Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. (Joshua 1:7-8)
How To Have Good Success
Joshua stood on the shores of the greatest turning point in the history of Israel. He gazed over the river Jordan to a land he had seen forty years earlier as he and eleven other men spied out the inhabitants of Canaan. He was on the brink of fulfilling a promise made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It was a monumental time especially because the great man Moses had died. The leadership of God’s people now rested upon the shoulders of this son of Nun. He had been disappointed when Israel rebelled at Kadesh-Barnea and suffered through the difficulty of the wilderness wanderings watching his fellow brethren die. As a new generation stood behind him, he had to wonder what stories lay before him as the time of conquest began. Doubts crept into his mind if he was the right person. How could he take the place of Moses? He and Caleb vividly recalled the days of Egyptian bondage, the scene at Mt. Sinai and the victories and defeats of the last forty years. Now Canaan stood before them as a ripe fruit ready to be plucked.
One of the great speeches in scripture is found when the Lord God came to Joshua and exhorted him to go forth to conquer this new land. There was much to do and if Joshua and the people were going to be successful, they needed to have a clear vision of how the victory over the inhabitants would happen. Moses was dead. God had buried him out of sight of the people so they could turn their eyes to the promised land. The Lord reminded Joshua that he was the leader of His people and it was on his shoulders to bear the burden of victory. This victory was guaranteed because the Lord had promised the land was already given to them by His great power. The challenge would be for the people to go and conquer the land and to do so according to the will of God. Key to the conquest of Canaan was for Joshua and the people to know how victory was going to be assured.
No man would be able to stand against Joshua and his army, as the Lord would defeat all their enemies. The land of promise was given to Israel before they crossed the Jordan River. Joshua must have courage to forge through his doubts and have the strength to know that the hand of God would give victory. As the Lord worked His power over the inhabitants of the land, Joshua and the people were admonished to keep the Law of Moses being obedient to the commandments, statues and judgments given by God. Success would only come if the people followed the Law; not turning to the right or the left. Joshua was told by God to let the Book of the Law be his speech, his strength and his courage to be prosperous in the land. He was to meditate on the Law of Moses day and night. Joshua was to obey the Law of Moses in every form. Success only came when the people obeyed the Law of God. That principle has not changed for the child of God today.
God’s law for Israel was exclusive and it was taken out of the way by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The law of Christ is for the Jew and the Gentile but the principles of the Law of Moses are still bound on those who seek to find success and happiness in the Lord. It requires strength and courage to face the law of God accepting its terms and conditions. Salvation comes through grace and by the mercy of God man is redeemed by the blood of Christ. This salvation does not come by grace alone or faith alone. Observing to do according to all the law of Christ is needed to have success in this life and the life to come. James reminds us that faith without works is dead. Obedience to the law of God does not turn to the right or the left. Prosperity will only come to those who follow the whole counsel of the Lord. Joshua leaves a pattern of obedience in keeping the law. We can do no less.
Having success is meditating on the law of God daily. The words of God should fill our speech, our minds and our thoughts. There is nothing more precious than knowing the word of God. The Lord told Joshua to meditate on His word day and night setting a pattern of constant reflection on the words of the law. What we find in the fully revealed word of God is the complete pattern of redemption made known through Jesus Christ. Our ways will be prosperous and we will have good success when we follow the word of God. This does not suggest the prosperity of this world or the success of this life. The Christian has a home that is not of this earth but of the world to come. Salvation is found in the hope of a new promised land that lies on the other side of the river of death. We all stand on the shores of time waiting to be carried by the angels into the promised land of eternal rest. Until that time we must have courage, strength and faith to do according to the law of God; not turning to the right or the left; meditating on the word of God day and night; finding the peace that passes all understanding in the joy of eternal life. What a day that will be.
What definition did Jesus give of “success”? He said that true success is to complete one’s life. It is to attain to eternal life; all else is failure. (Toyohiko Kagawa, The Religion of Jesus, 1931)