Facing A New Day
Topic: Special Service Scripture: Joshua 1:1-9
Transcript of our Sermon Audio File:
Well let's take our Bibles and turn to Joshua, verses 1 to 9. I actually preached this message at the NRB, the National Radio Broadcasters. I had the opportunity to speak to their executive committee, which believe it or not, is 75 people from all across the country. This was a message I shared with them, and so I'm not going to waste it. I think you'll be blessed by it. It's a message entitled Facing a New Day. Stand up in honor of God's Word. Follow along from Joshua 1, verses 1 to 9. I want to speak this morning on the subject Facing a New Day.
I mean life is full of transitions, challenges, new seasons. And whether, you know, we're dealing with families or businesses or ministries, we're always facing a new day with new difficulties, and this is a wonderful passage about that. As God commissions Joshua, "After the death of Moses, the servant of the Lord, it came to pass that the Lord spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses' assistant, saying, Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I'm giving to them the children of Israel.
Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon, I have given you. As I said to Moses, from the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your territory. No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and of good courage for to this people you shall divide an inheritance in the land, which I swore to your fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded you.
Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it, for then you will make your way prosperous and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of a good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." So reads God's word. You may be seated.
I like the story of the coat store in Nottingham, England, that put this sign in the window: "We have been established for over 100 years, and have been pleasing and displeasing customers ever since. We have made money, lost money, suffered the effects of coal nationalization, coal rationing, government control and bad debt. We have been cussed and discussed. Messed about, lied to, held up, robbed and swindled. The only reason we stay in business is to see what happens next."
We can all identify with that, can't we? Facing a new day, embracing an unknown tomorrow, waiting to see what happens next? That's a challenge. But that's life. Living up to what God sends down. It's always a challenge and it's never easy. Trying to manage the onset of the future is a difficult thing to do. And with that in mind, wherever you're at, maybe you're going through a transition. Now you're a widower or a widow. Now you're a young person heading to college and a new environment and a new day. You're switching careers. Maybe God's calling you to the ministry or the mission field. Life is full of transitions and new days with new challenges.
I can think of no better passage to think about in the light of all of that than Joshua Chapter 1, because Joshua Chapter 1 is all about a new day. Moses, my servant, is dead. End of story, close the books. But I want you Joshua to pick up the mantle of leadership and lead the people forward. That's where we're at. The forty years of wilderness wandering lies behind this text. Moses' disobedience and God's judgment on Moses that he can't enter the promised land, lies behind the text. Moses has just died, and for some 30 days now the people of God have been mourning their great leader. That lies behind the text.
And in the middle of this, God commissions a young man, or a new leader, to embrace a new day with all of its attendant promises and pressures and possibilities. God says to Joshua, you know what, I want you to turn your face to a bright new day. I want you to lead the people of God across the swollen Jordan river. I want you to possess the land that the former generation failed to possess out of unbelief. I want you to turn the table. I want you to rewrite and reset history, and I'll give you the land that I promised to your forefathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Here's the point. Joshua, it's no longer enough to have escaped Egypt. It's time to enter the promised land. And you can enter the promised land on the basis of my promise, that wherever your foot will tread I'll give you that land, because I swore it to your forefathers. So here is Joshua managing the onset of a new future for him. He's going to have to rewrite history and write his own history, bringing about a new day in the life of the people of God. There's all kinds of challenges that lie ahead.
Will the people buy into his leadership like they did with Moses? How will they get across the swollen Jordan River? And then on the other side of that, is the high walls of the city of Jericho. And beyond that, in the interior of the land of Canaan are the giants. This is scary stuff. This is a big job description isn't it? It would be easy for him to wilt in the face of that, but he doesn't. Now before we look at this text we read, I'm really focusing on verse 5, which is a great promise. Verse 5 says this as Moses has died and Joshua is to take up the leadership, God says to this young man, or this new leader, "No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so shall I be with you. And I won't leave you, and I won't forsake you."
Before I get there, I want to paint in the background a little bit, which I've already done but drill down a little, so that you see how wonderful this promise is to this new leader. Number one, it was a time of transition. What we're dealing with here in Joshua 1, is a time of transition. Moses was dead. Look at that text, verse 2, "Moses my servant is dead." He's written his last chapter. The book on Moses is closed. It's a time of transition. During Moses' leadership there was some notorious times, and some glorious times, but they'd all come to an end.
