After the death of Moses the LORD’s servant, the LORD spoke to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’s assistant
Times of transition can be difficult. I know I’ve been through several in the last couple of years. I’ve gotten married and transitioned from being single to being a husband. I’ve changed jobs from being a full-time programming to being a full-time pastor, and now to being a bi-vocational pastor that’s helping to start a church. I’ve moved from living in Hawai’i to living in Southern Maryland to living in Nothern Maryland. I’ve even changed churches, denominations and roles. From being just an ordinary member of one church, to being a pastor of another, to being an intern at a third and finally being part of a small team that is seeking to live as missionaries to our community and start a church. There has been no end to the transitions over the last 5 years.
Transitions can be hard on everyone, and as I read the book of Joshua today, I saw the difficulty in the transition for Joshua. His mentor and leader had just died, and now God was speaking directly to Joshua rather than through his mentor, Moses. Moses had been a larger than life leader. He had led this group of former slaves out of captivity, across the desert where through God’s power Moses had parted a sea for them to escape their enemies. Through Moses, over the course of 40 years God had provided healing to the sick, food every day as bread falling from the sky, occasional birds when they were hunger and causing water to come flowing out of a rock when they were thirsty.
What immense pressure Joshua must have felt in this transition. His friend and mentor had died, he had to follow up the leadership of a mythic leader and the people he was leading, the Israelites, were not the easiest band to lead. They had rejected God on several occasions, rejected Moses’ leadership and there had even been an attempted coup against Moses’ leadership.
In the middle of this difficult time, God had 4 words for Joshua: “Be strong and courageous”. He repeated it 3 times in one conversation. What’s more, God used the people around Joshua to reassure him that everything would be okay. Instead of rejecting or revolting against Joshua’s leadership, the response of some of the Israelites was:
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. Certainly the LORD your God will be with you, as he was with Moses. Anyone who rebels against your order and does not obey your words in all that you command him, will be put to death. Above all, be strong and courageous!
Times of transition can be difficult and overwhelming, but when I reflect on the transitions that God has brought Ashley and I through, I am reassured that even though it’s difficult, God can bring you through your transition too.