I just finished reading Joshua last week. I love this book and enjoy reading every time I do.
As a student at Southwestern Seminary, one of my professors told us that whenever we see a word or phrase repeated we should pay close attention to what the Lord is saying. One of the words or phrases often repeated in Joshua is the phrase “be strong and courageous.”
The opening verses of Joshua find those words often repeated. However, there is one that I especially paid attention to this time: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9 ESV)
God was preparing Joshua for what might seem like an impossible task. He was going to lead the Israelites into the land which God had promised them after wandering in the wilderness for 40 years. He had made this promise to Moses and now the time had come for Him to fulfill this promise.
I believe God was preparing Joshua mentally and spiritually for what was about to transpire. They enjoyed many victories and a few set backs that were caused due to their disobedience. By the time the book concludes, we see that God gives them victory wherever their foots set upon and they enjoyed peace with their neighbors. God also fulfilled what He said to Joshua in verse 9.
A few years ago, as I was about to go through one of the most painful and difficult times in my life, the Lord drew my attention this promise: “I will be with you.” This is my paraphrase from the various ways it is stated in the Old and New Testaments.
Oh, how I clung to this promise during those “dark days” in 2009. Ultimately, this promise helped lead me through those days and continues to lead me to this day. Whenever hard times may come upon me, I lean on this promise to help me see through those times and, hopefully, see the blessings that await on the other side.
Through this study a few years ago, I was ultimately reminded of Jesus’ last words to His disciples in Matt 28:20, “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” I look at this kind of like bookends, God promised the Israelites as the Old Testament opens, and Jesus reassures His followers He will do the same.
Much comfort to come from those words… rest in them.