As the youngest of twelve, I grew up in the shadows of my older brothers. I wasn’t just the baby of the family, I was the runt of the litter literally. Some of my siblings cast notorious shadows of getting into trouble and others of effortless intelligence and accomplishment. Either way, it wasn’t easy following in their footsteps. Growing up I was mostly known as “so and so’s brother.” Unfortunately at times I felt either forgotten or forsaken. It was as if I was guilty by association for their negative past and yet I couldn’t quite live up to their positive present achievements. Perhaps this can cause anyone to question their future potential.
I would imagine that Joshua could somehow relate to what I had experienced. His people at times were faithless and rebellious causing him to live under the shadow of the forsaken. Only Joshua and Caleb brought back the positive report and were full of faith yet were forced to wander in the wilderness another 20 years with all the nay sayers. Then right before it was time to finally enter the promised land after 40 years of walking in circles, their historical leader handed Joshua the mantle and charged him to take the people forward as their new leader. He had spent years under the shadow of one of the greatest leaders – the man who led them out of Egypt, spoke to God on their behalf, and performed miracles to keep them alive in the desert. Now this seemingly forgotten servant was to attempt the one thing Moses failed to do. It would be like taking the stage to sing Happy Birthday after Josh Groban sings Ave Maria.
Yet it’s at this very moment when we feel least qualified, forgotten, and forsaken, that Jesus reminds us with these powerful words. I’m sure that these words left an imprint on Joshua’s heart and mind as he not only remembered his past with regrets, but also as he looked to the future impossible task.
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. (Deuteronomy 31:6, NIV)
The were about to face the same powerful enemy that caused them to doubt and face God’s wrath 20 years ago. They had literally come full circle to face a past that they would rather forget. But God was lovingly reminding them that their past doesn’t define them nor does it dictate their future. If you think you are forsaken, then you’re mistaken. For the past there is forgiveness. Now is the time for redemption. Don’t be afraid. I haven’t forgotten who you are and whose you are. You are my people and you are not forgotten or forsaken.
Joshua soon experienced for himself that it wasn’t what Moses accomplished that made him a great leader. Moses was a great man because of his love for God and others that moved him to faithful obedience and allowed God to perform amazing things through him. Moses was a great man because he allowed God to be greater.
- In what ways have you ever felt forgotten or forsaken? What do you think led you to feel that way?
- Are you currently struggling with feeling lost in the shadow of others? Explain.
- Continue reading the entire chapter (Deuteronomy 31). In what ways are you encouraged to know that God is with you?
- After reading this Scripture today what is your outlook on your current situations in life?
Further Study – read these additional references and take note of what you learn.
1 Chronicles 28:20