Big Idea:God’s Faithful Promises Fuel Christian Courage
Are you a courageous person? Do you consider yourself brave? Are you willing to stand when other people kneel to injustice and evil? Would you sign up to fight for freedom when others refuse out of fear?
Problem: in our society that is composed of individualism and social media opinions, people will call themselves courageous and brave, because they speak their mind about a myriad of topics. The scripture teaches us that courage and boldness are gifts from God through this his spirit to people who follow him.
For example, in the early church, we see the boldness given to the apostles after they received the gift of the Holy Spirit. In acts 4:31, we read
Acts 4:31 (NASB95)
31 And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness.
Let me break it down for you
When we are afraid, that fear leads to cowardice and timidity. The fear of the disciples on the boat in the story waters with Jesus sleeping soundly produced cowardly panic not confident trust. The opposite of fear is faith in our faith is placed in someone greater than ourselves in the church. Our faith is placed in Jesus Christ. The son of God, who commands us “:do not fear, only believe.” Faith in Christ leads to courage which is the opposite of timidity and cowardice. Therefore, true courage is accomplished when we put our faith in our Lord because our trust lies with what he can accomplish through us. All of mere human courage will fail, because it is rooted in individual strength and determination. Courage rooted in faith in Christ will prevail until the end.
As Christians, we need to possess courage if we are to carry out the purposes and plans of the Lord Jesus. We cannot be proper witnesses to his fame and glory if we are cowards. We cannot function as a healthy church, addressing sin, calling others to repentance, if we are cowards. We cannot engage our neighbors and love them, in spite of our differences, if we do not possess courage. My observation of the world and its current state is that true courage is absent. I see a world that only expresses their distorted courage when they're hiding behind their mobile devices. I see a culture that thinks that it's brave when standing up against the injustices of others, but often times that courage is rooted in selfishness and self gain and not to courageous serve and think of others more important than themselves.
This is our topic of study today and we will look at how the faithful promises of God fuel our Christian Courage from Joshua 1.
The book of Joshua was written as the next chapter of the story of Israel after the exodus from Egypt, as they begin to clean the great promised land. Joshua follows the book of Deuteronomy in the narrative story of a faithful God, who always keeps his promises to his covenant people. Joshua is the next chosen leader of gods people, following in the footsteps of Moses, his predecessor. Joshua actually shows up in the story of Israel back in Exodus chapter 17. We are told that Joshua is the son of Nun, and that he is a general for Israel's army as they battle the Amalekites and defeat them. Throughout the books of exodus through Deuteronomy, Joshua is always mentioned as the aid or the assistant to Moses. Joshua is also mentioned as a companion to Moses as he goes up on the mountain at Sinai to meet with God. God is raising up his chosen leader, to lead God's people after Moses dies at the end of Deuteronomy.
As we think about Joshua, we need to consider all that he witnessed at the side of Moses. He was there during the wilderness journey. He saw the victories and the rebellions of God's people as they fell in idolatry. He watched his mentor. Moses fail and disobey the Lord, which led to Moses, not being allowed to enter into the promised land. And yet Moses was the great leader and Israel and I am sure that Joshua had great fear with the shoes that he had to fill. Like most leaders in Christian history, they have had to learn that there ability nor their résumé had anything to do with God, choosing them as leaders. They also had to learn that it would be the power of God within them that would help them accomplish, God's purposes, in spite of themselves.
What we will see from our story, and Joshua is that Joshua’s courage comes from the faithful character and promises of God that were fulfilled through Joshua’s leadership over Israel. Joshua’s ministry challenges us all to find courage in the faithful promises of God as he calls us to accomplish great things for his name.
3 Promises , 2 Commands
1. Promise of Provision (1-4)
1. Promise of Provision (1-4)
1 Now it came about after the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, that the Lord spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ servant, saying, 2 “Moses My servant is dead; now therefore arise, cross this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them, to the sons of Israel. 3 “Every place on which the sole of your foot treads, I have given it to you, just as I spoke to Moses. 4 “From the wilderness and this Lebanon, even as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and as far as the Great Sea toward the setting of the sun will be your territory.
Joshua found courage when he understood that the Lord is faithful to provide for his people. The Lord promised Israel that He would provide a promised land for them to settle. It was not just any land, but a land that was “flowing with milk and honey.” It was a fertile land, a land where they could find rest. God promised this land all the way back in Gen 12 when he promised land to Abraham for this people that he was raising up. The people did not yet exist through Abraham then and nor did the land belong to them. But the people and the land for the people were part of God’s plan and God is always faithful to carry out his plan for his glory!
