When Moses prepares to hand over the leadership of Israel to Joshua, the theme of his encouragement and God’s inspiration for Israel is be strong and courageous. Joshua’s courage was based in God’s presence and promise. Who is the source of your strength?
1 Then Moses went out and spoke these words to all Israel: 2 “I am now a hundred and twenty years old and I am no longer able to lead you. The Lord has said to me, ‘You shall not cross the Jordan.’
6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
7 Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the presence of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you must go with this people into the land that the Lord swore to their ancestors to give them, and you must divide it among them as their inheritance. 8 The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
23 The Lord gave this command to Joshua son of Nun: “Be strong and courageous, for you will bring the Israelites into the land I promised them on oath, and I myself will be with you.”
9 Now Joshua son of Nun was filled with the spirit of wisdom because Moses had laid his hands on him. So the Israelites listened to him and did what the Lord had commanded Moses.
5 As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. 6 Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.
7 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Deuteronomy 31:1-2, 6-8, 23, 34:9, Joshua 1:5-9
God’s message through Moses was for Israel to be strong and courageous. Then Moses instructs Joshua in the same manner. Then the Lord anointed Joshua directly with the same charge. God promised to be with Joshua and never leave him or forsake him.
This foundational message was so clear that the people of Israel, as they responded to Joshua’s leadership, pledged their allegiance and finished by asking Joshua to (you guessed it) be strong and courageous.
Why the pep talk? Well, Israel was about to enter the promised land and face adversity from the nations living there. They would face battles such as Jericho, which you might remember is defeated by God’s hand and the marching of his people around the walls.
It is one thing to have courage which is based in your own strength, yet this strength and courage will take on new meaning for Joshua and the Israelites. Faith and trust in God – strength in his might (Ephesians 6:10) – produces a different kind of courage. Joshua’s courage was based in God’s presence and promise.
How’s your strength and courage doing today? Is it based on God’s presence and promise in your life, or are you relying on your own strength? Remember that the idea of God helping those who help themselves and who are strong in their own might is not biblical. God lifts up the weak to shame the strong. And he wants to be with you to lead you and guide you and strengthen you to face your adversity in full faith and trust.
Will you be strong and courageous in the Lord today?