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On Being Strong and Courageous

Joshua stood looking into the Promised Land. The path leading here has been so long. It stretched all the way back from Egypt into what must have seemed like a different lifetime ago. He had begun this journey as a much younger man. It must have seemed that most of his life was spent in this desert, wandering from place to place waiting until the Lord led them back to the shores of this land of milk and honey, and out of the land between.

The story that lead them here was even longer. It stretched back past the time of Moses and the Pharaoh, back past when Joseph declared God’s warning of famine over the whole land, back before Jacob deceived his brother out of the inheritance, and even before Issac lay on the alter awaiting a knife that would never come. It stretched back all the way to the night where Abram, soon to be Abraham was awoken late one night and lead by the Almighty out under a starry sky. There the promises were made, one of them being that he would be the father of a great nation. The seeds of that great nation slept in the tent city behind Joshua at that very moment. Another of the promises would be the land of Canaan given as their promised home. This was the very land that lay before Joshua and the Hebrew people at that very moment.

Yet this wasn’t the first time they have been here. A whole generation ago they faced the same obstacles and challenge. Nothing has changed on that front. If anything it have gotten scarier. The fruit and lushness of the land remained constant, but perhaps the people that lived there were the more violent, vicious, and vile. Giants remained in the land, and walled cities that were so thick that chariot raced on top.

However in Joshua’s world, much has changed. Not only was he a generation older, but all of his contemporaries with one exception had now passed on. He led tribes of their children. Recently had the only leader he’d ever know since being freed from slavery given his goodbyes and walk off towards the misty mountain to breath his last. Now the people looked to him, Joshua, to lead them into this promised land.

One thing was asked of him, that he would trust in the Lord with all his heart. Where there was fear, he was to replace it with courage from the Lord. Where there was weakness in his own arms, he would replace it with he strength from the Lord. Where there was temptation to flee back to the gods of the Egyptians that promised comfort and ease, he was to make the choice that he and his family would serve the Lord.

It was this very promise from the Lord that was his to cling to. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6 Alone did he meet who could have only been the pre-incarnate Christ who faced him, sword drawn. Joshua’s first reaction was to ask if this mighty warrior was for him or against him. Was he to face him as a foe or an ally? The answer was neither. This was not a God of whom you can ask to be on your side where you go and fight your battles. It was on this holy ground where Joshua took off his shoes and worshipped his God that the reality was shared with him. This was a God who called us to to be on HIS SIDE. HIS side was the side where walls as thick as Jericho would fall without a single arrow fired. HIS side was the side where two men could take a whole mountain alone. HIS side was one where the giants would tremble in fear. HIS side was one where the very sun would stand still to assure the victory.

HIS side was the one where fear could be replaced with courage, and weakness can be turned into strength.

Perhaps Joshua looked one last look behind at the the land between, where the body of Moses lay, being contested over by spiritual beings. Perhaps his thoughts were cast to the mountain still may have still trembled after being visited by the Most High, or to the waves which still covered rusted chariots and the skeletons of men of war. Nothing that lay behind had anything for him anymore. Perhaps it was with a prayer and a breath of courage that he put his shoes back on, stood up, set his face like flint, and began his march towards the city of Jericho.

But he didn’t march alone!

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