TODAY’S READING: Joshua 1–4
Today, John and Paul York will father-son tag-team to articulate the three major principles for a people in covenant with the God of mission. Here are their thoughts on a missionary reading of Joshua:
- God’s manifest presence accompanies those who advance toward His kingdom according to His will.
The Lord Himself appears to Joshua and promises His presence (Josh. 1:5). God promises never to leave Joshua and to be with him wherever he goes. John York writes: “Under Joshua, God’s covenant people advanced boldly to accomplish the mission of their God and King; they moved in assurance that the manifest presence of God was among them. God’s promise to Joshua would later provide the basic wording for Jesus’ assurance to His disciples when He sent them on His mission.” “And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20). I heard Brother York teach on this passage once, and he simply commented: “There is no ‘go without lo.’” There is no “go into all the world to make disciples of every people group” without “lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Paul York reminds us that the people of God entered Canaan with inferior equipment and untrained men, yet they had the secret sauce superpower—the presence of Almighty God. Paul writes: “Remember in any age, people called by God’s purpose can be sure that God’s manifest presence will go with them. Those advancing in mission are never alone.”
- All true victories in the Kingdom of God are accomplished with the blessing of the nations in view.
Twice in Joshua 3, God is referred to as “the Lord of all the earth” (vv. 11, 13). Jehovah is not a local deity; He is Jehovah everywhere over all peoples. This truth (Jehovah is over all the earth) is repeated in Joshua 4:23–24 when the Jordan River was parted, for Jehovah commanded the waters of Egypt and Palestine, and Jehovah was to be glorified in all lands by all peoples. Jehovah had the nations in mind when He led Joshua into Canaan. Walvoord and Zuck state: “Specifically, the conquest of Canaan under Joshua’s leadership grew out of the Abrahamic covenant. God, having dealt with all nations, made Abraham the center of His purposes.” God wanted a base of operations and He chose Canaan. From there, God promised His presence to all who obey His commission. “The covenantal promise of God among his people in the Old Testament becomes the promised presence of Jesus among his disciples as they carry out the mission he lays on them… Mission is an unavoidable imperative founded on the covenantal Lordship of Christ our King. Its task is to produce self-replicating communities of covenantal obedience to Christ among the nations. And it is sustained by the covenantal promise of the perduring [enduring] presence of Christ among his followers.”
- It is necessary to allocate kingdom tasks to God’s people and make the people accountable for their completion.
It is God’s nature to entrust human beings, those He created, with specific missions as means toward the accomplishment of His grand design for history. God does this amazingly, knowing how frail and faithless we human messengers can be. We will visit this concept again as much of the book of Joshua is given to the details of allocation. For now, let us marvel, not analyze. God has given to weaklings and human “hobbits” the responsibility of making Him famous among ten million Muslim Tunisians and all the unreached peoples of earth. God entrusted this mission not to angels, not to super-apostles, not to “The Incredibles,” but to us weaklings. So, if you are weak, you are qualified, and Tunisia awaits.
 John V. York. Missions in the Age of the Spirit. Springfield, MO: Logion Press, 2001. 33–37.
 Paul York. A Biblical Theology of Missions. Springfield, MO: Africa’s Hope, 2008. 47–52.
 Ibid. 48.
 John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck. The Bible Knowledge Commentary. Wheaton, IL: Scripture Press Publications, 1985. 326.
 Christopher J. H. Wright. The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible’s Grand Narrative. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2006. 355.