September 23 I Wednesday
Song of Solomon 1-3
“Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.” —Joshua 1:6
The book of Joshua opens with Joshua being commissioned to replace Moses as leader of the nation of Israel. It serves as a key transition from the previous books of Moses, documenting both the events that prepared the Israelites to enter and live in the land God had set apart for them, and the actual conquering and occupying of the land.
More than 50 times in Joshua, God speaks of the land of Canaan as being an inheritance. The whole world belongs to God, but here He reclaims a portion from hedonistic powers. The Israelites were to enter into their inheritance, but seven pagan nations had taken possession of the land. This is not simply about a piece of real estate. God had called Israel to Himself and had chosen a place where they were to live. Through their seed would come the promised Messiah, but they had to be in the right place to serve God’s purpose. The onus was on Joshua, as Moses’s successor, to lead Israel there.
During the Israelites’ 40 years in the wilderness, Joshua appears in seven key stories, each time learning a crucial lesson to prepare him for his future leadership role. The first occasion was when the Amalekites attacked the Israelites at Rephidim. “Moses said to Joshua, ‘Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites’” (Exodus 17:9). Moses stood on top of the hill with the staff of God raised in his hands. When Moses tired, he would lower the staff and the Amalekites would start winning, but with help from Aaron and Hur, Moses held the staff up until sunset and Israel received the victory.
Joshua had to fight, but he was not the source of victory. It was God’s business, God’s battle, and Joshua learned that victory over the enemy is never won, but received. The same applies in our own struggles and battles. While we are physically engaged in battle, we set our minds spiritually on God who gives us the victory.
Almost 40 years later, God said to Joshua, “I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses” (Joshua 1:3). How could Joshua know that to be true? Because he had experience. Joshua developed trust in God because he had experienced God’s victory when he was young, a trust he could now draw on to lead Israel into Canaan. This is not the kind of lesson we can learn as theory. We must take our own steps to trust Him, because with each experience of God working in our lives, we are adding to a reservoir of experience from which we will always be able to draw.
Prayer: Lord God, You are the source of my victory. Thank You for the ways I have already experienced You, and I look forward to seeing how my reservoir of experience grows.