"...After the death of Moses..."
When I think about Moses I don't picture Charlton Heston or Christian Bale. I picture Gandalf. They both have white beards, wear a robe, carry a powerful staff and use the word "shall" like a boss. "Thou shall not steal" and "You shall not pass." Something else the two of them have in common is unmistakable names. No one says Moses who? Gandalf who? They are unforgettable.
Moses was Israel's greatest hero. After Israel experienced four hundred years of slavery, Moses came to save the day. An estimated two million Jews owed their lives and freedom to the man whom God empowered to perform superhero sized miracles. No one was going to forget about Moses any time soon.
Imagine the pressure Joshua must feel. Stepping into the sandals that walked on dry ground when The Red Sea parted like Nicholas Cage's hair. H2O became H2 Ohhh as God caused the Red Sea to become walls of water. Think about all the miracles those sandals experienced. The burning bush, the ten plagues of Egypt, the presence of God on Mount Sinai, not wearing out after forty years in the desert. I don't think I've ever had a pair of shoes last more than a year and based on the number of shoes my wife owns you would think none of them last more than a week.
How could anyone possibly follow in Moses' footsteps? It would be similar to Superman dying and now you're responsible for wearing the cape. How could you possibly do justice to the S on that chest? How could you possibly live up to the name? He's super, you're ordinary.
I remember how nervous I was to preach for the first time. My senior pastor was a master communicator (and not just because he had his masters degree). He never used notes, he was so encouraging he could tell you your breath stank and some how you would feel good about it. I once heard him preach from one of the Bible's family tree sections, you know the list of obscure names most of us skip over? Some how he made it interesting. I didn't feel worthy to be on the same stage as him. I was so nervous I read my notes the whole time. The only compliment I got was that I had a good reading voice. That was not what I wanted to hear as an aspiring preacher.
What I didn't know was that he would leave in a few short years and I would inherit that stage. I would continue the mission he began. I would step into his shoes.
What Joshua needed to keep in mind was that this was God's mission not Moses'. Moses led Israel out of Egypt. Now Joshua needed to piggy back on that mission and lead Israel into the promised land.
In Coldplay's newest song, "Something just like this," They sing:
I've been reading books of old
The legends and the myths
Achilles and his gold
Hercules and his gifts
And Batman with his fists
And clearly I don't see myself upon that list
Most people feel like they don't belong on the list of heroes. Who am I to step into Moses' sandals?
When the ordinary rise
they lead extraordinary lives.
Do you want to lead people towards an extraordinary life?
Do you want to continue God's mission on planet earth?
Do you want to continue what the previous generations started?
The beginning of Joshua starts with the ending of Moses.
The man he looked up to was now in the rearview mirror.
Just because you're valuable doesn't mean you're not vulnerable.
The man who spoke for God was now silent. The man who stirred a nation was now still.
The one who defied nature couldn't defy death.
A generation of modern day heroes is dying.
Are you ready to step into their shoes?