An Example — Joshua 1:1–9
We have mentioned Joshua 1:1—9 several times already. Let’s make the formal trip from this Old Testament passage to life today to illustrate how the Interpretive Journey works.
The passage is as follows:
1After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: 2“Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites. 3I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. 4Your territory will extend from the desert and to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Mediterranean Sea on the west. 5No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. 6Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.
7“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 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. 9Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Step 1: What did the text mean to the biblical audience?
The Lord commanded Joshua, the new leader of Israel, to draw strength and courage from God’s empowering presence, to be obedient to the law of Moses, and to meditate on the law so that he would be successful in the conquest of the Promised Land.
Step 2: What are the differences between the biblical audience and us?
We are not leaders of the nation Israel (although some of us may be leaders in the church). We are not embarking on the conquest of Canaan, the Promised Land. We are not under the old covenant of law.
Step 3: What is the theological principle in this text?
To be effective in serving God and successful in the task to which he has called us, we must draw strength and courage from his presence. We must also be obedient to God’s Word, meditating on it constantly.
Step 4: How does our theological principle fit with the rest of the Bible?
The rest of the Bible consistently affirms that God’s people can draw strength and courage from his presence. In the New Testament believers experience God’s presence through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit rather than through his presence in the tabernacle. Likewise, throughout both the Old Testament and the New Testament God’s people are exhorted to pay close, obedient attention to his Word.
Step 5: How should individual Christians today live out the theological principles?
There are numerous possible applications. Here are a few suggested ones:
- Spend more time meditating on God’s word by listening to Christian music as you ride in your car.
- If God calls you to a new, scary ministry, such as teaching fourth–grade Sunday school, then be strengthened and encouraged by his empowering presence. Be obedient, keeping a focus on the Scriptures.
- If you are in a church leadership position, realize that successful Christian leadership requires strength and courage that flows from the presence of God.