Look at the language with me. In v 2, he states that it is a land “which I am giving you.” At the beginning of Joshua, Israel has come to the end of their journey through the wilderness. This journey was an unnecessary diversion to the direct route from Egypt to Canaan but Israel had to travel this way for over 40 years because they rebelled against God. Their wilderness wanderings were a discipline from the Lord. Now, as they cross the Jordan, the Jordan crossing marks the end of their wanderings and the future of God’s gift of this land. So the promise is made to them “I am giving it to you” meaning that this event of God’s gift has not yet occured, but it is promised and will come to fruition.
Now look at verse 3. He states, I have given it to you. This is the perfect tense in the Hebrew language which is similar to the perfect tense in the GK language. It is a verb that has occured in the past with continuing effect. The Lord in his sovereignty states, while you have not physically attained the land, my plan to give you that land has been ratified. The deal has been done long before the dirt on that ground and the Canaanite people even inhabited that land. This isn’t just a hopeful wish of the Lord. This is a decree that the land was already theirs because it belongs to the King anyway.
This shows Joshua that he can have courage in a faithful King who rules and reigns all things.
But also notice that in His provision, the Lord is faithful with specific things. The Lord does not speak in generalities when he declares His plan for this world. He gives us specifics and details so that not only can we revel in his glorious attention to detail but we can know exactly how He carries out his plans.
Notice in verse 4, that Joshua is given a map to describe the boundaries to this land to which Israel would dwell. First of all the wilderness is the direction from which they came. It was the southern edge of this promised land. Lebanon was the northern country, known for its tall mountains and rolling forests. It would be the northern boundary. The River Euphrates was north east but serves as the eastern boundary and finally the west was Great Sea which is the Mediterranean. This vast land was marked for Joshua and it shows us that the Lord decrees the details and the details matter.
All of his words, which give the details are carefully declared so that we should be careful to pay attention to them. We must understand them because in them they show us that the Lord gives specifics because they speak of his immense faithfulness in fulfilling the details.
In all, Joshua learned courage by understanding God’s faithfulness in providing this land they had not yet actually came to possess but they would. It was an astounding rally cry for Joshua to remember that the Lord had made these promises to Israel through Moses and now was the time for that fulfillment to occur.
But secondly, Joshua had to understand that to acquire the land, the Lord must bring about victory....
2. Promise of Victory (5a)
2. Promise of Victory (5a)
Joshua 1:5 (NASB95)
5 “No man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life.
In understanding God’s provision, Joshua learned courage by seeing that the Lord is a warrior for His glory and our good. he goes before us in battle and we wins the war to which we receive the blessings and spoils from the war.
Hold your place here and look back to Deut 31. I want you to see a parallel passage where the Lord tells Moses at the end of his life to commission Joshua as the next leader and say very similar things to him that he says here.
3 “It is the Lord your God who will cross ahead of you; He will destroy these nations before you, and you shall dispossess them. Joshua is the one who will cross ahead of you, just as the Lord has spoken. 4 “The Lord will do to them just as He did to Sihon and Og, the kings of the Amorites, and to their land, when He destroyed them. 5 “The Lord will deliver them up before you, and you shall do to them according to all the commandments which I have commanded you.
Here Moses is given the Lord’s resume of all the battles he was won for Israel during their journey from Egypt. He is reminding of his faithfulness to provide safe passage and victory over the enemies of Israel. Notice the language “he will destroy these nations, The Lord will do to them, The Lord will deliver them up.” Joshua was present during these victories and so he is simply being reminded that courage comes the Lord because we have faith in the Lord as our warrior. He has promised victory and he will fulfill it.
We look forward now to a better Joshua. As the Lord carried out phsycial provision for Israel through Moses and Joshua, as the church we see Jesus, the sinless Son of God, who the Father sent into this world to provide a greater provision. It was through Jesus that victory over sin and death occured through his death on the cross and his resurrection. IT was there he put His enemies to open shame by triumphing over them. It was there that sin was paid for and death was defeated. This is afar better provision than a land in the Middle East. This spiritual victory won for us by the Lord Jesus, provides rest for our souls.
8 For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that. 9 So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God.
The promised land is an incomplete rest for God’s people because what we truly need is rest and peace with our Creator. We see that Canaan foreshadows our eternal rest with the Lord, a rest that Joshua or Moses could not provide but Jesus can. When the Lord goes before us in battle and slays our enemies, we find great courage in marching behind him, knowing the victory already belongs to him.
3. Promise of Presence (5b)
3. Promise of Presence (5b)
Joshua 1:5 (NASB95)
Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you.
The last promise from the Lord to Joshua is the reminder that all this will be accomplished because of the Lord’s faithful presence with His people. The story of God is that he dwells with his people. He leads them and guides them, not from afar, but in their midst. He is with us always.
