Text: Joshua 1:1-9
The process of the commissioning of Joshua as the leader of Israel took place in three stages, firstly in Deuteronomy 31:7 & 8 we read that Moses addressed all the people of Israel; he was beginning his farewell to the nation and he commissioned Joshua in front of the nation – this is the commissioning and recognition of man.
But a few verses later, we see a more important and powerful commissioning. God himself calls Moses and Joshua to the tent of meeting and commissioned Joshua as the new leader of the nation.
Thus we see that Moses appointed his successor and the Lord commissioned him and then the most well known commissioning of Joshua is found in Joshua 1:1-9. God once again confirmed and elaborated in the commissioning of Joshua.
At the end of the book of Deuteronomy we read that Moses died and was taken to be with the Lord, after a period of 30 days of mourning the Lord spoke to Joshua and thus commences the beginning of the era of Joshua.
As we read verses 1-9 of Joshua 1, we see the obvious repetition of the phrase “Be strong and Courageous.”
We saw it in the previous commissioning by Moses and we see it three times here in the opening verses of the book of Joshua. We may be tempted to think that the reason God repeats himself is because Joshua was a timid and fearful man. But we know from the previous history that Joshua was far from timid or cowardly. He jumped into the sword battle with the Amalekites and he stood against the ten other spies who gave a negative report on the promised land. There is a reason for each of the three times that God instructed Joshua to be strong and courageous. You see there are different kinds of strength and courage. Many people will display courage when they are put in a situation where there is potential for physical harm, particularly teenage boys! Other people are able to display courage when a moral stand needs to be taken. And few people have the ability to display both types of courage.
One type of courage is displayed on the spur of the moment when the situation calls for it, like jumping into a frozen river to save someone who is drowning. The other type of courage is more measured and requires a thoughtful response to stand against an injustice or speaking up when someone is being treated unfairly.
The first time we see God saying to Joshua to be strong and courageous is in verse 6; “6 Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.”
God is calling on Joshua to be strong because there is a long and protracted battle ahead, there will be loss of life and physical danger. It is obvious that there will be courage required as they fight to inherit the land God promised them.
The next time we see the phrase strong and courageous is in verse 7, it is a call for moral courage and standing firm in the face of potential calls for compromise. God is saying to Joshua, stand firm, be brave, hold on to the Law, meditate on it, do not budge or give an inch. This is moral courage, and it is required of us as well, when our family and friends challenge our faith, or even encourage us to compromise.
And then we have the final Strong and Courageous statement in verse 9; Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
This is a different kind of courage, this is the courage that no one sees, it is the courage of the inner man, or spiritual courage. In this life it is easy to get discouraged, all we have to do is watch the evening news. Depression in our society is an epidemic. But you and I have a promise that transcends all the bad news and horrors of society. It is the parting words that Jesus left with us right after he commissioned his disciples and all Christians; “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20.
Living a life of faith demands courage. We need to have Moral courage in this day of moral relativism, and we need to have courage in our inner man.
The directions that God gave to Joshua in his commissioning, promising him success are the same instructions we need to follow in our daily lives in order to see the blessings and success that God’s word promises us. We need to fight the Good fight with courage and faith.
Living a life of faith starts with being obedient to the word of God, what is God telling you to do today? What area of your life is a battleground that requires all your effort just to get through each day? God is saying, have faith and courage in your inner man, but be obedient, do not waiver or give in to the easy path. God’s word is full of promises, we need to meditate on the Bible and apply these promises to our lives.
Stand firm – be strong – and be of good courage, because the Lord our God will be with you wherever you go.