Joshua-Wayne Barber/Part 3
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©2004
|How are you doing in your walk today? Who is it that has caused you to think twice about what God has for you in Christ being the best, because you sure see something good over here and it’s pulled your eyes off of that. Are your eyes on Christ or on those who choose not to be a part with others?
Preparation for the Journey
Turn to Joshua chapter 1. Today we’re going to be talking about preparation for the journey. What a beautiful picture we have in Joshua of a whole nation. Think about it: the nation of Israel, the whole nation of Israel, about to go into and possess what God says is already theirs, what He’s already given to them. But here’s the key, here’s what speaks to me more deeply it seems every time I preach it: They’re going in together. That’s a beautiful picture. Together. Joining hands together, walking over into that which God has given to them. What a challenge for us as a church, for me, for you, to enter into what we have in Christ. But now listen. Together. Together, arm in arm, possessing what’s ours in Christ.
I love Hebrews 4:11. It speaks of the rest that we have in Christ. It says, “Therefore, let us be diligent to enter that rest,” and look what he says, “so that no one will fall through following the same example of disobedience.” And he points back to when Israel at one point in their history chose not to go into the land God had for them; into that land of rest that God had for them. You see, to me, that’s what the church is all about. That’s what we’re here for—me to help you, you to help me, us to help each other enter that which God says is already ours.
Isn’t it interesting how God simply told Joshua, “Joshua, you want to be a leader, son? I know Moses is dead; if you want to be a leader, you just be a follower.” Do you understand? Being a leader is simply being a follower of God. And He tells Joshua, “Joshua, if you’ll just follow Me, they’ll follow you. Meditate in My Word, Joshua; consider every step as holy unto Me. Expect My presence in your life and they’ll follow you.” You see, if we want to be leaders to others, whether it be a father to a family—I’m particularly concerned about men—and men if you want to be a leader to your family, then be a follower. Be the kind of follower that meditates in the Word of God. Be the kind of follower that considers every step holy unto God, expecting His presence in your life, and they’ll follow you. It’s the same way with any of us in any area of our life.
Well, we learned from Joshua that one of the ways God reveals Himself to us is that He puts us in a crisis situation in order to teach us how to trust Him. We can talk about trusting all we want, but when money is in the bank, everybody is healthy, things are going well, there’s not a lot of trust there. But when we’re in the midst of a crisis is when we discover who He really is. And that’s how He teaches us to trust Him. He carefully creates circumstances that bring us to the end of ourselves, to the point of desperation. It’s in those circumstances that we have no Plan B. When you have no Plan B, that’s where you want to be. That’s when you’re walking by faith. That’s when you’re totally trusting Him. That’s when you will get into the Word. It’s amazing how many people look to the Word for different things, but it’s for transformation when you’re in a crisis circumstance and you have no Plan B.
That’s when you begin to meditate on the things God has said. That’s when you begin to take your steps based on what God has said. And that’s when you begin to experience His presence in your life. That’s when God begins to encourage you and guide your steps and you begin to experience what’s yours. It’s been there all along, but it took a crisis to force it out; it took a crisis to bring you into what you already have. And I tell you what, you will not tremble, you will not be dismayed, as He says to Joshua, you won’t fall to pieces, you won’t fall apart when life throws its curve balls at you that you didn’t know were coming. You’re able to bear up under storms. You’re able to act like men of faith because you’re courageous and God is the source of your strength. That’s what He’s been telling Joshua for nine verses.
And in our text today, they’re just about ready to make that journey into the land that God had given to them. It starts in verse 10, and the first thing you see him doing is that he’s giving commands to his officers there. It says in verse 10, “Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people.” Now, these officers were like adjutants; they were staff officers, they simply took what God had said to Joshua, what Joshua had said to them, and they took it then to the tribes to tell them what the orders were. In verse 11 we find what he says: “Pass through the midst of the camp and command the people, saying, ‘Prepare provisions for yourselves, for within three days you are to cross this Jordan, to go in to possess the land which the Lord your God has given you to possess it.’”
