Life contains many momentous transitions.
Think about a newborn’s arrival and how that completely changes everything for parents. What about when the child begins to potty-train? Batten down the hatches! There are plenty of other significant life transitions: college, moving, marriage, divorce, remarriage, chronic illness, a loved one’s death, job loss, career change, etc. (Let’s not even discuss puberty!)
Deuteronomy 31 highlights a significant transition in ancient Israel in the form of new leadership. For over forty years, Moses had faithfully led God’s people, bringing them from Egypt to Canaan’s doorstep. Now, it was Joshua’s turn to lead Israel into the promised land. Look at what God said during Joshua’s commissioning:
“These people will soon prostitute themselves with the foreign gods of the land they are entering. They will abandon me and break the covenant I have made with them. My anger will burn against them on that day; I will abandon them and hide my face from them so that they will become easy prey. Many troubles and afflictions will come to them” (Deuteronomy 31:16–17).
Not exactly a pep talk! This news, coupled with Moses’s impending death (v.16), must have weighed heavily upon Joshua’s heart. But before Joshua left, God exhorted him, “Be strong and courageous, for you will bring the Israelites into the land I swore to them, and I will be with you” (v.23).
God called Joshua to trust and obey Him. He redirected Joshua’s attention to His promise and His loving character. In essence, God was telling Joshua, “The outcome is my responsibility. Your responsibility is how you respond throughout.”
A Joshua-like response is easier said than done, isn’t it? We are sight-driven, results-oriented people. We prefer dealing in tangible, quantifiable matters—things we can directly influence.
Trust is much harder. Trust often feels vague and undefined. Trusting in God requires us to relinquish control. We usually treat trust as an escape pod: “Use only in case of emergency!”
Yet, God still calls His people today to trust and obey Him, based on His unchanging promises and character. Trust and obedience prompt us to pray. They stymie selfish plans. They nail pride to the cross.
Hebrews 13:5–6 reminds us, “He himself has said, ‘I will never leave you or abandon you.’ Therefore, we may boldly say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’”
Joshua surely knew this to be true about God’s character. He probably didn’t grasp the full redemptive significance of his efforts—how one day, God’s Messiah would come from land he helped conquer, or how that Savior would bear Joshua’s Hebrew name: Yeshua, which was translated into the Greek Iesous, the name Jesus, meaning “the Lord saves.”
Joshua didn’t know the final outcome, but he trusted and obeyed. God calls us to do the same amid life’s perplexing transitions, trials, and decisions. We can do so knowing He is always faithful to His promises and His loving character.