“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)
Perhaps the fearless warrior Caleb is surpassed in strength and courage only by his faithful companion and Moses’ protégé, Joshua. God reminds Joshua when he assumes leadership of the Israelites that courageous obedience is a direct command from the Lord, as Caleb had testified many years earlier.
In his “inaugural address,” God tells Joshua three times in as many verses to “be strong and courageous.” After all, he’s going to need plenty of strength and courage as he faces fortified cities, iron chariots, and warriors of incredible stature. God knows that the tasks He is giving to Joshua are difficult indeed, and He therefore blesses him with strength and courage. God’s Word is powerful, and it does what it says. When He says, “Let there be light,” there is light. When He says, “Lazarus, come out!” the dead man comes forth. When He says, “Be strong and courageous,” he imparts strength and courage.
At the same time that God is blessing Joshua with the gifts he will need for the journey ahead, He is also emphasizing obedience to His Word: “Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left…Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it…” Even in this strict command, however, we find God’s grace at work in the form of promises attached to these orders: “…that you may be successful wherever you go…Then you will be prosperous and successful” (Joshua 1:7-8).
God’s Word always does what it says. In the law, God promises strength, courage, and success for those who follow His commands; success in our most vital struggle of life – drawing ever nearer to Him. But we don’t always follow His commands and obey His good and gracious law. The good news is that He also promises something else: “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool” (Isaiah 1:18).
Yes, God’s Word is powerful and effective, and it can be trusted. When He says, “Your sins are forgiven,” there is cleansing and renewal. When He says, “I am with you always,” His presence is real and immediate. Knowing this, we His warriors can venture forth with genuine strength and courage.
“So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace” (Isaiah 55:11-12).
Prayer: Heavenly Father, be with me on my journey this day. Preserve my faith, keep me ever mindful of Your promises, and grant me true strength and courage to do Your will. Wipe away all of my failures and restore me to service to You and to those people around me. Let me always proclaim the source of my joy and peace; the promise of forgiveness and salvation through Jesus Christ, Your Son, my Lord! Amen.