Monday, January 13, 2014
In this verse, we're given the what, as well as the why.
The What: Be strong and courageous
The Why: Because you're not alone
In the same manner that our last verse had the promise of God's continual presence, this verse is another security blanket for life. But let's not minimize the power of this command - let's set up the context.
God, through Moses, has called His chosen people out of Egypt and led them into the wilderness where He has given them His law. They are no longer a family or a people group. They are a nation. Millions of them. So God gives them His laws to organize them as a nation, to govern their worship and direct them into a new life - leading them to the land He had promised them.
But their lack of trust and rebellious hearts delayed this plan and after forty years of wandering in the wilderness, their leader has died (as well as the complainers) and a new leader is tasked with taking the people out of the wilderness and into the promised land. But the land is filled with squatters who will need to be dismissed, either willingly or by force, and the new leader, Joshua, has a daunting task ahead of him.
The people are energized and ready to get home. Joshua stands before God as a man who courageously stood against the rebellious tide some forty years earlier and now was going to lead them into dangerous yet promised territory. He is leading a military campaign and the invader is always at the disadvantage. But He has God with him and God's presence is what will bring the victory.
God tells him to be strong and courageous - do not tremble or be dismayed, because I am with you.
That was all Joshua needed. He would go nowhere that God was not leading. In obedience, he was prepared to follow, and the strength and courage he needed was provided by the presence of the One who was truly in command.
So what has God called you to do today that you need strength and courage? Are any of you conquering angry, pagan nations? I highly doubt that, but sometimes the task before us seems just as daunting. Some of you are under the same roof with angry, pagan spouses or children. Sounds harsh, but it's true. Some of you face hardships in employment or in relationships. Some of you feel the heat of persecution because of your relationship with God - do the other students mock you when you say God created? Or when you declare you're a virgin? Or when you refuse to watch the links they send you? Sometimes just choosing to forgive can be daunting - choosing to extend grace where the hurt has been great and continues to cause pain.
Here's the truth - God's instructions to godly living are less about pain-reduction and more about holiness-production. He is sanctifying us through His instruction because He wants to conform us into the image of His Son. God has so much more for us than a pain-free life. But obedience often times takes strength and courage and in the midst of the battle, in the midst of the storm, in the changing currents of everyday life He has promised to be with us.
What more do we need?
So today, be strong and courageous in your obedience to the Lord - He is with you wherever you go.