Joshua 1:9 Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.
In this passage, Joshua is given a command by God to be strong and courageous because he’s about to conquer the Canaanites in the land of Canaan.
Joshua had a challenging task as he had to replace Moses’s ministry to the Israelites, lead them to the promised land, and face the chariots of iron.
This scenario also applies to us today, where we need courage in the things we do, especially for God. Even in the Church, for it to grow spiritually, we understand that we will also be facing the adversaries, the ‘giants,’ and the chariots of iron.
Hence, we need to follow God’s words and His command, which is for us to be courageous.
At the beginning of the passage of Joshua 1:9, ‘Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of good courage?’. God commanded Joshua even before he took on the challenging journey. Also shown in verse 6, ‘be strong and of a good courage‘ and verse 7, ‘be thou strong and very courageous.’ The Lord emphasized it three times, as He took it as a serious command, not just words of comfort.
The Lord called us to serve Him, preach His words, spread His gospel, and win souls for Him. Even in dark times like this, we need to remember that courage is an essential command for us to press on for God. Since it is God’s command, God will lead us through the path and provide us what we need to fulfill His command.
God never promised us that it would be easy because even during Jesus’s ministry, He said that He sent us forth as sheep amid wolves, and we are to be wise as serpents but harmless as doves. We know that we are playing in the devil’s field; let’s remember not to be foolhardy.
We understand that things may be callous while carrying out our Christian duties, and sometimes we are prone to quit or say no to God, but doesn’t the Bible also say that God commands us to rejoice too, despite all the trials and afflictions that we have to go through?
If we genuinely want to experience God’s blessings, we need to go by God’s will and command, not our own. We surely cannot pick and choose, to want only the sweetness and grace from God, but not when He commands us to be strong and courageous for His sake.
Many Christians in their churches choose only to worship God when the activities are entertaining and easy but forego the tasks and duties that require more discipline, righteousness, and possibilities of persecution.
It is essential for church members to come together, to strengthen one another to serve God together.
In every trial that God gives us, we will walk out of it, either becoming stronger or weaker. If we choose to go according to God’s will, we will be strengthened. If we do not learn to surrender, humble ourselves, and grow from the trial, we will become weaker for sure. For instance, did we allow the pandemic to strengthen our character in God’s glory, or did we sink deeper into despair? God is constantly testing and trying our strength because through trials, we will show God if we are worthy of Him to continue to use us to glorify Him.
‘Be strong and of a good courage.’ Again, back to the Joshua 1:9 passage, be mindful that there is a good courage and a foolish one. We need to use our courage for the greater good, not to do things that are harmful to ourselves, desecrate our bodies, or defile God’s name. These will not please God. The devil uses media to deceive us with the wrong kind of information and pervert the meaning of being courageous, leading people to make foolish decisions.
Therefore, we should rely on the word of God and outsmart the devil.
Matthew 10:28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
As Christians, press on for God no matter how much the devil is trying to stop us. The most the devil can do is to harm our bodies, but not our souls.
‘Be not afraid’. In verse 1, God also commanded Joshua not to have fear. Often, we back out because of fear. According to the scripture, fear is a sin unless it is the fear for God, which is considered a healthy fear.
Satan is the adversary and wants us to experience the terrible and unhealthy fear so that he can slip in and cause us to suffer from depression, insomnia, and all the negative effects associated with the fear. In contrast, our fear for God will sanctify us and lead us to the truth, as Psalms 1:7 mentions that our fear for the Lord is the beginning of all knowledge.
God has more power over both our bodies and souls, so shouldn’t our fear be towards Him? Yet our God is so gracious and merciful, knowing that we may backslide because of our sinful nature, He encourages us to ‘be not dismayed.’
At one point, He loved us so much that He sent Jesus to die for us on the cross! If we rely on ourselves, we will not triumph. Hence we need to surrender to God and depend on Him to put us under Jesus’s blood.
Joshua 1:9 ‘For the Lord thy God.’ When we surrender to God in our particular trial and predicament, do we make God personal to us at that moment? When we disclose our utmost hopelessness and helplessness to God and hold onto the string of faith attached to God, that’s when God becomes personal to us.
God convicts and blesses every one of us differently and individually according to His spiritual dealing with us. Our encounter with God should be honored and appreciated deeply.
The last part of verse 9 ‘is with thee withersoever thou goest,’ this last bit of the passage enlightens us, alongside Romans 8:28 that the Lord will somehow make everything work together for good. Often we backslide and mess things up, but God has His way to pick up those broken pieces and make something wonderful from them.
Always remember that God has our back even when everyone else doesn’t, or even when we don’t.