“Have I not commanded you? 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, emphasis added
When Moses died, and Joshua was commissioned to be the head of God’s army on earth, it must have seemed like a formidable task to him! Of this challenge, John MacArthur writes:
Joshua was approaching 90 years of age when called on by God to lead a seven plus year war against entrenched enemies. At age 90, Joshua had graduated from prep school. He had followed Moses for 40 years, everywhere he went. He had learned to obey and see God at work in protecting the nation of
There were giants, there were huge walled cities and vast armies, and there was this group of people that hadn’t been exactly cooperative with Moses. And what would be a normal human response? FEAR. And that is exactly what the Lord confronts and comforts Joshua about—be courageous, don’t fear since I am with you.
God speaks to Joshua, and gives him a promise—Joshua 1:9. “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”2
When the Lord God the Son, the commander of the hosts of the Lord, came and spoke to Joshua, He called him to lead the nation and to perform all the conquests ahead. Think about what a monumental task that involved: Joshua was to lead an untrained army of three million into a hostile territory and do frontal attacks on established armies, cities, and walled towns. Imagine coming up to a forty-foot-high wall with your bow and arrow and saying, “Alright you guys, you might as well surrender now. We’re here to take over your city!”
Joshua’s army didn’t have aerial bombardment drones or M-16s; these farmers and herdsmen had only arrows, slingshots, and spears. So this was a fearful prospect indeed—for all Israelites! Therefore, God told Joshua in verse 9: “I don’t want you to be dismayed or afraid. I want you to know that I, the Lord, am with you. And the way you will experience My presence is by meditating on My Word. Let it fill and overflow your heart!”
Fearfulness is a common malady. I meet people all the time who are terribly afraid. In fact, a while ago, one young man ran up to me and announced, “I heard a sound in the closet!” Of course, since he was only six years old at the time, his being afraid came as no surprise. (The sound was his sister playing with her LEGO® set, but he thought it was a monster.) Now then, if you are six, afraid of the dark, and you suddenly hear strange sounds in the closet, a fear response is normal. But should you still be that fearful in a few more years, that is bad news. Therefore, the Lord says to be progressively letting His Word richly dwell in you. Being a Word-filled believer will keep you from fearing terrorist attacks, ill health, lack of security, and an unknown future. God does not want us living in constant fear, so He tells us plainly, “Fear not!”
There is one solution for facing trouble: take God with you. There is one antidote for fearfulness: experience God’s presence as you live out the Word-filled life!
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