Monday 27 August 2018

Bible Book:

“As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you.” (v. 5b)

Joshua 1:1-11 Monday 27 August 2018

Psalm: Psalm 124



These opening verses in the book of Joshua mark two moments of transition in this part of Israel’s story. The first is the immanent crossing of the river Jordan, which forms a boundary between the desert and the land of Canaan, which God has promised to give to Israel. The second transition is from Moses’s leadership to Joshua’s. Moses led the people out of Egypt and through the desert and in the establishment there of a covenant-relationship with God. Moses has died – before the crossing of the Jordan and occupation of Canaan. Therefore, much of what we see in this passage is the confirmation of Joshua, Moses’ assistant, as his successor: to stand in the same role of leader, intermediary and representative person for Israel, God’s chosen people. To Joshua, and through him to Israel at this moment of new beginning for the nation, God declares “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you” (v. 5).

“I will be with you” is an important phrase throughout the scriptures. When God is ‘with’ a person or a whole people, they are definitively accepted by God and belong to God. The phrase carries a deeper meaning than simple companionship or presence. It carries a sense of God’s saving grace, and capacity to transform or redeem whatever the person thus claimed might face. It is the same phrase by which God earlier claimed and established Moses (Exodus 3:12). It is spoken in the face of fear (Isaiah 41:10); it counters a sense of inadequacy (Exodus 4:10-12); it speaks of God’s presence in moments of peril (Isaiah 43:2).

It is not surprising, then, that the phrase “I will be with you” and its associated meanings is also drawn on to describe Jesus as “God-with-us” (“Emmanuel” in Hebrew) in the New Testament (Matthew 1:23). And it is present too in Jesus’ final words to his disciples as he commissions them to be heralds of the good news of God’s grace for the whole inhabited earth: “And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).


To Ponder

  • Do you understand God to be ‘with’ you? What does that mean to you?
  • Do you ever pray that God will be ‘with’ a person or people you are praying for? What are you asking of God in that prayer?
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