Moses was near the end of his life - very soon (within a matter of days) he would be passing off the scene, and Joshua would then lead the nation of Israel into the Promised Land. It was time for Moses to give them (and Joshua) his final words of exhortation and instruction. Seven times in Deuteronomy 31 and Joshua 1, we read the exhortation to "be strong and of a good courage." God had a plan for the nation of Israel - to conquer the land of Canaan - and it would involve strength and courage; it would require God's strength and the perfect courage He could give them, if they relied on Him.
1) Deuteronomy 31:6 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.
Perhaps, upon hearing this, Joshua was reminded of his commission years before of spying out the Promised Land and bringing back a report - as well as the consequences of the nation of Israel rebelling against God's clear leading:
Numbers 13:17-20 And Moses sent them to spy out the land of Canaan, and said unto them, Get you up this way southward, and go up into the mountain: And see the land, what it is; and the people that dwelleth therein, whether they be strong or weak, few or many; And what the land is that they dwell in, whether it be good or bad; and what cities they be that they dwell in, whether in tents, or in strong holds; And what the land is, whether it be fat or lean, whether there be wood therein, or not. And be ye of good courage, and bring of the fruit of the land. Now the time was the time of the firstripe grapes.
Joshua, just like you had nothing to fear back then, even so you have nothing to fear today! As your name indicates: The LORD is salvation - He it is that goes with you, and will deliver you from all your enemies. In fact, He will deliver all your enemies into your hand and give the land to you. You do not need to fear man - the Lord is with you! He will not fail to keep His promises, and He will never forsake you; therefore there is no reason for fear or hesitation. Go conquer the land in His name! He will give you the victory!
What has the Lord commanded you to do in your life? I believe this promise is just as much for us today as it was for the nation of Israel. 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.
This is one of my all-time favourite verses - one I memorized to a melody, and one that continually comes back afresh to my mind whenever I need it. We have the Lord's seven-fold promises to spur us on!
It is interesting to note that two other people within the Bible itself quoted this verse to exhort others:
Joshua to the nation of Israel - in Joshua 10:24-25 And it came to pass, when they brought out those kings unto Joshua, that Joshua called for all the men of Israel, and said unto the captains of the men of war which went with him, Come near, put your feet upon the necks of these kings. And they came near, and put their feet upon the necks of them. And Joshua said unto them, Fear not, nor be dismayed, be strong and of good courage: for thus shall the LORD do to all your enemies against whom ye fight.
King David to Solomon his son - in 1 Chronicles 22:11-13 Now, my son, the LORD be with thee; and prosper thou, and build the house of the LORD thy God, as he hath said of thee. Only the LORD give thee wisdom and understanding, and give thee charge concerning Israel, that thou mayest keep the law of the LORD thy God. Then shalt thou prosper, if thou takest heed to fulfil the statutes and judgments which the LORD charged Moses with concerning Israel: be strong, and of good courage; dread not, nor be dismayed.
And again in 1 Chronicles 28:20 And David said to Solomon his son, Be strong and of good courage, and do it: fear not, nor be dismayed: for the LORD God, even my God, will be with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee, until thou hast finished all the work for the service of the house of the LORD.
We are following in the footsteps of faith when we take and apply God's promises to our lives!
2) Deuteronomy 31:7 And Moses called unto Joshua, and said unto him in the sight of all Israel, Be strong and of a good courage: for thou must go with this people unto the land which the LORD hath sworn unto their fathers to give them; and thou shalt cause them to inherit it.
The first of these seven promises was to the whole nation of Israel (though still addressed to the individual, as the word "thee" indicates), but the other six were specifically directed to Joshua himself. He is the leader that will go before the people and lead them into the Promised Land, lead them into the inheritance that the Lord God has promised them. Our Joshua, our Leader, the Lord Jesus Christ is the one who will lead those who trust in Him into their inheritance. Our inheritance is through the Saviour, and by the Saviour. He is the one that will cause us to inherit it! Despite the cost, despite the powers of darkness arrayed against Him, despite the separation from God the Father as He bore the sins of the world, Jesus, our Leader, was strong and courageous - and fulfilled the Father's will for His life and provided for our salvation.
In the following four passages, the Greek word for prince, captain, and author means "the chief leader," the pioneer.
Acts 3:13-15 The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go. But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses.
Acts 5:30-31 The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.
Hebrews 2:10 For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
Hebrews 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Deuteronomy 31:8 And the LORD, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed.
Just as the Lord led Joshua through the Jordan River and into the Promised Land, even so the Lord Jesus Christ led the way through the Garden of Gethsemane, from the cross to the tomb, and then arose in victory over the grave. Even in times of trials and afflictions, the Lord goes before us and prepares the way.
