Joshua has to be one of my favorite Biblical characters – what a guy! He got it. He was ready to take the Promised Land 38 years ago, but instead had to wander around with the fearful and faithless in the wilderness. You’ve got to admire him for having patience until everyone died except he and Caleb.
In today’s reading, they are finally preparing to cross the Jordan and step foot in the land God had given them. Joshua is ready to put his life on the line to carry out God’s purpose. He’s ready to face hostile forces to possess their God-given land. He’s God’s man of the hour and he stands head and shoulders above his peers spiritually. The first thing God says to Joshua is “Moses is dead. Arise and go over the Jordan”. Sounds simple enough, but the facts were: 1) the Jordan was a flood stage 2) the hostile forces across the river were expecting them. Maybe that’s why God told Joshua to be STRONG and COURAGEOUS!
I’ve never considered myself to be particularly strong and certainly not very courageous. But, just as Joshua and the children of Israel had to face enemy forces to take their Promised Land; so also we have to be strong and courageous if we are going to face enemy force to experience the thrill of conquest and see the deliverance from the wilderness of wandering aimlessly. The definition of courage: a quality that enables people to encounter danger with firmness and resolve in spite of inner fear.
Another notable fact in this story is that they were to prepare themselves for the invasion of enemy territory and the conflict ahead. They had to be prepared physically and spiritually. Joshua was adequately trained for the task, knew the Covenant, knew what the goal was, and most importantly he knew God!
Strong: valiant, established, fortified, courageous. God tells Joshua four times in the first chapter to be strong and courageous – it must be very important! Strength was in Joshua’s character, after all he had been sent out to face an army after they left Egypt and neither him or any of his fighting men had ever fought a battle – they had spent their lifetimes as slaves. He was battle scarred and ready to fight! He sent out spies, but not on a fact finding mission, but to preview what it was going to take to achieve victory! He was prepared to take Jericho by force, being totally unaware of the miracle that was before him. Evidently, God had been preparing Jericho for 38 years to fall at the hands of the Israelites. Rahab’s words “there is no courage in anyone because of you!” (Joshua 2:9)
The very first act in the invasion of Canaan was the courage it took for the priests to take up the Ark, lift it on their shoulders and wade out into the flood swollen river. It must have been extremely difficult given the weight of gold covered Ark. I have heard this referred to many times as the “first step principle”. God does not keep us from having to step into the rampaging currents of life, but He intends to take us boldly through them! How can we see God’s wonders, if we stay safely on shore and wait until the water recedes?
In today’s reading in Luke, we see that Jesus lets His disciples know that they can expect victory over the powers of darkness. It’s the Father’s pleasure to give us the Kingdom, supplying us with His peace and power. But, we can only expect to conquer new territory for God as we live in and appropriate His power to take radical steps by faith. It still takes the “strong” and “courageous” to experience conquest and deliverance.
Strong and Courageous, me? YES!