Be Strong & Courageous

Posted: January 8, 2009 in Joshua

Joshua 1-2, “Be Strong & Courageous”
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Introduction:
Welcome to the 1st OT book NOT written by Moses! 🙂 For many Christians, the most they know of Joshua is that he “fought the battle of Jericho & the walls came a-tumblin’ down.” But there’s a lot more to the book – and a lot more we can learn as we see the various types throughout Joshua.

Biblical typology can be a tricky thing to nail down as it can easily get into very subjective areas…but some things are plain, because the NT makes certain OT types perfectly clear. For instance – we know that the Rock that Moses struck in the wilderness was a type pointing to Christ because Paul explicitly tells us so (1 Cor 10:4). Knowing this, what can we know for certain regarding the types found in Joshua?
1. We can know Moses represents the Law & the Law does not deliver rest. (John 1:17)
2. We can know that Joshua is a type pointing to Jesus in many ways – primarily because “Iesous/Jesus” is the Greek transliteration of the Hebrew “Yeshua”…and the name means “Yahweh is salvation.”
3. We can know that Canaan does not represent heaven (as per many gospel hymns), but rather ‘rest’ from battling against sin (Heb 3-4). To an extent, we will have final rest from sin when we it is removed from our presence in heaven (glorification) – but the NT makes it clear that this rest is available today & that we are to be diligent to enter into it (Heb 4:11).

What does that tell us about Joshua? It tells us that although Joshua is absolutely a record of historical events, that it is also a teaching book. The moment we were born again, God freed us from the penalty of sin in our lives – in addition, He also frees us from the power of sin over our lives…we don’t have to give into its temptations. Yet many of us do – like Paul, we cry out, “Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Rom 7:24). And his answer is the same as our answer: the Lord Jesus Christ! Just like Jesus had to deliver us from death & hell, He also has to deliver us into victory and the abundant life. Our salvation is completely due to His gracious work through faith & not ours! Thus Joshua is an extended word-picture of what this looks like. What does it mean for us to walk in faith & conquer sin? Joshua & the Israelites demonstrate it in success & failure – and there’s much for every NT believer to learn from them in the process.

Actually, we don’t take very long to get into things at all…Joshua starts off with a bang as God calls the Hebrew leader to courage & the nation makes final preparations to enter the land by spying out what’s already there.

Joshua 1 (NKJV)
1 After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, it came to pass that the LORD spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, saying: 2 “Moses My servant is dead. Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them—the children of Israel. 3 Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses. 4 From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the River Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your territory.

A. 1st recorded instance of God speaking to Joshua personally…we know that Joshua had been with Moses on many occasions when God spoke – including on Mt. Sinai when Moses received the 10 Commandments & the Law. But this seems to be the 1st time that God directed His words at Joshua. [Remember the 1st time God spoke to you? ] What did God say? A lot of comfort, as we’ll see…

B. What’s God’s description of Moses? “My servant…” Amen! Moses was a prince, a shepherd, a husband & father, and the greatest prophet of God seen till the NT (other than John – Matt 11:11). Yet how did God know him? As “My servant” – there can be no greater description any of us could dream of! That we would be called by God as His own – and yet we’re not just His servants; we’re His friends & sons & co-heirs. The grace we’ve experienced in Christ is truly unfathomable!

C. Reaffirms the area of conquest… [MAP] Did Joshua fully conquer the land? There’s a bit of debate here – it does seem that the conquest was somewhat incomplete, though there may have been Hebrew settlements all over the region, even if living among other peoples. The point, though is that God is the One giving it to them – this is the fulfillment of the promises God made to Abraham & the rest of the patriarchs. Note the past tense “I have given” – God’s act had already been done; Joshua simply needed lead the Israelites in obedience in God’s completed work of victory.
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5 No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you. 6 Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them.

A. 3 calls to be strong & courageous. Call to courage #1: to take the land. God had promised it & provided for it, but if the Hebrews were to actually live there, they needed to go over & possess it. And this took courage – as does walking in the Spirit and abundant life that Jesus promised. It’s really easy to go back to old habits & old ways of doing things – after all, sin is what comes naturally to us. But to go forward & walk after Christ, that takes true courage.

