Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Mar 27 2019 - Joshua 1:1-18 – Be strong and courageous

For forty years Moses had led the Israelites. He had confronted Pharaoh at risk to his life. He had led the people through the Red Sea and ascended smoking Sinai to receive from the Lord the law that would shape this people. He had suffered their continual complaints and rebellion. He had interceded for them with God. Through his suffering perseverance, they had been brought within sight of the Promised Land. But Moses is now dead. Joshua, his aide and apprentice must now lead the people into the Land.

Joshua had already shown his courage and faith when he and Caleb alone from the twelve who had spied out the Land urged the people to go in and possess it. Joshua had urged the people, "Do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will devour them. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them." (Numbers 14:9). But his wise counsel had been ignored; the fear of the people had resulted in forty years of wandering in the wilderness until all the adults who had been rescued from Egypt had died. But now the time for wilderness wandering had come to an end. The time had come to enter the Land.

Three times in the passage before us today, the Lord tells Joshua to be strong and courageous (vv. 6, 7, 9 – and this is also echoed by the people in v. 18; what a change in roles!). Joshua is to remember that the Lord God will be with him as he was with Moses, "As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them" (vv.5-6). God's words to Joshua that he will be with him echo Joshua's own plea to the people in Numbers 14.

Human leaders may come and go but God’s purpose remains the same: he will fulfil what he has promised; he will lead the people into the land he promised to Abraham. Nevertheless, possession of all that God had promised remains conditional on the faithfulness of Joshua their human leader. Only if he keeps the Law that God has given through Moses will he prosper and be successful in the task God has given to him (v. 7).

Joshua is instructed to get the people prepared to enter the land. Their enthusiastic response is, "Whatever you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. Just as we fully obeyed Moses, so we will obey you." (vv.16-17). In the light of the people's continual rebellion against Moses, I'm not sure how reassuring this declaration was to Joshua. Nevertheless this is a new generation, a new day and a new beginning; maybe it will be characterised by a new obedience.

We have a greater Joshua – Jesus our Saviour bears the same name. Our entrance into the inheritance God has promised us is entirely dependent upon his faithfulness. Praise God that he has proved himself to be strong and courageous. He did not turn back from the cross. He has secured an inheritance for us through his faithful obedience to all that God gave him to do. Now he calls us also to be strong and courageous, for he is with us and will never leave us. We are to be ready for all that we may encounter on our way to glory.

Faithful God, thank you for your great and precious promises. Thank you for a faithful Saviour who has secured an inheritance for us through his own faithful and costly obedience. May we follow in his footsteps knowing that he will never leave us or forsake us. May we echo the affirmation of Israel, "Whatever you have commanded we will do, and wherever you send us we will go." By your Spirit keep us strong and courageous to follow and obey.

Peter Misselbrook