“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. 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. 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. 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.” Joshua 1:6-9, NLT
We see God commanding Joshua to be strong and courageous in three areas:
- Being a leader
- Studying, meditating and obeying God’s commands
- Knowing God was with him
When I looked up the words “strong” and “courageous” they had similar meanings. I also noticed two common words in both definitions: “to harden.” (http://www.biblestudytools.com/lexicons/hebrew/nas/chazaq.html).
We usually think of those words in the context of a person hardening his heart against God. But, in this context it seems that it would mean Joshua needed to harden his heart against fear.
God told Joshua he was going to be the next leader of the people. It takes a strength and courage to be a leader who is not going to doubt that he is the leader or fear the people he leads. We saw with Moses that he doubted his leadership skills and it was more than he could bear when the people rebelled. He had to harden his heart against their complaining and (unjust) criticism of his leadership. Now it’s Joshua who was going to have to be hardened against their complaining and become a leader who is able to lay aside the fear of man for the fear of God.
It takes strength and courage to spend the time to study and meditate on God’s instructions and obey them. Joshua had to be humble enough to study God’s Word, trust the instructions of God, and obey His commands if he was going to be successful and lead the people into the Promised Land.
It takes strength and courage to realize God is going to lead you away from the usual and take you where you have never been. In Deuteronomy 2:1-3, we see the Israelites circling around Mt. Seir. They were not making any progress just walking in circles around the mountain. I wonder if it was comforting looking at the familiar scenery. The path around the mountain must have looked like a well-worn rug with all those people trudging on it. They may have become so familiar with their route they knew what to expect at each bend, then God told them, “You have circled this mountain enough already!” Something new and different was coming. It was time to move on and this was going to be something big. Joshua was going to have to harden his heart against the fear of the unknown and follow God wherever he went.
What do you fear? Be strong and courageous!
By Karen Aker