Three times, God tells Joshua to be strong and courageous. You probably agree that you cannot be strong and courageous if feel rejected and alone. For that reason, God promised Joshua that he wouldn’t abandon him or reject him.
God’s promise to Israel didn’t change when Moses died. Instead, God appointed Joshua to lead the wayward Israelites to the Promised Land. The job wasn’t easy for three reasons:
- The promised land was inhabited by godless, ruthless and sinful people.
- The Israelites were easily tempted and prone to sin.
- Joshua was a human being who wasn’t immune to sin.
But why did God keep reminding Joshua that he had to be strong and courageous? Why not be strong only or be courageous only? Let me answer that question with a question.
What would you do if you want to crumble an empty soda can? They’re only two ways to crumble a soda can. (1) Apply force on both ends of the can and crush it. Or (2) create a vacuum inside the can and it will crumble.
As the leader, Joshua had to withstand pressure from the Israelites and the Canaanites. He had to learn to be strong or else he would crumble under these two evil forces. Above all, Joshua needed to withstand the forces from within. Therefore, Joshua had to be strong and courageous.
When you walk out of your house to work, church or grocery store, you’re most likely confronted by the sins of the people around you, the sins of your tribe or the people you choose to be identified with and your personal sins. These sins, if we’re not careful, can grind us into curry powder.
How can we be strong and courageous as young Africans in the 21st Century?
God’s presence will make you strong and courageous
My young brother was once a victim of bullying. An older kid forced him to kick a plastic soccer ball that had a brick inside. I was not around when this happened. A few weeks later, coming from school, I saw the same bully beating my brother. And all hell broke loose.
The bully was a half a foot taller than me. And probably ten pounds heavier. But I never stopped to consider the odds which were stacked against me. I attacked the bully with fiery fists. And in no time, he was writhing on the ground with a bloodied nose.
Of course, my reaction wasn’t the best way to deal with bullies but it reminded him that my young brothers had a stronger brother. No one bullied my brothers in my presence from that day. In my presence, they were strong and courageous.
Moses understood only God’s presence could make him strong and courageous. Therefore, he prayed to God:
If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here. For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people? Is it not in your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and your people, from every other people on the face of the earth?
A soda can is made primarily of aluminum. However, researchers from South Korea found adding iron and nickel to aluminum made it very strong. Thus, in the presence of nickel and iron, aluminum is strong. You and I are weak alone but strong in God’s presence.
God’s word will make you strong and courageous
I will never forget the first time I traveled by plane. The turbulence, the weightlessness, and missing lunch. Yes, I didn’t eat lunch during flight because I didn’t know it was free. Despite my high scores in English tests, I didn’t know complimentary meant free of charge.
So, I traveled from Bulawayo, Zimbabwe to Johannesburg with an empty tummy. I had a connecting flight to Atlanta, Georgia. Fortunately, I sat to a lovely couple who told me the food was indeed free.
God instructed Joshua to study the Book of the Law. At that time, only the Torah and possibly the Book of Job existed. But those six books were enough to make Joshua strong and courageous.
However, there was one condition, Joshua had to show he read and understood the Bible by being obedient. God’s word reveals the person of Christ. It reminds us of the grace of Jesus Christ, “When I am weak, then I am strong.” And God’s joy, which is my strength.
If you want to make a soda can strong, you need to fill it with strong metal alloys. Studying, practicing and teaching God’s word does that by inviting us to see Christ. This revealed Christ fills us up with the Holy Spirit.
Obedience will make you strong and courageous
In Matthew 7:24, Christ said, “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” In contrast, disobeying Christ word is like building on sand. Notice this: sand is simply a disintegrated rock. What makes the rock strong, is it’s joined and one.
Obedience makes you one with Christ. Aluminum can only be strong if combined with the iron and nickel. The three metals should come into contact and form one material. Rather than exist as three separate materials. Of course, iron can afford to be alone, it’s strong even alone.
Crossing Jordan, Joshua was going to be in the presence of Israelites and Canaanites. But God promised to be with him. So, he had to choose whose presence he wanted. Whose presence are you going to choose?
The Torah and book of Job were not the only written words Joshua could choose. If not careful, Joshua could be lured into a culture of fear and rage through the Twitter and Facebook of that time. Whose report are you going to believe?
If you choose wisely, you’re going to be strong and courageous.