THEME: The Need for Obedience
This week’s lessons conclude the account of the southern and northern campaigns, and show us the necessity of committed obedience to God in all things.
In some ways, at least as his story is told to us, Joshua was not a spectacular individual. At least he did not have a lot of spectacular experiences. There were miracles, of course, but basically, Joshua was a soldier. He was told what to do, and he did it. His strength was found in that, and that kind of obedience is a great thing.
Summarizing the character of this remarkable man, Joshua 11:15 says, “As the Lord commanded His servant, Moses, so Moses commanded Joshua. And Joshua did it. He left nothing undone of all that the Lord commanded Moses.” I guess there are times in our lives when you and I would like to see the glory of God and be able to reflect that to others. And there’s a sense in which we do that as Christians. I know there are times when we like to be the channel of some miraculous thing. And maybe that can happen from time to time. But most of us are called to be Joshuas. We’re soldiers in the army of God, and we are told to do everything that God says, just as Joshua did. Wouldn’t it be a wonderful thing if that could be said of us? When we came to the end of our lives and people summed up what our lives have accomplished, wouldn’t it be wonderful if they would say of us, “That person left nothing undone of all the Lord commanded him or her to do?”
There’s an interesting feature of this that is worth pointing out. What Joshua is commended for here is not obedience to what he received from God in a very direct and supernatural way. Instead, Joshua is commended for obeying what God told Moses and Moses told him. It was a mediated assignment. The reason I say that’s important is because that’s the way we get our assignment. God doesn’t speak to us directly, but He speaks to us through the Word, having caused that to be written down by others to whom He spoke directly. So when we carry this over into our experience, we ought to be able to say, “We have left nothing undone of all the Lord commanded us to do through Moses, or David, or Isaiah, or Daniel, or Matthew, or Luke, or John, or Paul, or any other biblical writer.”
What is it that we should do? Let me suggest a few things. First, I think of that exchange that took place between Jesus and the people of His day, which is recorded in John 6. The people had seen Him do a great miracle in feeding a large multitude, and they followed Him around the lake. In the midst of their attempt at political manipulation, they did have a very pertinent question. They said to Him, “What should we do that we might do the works of God?” It’s a very interesting kind of question. That is a question that people have if they begin to think about spiritual things at all. In verses 28 and 29, Jesus replied, “This is the work of God that you might believe on Him whom He has sent.”
If you’re talking about salvation, God isn’t interested in what you can do. God is interested in what He has done in Christ. And what He calls upon you to do is believe in Jesus. Do you really believe in Jesus wholeheartedly? One thing that’s wrong with so many people that attend so many churches is that they dabble in Christianity. They look at it more or less as a seminar you attend in order to get what might be helpful in terms of your particular problem. Of course they hear about Jesus, and if you ask them if they believe that Jesus is the Son of God and the Savior, they would say that they do. But they don’t believe it enough to change their life and follow Him, which is to say that in the biblical sense they don’t believe at all. If you really believe that Jesus is the Son of God and the Savior, by that very definition you have to regard Him as the Lord whom you must follow. And if you’re not following Him, you’re not really believing that He is your Lord in a personal sense.
So, what I encourage you to do first of all is if you have heard these things and been toying with them and have not totally committed your whole life to them, then let what was said of Joshua be true of you. May you leave nothing undone of all that was required concerning belief in Jesus Christ. Make it the determination of your heart that you’re going to receive Him as your Savior and follow Him as Lord wholeheartedly, now and forever.
From the lesson, we learn what verse Dr. Boice considers to best summarize Joshua’s character. What does this verse teach that is so important?
What does Dr. Boice mean when he speaks of obedience that is a result of revelation that comes through a “mediated assignment” as opposed to revelation given directly from God? From which of these two does our obedience come?
Are there any areas in your life where you have been struggling to obey God? What steps do you need to take to change this?
If you really believe that Jesus is the Son of God and the Savior, by that very definition you have to regard Him as the Lord whom you must follow. And if you’re not following Him, you’re not really believing that He is your Lord in a personal sense.