Taking the Land: The Next Generation
In our previous teaching taking the land not only refers to Israel entering the promise land, but also believers entering into the fullness of all God has for them – spiritually, physically, financially, and emotionally.
Moses was told to take the children of Israel into the promise land, but because of his sin he was only allowed to see the land from a distance and eventually died in the wilderness. Joshua, his disciple, was the one who would lead the children of Israel into the promise land. Joshua did what Moses was unable to do.
God is raising up a new generation of spiritual warriors. They will far surpass all that their predecessors accomplished. God was able to use Joshua because he had been faithful to Moses, his mentor and teacher. If you will be faithful in another man’s ministry (Luke 16:12), God will raise you up to do great things for His glory. You will go far beyond what your mentor has done. Joshua 1 contains several key ingredients that will help us take the land.
Moses is Dead
“After the death of Moses” (Joshua 1:1) and “It came to pass that the Lord spoke to Joshua the son of Nun saying, Moses my servant is dead” (Joshua 1:1-2). The fact that Moses was dead was said twice because, as in the dreams of Pharaoh, the thing was sure. Below are a few lessons we can learn from this.
We must put a death to the past (Isaiah 43:18-19, Philippians 3:13).
- Disappointments of the past. Can you imagine the disappointments Joshua must have experienced not being able to enter the promise land forty years earlier? We must put a death to all of our disappointments of the past. If we don’t they will hinder us in what God is calling us to in the future.
- Failures of the past. Joshua experienced failure forty years prior. We will have failures in this life, but we can’t dwell on them. We must put our failures in the past and set our eyes on what God has for us in the future.
- Bitterness. I don’t know about you, but I’d be a tad bit irritated with the men who brought back a bad report that kept me wondering in the wilderness for forty years (Numbers 13-14). The Bible says, “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God, lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled” (Hebrews 12:15). “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice” (Ephesians 4:31).
- Achievements of the past. We must also put a death to our past achievements. For example, the war stories we tell of what God did back in the day or the great things we have on our resume. The point is, what is God doing or desiring to do now? We must get our eyes off the past and on what God has for us in the future (Proverbs 29:18).
Our security gone. Joshua was Moses’ assistant. He ministered and did all that Moses told him to do. He had it pretty easy because Moses had all of the responsibility on his shoulders. With Moses gone suddenly all of the responsibility was on Joshua. He’d have to carry the load of the people and ministry himself. His security blanket had been ripped out from under him. He had to learn to lean on the Lord alone (Matthew 11:28-30).
The time for mourning is over. Israel always set aside a time of mourning for the dead. They had mourned over Moses’ death. It was time to stop mourning and move on. Some of you have been in a state of grief and mourning. It may be over the loss of a loved one, some loss or tragedy in your life, or even sin. There is a time for mourning (Psalm 34:18, Psalm 51:17), but there is a time to lay aside your grief and move on. Your time of mourning is over.
We are entering a new level of responsibility. Joshua had been Moses’ servant, but now Moses was gone. All the responsibility for Israel’s future was now on him. Joshua would do what Moses was unable to – take Israel into the promise land. He now had to lean on the Lord Himself and let Him carry the burdens. He had to take responsibility for the task that was before them. Some of you have been following faithfully, but now it is time for you to take some areas of responsibility upon yourself. Don’t be afraid. It is time for you to lay hold of the task that is before you and let the Lord carry the load (Matthew 11:28-30).
God Spoke to Joshua
Joshua 1:1 – “It came to pass that the Lord spoke to Joshua the son of Nun saying…”
God is still speaking today. Hearing from God is a must if we are going to take the land that God has set before us. If we are going to hear from Him, we must tune into His voice.
- Develop a listening ear. “Wherefore as the Holy Ghost saith, today if you will hear His voice” (Hebrews 3:7). Are you listening for His voice? We spend a lot of time talking to God in prayer, but we must also spend time listening. In your prayer time, set apart a segment of it to be still before Him and listen (Psalm 46:10). Keep a pen and notepad with you and write down anything you hear from Him. You say, “But what if I don’t hear from Him correctly?” Practice makes perfect. You will probably not get everything right at first, but as you practice listening to His voice it will become clearer.
- Go to church. The believers of Antioch were in church when they heard from God concerning Paul’s first missionary journey (Acts 13:1-2). They positioned themselves in the proper setting to hear from God. We must put first things first – be faithful in the little things (Luke 16:10). Start by being in church if you want to hear from God. If we can’t start there, God probably isn’t going to speak to us in our quiet time.
- Worship. When they heard from God, the Antioch believers were not only in church, but they were also actively involved in worshiping. It was as they “ministered to the Lord and fasted” that the Holy Spirit spoke (Acts 13:2). There is something about worship that makes it a major catalyst for the Holy Spirit to speak to His people. In 2 Kings 3 Elisha was requested to speak to the kings of Israel and Judah. He first requested a minstrel (musician) before he could hear the Word of the Lord (2 Kings 3:15). Worship is a powerful instrument in our preparation to hear from God. Never take lightly the function of worship in the house of God or personal worship.
- Servanthood. Joshua was first Moses’ servant before God spoke to him (Joshua 1:1-2). Jesus said, “If you have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who will give you that which is your own” (Luke 16:12). Elisha served and followed Elijah faithfully before entering into his own ministry (1 Kings 19:19-21, 2 Kings 2).
- Giving. Jesus said, “If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon (money), who will commit to your trust true riches” (Luke 16:11). Malachi challenged God’s people about tithing, and when they failed to obey, God was silent 400 years until the coming of John the Baptist (Malachi 3:6-12). We cannot purchase God’s favor, but giving definitely opens us up to being able to hear from God.