Though darkness hides the sunlight,
A song is in my soul;
In the night of my affliction,
The Lord is in control.
I cannot see His footsteps –
The path He leads me down;
All the way, there’s a promise:
His path leads to a crown.
Within the stormy blackness,
Jesus has His eye on me;
Though the darkness hide Him,
By faith I still can see.
Though nighttime falls around me,
The cross leads to the tomb,
My footsteps will not falter,
His Word lights up the gloom.
Though I know not the journey,
The Lord will take me through;
I will trust in my Saviour –
He has my best in view.
Even though my steps be darkened,
My Father knows the way;
And He will safely guide me –
From the shadows into day.
I love the certainty of this verse: thou shalt bring the children of Israel into the land... I will be with thee. What God called Joshua and the nation of Israel to do, He equipped them for; what the Lord calls each of us to do in our walks with Him, He will equip us for. We do not need to fear - we just need to be strong and of a good courage, and step out in faith and obey Him as He leads the way! The times the nation of Israel did not have the victory were times they were not walking by faith or in obedience to God and His Word.
4) Joshua 1:6 Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them.
The Lord exhorts Joshua to go conquer the land of Canaan, because God promised it to them! God was telling them it was already theirs and they only needed to enter into it and claim it by faith.
Joshua 1:1-5 Now after the death of Moses the servant of the LORD it came to pass, that the LORD spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses' minister, saying, Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast. There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.*
The following quotes are taken from Genesis: Claiming The Promises (please read that study for the context of these quotes):
I believe the land we are to claim are the promises found in God's Word. We are to go through the land of the Scriptures, walk about the length and breadth of them - From Genesis To Revelation - find the promises that the Lord wants to give us, and then claim them by faith. How many believers do this? Not enough from what I have seen! There are many promises and passages that the average Christian is woefully ignorant of - yet those very same promises and passages would have helped them so much in the battles or struggles they faced day by day!
Too many people want to find satisfaction and fulfillment outside of the Lord Jesus Christ and His Word - as if these weren't enough to equip us for the Christian life. Yet I find that this is exactly what we need - a living, vital relationship with Christ and a heart that meditates on and digs into His Word.
...When was the last time you walked spiritually through the Promised Land - or should I say, the Land of Promise? When was the last time you searched through the Scriptures, looking through the length and breadth of God's Word for promises that applied to the situations you were currently facing, and then claimed them by faith? Isn't it about time you took another stroll? There are more promises waiting to be discovered! Claim some today!
*Joshua 1:5 is quoted in the New Testament and is applied to all true believers:
Hebrews 13:5-6 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. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.
5) Joshua 1:7 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.
If you want to prosper in your walk with the Lord you need to heed His Word. God won't bless a rebel; however, He will bless the believer who humbly walks in faith, who trusts and obeys. Consider the very next verse in this chapter:
Joshua 1:8 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.
Success is doing God's will for your life. George W. Truett made this excellent statement:
"To know the will of God is the greatest knowledge. To find the will of God is the greatest discovery. To do the will of God is the greatest achievement!"
We cannot do God's will unless we are meditating upon and applying His Word by faith, day by day.
Psalms 1:1-3 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
Psalms 119:1-3 Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD. Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart. They also do no iniquity: they walk in his ways.
Psalms 119:97 O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.
Jeremiah 17:7-8 Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.
6) Joshua 1:9 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.
Don't be discouraged - be of a good courage! Encouragement is pouring courage and strength into someone. Our courage comes from the Lord, as does our strength. How do we receive that courage? By waiting upon the Lord in prayer and stepping out in faithful service to Him.
Psalms 27:14 Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.
Psalms 31:24 Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD.
Isaiah 40:31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
7) Joshua 1:18 Whosoever he be that doth rebel against thy commandment, and will not hearken unto thy words in all that thou commandest him, he shall be put to death: only be strong and of a good courage.
It will take strength and courage to do God's will! It takes strength to resist a world that is bent upon rebelling against your Heavenly Father. It takes courage to go against the flow, to stand up for what is right in a world that is darkened by sin. We can't expect the Lord's blessings when we follow the crowd, when we swim downstream with the rest of the world, into the muck and mire of sin. But what tremendous promises and encouragement is ours when we follow the Lord by faith!
Deuteronomy 31:6 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.
Step out in faith, walk through the Land of Promise, be strong and of a good courage - claim the victory that is yours through the Lord Jesus Christ - for we have His wonderful promise to each one of us that He will not fail us, nor forsake us!
With a Saviour that faithful, what are we afraid of? Be strong and of a good courage!
60 Day Devotional Series: Numbers In The Bible