A History Lesson
The children of Israel, God’s chosen people of that time, were being held in captivity in Egypt, treated as slaves. So God sent Moses (assisted by his brother Aaron) to go and tell Pharaoh to “Let my people go.” But Pharaoh did not comply and so God sent a series of plagues in Egypt to convince Pharaoh to let God’s people go. Yet, it wasn’t until God put to death every firstborn in the land of Egypt that Pharaoh finally let God’s people go. This did not include the firstborn of the children of Israel (Exodus 11-12).
But then the children of Israel ended up wandering for forty years in the wilderness because of their sinful rebellion against the Lord, although not everyone rebelled. A small number remained faithful to the Lord, and Joshua was one of them. Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt and he led them all forty years they were in the dessert, but now Moses was dead, and now God called Joshua to lead his people into the Promised Land.
Be Strong and Courageous
“Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them.”
Now, these were God’s specific words to Joshua, so we can’t arbitrarily apply them to our lives and to our situations. But there are truths here which we can learn from and which we can apply to our lives, for we can learn lessons from the entire Bible not just from the parts that specifically apply to or are directed to us as followers of Jesus Christ (see 2 Tim 3:16-17).
And the Lord Jesus just reminded me of an old song that I used to sing whenever I was feeling afraid. It is called “Praise the Lord,” and it was written by Elliott B. Bannister and Michael V. Hudson. And some of the words are this:
When you’re up against a struggle that shatters all your dreams
And your hopes have been cruelly crushed by Satan’s manifested schemes
And you feel the urge within you to submit to earthly fears
Don’t let the faith you’re standing in seem to disappear
Praise the Lord, He can work through those who praise Him
Praise the Lord, for our God inhabits praise
Praise the Lord, for the chains that seems to bind you
Serve only to remind you that they drop powerless behind you
When you praise Him
I forget how many times we are told in the Scriptures to not fear, to not be frightened, to not be afraid and to be strong in our walks of faith, and to be of courage. We are taught that over and over again, because our human flesh has a tendency to fear and to retreat when things get scary and when they get difficult and when Satan is trying to instill fear in our hearts.
Sometimes we have daunting tasks before us, some of them assigned to us by God, but nevertheless they are part of God’s plan and purpose for our lives. And the tendency in our human nature may be to want to retreat. And so we need to hear encouraging words like this which tell us to be strong and courageous. And if we are with God, on his side, he is also with us, and he will never leave us nor forsake us. So he gives us the strength we need.
Now, if we are sharing the gospel of Jesus with people, even in the face of great opposition, and even in the face of attacks on our character, in a sense we are also leading them into the Promised Land, for our Promised Land is our eternal home with God for all those who have surrendered their hearts and lives to Jesus Christ, who have forsaken their lives of sin, and who are now walking by faith in obedience to their Lord. This is what faith is.
And so we also need to not fear and we need to be strong and courageous in the strength of the Lord because it is hard to share the gospel when you get strongly opposed and when people come against you and attack you and call you names and falsely accuse you of things you did not do. It is hard to even try to encourage those who profess faith in Jesus Christ to walk in faithful obedience to their Lord without some of them attacking us.
But we must have before us the same thing Jesus had before him when he went to the cross to die for our sins and that is the joy of knowing that some people are going to turn their hearts to Jesus Christ because the Lord led us to talk with them about Jesus. So, even though the road gets rough sometimes, we must persevere in sharing the gospel for many people need to hear the truth so that they can follow the truth and so be saved.
Be Careful to Obey
“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. 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. 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 is very critical that we get this part, for we are taught the same thing in the New Testament. Yes, we are not under the Old Covenant liturgical, ceremonial, sacrificial and purification laws that the Jews had to follow under the Old Covenant. But we are not freed from having to obey our Lord and his commands to us under the New Covenant. We are still to obey God’s moral laws, and we are still to love God, and to love him is to obey him, and we are still to love our neighbors by doing good and not harm to them.
So, we are also to be careful to obey the word of the Lord to us, his church, and we are not to turn from it to the right or to the left, either. God does not provide excuses for us to continue in deliberate and habitual sin against him. He says, in fact, if sin is what we practice that we do not have eternal life with God. If we don’t obey him, and if righteousness is not what we practice, we don’t know him and heaven is not our eternal destiny.
When we walk in obedience to our Lord, and we speak his word to others on a daily basis so that they may know him, too, and when we are careful to obey the Lord fully in all things, then we will be spiritually productive and we will bear much fruit for God’s eternal kingdom. For Old Covenant or New Covenant the Lord still demands our obedience and our submission to him as Lord and that we leave our lives of sin behind us to follow him.
And if we are following the Lord in obedience to his ways, and we are not letting other humans nor Satan instill fear in us, but we are walking by faith, in the power and wisdom and strength of God, our Lord is with us wherever we go and he is leading the way for us and he will provide all that we need to do his will and to live holy lives pleasing to him and to persevere even in the face of great trials. And we will be blessed because we surrendered our lives to Jesus Christ and we allowed him to work his will in and through us.
[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10, 19-20; 2 Co 5:10, 15; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:22-25; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; Matt 7:21-23; Heb 10:26-27; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Rom 12:1-2; Eph 2:8-10; 1 Pet 2:9; Matt 5:13-16; Matt 28:18-20; Acts 1:8; Php 2:12-13]
Angels We Have Heard on High
Angels we have heard on high
Sweetly singing o’er the plains
And the mountains in reply
Echo back their joyous strains
Shepherds, why this jubilee?
Why your joyous strains prolong?
Say what may the tidings be
Which inspire your heavenly song?
Come to Bethlehem and see
Him whose birth the angels sing,
Come, adore on bended knee,
Christ the Lord, the newborn King.
Gloria, in excelsis Deo
Gloria, in excelsis Deo
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