Today’s bible study is Joshua 1:8: Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.
In this difficult and extremely dated passage, we have to begin by understanding that Moses had to have died before Joshua and the Israelites could go into the Promised Land since God had already told Moses that Moses would not enter the Promised Land. This was because he had not obeyed God. The Israelites had to enter the Promised Land to know completely the goodness of God. Many Christians are like this. Paul wrote, ‘You must not live as you used to live. You must leave behind your old character. It made you live that bad life. The bad things that you did were hurting you. You must have a new mind. You must put on the new character that is like God’s holy character. You must only do the things that are good and holy.
The death of Moses brought with it new opportunities for the people of God. Until now, Joshua had only been a helper. He was the assistant to Moses. Now he had new responsibilities. It was important that he accepted these responsibilities. God’s work could not continue until Joshua accepted his new responsibilities. God could not bless his people until Joshua led them into the Promised Land. God brought them out to bring them in. So it is with us. We must not expect other people to do all the work. God calls each one of us to work for him. .In verses 1-9 God gave Joshua three very important things to do: Lead the people into the Promised Land, defeat the enemies that lived in the country, and believe that God would do good things for the Israelites
These were heavy burdens to be laid upon Joshua. Not only was he asked by God to lead his people to the Promised Land, but also to defeat enemies that lived in the country and to believe that God would do good things for the Israelites. On top of all that, Joshua was cautioned to keep the Book of the Law always with him and to meditate upon it so that he might be careful to do everything that was written in it. These are extremely difficult things to accomplish. We can all count our blessings that we have not been called upon to do what Joshua had to do.
A bit of history might help to put today’s verse into context for a better and more complete understanding, but the words still must be dealt with. The laws that existed in the time of Moses are a part of the Old Testament in the Book of Leviticus. These laws are harsh, ancient, and replaced with far more modern thinking in most circles of our society. We no longer stone people for committing adultery or for partnering with a person of the same sex. Many of us, as good Christians, eat forbidden foods, although some Jewish people still abide by these dietary laws. But there are laws that we can follow and that we can keep with us every moment of our lives and meditate upon in our hearts whenever we have a moment of silence in which to commune with the Almighty.
We are mixing a bit of Old and New Testament law, but it seems only right to do so since Jesus dramatically changed the God of vengeance of the Old Testament to a loving and forgiving God of the New Testament. Jesus taught love above all else – love for God the Father and love for our brothers and sisters on earth.
Shall we be called upon to lead people? Probably we won’t. Can we eat barbecue without fear of retribution? Probably we can. But we can never forsake the love and goodness brought to us through the miraculous birth of Jesus Christ, and the greatest commandment of all: to love our neighbors as ourselves. Is this the key to prosperity and success? It may be.
References: The People’s New Testament Commentary by M. Eugene Boring and Fred B. Craddock, The MacArthur Bible Commentary by John MacArthur, Concise Bible Commentary, David S. Dockery, General Editor
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