Joshua 1: 1 - 9
I recognize that this day is difficult for some of you because your dad is no longer here. Some of you have a dad who has deserted you. And there are dads here today who feel discouraged and others who’ve been badly treated by their children. Still others are delighted to be dads but don’t really like the attention Father’s Day brings.
Our text for today is often taken out of context: “Be strong and courageous.” You’ll often hear it quoted as a synonym for being tough and tenacious. We’re going to discover how the context of this phrase, which is actually used 3 times in Joshua 1, will help us grow not only as dads, but also as disciples of Jesus Christ.
Instead of just telling Joshua that because he’s amazing he should follow his dreams and never give up, we’re going to see that because God is amazing, He has some plans for Joshua. Because God is strong, Joshua can be courageous.
Read Joshua 1: 1 – 9 It’s now time for Joshua to become the leader God designed him to be. Before we get to his marching orders, let’s set the scene.
A new generation is standing on the banks of the Jordan River wondering if they have the faith to do what their wandering parents did not. This group of some 2 million people is poised to claim the promises of God but probably also frightened that they will commit the same sin as their parents, who died because of their disobedience.
They are in a tough spot because their leader Moses is now dead. But they’re on the verge of victory with only the Jordan River standing between them and the land “flowing with milk and honey.” They’re not proud of their past but they’re also frightened about the future. Can you relate? Maybe you’re afraid of turning out like your parents did. Perhaps you’ve just been wandering in the wilderness, experiencing more failure than faithfulness.
What’s your Jordan River today? What barriers are you facing? Dads, where is God asking you to take a step of faith? If you’re not sure what it is, ask yourself this question: “What am I afraid of?” Your fear will tell you. Symbolically in Scripture, the Jordan represents decision. Remember that your greatest extremity is God’s grand opportunity.
We’re going to see 5 lessons from Joshua’s life that can be applied to dads, and to any disciple of Jesus Christ.
1. Submit to the Purposes of God v. 2
Joshua may have felt inadequate and alone so God tells him to “take decisive action by standing.” Then Joshua is told what His mission is – to “go over this Jordan with all this people.” God makes it clear that this is His work. Just as He had used Moses, He will now use Joshua. God’s plans did not die with the departure of one man because His work is not dependent on one man.
God used those who came before us by His grace and for His glory…and God is doing the same in and through each of us as we live on mission for His majesty.
2. Seize the Promises of God v. 3
God always keeps His promises. Don’t miss that the people had to get up and go into the land in order for it to become theirs. It’s fascinating that God says, “I have given it to you” in v. 3 but in v. 2, we read, “I am giving it to them.” They have to take the territory and possess their possession. Interestingly, they are told to possess it more than 20 times!
The promise of land goes all the way back to Abraham. Then Moses was given this promise - “Every place on which the sole of your foot treads shall be yours.” v. 4 gives the specs to the title of the land - interestingly, this is far bigger than Israel ever claimed. The most Israel ever possessed was about 10%. Today the nation of Israel only has about 1/3 of that amount.
God also promises success in the first part of v. 5 and in the second part of v. 5, He promises to be right by their side. We can count on His presence because it’s His promise.
Romans 8: 31: “If God is for us, who can be against us?”
We’re to submit to the purposes of God and seize the promises of God. That’s leads to the 3rd leadership lesson…
3. Stand on the Precepts of God v. 6, 9
The word “strong” comes from twisting ropes together and “courageous” means to persist and conquer. v. 7 God tells Joshua, “be strong and very courageous.”
The root for courage is the word encouragement, which literally means, “to put heart into.” When God sees our fears, He wants to fill us with courage. Isaiah 43: 1, 2 “…Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you…”
It’s interesting that God tells Joshua to be strong and courageous 3 times. When something is repeated 3 times it communicates the greatest possible emphasis, like “holy, holy, holy.”
In Deuteronomy, Moses charged Joshua with being strong and courageous 3 different times and in Joshua 1:18 the people say to Joshua: “…only be strong and courageous.” They promise to follow his leadership and then they tell him to not be afraid.
This is really cool. God is urging him to be strong and courageous and the people around him are cheering him on as well. That’s what I sense from each of you as you follow the leadership here at Wilro Park.
Here are words that describe strong and courageous servant leaders in the church and in the home – Dedicated – Faithful – Hardworking – Humble – Honest – Tenacious – Wise – Generous – Tender – Fruitful – Spiritual – Genuine – Unselfish – Godly – Caring – Compassionate – Thorough – Determined.
