Faithlife Sermons

Trust And Obey Required Joshua 1b

Sermon  •  Submitted
0 ratings
Sermon Tone Analysis
View more →

Obedience Required

Joshua 1:10-18

Stephen Caswell © 1999

Obedience Required

Frank Sinatra

Recently the famous American singer Frank Sinatra died. For more than five decades he has been one of America's most popular entertainers. Perhaps he is best known for the song " My Way. " Apparently it has struck a responsive chord among his fans. What chord is that? Self - will. It's the dominant desire of human beings to do things their own way. And that's exactly how the song ends: " I did it my way. " In the ordinary affairs of life, the exercise of self-determination may be commendable. But in relationship to God, our way is never right. Our self will must submit to His will!



This morning we took a look at the commission God gave to Joshua after the death of Moses. We saw that God called Him to lead the children of Israel into the promised land. But so that Joshua would not be overwhelmed with the enormity of the task God provided three things for him so that he would be successful. Who can tell me the first provision? God's promises. What was the second provision? God's precepts. And who knows what the third provision was? God's presence.  

How did Joshua and Israel respond to God's command? How should we respond to God's commands? Tonight, I want to look at the response of Joshua and the people. God gave them a command to obey and we will see their response.

Joshua's Response

Firstly Joshua's response was Immediate

Joshua 1:10 Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people, saying,

Verse 10 of chapter one tells us how Joshua responded to God's commission. It begins with the word then. Joshua's response was immediate. He didn't need time to think about it. He didn't seek advice from some one else. He knew what God had said and immediately obeyed. The impression that you get from the first 9 verses is that Joshua lacked courage and was concerned about leading the people into the promised land. The responsibility leading 2 million people was no easy task. But God encouraged Joshua and promised him success if he would obey God's word.

The Jordan River

The one big problem that immediately confronted Joshua was the Jordan River. The Jordan River has some of the steepest banks of any river in the world. At this time it was in flood and presented quite an obstacle. How would he get some two million people and livestock across. There were no boats or bridges. Along with many women and children there were herds of cattle so they could not swim across. Humanly speaking this was an impossible situation. What would Joshua do.

Joshua's Response

Joshua had received God's commission and now he responded in faith. He believed that God would keep His promises to Abraham Isaac and Jacob. He believed the promise that God would be with him as He was with Moses. He did not doubt God's word, even though humanly speaking it seemed impossible to obey. Moses faced a similar obstacle when he began his ministry. Moses was confronted with the Red Sea and Pharoah's army. But Joshua took control of the leadership and the commands he gave just oozed with confidence. The timidity that he felt had been put aside and he took control of the situation. He did exactly what God commanded him to do. In fact the commands that Joshua gave were the same ones God had given to him.

In verse 11 you can see that Joshua relates this same urgency to the people. Joshua 1:11 Pass through the host, and command the people, saying, Prepare food supplies; for within three days ye shall pass over this Jordan, to go in to possess the land, which the LORD your God giveth you to possess it. Joshua did not put off  his response to God's command till after a committee had looked at it or till the weather was suitable for travelling. He acted quickly and told the people to get ready to move out. He also informed them the reason for the move. They were going to cross the Jordan River and possess the land of Canaan. Joshua had no doubts, but emphasised the fact that the Lord their God was giving it to them to possess.    

The result was that the people of Jericho saw God work miraculously on Israel's behalf. The Jordan River parted and they walked across. The waters started to recede after the priests put their feet into the river.



But how do we respond when God challenges you through the Bible or the preaching of the word. Do you immediately do what God has commanded you to do. Or do you procrastinate or say that you will do it later. Delayed obedience is disobedience. When God gives us a clear command we have no alternative but to obey.

But not only was Joshua's response Immediate, it was also Intelligent.       

Secondly Joshua responded  Intelligently  Joshua 1:10-11 says:


Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people, saying, Pass through the host, and command the people, saying, Prepare food supplies; for within three days ye shall pass over this Jordan, to go in to possess the land, which the LORD your God giveth you to possess it.

a. He used Delegation  v 10.

