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Jan
10

The Next Chapter:: 2

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“After the death of Moses the LORD’s servant, the LORD spoke to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ assistant. He said, ‘Moses my servant is dead. Therefore, the time has come for you to lead these people, the Israelites, across the Jordan River into the land I am giving them'” (Joshua 1:1-2, NLT).

The first words in the prologue of Joshua set the stage and the context of the next chapter in the ongoing story of the people of God. The land of Egypt is behind them. Their leader is no longer, having been buried above them on Mt. Pisgah. And now a new leader, Joshua, stands with them. The land of promise can be viewed just across the Jordan River.

Perhaps the first and most obvious question is, “who is this Joshua?” The name means “the Lord saves” or “the Lord delivers.” Its popular to consider the fact that the Hebrew name Joshua is akin to the New Testament Greek version, Jesus. Joshua got his start some forty years prior to this moment as Moses’ personal aide. He had stood by Caleb at Kadesh Barnea and boldly proclaimed that the land could be conquered even though popular opinion at that time was that the land could not be seized. Joshua had served as the captain of Israel’s meager fighting forces, leading them into battle when the nation was attacked during the wilderness wanderings.

Prior to Moses’ death, he was selected by God and commissioned by the people to become Moses’ successor. If you read the closing words of Deuteronomy and couple them with the introduction to this fascinating book, two things quickly become evident. First, all that God had done in, through, and for Moses was transferred to Joshua. As God had been with Moses, He would be with Joshua.

The second thing that strikes the reader is that the purposes of God always supersede the leaders of God. God loved Moses, and in the same fashion He loved Joshua. But something greater than these two human leaders was at work: God’s purposes and plans for the world.

Years ago I had an old set of commentaries by Matthew Henry. Perhaps you’ve come across quotes from him or are at least familiar with his work. I gave those books away a long time ago but I vividly remember one particular quote from him regarding this passage. Henry wrote, “God buries the workman but the work goes on.”

Yes, God loves his leaders. And I believe the people of Israel loved their leaders as well. But the leaders are never more important than the work of God. His redemptive plan is first and foremost. Leaders, then and now, are servants to the mission of God for the world. Or to say it another way, this is all bigger than Moses or Joshua, or me, for than matter.

Tomorrow I’ll continue this series from Joshua chapter one. In the meantime, would you pause a breathe a prayer for your spiritual leaders in your congregation? As you pray, ask for God’s presence to be with them as they lead your church to fulfilling its mission and calling.

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