Faithlife Sermons

It Takes Courage to Have Faith

Pastor Kevin Harris
Joshua: Faith & Fear  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  35:29
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Joshua takes over the leadership of the Hebrew nation and God prepares him for the invasion of Canaan.

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Introduction

We’re working through the Book of Joshua.
If you’ll remember, we left the Hebrew nation camped on the edge of the Jordan River. This is their second attempt at taking the Promised Land. Their revered leader Moses has just died (as have all the other Israelites who first came to the edge of the Promised Land but rejected God’s leadership). Joshua has just taken over leadership of the nation from Moses. Only Joshua and Caleb remain of the old guard that came to the Promised Land at Kadesh-Barnea. These two guys, the two spies that supported following God’s plan 40 years ago are leading the new generation of the nation to the Jordan River.
In addition there are 31 kingdoms occupying Canaan and every single one of them is filled with pagan deviants that want nothing to do with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
We know that God attempted to redeem the people of the land of Canaan, but they rejected Him. They are out of chances in God’s eyes.
Read with me Joshua 1:1-9. And as we read, I want you to take note of how many times you hear the words, “Be strong and courageous.” These are the words of encouragement that the Lord, God, has for Joshua on the eve of the invasion of the Land of Canaan.
Joshua 1:1–9 NASB95
Now it came about after the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, that the Lord spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ servant, saying, “Moses My servant is dead; now therefore arise, cross this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them, to the sons of Israel. “Every place on which the sole of your foot treads, I have given it to you, just as I spoke to Moses. “From the wilderness and this Lebanon, even as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and as far as the Great Sea toward the setting of the sun will be your territory. “No man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you. “Be strong and courageous, for you shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. “Only be strong and very 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. “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 success. “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
How many times did you hear me read “Be strong and courageous!”?
Here Joshua comes to his first test as a leader. And he is scared to death! God wanted it that way! God wanted for Joshua and the Israelites to be sitting there on the bank of the Jordan with the thought running through their heads, “There is absolutely no way we can do this on our own!”
How many of you have ever been there in life? I know I have.
PRINCIPLE God wants us dependent upon Him rather than being in control of every situation.
David Platt, President of the International Mission Board and Pastor of McLean Bible Church
David Platt Sermon Archive Courage in Joshua

Our Christian lives, and we as a church, were, in a sense, designed to be put in situations where from the perspective of this world, we should be afraid. Like, if we as a church want to live out a nice, comfortable Christian spin on the American dream and indulge and please and entertain ourselves, we can do that without God. However, when we set our face toward deepest, darkest need right around us and among the nations, then we will need God.

We were not made for independence and self-made success, but for a life of dependence upon God.
Being a Servant of the Lord (v 1)
Let’s look here at verse 1:
Joshua 1:1 NASB95
Now it came about after the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, that the Lord spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ servant, saying,
Moses was called by a title meaning “servant of the Lord.” The title carries a special meaning, which is only ever used of three people in the Old Testament: Moses, Joshua, and David.
lit. slave, servant
Joshua only earned this title after his death, indicating that he had lived the remainder of his life ensuring that God’s wishes were carried out.
As Moses servant, he carried a more regular title:
lit. aide, attendant, assistant, minister, servant
The Book of Joshua picks up directly from Moses’ writings in the books of Exodus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. In many ways Joshua directly fulfilled many of the commands that God had given directly to Israel through Moses.
It is also interesting to note that Joshua is taking his people into a promise that had been made to the forefathers of the nation of Israel. Certainly God had directly promised Abraham, Israel, and Moses that this land would be the land where he established His nation.
PRINCIPLE God will accomplish His plan with or without you according to His own timing.

