Deuteronomy 34: 7-8
Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died, yet his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone. The Israelites grieved for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days, until the time of weeping and mourning was over.
Joshua 1: 1-6
After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ assistant: ‘Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the River Jordan into the land I am about to give to them – to the Israelites. I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates – all the Hittite country – to the Mediterranean Sea in the west. No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.
At the beginning of the first chapter of Joshua, God tells the new leader of Israel, “Moses is dead.” This is strange because if you turn back a page in your Bible you'll read in the final chapter of Deuteronomy about Moses’ death followed by 30 days of morning.
Why is God telling Joshua something that he clearly already knows? Why is God stating the obvious?
I believe what God is saying is: “Moses is dead. Therefore you are now entering a completely new season. But to experience the new, you’re going to have to let go of the old."
Moses was the only leader Israel had ever known. He had led them out of slavery in Egypt, brought them through the desert and spoken to God on their behalf. Therefore when he died, they must have been in devastated. Many among them probably said: “How will we ever survive without Moses?” God however says: “Face reality, Moses is gone. Honour him, remember him, but you can’t bring him back. Stop trying to resurrect and resuscitate things that are dead. Move forward because I have so much more for you."
It’s human nature to reminisce about the good old days, the glory days, as if all of God’s best work was in the past. Often however, the glory days weren’t nearly as glorious as we remember them. And I believe that, with God, the best days are always yet to come.
In our own lives we maybe need to face that 'Moses is dead'. There may be habits, mindsets, associations, even relationships in your life that were once good or served a purpose but now you may need to let them die. They were once fruitful, but they reached their expiration date a long time ago. And that’s okay, because God always has new resources for your new season. Moses was dead, but God had already raised up a Joshua.
Some people were part of your journey for a season, but they could only take you so far.
What worked ten years ago will probably not work today.
What got you to where you are isn’t going to take you to where you need to go.
When I read Joshua 1, two words stand out for me in verse 2: “...now then…”. Moses is dead. Now then…. It’s as if God is saying: “It’s only because Moses is dead, now you can step into your inheritance and destiny. It’s only because Moses is dead that you can now receive the fulfilment all the promises I have for you.” And actually, that was true, because if you read Numbers 20 you will see that Moses sinned against God and God told him:
“…Because you did not trust in me enough to honour me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.” (Num 20: 12)
God essentially says that as long as Moses is alive, the people cannot enter into the Promised Land. You can’t have Moses and the Promised Land. You can have one or the other. It sounds harsh, but if Moses didn’t die, a whole nation couldn’t enter their inheritance.
And God would say to some of us today: "You want some things in your life, but you can’t have them, unless you are willing to let go of these other things. There has to be a separation before there can be a possession. There has to be a letting go before there can be a taking hold."
In this new season God isn’t about reviving something that is dying or already dead - He’s about birthing something completely new. Will you trust Him and step into it?