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Be strong and courageous (Joshua 1:5-9)

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In this first chapter of Joshua, God commissions Joshua to take the people across the Jordan into the Promised Land. The promise of the land was first given to Abraham in Genesis 12:7, and now Joshua was Israel’s appointed and designated leader to lead them into the land ( after Moses (Numbers 27:18-23)). God was going to fulfil His promise that every place that the sole of his foot will tread upon will be given, just as it was promised to Moses (Joshua 1:3). So God says to Joshua in verse 5, “No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you.”

No man can stand against or resist Joshua because just as the Lord was with Moses, He would be with Joshua. The promise is that God will never leave or forsake. So Joshua could be confident and lead without fearing man. Instead, he could lead by entirely trusting God because it is the same God who was with Moses until the end, assisting him against his enemies and with all the issues governing the stiff-necked people. It is these same people Joshua would have to lead into Canaan. Therefore God is assuring Joshua that He will not leave him without support. 

So God says in Joshua 1:6, “Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them.” We know of Joshua as someone of brave courage and faithfully committed to God (Numbers 14:6-9). This courageous Joshua still needed encouragement because the mission was still a great one ahead of him. Likewise, I encourage you to be faithful, just as Joshua was to the Lord. His promises are sure, but His mission is also certain. You see, this is the same case with believers in Christ. The work of God continues, and He promises that He will be with us. Matthew 28:20 says, “…And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Also, in John 20:21, Jesus says, “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

So, in Joshua 1:7, it says, “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.” Notice here this promise of God is followed by a condition. And the condition is “to be careful to do according to all the commands of God, not turning to the left or right from it”. If you do these, then you may have good success wherever you go. To do according to the law of God, you need to know Him, you need to know His commandments, and ultimately, you need to love Him. That is why it says in John 14:15, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” This knowing will only be possible if you meditate on the word day and night and hunger and thirst for Him. Often we want God’s blessing and promises “but” without walking with Him and seeking to do His will.  

In fact, in Deuteronomy 12:32, it is commanded that you do not add or subtract from the commands of God. So first, it is to do according to the law of God, not turning to the left or the right. And in the very next verse, in Joshua 1:9, it commands to keep the law on your lips, meditate on it day and night, and again to be careful to do everything written in it. When you do these, THEN you will be prosperous and successful. Part of this command is to “be strong and courageous”. Joshua 1:9 says, “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.”

We notice in this passage the repeated words of encouragement to be strong and courageous. The critical fact about the exhortation is that Joshua was to fulfil the work assigned to him by God and for which God has set him aside to do. Notice, it is not Joshua’s own mission or work that he is accomplishing, but it is the work of God. 

Likewise, a believer in Christ is also called to accomplish God’s work. Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” God has chosen us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight (Ephesians 1:4). As we fulfil this purpose in our life, we will come up against many trials, tribulations, hardships, persecution, and anything to make you falter from this mission. 

But, be strong and courageous and do all the commands of the Lord, and seek to glorify Him. Then you will be prosperous, and then you will have success. God will be with you wherever you go. Jesus promised that He will be with us always, to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20). Not only that, He has given us another helper, another advocate who will help us and be with us forever (John 14:16), and this is the person of the Holy Spirit. 

Remember, it is about fulfilling God’s purpose and not your own. It is only then we can genuinely be “strong and courageous”: because then we are under the will of God, and we love Him and want to do all for His glory. It won’t be easy, but the promise is that He is with us until the end. You will face difficulties and opposition along the way. But be strong and courageous because Christ is with you and can keep you. Jude 1:24-25 says, “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.”

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