And Moses My Servant is Dead
Only be strong and very courageous, to observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest have good success whithersoever thou goest. This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth, but thou shalt meditate thereon day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. - Joshua 1:8-9
When the actor Charlton Heston died, moviegoers lost a truly iconic actor, one who played heroic, larger-than-life roles. These included Moses in The Ten Commandments, Roderigo Díaz de Vivar in El Cid, and Judah Ben-Hur in Ben-Hur.
We love heroes, but it's often hard to think of filling their shoes once they’re gone ... especially for the one called upon to fill those shoes. In real life, Moses was a mighty leader. He'd led the Israelites out of Egypt and for 40 years in the wilderness. Then, with the Promised Land in sight just over the Jordan River, God called Moses home. And He appointed a new guy, Joshua, to finish the job of bringing the millions of people into the inheritance He had promised.
Joshua was a little nervous, to say the least. These were big shoes to fill, big challenges ahead, and he was feeling a bit inadequate for the task. And while we might not be called upon to become the leader of millions, our lives are often full of challenges, obstacles, difficult and life-threatening events -- cancer being one of them. God tells us that even in the middle of those circumstances, we're to be salt and light to the people around us, regardless of what we face, because others are always watching. And through that watching, they're learning or developing attitudes which will dictate actions to follow.
So, what did Joshua learn from Moses that he could use to enable him to go forward and not faint, when he faced the biggest challenges of his life?
Moses' character -- Joshua learned that to face challenges heroically, like Moses, you need great character. God Himself described Moses with words like humble, God's friend, unique in his role as prophet in Israel, knew God face to face.
Joshua saw that Moses:
- realized his limitations and God's unlimitless power. It's not the man who made the difference, but the God with the man who made the hero. The same can be true for you or me -- it's Christ in us, the hope of glory -- who empowers us to overcome in the midst of very difficult times.
- was willing to give his life and eternal life for the honor of God's name and the preservation of His people. How willing are we to lay down our lives (and quit living selfishly and self-centeredly) so those around us can have a better glimpse of God's unconditional and sacrificial love?
- was completely surrendered to God and willing to trust and obey Him in the face of impossibilities. Your cancer, or the cancer of your loved one, may seem an impossibility ... but nothing is impossible to God, and His purposes, Scripture says, are never thwarted ... are you surrendered to His will -- and not your own -- and trusting?
- was willing to undergo false and unjust attacks on his reputation by the people he was leading and trying to help. You can't help what people think and say, but you can stay the course with what you know God would have you do and be, regardless of any attacks or lack of support you may encounter.
- was jealous for God's name and not afraid to confront those who weren't. Oftentimes, we're more concerned with what people think of us than what God thinks of us. In difficult circumstances, as in all of life, His opinion is really the only one that matters.
- spent time with God; knew Him personally; depended on Him exclusively; believed Him unquestioningly. This is foundational to a victorious and peaceful life, but if it hasn't been your pattern before, and you're facing tough challenges, now is the time to deepen this relationship. He's the only One who knows the future, holds the future, knows you inside and out and can lead you through whatever is coming.
- underwent difficulties, challenges, life-threatening situations with courage in the discharge of the duties and responsibilities God gave. Courage isn't something you have to muster up when you're walking with God; it's something He imparts, when you know things don't depend on you, but on the supernatural, omnipresent, omniscient, almighty, sovereign Creator of the universe.
Next week, we'll talk about what God tells Joshua to do and what He promises as a result in Joshua 1:1-9. For now, why not ask God to use the challenges and difficulties you face to mold your character into that which glorifies God and provides those around you with salt and light.