March 25, 2020

March 25, 2020

The Corona virus has suddenly changed the landscape of life for all of us. Rapid adjustments are always difficult, and continued rapid adjustments bring not only uncertainty into our lives, but fear and panic with the end result being chaos.

I imagine the great Biblical hero, Joshua, must have felt a little bit like we do, now, at one point in his life. Yes, he would conquer God’s promised land for Israel, leading the people through the Jordan River at its highest flood stage and yet not one sandal got wet: just as God did for Moses with the Red Sea, God held back the waters of the Jordan so Joshua and the people passed through on dry ground. And after that, by God’s command, Joshua brought down the impenetrable walls of Jericho with only the blast of trumpets.

But Joshua was not always the larger-than-life Biblical hero. At one point in his life he was but an inexperienced youth from the tribe of Ephraim, taken under the wing of the Great Prophet, Moses. The first mention of Joshua is as commander of the troops at a battle against the pagan tribe of Amalek. Moses stood on a hilltop looking down over the battlefield holding up the staff of God. As long as he held up the staff, Joshua and his men were winning, but whenever he rested his hand, the Amalekites gained an advantage. As the battle waged on, Moses sat down on a rock and his brother Aaron, the Priest of God, and his friend Hur, held up each of Moses’ arms until sunset, when Joshua and his men overwhelmed the Amalekites and won the battle.

Afterward, Joshua became Moses’ aide – his right-hand man – serving him faithfully until Moses’ death. The Lord told Moses to acclaim Joshua before all of Israel as his successor who would lead the Israelites into God’s land of promise.

Joshua must have been afraid he was not up to the task. After all, Moses had parted the Red Sea. Through his intercession God provided manna and quail for the 40 years’ sojourn of the Israelites in the desert. Moses spoke to God face to face. How could Joshua step into his shoes? With Moses gone, it would be like gravity shifting and falling away beneath his feet: the whole world would be unrecognizable without Moses.

Moses knew Joshua was afraid. We read in Deuteronomy 31: “Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the presence of all Israel, ‘Be strong and courageous, for you must go with this people into the land that the Lord swore to their ancestors to give them, and you must divide it among them as their inheritance. The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.’”

Israel’s world was about to be turned upside down and Joshua was being called upon to be “Moses” to them from that time onward! And, he was afraid. Then the Lord spoke to Joshua:
“The Lord gave this command to Joshua son of Nun: ‘Be strong and courageous, for you will bring the Israelites into the land I promised them on oath, and I myself will be with you.’”

When Moses’ death came, despite God’s command and promise, Joshua was still afraid.
But God, in his great love and mercy, renewed his promise to Joshua:
“As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous. . . . Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Joshua heard God’s promise in a new way. “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you.” As great as Moses was, Joshua now understood that his greatness came from the abiding presence of God in his life. And that greatness grew out of his dependence on God, who never left him or forsook him.

And so, today, as we grapple with a maelstrom of change that is the Corona virus, God says the same to you and me: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

He who watches over you will never slumber nor sleep.

Here is a beautiful prayer in song by Canadian Christian singer-songwriter, Steve Bell:

For those of you who would like further inspiration, here is a good article from Chuck Swindoll: Click here