Sermon preached at Poole Christian Fellowship on 30 August 2015
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We start a short series on Joshua today. To help us get the context, here is a summary of the opening books of the Bible.
Genesis – the book of beginnings, which talks of the creation of the world, the creation and fall of man, the catastrophe of Noah’s flood, the confusion of Babel and the start of God’s plan to save the world starting with a man, Abraham, who founded a nation, Israel.
Exodus starts with Abraham’s nation, Israel, being oppressed in the land of Egypt, and God raising up a Saviour, Moses, who delivered them out of slavery to go into the promised land. Having saved them, God gave them a law to show them how to live.
Leviticus tells the story of the sacrificial system given to the Israelites because God knew that they would not be able to keep the law.
Numbers is a sad book. It tells the story of how a generation that God had saved failed to possess what He had for them. They didn’t obey Him they didn’t trust Him, in spite of all they had seen, and virtually the whole of that generation perished before they reached the promised land. What a disaster! And what a warning to all of us! Being saved is no guarantee that we will receive everything that God has for us.
And so we come to Deuteronomy. A new generation stands on the edge of the Promised Land exactly where their parents had stood almost 40 years previously. To give them every opportunity to possess the Promised Land Moses gives them the law a second time and urges them to obey God before handing over to his successor to Joshua. Will this generation go in? Or will they go the same way as their parents?
So, in our passage today, which is the final chapter of Deuteronomy and the first chapter of Joshua, we have three exhortations:
Honour the Past
Moses, with his failings, has been an inspirational leader for the Israelites. Few of them could remember a time when he had not been their leader. He had given them miracles, the law, deliverance from slavery, worship, manna from heaven water, from the rock…and now he was gone! How they must have mourned! And God gave them space to mourn, affirmed Moses, and told them to honour the Past. So we must as well. Those on whose shoulders we sit, those who preached the word of God to us and those who have served us – we honour them and we honour the past.
God speaks of Moses as “my servant”. What a commendation!
Recognise that it’s over
“Moses, my servant is dead,” says God. In order to engage with the future we have to let go of the past.
Embrace the Future
So how does God tell Joshua and the new generation to embrace the future?
- Honour the past (Deut 34) Moses, my servant…
- Accept that it’s over (Josh 1 v 1-2)….is dead
- Look towards the future (Josh 1 v 2) In front of the Israelites was a whole new promised to that land. They would have to take their eyes off the past if they would enter into the promises of God.
- Believe the promises of God (Josh 1 v 3-5) When we step out into the future, we dare not do it without the promises of God. Fortunately God has a spate of promises for those who will believe Him.
- Be strong and courageous (Josh 1 v 6-7). There are giants in the land – we will not take the land without being strong in God’s strength and being courageous
- Commit your self to obedience (Josh 1 v7). There is no room for disobedience, borderline or otherwise as look to move. God gives his promises to a people committed to sharing in his holiness.
- Live in the word of God (Josh 1 v8). It is only by living in the word of God and continuing to trust it as guide for our faith and conduct that we will share in the holiness of God.
- Recognise that God is with you (Josh 1 v9) We dare not move forward without the knowledge that God is with us.
- Get behind your leaders (Josh 1 16-18) If we are to possess the land we will have to put our confidence in our leaders and trust them, even if they get it wrong.
- Go for it! (Josh 1 v 10-11) . There is a time to pray and a time to act. Now is the time to act.