They had three days in which to prepare for this journey. The wonderful thing about this particular time period in Israel’s history is that this group of people was willing to obey God; therefore, they were willing to say yes to Joshua. Forty years before, they had the same decision to make, but they chose not to obey God. They chose to disobey. Moses had sent 12 spies into the land. Ten of them had come back with a very negative report. They saw the giants in the land. They saw things that they thought they could not handle. But Joshua and Caleb, men of faith, men who served God with their whole heart, they came back and said, “Hey, we can eat them for lunch! Let’s go! God has given it to us.”
But they chose to believe the majority of the committee report, and as a result of it they ended up walking around Mt. Sinai for 40 years and they died in the wilderness. But this is a new day. These are the children; these are the next generation. These are the ones who said, “We’re not going to make the same mistakes as our fathers. We’re going to obey God; we’re going to go into that land that God has given to us.” It was just a short distance from the time that they crossed the Red Sea into the land, and yet it had been 40 years and nobody had possessed what God says was already theirs.
Something that is important for us to consider in this passage is that we know that the Jordan River, the crisis they faced, was in flood stage. And not one time does Joshua say to prepare the boats. “Bring out the engineers, let’s build a pontoon bridge.” Nowhere does he even mention that. God said prepare the provisions, so that’s what he told the people. You see, Joshua wasn’t about to second-guess God, to try to help Him out for things that God hadn’t thought about. He just simply took Him at His word. And therefore he told them: “You prepare provisions for the next three days because we’re about to enter the land.”
“Pass through the midst of the people,” verse 11 says, “and command the people, ‘Prepare provisions for yourselves, for in three days you are to cross this Jordan, to go in to possess the land which the Lord your God is giving you to possess.’” Joshua knew that He had already parted the Red Sea, so He could part these waters. That’s just a minor detail. Now, the manna was still falling every day. I think the Hebrew word for manna is, “What is it?” And God gave them manna every day. Now that manna had to be eaten each day or it would spoil, so he couldn’t be talking about “stack up your manna, put it in a pack,” because it would spoil, so he had to be talking about something that would last longer and would strengthen their bodies as they go over into the land. But that’s not our message today. That’s just the provisions He tells them to prepare. They’re getting ready to go into the land.
The message today has to do with a group of Israelites. In fact, two and one half tribes that help us understand what goes on in Christianity today when many people refuse to go on into that which God has given them. They refuse to possess what God says is already theirs. Verses 12-18, Joshua has a special word for these two and a half tribes. They are the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh. You see, these two and a half tribes have decided not to take land where God had given it to them, but they had decided to camp on the other side, to build their homes, to take their land on the wrong side of the Jordan River. They were content to live on the fringe, but they were not willing to go over and reside in the land.
To relate to this today, there are many believers, even today in the twenty-first century, and they come to understand that God has given to them a life in Christ Jesus. Every spiritual blessing is theirs, that they can walk in the fullness and the joy and the peace and the power that God has for them. But because of what they think they’ve found that’s better, they refuse to go on over into that which God has given to them. They’re interested only in themselves. We see this picture today in a most clear way. They will not possess what is theirs in Christ.
Well, in verse 12, let me read it for you as you follow along and then we’ll jump into the message. Verse 12 says, “To the Reubenites and to the Gadites and to the half-tribe of Manasseh, Joshua said, ‘Remember the work that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, saying: “The Lord your God gives you rest and will give you this land. Your wives, your little ones and your cattle shall remain in the land which Moses gave you.” “Which Moses gave you.” I’m saying this for a reason: “which Moses gave you. Don’t forget that phrase. God did not give it to them. Moses gave it to them. “‘Which Moses gave you beyond the Jordan, but you shall cross before your brothers in battle array, all your valiant warriors, and shall help them, until the Lord gives your brothers rest, as He gives you, and they also possess the land which the Lord your God is giving them. Then you shall return to your own land, and possess that which Moses the servant of the Lord gave you beyond the Jordan toward the sunrise.’ They answered Joshua saying, ‘All that you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. Just as we obeyed Moses in all things, so we will obey you; only may the Lord your God be with you as He was with Moses. Anyone who rebels against your command and does not obey your words in all that you command him, shall be put to death; only be strong and courageous.’”
