God Has Expectations
Key Verse: “Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest.”
WE SHOULD FIRST NOTE, when contemplating these scriptures, the assurance that God is giving to Joshua that he wishes for him to have full confidence not in himself, but in the true and living God. He is encouraging Joshua to be strong, and to have a measure of courage that is not born out of self-reliance or recklessness, but that which comes from recognizing our own insufficiency. The Lord spoke very similar words of assurance to Moses, saying, “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.—Deut. 31:6
Attention should be called to the fact that the Hebrew word here rendered ‘strong’ is one that implies strength of arms and shoulders. It gives the thought of being ready for aggressive warfare. The word rendered ‘courage’ has an association with the lower limbs and implies defensive power, or steadfastness. This type of courage looks to the Lord for assistance. The importance of this can be found in the reality that God had not promised to give his people their possessions, but they were to fight and conquer their foes.
Joshua, as the successor of Moses, needed this type of encouragement on the occasion of the Israelites entering the land of promise. Although they had been forty years in preparation for this event, they had to realize that great difficulties stood before them. God explained to them that this gift was not because of their worthiness, but because of his favor toward them in pursuit of his own great plans which he had previously outlined to Abraham. “Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father.” (Gen. 26:3; Exod. 12:25) He further explained to them that the people of Canaan were not the people who he desired to have in the land. Joshua and Israel would have to take forcible possession of the land. In carrying out these events concerning the children of Israel, God promised them their own land, and would help them to possess it.
In the case of the footstep followers of Jesus, they receive this promised help as found in the words of our Lord, “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” (Heb. 13:5) The true ground of contentment is the realization of the Lord’s care, and that his wisdom and grace are being exercised towards us, and the things that he grants to us are the things that are best for us. He is always present to comfort, bless, and make all things work together for good to those who love God, to those called according to his purpose. (Rom. 8:28) As in the example from the Lord’s dealings with Joshua, our strength and confidence should be in him who declared this to us. “Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.”—Gen. 15:1