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“Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9
Is the world today a cause for fear for you? Or timidity? Or maybe, with COVID as a continuing threat, it doesn’t seem like fear but rather sound caution.
Social distancing has become a way of life. We have stepped back from so much of life…
At this time in the Biblical account of the Israelites entering their Promised Land, the great leader Moses had died. God then gave Joshua the responsibility of leading them in the conquest.
Three times the Lord told Joshua to be strong and courageous. Then even the people of God a fourth time urges Joshua in the same way.
Why was Joshua needing enCOURAGEment? He was being charged with a huge and costly undertaking. Transporting all those tribes into a land where they weren’t just aliens but enemies.
In preparation, Joshua counseled with the Lord, and in obedience, he gathered his warriors. 40,000 strong. Seems plenty, right? But wait…
God showed Himself mighty on behalf of Joshua and all the people. He held back the rain-swollen Jordan River for them to walk across on dry ground. You can imagine the fear this struck in the hearts kings of the lands on hearing this great miracle.
As Joshua continued to prepare the people to take possession of the land God had already given them, he decided to, one more time, spy out Jericho.
When Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua approached him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?” “Neither,” He replied. “I have now come as Commander of the LORD’s army.” Then Joshua fell face down in reverence and asked Him, “What does my Lord have to say to His servant?” The Commander of the LORD’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so. – Joshua 5:13-15
Joshua had the great privilege of seeing a Christophany – a manifestation of Christ. This was no angel. This was the Lord Himself. The brief conversation between the two speaks volumes to us.
Joshua was on his way to Jericho because he felt the battle was his to win and he wanted to be as prepared as he possibly could be. On seeing the Lord, sword drawn and discovering who He was, Jericho was reminded whose battle it really was.
Have you heard that expression “I’m not here to take sides, I’m here to take over”? That was part of what God was communicating to Joshua. His call for him to be strong and courageous was to prepare him for his part of the battle, but also to ready him for what God would do.
When we are afraid about what’s going on in the world around us (COVID, the economy, violence in our cities, [fill in the blank]), our temptation is to circle the wagons or close ranks. But…
Photo Credit: Facebook, A. W. Pink
We don’t have a need to be strong or courageous if we stay distanced from one another, hunkered down in as small a world as we can make for ourselves. What if, however, God has something larger for us?
He won’t leave us without His presence or His provision. Now there will be those who still contract COVID, and those who lose jobs or have financial reversals. There will be those of us in hard situations… but…
A battle belonging to God…for us…is being waged in the unseen by the Commander of the Lord’s Army. I’m reminded of Daniel 10:13, where Daniel had prayed and had to wait for three weeks for the answer. Spiritual warfare is very real, but even that does not have to frighten us, because we know who battles for us.
“You, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. I cried aloud to the LORD, and He answered me from His holy hill. Selah. I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the LORD sustained me. I will not be afraid of many thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around…Salvation belongs to the LORD; Your blessing be on Your people! Selah.” – Psalm 3:3-6
The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom [or what] shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom [or what] shall I be afraid? – Psalm 27:1,2
May we have the warrior heart of Joshua, dressed and ready for whatever battle is before us, and may we have the heart of one submitted to the mightiest Commander this world will know.
Whatever our circumstances, we can be strong and courageous. He means for us to show up for the battle…but it belongs to Him. Thankfully.
The Commander of the Army of the Lord – Northern Seminary – really neat piece on this topic
Photo Credit: Jesus the Great I Am