Thirty one days after Moses climbed up Mount Nebo alone Joshua ventured into the Tent of Meeting. God’s cloud came down as He spoke to Israel’s new leader.
“My servant, Moses, is dead. Get My people ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Every place you set your foot will be yours.
There will be no one who will be able to stand against you because I will fight for you.
I will be with you just as I was with Moses. I will not ever leave you nor will I ever forsake you. Gain strength and encouragement from Me as you lead.
It’s important that you closely follow all of the laws I gave Moses so you’ll be prosperous and successful. Gain strength and encouragement from Me because I’ll be with you wherever you go. Don’t let fear or discouragement creep in.”
Joshua walked out and faced the elders and leaders of the people who were waiting for him. “Go throughout the entire camp and tell everyone to get ready to cross this swollen Jordan River three days from now. God is giving this land to Abraham’s descendants now.”
Then he turned to the men of the tribes that received land on the east side of the Jordan. “Remember the oath you gave Moses. Your fighting men are to cross with us and assist in conquering the land. When we’re done they can come back to their families here.”
One of their leaders stepped forward. “Anyone refusing to go and fight will be put to death.”
Joshua grabbed the sleeves of the two men he trusted the most and looked at the others. “You are dismissed to spread the word to everyone.”
After the others left Joshua spoke in hushed tones to the two he detained. “I need the two of you to go over and spy out the land. Try to get into Jericho and get a sense of what the people are saying. I know God will win our battles for us, but, I think that’s what we missed forty years ago when we went in there.”
The two men nodded and walked to the flooded river.
Joshua called out to them. “Don’t be afraid. The LORD is with you. He’ll never leave you.”
I received some wise counsel in my youth that has served me well. “Whenever you’re about to begin a new venture read the first nine verses of Joshua every day for a month.”
What I notice is a lot of repetition. Repetition in the Bible is a sign of an important point God is trying to get across to us thick-headed people.
Two phrases leap off the pages at me. The first one is: “Be strong and courageous.”
You see, God knows Satan’s favorite weapon to use at the start of a spiritual endeavor is discouragement. That’s why He emphasizes that here.
Moses actually first used this sentence when he spoke to God’s people in Deuteronomy 31:6; and when he spoke to Joshua in verse 7. He uses the negative version of the phrase at the end of verse 8.
God told this very same thing to Joshua while Moses was with him in the Tent of Meeting in verse 23.
A month later, when God is with Joshua alone, He repeats this same command in verses 6, 7, and 9; with the opposite version used again in verse 9.
That’s eight times the phrase is used in a short time span. I’m confident God wanted to get this point across to Joshua and His people. To show that it worked the leaders of the tribes that settled east of the Jordan said the same thing to Joshua to encourage him at the end of chapter 1.
So, the only thing I can tell you when you’re about to do something for God is be strong and courageous.
The other phrase I see repeated is: I will never leave you nor forsake you.
Moses first used this sentence when he spoke to God’s people in Deuteronomy 31:6. He repeated it to Joshua in verse 8. God spoke this promise to Joshua in Joshua 1:5 with a strong reference of it in verse 9 (for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go).
There was a caveat that came with this promise to God’s people back then. They needed to strictly obey the law as it was given to Moses to continue in God’s prosperity (Joshua 1:7-8).
Jesus’ death on the cross ushered in a new era of grace to all people. No longer is adherence to a set of laws a requirement for God’s presence. No, once you accept God’s gift of salvation given on that cross His Holy Spirit indwells you for eternity.
Perhaps you can think of someone who once claimed to be a Christian but no longer worships Jesus as the Lord of their life. I’m guessing they had some tragic tests come along to show their allegiance to Jesus.
Many people think their life will be prosperous when they follow Christ. That’s why they jump on His band wagon, so to speak. The first time suffering comes into their life they feel like God forsook them. So, they run the other way.
“If that’s the way God treats His children then I don’t want anything to do with that God.”
Jesus’ half-brother James begins his letter with this interesting observation: “count it all joy when you face trials of many kinds.”
James saw difficulties as stepping-stones to maturity. Perseverance is built through struggle which leads one to trust God for wisdom which leads to a stability that lessens doubt.
So don’t think God has abandoned you because your expectations aren’t being met. All things are working together to make you into a disciple Jesus would be proud of.
Be bold in taking your stand for God. He’s there with you no matter what you face today.
He will never leave you nor forsake you when you are strong and courageous for Him.
I’ll see you later. Wade