God Encourages Joshua
Open Your Bible
Joshua 1:1-18, Genesis 15:18-21, Deuteronomy 31:1-6, 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24
I put no stock in fortune cookies. Still, I usually crack one open once I’m overfull from a generous plate of sesame chicken and rice. Despite my satisfied appetite, I nibble on a bite of the sweet shell while reading the words printed on the tiny slip of paper inside.
I’m not sure why I have trouble resisting that treat at the bottom of my takeout bag. Maybe it’s my love of sugar, but I think it’s something more. In a world that seems to grow more uncertain by the day, we want a sure thing. We want to know what’s coming, what’s not, and what’s next. A fortune cookie isn’t going to change our circumstances, but it’s fun to pretend for a moment that it might.
When the book of Joshua opens, the Israelites have come to the end of one long, unpredictable journey. That is, unpredictable as far as the humans involved are concerned. The Lord has been with His people each step of the way. And here, as Israel stands on the edge of the last leg of their journey to the promised land, God promises that His faithfulness will continue:
“No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live.
I will be with you, just as I was with Moses.
I will not leave you or abandon you” (Joshua 1:5).
As profoundly complex as the situation seemed, it was also profoundly simple: God was keeping His promise, just like He always had and always will. Israel got the message, and they responded in kind: “‘Everything you have commanded us we will do, and everywhere you send us we will go. We will obey you, just as we obeyed Moses in everything’” (vv.16–17).
If you’ve read ahead, you know how this story ends. The God of Israel was completely faithful to His people. They crossed the Jordan River and took possession of the land He’d promised their ancestor Abraham 450 years earlier. You may also know that Israel did not hold to the “everything” and “everywhere” they’d promised. Yes, they followed Joshua, heeding his instructions to prepare, go, and remember (vv.11–13), but their faithfulness was only partial. As through a sieve, obedience slipped through the holes in their good intentions. Their faith wasn’t perfect, yet God’s Word and faithfulness did not falter.
This Bible makes some bold promises. They aren’t fortune-cookie promises to be read one moment and tossed aside the next. They are holy promises, true promises (Psalm 19:7). When God promises, “I will” and “I have,” He truly will and He truly has.
Praise the Lord, His faithfulness is sure! We can walk with courage and confidence into the certainty of a tomorrow where God will never leave us or forsake us. As coheirs with Christ (Romans 8:17), every foot forward is another step on the journey of seeing God’s promises fulfilled.