Joshua 1: 1-2
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.
Philippians 3: 12-14
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus.
Isaiah 43: 18-19
‘Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.
By telling Joshua "Moses is dead", God is essentially saying to him: 'Moses was great, he was wonderful. But you can’t bring Him into your future. He’s dead. He’s buried. He’s part of your past. Honour him as part of your past, remember him – but leave him in the past.'
As we begin this new year, there’s maybe things in our own lives that God wants to be part of our past but we’re trying to drag them into our future. We’re trying to hold onto, resurrect and revive things that God wants dead. Habits, mindsets and wrong ways of thinking. Relationships, grudges, bitterness and unforgiveness. Even regret.
The things that you have carried up until this point, might have got you here, but they’re going to prevent you from going any further. You can’t go forward and take those things with you. Let them die. Cut them off. Separate yourself from them. Let go.
You see, if you look at verse 2, two words stand out for me: '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 future destiny. It’s only because Moses is dead that you can now enter into all the promises I have for you.'
Actually, that was true. In Numbers 20, Moses sins against God and this is what God says to 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 says: 'Moses, you will not be the one who leads my people into the Promised Land.' In other words, while Moses was alive, they could never enter into the fullness of what God had promised them. If Moses didn’t die, they wouldn’t enter their inheritance. They couldn't have Moses and the Promised Land – they could have one or the other.
God would say to us today: 'You want all these things in your life in 2017, but you can’t have them, unless you let go of this. 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.'
When you let go, sometimes God moves very quickly. The Israelites have been in the desert for 40 years trying to get into the Promised Land. When Moses dies, it’s only a matter of days before they enter it.
The thing you’re holding onto, might actually be holding you back from entering into all God has for you. There is provision and promises that you won’t see or experience unless you leave something behind, unless you let something die.
What might God be asking you to let go of today?
What was part of your life in 2016 that you don’t need to carry into 2017?
The 'good old days are gone', God has moved on, and so if you try to camp back there in the past, you’ll miss what God wants to do today.
If you are looking backwards you can’t see what God is doing in front of you.
Moses is dead. The past is gone. It's time to leave it behind and move forward.