After Moses died, God gave Joshua the task of leading His people into the land He’d promised to give them. Although he’d been trained by Moses and had worked under him, the thought of replacing Moses and taking responsibility for these people must have filled Joshua with fear and trembling. He’d seen how rebellious and unbelieving they had been.
Joshua also knew what a challenge it would be to lead two million Israelites into enemy territory. The land was filled with walled cities, giants, well-armed soldiers, and chariots. Although these obstacles seemed insurmountable, Joshua remembered how God fought for His people by parting the water for them and burying the Egyptians and their chariots in the depths of the sea (Ex. 14:13).
The Lord’s promises were the basis for Joshua’s courage. Today our courage as believers comes from our relationship to God through His Son. Although our situations differ from Joshua’s, the principles and promises revealed in this passage are true for us as well.
God’s promise to Joshua. “Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you” (v. 1:5). We have this same assurance because God is living within us through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. Whatever fearful situations we face, we are not alone. Instead of looking around at the circumstances, we should look to the Lord, who is always faithful.
Joshua’s responsibility. “Only be strong and courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go” (v. 7). God didn’t give Joshua a war plan for victory. His success would only come by keeping his eyes focused on the Lord and doing exactly what He commanded in His Word. This was not a task to be done with natural, man-made strength but with obedience and the supernatural strength of the Holy Spirit.
This is the same blueprint for victory that God gives us. We are to do what He says, when He says, and how He says to do it. There is no room for picking and choosing which Scripture passages to believe and obey and which to ignore. The success God promises is not that of the world. In His eyes success is a godly life that He can use as a witness to the world and a challenge to fellow believers.
God’s Warning to Joshua
The Lord emphatically spelled out what Joshua must do in order to succeed at bringing the people into the Promised Land—“Be careful to do according to all that is written in it” (v. 8). Obedience is of utmost importance because God’s methods won’t always seem reasonable. When the people approached Jericho, the Lord gave Joshua a very strange strategy—march around the city once a day for six days, then seven times on the seventh day. Then shout and the walls will fall down (Josh. 6:3-5). If Joshua had not followed God’s directions, he would not have succeeded.
Like Joshua, we must trust the Lord and courageously obey no matter what He may require of us. As we focus on Him and move forward in obedience, we will be sufficient for everything He calls us to do.
This article is adapted from the Sermon Notes for Dr. Stanley’s message “Courage for the Difficult Tasks,” which airs this weekend on TV.