“…be brave for what?!”
I can almost hear Joshua’s voice, somewhere between Joshua 1:9, and 1:10.
Life moves fast these days (It’s already mid November of 2010!). We always seem to be moving into our “next” thing. As we do, bigger pictures, new horizons, and different challenges can come into view. Let me leave something with you that the Lord was speaking to me while in Asia, when asked to present a short message to two different YWAM bases there. It’s from the end of Deuteronomy and the beginning of Joshua.
In Joshua 1:6-9 we see the Lord commanding Joshua to be “strong and courageous”. Twice in vv6 and 7, and once in v9. However, we see the Lord commanding Joshua to obey the Law 3 times in-between. A closer look shows us that in fact, the Lord was commanding bravery from Joshua only once on account of the battles he would fight and the land he would possess, in verse 6. After that, all of Joshua’s courage would be needed regarding loving and keeping the Law. Why would he need this?
Deuteronomy 31-34 gives us the answer. After God commissions Joshua to be Moses’ successor, He goes on to tell them both that once in the promised land, the people would all “prostitute themselves to the foreign gods…”. (Dt 31:16)
Joshua: “Ahhh, so that’s why I’m going to need some divine strength. …great.”
Lord: “Moses! Write a song about me and my faithfulness, etc. Teach it to the people, and it will serve as a witness against them when they sing and remember me…” (Dt 31:19)
Tackling “giants” is nothing to God. Joshua had seen it before, and had hoped for the chance to see it 40 years earlier after the first spy-mission. Since then, he also witnessed the fruit of unbelief and rebellion among a people.
Giants are one thing; tackling the hearts of people who rebel is another. God can defeat giants, but He won’t force people to love and obey Him. It is never the will of God that changes, but the will of man.
Joshua needed strength, courage, determination, and a love of the Law and God. It would take all these things to maintain the direction and mission God had given him. It takes courage to obey God, and even more to lead unwilling people to do the same. For those of you in leadership, it also offers another valuable truth: we don’t get our validation from people. Affirmation is wonderful. But man’s approval (or lack of it) does not determine our identity in Christ. Obedience is the natural overflow of a life impacted by the Gospel; the overflow seen in the life of a disciple. The validation that counts to those who follow the master, comes from the master. Joshua needed to understand that. This truth would ultimately make him a better servant/leader for the people.
As you all go out in the next chapter of your lives, don’t forget the things God has told you, shown you, promised you. The giants you may be facing are one thing, and God can take care of those. We will always have the poor among us (Mk 14:7). Injustice isn’t about to lay down the fight. Sickness, disease, child trafficking… all giants God wants to, and can slay. It’s the giant of our heart, our devotion to Him, that God won’t force (Rev 3:20). Give Him access to this “giant”, and there is nothing God can’t do through any of us.
Open the door to Him, daily. Be faithful, personally. Be sure to stay true to His Word, the Bible. Also, stay true to the word He gave you personally. As “leaders”, there may be times when the people you are responsible for don’t want to go “that way”. I am sure there will be times when you won’t be getting validation from man. I realize that affirmation is important and valid to us as feeling people, but is it vitally important? Important enough to tempt rebellion in us? In our world today, it takes more courage to be obedient and pursue holiness, than be “relevant” leaders.
Be strong and courageous people. Love God. Love others. Love the way He has made YOU!