4. The Promise
We can be strong and courageous because God keeps His Promise, and He will bring it to pass. Joshua can “be strong and of good courage” because God keeps His Promise and He will bring it to pass – Joshua 1:6 “Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers (patriarch) to give them.” For Israel, the Promised Land is not just God’s Promise, but their Inheritance. God has promised to the Patriarch (“fathers”) the Promised Land (Canaan-Land Genesis 15:18-21) and Joshua is “to be strong and of good courage” to cause the people of Israel to enter in and take possess and divide the Land as the Israelites’ Inheritance. The word “land” is mentioned 87 time in the Book of Joshua, because this Book is the record of Israel’s entering, conquering and taking possession of the Promised Land. God has promised to give the Land to Abraham (Genesis 15:18-21). God reaffirmed the Promise to Isaac (Genesis 26:1-5); to Jacob (Genesis 28:4, 13, 15; 35:12) and their Descendants (Genesis 50:24). There are two different tenses of the word “give” that are used by God as promised to Joshua (Joshua 1:2-3):
- Legal – In Genesis 15:18-21, the Land is promised to Abraham and his Descendants – In Joshua 1:2, God affirms (present tense) to Israel the Land, “The Land which I am giving to them.” In Joshua 1:3, the Promise of the Land is spoken in the present perfect tense, an accomplished fact – “Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you.” From this moment onward, the entire Land legally belonged to the Israelites, but they still have to appropriate it.
- Experiential – Joshua 1:3 “Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you.” The Promised Land becomes theirs, experientially, when they put the soles of their feet on every area of the Land.
Thus, there is a difference between legal possession and actual (experiential) possession; the Israelites need to appropriate the Land and claim possession by putting the soles of their feet on the Land. Israel has received the entire Promised Land legally from Joshua 1:3 onward, but they have to inherit it by putting the soles of their feet on every area of the Land, through conquests.
We have all of God’s Promises (2Corinthians 1:20), but we need to appropriate (“put the soles of our feet”) on these Promises of God through the “rhema-Word” of God’s Spirit (Romans 10:17), after we have received the “rhema-Word” from God’s Spirit, we need to set our face like flint (Isaiah 50:7) and begins to declare (John 22:28) and act on them (faith-determination – Hebrews 11:1). Thus, it is important to understand that we have God’s Promises (2Corinthians 1:20), legally, but we need to inherit these Promises, experientially; these two (legal & experience) are very important basic principles.
We, who have received God’s “rhema-Word” (Romans 10:17), are to be strong and courageous to live out that “rhema-Word” in the face of fear, doubt, discouragement, and battles; thus, it is more than receiving the “rhema-Word” but having the courage to live it out. God’s Promise will be done in God’s ways in God’s time. Joshua was to be strong and very courageous as God has given His Promise and he (Joshua) was to live out that “Rhema-Word” in the face of fear, doubt, discouragement and battles – Joshua 1:7-8 (NKJV) “Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous and then you will have good success.” Moses had led the children of Israel out of Egypt, the Land of Bondage. The First Generation of Israel died in the Wilderness because of disobedient (Numbers chapters 13 & 14). Joshua was given the responsibility to lead the New Generation of the children of Israel into the Promise Land. God’s assurance came to him (Joshua) after the death of Moses and before the Conquest of the Promised Land.
6. God’s Presence
God promised His Presence to go with us, thus, we need to learn to work from a position of God’s Rest – Exodus 33:14 (NKJV) “And He (God) said, ‘My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Joshua was to be strong and to be of good courage because of God’s Commission and God’s Presence – Joshua 1:9 (NKJV) “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
- God’s Commission – “Have I not commanded you?”
- God’s Presence – “For the Lord God is with you wherever you go.”
- God’s Command of “boldness and courage” – “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage.”
God’s Commission and His Presence are God’s Enablement. In the years to come, whenever Joshua faced an Enemy and was tempted to be “afraid,” he was to remember that he was the Leader who has the Divine (God’s) Commission and carried the Divine (God’s) Presence, which is Divine (God’s) Rest – Exodus 33:14 “And He (God) said, ‘My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Whenever things go wrong and Joshua is tempted to “be dismayed,” he needs to recall God’s Command – and take new courage, learn to work from the position of God’s REST.
God will bring people alongside us to co-labor with us and we need to recognize, accept, and appreciate the people that work-alongside us, drawing strength from one another. God moved the people to support and encouraged Joshua – Joshua 1:16-18 (NKJV) “So they answered Joshua, saying, ‘all that you command us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. Just as we heeded Moses in all things, so we will heed you. Only the LORD your God be with you, as He was with Moses. Whoever rebels against your command and does not heed your words, in all that you command him, shall be put to death. Only be strong and of good courage.” As God did to Saul when he (Saul) was anointed as King over Israel – God’s provided him (Saul) with valiant men whose hearts God has touched – 1Samuel 10:26b (NKJV) “And valiant men went with him, whose hearts God had touched.” To begin with the Leaders of Israel encouraged Joshua by assuring him (Joshua) of their complete obedience (Joshua 1:16-17a) – “Command us and we will obey! Send us and we will go!” The Leaders of Israel have no hidden agendas, with no concessions to ask; total commitment to Joshua’s Leadership, “by assuring him (Joshua) that their obedience is a matter of life or death” (Joshua 1:18). The Leaders of Israel encouraged Joshua to “be strong and to be courageous” (Joshua 1:18); by reminding him (Joshua) of Moses word of “be of good courage,” when he (Moses) sent him (Joshua) and the other men into Canaan to spy out the Land (Numbers 13:20); Moses also repeated the words when he (Moses) commissioned Joshua as his (Moses’) Successor (Deuteronomy 31:7, 23). These words of encouragement to “boldness and courage” were written in the Book of the Law, and Joshua was commanded to read that Book and meditate on it day and night (Joshua 1:8).
Four times in Joshua chapter one, the words “be strong and of good courage” are spoken (Joshua 1:6-7, 9, 18). The first step toward winning the battle and entering into our Inheritance is to let God encourages us (Joshua 1:6, 7, 9) – “See the Lord your God has given you the land. Go up and take possession of it as the LORD your God of your fathers, told you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged” (Deuteronomy 1:21, NIV); and the Leaders to encourage us (Joshua 1:18); and then for us to encourage others.