By Deacon Emmanuel Gumapon
In Joshua 1:10-18 after Joshua received a Divine Marching Order from God: A Call to Trust and A Call to Obey. Verse 10 begins, “Then Joshua”, after God had made it clear that He would be with him wherever he went, it was time for him to move forward. Joshua needed to give a series of commands and the people needed to obey them. One commentator said, “The scene switches from God’s instruction to Joshua to Joshua’s instruction to the officers”.
A. The commands of Joshua (1:10-15)
Now there are two specific groups of people that Joshua commands:
1. Joshua commands the officers: vs. 10-11
Now the officers were recognized leaders of Israel. In the Book of Deuteronomy, we learn three facts about these officers: First, they were wise, discerning and experienced men chosen by the people and appointed by Moses (Deut. 1:13-15). Second, they were responsible to make righteous judgments in various situations among God’s people (Deut. 16:18-20). Third, they were responsible to hear the Word of God and then protect and preserve it (Deut. 31:28). They were to protect the people of God by making judgements in accordance to the Word and will of God. In verse 11, the officers were to go through the midst of the camp and command God’s people to prepare provisions because in three days they were going to cross the Jordan and enter to possess the Promised Land. The whole camp of Israel contained over 600,000 fighting men (Num. 26:2, 51). There are three things to note from this command to these officers:
a) These officers are not giving suggestions to Israel; they are telling them and commanding them as to what to do. We live in a day and age when commanding people to do something seems almost foreign to leadership. Most think it is never right. This is not true. Sometimes commands must be given and leadership must give them. Leadership is needed and it is expected to lead.
b) We do not know what the “victuals” or provisions (ESV) were. We may assume that the provisions included food. In fact, the Hebrew word is one that often refers to food (corn, oxen, sheep). The preparation was the people’s responsibility, not the leaders. God does not bless laziness.
c) There is no mention about the enemies in the land. These officers were focusing on the preparation and not the obstacles. The faith of the leadership is seen in the fact that they believe God was with them and would give them this land. When God is working out His perfect will, there will be enemies to fight, but God will give the victory.
2. Joshua commands the Transjordan tribes: vs. 12-15
Now Joshua had something very specific to say to the Reubenites, Gadites, and half-tribe of Manasseh. In order for these 2 ½ tribes to experience God’s blessings, they needed to follow through on what Moses told them. Joshua commanded them to remember the Word of God. There are people who think that when new leadership comes into existence they should just forget about the previous leadership that led them in the true ways of God. This will not bring the blessings of God. There will always be some in the church who aren’t dedicated and faithful or plain ignorant. They need instruction. They need to be challenged to obey God’s Word. They need to be warned that they better fit in with the whole if they want God’s blessings. Now looking at the total number of men of the 2 ½ tribes in Num. 26, the Reubenites = 43,730 in v. 7; Gad = 40,500in v. 18 and Manasseh = 52,700 in v. 34 (half=26,350); the total is 110,580. Now in Joshua 4:13 shows the total who passed over are 40,000. Where are the others 70,580? So you see the problem with the Israelites. God wants total obedience and not partial obedience.
B. The response of the people to Joshua’s commands: vs. 16-18
The leaders responded to Joshua by saying they would do all that he commanded. They would obey him like they did Moses and any person who rebel would be eliminated from the nation by death. They are dead serious about their accountability to Joshua. One commentator said if we had this policy in the church today, “you obey God or we will put you to death”, we will have daily funeral services and the next thing you will notice all the Church members disappear. These leaders knew the importance of obeying God’s leader.
There is a very humbling verse of Scripture in the New Testament. In Hebrews 13:17 “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves, for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.”
There is a principle that you observe as you read through Scripture which is true with Old Testament for Israel and also true for the New Testament with the Church: God uses human leaders to get things done for Him. In spite of the fact that leaders are sinful and human and finite, this is still God’s method of moving forward. There must be leadership in any operation of God and that leadership must be committed to understanding and implementing and obeying the truth of the Word of God. By doing this as a Church, we will experience God’s amazing blessings
THUS IN ORDER TO MOVE FORWARD FOR GOD, GOD’S PEOPLE NEED TO RECOGNIZE GOD’S LEADERS, LEARN FROM GOD’S LEADERS, LISTEN TO GOD’S LEADERS, AND OBEY GOD’S LEADERS.