Now, we’re going to look at these two and a half tribes and try to be encouraged by them. The crisis had been created: the Jordan had flooded its banks. They were about to go over. Joshua had a word from God. They had been in the word and they were now ready to stand on what God had said. But yet, you’ve got these two and a half tribes. What can we learn from them in our journey together to possess what God says is already ours?
Believe God’s will is best
First of all is this: we must believe that God’s will is best. Now, folks, this is one of the most important things I’ve said to you in two years. We must believe that God’s will is best. If you don’t believe that, when you get into a crisis situation you will bail out on God in a minute. If you’re praying for a loved one to be healed and God chooses not to do that, you have to believe that God’s will is best. You see, what happens is when you don’t, you tend to camp out on the other side, the opposite side of the Jordan. You miss out on what God had for you. You see, hinging on the unreasonable things of life lie the unexpected blessings that God has. There are good things in life; there are better things in life; but the best things in life only come from God. Romans 12:2 says something about the will of God. He says, “in order that you might prove for yourselves what is the will of God—that which is good, that which is acceptable and that which is perfect.” Do we really believe that the will of God is perfect? That what He has for us is the best? We’ve got to be encouraged with this this morning. We’ve got to remember that if you’re going to walk in what God says is yours, you’ve got to believe that it’s the best. It’s the best.
In order to understand how these Israelites ended up on the wrong side of the Jordan, we’ve got to go back into Scripture. So if you’ll turn to Numbers 32:1-15, we’re going to see some things that may help us understand what we’re talking about today. God’s will is best.
Numbers 32:1: “Now the sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad had an exceedingly large number of livestock.” Now, that’s important; they needed grazing land. “So when they saw the land of Jazer and the land of Gilead, that it was indeed a place suitable for livestock [now this is on the wrong side, this is the wilderness side of the Jordan], the sons of Gad and the sons of Reuben came and spoke to Moses and to Eleazar the priest and to the leaders of the congregation saying,… [skip to verse 4] the land which the Lord conquered before the congregation of Israel, is a land for livestock, and your servants have livestock…. If we have found favor in your sight, let this land be given to your servants as a possession; do not take us across the Jordan.”
Now, that all sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? I mean, after all, Wayne, you’re making a big deal out of this. They’re cattle farmers, they have cattle, they need grazing land, and look where they were: in the land of Gilead on the other side of the Jordan River. It has all the grass that you want. You may not know this, but when they were standing on that one side of the Jordan River, do you know what they were looking at? The Judean wilderness. And that’s the most barren looking place you’ve ever seen in your life. It was just a barren looking place. They did not know that on the other side of those mountains was the Fertile Crescent. And that became, later on, the biggest problem of taking the land; because these people did not go on and obey God. They did not know what was on the other side of the mountain. And they found grass that was good for their cattle. They go to Moses and say, “Come on, this is what we need. Give us land here.”
Verse 6: “But Moses said to the sons of Gad and the sons of Reuben, ‘Shall your brothers go to war while you yourselves sit here?’” See, the land that God was going to give to them they already knew was going to be filled with conflict. They were preparing for battle. Do you understand that when you start possessing what God has given to you, that’s when the battle begins? That’s when the real conflict is. That’s when the world, the flesh, and the devil begin to hit you with everything it’s got. Over in the wilderness, flesh rules anyway; but when you go into the land, when you start saying yes to God, that’s when the conflicts begin. And these people conveniently had found a place that met their needs, their eye thought was pleasing, and had no conflict to it. And so they said, “We want to stay on this side of the river.”
‘In verse 7: Moses said, “Now, why are you discouraging the sons of Israel from crossing over into the land which the Lord has given them?” They didn’t realize that their selfish decisions to find what they thought was best for them was going to affect the whole body of Israel. It was going to become a discouragement to others. Others would look and say, “Why are we going over there if you can stay here?” And this is what Moses brings to their mind. It can cause others to not even enter what God had given to them. Moses reminds them, verse 8: “This is what your fathers did [their very fathers had done the same thing] when I sent them from Kadesh-barnea to see the land.” And he recounts that spy experience. “For when they went up to the valley of Eshcol and saw the land, they discouraged the sons of Israel so that they did not go into the land which the Lord had given them.” Moses just simply references what we talked about a moment ago, that when the 12 spies came back, they believed the committee report; they chose not to obey God, but to stay in the wilderness.