Joshua was reminded that the Lord guide him to accomplish great things through him and the Lord’s presence with Joshua was a promise that Joshua did not have to accomplish these tasks in their own strength. Joshua found great courage, as did Moses and Abraham, that they would not accomplish anything the Lord sent them to accomplish in man strength. God’s presence was about God’s power in and through them.
His presence was with Adam and Eve in the garden. Even after the great rebellion, the Lord visited and dwelt among his people. The coming and leaving of the presence of the Lord with Israel showed them that sin can created a divide with the Lord. He was there but they were separate from them in the temple. He revealed himself to Moses and chosen leaders but there was a separation.
Jesus comes as God in the flesh to bring restoration to the presence of God with his people. God dwelt with man by putting on human flesh. His incarnation is the greatest act of dwelling with His people that ever was. Because of Jesus, we have a better promise that Joshua was given that day. Jesus dwells eternally with us and we with him through our union with and ultimate reunion with him at his return. Until then, the church has the Spirit of God in us, dwelling within. The Bible refers to the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Christ. Through the Spirit, the Son of God still dwells with us. This was his promise in Matthew 28:20
20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
All of these promises lead us to the commands that God’s gives Joshua and the church today.
4. Call to Courage (6-7a)
4. Call to Courage (6-7a)
Three times, Joshua is given the same command. Be Strong and Courageous. This command is to turn from fear to faith and in your faith in the promises of a faithful God, put on courage. We must put on courage. These two words “strong” and “courageous” are synonyms and they reflect divine giftings to us. God’s strength is given to us to accomplish what he plans for us to do.
This means that we must have courage that He can defeat our greatest enemies and he has already shown us he can by defeating sin and death. Our great illnesses, our great conflicts, our great tragedies, the Lord can defeat them and so we must have courage. But the interesting thing is that he doesn’t always promise to defeat the temporal enemies in our lives and yet knowing he can gives us courage to fight the battles that rage against us. We don’t know if he will cure that cancer or if he will bring peace to that conflict. But he does want us to have courage, not on the promise the battle will end, but on the promise that He is faithful.
Joshua does accomplish the tasks God gave him as we look forward but Israel doesn’t acquire all that land until the time of David. Joshua’s task in acquiring all the land comes us short. This is not a mark against Joshua or the Lord. What it shows us is our courage is placed on God who calls His people to be part of his mission. In that mission to make his glory known across the world, the Lord will use us until our time expires. Then he will bring in someone else to carry on that mission. Again our courage is not based on our finishing God’s task, it is based on the the Lord empowering us to be faithful to the task. This leads us to the last command.....
5. Call to Obedience (7b-9)
5. Call to Obedience (7b-9)
7 “Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go. 8 “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. 9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
The same message that is given to Joshua here was given to Moses and all the founding fathers of Israel. The message is that courage should lead us to obedience. Courage is not unrestrained bravery. Instead it is purposeful and directed courage towards the Lord’s words and works in us. We find courage when we obey the Lord because again, courage comes in a relationship with the Lord…seeking to do His will in our lives.
Notice in v7-9 that obeying God’s word in all regards is what we are called to do. This means we value and respect every word given. We cannot pick and choose and we cannot edit God’s word for a more culturally relevant truth. The word is already as relevant as it gets. God’s word is sufficient and Joshua’s command ot be courageous meant that he must find that courage in all God had commanded for his guidance and good.
Do not turn from it to the right or left. “do not take things into your own hands”
The law shall not depart from your mouth “be filled with the word of God”
Shall meditate on it day and night “be satisfied in it”
be careful to DO all that is written “Don’t just read it, do it
The Lord is calling all his people to obedience to the word of God for in it, we will be strengthened and given courage that we need. This is what the Spirit does as he dwells within us. He enlightens our minds to understand the text. He inspires us from its messages and truth. It emboldens us to rest and find hope in the character of our Great God.
The story begins by highlighting the death of the great leader Moses. Joshua will be his successor and he becomes a parallel leader for Israel. Moses was called the “servant of the Lord” which is a fascinating title to be given. It is distinguished from Joshua’s title of aide, helper, or servant to Moses. Servant of the Lord is a title that Moses received as an honorarium at the end of his life. A life that was by no means perfect and yet God honors Moses with such a remembrance.
It is helpful to not that Joshua will receive this title as well at the end of this book when he dies. It reflects a life of faithfulness to the Lord that we all should consider in our own lives. Will we be called faithful in the end? Will we breathe our last breathe in this world, will others consider us a servant of the Lord?
Let us all be challenged to be courageous because the Lord is our our side. We cannot cower to sin because Jesus has defeated sin and death. We must not cower to sickness because heavenly healing awaits us in the end. We must not cower to evil because the Lord is the victor over evil. We must not cower to conflict because we serve the God of peace.
18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice, 19 for I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, 20 according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.