Don't forget that Moses was one of the leading figures in the first four books of the Bible. He casts his shadow far and wide across the pentateuch. Understand this, that Joshua isn't following a leader, which would be tough enough, he's following a legend. It'd be like someone being asked to coach UCLA after the years of John Wooden. How do you do that? How do you measure up to 10 national championships? Who wants to follow Nick Saban at Alabama when his day is done? But that's what's going on here. It's a time of transition. Joshua's not just following a leader, he's following a legend.
That's scary. It almost seems impossible. I mean he's beat before he starts, you could imagine. Moses was a great emancipator. Moses was a great law-giver. Moses was a great miracle worker. He was a prophet who spoke for God. He had met God face to face. He had received the Ten Commandments. Don't forget that Joshua, according to verse 1, is Moses' assistant, so he's had a ringside seat. He knows the grandeur and the greatness of this man. He has watched God work through this man in marvelous ways with signs and wonders. He has led the people across the Red Sea and out into the wilderness.
I'll tell you another thing, I would conclude Joshua knew he was no Moses. Like someone might conclude, I'm not John Wooden or I'm not Nick Saban. I know that, as I embrace this almost impossible task of carrying on their legacy. You know, when it comes to guys like John Wooden or Nick Saban, or a Moses, you want to be the second guy. You want to be the second guy, that's the second guy after the primary guy, because there's always a sacrificial lamb in between that kind of takes all the comparisons and has to bear all the heat and the expectations.
And usually they fail, and they're done in three or four years, and then the guy comes in. But that's not where Joshua is. Man he's the guy that follows. He's not second. He's first. Not only that but you have a context of complacency. Not only a time of transition, but a context of complacency. Again I'm building the drama so that when we get to the promise of verse 5, you'll understand how Joshua might be able to take a big deep sigh of relief. "As I was with Moses, so shall I be with you."
Because it's no small task to follow this man. And as great as Moses was, he never got to lead the people of God into Canaan. One, because of their unbelief, and secondly because of his disobedience. Remember that incident when he strikes the rock against God's will and against God's word, and God says you're not going to see the promised land. Moses begs with him and yet God takes him up and he gets to look at all the land he'll never step foot on. It's tough. But that's where the nation was. The context of Joshua 1 is spiritual stagnation. Okay? The work of God is stalled. They're marking time.
I can say this literally in a sense. They're going round in circles, because remember they'd been here before. A generation before was brought there and 10 spies went to look at the land that included Joshua and Caleb. They came back with a good report. 12 spies and 10 of them come back with a bad report, and in unbelief they don't move. Against the insights of Caleb and Joshua, and Moses. And then for 40 years a generation will die off under the judgment of God, going round in circles. 38 years on they're back on the borders of blessing, on the edge of expansion. But the context is complacency.
In fact, a writer by the name of Paul Powell kind of worked out what that wilderness wanderings would look like in terms of measurement, and this is striking... think about this. The straightest route from Egypt to Israel was approximately 200 miles. So you begin with the exodus they could be there in 200 miles, and then they turn back in unbelief. He says this, "If the children of Israel had taken it, they could have been in the promised land in 11 days. Instead, they wandered over 700 miles of desert for 40 years. That calculates to an average of 20 miles per year, 100 yards per day."
You get a sense they're not going anywhere? 100 yards a day? The work of God is not advancing. The plan of God is not being accomplished. There's a context of complacency that will require new leadership, Bold, audacious, unafraid commanding. Joshua's going to have to tell the people of God and a new generation to go forward, to cross over at the river Jordan between a failed past and a better future. It's always scary to cross over between those two places. Between a failed past and a better future.
You know I love this story because I've shared it several times about the athletic director Frank Howard at Clemson University. Who one time when he was leading the athletic program was asked if they could add rowing to the menu of sports they do at Clemson. He immediately refused with these famous words, "We aren't going to have no sport where you sit down and go backwards." Well that's Joshua's task. To pump up a whole new generation, to not sit down and go backwards. To be like David Livingston the great missionary to Africa who said, "I'll go anywhere with God, so long as it's forward." And that's what God is asking Joshua to do.
At a time of transition, in a context of complacency. In fact, one writer puts it really well so that you get the drama. "Israel was still in the wilderness, leaderless, down a generation, prey to their enemies, without an acre of land to their name. Would you want Joshua's job in that context?" It'd be pretty intimidating, you know? It'd be easy for him to shrink in the face of that reality. It'd be easy for Joshua to look back on Moses, look around at the challenge, and then look down on himself. You can identify with that. You know? You could be looking down on yourself right now.
