Many, many moons ago, when I was about 19 years old, a good friend of mine (Joey) got a boat. We used to love taking it out on the river, fishing, pulling each other on the tube, and…picking up rednecks?! Actually, that only happened once. One day while boating around, we passed some rednecks just floating in the water. One of them kept saying that he wanted us to pull him in our tube. I can remember Joey whipping the redneck across the river, and watching the tube catch air…and slam against one of the concrete pillars of the bridge. Scared out of our minds, we quickly turned the boat around to go back and check on the Billy Bob. We found him in the middle of the river laughing, “Boys, it sho is a good thang I fell awf back thur…that prolly woulda hurt!”
As we’re starting a new series on the book of Joshua, we’re picking up where Deuteronomy left off. The Israelites are on the shore of the Jordan River…on the opposite of the Promise Land. The time has come to pass over into the land that God gave them. One major change has happened though. Moses died, and God gave Joshua the leadership position (Joshua 1). After spying out the land for a second time (Joshua 2), God gave Joshua the command to pass over the Jordan and go in. God said, “Command the priests who bear the Ark of the Covenant, ‘When you come to the brink of the waters of the Jordan, you shall stand still in the Jordan.’” Just like with the Red Sea 40 years prior, God parted the waters of the Jordan River to show His people that He is faithful to save His people in the end (Joshua 3). Joshua’s name meant “Jehovah is salvation.”
We can get all kinds of good morals out of the book of Joshua. Be faithful, obey, believe, keep walking, fight hard, worship, and trust God. But is God up to something much bigger than just giving us principles to live by? I think so! Think about this. Jesus’ name in Hebrew is the same as Joshua’s – Yeshua. Jesus is the real, true, and final leader of God’s people to the Promise Land. I don’t believe that Joshua is a picture of people getting saved, but rather it is a picture of the final salvation and crossing over into eternity. If an Israelite wanted to get from Egypt, through the wilderness, and to the Promise Land…they must follow God’s leader. In order for us to get from our sinful lives, through this life as a Christ, and into eternity…we must follow Jesus! We must keep walking, keep following, keep faithful, and…keep persevering.
When talking about the beginning of eternity, God says, “He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. 8 But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars– their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death” (Rev 21:7-8). Our faith, obedience, and worship isn’t over when we receive Christ…that’s just the beginning! God says that only those who overcome (persevere: endure through all obstacles) will inherit eternal life with Him. Gasp! Is God saying that those who don’t persevere will lose their salvation? No! God is saying that the mark of true salvation is persevering in power, faith, love, purity, and truth. Just like the Israelites with Joshua, let me encourage you as a Christian to persevere in following Jesus to the very end. Don’t just take Jesus everywhere with you like you’re His lord.
We need to look Satan in the face, stand with him toe to toe, and stare him down eye-ball to eye-ball. We need to confidently tell him that the empty pleasures of his wicked world aren’t good enough for us! I’m persevering to follow after Jesus! I’m going where Jesus wants me to go! I’m going to do what Jesus wants me to do! I’m going to be with whom Jesus wants me to be with! I’m doing everything in Jesus’ timing! Are you persevering to follow Jesus to the very end? Follow Him as your Lord!