You know how when you make a big transition in your life, like maybe moving away to college or getting a job somewhere away from home and having to move because of it, or even just going on a long trip, typically someone you know, a loved one, gets a little emotional and says a sappy goodbye? Maybe they offer up to you some advice even? And usually someone cries?
On move-in day at college it was definitely one of those sappy goodbyes. My mom was a little emotional over the fact that her youngest daughter was moving out and living on her own an hour away at college. There were a few tears shed.
We’ve all seen it on TV in reality shows and in movies. These kinds of things are nothing new to us. BUT, that’s not what we are going to talk about today. We aren’t interested in that sappy stuff right now.
We are going to look at the farewell message that Joshua made to Israel when his time was up and he was at a ripe old age. He didn’t get sad because he was going to miss leading the Israelites, he didn’t just feel that saying a “goodbye” and then letting it go was the right kind of thing either. No, Joshua felt he needed to remind the Israelites of the things they accomplished, give them advice, and encourage them to keep on going and living for the Lord! Personally, I experienced a similar farewell in my own life.
I remember when I was leaving for college I was talking with Pastor Carrie and asked her for advice for a teenager going off to college. She told me to make sure I continued to make connections with people of all ages, to place a high value on multi-generational relationships, and to keep pursuing God and the promises He has made. Unknowingly, she reminded me of all the things I accomplished throughout the past few years. She encouraged me to never forget that. And since she told me that, it has stuck with me since I left for college. There were no tears in our farewell, but just strong advice given and a lot of encouragement. There could have been tears, there could have been a sappy goodbye, after all, I had just spent the entire summer as her intern and had been with her in ministry since I started attending PAG. Unlike Joshua, however, I would still have contact with Pastor Carrie.
But you see friends, this could have been the same with the Israelites. Joshua had just finished leading this group of people for a lot longer than just one summer! He could have gotten a little sappy, even if there were some frustrations along the way. But instead, he remained strong.
Joshua wanted to remind the Israelites of all they had done; that what they had done was for God. He wanted to bring back to their memory several points about their history; that it was God’s plan, not theirs, that it was God’s power, not theirs, and that the promises are from God, and He is going to fulfill them in His time. Joshua didn’t just stop there though, he kept going.
He wanted to give them advice on how to keep God central in their lives. He knew he wouldn’t be there to push them or challenge them anymore, but wanted to at least leave one last word of wisdom that might give them a little kick to remember that God needs to be first. The one thing that He put the biggest emphasis on, I think, is to serve the Lord.
Joshua’s entire life, as he was leading Israel, is a clear example of what it meant to “Serve the Lord”. He spent his time serving God and helping the Israelites. He declared God central in his life. He didn’t let himself get caught up in the things of this world, the mistakes he made, the things that went wrong… He simply pursued God with a burning passion. He prayed boldly and he prayed boldly in front of others. He recognized that God is the God of the impossible, the God that delights in impossibilities. Joshua did not let anything stand in his way when it came to serving the Lord.
Friends, Joshua longed for the Israelites to know God and experience God the same way he did. He wanted them to thirst and hunger for God so much that nothing else would satisfy. He wanted them to see that God was going to fulfill the promises He made and that they could not give up. He wanted to encourage them to be obedient and serve the Lord.
We need to be like that friends. We need to be a generation that thirsts and hungers for God so much that the things of this world are no longer appealing. We need to be a generation that recognizes God as the God of the impossible. Lastly, we need to be a Church that serves God with everything we have.
We need to step out and be a Joshua. We need to encourage each other just like Joshua did with the Israelites. We need to remind each other of the victories we have in the Lord… just like Joshua. We need to serve God… just like Joshua. With everything we have.
Listen to Pastor Aaron’s sermon: “Joshua: Courage Unleashed: Final Instructions,” http://painesvilleag.com/joshua to learn of the advice Joshua left for the Israelites to help remind them, encourage them, and push them to serve the Lord. Are you ready to accept this challenge Joshua has placed before us?
College Student, Blogger, Writer