“Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go”Joshua 1:9
After forty years of being second in command to Moses, Joshua has now been delegated the leadership position, under the Lord, to lead Israel. Four times in this chapter the Lord tells him to “to be strong and courageous” which tells us two things: 1) He was facing the humanly impossible; and 2) he was feeling the weight of responsibility. What could possibly allay his fears and uncertainty?
The Lord had the answer to that question and it is given in verse eight, “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it.” The Book of the Law, the first five books of our Bible, includes the covenant promises that the Lord had made with Israel. The previous generation had faltered at the promises of God and failed to enter the land. Of the twelve spies who spied out the land Joshua and Caleb were the only ones who recommended going forward. Forty years later Joshua was facing the same circumstance but this time as leader and with a new generation. Each generation must face a test as to whether they will believe and act on God’s word.
Our generation is facing such a test. Satan has desired to sift the church, as he did Peter (Luke 22:31-34), but equally Jesus has prayed for His church as He did for Peter. Peter would come through strong and of good courage. The professing church is being sifted. Out of this sifting a divide will become clear between those who are faithful to the Lord and His word and those who are not. As the Lord said to Joshua, strength and courage come from trusting in the word of God and God’s faithfulness to it and His people.
Testing the professing church will reveal the true church and expose false professors. This will have the effect of removing much of the haze around the true Gospel. One cannot honestly claim to be a follower of Jesus Christ and reject His teaching.
As we face this test, and it may well become severe very soon, we will remain strong and very courageous only as we meditate on and observe to do according to God’s word (Joshua 1:7). After the testing and separation the Lord will remove His own and then judge the nations as He has done on previous occasions (e.g. Noah & Lot).