Strength, Courage, and the Promises of God
In the first chapter of Joshua God makes several promises. To Joshua and Israel, He promises them the land that the soles of their feet had touched would now be theirs (vv.2-3). To Joshua, He promises,
“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” (v.5).
God promises Joshua success and most importantly He promises Joshua His presence. Joshua is assured of his and Israel’s success in taking the land and that Yahweh will be with him just as He was with Moses; that He will never leave him or forsake him. What hope! What encouragement to know that God, Yahweh, has guaranteed you will succeed and that He will be with you.
Friends we have the same promises.
As followers of God, He has promised that we will receive our inheritance. He has guaranteed it with the blood of His Son Jesus Christ the righteous. Yes, we wait for it. Yes, we face trials and struggles on our journey, but God has said that He began a good work in us and that He will complete it. The Son will not lose any that the Father has given to Him. He will bring every one that is His safely home. He has also promised that He will be with us and will not forsake us. This promise is found at the end of the Great Commission –
“And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
God has promised His presence with us. He has sent His Holy Spirit to dwell within us. So, friends we are to be strengthened and encouraged, much like Joshua, that God will give us the inheritance He promised us and that He is with us regardless of our circumstances, regardless of what is happening around us and in our world. God is with us. Knowing that God is with us, we are to be encouraged in the face of trials. When we or a loved one get sick, God is with us. When the government and culture attack us, God is with us. When we give into sin, God is with us. He has promised us a good inheritance, Christ. He will surely give it to us.
In verse six, God tells Joshua,
“Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them.”
But how is Joshua to be strong and courageous?
We find these words from God to Joshua, regarding how he is to be strong and courageous.
7 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.
8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful 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.
9 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.” (Jos. 1:7-9 ESV)
Notice here that the strength and courage are tied to keeping God’s commands. Joshua is to be careful to do according to all the law that Moses commanded. He is not to turn from it to the right or to the left. Keeping God’s commands will be the key to Joshua’s success. Notice what is missing from the text. Joshua is told he will cause the people to inherit the land. He is told no man will be able to stand before him. He is told to be strong and courageous. It would lead one to anticipate instructions regarding military strategy; the positioning of troops, the weapons needed, how and when to approach the enemy but we find nothing of the sort. Yahweh says that Joshua must be strong and courageous in keeping the commands of God and faithfulness in this arena will lead to success wherever he goes. Joshua is not to deviate from the commands given by God through Moses. When they do not seem to make sense. When they seem difficult or even impossible. When others would stray from them. Joshua is instructed to be strong and courageous or resolute in standing on, in keeping the commands of God.
In verse eight, God continues His instructions to Joshua. This book of the law is not to depart from Joshua’s mouth. He is to consider the commands of God day and night. They are to be in his thoughts constantly. As he leads Israel and carries out daily tasks he is to be considering “What does God command here?” “What does require here?” “What pleases God here?” God tells Joshua why he must meditate on His commands day and night – “so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it.” If Joshua is going to be strong and courageous in keeping God’s commands, he must know what God commands and to know what God commands he must meditate on them day and night. The idea of meditate is that of reciting the words out loud. He is to repeat the Law of God out loud to himself in order to know it and follow it. God goes on to say, “For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” Joshua’s priority was to focus on God and His commands so that he would obey them and with obedience to the Book of the Law would come success. The two words used here for prosperity and success are almost never used in the OT in reference to financial success. Instead, they refer to success in the right endeavors. Clearly, God is promising Joshua prosperity and success as it relates to faithfulness to Him. There is no promise of material prosperity here.
God ends his charge with familiar words. Joshua is to be strong and courageous and is not to fear or be dismayed because God is with him.
Friends, we need to hear these words loud and clear today. God will give Joshua specific instructions later, regarding military strategy but the most important thing God gives first. Joshua must be strong and courageous in obeying God. The same is true for us today.
The first thing we must understand is obedience to God’s law. We must be strong and courageous and be careful to do according to all that God has commanded. We must not turn from it to the right or to the left. We must not let it depart from our mouths but must meditate on it day and night so that we will be careful to do it. Then our way will prosper, and we will have success, not as the world counts success but as it is counted in the Kingdom of God. We will face battles. We are facing battles and what is required of God’s people is first and foremost to be strong and courageous being careful to do all that God has commanded. Yes, we can discuss different plans, but they must all be rooted in, ground in, built up from the law of God. If they are not, they will ultimately fail.
Who knows exactly what is coming in the days ahead but whatever comes our way our instructions are the same as Joshua’s…be strong and courageous…be strong and very courageous…..be careful to do according to all God has commanded….do not turn from it to the right hand or the left hand….the Book of the Law is not to depart from our mouths….we are to meditate on it day and night that we may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. We are not to be frightened or dismayed even in circumstances that are frightening or in which we would be prone to dismay or be discouraged. We must remember that God is with us and will do all that he has promised. We must remember to be strong and courageous in obeying God’s commands.
Friends be strong and courageous.
By His Grace Alone,