After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, it came to pass that the Lord spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, saying: “Moses My servant is dead. Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them—the children of Israel. (Joshua 1:1-2)
Four decades had passed since the son of Nun had seen the land of Canaan. Along with eleven other leaders of the nation of Israel, Joshua had spent forty days traversing the beautiful land of milk and honey yearning to find a place to settle. When the report was given to Moses and the people, ten of his companions filled the hearts of the people with fear as they rejected the courage of Joshua and Caleb to conquer the land. Moses took the people into the wilderness and forty years later came to the Jordan River for the final crossing. The servant of the Lord would not be permitted into the Promised Land because of his sin at the waters of Meribah Kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin. Moses did not hallow god in the midst of the children of Israel and while God allowed him to see the land he was not permitted to enter. At the age of one hundred twenty Moses died in the land of Moab. His eyes were not dim nor his natural vigor diminished. A huge vacuum now existed in the leadership of Israel. Who could stand in the place of Moses and lead the people? God had chosen Joshua, son of Nun to be that leader. Joshua was full of the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him. There was no man like the prophet Moses whom the Lord knew face to face in all the history of Israel. The story of Moses’ life is filled with the powerful testimony of God’s mercy, grace, and providence to deliver His people from the bondage of the Egyptian masters. Israel did not deliver themselves from Egypt; it was through the power of the Lord they were rescued. Through the mighty hand of Moses leading the people through the waters of the Red Sea parted by the power of God and the formation of a nation at Mount Sinai, Israel became a people that were feared by nations for generations. Moses would remain as the central figure as the law given to the Israelite’s was called the Law of Moses. How can one man stand in the shadow of greatness and lead the people? It was entrusted to Joshua to take on that very task.
When the days of mourning were completed for Moses, the Lord comes to Joshua and tells him two very important things. First, Moses is dead. Second, it is time to arise and go over the Jordan River. Joshua was well aware that Moses was dead but what the Lord is telling him is that as great a man as Moses had been, the people had a task to do and delaying that work by mourning the past will not accomplish anything. Nothing would change what had happened in the past forty years. Pundits and critics could spend endless hours debating the negatives of decisions made but what happened in the past must remain there. The purpose of the nation was to bring judgment to the land of Canaan and there was work to be done. It was imperative to focus the mind in the right direction and look to what needed to be done. Having established the past was where it belonged, the Lord then tells Joshua to arise and go over the Jordan and complete the work given to him by God. There were cities to conquer, lands to possess and the time of fulfilling the work of the Lord was at hand. Joshua needed to encourage the people to gather the new generation of faithful and take the land promised to their fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He would lead them to great victories and face incredible losses. In less than ten years the land would be conquered under the leadership of Joshua and the nation of Israel would be established for future generations. The pivotal time in this transition came when God came to Joshua and reflected on the past and looked forward to the future. Joshua’s bridge had taken him from the leadership of Moses to his own destiny in changing the future.
Changing the calendar is as old as the world. When the Lord established the sun, moon and stars on the fourth day of creation, He created a division of time as signs for seasons, days and years. Through the millennia man has found renewed strength with the passing of each year anticipating the freshness of a new year. Like Joshua, men stand on the brink of looking deeply into the past yet with great anticipation for tomorrow. God told Joshua there was a place to view the stories of yesteryear but there was work to be done that would secure the hope of tomorrow. The passing of this year is firmly placed in the history books with indelible ink that will never be removed. Good or bad, the days of yesterday are permanently placed in the marble halls of memories never to be changed. The bridge all men walk is the hope of a new tomorrow in the coming year and the stories that will be told in the year to come. Life was unforeseen three hundred sixty five days ago and it remains a mystery today for what this new year will bring. With the hope of God’s message to Joshua there should be bright days ahead. Jericho was conquered by the power of God. The city of Ai brought misery to the people because of sin. This new year will be determined in how we cross that bridge. If we take God with us we will have untold victory. When we reject God’s plan there will be nothing but misery and sorrow. Trust in the Lord and His power, dwell in the word of God and His love; and this new year will be a time of refreshing and joy. Standing on the bridge of Joshua is a time of decision.