Whatever that challenge is in marriage or education, or ministry or life, I don't think I have what it takes. I don't know if we can break through the complacency. We're bound by failure on all sides. But God gives him a promise, right? Because God says now I need you to be bold and I need you to be brave. Look at verse 6, "Be strong and of a good courage." Look at verse 7, "Be strong and very courageous." Look at verse 9, "Have not I commanded you, be strong and of a good courage." God knows the internal battle that's going on in Joshua. He's second guessing himself, he's not sure he's up for this. Remember, I'm not following a leader, I'm following a legend. And you know what, a generation has died off and a new generation's here. Will they be up for the task the former generation couldn't accomplish?
Powerful stuff. But God says no you are up for it, because verse 5, "No man should be able to stand before you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so shall I be with you." I hope you've noticed this pattern in God's word. Usually, if not invariably, when God commands something, he usually attaches a promise to the command. Or to borrow the words of the great theologian Augustine, "Lord ask what you want but give what you ask." And God normally does that. When God asks us to be brave, and when God asks us to be bold, he doesn't do that in a vacuum. It's not like, "Hey, pull up your socks and grit your teeth and forge ahead." No, it's, "I'm going to be with you. This is my plan, my will, I can resource this. I can underwrite this. You need to trust me."
That's the beautiful thing, isn't it? When God says, "Go", he's not sending us somewhere, he's taking us somewhere. When God says, "Do", he's not asking us to do something for him, he's promising to do something for us, in whatever he asks us to do. So we've got here this promised presence of God. As I was reading this, the journey that our family has taken kind of came to mind because when God was calling us to the Master's Seminary to be trained with Doctor MacArthur there on the campus of Grace Community Church, that was a bold move for us.
We had three little girls, three, two and one. And we were a young family. We were leaving the known for the unknown. I had a church, I had friends, life was good. For want of a better way to put it, I was kind of a rising star among Baptists in Ireland, all kinds of opportunities laid ahead. But God put it on our heart to come to the Master's Seminary. Didn't know what the future was beyond that. And Joshua's being asked to cross the river Jordan. We were being asked to cross the Pacific Ocean to a land called California, full of liberal and progressive giants, that were kind of scary. A crazy place, where you can hardly afford to live.
That was a big move. And we were reading and praying. As we were reading sequentially we kind of came upon Exodus 33, where God asked Moses to lead the people of God. And then Moses said, "Well hold on a minute, you know, you need to promise your presence because if your presence doesn't go with us, don't take us up. I need to know you're underwriting this. I need to know you're behind this." And so God says, "I am with you." And we began to become confident about that and we shared it with our church one night to pray for us. We said, "We're leaning towards moving to the United States, we want you guys to pray for us." It was a little congregation, 75 people, but they were great.
And one of the ladies, Betty Jameson came out of the prayer meeting that night, grabbed me by the hand, tears in her eyes, she says, "Pastor, I don't want to lose you, but if this is God's will I want that for you." And then she quoted Exodus 33. "If his presence doesn't go with you, don't go. But if his presence is with you, go." She had no idea that was the text that we were finding encouragement in. So eventually when we go back to the church about three or four weeks later and say we're moving, I had to take Betty aside and break the news, I said, "Betty, you're one of the reasons we're going." And she said, "What do you mean?" I said, "Betty, you confirmed with that quoting of that verse, that although we're crossing an ocean and we're going to a land that June had never stepped foot on... I'd been once, to a Shepherd's Conference... you understand the boldness of that? But Betty you reminded us if God's with us, and God's for us, who can be against us?"
So let's look at this promise, all of that to get to verse 5. I'm not really going to expound the surrounding text as much as... just look at verse 5, and there's three things about God's presence I want you to get. We're going to move through them pretty quick. But these are three wonderful things about God, when you and I are in a time of transition. When you and I are in a context of complacency. And a new day is dawning, and a new challenge is facing us, we can count number one, on the promised presence of the God who abides. Look at verse 5 and isolate that promise. "As I was with Moses, so shall I be with you." Isolate that promise in the middle of the promise, and then isolate these words, "As I was, so shall I be." Take the personalities out.
