After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD said to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, “Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun shall be your territory. 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. 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. 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. 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.”
And Joshua commanded the officers of the people, “Pass through the midst of the camp and command the people, ‘Prepare your provisions, forwithin three days you are to pass over this Jordan to go in to take possession of the land that the LORD your God is giving you to possess.’”
How in the world can Joshua go from verse 2 to verse 10 in such a short period of time? In verse 2, God tells Joshua, “Moses, my servant is dead.” Imagine trying to fill the leadership shoes that Moses left behind. Moses (seen as one of the greatest spiritual leaders this world has ever known) has just died, and Joshua is left with a rag-tag bunch of Israelites, who spent the last forty years lost in a desert. Somehow, with this group of untrained (except in the skillful art of complaining) “soldiers,” Joshua was to lead them into battle against several tribes and nations. Yet, with all these obstacles in his way, Joshua manages to rally the troops by verse 10. What happens in these eight verses that makes such a dramatic difference?
In short, Joshua trusts in the promises of God. Three times God says, “be strong and courageous,” followed by a truth or command. Notice the paraphrased flow below:
- Be strong and courageous –> Remember, I have promised you this land.
- Be strong and very courageous –> Follow and obey the Word of God. Think upon it daily and nightly.
- Be strong and courageous –> I am with you wherever you go.
As for us today, we can find the same commands and truths in Matthew 28:18-20, a passage known as the “Great Commission.”
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
If Joshua was able to respond to God’s command, despite any fear and circumstances which he was up against, then what is keeping us from following our command to make disciples? Be strong and courageous!!