This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe 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 1:8
Success is not a four-letter word! God’s will for us, like His will for Joshua, is that we have “good success.” Nehemiah, the faithful layman, returned to Jerusalem to lead in the rebuilding of its broken walls, and Nehemiah had the promise, “The God of heaven will give [you] success” (Nehemiah 2:20 niv). It is said of Joseph, “The Lord was with Joseph and he was a successful man” (Genesis 39:2). And, here in the Joshua Code, we are told that if we keep the Word of God in our minds and in our mouths, day and night, and put it into practice, we will have “good success.” But the Lord does not define success like many in our world do today. For the believer, success can be defined as the ability to find the will of God for your life . . . and then doing it!
Now, as the Israelites stood on the banks of the Jordan after forty years of wilderness wanderings, God’s main emphasis for them was His Word, this Book of the Law. As reflected in this verse, the Joshua Code incorporates three important issues.
The challenge is to meditate on the Word of God both “day and night,” and meeting that challenge involves constant practice. This verse is a high-water mark in discipleship. No one before had ever been instructed to receive orders from God through the words of a book. Abraham obeyed God’s voice when he was called out of Ur of the Chaldees. He did not have a Bible. He did not have a book. Joseph received God’s revelation through God-given dreams. Moses heard the voice of God speaking through a burning bush (Genesis 12:1, 4; 37:5–10; Exodus 3:2, respectively).
Now, as Joshua stood at the threshold of the promised land, Moses was dead. However, Moses had left Joshua the Books of the Law that he had received from God--Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Thus, Joshua was the first man to learn the Word of God in the same way that we learn: from the words of a book. Joshua was to keep it in his mouth and in his mind. The emphasis for Joshua--and for us—is upon making Bible study a constant practice.
We are to “meditate” on it. That is, we are to go over and over and over God’s truth in our minds to deepen its impression on us and to set it in our hearts. The word meditate indicates that Scripture is to be like a tune that we cannot get out of our minds. It just permeates our thinking processes. Living out the Joshua Code involves constant practice.
What is the purpose of keeping the Word in our mind and in our mouth? So that “you may observe to do according to all that is written in it.” By keeping God’s Word in our minds and speaking it with our mouths, we are enabled and empowered to do what it says, to apply it to our lives.
Reading the Bible gives us knowledge about God. Anyone can do that. Knowledge is simply the accumulation of facts. Obeying the Bible is what enables us to have a knowledge of God. Many of us obey the Word . . . partially. We seem to pick and choose on occasion what it is we will obey and what we will ignore. This call is to “do according to all that is written” in the Word of God. Our completed purpose, in the eyes of God, will be to move beyond simply reading and studying the Bible, to an act of obedience as we put these words into practice in our own experience.
Note the important four-letter word then. When we obey the Word, then we will have “good success.” And how do we do this? We do it through the constant practice of meditating on God’s Word and keeping it in our hearts, letting it permeate our very being and so direct the thought processes of our minds that we speak it with our mouths at points of need. In the initial psalm, the psalmist indicated that his delight was found in the Law of the Lord and “in His law He meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:2). Thus, we then complete the purpose of not simply hearing the Word, but also doing it as we put it into practice through personal obedience.
Here is true success in life: to stay in the Word of God until we find the will of God so that we can walk in the ways of God. The Word. The will. The walk. The Joshua Code invites us to feed on the Bible because it reveals to us God’s will for our lives. And success is the ability to first find the will of God for our lives . . . and then act upon it, do it! At the wedding feast in Cana, Mary, the mother of Jesus, gave us one of the most valuable lessons of life when she said, “Whatever [Jesus] says to you, do it” (John 2:5). As you memorize this verse, meditate on it by reading it enough times to put the inflection on each and every word it contains . . . and then do what it says. And then? You will have “good success.”