Chazaq | Joshua 1:9
In the book of Joshua, the LORD passes the anointing from Moses onto Joshua and promises him that He will be with him wherever he goes, if he will only be “strong and courageous”.
I long thought this verse meant to push aside your fears, “cowboy up”, and charge into battle. Trust Him in all our ways, and we will be successful whichever way we turn.
While that concept is partially true, how the story plays out in the passages that follow aren’t exactly what we imagine when the phrase gets used in our culture today.
Joshua, a victorious and seasoned warrior, is charged with leading the entire nation of his brethren across the Jordan River and into the Promised Land of Canaan, where giant grapes — and giant people — await him.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous!”…
I have heard the emphasis put on the latter part, when in context of time and place, I think Joshua may have heard the word “command” and been reminded of the previous years of his life that he spent at the foot of a mountain, and in the wilderness, learning about who his God really is; and the commands that were given to become the chosen people of God… A different kind of nation… A nation of Priests sent to make the LORD’s name known.
The stories ahead of this powerful moment in Scripture include God supernaturally damming up the Jordan; God re-consecrating His people through circumcision and “rolling away their reproach from Egypt”; and God asking His people not to charge into battle on the city that lie ahead, but to march around it for a few days, blowing trumpets and singing, to which God responded by miraculously causing the walls of a fortified city to crumble without a sword to be lifted.
In the end, the “be strong and courageous” command had nothing to do with the physical strength of Joshua, but his ability to trust and follow through on the seemingly ridiculous set of requests, while the LORD made things happen.
Don’t get me wrong — Joshua had his part in all of those moments. Step into a “flooded” river while thousands of people watch on, and trust that the flow will cease? Take a knife to the foreskin of all the males, and that will clear you of your past failures and prepare you for what lies ahead? You’re telling me the mighty warrior Joshua isn’t to lift a sword against the nation of giants, but to send out the worship team and stand guard around them instead?
In the end, courage only happens in the face of fear, whether it be real, life-threatening danger, or perceived danger that just makes you look foolish to outsiders.
But the charge I now take from this story is that no matter how ridiculous the thing God is asking me to do is, I know that being chosen looks radically different.