Sermon on January 30, 2022
KaB FKB (Volker Aßmann)
“Take over the inheritance!” –
Which voice do you listen to?“
This sermon is translated from German into English. You can find the original video here
Two weeks ago Andreas preached on the subject: “Blooming with God”. What is your longing for this year, for your life? Where do you long for solutions, relaxation in a much deeper sense than lying on the couch? Where do you long for change and, in a figurative sense, for spring with blooming flowers and warmth after dark times and winter? Where in your life must a new era begin?
1. Life in the intermediate country
You don’t have to cross the Jordan, which is actually not possible without a bridge, which doesn’t exist. You just have to get through next week or this year. You are not facing Jericho with insurmountable walls, but perhaps a wall of rejection, disappointment and pain. It is not the Canaanites at your heels, but perhaps disease, discouragement, or danger. Instead, it seems to be getting worse and worse and you wonder how you’re going to get through the next day.
Be strong and brave!
How does that work?
“Sometimes the challenges are just too big. You want to keep up and try with all your might. But you just can’t fight anymore – fight anymore. Sometimes life sucks all life (and courage) out of us.
The book of Joshua in the Bible is for exactly such times (and such people). It challenges us to trust that the best is yet to come. God wants to give us the “promised land” – we just have to take it.” (Max Lucado in “You Are Richly Gifted”)
In Egypt, the Israelites were slaves to Pharaoh. In the desert they were slaves again – slaves to their fear. They refused to go to the promised land of their God, preferring to languish in the desert in the hot desert sands. Only in the Promised Land did they live the life they had longed for. The Book of Joshua does not describe heaven in a figurative sense, but an “intermediate land” – between salvation and liberation (Egypt, sin, life without God) and eternal home with God in heaven. In the in-between we can live here and now. The life that can and should flourish, trusting in God, who also saved us through Jesus, who was crucified and rose from the dead. This is about: Live and celebrate salvation and liberation!
Live and learn trust in the hope of a home with God!
In the intermediate country we need courageous faith in trusting in God’s promises!
We need faith in God’s promises and promises and that HE will also fulfill them in our lives.
Be strong and brave like a lion!
That sounds a lot like being overwhelmed, like an appeal to our performance and our own strength. Do this and that again!? Be strong and brave!
The solution lies in the fact that it is both a request and a promise. The lion represents power and strength. Lions are one of the “big five” and are such strong and proud animals. Actually invincible. And this is how I should be? I love this song “The Lion and the Lamb”. It says:
HE has won and HE is fighting for you!
HE is the victor and hero.
HE stands by you.
Who can stop our God? – Nobody stops HIM.
Everyone will bow down to the lion and the lamb.
This song ties in with sentences from the last book of the Bible: “Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath won.” (Rev. 5:5) It is Jesus who died for our sins (the Lamb) to forgive us. And Jesus won the greatest victory through it, over guilt, death and the devil. HE has won and HE is fighting for you! HE is the victor and hero. HE stands by you.
This is what Moses had just said to Joshua, his successor: “Ye shall not fear them: for the LORD your God he shall fight for you.!” (Deuteronomy 3:22) Paul writes it like this in the NT: “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.” (Romans 8:37)
Despite what? Paul writes about hunger, persecution, freezing, need and fear, danger up to and including death. “But in spite of all this, we have an overwhelming victory through Christ, who loved us.” The calling and life of Joshua can and wants to give us a lot of courage to come to God with everything we are and have, everything we can and (apparently) cannot, and say: “Here I am, send me!” (Isaiah 6) It’s not about great people who can do everything, but about trust and the willingness to be obedient.
I quote Max Lucado again: >Canaan represents a life ruled by grace, refined by challenge, and aligned with our heavenly calling. When we live according to God’s plan in His land, we win more often than we lose, forgive as quickly as we are hurt, and give as generously as we receive. We may stumble, but we don’t collapse. We strive, but we do not give in to despair…we trust in God and rely (totally) on His power.<
The question is: Where are you stuck between your Egypt and Canaan – in your doubts and your fears? Like a whole generation of Israelites, will you be stuck and wither in the wilderness of your life? Or even give up your trust in God and His Word? How can you resolve and overcome the contradiction between God’s promises and the reality of your life?