B. Question: is Joshua expected to do this in his own strength? No – God is with him. What a wonderful promise! “I will not leave you nor forsake you.” Joshua is operating in faith, but his faith is not without a solid foundation – he’s going be trusting in the Lord God the entire time. Just as we ought to be…
__a. Understand that we have the same promise: Jesus never leaves us nor forsakes us. Heb 13:5 uses these exact words in reference to Jesus & Jesus Himself told us something similar in the Great Commission – Matthew 28:19-20 (19) Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, (20) teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. [] There is nothing that we’ll face in our Christian walk that we need to fear; Jesus is with us! And if God is for us, who can be against us?
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7 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. 8 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.

A. Call to courage #2: observe & obey the law. Considering the pressures our world gives us to disregard the word of God, it’s obvious why we need to be strong, courageous and resolute in our desire to do things God’s way.

B. How is Joshua expected to observe the law? He’s got to know it – God tells him to “meditate in it day & night…” What does it mean to meditate in God’s word? Hebrew could be translated “to growl/moan” – it’s like a rumbling in our mouths that doesn’t go away, we’re chewing & considering & pondering the Scriptures.

C. What’s the result of following God’s word? Prosperity…per Ps 1, Joshua would be like a tree planted by the waters – contextually, God is referring to success in the Promised Land & conquest.
__a. God was not promising financial riches & blessing for giving to the church (which always seems to be the focus – you can’t just give to any church; you’ve got to give to MY church or MY ministry if you want to be blessed). God was promising prosperity in the goal of resting in Canaan – true prosperity is living in peace with the God who saved us. John 10:10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. []
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9 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.”

A. Call to courage #3: Don’t be afraid or dismayed. Why? Because God is with him. God basically went over this in the 1st call, but He emphasizes it again with Joshua. Even beyond the idea of possessing the land – whatever it is that God calls Joshua to do, Joshua doesn’t need to fear because God will always be with him. Israel was affirmed of the same promise later through Isaiah – Isaiah 41:10 Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ [] We’re grafted into that promise as well…

B. Keep in mind that God has not given us a spirit of fear (2 Tim 1:7) – there may be legitimate challenges & problems we face that cause us to be afraid, but we can be assured that fear hasn’t come from the Lord.
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10 Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people, saying, 11 “Pass through the camp and command the people, saying, ‘Prepare provisions for yourselves, for within three days you will cross over this Jordan, to go in to possess the land which the LORD your God is giving you to possess.’ ”

A. After 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, the time has come to enter the land. Can you imagine what they were feeling?

B. Most importantly, Joshua reminds them why they’re getting the land: because the Lord their God is giving it to them… We’re going to see this reiterated time & time again throughout Joshua – for good reason: we need to be reminded of God’s work, so that we don’t end up thinking we can do it on our own. [King Asa – 2 Chr 14-16]
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12 And to the Reubenites, the Gadites, and half the tribe of Manasseh Joshua spoke, saying, 13 “Remember the word which Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, saying, ‘The LORD your God is giving you rest and is giving you this land.’ 14 Your wives, your little ones, and your livestock shall remain in the land which Moses gave you on this side of the Jordan. But you shall pass before your brethren armed, all your mighty men of valor, and help them, 15 until the LORD has given your brethren rest, as He gave you, and they also have taken possession of the land which the LORD your God is giving them. Then you shall return to the land of your possession and enjoy it, which Moses the LORD’s servant gave you on this side of the Jordan toward the sunrise.”

A. Review – Reuben, Gad, ½ Manasseh on far side of Jordan (Num 32)… They specifically promised Moses their men would go over to fight & Joshua is reminding them of their promise.
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16 So they answered Joshua, saying, “All that you command us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. 17 Just as we heeded Moses in all things, so we will heed you. Only the LORD your God be with you, as He was with Moses. 18 Whoever rebels against your command and does not heed your words, in all that you command him, shall be put to death. Only be strong and of good courage.”

A. Oath of allegiance to Joshua’s leadership…it’s hard to say whether or not they were speaking truly or with empty promises. After all, they hadn’t followed Moses too well either. 🙂 But the intent is good – and at least in one case, actually followed through (with Achan & Ai).

