Read Joshua 1:1-9
Everybody desires success. Nobody wants to be a loser.
You don’t take an exam with the desire to flunk it.
You don’t invest with the desire to lose money.
You don’t play a game with the desire to be defeated. (maliban na lang kung perde-gana ‘yan)
It is embedded in the soul of man that some of the most popular sayings are about success:
“Patience is the key to success”
“Try and try until you succeed” ("Try and try until you die" was meant to be a joke)
Even our very own “Kapag may tiyaga, may nilaga” exalts patience as a virtue that will ultimately lead to something good.
But if we will not be careful in our pursuit of success, we may walk on the same road where the world walks. We may take ungodly paths to success. We may emerge successful in the eyes of men but a failure in the sight of God (and please do not read this post through the lens of the erroneous prosperity gospel).
God’s formula for Joshua
What is the emotional state of Joshua when God talked to him? Verse 9 indicates that he is frightened and dismayed. We should understand that his beloved mentor for 40 years is now dead. That fact alone could affect him tremendously. Add to it the heavy burden placed upon his shoulders with this new role as the leader of an stiff-necked people. He has to step into the shoes of the great Moses. He is the new commander-in-chief of their armed forces and they have to fight many battles against more powerful peoples in order to acquire the Promised Land.
On this scene God speaks to promise success. He assures Joshua of the following:
1. Moses is dead but the promise is alive. The Land is for them (verses 2-4)
2. They will be unbeatable; their foes cannot stand against them (verse 5)
3. He promises his presence. Just as he was with Moses, he will be with Joshua (verse 5)
What he requires of Joshua
1. God requires Joshua to be strong and courageous (verse 7)- If we shall review Joshua’s track record, we will find that this man is not a coward. In fact, his record is impressive. He was the leader when they fought the Amalekites (Exodus 17:9, 10, 13-14).Out of the 12 spies who were sent to Canaan, only two (Joshua and Caleb) were not intimidated by the giant descendants of Anak (when others felt like grasshoppers, Numbers 14:6-10, 30, 38).
But there are times when the circumstances are so overwhelming that even the strongest and bravest among us needs the exhortation to be strong and courageous. All of us are fighting our own daily battles. Battles against life-threatening diseases, financial crisis, family problems and many others. This is God’s word for us: “Be strong and courageous”.
2. God requires precise obedience-
“Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you” (verse 7)
“so that you may be careful to do everything written in it” (verse 8)
This is the exact equivalent of the the New Testament’s “Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise” (Ephesians 5:15).
We are not to twist God’s word in order to justify ourselves. God’s word is for us to obey, not edit: “do not turn from it to the right or to the left” (Joshua 1:7). We have to take God’s word precisely as it is.
3. God Requires Diligent Scripture Intake- “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night” (verse 8). If we are to heed God’s word with precision, this is essential. It must fill our mouths. It must saturate our minds. We must immerse our whole being with what the Bible says.
Our desire to be successful is not in conflict with God’s desire to be glorified. Instead of suppressing our desire for success, he wants us to excel in our chosen fields (Proverbs 22:29). He will be with us in our pursuit of success. Just as God is present with the preacher in his desire to be successful in his ministry, he will also be present with the businessman provided that both the preacher and the businessman follows God’s requirements.