February 9, 2023
TODAY’S SCRIPTURE REFERENCE:
“So Joshua order the officers of the people: ‘Go through the camp and tell the people to get their provisions ready. Three days from now you will cross the Jordan at this point to go in and take possession of the land the Lord your God is giving you as your very own land.’” (Joshua 1.10-11)
I would love to tell you this reflection is intended to focus on the “three day” alert which Joshua gave to the people of Jacob Israel. The meaning of “three days” is significant to those of the community of faith in Jesus as the Christ. Jesus alerted His disciples that “on the third day God would raise Him from the dead.” (Luke 18.33) We can take a step back to the prophesy of Hosea (6.2) where he says “After two days He shall give us life and on the third day He will resurrect us.” And now we have stepped back to the day of Joshua’s declaration following his calling to leadership by God. It certainly has the feel, in that backward glance from now to then, of resurrection. Moses essentially has “died to the people” and will not be allowed to lead them into the Promised Land of God’s provision. This is a very difficult day for Moses and the people. It is a season of grief and transformation. It is a season of grief which immobilizes. It is a season of transformation which mobilizes. It has been a long time coming. For some it was too long in coming. For others it may have felt like too soon. Such is the ambivalence of the human community. Maybe that kind of thinking is what inspired the story of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears.” What became the central focus in both stories is the “just right” aspect of decision-making. And while “resurrection on the third day” is critical in our reading of what happened in the transition from grief to a transformation of joy and strength, it is the “just right” aspect which stands out to me in this moment.
The “just right” aspect that is key in these stories is the focus on leadership bound by God’s Word. The people had been wandering and stuck in the Wilderness of Sin. They had encamped on the perimeter of the “Land of Promise.” Left to the will of the people, that encampment would have been an entrenchment akin to a burial. It makes me beg the question of “Was this the legacy of Moses’ leadership?” Carrying the weight of “people pleasing” can most certainly weigh us down. That does not mean we are not intended to help people rise up out of their grief and transition into a transformed life. We certainly cannot do it for them. Nor can we force them to do what we want them to do and accept the long-term benefit as more preferred than short-term satisfaction. This is the danger of becoming comfortable. Comfort is not a viable motivator to take action. Faith that becomes comfortable is not faith at all. Authentic faith takes action which manifests the goodness and the good intent of God. It raises people to new life and transforms them by the renewal of their mind with the indwelling of God’s Spirit of action. Had Moses lost such faith and now could no longer transition the people of comfort into a people of promise?
Even saying “a people of promise” fails to communicate the fullest effect of spiritual faith. We know lots of people, perhaps even ourselves, who could be identified as “having promise.” The potential for accomplishment to a greater level exists in each one of us. Yet, potential means opportunity. Accomplishment means seizing the opportunity and making the very most of it. Joshua was a man of accomplishment and action. Joshua was not comfortable with being comfortable. It was not his leadership style. He was a man of action and saw the promise and potential of God’s word as something worth pursuing and seizing. But, while he was a man of action, along with his colleague Caleb, he was also a man of obedience. His faith was put in God. He would not do anything against God’s will. If God said “stay,” then he would stay. If God said “go,” he would go. In the days of Moses, the word of God was spoken through him. Joshua would not countermand that understanding. He would remain obedient to his commitment to God and to Moses. He would be a faithful servant to the people as well. But, Joshua had “promise.” Joshua also held on to the promise. When his eyes looked to the hills of the Promised Land, he knew his help would come from the Lord. He longed to dwell in the midst of the promise and not merely be a man of promise. His faith in God expected and demanded action. Joshua remained faithful for that sojourn of transition which had come to the people of Jacob Israel.
Then it happened. The time had come for the people to move. Maybe God saw that their thinking was in the right place. Maybe He saw that there could be no further delay. Regardless, God knew the time was right for Joshua’s leadership to step forward. And what I noticed in the two verses presented today is that “Joshua gave the order with a purpose.” He didn’t ask the people what they wanted to do. He did not counsel with the “officers of the people” as to what they thought was the best thing to do in the moment. Joshua accepted the Word of God as the impetus of transformation. The Word had been given by God and the word was given by Joshua. There was a plan. There was a purpose. There was a schedule. These are the key elements of authentic leadership. We each must adopt them as key elements in our lives. We must not only adopt them but we must implement them. To do less is to profess that we are less than capable of doing what God intends for us to do. What is impossible with us is fully possible with God! That does not mean satisfying the whims and wiles of our humanity. It is truly impossible for us to do that because those are of an insatiable desire. What it does mean is that we are bound to satisfy the word and way of God which can only happen with God’s insight and order. His insight and order is revealed to us by the Holy Spirit. It was presented to us best by the man of God’s Spirit- Jesus of Nazareth who is the Christ. In that moment of commissioning, Joshua gave the order to prepare to move on the third day. There was no question (prepare yourselves). There was no doubt (we leave on the third day for this place). There was no fear (God is giving this into our hands.)
Mighty ones of God, there is no question that this same truth and pattern of believing leading to right action is as possible today as it was in the days of Joshua, Hosea and Jesus. We are a people of the “third day.” We are a people exposed to the plan of God. We are a people compelled by the Spirit of God. We are a people identified by the King of the “Third Day.” And just as there was only one entry designated by Joshua as the portal to the promise land, so are we directed by the “One Way, One Truth, One Life” which leads into the Promised Land of dwelling with God forever. There can be no doubt of Joshua’s success to act in obedience and faith to God’s Word. There should be no doubt of the same for each of us. It is time to move!
Father, Your Promise is true. Your Word is without question. Your Spirit is powerful. Your Way is the only Way. We give ourselves to You. Your will be done so that we act as those motivated by the Word of the Third Day who is Jesus Christ alone. Amen.