Be Strong and Courageous

They were headed to war. Moses was dead and Joshua had been chosen to lead the people into the Promised Land. Joshua had stood with Caleb 40 years prior to tell the people that they should cross the Jordan River and go into Canaan, the Promised Land, just as God had told them, but the people rebelled and Moses folded, so the people were doomed to wander through the desert for 40 years until the entire generation had passed away.

What a waste…and for what? They didn’t believe that God would take care of them. They didn’t believe that they could do what God had called them to do. They looked and saw the challenges that stood in their way instead of looking at the God that was with them, so they turned around and walked away from what God was leading them into.

But now, the time had come. Now, Joshua had been chosen to take them into the next step. He believed that God would go with them. He would lead the people and go into Canaan, into the Promised Land.

However, there were people there already. It wasn’t as if the people would be happy to simply give up their land. No, they would have to take it, even if the Canaanites were strong. Even if the challenge is daunting. Even if there would be difficulty after difficulty. But God…

But God was with them, and that made all of the difference.

No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.

“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Joshua 1:5-9

Is God calling Joshua to a strength and a courage that is simply something that Joshua will need to muster up, pull himself up by his bootstraps, and call the people into some type of fake courage, even if he doesn’t believe it?

Or maybe we can ask the question in another way… who is the source of this strength and courage that God is telling Joshua that he should have? Is it Joshua? No, it is God! Joshua should have courage, despite the fact that he will be going into battle…despite the fact that he is going with people who have failed to have courage previously…despite the fact the enemies that they will encounter on the other side of the river are very formidable… He is to have courage because God is with him. The source of his strength and courage isn’t from him. It is from God.

And now, what about us? Is there a parallel for us? Are we in a similar situation?

Yes, we are. Jesus has called us into a “battle”, of sorts. He told his disciples that he would send them out like sheep among wolves. They were headed into the a spiritual battle that would have very real physical consequences, and the odds didn’t look very well in their favor.

In the same way, Jesus has sent us into the world. He said that he has all of the authority, so we should go and make disciples of him.

And will the world be OK with this? Will the kingdom of darkness willingly let the people go and enter into the kingdom of God? Heck no… In the same way that it happened with Joshua…in the same way that it happened with Jesus’s disciples…it now also happens with us. We are sent, and God’s words to Joshua still echo to us: Be strong and courageous.

And why? Because we are the source of that strength and courage? No, it is because Jesus promises to go with us. We should be strong and courageous because Jesus is with us as we go. My strength and courage do not come from me, but instead they should come directly from Jesus himself. In the same way that God was with Joshua, Jesus is with us.

And so now, we have to ask ourselves: Do we believe it? Will we go, as Joshua did? Will we be strong and courageous as God asked him to be because God was with him?

Or will we shrink back? Will we fold at that point of entry at the Jordan River as the unbelieving Israelites did and that Moses allowed them to do? Is Jesus with you? And will you go as a result of the strength and courage that he gives you?

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