Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Joshua and the Call to Courage

"Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them” (Joshua 1:6).

In Joshua 1, the Lord exhorted Joshua four times to be strong and courageous. This was not new for him: Before Moses died he told Joshua the same thing twice (Deuteronomy 31:7–8). Then Moses led Joshua before God and God said it to him (Deuteronomy 31:23). After Moses died the Lord said three times to Joshua, “Be strong and courageous,” then the leaders of the people repeated it.

Maybe Joshua got a little perplexed after being told seven times to be strong and courageous. Did everyone think he was a coward? No, clearly not, for Joshua had been leading the army for forty years (Exodus 17:8–13). Why, then, were Moses, God, and the people so concerned to give him this exhortation? Joshua knew full well that it was because of the magnitude of his task.

First (Joshua 1:6), God told Joshua to be strong and courageous because he would have to lead Israel to inherit the land. This would involve military leadership and prowess, but more than that, moral courage. Joshua had seen Moses lead the people for forty years while they complained, griped, rebelled, and gossiped over and over again. Now Joshua was leading the sons of these complainers, who were, by and large, a much better group of people, but it was still a fearful task. It takes similar courage today to be a pastor.

Second (v. 7), God told him to be very strong and courageous because he was going to have to obey God’s law. It takes courage to obey God when everyone else is going astray. It takes even more courage to obey God and command the death penalty for a criminal, especially when many in society think the criminal should go free. Today it takes courage to be a pastor who exercises church discipline as God commanded.

Finally (v. 9), the Lord told Joshua that he could be strong and courageous because God would support him. God promised that if he obeyed, he would be blessed with success, and that would enable him to be stronger and more courageous.

Joshua was only called to conquer Canaan; we are called to conquer the world. Are you fearful of sharing your faith? Are you an elder of a church but fear to bring down the rod of discipline upon those who disrupt the house of God? Copy down Joshua 1:6–9 and carry it with you this week. Consult it often.