Thirty one days after Moses walked to the mountains Joshua entered the Tent of Meeting and knelt down.
God’s voice was clear. “Moses is dead. Prepare everybody to cross the river and take possession of the land I’m giving them. As I was with Moses I will be with you. Nobody will defeat you. Be strong and courageous as you lead these people. It’s important that you follow My laws so you will live long in the land. Be strong and very courageous.”
Joshua left the tent and approached the elders. “Have everybody prepare to cross the Jordan in three days.”
It’s been suggested to me that whenever I take on a new endeavor in my life I should read the first nine verses of Joshua 1 for thirty days straight. I’ve found that advice tremendously helpful because of the encouragement God repeats to His new leader here.
I condensed God’s prayer communication here because I found something very intriguing as I studied this passage during my time in it.
Verses five through nine are written as a Hebrew poem to help people memorize it.
Thanks to having a seminary professor as a Sunday School teacher I learned a bit about ancient Hebrew poetry found in the Bible. It isn’t written in rhyme like modern poems, that wouldn’t translate well into other languages.
Hebrew poetry uses repetitive ideas spaced in an interesting sequence to make their point. It uses eight “lines” of a poem. Each line may be a few words or a couple of sentences.
The first concept is repeated at the eighth line, also; the second at the seventh, the third at the sixth, and the fourth at the fifth. It looks something like this: A B C D D C B A.
I’ll show you how this plays out in Joshua 1:5-9 as best I can.
- A. 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.
- B. Be strong and courageous,
- C. because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them.
- D. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law My servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.
- D. Do not let this book of the law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.
- C. Then you will be prosperous and successful.
- B. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.
- A. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord you God will be with you wherever you go.
I don’t think I could write a doctoral thesis on this, but it is interesting to discover it in my studies. These kind of things show up when you concentrate on one section of scripture over breakfast for an extended period of time.
It’s quite in intensive Bible study method.
If you want a way to pass down an important lesson to future generations a poem is a great way to do it, especially when most of them are illiterate and stories are the primary means of doing such.
Repetition in the Bible is always something to pay close attention to. “Be strong and courageous” is the main repeated phrase God gave to Joshua.
This crossroads of leadership change came with extreme circumstances. God used Moses in mighty ways to lead the people out of slavery from the most powerful nation at that time. That’s a big shadow you’re standing in as you lead these same people into the land God had promised to their forefathers.
For over four hundred years the Hebrews were taking orders as to what they had to do each day. God had led them the past forty years to get them here. This fledgling nation was on the cusp of settling into homes and the right to decide for themselves what to do with their lives.
I would want as much encouragement as I could receive at that time, too.
It’s also important to note the huge condition that falls in the center of that Hebrew poem.
Obedience to the laws God gave Moses would be the key to successful living in this land promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Moving the inhabitants out was one thing. Keeping invaders out would prove much more difficult, especially when the invaders came from the gods left behind by the inhabitants.
God gave Moses very specific guidelines for His people to follow. Moses meticulously recorded these rules so they could be obeyed by every generation.
There’s even an interesting geographical feature in this promised land that was supposed to be used to amplify the importance of following these laws. Two mountains stand divided by a narrow valley. Mount Gerizim is flourishing with trees. Mount Ebal is barren rock.
Representatives from half of the tribes were to stand on Gerizim and declare the blessings from God for obeying the law. The other half of the tribes were to stand on Ebal to declare the curses from disobedience.
This ritual as described in Deuteronomy 27-28 was only carried out once by Joshua after their victory at Ai.
The ultimate failure to obey God’s laws showed us the need for a savior to rescue us from ourselves. We’re incapable of reaching God by our actions, especially when His standard is perfection.
Jesus was the only person who fully obeyed God’s laws. The reason He could is because He didn’t have a human father.
No sperm was used for his conception. God’s Holy Spirit entered Mary’s egg to become Jesus, fully God and fully man.
When we couldn’t reach God He reached down to us and died in our place.
To enter the ultimate promised land accept Jesus’s death as your own.
I’ll see you later. Wade