Deuteronomy 31:7-8 “And Moses called unto Joshua, and said unto him in the sight of all Israel, Be strong and of a good courage: for thou must go with this people unto the land which the LORD hath sworn unto their fathers to give them; and thou shalt cause them to inherit it. And the LORD, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed.”
I am a firm believer in dissecting and defining for a better understanding. So, here are some definitions to begin this morning:
STRONG; Having physical passive power; having ability to bear or endure; firm; solid; as a constitution strong enough to bear the fatigues of a campaign. Well fortified; able to sustain attacks; not easily subdued or taken; as a strong fortress or town.
COURAGE; Bravery; intrepidity; that quality of mind which enables men to encounter danger and difficulties with firmness, or without fear or depression of spirits; valor; boldness; resolution. It is a constituent part of fortitude; but fortitude implies patience to bear continued suffering.
INTREPID’ITY, n. Fearlessness; fearless bravery in danger; undaunted courage or boldness. The troops engaged with intrepidity. (included because of Webster’s 1828 use in defining courage)
DISMAYED; Disheartened; deprived of courage.
This exchange between Moses and Joshua comes at a time of great purpose and significance. It comes as the last words he will ever say before he is taken up into Heaven and Joshua assumes the mantle of leadership from his mentor.
Moses says to Joshua; ‘Be strong‘. In a sense, he is saying, ‘Be able to endure; be able to stand when others will not or cannot.’ ‘Be able to able to sustain attacks; attacks on your character, your decision-making and your God-given direction.’ ‘Be able to continue in the direction God gives you; be strong in your spirit.’
He also says; ‘Be of good courage‘. He is relating to Joshua to ‘Be brave. Be brave when others fear; be brave when others murmur and complain.’ ‘Be able to stand against those seeking to oppress you and take you captive in your fear to control you.’ Courage implies a boldness that may come from within or without.
In His Word, God likens us to a soldier; dressed for battle. His training has equipped him to face most every situation and circumstance with the knowledge that with what has been given him and the courage we bring to the fight, we will win.
2 Timothy 2:3-4 “Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.”
That courage must have the ability to influence our decision making; knowing that we are not only deciding for ourselves, but for the good of those who will follow us. It should be what drives through the difficulty and gets us to the throne of God for the help we so desperately need.
Included in Webster’s definition of courage is the word ‘intrepidity‘. Not a word that flows off the tongue or used in any conversation today. But he (Webster), says it is fearlessness, or undaunted courage. Often, I see courage as doing the right thing in spite of my fear – because it is right; because God commanded me to do it.
Fear, a reverential fear, is what God commands us when He says;
Ecclesiastes 12:13 “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.”
1 Peter 2:17 “Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.”
The other fear – the one induced from intimidation, oppression, and horror – is not of God.
2 Timothy 1:7 “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
Some use this verse to teach that the opposite of love is fear; not hatred. Yet, it also reveals the greatest weapon against fear. There is great power in those that love to the extreme. Devotion, dedication and sacrifice mark the path of those who love deeply. Our courage should reveal in us such a love.
Such a love as this will drive our spirit past the fear that rises in every heart. Our enemy preys upon that fear; he thrives when it is exposed and tries to capitalize on it by defeating us in front of many.
When a person is taught to love the truth, they will hate lying. When shown love in the extreme, it paves the way to return in kind. Our selfishness will squelch any such love to grow in our heart: which is why we don’t love God with the depth that He loves us.
To the degree that we hold onto our selfish wants and desires, is directly proportional to the depth of love we have for our Savior.
Luke 7:47 “Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.”
If just one sin – the sin of unbelief – were all that you and I were forgiven, to what depth would you love God in return? It is that one sin – the sin of unbelief that will condemn our soul to Hell. Any more added to it constitutes the ‘many’ that Jesus is talking about.
When I realize the ‘many’ sins I have been forgiven, I am overwhelmed with love for the One who forgave me.
Courage will rise when our depth of love increases. Passion, zeal and service will all follow, after we decide to love God as we ought.
Finally, Moses tells Joshua; “Neither be dismayed.” Do not allow you heart to be deflated, or emptied of the love that built your courage in the first place. Satan posed a question to Eve that started her down a path to doubt God; all that He had said and see that she had the power to decide for herself.
Just as pressing the inner valve on the valve stem of a tire will let the air out, people will come to subtly and deceitfully pull and tug at our hearts to doubt, question and fear. Pretty soon, the passion is gone, zeal has left the house and what is left cannot be raised in the flesh.
Many a young person has been pulled from their parent’s faith by listening to the wrong advisors that question their love for a God they barely know. Our failure, Mom and Dad, is when we are satisfied with conformity and not a passion for loving God; knowing God, and serving God. Action will always follow the heart.
Proverbs 23:7 “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee.”
The cure? Love God with all your heart, mind, and soul… Sound familiar?
Mark 12:30-31 “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.”