Our Marching Orders
The ancient Israelites were brought out of bondage in Egypt and led into the land of blessing by God. Throughout their long and winding road, God was their provider and protector, guiding them.
Prior to Joshua leading people into the promised land, the Lord gave them marching orders:
“Moses My servant is dead. Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them—the children of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the River Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your territory. No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you. – Joshua 1:2-5
Notice three aspects of God’s marching orders to His people:
- God’s command (verse 2) – “Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them—the children of Israel.” God commands them to go.
- God’s authority (verses 2-3) – “…go…to the land which I am giving to them—the children of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses.” The foundation of their charge was God’s authority, His power and sovereignty. The promised land was the land God was giving them.
- God’s comfort (verse 5) – “No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you.” God promises to be with them, to not leave nor forsake them.
Once established in the land, they were to be a ‘kingdom of priests and a holy nation’ (Exodus 19:6), shining the light of the one true God to the surrounding nations.
Through Israel would come forth our Messiah Jesus, who gave marching orders to His followers just prior to His ascension. These marching orders remain for us today, the church:
And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen (Matthew 28:18-20).
Note the parallels to the above marching orders we see in the Great Commission:
- God’s authority (verse 18) – “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” (see also John 3:35). The disciples would go out in the authority of the Lord, their mission stamped with approval of divine decree.
- God’s command (verse 19) – “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations.” Note that evangelism and discipleship are not delineated here, they go hand in hand. The command to “go and make disciples” includes bringing people to faith (baptizing them) and teaching them to obey and follow the Lord.
- God’s comfort (verse 20) – “and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” The Lord promised to be with them always. Pentecost came, the Spirit fell, and since then, all believers are indwelt with God, the Holy Spirit, also known as the Comforter (‘parakletos’ in Greek).
God’s mission throughout time remains – redeeming lost humanity, yet the methodology has changed.
In the Old Testament, God called Israel not to go out into the surrounding nations, lest they fall into idolatry. When God, said, ‘Be Holy as I am Holy,’ it included a physical component of separation. Gentile converts or proselytes were brought into the worshipping community.
As followers of Jesus living under the New Covenant, we are now called to go out among the nations, bringing the love, light, and truth of God with us — namely the gospel.
As the Church we “are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).
As individual believers, we are new creations in the Messiah. As such, part of our marching orders include the responsibility to fulfill our assigned role as ministers of reconciliation:
Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:18-20).
How do you and I go and share the word of reconciliation, the gospel?
“Going” looks different for each of us and can certainly mean many different things.
Going may include:
- Praying God would bring an unbeliever into your life for the purpose of being a witness.
- Befriending an unbeliever in your existing sphere of influence.
- Taking the next step evangelistically in a relationship, looking for open doors to share truth and sow gospel seeds.
- Serving in an outreach activity with your home church.
- Joining a local group or organization where you can express your gifts and passions while being salt and light.
- Going on a mission trip or actually obeying God’s call for you to go serve in a foreign land.
While this list is certainly limited, it is representative of some ways we can go. But know this:
The where, the how, and to whom we go must be preceded by the will to go!
In other words, availability to God is essential for us to fulfill our marching orders, the Great Commission.
May you and I make ourselves available to God. When we hear Him say, “Whom shall I send, And who will go for us?” may our answer echo the words of the prophet Isaiah when he replied, “Here am I Lord—send me” (Isaiah 6:8).