God’s assignment for Joshua might have caused him some concern. Being the successor to Moses was no small task. Through Moses, God had turned the waters in Egypt into blood, parted the Red Sea, destroyed the Egyptian army, and miraculously fed the nation for forty years. God spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai and gave him His law. Joshua must have wondered how he could follow Moses. To erase any doubt, God assured Joshua that Moses’ accomplishments had all been due to God’s presence. Joshua grew confident because the same God who walked with Moses now walked with himExperiencing God Day by Day, July 31, 2020
- No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. (Joshua 1:5)
- Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9)
- Just as we fully obeyed Moses, so we will obey you. Only may the Lord your God be with you as he was with Moses. (Joshua 1:27)
The same God who walked with Moses now walked with Joshua! God’s presence was the key to the work before Joshua! The people stood at the edge of the promised land. The only way they were going to take the land and thrive was if God continued to dwell among them! And take the land they did. The success of Israel is totally dependent on the “powerful presence of God,” because He fights for them!
As promised, Israel enters the land where the Lord gives them rest in the form of unchallenged possession. The only reason they possess the land is that the Lord has fought for them [his relational presence!]. Although there is still some territory to be acquired, the promises are deemed as fulfilled.Goldsworthy, G. (2002). According to plan: The unfolding revelation of God in the Bible.
Only in the battle against Ai is the army defeated. God had specifically said to “keep away from the devoted things, so that they will not bring about their own destruction by taking any of them.” After the defeat at Ai, Joshua is upset and calls on God to know why He deserted them. Interestingly, God says “Israel has sinned.” God held the whole community liable for the sin of one man, Achan. This is a reoccurring story, a type of the “fall.” God dwells with His people, gives them victory, but they choose an idol over God.
- In the Garden, Adam and Eve choose the idol of knowledge over faith in God’s provision
- At Mt Sinai, the Israelites choose the idol of the golden calf over patience in God’s timing
- Achan chooses the idol of silver, gold, a beautiful robe over obedience to God’s word
- Ananias and Sapphira choose the idol of money in lying about the sale of property over honesty before God
In the defeat at Ai, we see how sin separates the people from God’s powerful presence and we see the enormous consequences of disobedience. Sometimes when I hear Christians talk about how sin breaks fellowship with God it feels like we talk about it in minimal terms. We don’t often express that break as putting ourselves and others in peril. Valuing God’s relational presence, recognizing the damage of sin – these are significant in our spiritual walk with our Lord.
Joshua encourages the people as he approaches death, reminding them that God fought for them, that God gave them their land, that He was the one that delivered them … and that every promise made to them had been fulfilled!
In the book of Joshua it is the presence of God and the empowerment provided by God’s relational presence that will enable Israel to carry out God’s will and conquer the promised land.J. Scott Duvall and J. Daniel Hays. (2019). God’s Relational Presence:
The Cohesive Center of Biblical Theology
Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;
naught be all else to me, save that thou art.
Thou my best thought, by day or by night,
waking or sleeping, thy presence my light.
Be thou my wisdom, be thou my true word;
I ever with thee, and thou with me, Lord.
Born of thy love, thy child may I be,
thou in me dwelling and I one with thee.
3Be thou my buckler, my sword for the fight.
Be thou my dignity, thou my delight,
thou my soul’s shelter, thou my high tower.
Raise thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.
Riches I heed not, nor vain empty praise;
thou mine inheritance, now and always.
Thou and thou only, first in my heart,
Ruler of heaven, my treasure thou art.
“True Light of heaven, when victory is wonDallan Forgaill, originally
may I reach heaven’s joys, O bright heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my heart, whatever befall,
still be my vision, O Ruler of all.
Mary Elizabeth Byrne, translator