FRONT-PORCH GOSPEL: “By the way, I’ve got a job for you!” – The Lord
“What Lord?” Joshua must have said to the Lord. “Will you say that again, and slowly, please, so I can let it sink in?”
“Yes,” the Lord says, “Moses my servant is dead.” (Joshua 1:2)
“Why Lord?” the bewildered young leader of Israel must be thinking. Moses dead? Why? We’ve come this far through this arid desert, the journey forty years in the making, and just when we get a stone’s throw from the Promised Land, we lose Moses?
“Lord,” he could have pleaded, “We need Moses now more than ever. We need him to take us on over. He’s taken us this far, and we will need him to carry us on this final step. But now he’s gone?”
Joshua has a right, I suppose, to be concerned.
This shocking turn of events isn’t even close to how Joshua would have planned the ending. In his mind, Moses has always been the one who would do the honors. Nothing different has ever even occurred to him. If it had even crossed his mind, perhaps he could have been semi-prepared, at least.
I guess when he thinks about it, he realizes he probably should have at least thought of it. After all, the Lord has a history of pulling these kinds of things out of the hat, as we say. We have read enough in God’s word, meditated long enough on it, and we’ve heard plenty of those long sermons long that make our eyelids a bit heavy long enough to tell us that God doesn’t do things the orthodox way – or, at least, He doesn’t do things the way you and I think He would or should.
And there’s more: Startling news doesn’t always come in a single wave. Often it just falls on us like an avalanche. Such is the case here. It is hard to say which part of the Lord’s message is more shocking to the young Joshua, the first part or the last. But for sure, the shock is not over.
“Moses my servant is dead” – that’s the start. But listen to what comes next:
“Now, therefore,” says the Lord, “Arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them – the children of Israel.”
Somewhere in all of this, Joshua is figuring out that the Lord isn’t just making small talk with Him. He has called on him for a reason. Really, the announcement that Moses is dead isn’t the main item on the Lord’s agenda, either. The main course the Lord is here to serve is the message that it’s time for Joshua and all of these people finally to cross over the Jordan River to the Promised Land.
But there’s one more insinuation in the Lord’s message that Joshua by now has figured out. The Lord could have come on out and said it, but I don’t think it's necessary for Him to say, “By the way, Joshua, you do know that you’re the man who will lead my people over the Jordan.”
The Lord has hundreds of powerful messages in store as we read on in Joshua’s account of Israel’s blessed return to the Promised Land. But for this moment – for today here on the “front porch” – I want us to stand where Joshua is standing, feel what he’s feeling, wonder all the things he is wondering. Pause here with me, and let’s put these thoughts into a single question:
If the Lord will call upon the somewhat common servant Joshua to do such a great job way back then, what might He be calling you to do?
Make no mistake about it: The Lord has a job out there – maybe small, maybe big – and He needs someone who will do the job well. It’s a job that simply cannot fail, so the Lord has made His choice. It’s not the person you would have thought He would have chosen, either, and it isn’t who you would deem most qualified. It is you. Your name, my friend, is circled the Lord’s ledger.
And He has it circled – in bright red.
Coach Steven Bowen, a long-time Red Oak teacher and coach, now enjoys his time as a full-time writer and preacher of the gospel. In addition to his evangelistic travels, he works and writes for the Church of Christ of Red Oak at Uhl Road and Ovilla. Their worship times are 10 a.m. Sundays and 7:30 pm. Wednesdays. Email coachbowen1984@ gmail.com or call or text 972-824-5197.