Joshua 1:1, 2
Now 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' minister…
In these words, addressed to Joshua, we have the most effectual consolation that can be offered to believers, when one has been taken away from their midst whose life seemed indispensable to the work and service of God. They are words applicable to the family no less than to the Church. Moses had just been taken from the people, from his friends, from Joshua his faithful servant. The great leader of Israel through the wilderness journey, the captain who had gone forth with their hosts to battle, the medium of the highest revelations of God to the nation, had vanished from among them. Israel would look no more on that noble face which had caught and kept the brightness of the glory of God revealed upon Sinai. The prophetic voice of him who had talked with God as a man talketh with his friend was hushed in lasting silence, he had been struck down on the very borders of the land of promise, to which he had safely led the sons of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. There was a peculiar sadness in the death of Moses just at this time. Have we not often felt the same when we have seen the strong man fall at the very moment when he was about to reap the fruit of his patient labours, and to win the hard-fought fight? The words spoken by God Himself for the consolation of Israel may suggest thoughts helpful to us under similar circumstances.
I. GOD'S WORK DOES NOT DEPEND ON ANY ONE WORKER, EVEN THE GREATEST. It goes on, uninterrupted by the strokes of death. "Go over this Jordan, thou and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel." Thus the cause still advances. Moses may die; his work cannot. Nay, it is extended, and assumes new developments. Moses has led the people to the verge of Jordan. Joshua will carry them over. Both Moses and Joshua are only instruments which may be broken and laid aside; but He who uses them will never be stopped in His work of love. "My Father," says Jesus Christ, "worketh hitherto" (John 5:17).
II. AS GOD ONLY WORKS BY HIS SERVANTS, THESE MUST NEVER REST IN AN IDLE RELIANCE ON His POWER; THEY MUST TAKE UP THE WORK JUST WHERE IT IS HANDED OVER TO THEM, EVEN THOUGH THEIR HEARTS MAY BE BROKEN BY SORROW. Thus the Lord says to Joshua: "Arise, go over this Jordan." We may not sit still mourning even over our beloved dead; we are to arise and take up their work. To carry it on is a sweet consolation; we feel ourselves still linked with the departed as we trace their blessed footsteps, and deepen the furrows they have already made. It brings us into closer fellowship with them. Joshua, as he took up the charge laid down by Moses, was more than ever brought into oneness of spirit with him.
III. GOD, IN SPEAKING OF MOSES AS HIS SERVANT, GIVES TO THE SURVIVORS THE SWEET ASSURANCE THAT HE HAS TAKEN HIM TO REST IN HIS OWN PRESENCE. The recognition of his faithful service implies that of his sure reward. Undoubtedly he, like all the sons of men, was an unprofitable servant, but he nevertheless received from God that grand word of commendation, "Well done, good and faithful servant;" and this is the word which sets before him who receives it an open heaven. Thus to know that God never leaves His work incomplete, that He gives it to us to carry on, and that those who have gone before us have entered into His rest, while we take up their unfinished task - this is the threefold solace of the sorrows alike of the Church and of the Christian family. Thus both "he that soweth and they who reap rejoice together" (John 4:86). - E. DE P.
Parallel VersesKJV: Now after the death of Moses the servant of the LORD it came to pass, that the LORD spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses' minister, saying,