1 After the death of Moses the Lord’s servant, the Lord spoke to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ assistant. He said, 2 “Moses my servant is dead. Therefore, the time has come for you to lead these people, the Israelites, across the Jordan River into the land I am giving them. 3 I promise you what I promised Moses: ‘Wherever you set foot, you will be on land I have given you— 4 from the Negev wilderness in the south to the Lebanon mountains in the north, from the Euphrates River in the east to the Mediterranean Sea in the west, including all the land of the Hittites.’ 5 No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. For I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you.
6 “Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them. 7 Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. 8 Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. 9 This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Dear God, a dear friend posted a picture of her daughter getting ready for her first day of 4th grade today and said that the daughter was nervous. Apparently, however, the daughter has been memorizing Joshua 1:9: This is my command–be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
I decided I wanted to look at that verse and put it in context. Who is talking? Why are they saying it?
Well, it’s you talking. And you have a message for the newly appointed leader of Israel post Moses’s death, Joshua. You are telling him:
- It’s time to get going into the Promised Land.
- You are going to give them great success and help them inhabit the land completely.
- Be strong and courageous (verse 6) because I’ve chosen you to lead Israel through this time.
- Be strong and courageous (verse 7) and make sure you obey me (this will become important later).
- Study the Book of Instruction (are these the things Moses got from you in Exodus when he and Joshua went up to the mountain and Moses disappeared into the fire?).
- Finally, be strong and courageous (verse 9). Do not be afraid or discouraged because I’m with you.
For this little girl, it’s time to go to school. It’s go-time. You will be with her so she should be strong and courageous. And I know her parents will encourage her to study our version of the “Book of Instruction” (the Bible) and to obey your commands. They are wonderful people.
As for me, I know you want me to be strong and courageous, but what exactly do you want me to do? There are seemingly so many possibilities at work. I could lead our nonprofit in any number of directions. What are you calling us to do? What is our Promised Land? I think that sometimes we can get ourselves into trouble trying to create a Promised Land and not waiting on your timing. It’s a fine line. In Joshua’s case, because of Israel’s rebellion, you had to wait until Moses and his generation were gone. He was ready to be strong and courageous back when he and Caleb were spies with the other 10, but only they were ready to take the land. He was strong and courageous, but he also wasn’t the person at the top. It’s easier to be strong and courageous when there is someone above you who has the ultimate responsibility. It might have been a little harder for him to gather that strength and courage since he was not in charg.
Father, keep me from being foolish, but also keep me from being lethargic. Help me to be strong and courageous at work and in my personal life. Lead through me. Guide through me. Love through me. Bring your kingdom to earth and your will to earth through my life and the life of your church. Make me just one of billions who will represent you to our neighbors.
In Jesus’s name I pray,