Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. 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. 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.” – Joshua 1:6-7,9 ESV
Joshua had assisted Moses through the exodus and now he is entering a new phase in his life and the life of the Israelites. Over and over God tells Joshua; BE STRONG! Ellen G. White in her book, ‘Education’ under the chapter title of “Lives of Great Men” chimes in with what the world needs and God wants; “The greatest want of the world is the want of men—men who will not be bought or sold, men who in their inmost souls are true and honest, men who do not fear to call sin by its right name, men whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle to the pole, men who will stand for the right though the heavens fall.” God is commanding Joshua and He is commanding us, BE STRONG! 40 years the Israelites wandered through the desert- yet, God took care of them. He clothed them, fed them, protected them and was with them by day and by night. Deuteronomy, chapter 8, is critical in understanding how God was with the ISRAELITES in the desert.
Leader, The Israelites knew God was with them, because HE MADE SURE THEY COULD SEE HIM, SENSE HIM, know He was there. And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. (Exodus 13:21) Remember Jesus Himself told us,” And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28) Moses told Joshua the same thing before his departure. Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you shall go with this people into the land that the LORD has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall put them in possession of it. (Deuteronomy 31:8) So you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God by walking in his ways and by fearing him. For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing out in the valleys and hills. (Deuteronomy 8:6-7)
Conduit, there are many ‘DO’s and ‘DON’T’s in the Bible, but NOT many are more repeated than the command to have COURAGE. It is usually stated in the negative, “DO NOT BE AFRAID ”, or “FEAR NOT”. I have heard that in its many different forms, DO NOT FEAR, which means HAVE COURAGE- appears in the Bible almost 400 times, about 1 time for each day of the year. Another interesting thing is that 10 times “do not be afraid” is followed by “do not be discouraged.” Consider that being afraid and being discouraged are related. After all, the opposite of “discouraged” is “encouraged.” And encouraged means to be filled with courage! Discouraged means to be AFRAID, to fear; to deprive of courage or confidence: dishearten. By definition COURAGE can only happen in the presence of FEAR. God called MOSES and JOSHUA to do something new, something different and God knows that outside our comfort zone is where FEAR LIVES. So how do we FUNCTION at a high level in the presence of FEAR? The only way is to know GOD IS WITH US! Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. (1 John 4:4) God gave us a SPIRIT of CONFIDENCE, the HOLY SPIRIT! For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7) If you look at the meat in GOD’S COURAGE SANDWICH it is JESUS, the WORD OF GOD! 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. (Joshua 1:8) God was also Joshua’s appetizer; 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. (v5) The only way to have COURAGE and push through the fear is by having GOD with you daily through the reading, hearing, and meditating on HIS WORD- to EAT scripture daily! As Christians, the LORD IS with us and IN US. We are reminded of that daily by being IN THE WORD, like HE IS IN US! Why should we be filled with courage? Because as Christians, the Lord is with us and in us. We must RE-MEMBER: “He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world. In our weakness His strength is perfected. We must decrease so He can increase”! Amen!