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Be Strong and Courageous—Joshua 1:7–16

Monday, May 30, 2011, 12:34
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Be Strong and Courageous

June 12, 2011

Lesson: Joshua 1:7–16

Key Verse: Joshua 1:7

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Introduction

Our Lord desires that we be strong and courageous in following Him. We are encouraged to grow strong in the Lord by remembering what the Lord has done in the past. The Psalmist gives this picture of the Lord as our Deliverer: “We have heard with our ears, O God, our fathers have told us, what work thou didst in their days, in the times of old. How thou didst drive out the heathen with thy hand, and plantest them; how thou didst afflict the people, and cast them out. For they got not the land in possession by their own sword, neither did their own arm save them: but thy right hand, and thine arm, and the light of thy countenance, because thou hadst a favor unto them” (Psa. 44:1–3). Because of this remembrance the Psalmist then declares: “Thou art my King, O God: command deliverances for Jacob.”

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Very Courageous—Joshua 1:7–9

The Lord continues to bless Joshua as His servant who would lead His people to the land that He promised: “Only be thou strong and very courageous.” The Lord never calls upon His servants to follow Him without giving to them the ability to do so. The one who said, “I will be with you” will never leave them without His presence and power. David’s words ring true in the life of God’s chosen disciples: “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? …I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord” (Psa. 27:1, 13–14). Our faith and trust in the Lord is our strength and courage.

Be “very” courageous, be exceedingly diligent in the work of the Lord; “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.” God’s law is being written upon our hearts, giving to us a moral standard by which our character is being built, that we would be like Christ in His righteousness; “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21). By the Word of God our souls have been given a new birth in Christ; and by the Word of God we serve Him who is our Lord: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. …Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves” (James 1:17–22). Our prosperity or success rests upon our obedience to that Word which is both infallible and effectual in our lives.

God continues, “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.” The achievement of Joshua, as well as of the saints today, finds its success in God alone, who said, “Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.”

Discussion: How does the Word of God encourage us to be strong in our service for Christ?

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Joshua Commands—Joshua 1:10–16

Joshua, in obedience to the Word of God, “commands the “officers of the people, saying, Pass through the host, and command the people, saying, Prepare your victuals; for within three days ye shall pass over this Jordan, to go in to possess the land, which the Lord your God giveth you to possess it.” Tribes and families and their animals are to prepare themselves for this crossing. Overseers and heads of households are told to prepare to travel, giving thought to the food they would need for such a trip. Joshua sent word to the Reubenites and Gadites “and to half the tribe of Manasseh,” telling them, “Remember the word which Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, saying, The Lord your God hath given you rest, and hath given you this land.” However, their “wives, your little ones, and your cattle, shall remain in the land which Moses gave you on this side of Jordan; but ye shall pass before your brethren armed, all the mighty men of valor, and help them; Until the Lord have given your brethren rest, as he hath given you, and they also have possessed the land which the Lord your God giveth them: then ye shall return unto the land of your possession, and enjoy it, which Moses the Lord’s servant gave you on this side Jordan toward the sun rising.”

The response to Joshua was, “All that thou commanded us we will do, and whithersoever thou sendest us, we will go.” M. Henry wrote that “We must thus swear allegiance to our Lord Jesus, as the captain of our salvation, and bind ourselves to do what he commands us by his word, and to go where he sends us by his providence.” Elders, the under-shepherds or overseers under Christ the King and Head of the Church, must understand this kind of allegiance that they may love and feed the flock. The Apostle Peter stood alongside the Elders of the congregations, taking to his heart as well as theirs: “The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed; feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away” (1 Peter 5:1–4).

Elders, leaders chosen of the Lord to serve Him as He builds His congregations, seek the prayers and encouragement of the people. Thus they must be examples before the flock. Henry concludes then that the people “animate” Joshua “to go on with cheerfulness in the work to which God had called him; and, in desiring that he would be strong and of a good courage, they did in effect promise him that they would do all they could, by an exact, bold, and cheerful observance of all his orders, to encourage him. It very much heartens those that lead in a good work to see those that follow with a good will. Joshua, though of approved valor, did not take it as an affront, but as a great kindness, for the people to bid him be strong and of a good courage.”

Discussion: What should the relationship be between the people and their leaders within the congregations of Christ Jesus?

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Lessons are based on the International Sunday School Lessons for Christian Teaching, copyright © 2011 by the Committee on the Uniform Series.

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