And Moses reminded them of how this angered God. “So the Lord’s anger burned in that day and he swore saying [verse 11], ‘None of the men who came up from Egypt, from twenty years old and upward, shall see the land which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob; for they did not follow Me fully.” Then He says with two exceptions, “except Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite and Joshua the son of Nun, for they have followed the Lord fully.’ So the Lord’s anger burned against Israel, and He made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until the entire generation of those who had done evil in the sight of the Lord was destroyed.” This was a very serious mistake that they made.
And Moses says in verse 14: “Now behold, you have risen up in your father’s place, a brood of sinful men, to add still more to the burning anger of the Lord against Israel. For if you turn away from following Him, He will once more abandon them in the wilderness, and you will destroy all these people.” Your decision to stay here is going to destroy all the rest of them that want to go into that which God has given them. By their own selfish choice they became a hindrance to others.
Isn’t it amazing how the Israelites chose not to go over into the land because they thought they had found something that was better? They didn’t understand and believe that God’s will is always best. As I said a moment ago, hinging on the unreasonable. They looked at the Judean wilderness, they didn’t realize on the other side of that was the Fertile Crescent. They didn’t understand that. But if they would have believed God, they could have entered what God said was already theirs—better grazing land than they ever thought about having. But they chose second best. You can’t do that. They had no idea how this choice even would affect others.
In our possessing what God has given us, He didn’t give us a land; I don’t have to worry about cows and grazing. But God gave us a life, He gave you a life. We have to realize that if we’re going to walk in the fullness of what that life offers; we don’t even know. We see it in Scripture and we think we understand, but until we’re in a crisis and believe God, we don’t even have a clue what God’s talking about. You see, some people today as believers still choose not to walk on into that which God has given them. They’ll hang around, but they’ll opt out for success, they’ll opt out for money. “Wayne, I can’t make the money. If I go all the way with God, and I give it all over to Him, I may lose everything that I have. I can’t go that far, Wayne.” They make all kinds of reasons. You see, but the bottom line is they’re content to live on the wrong side of the Jordan. They’ll live on the fringe, but that’s as far as they are going to go. And we can’t let these people keep us from possessing and experiencing what God says is ours in Christ Jesus.
Let me ask you a question. As I’m preaching and as I’m teaching this and you’re thinking, who comes to your mind right now that you’ve had your eye on? As you’ve got your eye on the Lord and you kind of enjoy hearing what you have in Christ, you don’t particularly like hearing that you’ve got to be in a crisis to possess it. That’s kind of tough. You’ve got to be in a desperate situation before you really understand what you’re talking about. But you’re close; you’re really close. You’re right there at the edge of the Jordan. But out of the other eye you’re watching somebody that everybody thinks is the greatest Christian in the world; money rolling out of their hands, everything is going well for them, their children are healthy, they’ve got a big house, they’ve got money in the bank, they’ve got gasoline in the car, no big deal. And you’ve got one eye over here thinking, “You know what? I don’t really know what’s there, but look what he has and he’s not going that route. He’s not committed. In fact, I was with him the other day and I heard him say some things to some people that Christians wouldn’t say. I can see a double standard in his life, but look how he’s being blessed. It seems like he’s found something better. There’s no commitment, there’s no surrender, he can go to a Bible study once a week and call that his dues.”
And yet you keep hearing that there’s something that eye has not seen and ear has not heard. You keep understanding that God has a fullness in Him that you’ve never experienced before. And you’re struggling. I want you to know that if you’re struggling, it’s probably because you have not yet come to the point that you believe that what God’s will is, is best. It’s best. It’s not better, and it’s not good. It’s the best. And only by saying yes to Him do you enter into what you already have.
Do not be discouraged by others
So, the first thing is we’ve got to come to that point—and we’re all here to encourage each other—where we all believe that what God does is best. It’s best. Secondly, we cannot be disheartened when others around us come and they go. They come and they go. Once reprimanded by Moses, these tribes, to save face, made a promise to him that even though they were still going to live on this side of the Jordan, they were not going to stay and reside with God’s people in what God had given, they would at least go into battle with them. They’d cross the Jordan in battle array, and they would help them win over their land. But they’re going back when it’s all over. Rather than give up the land and join their brothers, and possess the land God had given to them. That fertile land. He knew they were cattle-growers. He knew that the cattle needed grass, but rather than taking what God had given them, which was the very best land, they chose to stay where they were.
