“Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people, saying, Pass through the host, and command the people, saying, Prepare you victuals; for within three days ye shall pass over this Jordan, to go in to possess the land, which the LORD your God giveth you to possess it.” (Joshua 1:10-11)
For almost two months Israel had camped in the plains of Moab, near Mount Nebo, while Moses gave them final instructions as to what they were to do. They had spent thirty days mourning his death and adjusting to the idea that Joshua was the new leader. Now Joshua directs them to prepare lunches and pack up because they will cross the Jordan river in three days time, starting their occupation and possession of the land of Canaan.
“And to the Reubenites, and to the Gadites, and to half the tribe of Manasseh, spake Joshua, saying, Remember the word which Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, saying, The LORD your God hath given you rest, and hath given you this land. Your wives, your little ones, and your cattle, shall remain in the land which Moses gave you on this side Jordan; but ye shall pass before your brethren armed, all the mighty men of valour, and help them; Until the LORD have given your brethren rest, as he hath given you, and they also have possessed the land which the LORD your God giveth them: then ye shall return unto the land of your possession, and enjoy it, which Moses the LORD'S servant gave you on this side Jordan toward the sunrising.” (Joshua 1:12-15)
He also reviewed the agreement with the trans-Jordanian tribes, assuring them that the agreement would be honored, and reminding them of their commitment to help the others obtain their land. Leaders who fail to acknowledge and honor or enforce commitments by previous administrations destroy trust and sabotage their own efforts to lead.
“And they answered Joshua, saying, All that thou commandest us we will do, and whithersoever thou sendest us, we will go. According as we hearkened unto Moses in all things, so will we hearken unto thee: only the LORD thy God be with thee, as he was with Moses. Whosoever he be that doth rebel against thy commandment, and will not hearken unto thy words in all that thou commandest him, he shall be put to death: only be strong and of a good courage.” (Joshua 1:16-18)
The Trans-Jordanian tribes were more than willing to keep their commitment, pledging loyalty to him like they had had to Moses, as long as they were sure God was with him like he had been with Moses. It was up to Joshua to demonstrate his relationship to God by his leadership.
Far too often leaders exert their authority in an attempt to intimidate potential opposition, rather than engaging them as potential allies and earning their trust and respect. It always results in opposition and conflict. It is what has produced political gridlock for the last several years in the United States.