Obedience and Presence

Two principles of success from Joshua 1:7-9

Joshua 1 presents a pivotal moment in biblical history, where lessons from Israel’s past illuminate the path of our present walk with God. We're looking at God's commissioning of Joshua, an event that reveals important principles about the nature of true success and the role of God’s presence in our lives. In Joshua 1:7-9, we encounter a divine mandate that sets the tone for Joshua's leadership and, indeed, for our understanding of what it means to thrive under God's direction.

Obedience as the Foundation

Above all, be strong and very courageous to observe carefully the whole instruction my servant Moses commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right or the left, so that you will have success wherever you go, Joshua 1.7
Joshua's commission is clear: obedience to the law is paramount. This isn't a mere adherence to rules—it's about aligning his life with the will and wisdom of God, much like the blessed individual in Psalm 1, whose delight is in the law of the Lord. For Joshua, this is not something abstract—it has real-world implications as he leads Israel to claim and prosper in the Promised Land.

The call to obedience is also a call to trust. By following God's commands, Joshua demonstrates his faith that the pathway God laid out is indeed the path to victory. It's a trust that God's way, though it may be fraught with challenges, is ultimately the way of triumph.

The Assurance of God's Presence

Verse 9 brings us to the crux of God's promise to Joshua: The Lord your God is with you wherever you go. This is the personal assurance of God's unfailing presence. It is a divine guarantee that Joshua's efforts and obedience are undergirded by the steadfast companionship of the Father Himself.
The phrase wherever you go is the assurance of God's active, empowering presence. Joshua's success doesn't hinge on his own capabilities but on the Lord who stands with him, providing the strength to act in obedience.

Divine Promise and Human Leadership

The repetition of wherever you go is significant. It binds God's promise of presence to Joshua's leadership, ensuring that as Joshua leads, he does not do so alone. God’s presence is the guarantee of both obedience and prosperity. It's not merely about following the law; it's about following the law with the empowering presence of the Giver of the law.

Applying Joshua's Lessons Today

What does this mean for us? Like Joshua, we are called to a life of obedience—not out of fear, but out of trust in God's perfect will. Everything that we do in obedience is fueled and sustained by the Spirit, Ephesians 3.16-20. See the pattern established throughout the New Testament:
  • Philippians 2.12 - work out your salvation, but remember it is God who is at work in you, 2.13.
  • Romans 8.13a - put to death the deeds of the body, and do it by the Spirit, Romans 8.13.
  • Ephesians 6.10 - because you are strengthened by the Lord and by his vast strength, you can stand against the schemes of the devil, 6.11.

God is always at work renewing our spirit. Several New Testament passages speak of "renewing" one's mind, Romans 12.1-2, or the "renewal" of one's inner being, 2 Corinthians 4.16. Both usages describe renewal as a regular, daily process that happens gradually over time. Such renewal necessarily requires an external power source, as we cannot renew ourselves. We must participate, but our strength alone is insufficient. The Christian is described as "constantly being renewed" toward a complete knowledge of God.

We are assured that in our own "battles" and "conquests"—be they personal, professional, or spiritual—we are accompanied by the presence of God. Our success, too, is conditioned upon our faithfulness to God's direction and the assurance that He is with us at every step.
I am sure of this, that he who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus, Philippians 1:6

Two Principles That Will Help You Thrive

The story of Joshua teaches us that obedience and divine presence are principles upon which our success rests. We are called to be diligent in following God's word, immersing ourselves in His truth, and walking in His ways. And as we do so, we are empowered by the presence of God, who provides the grace and strength needed to live according to His will.
As you reflect on your spiritual life, remember that the Lord is with you wherever you go. In your obedience, find strength in His promise, and may your life be a testament to the faithfulness of God, who not only gives the law but also walks with you, enabling you to live it out.

May your path from fear to faith be paved with the assurance of God's presence and the steadfastness of your obedience.

Matthew Allen

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