“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.”
This morning I saw yet another disheartening headline. Another indication of a world increasing in wickedness and celebration of sin, a world increasingly hostile to our God.
As I considered the sense of discouragement I felt, God’s words in Joshua 1:9 came to mind: “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.”
Words spoken to Joshua as he took Moses’ place. A piece of God’s encouragement specifically for him, preparing him to go forward to take the Promised Land; commanding him to hold fast to the Lord’s commandments and trust His Word; and assuring him that the Lord would be with him just as He was with Moses.
They are words to Joshua, specific to the task set before him. And I believe they show us principles and truths of who God is to those who are His as we walk forward in what He commands.
Considering this, my mind shifts to Jesus’ words in Matthew 28:18-20, “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
I see beautiful parallels in the framework of the Lord’s words in Joshua 1:9 and Matthew 28:18-20. Assurances of His authority, compelling us to obedience while also calming our fears, seeking to build our strength through faith in Him. Assurance also of His presence at all times as we walk this path.
Regardless of what we face from the world around us, this is our mission.
Joshua’s was to lead God’s people in conquering and taking up residence in the Promised Land, meditating on and obeying His Law.
Ours is to share the gospel and disciple those who believe to love God and follow Him in obedience to His Word.
Jesus knew it would be hard and discouraging at times. We see His heartbreak at times in the gospels, seeing the lostness around Him. He knew that those who follow Him would be hated and have trouble. Knowing this, He promised us His presence always, and reminded us without question that He is the One who holds all authority here – no one else.
“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.” Hebrews 1:1-4
This is our Savior, and the Savior of all who will believe in Him. Our God who is mighty to save, for whom no one is out of reach. Our God who is currently holding off the world’s judgment with great patience and mercy, so that more will know Him and be saved from the wrath that is due each of us for our sin.
He sees us. He hears us. He is with us. He has spoken to us through His Son with such personal care, and ensured the preservation of His Words for us in Scripture, that we would know Him and His truth that sets us free from sin.
“For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” Romans 15:4
Whatever we see in the news, however the world and our community around us seem to be spiralling toward unrighteousness and destruction, may we settle our hearts by focusing on what God has given us for hope, for comfort, for encouragement, for life.
Read His Word. Study it. Know what it says. Obey it wholeheartedly. Because it is truth and it focuses us on who God is – and He is life, hope, peace, and strength. He is the light of the world, and in Him we are established as light in the darkness around us. Light that will draw others to Him, even as it draws opposition from those who reject our Lord.
Jesus believed the opposition of some was worth the salvation of others.
Oh, may our hearts become like His, that we would believe this as well. Enduring all “for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory” (2 Timothy 2:10). Because their salvation is worth it.
In it all, whatever we face, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope” (Romans 15:13).
With hope, with joy, with peace, with faith, run to win the prize. Run to snatch others from the fire. Run, as the saints who have gone before us line the way with shouts of encouragement that the joy set before us in Christ is worth it all.