Joshua knew what God had commanded him to do. But he also knew that he could not accomplish the task on his own. After Joshua received the Lord's commission he immediately sent for the officers of the people. He commanded them to pass the word through the camp. The task was too much for one person. Joshua needed to share the responsibility and the work load. The word command or commanded is used six times in these nine verses. It ends with the peoples response to Joshua and their promise of allegiance.

Illustration from the V.B.S.

I learned an important lesson from our associate pastor regarding delegation. When we served on V.B.S. ministry we divided it up into areas such as crafts, music, teaching, memory verses, puppets, games, quizzes, etc. Each section had a leader and they were in charge of about 4 or 5 people. The leaders were then to keep the coordinator up to date on their area of ministry.  This enabled more people to be involved. It meant that things were done more thoroughly since they concentrated on their area. It kept a few people from being burned out. 

Moses and Jethro, The appointment of Rulers

Perhaps this was started after Moses took Jethro's advice when struggling under the load. [Ex 18:13-22] Moses at Jethro's advice set God fearing men as rulers over 1000s, 100s, 50s, and 10s. In the same way Joshua wisely organised his army through the officers of the people. From this passage we can see at least four levels of rank. God commanded Joshua, who in turn gave commands to the officers of the people, who in turn commanded the people. Good leadership requires delegation so the load is shared and all the people receive the benefit.


God uses the leaders in the church to equip all the saints for the ministry. The great commission is given to all believers, not just those in leadership.  Ephesians 4:11-12 says this: And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

b. He commanded Preparation v 11.  Josh 1:10-11 says


Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people, saying, Pass through the host, and command the people, saying, Prepare food supplies; for within three days ye shall pass over this Jordan, to go in to possess the land, which the LORD your God giveth you to possess it.

Joshua responded intelligently by commanding the people to prepare food supplies for their journey. God still provided manna for Israel, but that would not keep and had to be collected each day. So Joshua probably encouraged them to gather some fruit and grain from the plains of Moab. He gave the people time to prepare. They would also need to pack up camp and gather their livestock into herds. Joshua acted intelligently by using the officers to prepare the people for their journey. He encouraged them, telling them that the time to possess the land had come. The Lord their God was giving it to them now. He was fulfilling the promises He made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.     


When God commands us to do something, it is wise for us to prepare. This does not mean that we should only go ahead if we have enough resources. But we should prepare what we have at hand. When there is a need we must trust God to supply it and bring our requests to Him in faith. The people prepared food for the journey. They packed up their belongings and gathered their herds. But the problem of crossing the Jordan River would be trusted to God.

c. He commanded Unification v 12-15. Joshua 1:12-15 says


And to the Reubenites, and to the Gadites, and to half the tribe of Manasseh, spake Joshua, saying, Remember the word which Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, saying, The LORD your God hath given you rest, and hath given you this land. Your wives, your little ones, and your cattle, shall remain in the land which Moses gave you on this side Jordan; but ye shall pass before your brethren armed, all the mighty men of valour, and help them; Until the LORD have given your brethren rest, as he hath given you, and they also have possessed the land which the LORD your God giveth them: then ye shall return unto the land of your possession, and enjoy it, which Moses the LORD'S servant gave you on this side Jordan toward the sunrising.  

There are three important words in this passage, and they are remember, return and rest. Firstly Joshua reminded them of the promise that they had made to Moses, [Numbers 32:, Deut 3:18-20]. Because the Reubenites, Gadites and half the tribe Manasseh had a lot of cattle they asked for their inheritance on the former side of the Jordan River. The land was suitable and they asked Moses if this could be their inheritance. Moses said they could as long as their mighty men went with Israel to conquer the land. The women and children along with their herds and some of the men would stay behind. But all the mighty men were to go before Israel and be the advance guard. This was because they did not have to care for their families or herds. Joshua, like Moses, knew that they needed a united Israel in the campaign for Canaan. Working together enables the load to be shared and more is done.

