So, last week I said that I was taking the week off to focus on pressing into new and fresh looks at the gospel, Scripture, and Christ as a whole. I’ll talk more about that later on in the week, but I wanted to share something with you that I feel God showed me during this time.
I feel like I need to press into the Old Testament more this year, to give me a clearer understanding of the events and history leading to the coming of the Messiah. So, having read Genesis, Exodus, and falling asleep through Leviticus a few months ago, I started with Joshua (don’t judge!).
I was immediately pressed with God’s command to Joshua 1:5-7.
5 No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. 6 Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. 7 Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go.
A few things stood out to me in this text:
1) God gives Joshua a three-fold promise in verse 5:
- No man would be able to stand before Joshua
- God would be with Joshua as He was with Moses
- God would not leave or forsake Joshua
2) Only after God gives Joshua this promise does He command him to be “strong and courageous” and again to be “strong and very courageous.”
3) He then links being strong and courageous with obeying the Law, and obeying it perfectly by not turning from it to the right or the left.
What in the world does this have to do with the gospel and Christ? Everything!
God commands Joshua to be strong and courageous based on the promise that God would be with him and never leave him. He then tells Joshua that part of being courageous is obeying the Law perfectly, something that no man can do without God’s constant presence directing us and leading us where we should go.
Then the Israelites tell Joshua to be strong and courageous as well (Jos. 1:18) after telling him that they would obey him just as they obeyed Moses (v. 17). A quick trip down Exodus lane leads me to believe the first thought after hearing that was probably some form of an ancient “Oh, crap!” The Israelites were HORRIBLE at following Moses. So, here Joshua has a three-fold fight on his hands: leading the Israelites into battle to conquer the Promised Land, obeying the Law perfectly, and leading the Israelites who have proven they can’t and don’t follow well. But he also has the three-fold promise.
The day after I read this, as I wondered what the command “be strong and courageous” meant for me, personally, God in His providence led a good friend of mine to text me this:
13 I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living!
14 Wait for the Lord;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord!
Here, the Psalmist links being “strong and courageous” with “wait for the Lord!”
This struck a chord with much of what I’ve been going through lately. Being placed in a time of mentoring and learning instead of pushed forward in a more active leading role. Being “stuck” where I live now instead of moving closer to where my church, my community, my family in Christ lives. Being in what is seemingly a holding pattern annoys me.
Much like Simeon must have felt annoyed as he watched for the coming of the Messiah. This man showed that he was strong in the Lord because he patiently waited his whole life to see the Messiah (Luke 2:25-35). He was strong and courageous and waited for God to reveal His plan in His timing: God with us. His plan to live the perfect life we could never live, to die the death we deserved, to conquer the giant of Sin and Death we could never kill. His plan to redeem us and gift to us Holy Spirit, God’s constant presence with us, never leaving or forsaking us.
It’s fitting that I come to wrestle with this time of waiting during Advent, a time for us to focus on the eager expectation the Jews felt looking forward to the First Advent, and the longing we feel for the Second Advent. In this, it’s important for us to realize that God’s times of us moving forward like Joshua and waiting like Simeon are both times of action. In the first, God is actively calling His people to be active and DO something for Him. In the second, God is actively calling His people to wait on Him while HE does something in and for us, for His glory and our joy in Him.