Have you ever notice that so much of what we do is easier when someone helps? That’s pretty obvious with the big things like building a house, getting an education, running a business, or raising a family. It’s even true of more trivial things like doing the dishes or making a bed. Pulling together just makes life better and more enjoyable.
This is not surprising. Solomon noted, “Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts. For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up. Also, if two lie down together, they can keep warm; but how can one person alone keep warm? And if someone overpowers one person, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not easily broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12) Life is just easier when someone helps.
In Joshua 1, Joshua has been given the task of leading the Israelites into the Promised Land. The story begins with God encouraging Joshua concerning the task ahead of him. It was an enormous one. The people already living in the land God gave to Abraham were not prepared to pack up and move out. Rather they were equipped to fight and Joshua knew that. Though he was God’s man called to the job, Joshua was going to need help.
As the story continues Joshua called on the camp commanders to get the people ready. As well, he reminded the tribes of Gad and Reuben, and half of the tribe of Manasseh that they were to get their troops ready for battle. Why the special words to the two and a half tribes? God had given them an inheritance on the east side of the Jordan while the rest of the Israelites would live on the west side. However, God placed one condition on the two and half, they had to take the lead marching into the battle for the Promised Land. To this they agreed and the day had come for them to keep their promise. With a pledge and condition they did. “They answered Joshua, “Everything you have commanded us we will do, and everywhere you send us we will go. 17We will obey you, just as we obeyed Moses in everything. And may the Lord your God be with you, as He was with Moses. 18Anyone who rebels against your order and does not obey your words in all that you command him, will be put to death. Above all, be strong and courageous!” (Joshua 1:16-18).
Five years later the battles were over. Joshua successfully led the Israelites and the Promised Land was secured. In Joshua 22, Joshua released the two and a half to go home. Joshua commended them saying, “You have done everything Moses the Lord’s servant commanded you and have obeyed me in everything I commanded you. You have not deserted your brothers even once this whole time but have carried out the requirement of the command of the Lord your God. Now that He has given your brothers rest, just as He promised them, return to your homes in your own land that Moses the Lord’s servant gave you across the Jordan. Only carefully obey the command and instruction that Moses the Lord’s servant gave you: to love the Lord your God, walk in all His ways, keep His commands, remain faithful to Him, and serve Him with all your heart and all your soul.” (Joshua 2:2-5)
Time for some truths from this story. Life is easier when we pull together. This story has a more direct application than just life in general. This is the story of God’s people pulling together, following the leader that God called to move them forward. It is the story of how the church must work together.
Note that the leader reminded his people of a promise they had made. God’s leaders must continue to do this. We live in a day when whatever a person feels is right seems to be accepted as right. But Christians must remember that as God’s people they have promised to follow Christ. One might say they don’t recall making such a promise. But you did. You say that you love the Lord and are so grateful for what He has done for you. Jesus said, “If you love me you will keep My commandments.” (John 14:15) Are you keeping His commandments written in His Word, the Bible? If you say you love Him than this is the promise you have made. If you do no keep them, if you purposely and without remorse go against Jesus’ commands then it stands to reason that you do not love Him.
As well there is a word in this story for leaders. The two and a half tribes said they would follow and fight with Joshua as they did for Moses. Then they called on Joshua to be strong and courageous. They needed to know that their new leader was trusting in the Lord just as their former had.
In this day of debate and opinions, and moral and ethical dilemmas congregations need to know that their leader will lead with courage and faithfulness. Pastors and other church leaders must be ready to lead regardless of the risk. As Christians see their leaders standing strong this will encourage them to do the same.
Christians must pull together. Battles loom and the Enemy is not hiding. The days ahead will be challenging but the battle belongs to the Lord. As He told Moses, so He says to the 21st Century Church, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Numbers 31:6)
The Promise Land lies ahead and the journey to it will be worth all it takes to get there. Until you arrive, be strong and courageous and do all that you have promised to do.