“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.” Joshua 1:9
As we approach the mid-year mark of Mission 1:8 WIN NOW, I was reminded of an article I read several years ago by James White. He wrote about Joshua 1:9 being identified as one of the most bookmarked, highlighted, and shared verses. I, too, often remember this verse during times of weakness, fear, and intimidation. It says, “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.”
Frankly, this past year has been challenging for me. My confidence, faith, and resolve have been put to the test. Maybe one of these situations describes you:
- You’re in a tough stretch of your marriage
- You’re in the high-octane years of child-rearing
- You just got laid off
- You’re fighting an illness or disease
- You’re caring for aging parents
- You’re faced with a tough, potentially life-changing decision
- You’re starting a new job, going to a new school, moving to a new city
- You just broke up with someone or are going through a divorce
How many times do we need to be strong, have courage, and not be discouraged or scared? We can be strong and courageous, unafraid, and encouraged because God will be with us wherever we go and come through for us in whatever way we need. Or does it?
The context of the verse is about a specific mission God gave to Joshua. God says three times, “Be strong and courageous.” God was very specific about where that strength and courage should be applied. Joshua was to be strong and courageous as he led the people in obeying God’s Word and in terms of endurance.
If Joshua exhibited strength and courage in these three areas, God promised success in every aspect of the mission he had been given. Does this verse apply to you and your situation? Your job, your school, your business, your goals, your marriage? Is it meant to be applied in the ways it is often tweeted, hashtagged, and bookmarked? Be careful.
Don’t just read yourself and your situation into every passage, story, or byline. This is about God’s call to Joshua to take the Promised Land. We are not Joshua. We can’t label anything our “promised land” and take verses as if they apply directly.
- Be strong and courageous with your new start-up company because that’s your “promised land,” and God will show up and make it a success.
- Be strong and courageous with your new real estate license because that’s your “promised land,” and God will show up and help you sell homes.
The personal application to our lives is that we can always be strong, courageous, and sure that God is with us when we pursue His mission, obey His word, and remain steadfast in our calling. The call given to us in the New Testament mirrored the one given to Joshua.
What God said to Joshua was specific to Joshua and the Promised Land. But Jesus repeated almost the exact same call—and the exact same promise—to everyone who would follow Him concerning a new mission and a new promised land. “And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age’” (Matthew 28:18–20).
Do you see how those verses mirror what God said to Joshua? Jesus gave a clear mission: a call to stay true to living by the Scriptures and the promise that He will be with us as we do it. This is the fulfillment of Joshua. I don’t believe you can’t read Joshua 1:9 apart from Matthew 28:18–20.
What started with one man getting a mission central to the expanding kingdom of God and being promised the power and presence of God led to all of us receiving the mission and being promised the presence and power of God. What started with one man leading a people into being a community of God has resulted in all of us being given the privilege and responsibility of leading people into a community with God.
As God told Joshua to go and enter the land and take it, so we are told by Christ to go into the world with the message of Christ. And when we do, just as God told Joshua that He would be with Him, Christ tells us He will be with us.
Questions for Thought
- What do you think is your main source of strength and courage?
- What area of life do you feel you need strength or courage today?
Associate Executive Pastor
Guy Shafer is an integrator for our ministries and operations, helping the church accomplish its mission strategically and effectively. He is also the champion and leader of the Stewardship Ministry at First Dallas. Guy has served in full-time ministry for more than 40 years. Married in 1985, he and Mary have two children and seven grandchildren, all living in the DFW area.