“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid or dismayed. For the Lord thy God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).
Today, Christians are in the midst of a fierce battle, the battle between good and evil — and this battle is for a heavenly kingdom and eternal glory. God has a message for those who have made the decision to stay at their post of duty in these last days even to those who feel the battle is too fierce and are on the verge of giving up, God has a message for you too!
In looking at the context of Joshua 1:9, we realize that this is not the first time, nor the last, that God tells Joshua to be strong and courageous. In fact, He gives him this message 7 times–4 times in the first chapter alone! Why do you suppose God had to repeatedly tell Joshua to be strong and courageous? Maybe Joshua is afraid; maybe, after all, his humanity his getting the best of him. Moses, their great leader and military genius, is no longer with them.
In “Patriarchs & Prophets,” Mrs. White recounts that Moses was such a good military commander that he was the commander of choice for the army of Egypt. The soldiers would rejoice when they learned that Moses was in charge. Additionally, Moses was a great statesman; he appeared to be fearless. Exodus 20:20-21 relates that Moses drew near when everyone else drew away because of his or her fear. With such a high precedent set, perhaps Joshua’s fear could be justified. Before him lay the task of guiding approximately 2 million people–the newly formed, oppressed, and confused nation of Israel who had been wandering in the desert for more than 40 years because of their discontentment with being God’s people–across the Jordan river into the promised land.
To make matters worse, inhabitants of this promised land were wicked nations who not only despised the Hebrews and their God but were also highly skilled in warfare. With all of these circumstances under consideration, we could easily sympathize with Joshua’s fear and see his God-given charge as an impossible task. But, when we look at Joshua’s character more closely, we see that he was no coward. Remember, he had been one of the men sent to spy out the promised land, and he had first-hand knowledge of it. He and his friend Caleb were ready to conquer the promised land 40 years before, so Joshua was no stranger to this challenge; however, Jesus still tells him 7 times to be strong and of good courage. It is perhaps true that Joshua had been somewhat afraid, but God wanted him to understand something much deeper: He wanted him to understand Who the true source of courage and strength is.
An example of this important lesson of true courage can be found during Jesus’ time. Picture the apostles hanging out with Jesus, and we could, at first glance, pick the most courageous of all of them to be . . . Peter. Peter exuded the most courage and was typically the first one to speak–the first one to command everyone. He seemed, on the surface, to be the brave one; however, when the true test of courage came and guards and religious leaders were coming for his Master, Peter failed. He showed outward strength by cutting off the servant’s ear but was filled with fear in reality. This was also evident when he was pressed three times to reveal his identity and association with Jesus and denied any contact with Him. Mrs. White writes regarding Peter, “If he had been called to fight for his Master, he would have been a courageous soldier but when the finger of scorn was pointed at him, he proved himself a coward” (Desire of Ages 712).
True courage is not really displayed when everyone is watching; true courage is seen when no one is watching you. In the times when you are alone and have to make a decision for right or wrong, which will you choose? True courage is saying “no” when all others are bending and saying “yes” to things they should not do. True courage is seen in submission to Christ. The type of courage God is looking for is the courage to do the right thing, no matter what the cost may be.
This type of courage made the difference between a standing wall of Jericho and a crumbling wall of Jericho in Joshua 6, a flowing river of Jordan and a parted river of Jordan. Militarily, it would look absurd to walk around a city with music as your primary offensive. Realistically, it would appear nonsensical to walk through a major body of water. But, God said it! So, Joshua did it. He did not argue with God; he obeyed. As a result, the walls came tumbling down and the waters parted. Imagine if Joshua had persisted and argued with God. Imagine the calamities that would have happened to the Israelites if Joshua had not submitted to Christ and obeyed. Submission to Christ, Israel’s Supreme Savior, was Joshua’s true test of courage.
How can we attain this type of godly courage and strength today? It does not come from forcing oneself to be brave or courageous. Rather, it comes through an awareness of your true condition as a sinner and an awareness of who God is and what He did, is doing, and will do for you. This awareness comes only when we submit our will to Christ and decide to engage in a daily communion with Him ourselves through faith. This type of awareness from personal experience will cause you to trust and love God wholeheartedly. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear because fear has torment. He that fears is not made perfect in love” (1 John 4:18).
That is why the second part of Joshua 1:9 states, “Do not be afraid or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Total trust in God and His sure word is what God demanded from Joshua and what he demands from us in these last days. Trust in God and His word reveals to us the heart of God and gives us access to its ever-sustaining presence and peace to face anything:he loss of yesterday, the aches and pains of today, the uncertainty of tomorrow. Most importantly, it helps you to be in the center of God’s will – a sweet place to always be!
The following excerpt from “Selected Messages” tells us, “I seem to see Jesus saying to you, ‘Lean on Me, lean hard. I will bear you up. My arm shall never fail you. It shall be strong to support you over all the rough and difficult places. Only make Me your trust and you shall be guided safely and upheld firmly” (260).
It is important for each of us to listen to God today because He wants to use you for His glory, GYC. There are many people in our community today who have a desire to worship the true God; they are tired of their lifestyle or are living without hope. God is calling each one of us to work with Him. He wants to use you to bring them home, to teach them how to have a saving relationship with Christ. Maybe your Wall of Jericho is time, or maybe it is that you are afraid of people. Maybe your Jordan River is a struggle with unbelief, or perhaps it is your health. Whatever your Jordan River is today, God is calling you to be strong and of good courage. Do not be afraid or dismayed for He has promised that He will be with you wherever you go. Will you trust Him today to help you be bold for Him? GYC, now is your time.