“‘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 1:7-9, NLT).
This week I’ve blogged about Joshua’s commission from God as he assumed the role of Moses’ successor. I’ve written about God’s promises, God’s presence, and God’s purpose for the people which had not diminished in the face of transition. So what was the appropriate response for Joshua and the people? What is our appropriate response? What can we take away from this text?
First, they were to be governed by a strong faith in God. Three times in these nine verses we have read the phrase, “Be strong and of good courage.” To have courage does not mean to muster up bravery. It means to be confidently resolved; to have an unshakable conviction. In short, the people were to have such a confident faith in God that their faith would override any temptation to live in fear.
Fear is a problem for us because fear establishes the limits of our lives. If we’re afraid of heights, we stay low. If we’re afraid of water, we stay dry, and so forth. But fear is not limited to our private phobias. Fear can also become a part of a corporate culture. If we’re afraid of the future, for example, we’ll cling to our history. If we’re afraid to risk, we’ll play it safe. If we’re afraid of change, we’ll cling to the status quo.
So rather than being governed by fear, let our hearts be governed by a deep faith and conviction that God is who he says he is and that he will do what he said he would do. God has not forsaken his purposes for His church. God has not withdrawn his promises for His church, and God has not withheld his presence from His church.
Second, they were to be guided by the words of God. In the context of Joshua these instructions to carefully observe the words of God would have been understood to be a reference to the ten commandments and the Levitical code we find in Exodus and the book of Leviticus. In those sections God gave his people laws concerning health and wellness, property rights, ethical behavior for business practices, and more. In our 21st century context, we take this exhortation as a reference to the Scriptures.
One of the reasons we have a high view of the Scriptures is because the written words reveal the Living Word, Jesus Christ. In fact, Jesus said, “You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me!” (John 5:39, NLT)
As you begin this new year you’re probably like me, facing all kinds of transitions and changes. Regardless of those changes, God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. His purposes have not changed for your life or your church! God is still “on point.” The best response we can make is to be governed by faith and guided by His words. If we do those two things, we can navigate the rivers before us and possess the land!