Let the Word Be Your Guide: Pastoral Reflection for June
“Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law, that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success, wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” Joshua Chap 1:7-8
From a human point of view, Joshua had the unenviable task of taking over the leadership of Israel from Moses, the great man of God. I’m sure Joshua would have felt overwhelmed at the prospect, but God reminded Joshua in v2 “Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise and go over this Jordan.” Moses is gone, but the work has to carry on. That is something we always have to remember. God uses many people; some more than others; but at the end of the day, no one is more than a servant. One day our service here will be over, but the work will carry on. I would imagine Joshua would have felt fearful, however the Lord comes and encourages Joshua and tells him to be strong, courageous and not to fear. Joshua is encouraged to be strong in v5-6 based upon God’s presence. We should also grasp hold of the fact, that we can count on the Lord’s presence all the time, as we seek to serve Him. God will enable us to inherit the land of Promise. He has given His Word on that, and He has promised never to leave us nor forsake us. We too are having to fight our way to inherit our Promised Land. Along the way we face enemies within and without that are seeking to blow us off track, and even destroy us. It is a journey we could never hope to complete without the presence, grace, strength and help of God. As God gave Joshua the command we also see He gave a promise as well. Very often we will find in Scripture a promise accompanying a command.
Now in verses 7-8 we again find the Lord encouraging Joshua to be strong and not to be afraid. This time God is basing what he is saying on His Power. The Power of the Word. We also have God’s Word at the heart of our life. God’s Word always means God’s power. It is important for us to remember when we are handling God’s Word, we are not handling any ordinary word. God’s Word we are told in Hebrews 4:12, “is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” In Romans 1:16, “It is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” God’s Word transforms lives. People can change their lives by way of resolutions and new thought patterns and lifestyle changes, but they cannot change their lives in the radical way God changes a life. God comes into an individual and works powerfully, gradually moulding and reshaping the life. It is always through the Word this happens. We must always remember, that the same Word which first changed our lives, is that which also sustains, equips, strengthens and helps us every day.
Now God is making clear to Joshua at the very outset of the Campaign, that adherence to the Word at every turn, is the only way to real and lasting success. The key to every strategy-to every battle-to every victory has to be the Word of God; and it is exactly the same for ourselves. God’s Word was to be at the heart of everything that they did. Some may wonder as to why there is so much reference to “doing God’s Word”-“Not departing from God’s Word”-“meditating on God’s Word”. It is because this really is a new chapter, so to speak, in God’s dealings with His people. No man before Joshua had received orders from God to regulate his conduct by the words of a book. Yes, Abraham and his household obeyed God’s voice in keeping His commands. So did Noah and Jacob and these great people of faith. Moses acted by the command and authority of God. However, it is with Joshua, and all succeeding generations that lives are to be governed by The Book. It is wonderful how Joshua and the Book come together here. God gave Moses everything to write, and now Israel have a written guide for their lives. How thankful we should be that we live in a time when we have the full revelation of God in the complete Bible. The principles God gave Joshua regarding the Word, in order to regulate their lives are to be the same principles we are to use to regulate our lives as well.
What are they?
(1) “Being careful to do according to all the law.” We are not free to pick and choose what parts of God’s Word we want to obey and what parts we may want to discard. All God’s Word is the rule for our live. That is why we are told not to turn from it to the right or to the left.
(2) “You shall meditate on it day and night”. That meant that constantly there has to be a reflecting upon the Word. Meditation is not some idle dreaming, or speculative thinking. It is chewing over God’s Word and making sure God’s Word goes down deep into our soul, asking God to help us understand and practice His Word in our lives.
(3) “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth.” Joshua was to boldly declare with courage all that God’s Word said. That is our duty as well. Of course that has to be faithfully done from the pulpits of our land, but it is incumbent on every Christian to have God’s Word in their heart and mouth at all times. The Word of God must control our speech, regulate our actions, govern our thoughts, inspire our future.
God promised success and prosperity to Israel if they gave faithful adherence to the Word. In the Christian life, prosperity and success are not to be measured by the standards of the world. Having said that, God often prospers and brings real temporal blessing on those who are devoted to him.Wiersbe in his commentary on Joshua says, “The questions God’s people need to ask are:
Did we obey the will of God?
Were we empowered by the Spirit of God?
Did we serve to the glory of God?
If we can answer yes to these questions, then our service has been successful in God’s eyes, no matter what people may think.”
God bless every one of you with His grace and presence, and that you and all you love will be kept safe and well.
Love and prayers, Kenny
Photo by Samantha Sophia on Unsplash