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'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.'

Joshua Chapter 1 Verse 9

Moses was now dead, but the God of Moses was very much alive. Moses' days of service to his God on earth had come to an end, and a new instrument of the Lord was to stand in the breech.
Joshua has been the assistant of Moses for many years. It was as if he had lived in the shadow of the great man and had been learning the ways of God on their journey through the wilderness.

That wilderness had been Joshua's training ground. Moses was his example, and the lord Himself was preparing him for the great work that lay ahead of him. He was to walk in the same spirit as Moses, and he was to carry on the same work.

Moses could only take the children so far. He took them as far as the river, where the land of Canaan visible to them, but then it was Joshua's task to take them over.

Surely here we have a symbol of the law as our schoolmaster to bring us as far as it can - to Christ. The law itself can't obtain the inheritance for the saints; it can't obtain eternal life for them, but it can lead them to the only One who can do these things.
When the Lord started working a saving work in our souls, was it not true that we soon became aware of two things in our lives? Were we not made aware that we were walking in a spiritual wilderness and that we were strangers to grace and to God?

We were also aware of the law of God written in our hearts. We were convicted of our sin and misery every day.  We looked for refuge in the wilderness, but there was none. The law as our schoolmaster led us to a river of decision.  It led us to our Joshua, to Jesus Who was the only One who could lead us safely across. Moses the lawgiver died, as did all our fleshly attempts to please God and to fulfil the law.

We wholeheartedly accepted the new authority that God had given, and we trusted Jesus to take us safely across, to reconcile us to God, to cleanse us from all our sins and to give us eternal life.
Is this not signified in the crossing of the Jordan? Remember that as the stones were placed in the bed of the river there was also a set of stones placed at Gilgal on the other side.

Do the stones on the bed of the Jordan not signify the burying of our sins and as the waters returned to cover them?  As you view these stones, can you not hear the Lord saying to your heart -"your sins and iniquities I will remember no more?" What of the stones at Gilgal?
Do they not represent us seated with Christ in the heavenly places? As the children of Israel looked back from Gilgal they remembered that they had left behind Moses the lawgiver. It was his end as lawgiver.

So Christ is the end of the law to all those who believe. The stones representing their sins were now covered, as the blood on the mercy seat covered the broken tables of the law.
Old things have passed away, behold all things have become new! They had been "raised" to stand upon the shores of Canaan at Gilgal - we have been raised to newness of life in Christ Jesus.

Now it was time to serve a new master. The wilderness was behind them. In front and on every side was the land flowing with milk and honey - the Promised Land.

Our text can easily be divided into three sections.

1 - Be strong and of a good courage.
2 - Be not afraid neither be thou dismayed.
3 - For the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.

First of all then, "Be strong and of a good courage.." Why was Joshua to be strong and of a good courage? The answer, I believe precedes the question: God had commanded it.
Why was the command given? I think it was given because Joshua had never before felt as weak and as lonely as he did then. He was only too keenly aware of the burden of responsibility that had been placed upon his shoulders.

It was easy for him to see the qualities of leadership that Moses had possessed, but did he possess them! It is easy for us to see the gifts that our brothers and sisters in Christ have, but it is not so easy for us to see them in ourselves. Because we do not see them in ourselves does not mean that we do not possess them!

Joshua says in his mind, "How can I step into Moses' shoes, and how can I heal the breach?" Of ourselves we can do nothing. God must be our strength. How does God give us strength?
God had commanded Joshua to meditate on the book of the law day and night. The Word of God strengthens us; the preaching of the word strengthens us as we live by it.

The book no longer condemns us - it liberates us. Our strength is no longer in ourselves but in Jesus. He upholds and keeps every one of us. We are a people kept by God through faith unto salvation.
Our strength lies in the redemption accomplished and applied by God in Christ. Nehemiah could say - "the joy of the Lord is my strength." Wherein is the Christians' joy? Surely it is in the knowledge that they have their sins forgiven them.
They are able to stand before a Holy God justified - not by themselves but by the grace of the Lawgiver Himself.

There is strength in love. The love of Christ constrains us. Are we to keep silent in front of our fellow man? No, but because of what Christ has done for us and because of the love that we now have for Him - we cannot but speak of the things that we have seen and heard.
One said, Come see a man that told me all things that ever I did!  Is not this the Christ? Love is as strong as death. Trials and problems may come, and our providence may be going in the opposite direction to the promises that we are waiting for God to fulfil in our lives, but many waters cannot quench love.

There is strength in faith. We look not on the things that are seen but on the things that are unseen. We do not look at the swellings of Jordan, but we look to Jesus.
Our strength is not the vast number of the children of Israel that accompany us along the way.  We look to Jesus the Author and finisher of our faith.

Let me quote what Thomas Boston says of faith, - "Faith that staggers not at the least amount of reason is the soundest faith".
There is strength in hope. We have hope of eternal life as we pass through this scene of time. The responsibilities that we now have are but for a short time. Let us therefore be strong and of a good courage as we endeavour to perform them.

Secondly - " Be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed". Why? Because God commands it. What was making Joshua dismayed at this time? Surely it was the loss of his companion and mentor, Moses.

Death is the greatest divider of all. For those of you that have experienced the painful loss of a loved one, you will know the heartbreak and anguish that was in Joshua's heart at this time.
Oh the loneliness of grief. Who can understand it? Joshua had all the children of Israel around him, yet I do not believe that there was another in the camp experiencing the loneliness that Joshua was experiencing at that time.

It was in this loneliness that he became aware of the Presence of the Lord as He spoke to him saying, "Be not dismayed." He also said, "Be not afraid." What would have been making Joshua afraid?

I've mentioned many things before. 1- His new responsibilities. 2 - The crossing of the Jordan 3- Obedience to the Word of God. 4 - The dividing of the land.

And all this without the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night that had helped to guide Moses! As there are many fears in Joshua's life so there are many fears in our lives.
There is the fear of man, the fear of tomorrow, and the fear of death or serious injury. These fears have a paralyzing effect on our souls. Fear builds mountains before our eyes, but faith removes them.

If we walk by sight it will jot be long before the mountains will come into view. But if we walk by faith then we fear God. He who has looked into the face of God can look any man in the face.
If God be for us then who can be against us? God says be not afraid neither be thou dismayed. Why? - because He promises that the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.

What wonderful words of encouragement and comfort for Joshua and for us today. No matter what perplexing providences lie before him, no matter what duties he is expected to undertake, he has the full assurance that God is with him.

These words are for your comfort and encouragement also, because just as Joshua heard these words, so you also have heard them. God speaks these words to you just now!
Could we possibly have any greater encouragement than this - that God is with us wherever we go? Perhaps you have read this and you are thinking that it does not apply to you.

Wrong! A thousand times wrong! This was written especially for you! It is a command to your heart from God. "Be strong and of good courage; be not afraid neither be thou dismayed; for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest."

Author: Iain Mackenzie  Edited by: Pastor Al Moak