After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: 2 “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites. 3 I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. 4 Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Mediterranean Sea in the west. 5 No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. 6 Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.
7 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Moses, the great hero and leader of the people has just died, and Joshua has taken cup the mantle. The people face a very difficult and uncertain future. They are camped on the edge of the promised land. Directly in front of them lies the swollen waters of the River Jordan and ahead of them the challenge of finally entering and conquering the land that God had promised to give them.
For Joshua too, this must have been a very anxious time. He knew that it was not going to be easy to follow in the footsteps of a great leader like Moses. How would the people respond? Would they be willing to follow him? He was well aware that the people had a track record of being difficult, stubborn and rebellious.
No wonder then that God has to reassure Joshua and the people, not once but three times, encouraging them to be strong and courageous, and promising that he would be with them wherever he went.
Joshua was up to the challenge. This had been the moment that he had been waiting for, for over forty years and he was not going to miss the chance. Although he was well aware, probably more than all of the people, of the difficult challenges ahead, his faith in God’s ability to help them overcome to odds and defeat the inhabitants of the land, even though on paper they were far stronger than they were, remained constant.
Currently, we all face a very difficult and uncertain future. Just as God encouraged Joshua and the people to be strong and courageous so I believe he similarly would encourage us to be strong and courageous. Knowing that God is all-powerful means that we have nothing to be afraid of and we should be reassured by the wonderful promise that he will always be with us.