So Moses finally gives in. He makes a concession. That’s why it says, over and over again, “Moses gave you.” God is not in this picture. This is Moses: his decision. And in verses 16-24 you have the story of how Moses finally concedes. And they told him, “We’re going to live on the opposite side, but we’re going to help you when you go over into the land.” Promises, promises. The two and a half tribes did keep their promise, but not wholeheartedly. Just like their fathers, just like their grandfathers, they didn’t follow through wholeheartedly, and when it was over, they went back.
Now, you say, “Wayne, how do you know all that stuff? That’s not in the Bible. I’ve read the Bible and it’s not there.” Well, you just read a little too quickly. It is there. Look in Numbers 1:2. Let me show you how many warriors they had. This is how many men, when they took a census of the people. When they numbered them, they didn’t number them by husband, wife, and children. They numbered them by the males that were 20 years old and older who were able to fight. And that’s how they numbered their tribes: by their armies. Look at Numbers 1:2: “Take a census of all the congregations of the sons of Israel, by their families, by their father’s households [now here’s how you do it] according to the number of names, every male, head by head, from twenty years old and upward, whoever is able to go out to war in Israel, you and Aaron shall number them by their armies.” So they’re told to number these tribes.
Now, the record is going to show that the tribes of Reuben, Gad and Manasseh are going to have 136,930 men that are ready to fight, 20 years old and older, able to go to war. “How do you know that?” Well, hang on. Numbers 26:7, 18, and 34. If you turn to Numbers 26 and add the three together, it comes out to 136,930. Verse 7: “These are the families of the Reubenites and those who were numbered of them were 43,730.” Verse 18: “These are the families of the sons of Gad according to those who were numbered of them 40,500.” Verse 34: “These are the families of Manasseh [and, of course, remember that half of the tribe is over in the land, so you have to cut this in half], and those who were numbered of them were 52,700.” 136,930 men; out of the group of Manasseh, take out half of them. Take out 25,000, and you still have about 100,000 men.
Out of the 100,000 men that were eligible to go over and help their brothers capture the land which God had given to them, how many do you think actually went over with them? Look in Joshua 4:12-13; it tells you exactly how many. I want to show you how halfhearted these people are. Not even that much. Joshua 4:12: “The sons of Reuben, the sons of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh crossed over in battle array before the sons of Israel, just as Moses had spoken to them.” There was a promise they made and a concession Moses gave to them. But verse 13, about how many equipped for war crossed for battle? Forty thousand. Does this tell you something? It’s always the way it is with these kinds of people that will not go on and possess what God says is theirs. They’ll show up, but it’s always half-hearted. Roughly one-third goes, and two-thirds stay back to protect those wives and children that they left behind.
It was a concession on Moses’ part that they even got the land. It wasn’t what God had intended. These tribes would rather have the big flocks and the big herds and they thought they had found where they could do it better than what God said was for them. Because of their greed they were located so far from the nation of Israel, so far from the place of worship, they had to erect a monument to teach their children that they were still a part of the nation of Israel. That’s Joshua 22:10.
Now, does that sound familiar today? Does that sound familiar to you today of Christianity? “Well, brother, when did you get saved?”
“I got save 30 years ago. It was at a revival meeting, it was in a tent, I remember the song that they sung. And I remember going forward and I remember giving my heart to Jesus.”
“That’s wonderful. What’s God doing in your life today?”
“Oh, man! Let me tell you about that meeting! That preacher came in from somewhere. He preached the greatest message and I remember giving my heart to Him….”
“That’s wonderful, but what’s Jesus doing in your life today?”
“Man, I got saved 30 years ago!” I know, I know!
Let me change my question, “Where do you go to church?”
“I go to ____ Church.”
“Oh, you do? What’s the pastor been preaching on lately?”
“I actually, I haven’t been very much recently.”
“Well, when was the last time you can remember you went?”