B. Interesting that Reuben, Gad, and ½ Manasseh ended with the same exhortation the Lord had been giving to Joshua: be strong & of good courage. Scripture doesn’t tell us if the rest of Israel had been listening in on the exhortations from the Lord; just that they confirmed it.
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Joshua 2 (NKJV)
1 Now Joshua the son of Nun sent out two men from Acacia Grove to spy secretly, saying, “Go, view the land, especially Jericho.” So they went, and came to the house of a harlot named Rahab, and lodged there.

A. [MAP] Jericho

B. Is the use of spies a lack of trust in God? No – faith is not inaction…waiting on God to hand us His promises on a silver platter. James tells us faith without works is dead (Jas 2:26) – what better way to act on their faith than to send spies into Jericho to see how they ought to proceed in the conquest God commanded them?
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2 And it was told the king of Jericho, saying, “Behold, men have come here tonight from the children of Israel to search out the country.” 3 So the king of Jericho sent to Rahab, saying, “Bring out the men who have come to you, who have entered your house, for they have come to search out all the country.” 4 Then the woman took the two men and hid them. So she said, “Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from. 5 And it happened as the gate was being shut, when it was dark, that the men went out. Where the men went I do not know; pursue them quickly, for you may overtake them.” 6 (But she had brought them up to the roof and hidden them with the stalks of flax, which she had laid in order on the roof.) 7 Then the men pursued them by the road to the Jordan, to the fords. And as soon as those who pursued them had gone out, they shut the gate.

A. Flax was dried on the roof in order to separate the fibers in preparation to make linen. It may not have been a comfortable hiding place, but it was effective!

B. Rahab gave an outright lie in order to hide the Israelites. Was it wrong? The fact that we ask the question means we’re only looking at two options: either she lie about the Israelites, or turn them over to the authorities. But perhaps there may have been a 3rd option that didn’t involve sin – we don’t know. We do know that she saved the lives of the spies, though the Bible never praises her for her dishonesty; just her obedience (Jas 2:25) & faith (Heb 11:31). Keep in mind that God showed grace to Rahab – she’s included in the genealogy of Christ as the great-great-grandmother of David.
__a. It does raise an ethical question for us: do the ends justify the means? Does having a noble cause justify sinful actions in order to achieve it? No. God knows our thoughts, motives, and heart – and though we may have the best of intents, a sin is still a sin…for which we praise God for our salvation!
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8 Now before they lay down, she came up to them on the roof, 9 and said to the men: “I know that the LORD has given you the land, that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land are fainthearted because of you. 10 For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were on the other side of the Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. 11 And as soon as we heard these things, our hearts melted; neither did there remain any more courage in anyone because of you, for the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.

A. Was Jericho afraid of Israel? No (though the spies didn’t quite realize that – see vs. 24). They were afraid of the God of Israel…and for good reason! However the news travelled, it was well known how God demonstrated His power in rescuing Israel from Egypt. He sent 9 massive plagues, destroying the imaginary powers of the Egyptian gods – He sent the 10th plague of Passover demonstrating His future salvation in Christ & the exact punishment of sin – He parted the Red Sea, baptizing His people & drowning their enemies – He brought them through the wilderness fighting bigger & stronger armies – and finally He had brought them to Jericho. It’s no wonder that their “hearts melted” – who can stand against the Lord?

B. We don’t think about it often, but our own testimonies declare the same thing: God showed His power in rescuing us! We all have different backgrounds & were saved out of different places & sins (comparatively), but the exact same events took place with all of us. God reached out to someone who was His violent enemy – who despised God & His holiness – who was completely dead in sin – who was enslaved to the devil…and God rescued us! He crushed the head of the serpent at the cross, paid the wages of death with the empty tomb, breathed life into our doomed souls, and brought us into His very own family. A Christian testimony is a powerful thing!
__a. So don’t be afraid to share it. Often we think that we have to have myriads of apologetics memorized & honed persuasion skills to be able to share our faith with someone & that’s just not true. If you’re born-again & belong to the Lord Jesus, then you have a testimony – and all God calls us to be is witnesses of Him. Paul shared his testimony in evangelism repeatedly – to Jews & Gentiles alike. Do apologetics help? They can’t hurt – but don’t put your stock in what you know; put it in what Christ has already done.