Let's just focus on the nature of God. God is revealing something about his nature in this promise. "As I was, so shall I be." The thought is, hey, I abide. God abides. His presence abides. He remains, he's steadfast, he's unchangeable. Did you notice that description by God? He's kind of conveying his eternality. I'm the one who was, and is, and is to come. I'm always that. And along with his eternality, you've got another great attribute of God the theologians call immutability. God is immutable. God can't become something he's not. And God won't cease to be something he is. God is.
He abides unchanged, uncaused, unchallenged, within history. What about the words of the Lord Jesus, we read of him, Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever. That's a great promise. Maybe one other verse that would underline that and there's a lot of verses we could go to, but for the sake of time I think you'll get this. In Psalm 102, here's what the psalmist says, "Oh God, do not forsake me or turn away in the midst of my days. Your years are throughout all generations." It's comparison... I measure my life by days, you're measured by generations and eternity. "Of old you laid the foundation of the earth and the heavens are the work of your hands." I.e., you were around when we weren't around. It's this contrast with God's eternality and immutability compared to our mortality and the fact that we change a lot.
Look at verse 26, speaking of the creation, "They shall perish," but notice, "You will endure. Yes, they will all grow old like a garment, like a cloak. You will change them and they will be changed, but you are the same. And your years will have no end. The children of your servants will continue and their descendants will be established before you." Listen to A. W. Tozer, "God cannot go from better to worse. You cannot think of God being less holy than he is now, any less righteous than he is now, God must remain infinitely holy, fixed forever, unchanged in holiness. He cannot go from worse to better, for the simple reason that God being absolutely holy, cannot go beyond himself. What he is today, in love, grace, patience, power, strength, holiness, he is tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, right into eternity."
And I don't know about you, that's my application as a pastor this morning. In the midst of your change, as you're facing a new challenge, this is where you need to anchor yourself. As your head spins, as you wonder if you can make it. You wonder if you're up for the challenge. Here's where you got to fix your focus. It's on the fixedness of God's character and attributes. He doesn't change. You're facing change, you want to bring about change, you're hoping for change, just know this: that God doesn't change in the midst of that. So as you plan and you work and you try to accomplish something, you can keep going back to this watering hole. God is the same.
Time doesn't diminish him. Activity doesn't weary him. Change doesn't confuse him. Setbacks don't defeat him. God abides. His love remains. His patience persists. His sovereignty continues. His power surges. His word stands forever. John Calvin said this, this is worth writing down and memorizing. It's a great quote by Calvin. "God is always like himself." Is that not beautiful? When you go to talk to God in prayer, you need to begin with this thought, "God is always like himself." The God I talked to a week ago hasn't changed. Now I may have changed. I may have blown it, I may have messed up, but there's mercy there. There's love there. There's patience there. There's grace there. God is always himself.
That's not true of us. I mean maybe in some sense I'd like to think spiritually, intellectually, I am today what I wasn't when I was 26. But physically I'm not today what I was when I was 26. We're changing all the time. I'm not always myself. You can find me sometimes in a bad mood. You and I know, with our spouses or just our children or whatever, at six o'clock you're in the kitchen, you don't know who's coming down the stairs. What are they going to be today? Because we're not the same. It's hard for us to keep going in one direction. But God is fixed, God is the same. And that's a wonderful thing. God is always like himself.
Now I don't want to abuse that thought, or excuse my sin, but I want to worship a God that I can count on. As I was with Moses so shall I be with you. Let me illustrate this and move on. Gladys Aylward's story's an interesting one, you may have seen the movie, The Inn of Sixth Happiness? A young girl who applied to a British missionary society to be a missionary in China, they ruled her out, said she wasn't up for it, not ready for it. They told her maybe to come back. They kind of just, you know, pushed her to the side. But she was undaunted. She found a way on a shoestring budget to get to China.
She went to a place in China called Yang Cheng, started ministering to orphan kids, made an impact for Christ. Japan invades that part of China, annexes a part of China, and she's caught up in it. Interesting thing, I didn't realize about her... she actually works as a Chinese spy, and tells the Chinese with the movement of Japanese troops. And then she realizes they're kind of on to her and her life's in danger, and her ministry's in danger, and so she grabs 100 kids and she heads out of Yang Cheng and across the mountains trying to get to free China.
