Go Straight, not Left or Right

The children of Israel, God’s chosen people of old, were in captivity in Egypt. God sent his servant Moses to rescue them from their captivity, which he did. Then they wandered in the desert for 40 years under Moses’ leadership because of their rebellion against the Lord, although not all disbelieved God. Then, after all those who had rebelled via unbelief against God had died, and after Moses, God’s servant, had died, God chose Joshua to lead God’s people, his faithful remnant, over the Jordan into the Promised Land. The Lord then gave this promise to Joshua:

Joshua 1:3-5 ESV

“Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun shall be your territory. No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you.”

We, as God’s legitimate children today, must guard against arbitrarily taking God’s promises given to specific people at specific times in history and making them our own promises from God. Obviously most of this was very specific to Joshua and to the children of Israel at that time, other than perhaps just this last sentence, “I will not leave you or forsake you.” So, we can’t apply to ourselves what does not apply to ourselves.

But Moses had just died, and now Joshua was given the task to take the children of Israel into the Promised Land. And so these assurances of God’s watch and care and guidance, and that Joshua was moving in the right direction, and that he would be successful in what he was about to do, must have been very comforting to him. And when we are obeying the Lord and we are walking in his ways, we can take comfort that God is with us, too.

And if we are following in Jesus’ footsteps, and we are following his call on our lives, sometimes into the great unknown, we can take comfort that our Lord will not leave or forsake us. He will be with us every step of the way guiding, directing, comforting, urging, encouraging and sometimes rebuking, too, if we get off course, even a little. And he will be giving us all the strength and courage we need, too, to do what he has called us to do.

Joshua 1:6-9 ESV

“Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:6-9 ESV).

Okay, so what of these promises can we apply specifically to our lives today? Well, first of all we have to be in relationship with Jesus Christ, by God’s grace, and through genuine God-given faith in him, which dies with him to sin and lives to him and to his righteousness. So we must be those who have forsaken our sins to follow Jesus in obedience to his ways. Otherwise we don’t know the Lord and none of this applies to us (1 John 3:4-10).

“Be strong and courageous” can definitely be something we can apply to our lives. For the Christian life is a hard life, a life of suffering and sacrifice and humbling ourselves before the Lord and surrendering our lives to him. And we will face hardships and trials and persecutions which have come to test our faith. And we will have enemies who will come against us and oppose us, and so to move forward and not backward will sometimes require that we are very strong and courageous – but in the strength and power of God.

Now it says here to be careful to do all the law of Moses, but that was Old Covenant, and now we are under the New Covenant. But that does not make us lawless. For under the New Covenant we still have to obey our Lord’s commandments (New Covenant) which are spelled out for us all throughout the New Testament. Primarily we have to forsake our sins (repent) and now walk in obedience to our Lord and to his commands, which is the essence of the gospel message (Romans 6:1-23; Ephesians 4:17-24; Romans 8:1-14).

Now our Lord’s instructions are written down for us in the Scriptures. And whatever we the body of Christ are taught in the New Testament, or in the Old Testament, as it agrees with New Covenant teaching, we must obey it. And so we are not to turn from it either to the right or to the left – either in the direction of legalism or in the direction of libertinism, which is where most people are today, at least here in America. But we must follow the Scriptures (in context) and not stray from the commands of our God.

And the word of God must not depart from our mouths, but not just from our mouths but not from our hearts and actions. All throughout the New Testament we are being encouraged to be the Lord’s witnesses, and to be sharing the gospel with people, and to be encouraging the saints of God – speaking truth to one another in love, urging one another to follow the Lord Jesus in obedience and in the forsaking of our sins. And we are to exhort one another daily so that none of us may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.

And we are not to be frightened by anyone who opposes us or who fights against us or who thinks we are crazy and out of touch with reality because we are not like the world, but we are different, because we are being conformed to the likeness of Christ. For if we are with God, obeying him, doing what he says, and not doing what he says we should not do, in practice, then he is with us wherever we go. So don’t let humans intimidate you. Go with God and follow him wherever he leads, even if sometimes you have to stand alone.

[Matt 7:21-23; Matt 24:9-14; Lu 9:23-26; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14,24; Rom 12:1-2; Rom 13:11; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; 1 Co 1:18; 1 Co 15:1-2; 2 Tim 1:8-9; Heb 9:28; 1 Pet 1:5; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 2:8-10; Eph 4:17-32; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-17; 1 Pet 2:24; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6,24-25; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 3:6,14-15; Heb 10:23-31; Heb 12:1-2; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]

Only Hope

By Jonathan Foreman

I give you my destiny
I’m giving you all of me
I want your symphony
Singing in all that I am
At the top of my lungs
I’m giving it my all

So, I lay my head back down
And I lift my hands and pray
To be only yours I pray
To be only yours I pray
To be only yours
I know now you’re my only hope

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