Joshua 1:6–9 (ESV) — 6 Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. 7 Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. 8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful 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. 9 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.”
VERSE 6 – God exhorts Joshua to “be strong and courageous” because he will “cause this people to inherit the land”.
- Joshua will be the means God will use to fulfill the oath He “swore to their fathers” (vs.6).
- So not only does Joshua have to fill the shoes of Moses as his replacement, but now he is charged with the primary role of fulfilling God’s promise to Abraham concerning the promise land.
- What a huge load to put on Joshua.
- But it seemingly gets even more overwhelming.
The phrase “inherit the land” is worth a quick look.
- We know that the promise land, up until this time, was never inhabited by Israel as a nation.
- Abraham’s people were a family clan from another place whose descendants were exiled to Egypt.
- And yet God used the word “inherit”.
- The word literally means “to give as an inheritance”.
- From whom were the Israelites inheriting?
- The Canaanites?
- God is making clear that the land is His to apportion as He chooses.
- And Israel is “to occupy [the land] according to His law and for His purposes” – LBD.
VERSES 7-8 – “do…all the law”, “do not turn from it”, it is to “not depart from your mouth”, you are to “meditate on it day and night” and if you do these things then you will “have good success” and “you will make your way prosperous”.
- So the success of all of Joshua’s responsibilities rests on his relationship to God’s law.
- Given the fact that Moses, at the end of Deuteronomy, prophesied how disobedient Israel will be after his death, these commands seem to be a hugely daunting task.
- David Howard puts it like this, “The importance of obedience to the law as the key to Joshua’s success cannot be overestimated…if he, of all people, was weak and irresolute, then the cause was in deep trouble” – David Howard.
Specifically, God commands that Joshua’s relationship to the law consist of 4 things.
- (1) Know it
- (2) Obey it
- (3) Speak it
- (4) Meditate on it
KNOW IT – Why should we list “know it” though the text doesn’t explicitly say this?
- The obvious reason is that you can’t obey, speak and meditate on something you don’t know.
- The other reason can be found in Scripture.
- Hosea 4:1 (ESV) — 1 Hear the word of the Lord, O children of Israel, for the Lord has a controversy with the inhabitants of the land. There is no faithfulness or steadfast love, and no knowledge of God in the land;
- Hosea 4:6 (ESV) — 6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.
- Proverbs 19:2 (ESV) — 2 Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way.
- Isaiah 5:13 (ESV) — 13 Therefore my people go into exile for lack of knowledge; their honored men go hungry, and their multitude is parched with thirst.
OBEY IT – God’s will for Israel was found in His revelation to Israel.
- The law and commandments were part of this revelation.
- If one desired to follow God, then one would respond to His revelation with obedience.
- More on this next week…
SPEAK IT – Speaking something not only aids in learning it, but it demonstrates our commitment.
- Deuteronomy 6:7 (ESV) — 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
MEDITATE ON IT – Contemplating the purpose and power of God’s revelation in the law meant that obedience was just for outward show.
- Meditating on the law was not done by counterfeits.
- It was done by those who delighted in God’s law and who desired not to sin against God.
- Psalm 1:2 (ESV) — 2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.
- Psalm 37:31 (ESV) — 31 The law of his God is in his heart; his steps do not slip.
- Psalm 119:11 (ESV) — 11 I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
- Proverbs 3:1 (ESV) — 1 My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments,
Deuteronomy 11 provides a summary of the wisdom found in knowing, speaking, meditating and obeying God’s law.
- The bottom line is doing these things leads to covenant blessings.
- Deuteronomy 11:18–21 (ESV) — 18 “You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 19 You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 20 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, 21 that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth.
VERSE 9 – In view of all this responsibility, for the third time God says “be strong and courageous”.
- And then He adds, “do not be frightened” and “do not be dismayed”.
- In spite of the huge responsibility Joshua is about to take on, God commands that he not be afraid or discouraged.
- He is not to let the circumstance of his responsibility be the source of his outlook.
A summary of our text thus far could be:
- “Joshua, be strong and courageous because the fulfillment of the promise land rests on your shoulders and your relationship to My law…but don’t panic or worry about it”.
But here comes the good part!
- Why is Joshua not to be frightened or dismayed?
- “for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go”
- In this phrase we see the foundation and context upon which all of the previous exhortations are to be heeded.
We should see all the imperatives in these verses as follows:
- “be strong and courageous” – “for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go”
- “cause this people to inherit the land” – “for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go”
- “do…all the law” – “for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go”
- “do not turn from it” – “for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go”
- Let it “not depart from your mouth” – “for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go”
- “meditate on it day and night” – “for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go”
- You will “have good success” – “for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go”
- “you will make your way prosperous” – “for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go”
- “do not be frightened” – “for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go”
- “do not be dismayed” – “for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go”
To see just how central this reality is to Joshua’s and the Israelite’s condition, we need to observe something.
- Last week we saw that Moses juxtaposed the disobedience of Israel with the call of Joshua.
- It was clear that Moses’ literary intent was to contrast these two for a reason – he wanted us to take notice.
- In our text today, the writer of Joshua also has a specific literary intent – he also wants us to take notice.
- He wants us to look back to Deuteronomy and see something.
- How do we know this? How does he make the connection?
The phrase “be strong and courageous” occurs in our text three times – verses 6, 7 and 9.
- The phrase also occurs in Deuteronomy 31 three times – 6, 7 and 23.
- By this phrase, the author is connecting his text to Deuteronomy 31.
- He is “making a connection between Joshua and Moses” – Marten Woudstra.
But what is it we are to notice?
- In each case the “be strong and courageous” in Deuteronomy 31 is followed by something quite remarkable.
- 31:6 – “He will not leave you or forsake you.”
- 31:8 – “He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you.”
- 31:23 – “I will be with you.”
The law and commands of God and all the responsibilities of Israel are saturated in the presence of God.
- The presence of God is essential to understanding the Gospel, salvation, law, blessings and curses of the OT.
- And this is in both a corporate context (Israel) and an individual context (Joshua, e.g.).
- So as important as the presence of God was in these contexts, we need flesh it out a bit more.
- We will do so next week.