“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
I can just see him.
Joshua sits near the waters edge of the Jordan waiting for YHWH. The sound of the men and families in the camp a few miles back can be heard in the distance. As Joshua sits there, he prays. A cool breeze rustles the tall grass near Joshua, and he looks up to the sound of The self-existent One. The LORD, begins to speak. His voice is heard, but His Presence, though unseen is tangible too.
This wasn’t his first encounter with God. Joshua sat outside the Tabernacle waiting on Moses as he spoke to the Lord. Even after Moses would leave, the Bible tells us that Joshua would stay (Exodus 33:11). So, Joshua is very familiar with his Elohiym, but God knows Joshua even better. Before the new leader can tell God why he is not the man to do the job, or share with the Almighty his fears and hesitations, God speaks.
He tells Joshua to be brave. But more importantly, He gives him a promise, His Presence.
It’s a favorite scripture of many of us. Do you have it somewhere in your house? It’s beautiful in the English translation, but there are some important details about the Hebrew words I don’t want us to miss.
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It seemed strange to me for the Lord to command strength and courage, so I did some digging, and I found gold.
The Hebrew word for “command” is tsavah. It means to appoint, bid, charge, command, send a messenger, put in order, appointed, sent.
The meaning that seems to be repeated the most in the definition and better fits the context is appoint. Moses has just died, and Joshua has been chosen to lead. He has been appointed! And God says to him, “Have I not appointed you?’
When I read the verse like this, I hear a promise in His voice. He’s saying, “I chose you for this because I believe in you. I called you to this. You’re the man, Joshua!”
God is assuring Joshua of his call and position, and then he gives him a command. “Be strong!”
Look at the Hebrew word. Chazaq means to fasten upon–hence to seize, be strong, catch, cleave, be constant, continue, encourage yourself, become mighty, take hold, withstand.
God is telling Joshua to hold on tight! Don’t give up! Cleave to what God is doing. Take hold of the promise.
And then God tells him to be courageous. I like that word, but look at the Hebrew. Awmats means to be alert physically or mentally, be courageous, steadfastly minded, strong, harden, increase, prevail, strengthen, make strong.
Courageous fits, but don’t leave out those other amazing nuances of the word. Be alert! Be strong!
I love this. I mean, I loved the scripture before, but now it’s more tangible, doable for me. The very same God who told Joshua this, speaks it to us as we face new seasons, new positions, open doors we’ve been praying for, dreams we’ve longed to pursue. God says,
- I’ve called you.
- Hold on tight to the call, the promise.
- Be alert and be prepared. Do your part.
- Do not be afraid.
- Do not be discouraged (the biggie.)
- Because YHWH, your God (Elohiym) is with you.
I love the thought that I am God’s, but it’s so sweet to think of how He is mine. He’s yours. How blessed we are. We have a God who wants to be with us, and He wants to be with us all the way.
God upheld His promise to Joshua. And He will uphold His promises to us.
How does this apply to your life today? What speaks to you as you read it in the Lee translation:
“Have I not appointed you for this? Hold on tight. It’s going to be a ride. Don’t give up. Be alert and courageous. Don’t shake with fear or let discouragement take you down when things aren’t happening as quickly as you would like. I’ve always been here. And I’m not leaving, because I am your God. You worship me. I am yours. And I walk with you everywhere you go.”
And that my friends is the grit and grace of faith.
ps. I’m holding another drawing for a giveaway of my Ruth Key Word Bible study and goodie-box for the New Year and a Skype session or coffee if you live in the Wilmington area! Just comment on Monday’s Bite of Bread post to be entered. I am announcing the winner next Monday (January 8)!