Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid of them! The LORD your God will go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor forsake you. – Deuteronomy 31:6 NLT
We live in a time filled with fear and apprehension. We are filled with questions and doubts about the future. What is going to happen to the economy? What is going to happen to the environment? What is going to happen to our culture? What about my 401k? My kids? My job? My marriage? The world appears unstable and insecure. Nothing seems to be reliable or lasting anymore. It's hard to trust anyone or anything. And it is at times like these that we, as Christians, can run the risk of trying to look some place other than God for our hope, peace, security, comfort, strength, and direction. That is exactly what the Israelites faced as they stood on the edge of the Promised Land preparing to go in. Moses was not going with them. God had already made it clear that he would not be joining them in their conquest of the land, but would die in the wilderness. The people were scared. They were filled with apprehension and doubt. How in the world were they going to be able to pull this off? They were not a military power, but a rag-tag bunch of runaways from captivity in Egypt. Yet God was calling them to boldly take over a land occupied by nations bigger and badder than themselves.
So Moses steps in one last time to remind the people where to place their trust. In God. He tells them once again that their God can be trusted. There is no reason to fear or faint. He puts it simply and succinctly. "Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid of them! The LORD your God will go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor forsake you" (Deuteronomy 31:6 NLT). Be strong and courageous. Those four words appear throughout this chapter. Moses tells Joshua, his replacement, "Be strong and courageous! For you will lead these people into the land that the LORD swore to give their ancestors. You are the one who will deliver it to them as their inheritance" (Deuteronomy 31:7 NLT). He reminds Joshua that God is going to go ahead of him, and will be with him every step of the way. God will not fail in His responsibilities or forsake His people, so there is no reason to fear. Once again, at Joshua's commissioning, God Himself uses these same four words to launch this new leader's ministry. "Be strong and courageous! You must bring the people of Israel into the land I swore to give them. I will be with you" (Deuteronomy 31:23 NLT).
As the people of God stood facing the unknown, they were encouraged to be strong and courageous. As Joshua contemplated his new role as leader of the motley group of stubborn and rebellious wanderers, he is told be strong and courageous. Why? How? The answer is found in God Himself. He is our strength. He is our source of courage. Like then, He still goes ahead of His people, preparing the way, working His plan, and accomplishing His will. He is with us and will not forsake us. We have no reason to fear. Even though God knew that the people of Israel were going to rebel against Him, rejecting His authority and turning to other gods, He was going to be a constant source of strength and power throughout it all. All they had to do was turn to Him and trust Him. He would do all that He said He would do. He would be all that He said He would be. God is telling you and me the same thing today. Paul even picks up on this theme in his letter to the Corinthians. "Be on guard. Stand true to what you believe. Be courageous. Be strong" (1 Corinthians 16:13 NLT). We are called by God to be ready, faithful, courageous and strong. We have His presence with us at all times. We have His power at our disposal at all times. We have His promises to encourage us at all times. He is with us and will not forsake us. So be strong and courageous!
Father, it is easy to be fearful. It is easy to turn to anything and anyone else other than you during times of fear and doubt. But don't let us forget that You are with us and will not forsake us. You can do what You say You will do. You always have and always will. Give us the strength to trust You more. Give us the courage to step out in faith, trusting in You and You alone. Amen