Sermon – July 16, 2017
Moses is dead. The Israelites find themselves entering the promised land, a land fraught with enemies and dangers, without the only leader they have ever known. Yet God demonstrate that his promises do not rest on the back of Moses’ leadership, but that he is able to raise up another to take the people into the promised land. As the book of Joshua begins, it is this void in leadership that is focused upon. And it is here that we see precisely what God wants out of the one who will take his people into the land.
1. Good leadership needs God
When leaders leave, we often think that some impossible piece of the puzzle has been taken away, leaving the picture distorted and impossible to make right again. Moses, no matter how gifted, was gifted by God. God is quite able to raise up a new leader for the people, to accomplish his goals and promises. Joshua is that man, and just as God was with Moses, so he will be with Joshua.
2. Good leadership obeys God
We perhaps think that the command, “Be strong and courageous” is applied mostly to bravery for the upcoming battles, and certainly some of it is. But, what is more likely, is that it is focused on being brave enough, and courageous enough, to do what is commanded of you. Anyone who has not been equipped to follow will never be equipped to lead.
3. Good leadership trusts God’s people
Joshua knows very well that he will not be taking the promised land on his own. Rather, just as he must trust in God to be good to his word, he must trust the people to follow his lead. Because he is “strong and courageous” in trusting the commands of the Lord, he can be sure that God will likewise lead his people.
4. Good leadership unites God’s people
Joshua, if properly gifted by God, could take the promised land himself armed with only a wet sock and a bad attitude. But that is not God’s purpose; therefore, Joshua reminds the tribes who have received their inheritance on the other side of the Jordan of their responsibility before their brothers. God’s gifts always promote unity, never hierarchy.
It is by no means a coincidence that the name Jesus is, to original speakers, simply the name Joshua. The man sent by God, specifically gifted for the tasks set before him, Jesus lived a life of obedience before God, providing through his leadership the true promised land for those who follow him. Nevertheless, Jesus has entrusted to us a great deal of responsibility. The question that confronts us today, then, is what will we do with that responsibility?