C. Interestingly enough, Rahab seems to already be a believer at this point. She saw the work of God, and placed her faith & trust in the “God in heaven above & on earth beneath.” We don’t even know if the spies had said anything at this point – like Peter with Cornelius, God had already gone before & done the work.
__a. Reminds us of a key point in evangelism: it’s impossible to talk anyone into the Kingdom. We’re simply to be faithful in witnessing & leave the results to God… Keep in mind God wants people to be saved; He’s not going to ‘drop the ball’ on us…
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12 Now therefore, I beg you, swear to me by the LORD, since I have shown you kindness, that you also will show kindness to my father’s house, and give me a true token, 13 and spare my father, my mother, my brothers, my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death.” 14 So the men answered her, “Our lives for yours, if none of you tell this business of ours. And it shall be, when the LORD has given us the land, that we will deal kindly and truly with you.”

A. Covenant between them – Israel was to spare her life (and family) & she was to keep quiet.
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15 Then she let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was on the city wall; she dwelt on the wall. 16 And she said to them, “Get to the mountain, lest the pursuers meet you. Hide there three days, until the pursuers have returned. Afterward you may go your way.” 17 So the men said to her: “We will be blameless of this oath of yours which you have made us swear, 18 unless, when we come into the land, you bind this line of scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and unless you bring your father, your mother, your brothers, and all your father’s household to your own home. 19 So it shall be that whoever goes outside the doors of your house into the street, his blood shall be on his own head, and we will be guiltless. And whoever is with you in the house, his blood shall be on our head if a hand is laid on him. 20 And if you tell this business of ours, then we will be free from your oath which you made us swear.” 21 Then she said, “According to your words, so be it.” And she sent them away, and they departed. And she bound the scarlet cord in the window.

A. How would the Israelites know her house? By the scarlet cord. Just as God’s Angel knew the houses of the Hebrews in Egypt by the blood covering the doorpost, Israel would know Rahab by the blood-colored cord marking her house.

B. The scarlet cord runs more than just in Joshua 2…it runs through the whole Bible! From the very moment that Adam & Eve fell into sin, God gave a promise of a Redeemer. That promise was carried over through Noah to Abraham to the patriarchs to Moses & all the prophets – all the way Jesus Himself.
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22 They departed and went to the mountain, and stayed there three days until the pursuers returned. The pursuers sought them all along the way, but did not find them. 23 So the two men returned, descended from the mountain, and crossed over; and they came to Joshua the son of Nun, and told him all that had befallen them. 24 And they said to Joshua, “Truly the LORD has delivered all the land into our hands, for indeed all the inhabitants of the country are fainthearted because of us.”

A. The mountains were a good hiding place – the Jericho soldiers had already gone down to the river to look for them, and the Israelites spies had a good head start to go to the mountains. The range referred to has peaks from 1200-1500 feet & is dotted with caves. It would have made a great hiding place…

B. Note the difference in reaction between this time & 40 years earlier in Kadesh Barnea! Before, 10 of the 12 spies saw giants in the land & were focused on their own lack of military strength. Now, the 2 spies spoke of the assured victory of the Lord. He had already “delivered all the land into our hands”. The difference between walking in defeat in the wilderness & victory in the land? Faith. The inhabitants of the land hadn’t changed; God’s people hadn’t gained any further military prowess – the only difference is that this time they had faith in God…which is exactly what God wanted! Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. []

Conclusion:
Joshua showed his faith when speaking to God & sending the spies. Rahab showed her faith by hiding the men & trusting God. The spies showed their faith when they came back with a good report in the face of overwhelming odds.

There are some things we face that appear to have overwhelming odds… But our call is the same one that God gave to Joshua: be strong & courageous! Our fear is IN the Lord; it hasn’t come from Him – we can have courage as we trust in His word & trust in His promises. The best promise: our Lord Jesus is with us & will never forsake us…He’ll always be with us, and no one is going to snatch us out of His hand. Have faith in Him & in His work…and then walk in faith!

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