When he was alive, Moses had spoken these words over Joshua, “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you”. He then officially reinforced it by speaking the same thing to him publicly (Deuteronomy 31:6-8).
But after Moses died, the Lord spoke to Joshua directly. Three times, God told Joshua to be strong and courageous, because He would be with him, just as He had with Moses. Perhaps Joshua had secretly doubted whether Moses had heard correctly from God. Would he really be capable of leading the people of Israel? Moses was a hard act to follow. But now God told him, ‘Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you’ (Joshua 1:5).
God then gave a miraculous sign to confirm all His promises to Joshua and the people of Israel. They were able to cross the river Jordan, which was in flood, on dry land. It was the same miraculous power of God at work, holding back the waters of the River Jordan just as He had held back the waters of the Red Sea for Moses. Memorial stones were set up as a reminder to future generations of what God did. The promises of God weren’t just given to Joshua, but to all the people of Israel. They were all to be strong and courageous, because God was going to be with them at all times.
There was, however, a condition attached to these promises of God’s presence. ‘This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success’ (Joshua 1:8).
After the sin of Achan brought a terrible defeat and disaster upon the camp, followed by God’s judgement, Joshua led the men into victory over Ai, and then immediately taught the people all that was written in the Book of the Law (Joshua chapter 8).
In the same way, Jesus prepared His disciples. At the last Passover supper, He tells them ‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid’ (John 14:27). They were to be at peace because He would be with them by the power of the Holy Spirit, and they wouldn’t be alone, ‘I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you’ (John 14:18).
But we know that, after His resurrection, Jesus gave His disciples the task of teaching everyone about God’s kingdom as revealed by Himself to them. ‘Go therefore and make disciples of all nations … teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you’. Then He adds the promise ‘And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age’ (Matthew 28:19-20).
Prayer: Thank You, heavenly Father, that we have Your assurance and promise that You will never ever leave us alone to struggle on our own. You will come to us in Your love and Your mighty power. Wherever we go You will be with us and we don’t have to be afraid, even in the deepest and darkest places. Help us to be like Joshua and always remember to meditate on Your Word and obey all You have commanded us to do in our lives, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
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