- Sacrifice. Acts 13:2 – “As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said…” The Antioch church was fasting, not of compulsion, but of free will. God was moved by their sacrifice and spoke to them. They sacrificed by fasting (seeking His will and heart), by sending out two of their primary leaders, and by supporting Paul and Barnabas’ first missionary journey. When God speaks to us, He often does so concerning sacrifice.
- God’s will. Jesus said, “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself” (John 7:17). If we are not willing to do what God tells us to do, why should He continue to speak to us? Matthew 25:29 – “To everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away.” If we do what He says, He will give us more. If we don’t heed His words, He will stop speaking until we are ready to follow through in obedience. If we obey step one, He will give us step two, step three and so on. If not, He will stop at step one. Let’s do whatever He tells us, no matter how great the sacrifice.
Joshua 1:2 – “Now therefore arise, cross this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them.”
God was commanding Israel to cross the Jordon into the promise land. The Jordon was what stood between them and the land God was giving them. What’s standing between you and the fullness of all God has for you? Let me encourage you. You are about to cross over. There have been things standing in your way and you’re going over. Now is your time.
It’s a command, “arise, cross this Jordan,” it’s not an option. God is commanding you now to cross over. It takes action on your part. Maybe you’ve been in a slump, wondering in the wilderness, and discouraged. You must hear the voice of God, take action and obey. This is your time. Get up, move forward and cross over all that has been standing in your way.
It will take faith on your part. It will be risky. The Jordon was in flood stage. The priests had to first step into the Jordon before the waters dried up so they could cross over (Joshua 3). You must take some risks in order to cross over what is standing between you and all God has for you.
It may be frightening. What if you are overcome by the waters? You will have to step in, trusting God will dry up the waters. Step out in faith now, obey all that God is telling you and move forward into the land He has promised.
Joshua 3:13 – “As the soles of the feet of the priests shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off, the waters that come down from upstream, and they shall stand as a heap.”
It was the spiritual leaders who risked all so the people could cross the Jordon. Likewise, it’s the pastor who risks all for the church so its people can cross over into God’s fullness. You must be willing to follow your pastor as he hears from God.
Pastor, it’s you who must lead in faith and step into the waters of your Jordon. Then you, the church, and your people will begin moving forward into the land God has for you. In Joshua 1:3-5 God gives Joshua four promises. Claim these for yourself. They will encourage and strengthen you.
Taking the Land
Joshua 1:3 – “Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you.”
Every promise you read in God’s Word is yours. Everything you set your foot upon God has given you.
Faith. This is yet future. “We walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). It takes faith and vision for the future to enter into all God has for you. “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18). Perish can also be translated as being unrestrained or to run aimlessly. Clear vision shows us the direction we must go. Faith also denotes action.
- “Faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone” (James 2:17).
- “The word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it” (Hebrews 4:2).
- You must have a vision for the future and act accordingly. “And Jesus seeing their faith…” (Mark 2:5).
- Jesus is moved when He sees people’s faith in action.
Aggression. The definition of aggression is “a forceful action or procedure, as an unprovoked attack, especially when intended to dominate or master.” The devil has been taking the aggression against God’s people far too long. It’s time we take the aggression against him. Matthew 11:12 – “From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force.”
Let’s take what rightfully belongs to us. The word place in Joshua 1:3 in the Septuagint is topos. It’s the same word used in Ephesians 4:27 and the same word from which we get our word topography which is “used of a region or locality, room, of a place which a person or thing occupies.” People who’ve made the greatest impact for God were aggressive.
- Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11, Luke 4:13-15).
- Moses confronted Pharaoh to release God’s people (Exodus 4-12).
- David went after Goliath (1 Samuel 17).
- Jesus sent the disciples out (Luke 10:1-20).
- The church is to take the aggression against the gates of hell (Matthew 16:13-19).
Moving forward. When we stop moving forward we begin slipping backward. It’s like driving up an icy incline in your vehicle. The moment you stop, you begin sliding backward. That’s why we shouldn’t focus on the past, but always have a forward vision (Isaiah 43:18-19, Philippians 3:13). There are four verses in the Bible that challenge us to press on.
- We are to press on to know the Lord (Hosea 6:3).
- We are to press on to lay hold of our purpose in Christ (Philippians 3:12)
- We are to press on to reaching for our goals, future reward, and the upward call of God (Philippians 3:13-14).
- We are to press on toward maturity in Christ (Hebrews 6:1).
Claim. “Every place the sole of your foot will tread upon…” denotes placing your foot upon something and staking your claim. We are to stake our claim, with faith and aggressive determination, on everything God has promised us.
Preach the gospel. If we want to aggressively move forward and take the land God has set before us, we must be actively involved in preaching the gospel. Paul said we are to have our “feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15). Again he said, “So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also” (Romans 1:15). Peter said, “Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15). Let’s set our feet in motion for “preparation of the gospel.”
“No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life” (Joshua 1:5). Joshua was promised victory and we are as well.
- “In all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37).
- “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4).
- “Everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith” (1 John 5:4).
- It was said of believers in the midst of the tribulation period that they “overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony, and they loved not their lives unto death” (Revelation 12:11). Let’s expect and claim the victory God has promised.
Joshua 1:5 – “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you.”
God promised He would be with Joshua just like He was with Moses. God promises His presence will be with us no matter what we are going through. Jesus said, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20) and “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).
God is there whether you feel His presence or not. We must stand on His Word that He is with us through our greatest battle, even when we feel farthest from Him. His Word is unalterable.
1 Peter 1:8 – “Whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory.”
You Won’t be Abandoned
Joshua 1:5 – “I will not leave you nor forsake you.”
You may have been forsaken by family, friends, and even the church, but God will never forsake you. Most people have felt forsaken at one time or another, but God will never abandon you – Thus says the LORD!