There’s a leadership change in now among the Israelites, but not a change of direction in our reading today. Moses has gone to meet his reward for a life led heroically, and now Joshua is Israel’s leader — but God continues to be their King.
But taking the reins of leadership is, for Joshua, not something to be taken casually or lightly. There was a river to cross, there were ferocious enemies to conquer, there were giants to take down, and there were women and children to protect while the warriors prosecuted the war of conquest. There were going to be trials, temptations, and plenty of opportunities to mess up in a place where a misstep could be fatal for them all. It was a huge undertaking, way beyond what Joshua knew he was capable of; so, God gave Joshua the assurance and encouragement he needed. “Be strong and courageous.” He says it not once, but a number of times; and I’d suggest that there may be more here than may meet the casual eye.
“Be strong,” God said. Was this about working out more at the gym? No, it was more about pressing forward in what he was going to be doing with strength and vigor — confidence and assurance. With God at the command and a sure understanding of what He wanted, there should be not a place for weakness, timidity, or a slack hand. And there’s a lesson here for us isn’t here? Isn’t it time for us as Christians to leave timidity behind? That’s what Paul urged young Timothy to do as he reminded him that God doesn’t give a spirit of timidity, but one of power, love and discipline (2 Tim. 1:7). part of faith is understanding that if God has truly commanded it, there is no reason to hang back not fully committed. If God has commanded it, we need to be “all in”.
But God also encouraged Joshua to be courageous. Courage, it has been said, is not the lack of fear, but the doing of what must be done in spite of the fear. fear isn’t always a baad thing; it often saves us from dangerous situations or foolish decisions. Joshua was going to attack fortified cities, a race of giants, armies better equipped than his own, and without Moses to pull them out of trouble — the only leader they had ever known up to this point. But there are times when fear has to be controlled, whether you’re Joshua or Joe Christian in the 21st century.
There’s a song that I like:
If you say go, we will go
If you say wait, we will wait.
If you say step out on the water, and they say it can’t be done,
We’ll fix our eyes on you and we will come.
There’s more to our reading today about Rahab hiding the spies sent to Jericho, and the miraculous crossing of Jordan to the Promised Land. but we’ll call it a day for today. God bless your week. We’ll see you tomorrow, Lord willing.
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