Strength and Courage
by Bob Burridge ©2018
In Deuteronomy 31 Moses was handing over leadership to Joshua. Moses was the one God had assigned to lead Israel ever since the great Exodus from Egypt. When we come to this chapter he was 120 years old, and was told that he was not going to enter the promised land of Canaan. It was time for a new leader.
The job he was giving to Joshua wasn’t going to be an easy one. Pagan nations had taken over the land God promised to Abraham and his descendants. The occupiers had strong armies and well fortified cities. They greatly outnumbered Israel, and had a huge arsenal of weapons.
The responsibility God was now giving to this small nation of Israel was to cross the Jordan River, and take the land back.
The odds against them were overwhelming. But it’s not always numbers and might that makes the battle go one way rather than another. It was like that young shepherd named David as he stood before the overwhelming giant Goliath. Like David, Israel didn’t stand alone. God was with them. The directive was to retake the land, and God promised to make them victorious.
Moses delivered God’s assurances to Israel and then to Joshua in Deuteronomy 31:1-8.
1. Then Moses went and spoke these words to all Israel.
2. 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.’
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. The Lord will give them over to you, that you may do to them according to every commandment which I have commanded you.
6. 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.”
7. 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.
8. 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.”
In the assignment God gives us today, we face hard challenges too. In the world around us the gospel is hated by some and distorted by others. God’s moral principles are ridiculed and openly disobeyed. We and our children are surrounded by the influences of a fallen world and a distorted form of Christianity.
Jesus sends us out to tell the truth, and to conquer the world for him. In Matthew 28:18-20 we have an assurance similar to the one God gave to Israel back in Deuteronomy 31. There in Matthew it says, “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen.”
This is very much like the promise to Israel in Deuteronomy 31:6, “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.”
The spiritual odds against us are enormous. Society protects abortion, homosexuality, premarital intimacy, and greed. They call us bigots for believing there’s only one way to salvation and heaven. And many who call themselves “churches” have surrendered the Creation Sabbath, distorted the gospel, and redefined God into a begging deity hoping we give him permission to work in our hearts.
We are greatly outnumbered, outspent, and drowned out by a flood of distortions in the powerful media. But as one wise Christian teacher once said, there’s more in our favor than “noses, nickels and noise.”
and he will neither fail us, nor abandon us.
Therefore, the promise Deuteronomy 31:6 begins with a challenge: “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: …”
God’s people in every age, and facing any seemingly unbeatable enemy, are to face those odds head-on. We are to be strong, courageous, and unafraid.
The word translated as “fear” is the Hebrew word, “ya-rae” (יָרֵא). It’s the same word used by David in Psalm 23:4 where it says we should “fear no evil: for Thou art with me”
40 years before Deuteronomy 31, Israel was a nation of slaves in Egypt. There was no reasonable hope that they could escape alive from the powerful Pharaoh and his army. But an exiled old man by the name of Moses obeyed God and was enabled to led them out.
The one who sends us is our source of strength, courage, and bravery. Deuteronomy 31:6 goes on to say, “… for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.”
We are 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. We will not be alone. Our God will not leave us on our own in this mission.
Our duty is to go out and influence the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We can do that if we obediently carry out our assignment courageously and without fear.
We are not to be intimidated by the giants. Our calling is to do what we know God calls us to do. We should not procrastinate or cower back in fear. God promises that he will bless our efforts when we humbly admit our need for his enablement and forgiveness as we repentantly rest in the finished work of our Savior who paid our debt to God in our place. Now — he calls us to action.
(Bible quotations are from the New King James Version unless otherwise noted.)