In days of deep discouragement we need eternal encouragement. Courage is a precious commodity! With it, we can do amazing things, without it we can hardly do anything. Dr. Alexander Maclaren warns, “Courage that does not rest on Christ’s presence is audacity rather than courage, and sure to collapse.”[i] Dr. Clive Staples Lewis (1898-1963) writes, “Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.”[ii]
Joshua 1:9b reads, “Be strong and of good courage. . .” This message is a repetition of the one recorded in Deuteronomy 31:1-8, “Then Moses went and spoke these words to all Israel. And he said to them: ‘I am one hundred and twenty years old today. I can no longer go out and come in. Also the Lord has said to me, ‘You shall not cross over this Jordan.’ The Lord your God Himself crosses over before you; He will destroy these nations from before you, and you shall dispossess them. Joshua himself crosses over before you, just as the Lord has said. And the Lord will do to them as He did to Sihon and Og, the kings of the Amorites and their land, when He destroyed them. The Lord will give them over to you, that you may do to them according to every commandment which I have commanded you. Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.’ Then Moses called Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, ‘Be strong and of good courage, for you must go with this people to the land which the Lord has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall cause them to inherit it. And the Lord, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.’” (Emphasis mine)
Dr. John Phillips (1927-2010) writes, “Ephesians is the New Testament counterpart of the book of Joshua. Just as Israel’s blessings were found in Canaan, so ours are found in the heavenlies. Just as the Israelites had to battle many enemies in Canaan in order to possess all that God had promised them, so we have to battle Satan and his army in order to enter into all that is ours in heavenly places. Just as Israel’s inheritance in Canaan was fiercely contested by the foe, so our inheritance in the heavenlies is also strongly contested. Just as Joshua led God’s chosen people into victory, so Jesus leads us.
If our blessings are in heavenly places, they are also in Christ. Satan and his evil hosts may haunt the heavenlies, but Christ has conquered them.
The Israelites only had to trust and obey in order to enter into all the blessings God had in store for them in Canaan. The Canaanites, despite their formidable appearance, were already defeated. Yet the Israelites did not believe God’s promises.”[iii] Ephesians 6:10-12 reads, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Oswald Chambers (1874-1917) explains, “We must learn to draw on the supernatural power of God, realizing that our enemies are supernatural, not natural; that our battling is not with difficult circumstances; it is altogether a battling that God is waging for us if we will draw on the supernatural forces.”[iv]
In The Christian in Complete Armour, William Gurnall (1617-1679) writes, “The Christian, of all men needs courage and resolution. Indeed, there is nothing he doth as a Christian, or can do, but is an act of valour. A cowardly spirit is beneath the lowest duty of a Christian: Josh. i. 7, ‘Be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest’—what? Stand in battle against those warlike nations? No, ‘but that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee.’ It requires more prowess and greatness of spirit to obey God faithfully, than to command an army of men, to be a Christian than to be a captain.”[v]
Dr. Bruce H. Wilkinson shares the following: “Joshua lived an exciting and fulfilling life, filled with success and honor. God entrusted him with the vast responsibility of leading His people into the Promised Land. And Joshua fulfilled that responsibility with vision and vigor.
But his achievements were not simply the work of a shrewd man following sound leadership principles. Joshua’s success instead was sourced in his deep and abiding trust in God. As Numbers 27:18 puts it, Joshua was ‘a man in whom is the spirit.’”[vi]
Reading Christian biography is one of the greatest ways to encourage us. We are told to encourage one another. Allow me to encourage you from the biography of both Joshua and Caleb to be vigorous, valiant, and venturesome in the will of God.