Illustration of Wild Geese Flying Formation

Wildlife biologists tell us that a flock of geese, by fluing in a " V " formation, actually add at least 71 percent more flying range than if each bird were on its own. As each bird flaps its wings, it creates an updraught for the bird immediately following it. Left to itself, the lone goose experiences drag and resistance that causes it to tire quickly. When the lead bird in the formation tires, it simply rotates back in the wing and another goose flies the point.

The second word is rest. Joshua knew that if some the tribes were at rest on their land those still fighting would become discouraged. They should all enter into their rest at the same time after the land had been conquered. Then they could return to their properties and enjoy rest. So they had promised to do what Moses requested.  

The People's Response


We have seen how Joshua responded to God's command. He acted immediately. He wisely relayed God's word to the people. In the last three verses we see their response. Although this response is primarily from the 2 1/2 tribes it certainly reflected the attitude of all the people.

a. They Pledged Obedience to Joshua v16

Josh 1:16, 18a And they answered Joshua, saying, All that thou commandest us we will do, and wherever thou sendest us, we will go. Whosoever he be that doth rebel against thy commandment, and will not hearken unto thy words in all that thou commandest him, he shall be put to death:

They Became God's & Joshua's Servants

They promised complete obedience to Joshua's commands. This is emphasised by the all that you command us we will do, and the wherever you send us we will go. That's how servants talk. They caught on to what obedince lead to. Jeasus had this attitude [Phil 2:5-11].There were no conditions as long as God was with Joshua. [v17b.] Joshua could count on their full support. This is further highlighted in verse 18 where the death penalty would be applied to those who disobey. This might seem harsh but was necessary at the beginning of a military campaign. God previously acted strongly against rebellion when Korah stood against Moses.

The people recognised that disobedience to God's leader was really disobedience against God Himself. When you think back and remember how 40 years previously all Israel had rebelled against Moses and Aaron. God punished them by preventing them from entering the promised land. That generation of rebels all died in the wilderness. Joshua was present when that rebellion took place. I am sure that he would have been encouraged by this pledge of obedience to the Lord and himself.

The Problem of Disobedience at Jericho

Joshua experienced tremendous victories on the battlefield as a result of his obedience. The only time that Israel was defeated was when Achan disobeyed God's command in the battle of Jericho. Then as a nation they suffered defeat by the small City of Ai. The fact that one man's disobedience caused 36 men to die and brought defeat to Israel shows how serious God views it. Obedience brings blessing, disobedience cursing, there is no other option.

b. They Recognised Joshua's Leadership v17


Joshua 1:17 According as we hearkened unto Moses in all things, so will we hearken unto thee: only the LORD thy God be with thee, as he was with Moses.

As Moses was God's recognised leader, so was Joshua. Previously they had followed Moses and obeyed him, now they would obey Joshua, his divinely appointed successor. They acknowledged Joshua as God's leader. This must have encouraged Joshua greatly.  

c. They Encouraged Joshua v 17 b-18

Joshua 1:17 b-18  only the LORD thy God be with thee, as he was with Moses.  only be strong and of a good courage.

The people also encouraged Joshua to be strong and of good courage. This was what the Lord had told him three times in the first nine verses. They also prayed that the Lord would be with Him as He was with Moses. This morning we noted that the Lord had promised to be with Joshua as He was with Moses. [v 5].

The people had responded well to God's commands through Joshua. They had pledged obedience to the Lord's commands. They had recognised God's appointed leader. And they also encouraged Joshua by echoing God's promises to him. This encouraged Joshua greatly.



How do you respond to God's commands? Do you give complete obedience in response or are we unwilling to obey His commands to us?  Do you follow the leaders God has given you. Do you encourage them to be courageous, praying that the Lord will bless their ministry?


Tonight we have seen the response of Joshua and the people to the Lord's commands. We have seen how Joshua obeyed immediately and intelligently. We observed how the people were totally committed to do all that God told them through Joshua. And we saw the way that they prayed for Joshua and encouraged him in God's service. I trust that we will follow their example and step out in faith that God might do great things amongst us this year. That He might fulfil His plans through us to reach people in Orange.



Romans 16:25-27

Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began but now has been made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures has been made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith -- to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.  

Related Media
Related Sermons