Sermon – July 23, 2017
Often, when new leaders take over, they seek to make an immediate impact, demonstrating their leadership and their control. Joshua has no need to worry about such things; as God’s chosen leader, God will make his impact for him. While Joshua 1 demonstrated to Joshua that God was with him, God will make it obvious to everyone in Joshua 2-5:12. In these chapters we see God prove that he will be with both Israel and Joshua just as he was with Moses (3:7).
1. The proof of the spies
The sending of the spies into the promised land in Numbers 13-14 instigated the 40 years of wilderness wandering for the nation, as the report of the might of the people in Canaan made the Israelites hearts melt. Now, as Joshua sends his spies into the land, the report is the opposite: not only do the hearts of the Canaanites melt, but even the Canaanites throw themselves upon his mercy.
2. The proof of the water
The crossing of the Red Sea is perhaps the best known and greatest miracle in the Old Testament. God’s supernatural act not only saved the Israelites, but defeated their enemies in one mighty act. The crossing of the Jordan, while lacking the flair and drama of the Red Sea, clearly signify that God is with Joshua just as he was with Moses. The water stops, heaps up, and the Israelites cross on dry ground.
3. The proof of the memorial
It is clear, however, that the crossing of the Jordan, while significant, is not on equal standing with the miracle of the Red Sea. The Red Sea miracle needs no memorial, its legacy is enough to be carried along with every remembrance of the rescue from Egypt. Nevertheless, the crossing of the Jordan is significant, and God does not want the Israelites to forget the incident. That God calls on them to set up a memorial indicates how important he felt the act was, sealing forever the fact that God is indeed with Joshua like he was with Moses.
4. The proof of renewal
The renewal of circumcision and the celebration of the Passover indicate in several respects the separation of this generation from their fathers. This generation is not the one that dies in the Wilderness, nor the one that was provided for there. Rather, this generation is recommitted to God, and tastes the food of the promised land.
Jesus is, in all ways, the new and better Moses, the better Joshua. Like Joshua, his miracles prove that God is with him, his chosen leader and Messiah. What’s more, like Joshua leading Israel into the promised land, so Jesus does so for us. Let us walk with the sincere hope of the better promised land, assured to us through the resurrection of Jesus and our identity with him in baptism and the Lord’s Supper.