Joshua and his people went into the promised land, from the arid wilderness to the fertile land. They came into their inheritance, which God had promised and already given them. >Life is different on the west bank of the Jordan (in the promised land). There are more breakthroughs than breakdowns. God’s promises outweigh the problems that are there. The very name Joshua (Jehosua) promises us this: God is salvation And Yeshua in Greek means: Jesus!!
2. The “I can’t” plague
It’s about discouragement and despondency. I can’t – forgive, believe, fight, live faithfully…
The story of Moses and Joshua is the story of how to overcome this “plague”. Joshua had many doubts and fears and in his head and heart was the phrase “I can’t do it” over and over again. Especially now that Moses is dead.
Joshua and Caleb were 2 of the 12 spies that Moses sent into the promised land of Canaan on behalf of God. They were the only ones who encouraged Israel to trust God and go into the land of Canaan and take it because they could make it with God on their side. The other 10 saw only the strength and military might of these peoples and they discouraged the Israelites from even trying and staying in the wilderness or even going back to Egypt. And the whole people believed the 10 pessimists and so they actually had to go into the desert for another 39 years until all generations of adults had died in the desert. Joshua and Caleb were the only adults to experience deliverance from Egypt and go to the Promised Land!!
It was around 1400 BC. Israel had been circling in the desert for 40 years after being freed from centuries of slavery (400 years) in Egypt. The reason for this was that the Israelites did not trust God and they believed their fear.
Our decisions have consequences and consequences!!!!
Now they (more than 2 million people) stand on the east bank of the Jordan, on the border and threshold of the great country (flowing with milk and honey, home, food, happiness…), just before reaching the goal. Their parents’ generation could have taken this step 39 years earlier and they would have stayed at home. But they had not trusted that God would fulfill His promise and give them victory over the clearly militarily superior Canaanites. God sent them back into the wilderness for 39 long years, until all the adults there had died except for 2: Joshua and Caleb. (4.Numbers 13:30-14:9) (Calling of Joshua as successor to Moses: Numbers 27:15-23)
3. Accept your inheritance!
Joshua takes on the great and difficult inheritance of Moses. Moses was recognized as a strong and courageous leader among his people. Moses had had countless great experiences with God, also and especially during the liberation from Egypt and in the desert. Israel has God’s promised land before them as an inheritance and need only pass through the Jordan and fight with God’s promised help and take the land they have already won.
We will come to the difficult topic of war for God in the OT in the next sermon next Sunday!
Here, before the borders of the promised land, this becomes clear:
God is a God who is holy and merciful and who gives people a real chance and very often a second or third chance!! Now, 39 years later, the Israelites have another chance to come home to God’s promised land. “I promise you what I promised Moses: “Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses.” (1:3) “As long as you live no one will be able to stand against you, for I want to be with you as I was with Moses. I will never leave you and will not give you up!” (1:5) “I say (command) you: Be strong and courageous! Don’t be afraid and don’t despair! For I, the Lord your God, am with you wherever you go!” (1:9)
This is a key verse of the whole book. “Do not be afraid of the peoples there (west of the Jordan in Canaan), for the LORD your God will fight for you!” (Deuteronomy 3:22)
Why does Josua need the encouragement/challenge to be strong and courageous again and again?
God says 3 times in this chapter, which deals with Joshua’s calling and commission: “Be strong and courageous! (Josua1.6+7+9)
It was a great and difficult legacy to succeed the great Moses. Moses’ shoes and footprints were too big for Joshua.
