Ok I have to tell you that this is probably one of my all time favorite Scriptures to preach about. I know I may say that a couple times over the next two years but I really mean it when it comes to this passage.
Joshua is also probably my favorite person in the Bible to preach about so I will try to resist the urge to blog every day. (hopefully I won't have as long a blog post as today's either!)
So Why do I like Joshua? Simply put he was a man of great courage. He was a great leader. He was faithful to God. But also because he didn't run away from his fears.
Fear and courage are by no means opposites. The most courageous people are those who move forward and do the right thing despite their fears.
So why do I think that Joshua was afraid? For me it starts with the fact of how many times God and Moses tell Joshua to be strong and courageous. Moses had successfully led the children of Israel to the foot of the promise land. Joshua had been Moses right hand man and he would succeed Moses to lead this mighty nation of wanderers. Moses would help the people out of the place and the mentality of slavery. Joshua would take this free wandering nation and make it into an army and into a nation where they could put down their roots. Much is said about Moses exploits to free Israel from grip of the Pharaoh and to lead God's people through the wilderness but Joshua was equally as great a leader.
Joshua and the people of Israel now had to learn to fight. They had to farm the land. No one had done that in 40 years. They had to learn to be self sufficient. At the same time they needed to continue to be totally dependent upon the Lord. They had to be strong and courageous in the face of some of the greatest obstacles imaginable. Joshua knew it. Moses Knew it and God knew it so several times it is written in Scripture instructing Joshua to be strong and courageous. In Deuteronomy 31:8 Moses tells Joshua "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." In Deuteronomy 31:24 it says, "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." Just read our passage for this week. How many times does God tell Joshua to be strong and courageous and not be terrified or afraid. Why would God repeat this so many times and why would the author of Joshua write it so many times? Simply because Joshua was probably afraid and so he should have been.
My guess is that you have some pretty big challenges in your life. My guess is many of you have reason to be afraid. Being afraid is not a sign that you lack faith it says your human. God knows your human. However, notice that everytime God instructed Joshua to be strong and courageous he didn't just stop there. He didn't just say, "Come on Joshua take it like a man!" No God promised to be present each step of the way. Joshua could be strong and courageous because he knew that God went before him and no matter the struggles and the pain, God would never leave him or forsake him. And that my friends is the promise that each of us has today. Trust God! Life may be painful and I know it is for many of my friends but God is with you and God is faithful.
To Ponder: God is with me. God is faithful to his covenant with me. I can stand tall. I can have faith. I can move forward. I can be strong and courageous! Remember there is no pain and no mistake that God cannot fix if we are walking with God. But just like Joshua had to move into the place of promise, so too we have to be strong and courageous to keep walking and keep doing those things God has called us to do.