It's a scary prospect. She has very little supplies. She's got 100 little souls under her charge. One night she's in despair, she's sitting down, she can't sleep. And as she's sitting up, a little 13 year old girl who's part of the group comes to her, and reminds her that kind of what they're doing is a bit like Moses and the children of Israel, escaping from Egypt and across the Red Sea and into the promised land, and if God will just help them they'll get through the mountain and into free China. And you know what she says with a voice of despair, she says, "But I'm not Moses." You know what the little girl said? "Well of course not, but God is still God."
That's the promise. Moses is dead. You're facing a new challenge. You're my guy. "I'm not Moses, Lord." "Well I know that, but I'm still God. I abide forever." Number two, God overrides. God overrides. Go back to our text. I'm just going to kind of milk this verse. "As I was with Moses, so shall I be." We've kind of isolated that phrase and we've taken the personalities out of it. God is what he was. He abides. But as I was with Moses, that's the former administration, that's the old leader. That's yesterday. So shall I be with you, the new administration, the new leader tomorrow.
The new day with the new challenge and the new leadership. So this text bridges the past and the future. The old and the new. Because you see, God overrides. God decided hey Moses you're not taking the people in. And then God picked his assistant to replace Moses. God is overriding. God is in charge. God is sovereign. It's a new day in Israel. It's a new challenge in crossing the river Jordan. It requires new leadership, because they're stuck. Moses' failure and the nation's failure doesn't mean that God failed. And he's going to take up a new instrument and he's going to override the unbelief of a former generation. He's going to take up a new leader and a new generation and he's going to write a new chapter.
As I was with Moses, the old leader, who got so far... so shall I be with you, the new leader, and I expect greater things of you. As one writer said, Moses was dead but God's purpose was very much alive. Joshua's now the key figure to fulfill God's program. Moses' death would remind us that God was committed to a program, not a person. And while Moses is dead, the plan of God is very much alive and he can just craft a new leader and pick up where they left off and move forward. Joshua was God's man, God's pick. He may have felt like I'm not up for this, I can't do it. But he was in fact, we won't go there, but if you go to Deuteronomy 31, verses 1 to 8, Moses officiated at Joshua's installation. There was, you know, a passing on of the baton from one generation to the next.
And that's the thing I just want us to grasp. God assured Joshua at the start of this new chapter, with its new challenges, that God would override between the old and the new, the past and the future, the known and the unknown. God was really, by implication, saying hey I pick up one leader, use them and set them down. I pick up another leader, use them and set them down. They die, but my program lives. And across the generations I override, I preside, I'm sovereign. I make it work. Or has been well said, God buries his workers and carries on his work. By implication by the way, another thing that we're learning about, great men like Moses, they're not irreplaceable.
Only God is in indispensable. The God who abides. And the God who overrides. It's a glorious thing when God takes us up, but God can set us down, and God can fashion a new leader and write a new chapter. God's not stuck. God's not out of options. You know? In the scheme of things you understand your significance. Put your finger in a bucket of water, and then pull it out and see what's left. God alone abides. And in his history and in his will and in his plan, he'll take us up. By the way, that leads us to a very practical thing here that I think is also, not explicit, but implicit in the text.
You don't need to be Moses. I'm not asking you to be Moses. I'm asking you to trust the God of Moses. I'm asking you to learn from Moses, both the good and the bad. I'm asking you to remind yourself you had the ringside seat, you saw me work through him, my signs and wonders, the law giver, the emancipator. You saw that, and I can be that to you. But I'm not asking you to be him. And I think that's a wonderful thing. It helps us when we do feel we're kind of in the deep end of life and we're out of our depth, and we're not sure if we're up to this new challenge and this new day. And God asks us to exercise some new leadership or to take a step of faith in a new venture or adventure.
Joshua was not called to follow an icon, he was called to follow God. God overrides from one generation to the next. It was Moses, then it was him, and after him it would be someone else. Joshua didn't discount the past, as I said, and he didn't not learn from Moses. If you read the conquest of Canaan in the Book of Joshua, you'll see Moses' name mentioned 57 times. So he took that on board. There was a certain continuity, but there wasn't conformity. You can be like your father, and you can love your father, but you don't need to be him. You can have your favorite preacher, and you can follow a pastor for quite a while and benefit from him, but the guy that follows him doesn't need to be him.
