Be Strong and Very Courageous
God is a God of purpose and will carry out that which he has designed. It was his purpose for the Israelites to enter the land of Canaan. Moses was dead but Joshua was ready to become the leader.
God uses men, but he is not dependent on them.
So with Moses gone it was evident to all that Joshua was the man God has prepared to guide his people into the promised land. And God prepared him for the work by giving him a tremendous promise, “There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee” (Joshua 1:5). Joshua had been able to observe first hand that God had been with Moses, so nothing more could be asked than that he would promise now to be with him.
Be Strong In God’s Strength
And God gave Joshua this charge: “Be strong and of a good courage”(1:6, 9). This has nothing to do with the power of positive thinking; this courage is based on the promise of God.
Joshua could be strong because God was his strength. He could have courage because God was his guide, and he need not fear because God was going with him.
God’s presence is a guarantee of victory. It matters not how great the challenge or how fierce the enemy, nothing can successfully defeat one whose defense is the Lord. We sometimes find ourselves faltering because we have tried to be strong in our own might and the arm of flesh has failed us. The command is to be strong but then we must remember the words of the Apostle, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13). Even when we say we are depending on his strength, there may be some remaining self-sufficiency that we have failed to give up. The promise of strength is to the one who has none: “He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength” (Isaiah 40:29). A complete recognition of our weakness and need is necessary.
Obey God’s Word
And then the command to Joshua includes this declaration, “Observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper withersoever thou goest”(7).
Although he was to occupy the role of leadership he was not given the option to follow his own plans or interject his own schemes.
He was to observe the law that had been given by God through Moses. This meant following a straight course turning neither to the left or the right and, in so doing, God would prosper his work. Certainly there are blessings to be found in the path of obedience that will not be enjoyed in disobedience. It is here that Satan often launches his attack. The narrow way is difficult. God’s plan seems to be out of date. Just making a few adjustments would appear to improve the situation. Some are bold enough to say, “I just believe God will understand if we do things differently under these circumstances.” But God has not promised to bless and prosper just any way, it is in hisway that blessings are found.
If you find yourself spending time trying to justify moving to the left or to the right from God’s words, you need to recognize you are already in the danger zone.
You may have friends support you in the view that “times have changed” and God really wouldn’t expect you to make the sacrifice necessary to follow his directions explicitly. But no matter how many arguments may be presented to the contrary there is never any justification to depart from the instruction God has given in his Word.
Trust God’s Instruction
We see an example of Joshua’s commitment to follow the Lord without question when they came to the walled city of Jericho. He met a man with his sword drawn and, when he inquired if the man was for them or their adversaries, here was the answer: “Nay; but as captain of the host of the Lord am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my lord unto his servant?”(5:14).
Joshua did not say, “Lord, we have a great plan, now just bless it.” No, he was ready to take orders from the captain of the host of the Lord and to follow them explicitly.
God’s plan was rather unusual. They were to march around the city once a day for six days and on the seventh go around seven times and the walls would fall flat. No military leader would have advised it. No one could say I have seen this plan work before, so let’s follow it. In fact some might consider it to be a useless effort because they could see no way the walls would come down by marching around them.
The thing that made this a good plan was that it was God’s plan.
May we follow Joshua’s example that when God speaks in his Word—that this is how we are to live, or this is what we are to believe, or this is how we are to serve—we bow in humble submission and follow God’s plan. The ultimate success in any effort comes because God has given it and God gives it when we obey. In fact God told Joshua two more things regarding his Word: he was to meditate on it, and it was not to depart out of his mouth. If you are meditating on God’s Word, and you are thinking consistently about it and according to it, then you will be inclined to walk in it. The psalmist said, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee”(Psalm 119:11).
We need to think biblically both as we respond to the situations we face in life and as we plan the path we take.
And God also said the Word was not to depart out of his mouth. As a good leader, Joshua had to deliver God’s message, God’s instructions to the people. Too often today people give what they call Christian counsel but it is not from the Word of God. It is so easy to get caught up in the popular philosophies of the day, or give way to human sentiments rather than to speak the truth of the Word of God. Joshua was a great servant of God. He demonstrated his faith and courage early on when he and Caleb stood against the majority and said, "Let us go up and take the land." While the people listened to the reports about walled cities and giants, Joshua looked to God and believed his promises. When the time came for him to lead, he had already proven himself to be qualified for the job. May we be inspired by his example. We live in challenging times but let us be strong and of good courage, trusting the promise of God that he will never leave us or forsake us.