Be Very Courageous!

The children of Israel of the Old Testament had just spent 40 years in the wilderness after they had been delivered by God, via Moses, out of slavery in Egypt. Many of them died in the wilderness, though, because of their sins of disobedience to God, which included idolatry and sexual immorality, which then God equated as unbelief (same equation in New Testament).

Moses was now dead, and Joshua was appointed by God to be their leader to lead them into the Promised Land. Then, four times the Lord told them to be strong and courageous. And, the third time he also told them not to be frightened. Why?

They were going in to take possession of the land God had promised them, but they were going into unknown territory. They were going to face enemies. They were going to encounter opposition. So, their faith had to remain strong, and they had to do what the Lord said, even in the face of potential failure, or they would fail. For, this was not going to be easy.

Joshua 1:7 ESV

“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.”

There is a spiritual parallel between the deliverance of the nation of Israel of the Old Testament out of slavery in Egypt, and our deliverance from slavery to sin. And there is a spiritual parallel between their journey to their Promised Land, and our journey on this earth going toward our Promised Land, which is eternal life with God.

And, it is believed that Joshua was a prefiguring of Jesus Christ who is the one leading us into our Promised Land.

Moses represents the old Levitical laws that the Israelites of old were required to obey, and those are dead to us who are in Christ, i.e. we don’t have to follow all the old ceremonial and purification laws of the Jews. But, that doesn’t mean we don’t have to obey God’s commandments. We do. We have to obey all the instructions given to us by Jesus and by his NT apostles.

For, just as God equated disobedience to unbelief in the Old Testament, he does so again in the New Testament. For, he says that to love him is to obey him, and if we don’t obey him, we don’t love him and we don’t know him and he doesn’t know us (Jn. 8:51; Jn. 14:23-25; Rom. 6:16; 1 Jn. 2:3-6).

And, there were many Israelites of old who thought that their inheritance was a sure thing because they were Abraham’s descendants and God’s chosen people, but many found out that it wasn’t so, after it was too late.

And it is the same today. Many are claiming an inheritance with God based on a church affiliation, or because their parents were Christians, or because they made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ, or because they were baptized. But, according to the New Testament, we have to walk in obedience with our Lord, and we have to leave our lives of sin behind us if we want to inherit eternal life with God (Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17).

Not an Easy Road

And, just like their journey toward their Promised Land was not easy, and that is why they had to be strong and courageous, and to not be frightened, our journey is not easy, either. For, it is not the broad road that many are traveling that leads to destruction. But it is the narrow way that is restricted, and that is hard, that we must follow. And, few truly go that way.

And, so we are going to face opposition, but not just from the people out in the world, but from a large majority of people who call themselves Christians, who attend gatherings in buildings called “church,” and even from pastors of these churches, too. For, many have gone the way of the world and of big business, and the narrow path just doesn’t work for them.

But, that isn’t our only opposition. The one who is behind all opposition against those of us who are true followers of Jesus Christ is Satan. And, he does not want us to make it into the Promised Land. And, so he has devised all sorts of schemes and tricks to deter us, and to get us off course, and to get us to retreat, and to return to him, and to reject Jesus and his Word.

So, he has introduced an alternate path to our Promised Land that is much easier than the one God laid out for us to travel. It requires no courage and no spiritual strength and stamina, though, because we don’t have to leave our wilderness or our slavery behind us. We can remain as we are and just take it easy, and heaven will just be handed us on a silver platter.

And, Satan is not going to oppose us, because we have now come over to his side, which is exactly where he wants us. But, it is all a lie! And, it is a trap! For, it delivers no one from slavery to sin, and it requires no walks of obedience, and so when we come before God one day, we are going to be judged just like the Israelites of old were judged. For, God regards our disobedience as unbelief, and unbelief will land us in hell, not heaven.

Joshua 1:8 ESV

“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.”

The Book of the Law to us is the Bible. And, we can learn how to live for God from all the scriptures in the Old and in the New Testament. But, we aren’t under those ceremonial and purification laws the Jews had to follow. If what was taught in the Old Testament, though, is repeated for us in the New Testament, then we do have to follow it. And, all of the ten commandments, but one, are repeated for us in the New Testament.

The only one not repeated is to remember the Sabbath Day and to keep it holy. And, that is because our salvation is now our Sabbath rest, and we are the temple of the Holy Spirit, and we can now enter into God’s presence anytime, anywhere, and on any day in the week. The NT church met daily in the temple courts and from house to house.

So, what should not depart from our hearts, our minds, our mouths and our conduct is God’s moral laws, which he really summed up in two, to love God with our whole being and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves, which is God-like love, which prefers what is holy, righteous and faithful.

Joshua 1:9 ESV

“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.”

Nonetheless, this obedience to our Lord and to his commandments is not something we can do in the flesh. It isn’t a set of rules we follow that we can check off and say that we did them. This isn’t about performance. This is about being in Christ and him in us, and it is about walking by the Spirit, according to the Spirit, and as empowered and strengthened by the Spirit.

If we try to do it on our own, in our own flesh, we are going to sink. We are going to fail. For, obedience to Christ is submission to him as Lord. It is death with Christ to sin, and it is living to Christ and to his righteousness, in the Spirit, empowered by the Spirit, according to the Spirit. It is following Jesus Christ wherever he leads us, in doing what he has called us to do, and in saying whatever he commands us to say. It is a life given over to God to be his servant, but in his power, by his Spirit, and according to his will.

Master, The Tempest is Raging!

Lyrics by Mary A. Baker, 1874
Music by Horatio R. Palmer, 1874

Master, the tempest is raging!
The billows are tossing high!
The sky is o’ershadowed with blackness,
No shelter or help is nigh;
Carest Thou not that we perish?
How canst Thou lie asleep,
When each moment so madly is threat’ning
A grave in the angry deep?

Master, with anguish of spirit
I bow in my grief today;
The depths of my sad heart are troubled—
Oh, waken and save, I pray!
Torrents of sin and of anguish
Sweep o’er my sinking soul;
And I perish! I perish! dear Master—
Oh, hasten, and take control.

Master, the terror is over,
The elements sweetly rest;
Earth’s sun in the calm lake is mirrored,
And heaven’s within my breast;
Linger, O blessed Redeemer!
Leave me alone no more;
And with joy I shall make the blest harbor,
And rest on the blissful shore.

The winds and the waves shall obey Thy will,
Peace, be still!
Whether the wrath of the storm-tossed sea,
Or demons or men, or whatever it be,
No waters can swallow the ship where lies
The Master of ocean, and earth, and skies;
They all shall sweetly obey Thy will,
Peace, be still! Peace, be still!
They all shall sweetly obey Thy will,
Peace, peace, be still!

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