In the opening verse of the exciting book of Joshua we find that Moses, the great man of God, is dead. Moses had led the Israelites to the threshold of the Promised Land, but they had stubbornly refused to obey God and enter it. Consequently, they had spent the last forty years in the wilderness, living the wandering life of homeless nomads.
Moses was dead, but God was not. God may bury His workers, but He does not bury His work. With the Israelites finally ready to take possession of the land God had given them, they needed a leader — and Joshua was the man. Before he began to lead, God took Joshua aside for a pre-game pep talk. He wanted to give Joshua the encouragement and instruction that would infuse his leadership with confidence.
Three times in verses 6-9 God told Joshua to “be strong and courageous”. If he was going to command armies, lead men into battle, and provide safety and sustenance for over two million people, he would have to exude extraordinary strength and uncommon courage. The good news for Joshua was that his strength and courage would be based on an amazing promise from God (v.5): “I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you.” That would make all the difference for General Joshua. With Almighty God on his side, he was unstoppable! And there was no need to be afraid of the enemy or to shrink back from the task: “Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (v.9).
God made it abundantly clear that Joshua would only succeed as a leader if he maintained an unbending commitment to “The Book of the Law” — God’s Word given through Moses. It had to be in Joshua’s mouth, constantly rehearsed verbally. It had to be on Joshua’s mind, the focus of his thoughts by day and the subject of his dreams by night. It had to direct Joshua’s moves as he lived in perpetual obedience to “all that is written in it” (v.8). God desired to lead the leader through the Word.
Brimming with confidence, Joshua wasted no time in calling the nation to make their long-awaited move westward, across the Jordan River (v.10-11). He spoke personally to the tribes who settled east of the Jordan, reminding them of their duty to cross over and fight for the other tribes (v.12-15). The involvement of these rough-and-ready fighting clans was crucial to Israel’s military success, and the General didn’t mince words. Their response (v.16-18) was everything Joshua could have hope for: “If you will follow God, then we will follow you. Only be strong (in the Lord) and courageous (because the Lord is with you).”
Just as God was with Joshua, He will be with you as you face your own challenges today. In every tough situation, in every encounter with that difficult person, and in every moment of temptation God has promised that He will never abandon you. Immerse yourself in His Word and center your life around His will — and hang on for the greatest adventure of your life!