Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. 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. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. 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.”
History and Context:
At the end of Deuteronomy Joshua succeeds Moses as appointed leader of Israel. The book of Joshua covers Joshua's life as he leads Israel into the conquest of the promised land. This book shows the Lord as a warrior a conquerer, and many people have a difficult time with that. But the point of the book is to show how the Lord went with His servant and His people and strengthened them to take the land that was promised to them. Joshua was born in Egypt and became Moses' servant early on. He was one of two spies who trusted God enough to enter the promised land at the time originally planned (Numbers 14:6). Although the authorship of the book of Joshua has traditionally been attributed to Joshua himself, the Israelites didn't actually have writing until around the time of King David. This means that the stories were preserved orally until scribes were able to write them down.
This is the Lord's first speech to Joshua after Joshua was placed as Moses' successor and leader of Israel. Throughout the message, the Lord repeats the phrase "be strong and courageous" multiple times. He is encouraging Joshua that He will always be with him and that He will give him every piece of land that he walks on. The Lord is promising to give Joshua great things, but Joshua still has to go out and fight for them. He still has to choose to be courageous, to not doubt, and to fight for what the Lord had already promised him. He also must lead the people of Israel to do the same. Joshua could have chose, as the people of Israel had done before, to not go into the promised land. He could've decided that it was too difficult and that he preferred to stay in the wilderness, but the Lord admonished him to be "strong and courageous" and Joshua chose to trust the Lord.
The stories in the old testament are historical, but they are also analogies that fit our lives with God today. We all have some sort of "promised land". We all have something that God has promised us that we can have, as long as we fight for it. When the Israelites chose not to fight for the promised land they were stuck in the wilderness. God provided for them miraculously through manna, water from a rock, and quail, but they were still in the wilderness. Then it became Joshua's turn to decide. It was still a fight and it still required courage, but he chose to take what the Lord promised him.
What is your promised land? Have you been content with living in the wilderness? Have you shied away from fighting for the promises that God has given you? Or maybe you are simply waiting on God to make it happen without any action from you. Often when we are waiting on God, God is waiting on us! Start fighting for your promised land today!
Lord, I trust you and your promises for my life. I want to stop waiting in the wilderness and start living in the promised land. Lead me into those promises and give me the strength to fight. Thank you Lord! In Jesus' name, Amen!