Strong & Courageous
Good Morning! Church family and guests this is a very special time for not only the many students across this great land, but also for our many graduates and students who will be moving onto the next stage in life or moving onto the next upcoming grade. You know when I was in middle school and high school, I can recall how excited I was to be moving onto the next grade. It was also a frightening time not really knowing what was ahead.
Like many of our students and graduates who are moving onto the next transition in life, if you think about it we are all in transition. All of us are moving through this quest of life. Time as we know it does not stand still. As we go through life, have you ever thought of the opportunities God provides to us as every turn and every step to bring glory to His name? They are there waiting for us to take ahold, and they’re for us to do so. They are not mean to be wasted.
When these opportunities arise, sometime we need to stand strong an courageous to answer the call. Our passage this morning takes to the beginning of the book of Joshua. The central character of the book is not Joshua but God. God fights for Israel and drives out the enemy before them. He is a faithful God who desires a true covenant relationship with His people. The book of Joshua is also about Israel’s response to God’s covenant promise, and this morning we are going to get a taste of that. Joshua is standing at the threshold of a gigantic task.
Now of course the book of Joshua is a very well-known book. It’s a beloved book and for good cause. It’s also a book about new beginnings. Joshua is the record of what happened at the end of the 40 years of wilderness wanderings. They were so ready to enter into this wonderful land flowing with milk and honey.
It’s a book about warfare. The book of Joshua goes into great detail about the military victories, and some defeats of the nation Israel as they sought to take the promised land. Now we might wonder about, why would God give us a book like this in Scripture? It’s to remind us that we too are in a battle. But we are not in a war of flesh of blood. We are fighting a spiritual battle. This battle began on the day of your conversion and it will rage until the day you are called home. I wish the devil would take vacations every now and then. Don’t you? Wouldn’t it be great if he just took May off? No temptation. No harassment. No attack. We could all just kick back. Well it’s not going to happen.
Turn with me in you Bibles to Joshua. We’ll be reading chapter 1 verses 1 through 9.
1 After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: 2 “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites. 3 I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. 4 Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Mediterranean Sea in the west. 5 No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. 6 Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them. 7 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 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.”
Our first point this morning in these first couple verses is where God addresses Joshua directly, promising the land that He promised to Moses.
Joshua writes the words “after the death of Moses.” This is considered to a link to the book of Deuteronomy. It helps to link the various pieces of Israel history together. It’s the same when you start looking into the book of Judges. Judges is a continuum following Joshua’s passing.
Let’s turn our attention to the end of verse one, we come to an interesting word, aide. Depending on your translation it may read “aide or assistant.” In the Hebrew, this word can take on a couple different meanings. In this context, it is pointing to the means of service to an individual.
At one point or another we all have started a new task or job where we either were placed with a mentor. In a perfect world the mentor would take you under the wing and show you the ropes so to speak. You would be learning about all the different landscapes that pertained the job. We know learning is a process, and things take time to grasp. That is what’s happening here, when we see the word aide.
You could think of Joshua as a trainee. Joshua is not yet identified as a person who has earned all his stripes. The use of the word aide is to show the likelihood he had not yet “filled Moses’ shoes.” Joshua needed to grow into the job.
The land of Canaan had been promised to Abraham hundred of years before. Although God allowed Abraham’s descendants to be slaves, God never pulled back, or to say - oh just kidding Abraham. I wanted to see if you we really all in when I made the promise to you. God’s promise was always to bring them back to their own land.
It’s an awesome feeling to know the promises of God are true, and He never leads to think other wise. God will never say to you - oh just kidding. Isaiah had much to say about the promises of God. Isaiah said in:
13 For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.
If the book of Isaiah would have been written before Joshua, these words would have likely provided the encouragement they would have needed. In the next couple verses God does exactly that. God took pains throughout this charge to assure Joshua that Moses’s death would not end God’s presence with Israel, nor God’s guidance of Israel’s leaders.
For the Israelites to see the fulfillment of the divine promise, their feet will have to tread the land. No benefit will come to them without their active participation. The gift had already been given; the time had now come for the recipients—the Israelites—to possess it. Sometimes that sound easier said than done.
God tells the Israelites He would give them every place where they set their foot. God also lets them know what their boundary would be. He also lets them know no one would be able to stand against them. What a promise! Could you image the sovereign God of the known universe saying these things. Are your socks knocked off yet? Because mine sure are.
This is our second point this morning! God makes a great promise to Moses that I will be with you. We see that in Exodus 3:12:
12 He said, “But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.”
And now God is making the same promise to Joshua at the end of verse 5 “I will be with you. I will not leave or forsake you:
5 No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you.
This would provide special comfort to Joshua knowing that God would be with him in the same way He had been with Moses. Remember back to where Joshua is called an aide? Joshua would have been present during the many demonstration of God’s presence in Moses’ life, and would have known how significant the promise was.
Let’s change gears, we change from knowing God is always present to a command.
Can you think back to a time in your life where you were profoundly moved by a simple phrase of words? My grandfather use to say, if the plan doesn’t work, change the plan but not the goal. In verses 6,7 and 9, (We’ll come back to verse 8 in a minute) God issues Joshua a command, but God is also encouraging Joshua. God tells Joshua to be strong and courageous. This profound for Joshua, since God mentioned this three times! This is something that stayed with Joshua. God wove something into the fabric of who Joshua was as person. I can hear Joshua now, telling everyone who needed encouragement – be strong and courageous – stay strong and courageous. The command to be strong and courageous was repeated. He used these exact same words in verse 18 as encouragement for others.
When we get to verse 8. We really get to the good stuff. We have the stuff sandwiched in the middle. Verse 8 says:
8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.
There were no written Scriptures before Moses. God communicated to Moses by speaking to him. Moses had faithfully recorded all that God had given to him. This also means the first five books of Bible were available to Joshua and the people of Israel. In it God had given them all they needed to know to enter the promised land. They were not to depart from it. They were to meditate and observe on it.
Unlike Joshua who only had the first five books of the Bible, we have all of this! We have all of this sandwiched between these two covers. This “stuff,” this is the Word of God. This is all we need. This “stuff” will sustain us in every part of our live. This “stuff” will not only sustain us, it will provide direction in every area of your life.
Paul understood the importance of the Word of God. When he was writing in 2nd Timothy, this is a letter to a very close friend and coworker. Paul knew the road would be long and sometimes very difficult. He knew the Word of God is completely sufficient for our needs. Paul says in:
16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Many of us are in some kind of transition. That’s because life moves forward. Life does not stand still. No matter what stage of life you are in, whether just starting out or in the best years of your life. We can be completely secure in the Lord by studying the Bible because it’s God’s plan for our lives. God’s word contains everything we need to address all of our issues.
Let’s to change gears and address our students. I know it can be scary moving from grade to grade whether you’re transitioning from elementary to middle school or middle to High School. For those who are getting ready transition to college, you are getting ready for a life change. I want all of you to know there will be times when it will not be easy. You will be challenged and tested. Your testimony and morals will be tested. Be strong and courageous. Honor God! Even if that means you are standing alone. Do not be afraid or discouraged! Because, the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.
Joshua listened, obeyed and God honored this. I encourage your to put God first. Put God first in everything you do.
Church family, we’re going to do something a little different today for our closing song. Many of you in here are parents and grandparents. I would like for you to pray as a family, husband and wife, or as a group of friends, and lift your children, grandchildren or youth you know to the thrown of God.