There Is No Substitute

So they answered Joshua, saying . . .”—Joshua 1:16a (NKJV)

Moses had passed on. God’s plan continued. Joshua was called and commissioned. The word was put out to all Israel. The time had come to take possession of the Promised Land. It would take courage. It would take faith. It would take sacrifice. It wouldn’t be easy. It would take every tribe doing its part. 

All that remained was the people’s response, including the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh, which had chosen to settle outside the Promised Land under the condition of sending their warriors to war when the time came. Check out their answer to Joshua when he made a call to arms: “All that you command us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. Just as we heeded Moses in all things, so we will heed you. Only the Lord your God be with you, as He was with Moses. Whoever rebels against your command and does not heed your words, in all that you command him, shall be put to death. Only be strong and of good courage” (Joshua 1:16-18 NKJV).

What was it like for Joshua to hear this answer? Of course, he was confident in God to keep His promise. But it helps to have an army when you’re about to go to war. An army is what Joshua now had behind him; poised, ready, and driven by an obedience to God and the man He had raised up to lead them!

But imagine if their response was more along the lines of, “Joshua, God bless you! We’re really supportive of you, we believe in you. Rest assured, all of us are going to be praying for you on this venture of yours. Be sure to let us know how it goes and we’ll be sure to come and visit when things open up for us. Again, go with God, Joshua!” 

It’s a bit ridiculous, but it underscores an important point: There’s no substitute for simple obedience. The charge had been issued, the decision was laid before them. Would they or wouldn’t they go into battle and fight for the territory God had promised them? As we see, they stepped up and obeyed.

Though separated in many ways, we Christians are bound by the same principle. There’s no substitute for simple obedience. If there’s a cause the Lord has called us to, a spiritual fight that we’ve been summoned to, an act that requires our action—there’s no substitute for our simple obedience, and there never will be. 

DIG: What principle are we to take away from the people’s response to Joshua?

DISCOVER: How have you seen this principle play out in your own life? 

DO: What might you be substituting for simple obedience? Consider what you can do about it in light of this passage.

About the Author

Pastor Dan Hickling

Pastor Dan Hickling serves our online community, also known as the Calvary Chapel Online Campus. He and his wife Becky have been married for 22 years and have two children, Lauren and Danny. Both Dan and Becky have been part of the CCFL church family for 22 years and have served in full time ministry for 20 of those years.