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Constant Change July 14, 2010

Posted by theronwatson in Uncategorized.
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Joshua 1
As the story goes, after many years of oppression, the Israelites escaped Egypt in dramatic fashion led by God and His servant Moses. They crossed the Red Sea. They made their way to Canaan. They were supposed to follow God’s leadership and go in, inhabit the land, convert other nations to become followers of their God and live happily ever after. That is not how it went. The people did not go into the land and were disobedient toward God, so He made them wander in the desert for 40 years to eliminate the disobedient generation. Here in the first chapter of Joshua, Moses has died and Joshua is about to take over in the role of leadership. A new generation has come. A new beginning is taking place.
Forty years is a long time. The people who are now the elders of the Israelites were only small children when they crossed the Red Sea if they saw it at all. They wouldn’t remember all the miracles God performed. They had never eaten anything but manna and possibly quail. They had never seen the Promise Land. They had never been there. The last time the people (their parents and grandparents) were supposed to enter it they didn’t and were sent to wander. There were perhaps a few people who saw some of the events unfold. But, by and large there was a whole new generation of people that were about to enter the Land.
The only leader this new generation had ever known was Moses. Here in this first chapter of Joshua, Moses has died. This would have been quite a shock to the people. Their leader, God’s chosen ambassador, the one who came down the mountain with face aglow and carrying stone tablets containing the very Word of God, the one who spoke for God, the one who told them what to do. Moses was their link to God. Now he was gone and some new guy was supposed to lead them. Questions would have been numerous. His qualifications would have been called into question. His resume’ examined. How were they to know he was the right man for the job? So many changes.
Change is almost always viewed negatively. After all, if a system is working it would not need to change. So, the fact that it is changing means it does not work. No one likes to admit they are wrong. Nor does anyone like to follow a faulty system. Change reveals our own inability to recognize something as broken. Our willingness to follow a broken system reveals our inability to fix it.
Change is uncomfortable. The simplest way to understand this is moving. Ask anyone if they like to move. Most do not. In fact, people will avoid moving at all costs. I know people who have lived in the same town all their lives. They have lived in the same house so many years it is referred to by their last names. There is something to be said about putting down roots. There is something else to be said about a person who refuses an opportunity because they don’t want to move. Moving requires work. More importantly it requires an emotional connection be severed to the thing that has been known for so long and grown comfortable with. With change comes fear and anxiety. For example, look at moving again. In the house you are in, you know where everything goes. You can find your way in the dark. You know what needs to be done, all the little pet projects. You know your neighbors. You know the yard and the neighborhood and each tree and grass blade. Leaving that behind would be difficult. What will the new house be like? What about the neighbors, the road, the yard, the roof, etc, etc? Where would I put the cups and dishes? We had four small bedrooms in our last house. We have three bedrooms in our new house. Where does the extra stuff go?
In this passage, the Israelites are about to experience some dramatic changes. The first time they were to enter the land, they were persuaded not to and wound up wondering for forty years. This time, a new generation who knew very little to nothing about the events of the past were now going to enter. The stage was set for another choice to change or not. They could have refused. They had never seen the land. They had never been there before. There was fear and anxiety. There were so many questions. But, God called them to it. He promised them He would never leave them, nor forsake them. He inspired them to be bold and courageous. God called them to the changes He wanted them to make. Their time had come to enter the land.
God calls us to make changes also. He calls the church to adapt to the changing times. He calls us to adapt our message to the new generation without compromising the message. He calls for changes in our personal lives. He calls us to give up old habits. He calls us to strange lands to be His representatives. He calls us to move and change. God calls, we answer. Change is difficult, but with God it can be done and is the right thing to do.
Be strong and courageous.

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