1. Be Vigorous in the will of God.
Joshua 13:1 reads, “Now Joshua was old, advanced in years. And the Lord said to him: ‘You are old, advanced in years, and there remains very much land yet to be possessed.’” Joshua and Caleb were vigorous at age 85. Joshua 14:6-15 reads, “Then the children of Judah came to Joshua in Gilgal. And Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him: ‘You know the word which the Lord said to Moses the man of God concerning you and me in Kadesh Barnea. I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh Barnea to spy out the land, and I brought back word to him as it was in my heart. Nevertheless my brethren who went up with me made the heart of the people melt, but I wholly followed the Lord my God. So Moses swore on that day, saying, ‘Surely the land where your foot has trodden shall be your inheritance and your children’s forever, because you have wholly followed the Lord my God.’ And now, behold, the Lord has kept me alive, as He said, these forty-five years, ever since the Lord spoke this word to Moses while Israel wandered in the wilderness; and now, here I am this day, eighty-five years old. As yet I am as strong this day as on the day that Moses sent me; just as my strength was then, so now is my strength for war, both for going out and for coming in. Now therefore, give me this mountain of which the Lord spoke in that day; for you heard in that day how the Anakim were there, and that the cities were great and fortified. It may be that the Lord will be with me, and I shall be able to drive them out as the Lord said.’ And Joshua blessed him, and gave Hebron to Caleb the son of Jephunneh as an inheritance. Hebron therefore became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite to this day, because he wholly followed the Lord God of Israel. And the name of Hebron formerly was Kirjath Arba (Arba was the greatest man among the Anakim). Then the land had rest from war.” (Emphasis mine)
Joshua 15:13-19 reads, “Now to Caleb the son of Jephunneh he gave a share among the children of Judah, according to the commandment of the Lord to Joshua, namely, Kirjath Arba, which is Hebron (Arba was the father of Anak). Caleb drove out the three sons of Anak from there: Sheshai, Ahiman, and Talmai, the children of Anak. Then he went up from there to the inhabitants of Debir (formerly the name of Debir was Kirjath Sepher). And Caleb said, ‘He who attacks Kirjath Sepher and takes it, to him I will give Achsah my daughter as wife.’ So Othniel the son of Kenaz, the brother of Caleb, took it; and he gave him Achsah his daughter as wife. Now it was so, when she came to him, that she persuaded him to ask her father for a field. So she dismounted from her donkey, and Caleb said to her, ‘What do you wish?’ She answered, ‘Give me a blessing; since you have given me land in the South, give me also springs of water.’ So he gave her the upper springs and the lower springs.” Joshua 19:49-51 reads, “When they had made an end of dividing the land as an inheritance according to their borders, the children of Israel gave an inheritance among them to Joshua the son of Nun. According to the word of the Lord they gave him the city which he asked for, Timnath Serah in the mountains of Ephraim; and he built the city and dwelt in it. These were the inheritances which Eleazar the priest, Joshua the son of Nun, and the heads of the fathers of the tribes of the children of Israel divided as an inheritance by lot in Shiloh before the Lord, at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. So they made an end of dividing the country.” Joshua 23:1-6, 14 reads, “Now it came to pass, a long time after the Lord had given rest to Israel from all their enemies round about, that Joshua was old, advanced in age. And Joshua called for all Israel, for their elders, for their heads, for their judges, and for their officers, and said to them: ‘I am old, advanced in age. You have seen all that the Lord your God has done to all these nations because of you, for the Lord your God is He who has fought for you. See, I have divided to you by lot these nations that remain, to be an inheritance for your tribes, from the Jordan, with all the nations that I have cut off, as far as the Great Sea westward. And the Lord your God will expel them from before you and drive them out of your sight. So you shall possess their land, as the Lord your God promised you. Therefore be very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, lest you turn aside from it to the right hand or to the left. . . . Behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth. And you know in all your hearts and in all your souls that not one thing has failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spoke concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one word of them has failed.” (Emphasis mine)
Dr. Samuel J. Schultz (1914-2005) former professor and chair of the Department of Biblical Studies at Wheaton College, writes, “The length of time allotted to the conquest and division of Canaan is not stated. Assuming Joshua and Caleb’s age, the events recorded in the Book of Joshua occurred in a period of twenty-five years.
Joshua spent 40 years in the wilderness (Josh. 5:6). He died at the age of 110 (24:29) [Judges 2:8-9]. Caleb was 40 years old when Moses sent Joshua and Caleb as spies (14:7-10).”[vii] This dynamic duo, named, Joshua and Caleb, were lion-hearted!
[i]Alexander Maclaren, Exposition of Holy Scripture: Genesis, 89. Database © 2009 WORDsearch Corp.
[ii]C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters, (London: Geoffrey Bles: The Centenary Press, 1942), Chapter 29, Paragraph 6. Accessed: 07/24/15 [iii]John Phillips, Exploring Ephesians: An Expository Commentary, (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1993), 30.
[iv]Oswald Chambers, Still Higher for His Highest, “Strength for the Battle” June 13 Reading (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1989), 129.
[v]William Gurnall, The Christian in Complete Armour: Or, A Treatise on the Saint’s War with the Devil: Wherein A Discovery is Made of the Policy, Power, Wickedness, and Strategems, Made Use of by That Enemy of God and His People, (London: William Tegg, 1862), 2-3.
[vi]Your Daily Walk: 365 Daily Devotions To Read Through The Bible In A Year, exec. ed. Bruce H. Wilkinson, ed., John W. Hoover, gen. ed. Paula A. Kirk (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1991), 72.
[vii]Samuel J. Schultz, The Old Testament Speaks (New York, NY: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1960), 93.