Be Strong in the Lord

After the Israelites escaped from slavery in Egypt they rebelled against their God who had miraculously delivered them. Because of their disobedience an entire generation was allowed to die in the wilderness as they meandered through the region of Sinai for forty years.

Eventually, however, it came time for them to enter the land which God had promised to them, but just prior to crossing the Jordan River to enter the land God was giving them they paused and the leadership of the Israelites was transferred from Moses to Joshua. Moses was allowed to look across and see the land but was not allowed to go in because he was part of the generation which had rebelled. Moses died there.

God had prepared Joshua to lead the people into the land and just prior to the river crossing God spoke to Joshua, telling him that He would be with him in the conquest of the land. Here are some of God’s encouraging words to Joshua; words which should also be of great encouragement to us as we face life as followers of Jesus.

Joshua 1:7-9
7 Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.
8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.
9 Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

God’s instruction to Joshua to keep and obey God’s laws was, of course, a reference to the system of laws God had given the Israelites through Moses. We are not directly beholden to the Mosaic Law though many of its fundamental precepts (the ten commandments, etc.) continue to be of timeless value and weight. We are, however, responsible to follow the teachings of Jesus which embody the underlying principles of the Mosaic law.

God’s assurance to Joshua that He would be with Joshua and the Israelites is also an assurance for us. God is eternal and is unwavering in character and nature.  His promise to be with His people was not limited to the Israelites but is assurance to His people in every age, time and generation.

We see evidence of that in Paul’s admonition to the church in Ephesus.

eph6-10

Ephesians 6:10-12

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.
12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Whereas, the Israelites were instructed to remember and observe every law which God had given, followers of Jesus are instructed to live in a relationship with God which acknowledges that He is their source of strength and power. We are to wisely recognize that what we see on the surface – the words and actions of people – are not all that’s going on. There is a spiritual realm which we ignore at our peril.

That’s why we need to understand the principles which Jesus taught. Keeping a set of prescribed rules will not serve us well when circumstances not specified by the rules arise.  Principles, however, allow us to apply truth across a variety of circumstances and to recognize the underlying spiritual motivations.

So Paul tells us to “be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.” The truth of God’s Word and the power of His Holy Spirit are ours. We are to be strong “in the Lord,” not in ourselves. We will fail if we rely on our own strength but we will prevail when we rely upon God’s strength and power.

Our daily struggles are not just arbitrary circumstances of life; they are opportunities for God to overcome the world on our behalf. Every challenge in life can either strengthen or weaken our confidence in God. Satan wants to erode our trust in God and God wants to grow us into powerful agents against Satan’s evil schemes.

Comments

  1. Thanks so much Janel x

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