Today we begin a journey through part of the history of Israel as recorded in the book of Joshua. In a way, we begin in the middle of the story. The Israelites have journeyed for 40 years through the wilderness on a winding route to the land promised to them by God, and we join them here, on the threshold of the promise. Their journey is over. At the same time, it has only just begun!
The book opens with a reminder that Moses, the leader the Israelites had depended on for so long, was now gone. A new leader is appointed by the Lord himself, with a commission of his own – to lead the people into the land.
Although the people that God is working through may change, we can see in this chapter that God himself does not. God is clear that the promises he has made to Moses still apply, and that the Law he gave to Moses still applies. Moses may be gone now, but God’s promises and God’s law remain unchanged and unfailing, whoever is leading the people.
The loss of Moses must have felt devastating to a people who had depended on his leadership for so long, and yet we can see at the end of the chapter that they are ready and willing to accept Joshua as their new leader. Why? Because they knew that they were not really following Moses, or Joshua, but God himself, and as long as their human leader was appointed by the Lord and stayed faithful and obedient to Him, then the people would be fine.
Change can be unsettling and challenging. God may lead us into new places, new seasons and new responsibilities, but whatever else may change, whoever else may change, God does not. He is faithful and his word endures forever. God may appoint humans to lead us, but it is always God that we follow.
Today, let’s pray for our church leaders; that they may be “strong and courageous”, always close to God and sensitive to his leading.