A member of our church recently preached on a Sunday evening from Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
It’s fascinating to realize this was the third time in the first nine verses of Joshua that we read, “Be strong and courageous.” Why would God repeat himself like that?
God was speaking to Joshua as he was taking the mantle of leadership from Moses. Moses had just died, and Joshua was the new chosen leader for the people of Israel.
But Joshua must have realized what a daunting task he faced. Leadership is never easy. Leading people to follow the Lord is even more difficult.
After all, people have their own opinions about what to do, when to do it, and how to do it. Joshua may have been frightened to death at the task ahead of him.
And so three times God said to him, “Be strong and courageous.” God knew that Joshua would need the reminders.
By repeating himself, the Lord was telling his servant to stay at the task. Joshua was not to give up. He was to be faithful.
For the next few years, as recorded in the next 23 chapters of this book, we see the many things that Joshua did in obedience to the Lord. We see the children of Israel follow his instructions, and ignore his instructions. I’m sure that there were times that Joshua must have been ready to quit.
But God’s instructions and calling kept coming to his mind. “Be strong and courageous.”
And then there was this: the final phrase in Joshua 1:9 was the thing that Joshua most needed. It was the promise that kept him going. It was the truth to which he clung in times of doubt.
God said, “For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
I don’t know what is going on in your life, but if you are a follower of Jesus I know that God’s promise to Joshua is true for you, too. God is with you. That is the very meaning of one title for Jesus, Immanuel.
He will never leave you nor forsake you. You count on him. And that is enough.