God’s men (and women) are commanded to be strong and courageous. If they are, they are guaranteed success and prosperity–not necessarily wherever we go–wherever God sends us.
Such promises of God should not make us arrogant, but they should make us incredibly confident regardless of what we see, think, or feel. The phrase “be strong and courageous” is used three different times in this first chapter. In our culture, that phrase could easily be misunderstood as, “Be tough. Man up.” Now, without question there is a time and a place to tell someone not to man-up and not be a pansy. But Joshua is anything but a pansy. He is a proven general, the minority voice willing to stand up against the crowd, a strong and courageous man. There are plenty of misguided “manly-manimals” who can debate people into corners with their verbal swordsmanship, who can bully people into a corner with puffed up chests, and who talk like they are afraid of NOTHING . Manly-machismo-manishness is not what God has in mind when he says, be strong and courageous in the eyes of the LORD.
General Joshua is not told to perfect his bow staff skills, hire a speech writer, or flex his muscles. He is commanded to be strong and courageous in a particular way, a way that will guarantee success. Joshua is charged NOT ONLY to fight hard and be fearless against the enemies—but he is told THE MOST IMPORTANT manifestation of strength and courage is to be faithful to God’s Word. As he follows God, Joshua will encounter battles that feel difficult and situations look impossible. He will be asked to do things that will be counter cultural, counter intuitive, and offensive to his emotions. His greatest temptation will be to turn from God’s Word, to depend on his own wisdom. If he does, he will become weak and prove he is a coward. Straying from God’s Word will not only make you spiritually impotent in waging war against sin in your life; you also become a coward governed by the fears of everything and everyone BUT God.
Joshua’s and our most active fight will not be for external accomplishment, but for internal worship, his greatest battlefield will not be on the plains of the Canaanites, but on the wasteland of his heart.