We're all individual. Uniquely gifted, uniquely fashioned, uniquely called. And I think it's important to grasp that. Be your best self for God. Be your best self for God. Understand who you are, how God has made you, how God has saved you, how God has equipped you through the Holy Spirit. Don't be a copycat. Conformity to Jesus Christ is not conformity to the person that's helping you conform to Jesus Christ. Max Lucado tells a great story in his book, The Cure for the Common Cold, where in a rush he grabbed a suitcase from an airport that looked exactly like his; same size, same make, same color. Grabs it, thinks, "Wow that came out quick." He grabs it, rushes into the cab, gets to his hotel for a speaking engagement. When he opens it up, there is tights and stockings and blouses and skirts and stilettos.
And he soon realizes he's grabbed the wrong suitcase. And he says much more than I'm about to say, but for the sake of time, he makes this conclusion. Don't try and live out of someone else's suitcase. It's a great word. I've got many mentors in my life, Their fingerprints are all over me. But hopefully I'm not just some kind of dead copy of them. I want to be myself, best self in Jesus Christ. Remember John and Peter and the end of John, John's Gospel? Peter hears about the fact that he's going to die upside down, and then he points to John and said, "What about him?" And what does Jesus say? "What's that to you? You're not him and he's not you. Be you, your best self in me."
Number two, don't make an idol of the past. Churches shouldn't make an idol of the past. Businesses shouldn't make an idol of the past. Sports teams shouldn't make an idol of the past. We can learn from the past, but we shouldn't live in the past. It should be a rudder not a hitching post. And while Joshua mentions Moses 57 times, he moves beyond Moses, and he does something Moses never did. And then finally, fix your focus on a sovereign God. Fix your focus on a God who abides and overrides and has got a unique plan for your life, sovereignly planned, all those works that were ordained for you, Ephesians 2:10, Just you, not someone else, just you. Do them. Embrace them.
If you read 2 Timothy 4, in the Greek, the implication as Paul says, "I ran the course, or the race, or my lane in the race, and finished the course." Let me tell you a story and move on to our last thought. Because all of that reminded me of a story that struck me one day, and Dale Ralph Davis tells this, it's a story of John Calvin's burial. We gave you a quote earlier, don't forget that quote. What it is? I'll help you. God is always himself. Well John Calvin dies May 27, 1564, after months of being bedridden just two weeks before his 55th birthday.
He had been a kind of legend in his time, let's be honest about it, if you've studied the Protestant Reformation there's Calvin, and there's Luther, and there's Zwingli. Today we still benefit from Calvin's institutes, he was a brilliant Berean, he was a pastor, theologian. Young men flocked from all over Europe to Geneva to sit under Calvin and be taught the Protestant principles of faith alone, Christ alone, grace alone, for the glory of God alone and the Bible alone. But it's interesting, that on his deathbed, Calvin communicated to his friends that he wanted to be buried in a pine box, nothing ornate, and he wanted his grave to be unmarked.
No headstone. Because even by now he had kind of feared that Protestants would come to his graveside and venerate him. You know? He had left the system that venerated saints and venerated Mary, and he wanted nothing to do with that. He wanted the focus to be on Jesus; his glory, his work. And so Calvin is buried we don't know where, because he was buried in a pine box with an unmarked grave, because he wanted to remind the reformers to focus on God. The God who abides and the God who overrides. God buries his workers and carries on his work. Finally, the God who provides, back to verse 5.
I want you to read this another way. "As I was with Moses, so will I be with you." We probably tend to read that little conjunction there "with" with the idea he's going to accompany Joshua like he accompanied Moses absolutely. That's absolutely the meaning of the text, but there's something more there. You can read "with" as "for". As I was for and with Moses, so I will be for and with you. Because God's presence wasn't some kind of static thing. It wasn't just some kind of shadow that followed Moses wherever he went. God's presence supplied whatever he needed as a leader to do whatever he needed to do. In fact, think about this, even in their disobedience as they kind of trudged through the wilderness for 40 years and Moses leads them, here's what Nehemiah says about those years. Nehemiah 9:21, "Forty years you sustained them in the wilderness, they lacked nothing. Their clothes did not wear out. Their feet did not swell." So God being with Moses was also God being for Moses.
And I'll tell you how I also know that, since we're at the beginning of Joshua's ministry, and the promise that I'm going to be with you, Moses remember, was picked by God in the backside of the desert. He says, "I'm going to send you to Pharaoh. I'm going to free my people." And Moses goes, "But I'm not up for that. I can't speak." And all kinds of excuses were coming out, which is natural when you're given such a big task. And then he says, "Even if I go, the people are going to say who sent you? You're the guy that got us into trouble when you killed the slave master." And Moses is going to say what? "Tell them that I am that I am sent you."
