Bible Readings for June 29th
In Joshua 1, we see one of the most extreme transitions in the whole Bible—for the first time since Exodus 1, Israel is without Moses. But at the same time, this first chapter carefully connects the leadership of Joshua back to the leadership of Moses, providing a glimpse into the path Joshua will eventually take to complete the work that God began under Moses.
First, Yahweh transfers the mantle of leadership from Moses to Joshua bluntly in Joshua 1:2: “Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel.” While Yahweh does not fail to acknowledge that Moses (“my servant”) was special, he doesn’t suggest in the least that losing Moses is going to end the mission. Instead, he tells Joshua exactly what to do to lead Israel into the land of Canaan.
Keep in mind that Israel has been in the wilderness for a full forty years at this point. No one who actually witnessed the signs and wonders that Yahweh had done to bring Israel out of Egypt is alive anymore, aside from Joshua and Caleb (Num. 14:26–38). The people Joshua will lead have known no life other than wandering in the wilderness, but there will be no further delays. Yahweh commands Joshua to lead the people into Canaan immediately.
Second, the watchword for Joshua’s ministry is “Be strong and courageous,” a phrase that occurs four times in this chapter alone (1:6, 7, 9, 18). If you recall, this was the encouragement that Moses had personally spoken to Joshua in Deuteronomy 31:7, and Yahweh used it to commission Joshua at that point Deut. 31:23)—but now is when the burden of leadership will require Joshua to be strong and courageous.
Third, Yahweh tells Joshua explicitly in Joshua 1:7–8 that he must be careful to obey the law of Moses. This is critical because it demonstrates that the law was not just Moses’s pet project or hobby horse; rather, the law was Yahweh’s law, and Yahweh expects his law to continue governing Israel. The fact that Israel has a new leader does not mean that Israel has a new law. Instead, the ministry of Moses would serve as the foundation for the ministry of Joshua.
Fourth, Joshua reaffirms the decision of Moses (Num. 32) to give the Reubenites and the Gadites the land east of the Jordan, provided that they go to war until Israel gains all the land of their inheritance (Josh. 1:10–18).
In Joshua 1, we see God’s relentless, eternal focus. God continues to bury his workmen, while continuing his work—and not only after the death of Moses, but in our lives and churches also until the day that Jesus Christ returns to lead his people forever into their inheritance.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.