Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Joshua 1:7-8
When Israel came out of Egypt, God never told them to fight the Egyptians. He did all the fighting. Israel couldn’t save themselves; God saved them. By his mighty power and miracles he broke the back of Egypt. Then he split the Red Sea and Israel walked through on dry land, then God brought the sea back together to drowned the Egyptians. But after taking them through the desert, on the edge of the promised land, God told Joshua that NOW they were to fight. To take the land, a land full giants and powerful enemies.
This is a picture of our Christian lives. When God saves us he does all the work. We were helpless slaves of sin and Satan, who could no more break free on our own any more than Israel could escape from Egypt on their own. But God sent his Son Jesus to become a man, live a life of perfect obedience, then pay the penalty for all our sins on the cross and purchase forgiveness for all who believe in him. God did all the work!
Then, like Joshua, we stand on the edge of a spiritual Canaan, where there are giants and enemies we must conquer and drive out. Giants of pride, lust, selfishness, unbelief, and love of the world. As disciples of Christ we must take up our crosses, die to ourselves and work. God has promised to never leave us nor forsake us. Like Joshua, we too must be courageous and fight. Not to gain salvation but because WE ARE SAVED. We fight from the position of salvation. We have eternal life. Now we fight to become more and more like Christ.
And the key to our spiritual success: soaking in and doing God’s word. In other words, meditating on and obeying it.
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it.
God didn’t say, “Joshua, carry this book with you everywhere you go.” He said it was to be in Joshua’s mouth. Joshua was to speak it. Rehearse it. Review it. Day and night. The Hebrew word for “meditate” means soliloquize, muse, ponder, mutter. As the Psalmist says:
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. Psalms 1:1-2
I will remember the deeds of the LORD;
Yes, I will remember your wonders of old.
I will ponder all your work,
And meditate on your mighty deeds. Psalms 77:11-12
Ever seen a cow chewing on its cud? (Science lesson here). Cows’ stomachs have four distinct compartments. When a cow first takes a bite of grass, it only chews it a little, then swallows it, and it goes into the part of its stomach called the rumen, which begins to break it down. The rumen is the largest part of the stomach, as large as a 55-gallon trash can. After filling up on grass, cows find a place to lie down where they burp up their food into their mouth again and again, and chew it to keep breaking it down. This action of “un-swallowing”, re-chewing, and re-swallowing is called “rumination,” or, “chewing the cud.” which lets them to chew grass more completely and improves digestion.
This is a picture of meditation on God’s word: we take it in and ruminate on it. Chew on it. Ponder it. Apply it to our lives:
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it DAY AND NIGHT, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. Day and night – in other words, all the time. All day long. Not once a week or every once in a while.
A man named John Underhill tells this story: In January 1984, I was painting the home of an 89 year-old lady in Spokane. She had a large family Bible prominently displayed on the coffee table and remarked that it was 116 years old and a priceless heirloom. I commented on how remarkable that was, and added, “It doesn’t matter how old the Bible might be, what’s on the inside is what matters.” She immediately replied, “Oh, I know. That sure is the truth. Why, we have family records and births and marriages and deaths that go so far back, all recorded in that Bible; we could never replace them.”
So meditate on God’s word! Don’t neglect it! We have so many ways to take it in – phone apps, CDs, Kindle versions. God wants you to succeed in life so he has given you his word. Start today if you aren’t already. Start small – five, ten or fifteen minutes. The key is to be consistent. If you miss a day, just pick it up again tomorrow. I’d also suggest recording the verses you read each day, so you can remember where to start tomorrow.
God’s word will give you strength, hope and joy. Now get out there and RUMINATE!