1After the death of Moses the LORD’s servant, the LORD spoke to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ assistant. He said, 2“Now that my servant Moses is dead, you must lead my people across the Jordan River into the land I am giving them. 3I promise you what I promised Moses: ‘Everywhere you go, you will be on land I have given you—4from the Negev Desert in the south to the Lebanon mountains in the north, from the Euphrates River on the east to the Mediterranean Sea on the west, and all the land of the Hittites.’ 5No one will be able to stand their ground against you as long as you live. For I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you.
6“Be strong and courageous, for you will lead my people to possess all the land I swore to give their ancestors. 7Be strong and very courageous. Obey all the laws Moses gave you. Do not turn away from them, and you will be successful in everything you do. 8Study this Book of the Law continually. Meditate on it day and night so you may be sure to obey all that is written in it. Only then will you succeed. 9I command you—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:1-9, NLT)
The Daily DAVEotional
In December, our family attended a Christmas Eve Service at Saddleback Church in Southern California. The church was as full as I’ve seen it since before the pandemic.
After 40+ years, this was the first Christmas Eve service without Rick Warren as the Senior Pastor.
After a great session of worship through singing, the new pastor, Andy Wood, came out on stage and greeted the crowd. Knowing that many of the people in the audience may not have attended a Saddleback service since last Christmas, he shared, “Some of you may be wondering, ‘who’s this guy?’ Well, after 42 years at the helm of Saddleback church, Pastor Rick stepped down as the senior pastor at the end of August. I remember last spring when I heard that Pastor Rick was going to be stepping down. I wondered ‘who is the moron who is going to follow the legendary Rick Warren in leading Saddleback church?’ Well, it turns out I’m the moron and I’d like to welcome you to Saddleback’s Christmas Eve Service!”
In Joshua 1, there is a similar exchange of leadership that occurs. Moses, who has led the Israelite people for 40 years, has just died and Joshua, his loyal understudy, is now assuming the mantle of leadership.
Try to put yourself in Joshua’s shoes (or sandals as it were) for a moment if you can. What do you think was going through his mind? He’s probably asking questions like:
Do I have what it takes?
What if I fail?
How can I effectively lead all these people?
I’m not Moses. What if these people won’t follow me?
What emotions do you think you would be feeling if you were asked to take over for a legendary leader? Keep in mind too that Joshua was tasked with finishing the job of bringing the entire Israelite nation (probably over 1 million people) into the promised land, which would require countless military conquests to displace the many different inhabitants of the land.
It’s quite possible, maybe even likely, that Joshua was experiencing fear, insecurity, anxiety, doubt, hesitation, loneliness and even grief at the loss of his friend and mentor.
God’s message to Joshua is simple: be strong and courageous.
God gives Joshua three reasons to be strong and courageous.
First, he says Joshua should be strong and courageous because he (Joshua) will lead the people into the land that God swore to give them. God had made a promise that He would bring His people into the land and God is faithful to fulfill His promises. The first reason to be strong and courageous is because God is faithful and completely trustworthy to do what He has said He would do.
The second reason to be strong and courageous is because God has given guidelines for success. Twice in this passage, God says that if Joshua obeys His word and follows His commands, he (Joshua) will be successful (verses 7 and 8).
In God’s economy, success is not measured by the amount of money you have, the kind of car you drive or the zip code where you live. Success is measured in obedience to God’s word. By following God’s commands, Joshua would be ensured of success.
The third reason to be strong and courageous is because of God’s presence. God tells Joshua that he doesn’t have to be afraid because He (God) will be with him.
You may not be in a position where you’re replacing a legendary leader, but you may be experiencing doubt, anxiety or fear just the same because of the situation you’re in. God’s message is the same to us as it was to Joshua – we can be strong and courageous because God is faithful, God has given us guidelines that, if followed, will yield success, and God is with us.
What kinds of situations make it more difficult for you to be strong and courageous?
What difference would it make in your outlook if you truly believed that God is faithful to fulfill His promises, following His word ensures success, and we’ve been assured of His presence with us?
Which of the three reasons given to be strong and courageous (recognizing God’s faithfulness, obeying His word and experiencing HIs presence) are most difficult for you and why?
What systems or habits do you have in place to help you recognize God’s faithfulness, integrate God’s word into your life and experience His presence?
Photo by Dave Lowe – Saddleback Christmas Eve service, December 2022