God Will Be With You & Never Forsake You

A long-time favorite verse of mine is in Joshua chapter one. God told Joshua to be strong and of good courage. More precisely, God commanded it.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.
– Joshua 1:9, ESV

This is not the first time God told Joshua this. I suppose that’s obvious from God’s question, “Have I not commanded you?” God’s told Joshua this before, and he will tell him again in verse eighteen.

Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go.
– Joshua 1:6-7, ESV

It is an odd sensation for me to think of strength and courage as something that can be commanded. I believe it is important to recall that Joshua, along with Caleb, was one of only two men who, after spying out the promised land, came back with a positive report, “We can surely take this land.”

If the Israelites were asked, “Who among you is strong and of good courage,” many, I’m sure, would respond, “Joshua, of course!”

What, exactly, is God commanding of Joshua here? I find it rather telling that the word God uses for strong (חֲזַ֖ק) is the same word used to describe the “severity” of a famine.1 Courageous (אָמַץ) is exactly that, while also being a word of stubbornness and obstinance. We might say, “be severe and dig in your heels.”

But why? Why be strong and courageous? What possible basis could we have for such a posture? Could it be, “for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go?” When Jacob had his dream of the angels of God ascending and descending the ladder between heaven and earth, God told Jacob, “Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”2

When Moses was reluctant to go to Egypt to lead the people out of slavery, God encouraged him saying, “I will be with you.”3 When giving the Law to his people, God assured them of victory against overwhelming odds, simply because of his presence.

When you go out to war against your enemies, and see horses and chariots and an army larger than your own, you shall not be afraid of them, for the LORD your God is with you, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. And when you draw near to the battle, the priest shall come forward and speak to the people and shall say to them, “Hear, O Israel, today you are drawing near for battle against your enemies: let not your heart faint. Do not fear or panic or be in dread of them, for the LORD your God is he who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory.”
– Deuteronomy 20:1-4, ESV

Another beautiful assurance of God’s presence is from Isaiah. I’ve heard this one set to music.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
    and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the LORD your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

– Isaiah 43:2-3a, ESV

When giving his command to make disciples of all nations, Jesus gave that same assurance, “…and surely I will be with you to the end of the age.”4

Christ-followers need a healthy dose of courage, strength, obstinance as we face down a world that is increasingly bold in flaunting and celebrating sin. Indeed, we are now in the beginning of “Shame Month,” which the world imprudently celebrates as a month of shameless pride. Just last week, my young granddaughter who is reading through Genesis was taken aback to learn the true meaning of the rainbow God placed in the sky.

Congregations of sheep, being led by wolves, have brought the celebration of licentiousness into what purports to be celebration Christian living and worship. Sexual deviance parading as spiritual leadership is steering thousands of would-be disciples down a precarious path to condemnation. When their sin is decried, the indignant response is not to defend their indefensible position, but rather to plunge headlong into ad hominem attacks on the one calling sin “sin.”

In situations like the above, we need to hear God say, “Be strong and courageous, my child, for I am with you wherever you go.” If giants in walled cities are no match for God’s people then nothing we face today should cause us to tremble.

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? . . . No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
– Romans 8:31, 37, ESV

…for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say,

    “The Lord is my helper;
        I will not fear;
    what can man do to me?”

– Hebrews 13:5b-6, ESV

Walk confidently into that to which God calls you, Christ-follower. I strongly suspect what he said to Moses holds true for us as well. “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”5

Blessings upon you, my friends.

Victoriously in Christ!

– damon

X – @DamonJGray
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1. Genesis 41:57, 47:20
2. Genesis 28:15, (10-17)
3. Exodus 3;12
4. Matthew 28:20
5. Exodus 33:14

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Damon J. Gray

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  1. Scott Wahl on June 3, 2024 at 8:52 AM

    Thank you, Damon. I think of you from time to time. This was a good read… A very good word for this day. Blessings.

    • Damon J. Gray on June 3, 2024 at 12:51 PM

      Thank you Scott. It’s always good to hear from you. God bless you as well.

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