Strength and Courage
by Bob Burridge ©2022
We face a world today that’s growing more and more in its hatred of the ways that please our Creator. It seems like we face an overwhelming calling to stand firmly against those who want to silence us. Family and morality are replaced with total confusion. Violence is growing in our cities and between countries. Laws based on the safety and liberties we treasure are being ignored and overturned. We have a calling of God to live for his glory and to be a light to this dark world.
In Deuteronomy 31 Moses was handing over leadership to Joshua.
Moses was 120 years old and was never going to enter the promised land of Canaan. But the job he was giving to Joshua wasn’t an easy one.
Pagan nations had taken over the land God had promised to Abraham. They had strong armies and their cities were well fortified. They greatly outnumbered Israel, and had a huge arsenal of weapons. However, God had commissioned this small nation of Israel to cross the Jordan and take the land back.
The odds against them were overwhelming. But it’s not numbers and might that makes the battle go one way rather than another.
We remember that young shepherd named David as he stood before the giant Goliath. How could a young man stand up against a well equipped warrior and survive? But David didn’t stand alone – God was with him and brought him victory.
Like David, Israel didn’t stand alone as they would bravely cross the Jordan into Canaan. God was with them. The directive was to take the land. He promised that he would make them victorious.
Moses delivered God’s assurances to Israel and then to Joshua in Deuteronomy 31:1-8. That’s the setting for this study.
1. So Moses continued to speak these words to all Israel.
2. And he said to them, “I am 120 years old today. I am no longer able to go out and come in. The LORD has said to me, ‘You shall not go over this Jordan.’
3. The LORD your God himself will go over before you. He will destroy these nations before you, so that you shall dispossess them, and Joshua will go over at your head, as the LORD has spoken.
4. And the LORD will do to them as he did to Sihon and Og, the kings of the Amorites, and to their land, when he destroyed them.
5. And the LORD will give them over to you,
and you shall do to them according to the whole commandment that I have commanded you.
6. Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them,
for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”
7. Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you shall go with this people into the land that the LORD has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall put them in possession of it.
8. It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”
Today we face hard challenges too.
The gospel is hated by some and distorted by others. God’s moral principles are ridiculed and disobeyed openly. They’re even called bigotry and hateful. We and our children are surrounded by influences of a fallen anti-biblical world.
But Jesus sends his church out to tell his truth, and to influence those in the world around us. This is what he said in Matthew 28:18-20, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
It’s very much like the promise to Israel in Deuteronomy 31:6, “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”
The spiritual odds against us are enormous.
Society protects and even promotes abortion, homosexuality, trans-sexuality, extra-marital intimacy, greed, and other things God directly forbids. They call us bigots for believing there’s only one way to salvation and heaven. Churches themselves have surrendered the Sabbath, distorted the gospel, and redefined God into a begging deity hoping we give him permission to work in our hearts.
We’re greatly outnumbered, outspent, and drowned out by a flood of distortions in the powerful media. But God is greater than all that stands against us, and he will neither fail us, nor abandon us.
Therefore, the promise in Deuteronomy 31:6 begins with a challenge.
“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them …” We’re to face those odds head-on. We are to be strong, courageous, and unafraid. The original Hebrew word for fear here is “yi-ra” (ירא). It’s the same word in Psalm 23:4 where it says, “I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
40 years before Moses said these words to Israel and Joshua, Israel was a nation of slaves in Egypt. There was no reasonable hope they could escape alive from the powerful Pharaoh and his army. But an exiled old man by the name of Moses obeyed God and led them out.
The one who sends us is our source of strength, courage, obedience, and bravery.
Deuteronomy 31:6 continues saying, “… for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”
We’re promised success by no one less than the Creator and Sovereign Lord of all things. His promise is that he will not fail us in our obedience. He will not leave us. Our duty is to go out and influence the world for Christ. We can do that if we obediently carry out our assignment with confidence and without fear.
This brings me to think about one of my favorite verses, Deuteronomy 29:29 “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.”
We shouldn’t be intimidated by the giants. We’re to do what we know God calls us to do and to be. We shouldn’t procrastinate or cower back in fear. God promises he will bless our efforts. He calls us to action.
Note: Bible quotations are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.