God said, “This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth; you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to act in accordance with all that is written in it.” (Joshua 1:8)
Joshua was selected by God to take over after Moses’ death. Because none of the Hebrews who had been slaves in Egypt were to still be alive when they entered, Joshua was leading an entirely different group of people than the ones who had been at Sinai when the 10 Commandments were given. And because both Moses and Aaron were included among those who would die before entering, this new group of people is also traveling with new leadership.
But that doesn’t mean that God’s overarching desires and commitments have changed. The law, given at Sinai, was to be a sign of the people’s connection to God. That covenant would remain in place as this band of travelers prepared to enter the Promised Land. And the criteria for leadership would also remain. God speaks to Joshua and the verse at the top of this article declares God’s standards for leadership are awareness of the law, a willingness to take it deep within, and a taking care to be faithful to it in all things. Because Moses had been disobedient and insolent, God wants to start off on the right foot with everything clear for Joshua. This next chapter would need to go better.
Of course, Joshua would lead the people into the land and the battles with the previous residents would eventually lead to the establishment of Israel as a people and as a nation. While the Exodus under Moses is story that moves toward freedom, the entrance into the land under Joshua is a story that establishes property rights – a sign of legitimacy for the people. Joshua would be lifted up as a courageous and important figure in Israel’s history.
While there is much to say about Joshua and the battles to take the land, perhaps the key things to think about this week are shaped by the fact that Sunday will be All Saints Sunday. It is a day to remember those who have gone before us and what they have done to ensure that the faith has been passed on to people like us. Just as Joshua was urged to remain faithful and devoted to God’s Word, many of our ancestors remained committed and faithful in their own times and places. Just as Joshua was called to be courageous and take bold actions, many of our forbearers acted with courage and boldness in their settings as well.
A reason to study people like Joshua in scripture and to remember the saints in our own lives is the impact they can have on us. Gratitude for their witness and work can (and should) remind us of the importance people have, not only in their own time but also for generations to come. You and I are the saints of today and will be remembered some All Saints Day down the road. It is important for us to dwell in God’s Word, commit to being faithful disciples, and act with courage and boldness to face the challenges we face in our time. Who knows, some day in the future someone may be remembering each of us with thanksgiving – glad for the hard work we have done in our time to be faithful as well!