Joshua 1 Commentary: Joshua succeeds Moses
Rather than an introduction to the book of Joshua, chapter 1 feels more like a continuation of the Torah. We are looking at handover notes for the new leader in Joshua. Ordinarily, these notes should be coming from Moses. There is importance in the fact that it is the LORD passing on these handover notes and not Moses. The exodus is an initiative of the LORD. Moses was simply a tool – a loyal and faithful tool. “Moses my servant”, is not a title the LORD uses for every Jim and Jack!
Verse 1 is very important because the LORD continues to speak to Joshua. We know the death of Moses isn’t the end. We also know that the LORD continues to run the shows behind the man Joshua. We are therefore safe.
The notes to the new leader is can be summarized as follows:
Firstly, the history-long blessing of the LORD to Abraham will be fulfilled. Israel will settle in the Promised Land.
Secondly, the conquest of Canaan will be achieved by the LORD on behalf of Israel but Israel must provide obedience, courage and strength. We know this is a huge ask.
The LORD repeatedly urges Joshua to be strong and courageous. The LORD would provide the victory but Joshua (Israel) must be strong and courageous, very courageous. One would think obedience (righteousness) is good enough but here we have additional requirements: strength and courage.
Maybe we are talking about the same thing. Strength and courage are physical manifestations of faith. It is the loss of faith or the presence of doubt, manifesting itself as fear which made Israel wander about in the wilderness for 40 years. In short, the LORD is repeating the victory formula to Joshua. I will supply the victory but you must be obedient. Trust me.
This chapter gives us hints on the requirements for success in the Christian walk. The military strategy is very simple: obedience. The LORD knows circumstances would arise that have the potential to create great fear and consequently wash down human faith. So the LORD repeats the call for strength and courage severally in this chapter. The saint hears the same instructions today: be strong; be very courageous.
The Christian walk isn’t a walk at all. Rather, it is a military surge into enemy territory that requires military-grade obedience to the law of the LORD. The saint is warned.
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