"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." - Joshua 1:9 NKJV
Have you ever been afraid of something? Perhaps it was a bully when you were a kid, or a roller-coaster ride. Maybe it was starting a new school or new job. Perhaps you were afraid of getting medical results back from a test you took. The point is we have all been afraid at various times throughout our lives.
That's what the Israelites were dealing with as they prepared to cross the Jordan River and enter the land God had promised to give them. They knew they would face fortified cities, new armies to combat, and the natural challenges associated with new lands. And, to top it all off, they had a new leader to guide them into this new land. God used Moses to deliver the Israelites from Egyptian bondage. Moses led them through the wilderness for forty years. But now Moses has died, and Joshua has risen to be the new leader of Israel. Can you imagine the thoughts running through the minds of the Israelites?
Was there some fear among the Israelites? You bet there was. I would guess everyone was afraid, including Joshua. That is why this first chapter of the Book of Joshua is so important. In it, God reminded Joshua that as He was with Moses, so will He be with Joshua. God reminded Joshua that if he remained obedient to God, Israel would have success. And, God dispelled the fear they were all experiencing.
This week's verse highlights these key areas. God reminded Joshua that He actually commanded him to "be strong and of good courage." Israel didn't have reason to fear. This wasn't because they were a mighty, well equipped, well trained army. No, it was because God was with them, and would be with them wherever they go. And He was! Israel crossed the Jordan River, defeated the fortified city of Jericho, and continued their conquest until they possessed the land God had promised them. Of course they had a few setbacks along the way (remember Ai), but God was faithful. He was with them throughout the land and the process.
Thankfully it doesn't stop there. This verse, and these promises applies to us as well. The command not to fear is perhaps the most prolific command throughout the Bible. In fact, it appears at least 365 times.
So, why do we fear? I believe we fear when we focus on the situation and circumstances rather than on God. I believe we fear when our imaginations run wild rather than trusting in the Lord. I believe we fear when we fool ourselves into thinking we are self-sufficient rather than relying upon God.
Now you may be thinking something like, "Well, isn't it natural to be afraid?" Absolutely, it is natural to be afraid. That is the problem. We are commanded to look beyond the natural, and see the supernatural. That is what faith is all about!
This leads to the question of how we overcome our fears. The answer is the same for us as it was for Joshua and the Israelites. We have to remember God is with us and will be with us wherever we go. That is a lot of comfort! If we learn to look past ourselves, our worries, and our situations we can focus on God and His promises, provisions, and protections.
This first chapter of the Book of Joshua is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible. I often read it when I get anxious or fearful. So, I encourage you to do the same.
The team at Outspoken Faith Designs wants to help you with this encouragement by offering physical reminders of God's presence with us. Here are a few examples.