“Well, eight years ago at Christmas I went to a musical.”
Does that remind you of anybody? People that come in but decide to camp out on the wrong side of the Jordan. They just won’t go on over and receive what is theirs God has given. They have to erect some kind of memorial; they have to do something as a token to even assure others that they’re still a part of the same group. But their eyes have never been focused on Christ. They’re lives have never been surrendered to Him.
Here’s what I want to say to you. These people may give to a special church building program. “That would be a way to save face! I’ll give a big check. I’ll write a check out.” And they give a token. Or they may show up for different things, but I’m telling you, they always go back to where they’ve chosen to reside. They’re here, but then they’re there. This can be a huge source of discouragement. I want you to know that I’m telling you not to be discouraged by people like this, but that’s the very thing that discourages me in my walk. I ashamed to tell you. It just gets to the point sometimes when I see people just walk away from the very message that can set them free and it just kills me. And even many times, and this is what happens almost every time, it hinders me from enjoying what I know is mine in Christ. That’s what happens.
What I want to share with you is, folks, don’t let two and a half tribes of the nation of Israel keep you from enjoying what God has for you. What I want to say to you collectively as a church, let’s don’t let the two and a half tribes keep us as a church from experiencing what God has for us in the days ahead. You see, what happens is, you start seeing these people, and you grow so discouraged. Those two and a half tribes, the first time when they made that decision, Moses said they were going to discourage the whole group.
A man that came to my church, I loved him; I thought he was a great man. He just loved the teaching on the fullness of Christ, the living grace message, Christ in you the hope of glory. Oh, he couldn’t wait to tell all of his friends about it. But what happened was, he started watching some of his friends that were just making money and everything was going well, and he thought that was what it meant by having a good life. He didn’t realize that this is a spiritual thing, not a tangible thing on the outside. He called me one day and I had breakfast with him and he said, “I want to tell you something.” And it broke my heart. He said, “I’ve heard you preach all these years and I’ve memorized the verses and I’ve done the Bible studies and I’ve even got into Precept. I still have my same crummy job, I still have my same crummy salary, and my children are so rebellious they’re driving me nuts. I don’t want this stuff any more!” And he went and camped out on the wrong side of the Jordan.
I had to make up my mind. What am I going to do? Am I going to let him discourage me from going on to be what God wants me to be? That’s what you’ve got to do. You’re going to have people in your family make the same decisions. But don’t let them discourage you from receiving what God says is already yours in Christ Jesus.
Encourage one another and our leaders
So, the first thing is, we’ve got to believe that God’s will is the best. Period. Whatever He does is right and never needs defending. It is the best. Hinging on the unreasonable things of life lie the unexpected blessings of God. But secondly, we can’t allow ourselves to be disheartened or discouraged by people who just come and go. They camp on the wrong side of the Jordan.
But the third thing, and to try to tie all this together, we must learn to encourage one another, and especially our leaders. Now when I say leaders, I’m not talking about a Joshua. We don’t have Joshuas today; we don’t have Moses today. We have Jesus as the Shepherd of our church. When I talk about a leadership, I’m talking about people that have already made that decision: I’m going to go on; life’s going to work for me not against me. I’m going to possess what God says is mine in Christ Jesus. We need to learn to encourage these people. I tell you why: They set the pace for the rest of us.
What happens is, and Paul said the same thing in Philippians, “there are so many now that have become encouraged because of my boldness to speak the things that I ought to speak.” It’s the same thing. It’s contagious. We’ve got to learn to encourage one another. Not to discourage, but to encourage. With the pull of the world, the flesh, and the devil on every one of us, all of us have our own family situation we deal with, our own personal things we deal with; we’ve got to learn to encourage each other. Keep on, son, keep on. Keep on possessing what God says is already yours.
Verse 16: A great encouragement came to Joshua. It starts off saying “they answered.” The “they,” remember, the context is not these two and a half tribes. The context is him speaking to all of his officers. He has a word for the two and a half tribes, and then he comes back and addresses all of the officers. Most every scholar I looked at, and I have to jump right in there with them, believes now he refers back now, he’s speaking to every tribal leader, his officers that were going to relay the messages to the people. He says in verse 16, “They answered Joshua saying, ‘All that you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. Just as we have obeyed Moses in all things, so we will obey you—only may the Lord your God be with you as He was with Moses. Anyone who rebels against your command and does not obey your words and all that you command him shall be put to death. Only be strong and courageous.’”
