Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.
The book of Joshua is about the Israelites’ conquest of the Promised Land. They do not complete the conquest, there are still bits left unconquered when this book closes, but they make a good beginning. This morning’s verse is the end of the words God speaks to Joshua immediately after Moses’ death.
When people close to us die, it can shock us into inaction. Many years ago, the younger of my sisters died. The phone call that informed me of her death shocked me for a moment. A couple good friends happened to be present and asked me to start making decisions. Being forced out of the moment of shock helped in the hours that followed; hours in which my remaining sister and I made phone calls to inform my late sister’s friends that she had died. Some people could afford to sit a while with the shock of an unexpected death. We could not. There was work to be done. And we were the ones to do it.
In a similar fashion, God steps into Joshua’s moment of shock and gives him marching orders. Moses is dead. Joshua is now in command. Follow God’s orders as Moses did and everything will go the way God intends it to. And Joshua, to his credit, follows God’s instructions. Immediately following this verse, Joshua goes around the camp and tells the leaders of the Israelites that the nation is crossing the river to begin their conquest of the Promised Land and they have three days to get prepped.
And God’s words to Joshua are marching orders for God’s servants today.
The first thing to know is whether or not God told me to do what I am thinking of doing. God asks Joshua, Have I not commanded you? This boils down to God asking Joshua to consider the source of the instruction. The task might look overwhelming. Leading the Israelites is a bigger job than Joshua has every really had to do on his own. But God is the One Who told Joshua to do it. And that comes with certain assurances.
The biggest assurance is that God will be with you wherever you go. So long as Joshua is walking the path that God has set for him, then God will be there at every turn. Every difficulty and every uphill battle will be filled with God’s presence.
In light of this, God tells Joshua to Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed. There will always be the temptation to shrink back from what God has commissioned me to do. If I am certain that God has called me to that, then I can be strong and courageous, confident that my God is with me.
Father, thank You for going before me into whatever place You call me to go. Please give me a courageous heart that is ready to follow You into those places without trembling or being dismayed.