No way you read the opening chapter of Joshua and you’re not inspired afresh.
Impossible to not sense the anticipation. This is it! Mission “Take the Land” will soon be launched.
And hard not to imagine that Joshua’s feeling the pressure. Moses is dead, and now Joshua’s the top guy.
But the promises made to Moses, and to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, are alive and well. For God is faithful (read that this morning in 1Corinthians 1:9). And now it’s Joshua who is to lead the people into the land. Who is to be the focal for the fight, the boss who everyone’s going to look to in the battle. No pressure, Josh!
But he’s not the ultimate commander for the conflict (that will be made clear in my reading tomorrow). He’s the leader of the people’s army but heads into battle under the direction of Another who has determined the battle plan and will be calling the shots. Under the protection of Another who has Joshua’s back and is providing air cover with an army of mighty angels, the army of the LORD. Another who is present, promising never to leave Joshua nor forsake him.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
(Joshua 1:9 ESV)
Be strong and courageous. Third time I read that in just the first nine verses of the book of Joshua. Third time the LORD speaks it to Joshua.
Game on, Josh! This is it, buddy! The ground’s gonna shake, but don’t tremble. It might get pretty scary, but don’t shake. Could get fierce, but don’t be frightened. It might get pretty bad, but don’t be broken. Desperate, but don’t be dismayed. Be strong and courageous. For the LORD your God is with you.
Be strong and courageous! Three times (1:6, 1:7, 1:9) the LORD encourages Joshua with these words.
But it’s the fourth time I read these words in this chapter that’s got me thinking this morning.
And [the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh] answered Joshua, “All that you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. Just as we obeyed Moses in all things, so we will obey you. Only may the LORD your God be with you, as he was with Moses! . . . Only be strong and courageous.”
(Joshua 1:16-18 ESV)
Be strong and courageous. The God who had promised to lead Joshua commanded it. The people who would follow Joshua depended upon it.
Can’t help but think that each of us is on the edge of a battle that’s going to last awhile. Even when the “enemy” is defeated, the collateral damage is going to take some time to work through. Also can’t help but think that each of us has people in our lives that need us to be strong and courageous, too.
Might be our kids watching to see how we trust. Other family members fearful for the future. Might be a friend in need of a friend. Could just be a neighbor who sees us drive out to church every Sunday morning, who’s now got their eye on us to see how we respond at a time like this. There’s someone, likely multiple someones, in our world who needs us to be strong and courageous.
Not so we can boast of our fearlessness, but that we might bear witness of His faithfulness. Not so we can show how strong we are, but how sufficient His grace really is (2Cor. 12:9-10). Not so we can contend for what is ours, but show what it is to be content in whatever state we’re in (Php. 4:11-13). Not so we can show how to hang in there until our “lost wealth” is recouped, but so, for His Name’s sake, we might continue to invest in laying up treasure in heaven (Mt. 6:19-21).
Be strong and courageous. Our Lord commands it of us, and that, with a promise, “I will never leave your nor forsake you” (Josh. 1:5). Others need it of us. To see that our faith is not fiction, and that our God is more than able.
Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of His glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
(Jude 24, 25)
By His grace. For His glory.