The Danger Of A Rearview Mirror
“Now it came about after the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, that the LORD spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ servant, saying, Moses My servant is dead; now therefore arise, cross this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them, to the sons of Israel.” – Joshua 1:1-2
I remember once in college a friend from high school came to visit me. That day, I kept referring to the “good ol’ days” back in high school. He jokingly said that I was in “bondage to the past.” With that in mind, I would like to pose a question. Should the Christian live in the past? Absolutely not! We are to learn from the past, not live in the past.
As the book of Joshua begins, things looked bleak for the people of Israel. Their leader Moses had died, and losing him had been a heavy blow to the Israelites. He was the one who had led them out of Egyptian bondage. He had been their representative to God and a mouthpiece for God. Sure, there were times that the Israelites murmured against Him, but for the most part, they respected him. Moses had been a sort of security blanket during a time of insecurity in Israel’s history. And now, he had passed away during one of the most uncertain times in the life of the nation of Israel. Here in our text, the people of God were about to enter the Promised Land with hardly any weapons and no fighting experience. It was a land filled with giants, fortified cities and ruthless pagans. To be blunt, their future didn’t look very bright. I am sure thinking about their tomorrow only brought them sorrow, and quite frankly, going into the Promised Land didn’t look very promising. But God had a message for Joshua, Moses’ successor. It was a very clear and simple message about moving forward. And it was a message that forced Joshua to face the vital decision on how to respond back. He could wallow in sadness and dwell on the death of Moses, or he could move forward.
Dr. John Bisagno wrote on this passage and said, “Don’t get stuck in life’s passageways. God says to Joshua, ‘Moses is dead. Stand up and go forward’ Far too many people spend their lives stuck between the regret and disappointment of the past and the dream world of the future. They are stuck in the passageways of life. Yesterday is a room forgotten; tomorrow, a room not yet entered. Today is for living. The past is past. Moses is dead. Life goes on. Get up move forward.”
You see, your past is to serve as a rudder to guide you, not an anchor to drag you. God doesn’t want you to live in the past because if you do, you will be ineffective in your service to Him. Sure, He wants you to learn from the past, but God didn’t design you to live your life looking through a rear view mirror! So if you are lying around dwelling on the past, Know that God is saying to you, just like He said to Joshua, “Get up!” You may feel that getting up and moving on can be hard, especially when your tomorrow is so uncertain. But let me encourage you; you may not know what tomorrow holds, but you can have confidence and comfort in knowing who holds tomorrow.
Ecclesiastes 7:10 says, “Do not say, “Why is it that the former days were better than these? For it is not from wisdom that you ask about this.” The bottom line is this; it is just not wise for you to live in the past. If all you ever do is attempt to relive and bask in the sun of the former days, you will be ineffective in the present. Instead, take your past and use it as a tool in your present. Live for the Lord, and not for the past. Focus on the present, and serve the Lord with gladness in the here and now!
– Pastor Eric