Imagine being an Israelite around the time of Moses’ death. You have heard of how God did amazing things through Moses. The plagues, the parting of the Red Sea, the giving of the law, water from a rock (twice!), manna from heaven. It’s hard to remember all God did through him. But now he’s dead. And because of the lack of faith in your parents’ generation upon approaching the promised land, they are dead too.
Joshua is there to lead you, sure. You want to be hopeful about him, but he’s not Moses. There will never be another Moses.
In times of transition like this, fear and doubt can come in. You have to find a new job. You start dating again. It’s time for your children to attend a new school. The uncertainty of it all! What will things be like? What if things just aren’t the same? Will everything be okay?
There is a subtle message in the book of Joshua that can help us in times like this. It’s how God sought to show Israel that He was with Joshua just like He was with Moses.
The Crossing of the JOrdan
Before Joshua led Israel to cross the Jordan, notice what God said to him in Joshua 3:7:
“And the Lord said to Joshua, “Today I will begin to exalt you in the eyes of all Israel, so they may know that I am with you as I was with Moses.”Joshua 3:7 (NIV)
God did through Joshua something very similar that He did through Moses (the Jordan vs the Red Sea) to show Israel that God was just as much with Joshua as He was Moses. What reassurance this must have given them!
Was God’s plan effective? Look at Joshua 4:14:
14 That day the Lord exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel; and they stood in awe of him all the days of his life, just as they had stood in awe of Moses.Joshua 4:14 (NIV)
Yes, it was effective.
Perhaps times of transition can reveal our tendency to trust in what we’re comfortable with–a certain leader, a job, a routine, etc. When that is gone, it can lead to uncertainty and fear. But Israel needed to know that there was a constant behind what they knew. It wasn’t Moses that they depended on, but God working through Moses. The constant was God, not Moses. It was God they needed, not Moses. When Joshua came to lead, it was still God they needed, and still God that was their constant.
In our times of transition, it is good to acknowledge what God did in times past and honor those He used. But we must remember two things: (1) the reason the times past were good was ultimately because of God, and (2) God will be with us in the future also. Surely this is a key to embracing change with faith instead of fear.