I. God gave to Joshua three promises:

1. God would enable them to take the land (vv 2-4)
Joshua 1:2–4 NASB95
2 “Moses My servant is dead; now therefore arise, cross this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them, to the sons of Israel. 3 “Every place on which the sole of your foot treads, I have given it to you, just as I spoke to Moses. 4 “From the wilderness and this Lebanon, even as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and as far as the Great Sea toward the setting of the sun will be your territory.
God repeats the same promise here that he gave to Moses in Deut 11:24
Deuteronomy 11:24 NASB95
24 “Every place on which the sole of your foot treads shall be yours; your border will be from the wilderness to Lebanon, and from the river, the river Euphrates, as far as the western sea.
These promises go all the way back to Abram:
Genesis 12:7 NASB95
7 The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the Lord who had appeared to him.
Genesis 15:18–20 NASB95
18 On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your descendants I have given this land, From the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates: 19 the Kenite and the Kenizzite and the Kadmonite 20 and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the Rephaim
There is an important principle to note here...
PRINCIPLE God remembers His promises and works toward their completion.
God does not give up on His promises nor does He revise them when they seem impossible.
We can see here that God’s promises are rock solid. The people He chooses to fulfill these promises may change as situations change, but the promises will always remain until they are fulfilled.
2. God would be with them (v 5)
Joshua 1:5 NASB95
5 “No man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you.
Here is the remainder of the promise that God made to Moses.
Deuteronomy 11:25 NASB95
25 “No man will be able to stand before you; the Lord your God will lay the dread of you and the fear of you on all the land on which you set foot, as He has spoken to you.
This promise made to Moses is given to Joshua as well.
We can see similar “I will be with you” promises made throughout the Old Testament:
Isaac Genesis 26:3
Jacob Genesis 21:3
Moses Exodus 3:12
Joshua Deuteronomy 31:8, 23
We can even see this “I will be with you” promise echoed by Jesus himself as the final words to His disciples (and by extension to us as well):
Matthew 28:19–20 NASB95
19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
This idea is one that is tied directly with God keeping His covenant with His people.
3. God would keep His word (vv 6-9)
Joshua 1:6–9 NASB95
6 “Be strong and courageous, for you shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. 7 “Only be strong and very 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. 8 “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 success. 9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
We see throughout this section the exhortation from God to Joshua to “Be strong and courageous.”
lit. to be stout, strong, bold, alert
One possible translation of this is courageous, but a better translation may be resolute or determined rather than courageous.
God seems to be making a connection with the law here, which seem to indicate that Joshua can depend upon the law to shore up his courage as long as he remains steadfast with the teachings of the law.
In other words, Keep my law and you will have the courage to accomplish my goals.
In fact, we can certainly apply this to our own life as well. As we find ourselves doing God’s work, we often need the strength of God’s word in our life to help us through situations in life.
God was telling Joshua, an accomplished military commander, that he must root himself in the words that God had given to Israel rather than being rooted in military might and strength.
We’ll see this theme repeated throughout the book of Joshua. In fact, Joshua’s obedience to the law, was central to his success against the enemy.
What God requires of us when He makes a promise is the courage to step out on faith and possess what He has given to us, when He indicates that the time is right.
Warning about Success & Prosperity in the Old Testament
Don’t misunderstand v7-8 or take this passage out of context.
Joshua 1:7–8 NASB95
7 “Only be strong and very 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. 8 “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 success.
This is not a promise to us that we will always experience financial success. This theological error has often been repeated by preachers of the Prosperity Gospel.
The Old Testament almost never promises financial success. These words, however are often used to speak about success in life’s endeavors—those that please God and help fulfill His purposes.
PRINCIPLE When our lives are focused on God and obedient to His ways, then we will be successful in holiness.
The believer’s obsession should not be financial success, but holiness… that is… being set apart for God’s purposes.

II. We Claim These Same Promised in Fulfilling the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20)

Matthew 28:19–20 NASB95
19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
God made three promises to Joshua:
1. God would enable them to take the land (vv 2-4)
2. God would be with them (v 5)
3. God would keep His word (vv 6-9)
You may remember that we connected these names a few weeks back:
Joshua (Yehoshua)
Jesus in Greek, Yehoshua in Hebrew
In His Great Commission (His Great Command to the disciples, to his followers, to his church) there is a land to be claimed. There are nations to be conquered. There is a job to be done. We, the Church, are given that job.
By extension we can make the claim that God will empower us to take the land, just as He had promised the same to the Israelites.
We can also make the claim that God will be with us in accomplishing this task, because Jesus tells us that He will be with us.
We can also make the claim that God will keep His word, because we know that He never changes and that He will always accomplish His goals.
God has guaranteed us success among all peoples in the earth
We can count on the fact that we will be successful as we walk with Christ into a new kingdom and a new earth.
Success is not defined by how much stuff we have: house, car, swimming pool, vacations
Success is defined by living our lives devoted to the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is defined by giving your life to making His name known among all peoples of the earth.
In doing sharing the gospel message of Jesus Christ we will accomplish the very purpose of God.
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