Remember how God speaks to Moses out of the burning bush? The bush burns but it isn't consumed. It's all a picture. I am that I am. That speaks of God's eternality. I am. What I was I am. What I am I am. What I will be and what I will be I am today. It speaks of his eternality, his immutability and it speaks about his self-sufficiency. I am all that I need myself to be. That's what the word Yahweh, and the covenant name of God conveys. God is self-existent. As William Gruden says, only God exists by virtue of his own nature. He is never created, never came into being, he always was. God's being is also something totally unique. It's not just that God does not need the creation for anything, God could not need the creation for anything.
He exists in himself, fully gloriously. God needs nothing outside of himself. There's no itch in God's character that needs scratching by anything or anyone. And when you understand that God says now Moses that's the God I am to you. I'll be all that you ever need me to be. Now go. And I think that's what's being said here. Hey Joshua as I was the inexhaustible God to Moses like the bush itself, I'm going to be that to you. I know you feel like a child in comparison to Moses, his prophetic vision, his mighty intellect, his resolute character, his quiet meekness. You may feel ill equipped and insufficient to fill the office and follow the legend, in a context of complacency, but I am enough.
Remember Adrian Rogers, when we were doing our series on Psalm 23, pointed out that God has described himself as an incomplete sentence? I am that I am. Listen to what Adrian Rogers says, "Did you notice that the title God chooses to describe himself is an incomplete sentence? Most people would finish that sentence, I am love, I am light, I am. But not our Lord. He purposely did not complete the sentence. He ever exists, he's always God, he is. Are you hungry? He is the bread. Are you in the dark? He is the light. Are you searching? He is the truth. Are you lost? He is the way. Are you in need? He is the shepherd."
God will always be what we need him to be for all that he has called us to do regardless of how challenging it is. Amen?
As I was and for Moses, so shall I be with you and for you. You need to remember that. God is always himself. And you can take the little bucket of your life and drop it into the ocean of God's complete character and sufficient being. He's got endless love. He's got steady mercy. He's got power that boggles the mind. He's got grace for every situation. He's sufficient. He's all you need. And God is always himself. And you can bank on that. Facing a new day and a new challenge, understand that. Understand what you have. With this I'm done. If Danny Simpson had known about guns, he might not have robbed a bank. 1990 Ottawa, Canada, 24 year old went to jail and his gun went to the museum.
Let me fill in the details. See he gets arrested for sticking up a bank with this gun. He tries to steal six thousand dollars. He gets caught, gets sent to jail for six years. The gun is confiscated. Somebody takes a look at it. They're intrigued, it's a .45 caliber Colt semi-automatic. It was made in 1918 by the Ross Rifle Company, Quebec City, Canada. And it was appraised and found to be worth one hundred thousand dollars. So I want you to get the irony. This poor guy, Danny Simpson, desperate, breaks the law, tries to steal six thousand dollars, with a hundred thousand dollar gun in his hand. But he's got no idea what he has. In fact, he's got all that he needs.
But he's living a disobedient desperate life because he doesn't understand that. Maybe the joke's on us, not him. Because that's the way we live; desperate, disobedient, trying to get around God's will, running from a challenge of obedience, because I'm not up for that, I can't do that. Frightened of the future because there's a new day coming with a new challenge. There's failure all behind you, which doesn't encourage you and so you get, I'm not up for this. And God says hold on a minute. As I was with Moses, and Joshua, so I will be with you. I'm the God who abides. I'm the God who overrides. I'm the God who provides. And I'm always myself.
Father thank you for this word. What a promise. Thank you when you command us to do something, when you plop us down in a circumstance in life where we feel like we're drowning, and there's no bottom for our feet. We thank you for a promise like this. With your commandments, there are promises. With your will there is grace. So whatever the challenge that lies before us, whether we're adjusting to a new day because we've lost our spouse, maybe we're challenged by a new day because we've moving out of state. Challenged by a new day because the job market is so fluid and we're changing jobs. Maybe we're a young person heading to the big bad world of university. Lord, whatever those challenges are, we thank you that we've got this promise. Cast iron, gold-plated. As I have been with my people across the generations, to the congregation of Kindred Community Church, I promise to be with them. Not only with them, but for them. I am all that you will ever need me to be, and I am always myself. We thank you for that Lord, and we pray these things in Jesus name, amen.