Pastor Randy’s Top 66 – Joshua
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
Every athlete can benefit from a good pep talk. We all need an encouraging word as we are about to step out on center stage, whether it be a literal stage where one is acting, or a ball field, or any place or situation in which we have been called into action. Imagine if you will, how daunting it would be for you to be placed in a position in which you are taking over where a hero, a respected predecessor, a talented and gifted family member, or any situation in which the person before you was highly esteemed as confident, competent, and victorious. Yes, daunting would be the word, and it would be at that time when an encouraging word from someone we respected would be greatly appreciated.
This was the case that Joshua found himself in. The Great Deliverer – the Bringer of the Law – the mighty Moses, has just died. The people depended on him completely. Although Moses had his faults like anyone else, He was God’s man, and as a result of that relationship Moses had some “ins” with the Management that Joshua didn’t have. So, Moses has died and the people of Israel are wondering if someone is going to be able to get them into the Promised Land. Although Joshua has been groomed and called to this position by Moses himself (Deuteronomy 31:1-8), you have to think that he – as any of us would – feels a bit inadequate for the task. Remember, he’s following the reputation and power of the incomparable Moses, so that in itself is cause for human fear! But then the Lord shows up (as He always does!).
In these opening verses of Joshua the Lord reminds Joshua that Moses is dead. I mean, the Lord just flat out says, “Moses is dead.” In other words, “Joshua, Moses is dead and gone. You and the people can’t count on him any longer. It’s time to move on.” But after bluntly acknowledging that Moses is dead, the Lord goes on to reassure Joshua that he can do this – he can lead the people – not because He is a mighty warrior and valiant defender of the Truth (although both are true) but really because the Lord has promised to be with him as Joshua leads the people into the Holy Land.
Back in Deuteronomy 31 Moses announced to the people that Joshua would take over and get them all into the Promised Land. In that speech he told the people to trust the Lord – to trust Joshua – and to be strong and courageous as they moved forward, not only because Joshua was a good leader, but mainly because the Lord has promised never to leave them or forsake them. And then after the death of Moses the Lord gives Joshua this pep talk and says similar sorts of things.
He reminds Joshua that as He had been with Moses, He will continue to be with Joshua. The Lord tells Joshua three times in these opening verses of Joshua to be strong and courageous, but again, those words of encouragement weren’t meant to puff Joshua up about how strong and courageous he was capable of being against the enemies of the Lord God, but rather as a word of encouragement that THE LORD would be with him and take care of His people. The Lord is faithful. If He told Moses, the people of Israel, and now Joshua that He would get them into the Promised Land to give them ‘rest’, then the Lord God could be counted on to do so. The emphasis all throughout these opening verses of Joshua is on the Lord’s ability, not Joshua’s, to get the people into the Promised Land. But it was Joshua’s responsibility to ‘be strong and courageous’ as an example to the people, which would instill confidence in the people – a confidence in the Lord God Himself, and in God’s man – Joshua.
Although this verse was written particularly for Joshua and the Israelites, we can certainly apply these words to our own life. As we walk in obedience to the Lord (Joshua was commanded to walk in God’s law); as we hide God’s Word in our heart, and then walk by faith with His Word in our heart; as we trust the Lord with all of our hearts and lean not on our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6), the Lord will be with us – He will ‘never leave us nor forsake us’.
Of course, we need to make sure – through God’s Word, His Holy Spirit, godly counsel, and obvious providential situations – that we are in God’s will. We must not count on the Lord to bless our endeavors if we are walking in the flesh and seeking our own ways! But we must, as the humble child of the King of kings, rest in the Lord’s arms and promises; as the redeemed prince or princess of the Almighty King of the universe, trust the Lord in all that we do; as the spiritually transformed and repurposed man or woman of God, remain strong and courageous in Christ Then we can have the confidence that the Lord will be with us. That’s not a guarantee that we will always ‘win’, but we know that as a Christian walking in His will, He will take us through the trial or the calling in such a way that we will be more like Christ afterwards, and isn’t that what we all want anyway – to be conformed into the image of Christ (Romans 8:29) and more like Jesus day after day? I thought you’d agree.
So, be strong and courageous – not foolish – but strong and courageous IN CHRIST – and in doing so we will – win or lose – ultimately win because the Lord will be glorified; His Kingdom will move forward; and we will have been made to be more like our Jesus. I’ll take that over all the riches in the world.