Man, what an encouragement this had to be to Joshua. These leaders didn’t dispute over the fact that, “Joshua, don’t you know that the river is flooded right now.” They didn’t dispute over the fact that he said we’re going to cross it and didn’t mention anything about boats or anything else. They were so willing to just go on and do what God had told them to do. And they also told him, they said, “Listen, we’re going to watch your back. Anybody who rebels against you, we will deal with.” Folks, do you know that encouraging people is not just to their face, but it’s also to cover their back?
One of the great things that blesses me is to have my son here on staff. I just don’t see him much, he’s awfully busy, but I just love having him here; the friendship that God is building between the two of us. He doesn’t work under me, so I’m just there to encourage him and give direction from time to time. But you know what I love about him? There was a time since I’ve been here that it got a little frisky, that’s the best way to say it. My son called me, I answered the phone, I saw his number on the thing, and I said, “Hey, Bud, how you doing?” He said, “Dad, I just want to tell you that I love you.” And then he said this, “I also want you to know that I’ve got your back. I’ve got your back.”
We need to learn to encourage one another. “Go on! Go on! We’ve got your back and we’re with you all of the way.” That is so critical in the day in which we live; when we’ve got two and a half tribes of people who just won’t go over and reside in what God has given to them. Can’t be disheartened by them. We’ve got to believe that God’s will is best. But more than anything else, we’ve got to learn to encourage one another.
Now, this is not blind loyalty. That’s not what I’m talking about. You see, the people that you know who are possessing what God says is there have two qualities about them. Verse 17 and verse 18 bring both of them about: they’re in tandem. Verse 17 says only, and it’s a condition, “May the Lord your God be with you as He was with Moses.” When somebody is inheriting or possessing what they’ve already inherited in Christ, you’re going to see something about them, and you’re going to see the fact that they’re strong. What does that mean? We’ve covered it. It means that when situations in life throw a curve ball at them, they’re able to bear up under it in faith with a smile on their face, knowing God’s in control.
But they’re also courageous, which means that they’re acting like men of faith, they’re acting like people of faith, if it’s a woman. It’s all of us: people who walk through by faith are strong and courageous. And where does that come from? It comes from Christ who lives within them. Just like it came from God who was with Moses, who would also be with Joshua. That’s how you know. And that’s a condition. You don’t give blind loyalty to somebody who’s camped out on the wrong side of the Jordan. You give that loyalty to the people who are walking on, and you put your arm around them and you encourage them because, like I said, they’ll set the pace for everybody else. The second one is be strong and courageous. Those two are tied together. One simply explains the other. The leader must be a follower.
Well, let’s bring this to a close. How are you doing in your walk today? Who is it that has caused you to think twice about what God has for you in Christ being the best, because you sure see something good over here and it’s pulled your eyes off of that. Are your eyes on Christ or on those who choose not to be a part with others? Those who choose to camp out on the wrong side of the Jordan. It’s going to cost. Let me tell you this: the crisis, the conflict and the cost come in Canaan. And these guys knew that, that’s why there was no fight to fight on the other side. That’s why they made that token promise. It will come, but I want to tell you, whatever the outcome of that is, it’s going to be the best of anything you could ever experience in your life.
You know, folks, I’m not sure we even get a clue what it means to possess what is ours in Christ. There’s such a convenient, casual Christianity in America that we don’t really know what it is anymore. And there are always going to be those that camp on the wrong side of the Jordan. They think they’ve got it together. I call it a yuppie Christianity. It’s like it doesn’t make any sense to the Word of God, but yet they think they have it, never willing to cross that Jordan and give everything to Christ, and say, “Lord, here am I send me. Whatever You want is best for me and I choose Your will as supreme in my life.”
I tell you what, the people that are doing that, we need to encourage, because they’re setting the pace for the rest of us. We don’t need to be turned away by two and a half tribes. That still leaves nine and a half, folks, that went in. And we certainly ought to believe that God’s will is best.