Now it came about after the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, that the Lord spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ servant, saying, “Moses My servant is dead; now therefore arise, cross this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them, to the sons of Israel. [Joshua 1:1-2]
And so it begins. Joshua is now leading God’s chosen people to the Promised Land. It’s not going to be effortless, but God promised him they would be victorious before the battles even began as long as he lead the people in obedience.
Without hesitation, Joshua stepped into leadership. We find Joshua take – and lead- each step in complete obedience to the Lord, and the people followed. They moved closer to the Promised Land, and as they did it says that “the Lord exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel; so they they revered him, just as they did had revered Moses all the days of his life (Joshua 4:14).” Notice how Joshua didn’t need to demand attention or respect.
Interesting what God will move people to do when we just focus on being obedient and leave the rest to him, isn’t it?
Their journey continues, and now leads them into the battle of Jericho. As you probably know, God took an odd approach here. He commanded Joshua to have the people circle the walls of Jericho for 7 days, and upon the trumpet call on the 7th day, the walls were supposed to fall so they could take the city. What you may not recall is that God also declared a ban on certain possessions at the same time. They were to go take the city, but leave silver, gold and articles of bronze and iron as that would all go into the treasury of the Lord.
Well, the walls fell. They conquered, but unbeknownst to Joshua some weren’t faithful to the ban. So when he sent men from the victory in Jericho to go claim victory in Ai, it was much to his surprise when they lost – 36 men died and many others retreated from battle in fear. Notice how there is physical loss and spiritual repercussions (fear) here.
Interesting what can happen when man decides to act in disobedience towards God, isn’t it?
Now we’re at one of my favorites passage of Scripture – Joshua 7:6-16. We see Joshua tear his garments and fall flat on his face, crying out to God with a mixture of negative emotions. He is literally mourning this defeat. In verse 7 he asks God why He even bothered to bring them there if they would only lose to Ai – not realizing that sin had brought them here, not God bailing on His promise. God doesn’t get angry with Joshua, He doesn’t explain Himself, but He also doesn’t just leave him there.
Interesting how God so graciously responds to our sometimes turbulent spirits, isn’t it?
So, what is God’s response to this?
“Rise up! Why is it that you have fallen on your face? (Joshua 7:10)
He goes on to explain the sin issue to Joshua, commands him to go consecrate the people, deal with the sin issue and keep moving. And what does Joshua do?
So Joshua arose early in the morning and brought Israel near by tribes, and the tribe of Judah was taken. (Joshua 7:16)
He obeyed. And you know what happens next? Victory. After victory. After victory. There were challenges throughout – the journey from here wasn’t perfect – but nonetheless they walked in victory.
Pretty amazing what happens when we allow God to correct our spirits, and choose to walk in obedience again rather sit in our sin and defeat, isn’t it?