Joshua 1:1-9: Courage and Obedience

Read Joshua 1:1-9

The first 9 verses of Joshua record God’s command to Joshua concerning what God would do with the Israelites. Moses had died and Joshua succeeded him as the leader of Israel. God charges Joshua and the people to cross the Jordan and go into the Promised Land. The land, as described by God here, stretched the length from the Hittite territory in the North to the Negev in the South, from the Mediterranean Sea in the west to the Euphrates in the East. This occupation, however, was not fully realized until the time of David. The command given to Joshua is rather intriguing – it is not a command to go in conquering the land, rather a command first to be strong and courageous and second to obey the commandments that God had given them in the book of the Law. The one who was going to do the taking and giving was God. And in this courage and obedience, God was going to go with them wherever they go.

Moses encouraged Joshua to be strong and courageous when he was handing over the leadership to Joshua before he died (Deuteronomy 31:6-8) and David said the same thing before he died to Solomon (1 Chronicles 28:20). The commission to Joshua to be strong and courageous is antithetical to being fearful and shrinking back. 40 years earlier, the Israelites were looking to go into the land after leaving Egypt. They sent in 12 spies and the spies came back. 10 of the 12 spies saw the task as impossible, and wanted to go back. Caleb and Joshua believed they could enter the land and take it. The result was devastating for that generation. Of the ones who left Egypt, only Caleb and Joshua were allowed to enter the land (Numbers 13, Numbers 14).

The promise that God would be with his people is found in Matthew 28:20 at the end of the Great Commission. Hebrews 13:5-6 quotes this on the context of love of money. The author also quotes from Psalm 118:6 that speaks of God as being a helper and asks what man can do to them. The surety of God’s presence in the life of the believer is reason enough to be strong and be courageous. At the same time, one should also obey the commandments too. The connection with courage and obedience is clear, and these qualities are what are needed to lead the people of God. The focus here is not on performing great deeds for God, rather focusing on being obedient to what God wants. It is God who does the taking and giving!

God, help me to courageous and obedient and leave the fighting up to you!