Something Different, Something the Same
Their leader was gone! After many years of guiding the people through significant challenges, of seeing the Lord faithfully provide in common and miraculous ways, this important man of God was no longer at the helm. Things were going to be different! The people had many questions: Who was to be the next leader? How would they be able to go on? Where was God in all of this? The lack of answers greatly increased the levels of tension, worry, and even fear. But this loss also struck at a deep, personal level—this godly man was the only shepherd they had known.
That was the situation the nation of Israel found themselves in around the year 1400 BC. Looming before them was a series of battles that had to be won before they could possess the Promised Land. But Moses, their leader of the past 40 years, was no longer with them. His protégé, Joshua, had now been given the mantle of leadership. In the midst of the anxiety and uncertainty, God graciously responded to the needs of His people. We see in the first chapter of Joshua how the Lord encouraged the Jewish people by reminding them that even with change, some things will always be the same:
- He will be with them: “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you” (v. 5).
- He will keep His promises: They would “inherit the land I swore” to their forefathers to give them (v. 6).
- Obedience to the Lord is vital: “Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or left, that you may be successful wherever you go” (v. 7)
There is an eerie similarity between Canaan in 1400 BC and Crystal Lake in 2012 AD. Our church will soon be “losing” our faithful shepherd as Pastor Bob transitions to God’s next calling for his life. Looming before us are spiritual battles. We have comparable questions that can easily raise the level of tension, worry, and even fear. Yet, in Hebrews 13, we see an amazing similarity in how the Lord responds to our needs:
- He will be with us: “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (v. 5)
- He will keep His promises: “So we can say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’ . . . Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (vv. 6, 8)
- Obedience to the Lord is vital: “And do not forget to do good to others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. Obey your leaders and submit to their authority.” (vv. 16-17).
May the God of peace equip us with everything good we need for doing His will—courage, patience, unity, wisdom, faith—and may He work in us everything that is pleasing to Him through Jesus Christ!
by Tim Bruns, Pastor of Children’s Ministries