“After the death of Moses the LORD’s servant, the LORD spoke to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ assistant. He said, “Moses my servant is dead. Therefore, the time has come for you to lead these people, the Israelites, across the Jordan River into the land I am giving them. I promise you what I promised Moses: ‘Wherever you set foot, you will be on land I have given you— from the Negev wilderness in the south to the Lebanon mountains in the north, from the Euphrates River in the east to the Mediterranean Sea in the west, including all the land of the Hittites.’ No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. For I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you. “Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.””
Joshua 1:1-9 NLT
“And the sun will rise again in the east.” It was something I use to say to my kids after they experienced a hard day or a tough loss. I.E. Their boyfriend or girlfriend broke up with them, they lost in the semifinals of state championships, or they broke a bone before a major contest in their life. My statement was my attempt to console them. Sometimes it helped and sometimes I got the teenage eye roll. What my kids didn’t get was I was hurting as much as they were. As their mom, I felt their pain and I just wanted to soothe their hurts. So I spoke a truth, “The sun will still come up in the morning.” I spoke it as a promise of hope.
Life throws us punches and sometimes those punches hit below the belt. They knock the breath out of you and kick you to your knees. Right off the bat beginning in Joshua 1, Joshua had just suffered a gut punch. His idol and his lifelong mentor had just died. Never again, would Joshua be able to walk into Moses’ tent and get advice. No longer would Joshua be able to tend to Moses’ needs while Moses received instruction from the Lord. This was now a cataclysmic moment for Joshua. His life and his relationship with the Lord God Almighty was shifting. Joshua was now the man with the plan. The Lord speaks to Joshua in his time of mourning for his longtime friend and counselor. The Lord gives Joshua an assignment. He gives Joshua his assignment. No longer would Joshua receive marching orders from Moses; Joshua was about to receive orders from God Himself, His Commander-in-Chief.
See the sun did come up again during Joshua’s dark days of mourning. The One who gives light to every man, pulled Joshua out of his gloom and gave Joshua an assignment designed especially and solely for him, “You are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors.” Twice the Lord commanded Joshua to be strong and courageous. The next thing Joshua was commanded to do was to obey all the instructions he had received from Moses. Then and only then would Joshua be successful and prosper in all he did.
Joshua had a daunting task set before. He was now to be leader of a stubborn and stiffnecked people. He did not have the availability to go and glean advice from his lifelong mentor. That person was dead now. It was on Joshua’s shoulder to take the land of promise, but before he did, God spoke to him and promised him, “For the LORD you God is with you wherever you go.
In the fall of 1621, 90 Wampanoag Indians and 52 English colonists gathered for a three day harvest feast. The winter of 1620 had been tough for the newly arrived English colonists. Many had died during the voyage over on the Mayflower. They ship landed at what became Plymouth, Massachusetts. The land was harsh and the winter had brought more deaths. The harvest of 1621 brought promise to the struggling colonists. William Bradford, the governor of Plymouth at that time organized a feast to celebrate the harvest. The indians had taught the pilgrims the best was to plant crops in this new land. That is why they were successful at harvest time. This feast has now become known as the first thanksgiving. It was a meal to commemorate surviving their first winter in this new land of America. They would offer thanks to the One who brought them through.
So why do I tie these two events together? They are the beginnings of a nation settling a land. It is the beginning of a nation making a home for itself. The beginnings of something new is never easy. It is a stage of trial and error, and it is only God who gets us through these times. They are birthing pains. Joshua and his nation, Israel would suffer through them, and our founding fathers suffered and learned from their mistakes also, but in the end it is always God who gets us through.
God will always cause the sun to come up in the east even after the darkest of nights.
“Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.” Psalm 100:4