “aide” or assistant. Moses mentored Joshua. In turn, Joshua watched, listened and learned. In due course the mantle of leadership passed to Joshua. After that very brief summary of events leading up to Joshua’s time, God now moves Joshua to front and centre.

In the coming weeks we will watch and learn from God’s dealing with Joshua. May the life of Joshua become a catalyst for us so that the “land” – whatever that may be for each of us – will be possessed by us and that the learning process will draw us nearer to our Lord and Master.

FOR YOU TO PONDER:

Sometimes a local Church can stand on the border of a “Promised Land” of some kind, some opportunity that involves risk, money, reputation only to pull back from the edge because the call to trust God in that situation is more than their faith can handle. It intimidates them to the point where (to misquote the verse) “greater are those who are against us than those who are for us. (2 Kings 6/16;         1 John 4/4).

Have you (or your Church) ever wrestled with God over some action or choice you needed to make? As you look back on the choice you/they made, what feelings are associated with the choice you made?

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