Joshua 1:1-9 – “After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, it came to pass that the LORD spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, saying: 2 “Moses My servant is dead. Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them — the children of Israel. 3 Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses. 4 From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the River Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your territory. 5 No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you. 6 Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. 7 Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. 8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” NKJV
My title question is worthy of consideration even if you do not feel you are being held back from the pursuit of your dreams and purposes in God. I have to ask a follow-up question, “Are you reaching your full potential?” Then, “If not, why not?” Is there anything holding you back, spiritually or in any other way? I hope to use this account regarding Joshua to help us see some possible hindrances personally. God placed within us the ability to be ‘extraordinary ‘ so let’s be just that!
Moses, Joshua’s mentor, was dead. Joshua had inherited the mantle of leadership and was responsible for leading the nation of Israel. Even with his experience of watching Moses and learning the positives and negatives in his role, he was clearly filled with trepidation. It is one thing to know you are going to become the person occupying the decision-making chair and another to actually put on that hat. Now, God came to Joshua and said, “Joshua, Moses is Dead!” Have you ever wondered why God said that? Joshua clearly knew that Moses was dead but God reminded him of that reality. In my mind, it was to identify something that was potentially or actually holding Joshua back. He may have been intimidated by the leadership style of Moses. He may have had trepidation fearing that the people would not respect his authority and follow his directives. He may have questioned his own ability and even questioned his ability to clearly and truly hear God. I don’t know what was truly involved but God first reminded him that “Moses is gone and now it is up to you.”
God made some powerful promises and commitments to Joshua IF he would do what God directed and promised to be with him in all things and at all times. Then God said, “Be strong and of good courage…” Okay, that could be a simple statement of encouragement but it might identify the seedbed of fear that was budding in his heart and mind. Then, in the next sentence, God says, “…be strong and very courageous…” This emphasized the need for courage. But to make matters worse, in a sense, God says in verse 9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Three times in a very short span, God addressed his fear and the need of courage. Clearly, something was coming which would be frightening and the need for courageous action would be required.
I am convinced God was not simply speaking of enemies from the outside but also the unwillingness, at times, of his own people to cooperate. Yet, I believe there was an even greater issue involved, Joshua’s own heart and mind. Thus, God said, “Moses is dead…” Joshua could no longer rely on Moses but he must now rely on God and hear God for himself. Joshua must not step out in obedience and faith.
Many if not most of us need to have our Moses die so that we can move out from under the shadow and the safety of that which we have relied on and place our trust and confidence in God and God alone. It is in that position and condition that we will shake off the shackles that now bind us and allow us to become that which God has designed and desires!
God bless you richly is my prayer!