1:7: “…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.”
v. 8: “…be careful to do according to all that is written in it.” Assent is not sufficient; God is looking for consent.
Psalm 119: 60 “I will hasten and not delay to obey your commands.” Is there anything you’ve been putting off that you know God is telling you to do right now? If you’re disobeying, stop right now and confess it.
Up until this point God spoke directly to His servants but now that things have been written down, we are called to read and obey His book – v. 8.
A. Talk about it
The Bible must be on our lips as we freely talk about it, quote it and refer to it. This is especially important for dads and moms as seen in Deuteronomy 6: 7 “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”
B. Think about it
To meditate means to “chew on.” Psalm 119: 97 “Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long.” The one who meditates is called “blessed” in Psalm 1.
C. Live it out
It must move from communication to meditation and then to application. The Word must freely flow from our lips but also must be evident in our lives. Deuteronomy 30:14 “But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart so that you can do it.”
We’re to submit to the purposes of God, seize the promises of God, and stand on the precepts of God and…
4. Soak in the Presence of God v. 5
Don’t you love the fact that God is always with us? Joshua needed the assurance that God was now going to be with him. Literally - “I will never make you sink; I will never drop you.” Friends, this same promise is given to believers today in Hebrews 13: 5 “…Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
This reminds me of the 4-year-old who was trying to recite the Lord’s Prayer. One day he prayed in a loud voice: “Our Father, who art in Heaven, I know you know my name.” Brothers and sisters in Christ, do you have the confidence that God knows your name and is with you right now? Some of us struggle when we can’t feel Him nearby but it is at those times that we must claim this truth by faith.
As I was meditating on these verses, I saw something that I didn’t see right away. The presence of God is like 2 pieces of bread in a sandwich, with strength and courage as the meat.
“JUST AS I WAS WITH MOSES, SO I WILL BE WITH YOU.” (v. 5)
• “Be strong and courageous” (6)
• “Only be strong and very courageous” (7)
• “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous” (9)
“FOR THE LORD IS WITH YOU WHEREVER YOU GO” (v. 9)
Listen. When you’re struggling with being strong and you’re caving in instead of demonstrating courage, remember that you are surrounded by the presence of God! God’s presence will give you the power to do what He’s called you to do! You can have courage because of the character of God himself.
We’re to submit to the purposes of God, seize the promises of God, stand on the precepts of God, we’re to soak in the presence of God and finally, we’re to…
5. Stay on Point with God 24: 2, 14, 15
Joshua is now about 110 years old and he’s speaking to “all the people.” That means that his message is not just for dads, but also for everyone here today.
Joshua rises up and challenges the people to respond because he knows they are faltering. Joshua knows the human heart and how hard it is for us to surrender our will to the Lord. He knows that we get complacent, we’re prone to compromise and some of us procrastinate in order to avoid commitment.
Let’s look at his challenge -
• Fear the Lord devotedly. The word “now” means in light of all God has done, we must tremble before Him and see him as holy.
• Serve the Lord exclusively. Joshua is calling his people to serve the Lord with all they have. The word “serve” in Hebrew comes from the same root as “worship” and is used 15 times in this chapter. Worship must lead to our work. 3 times the people respond by saying that they will “serve the Lord.”
• Throw away idols totally. It’s amazing how many times God’s people were tripped up because they wouldn’t get rid of their idols. The phrase, “throw away” literally means that we throw them so far away that their power over us is extinguished.
An idol is really anything that is loved or feared more than God. It can involve the worship of a person, an image, object, activity or idea.
• Choose whom you will serve unreservedly. A choice is required? “Then choose…” This choice must also become very personal: “whom you…” and it’s an urgent imperative: “Choose this day whom you will serve.” Too many of us waver and hesitate and capitulate because we want to keep one foot in and one foot out. Spiritual indecision leads to disorientation. Indifference will lead to indecision.
As a father, Joshua is choosing to live out his faith for the sake of his family. It’s as if he is saying: “I have chosen to serve the Lord, I am choosing to serve the Lord right now, and I will go on serving God until the very end.” He is determining that his faith will be lived out at home: “But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua, as the head of his household then he included his household because he was going to lead them in the right paths. Don’t miss this, parents (and grandparents): You can’t pass something on to your children that you don’t have yourself.
Fellow fathers, as the point man in our homes, let’s lead our families! Dads, thanks for answering the call!