One of the greatest promises that God gives us in His Word is that He will not leave us. This is a promise that is found in the Bible several times. The one that we are going to discuss today is Joshua 1:9. Before we delve into this verse, it is important to know what is going on before it.
The Book of Joshua begins with Moses’ death. The man God used to lead the Israelites to the promised land has now died. The Israelites have not yet occupied the land that the Lord has promised. Now a new leader must be entrusted to lead the Israelites. That new leader is Joshua.
After the forty year journey, Joshua finds replacing Moses is an overwhelming task. The Israelites disobedience was an issue that even Moses wasn’t successful at overcoming. It is not surprising that Joshua was feeling overwhelmed by his new position.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
“Have I not commanded you?”
Joshua questioned his ability to do the task that God had for him. As God laid out HIs plan for Joshua in verse 3, He stated, “I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses.”. In verse 4, God tells Joshua how far his blessings will take him. God still had to convince Joshua again in verse 5 by telling him, “No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life…” God also continues to add, “…as I was with Moses…”.
Between verses 1 and 9, God said the same encouraging things to Joshua five times! God wanted Joshua to know that He was the One that had given Joshua this task. God commanded Joshua to lead His people into the promised land.
“Be Strong and Courageous”
After God continued to tell Joshua what His plan was, He then began to tell Joshua what his next steps should be. In verses 6-8, God told him twice to be strong and courageous. Why so many times in such a short span of time? We do not hear Joshua’s side of this conversation during these verses although I get the feeling that Joshua’s self doubt was holding him back. God didn’t just want Joshua to be strong and courageous, he needed him to be those things.
Also, God knew what was coming and that the battle would be hard. God knew that some of the actions He would ask Joshua to do would make no sense. But God also knew that Joshua was the person that would perform as He commanded. He needed Joshua to be courageous!
“Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged,”
It seems strange for God to tell Joshua not to be afraid after He had just told him to be courageous. I think this is an indication of how important this command was although it is clear why God is telling Joshua not to be afraid. God knew where His commands would be leading and He knew the battle was going to be hard. Being afraid would be a normal emotion given the circumstances.'Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” ~ Joshua 1:9
Joshua was already discouraged because of Moses’ death. Because the journey had taken so long and the battle seemed so hard, Joshua was discouraged. By telling Joshua not to be discouraged, God is addressing Joshua’s doubt in God.
“for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
This is God’s promise to Joshua and it is the culmination of everything that God has spent the entire chapter trying to convince Joshua. God was telling Joshua to put his emotions aside because He would be with him no matter what would come. God wanted him to know that He would not leave him. This was also said in verse 5 when God said, “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.”.
Is this promise only for Joshua?
Yes but that does not mean that it can not be applied to our lives if we are careful how we do it.
God did tell Joshua what the outcome would be in verse 6. He told him that “…you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.” We are not given that luxury so we have to be careful not to apply this verse as a promise of our success.
God also didn’t tell Joshua that the times would not be hard. If that was the case why would He tell him to be courageous and to not be afraid? Following God’s will in our lives does not mean that it will be smooth sailing.
Sum It Up
The greatest part of this story is what Joshua did after this conversation with God. Joshua acted! In verses 10 and 11, Joshua ordered his commanders to tell the people to get prepared and that they would be crossing the Jordan in three days. Joshua made it clear that these were the orders from God and that they would be going to the land that God had promised.
Sometimes we have to be reassured several times by God when He is telling us His will for our lives. Does he have to tell us numerous times to stop doubting ourselves and to be courageous? Does He have to remind us that He is with us always and will not leave us?
I know that for me personally, I have taken more convincing at times than could be told in 9 verses. I also know that sometimes my doubts have been wider than the Jordan River. But God does hold out this promise to be with us within the sacrifice of His son, Jesus. That is the portion of the promise that is completely for us.
Is there a time in your life when God was trying to convince you to be courageous?