That’s how I felt recently when I took on a new management position in Forum Wiedenest, taken over by someone with proverbially big feet and big footprints that he leaves behind. And I finally did it, with courage and humility. With courage, because I can do it on God’s behalf and with humility, because many things will be uncertain and challenging and I need the fulfillment of God’s promises. And Joshua 1:9 is our “Frankenberg verse” for Ulrike and me, which we have heard from God again and again since 2001 in our doubts and difficulties:
Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest. (Josua 1:9)
Human abilities are not the only thing that matters, but obedience and the decision to accept God’s calling and trust in the great God.
More important than a great faith is the belief in a great God and the willingness to go ahead with God!
Moses is not allowed to enter the land of Canaan:
“O Lord GOD, thou hast begun to shew thy servant thy greatness, and thy mighty hand: for what God is there in heaven or in earth, that can do according to thy works, and according to thy might? 25 I pray thee, let me go over, and see the good land that is beyond Jordan, that goodly mountain, and Lebanon. 26 But the LORD was wroth with me for your sakes, and would not hear me: and the LORD said unto me, Let it suffice thee; speak no more unto me of this matter. 27 Get thee up into the top of Pisgah, and lift up thine eyes westward, and northward, and southward, and eastward, and behold it with thine eyes: for thou shalt not go over this Jordan. 28 But charge Joshua, and encourage him, and strengthen him: for he shall go over before this people, and he shall cause them to inherit the land which thou shalt see.“ (Deuteronomy 3:24-28)
(Numbers 20:1-13: Moses once struck a rock at God’s command, and water flowed out for Israel. A second time, under pressure from the people, Moses repeated this, although God had told him, now only to that speaking to the rocks.” Because of this disobedience, Moses and Aaron were not allowed to go into the promised land.)
→ Disobedience, arbitrariness
→ We must take God and His words seriously!!
God cannot be mocked, nor can he be used. “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.) (Galatians 6:7)
For Israel it meant: Take possession of the land that I (God) already gave you! For them and us it means: Living on the promises of God, even if we are not concerned with property or land!! Accept it boldly and thrive in it – because God has given you so richly! Ephesians 1:3-5:
“3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, ”
God does not promise us any land or possessions on this earth, but the whole of heaven with everything that belongs to Jesus – right now! A legacy of hope and trust that is already secure today!
And God invites us to listen to Him, to trust Him and to live a full life today and tomorrow and until the end of our lives.
4. Which voice do you listen to?
“I can not”? Small faith, discouragement, fear (like the 10 spies)?
Or: Trust in God?! c
Here is the result of a large study in the USA: >Nothing has as great an impact on the spiritual growth of Christians as pondering the Bible. If churches could do just one thing to help people at every level of faith deepen their relationship with Jesus, the choice would be clear: they would invite, encourage, and equip their members to read the Bible.’
Romans 12:1+2: “1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God”
That was God’s order to Joshua and the whole people: orientate yourselves to my word, the Bible, and not to the standards of the Canaanites and their religions!
Decisive is your decision to listen to God’s Word, which we have in the Bible! (Josua 1:7-8)
“We will obey you as we obeyed Moses (really?)…” (1:16)
The key to Joshua’s success:
Joshua trusted and obeyed his God and submitted to HIM! And Joshua’s faith and obedience was a challenge and an example to Israel.
→ Be strong and courageous! (because you have a strong god!)
→ Be obedient to God and do what HE tells you!
→ Make God’s Word your foundation and standard! (Constantly reading and pondering God’s Word (1:8)
If we are to fulfill the tasks that God gives us, we must unreservedly agree to His plan, commit to obedience and put His principles into action!!!
Key words in the book of Joshua are: obedience, love and trust in God (23:11).
Read this book (Joshua and the whole Bible, God’s Word) and make a (new) decision today to obey God – whatever the cost to you!!!
And finally stop believing the voices that tell you: you can’t do it. You will not manage it!
I say (command) you: Be strong and courageous! Don’t be afraid and don’t despair. For I, the Lord your God, am with you wherever you go!” (1:9)