Be Strong and of Good Courage
The Lord gives Joshua a three-fold charge, each preceded by these words: “Be strong and courageous.” In Hebrew, the words are chazaq—to lay hold of, to seize, to get a grip on something; and ammits—to keep a firm grip, not to go flabby or weak. Once you’ve laid hold of it, keep hold; steel your will and stand your ground.
Each time the Lord says that to Joshua, it’s concerning a different aspect of laying hold of tomorrow. The words resonate for our lives because even though Joshua was an accomplished warrior, a leader well-trained by Moses, he was also a person like you and me who needed fortification from God to move ahead. Each time the Lord tells Joshua, “Be strong and courageous,” it bears reference to a different facet of understanding what he is to lay hold of.
Lay Hold of God’s Promise
“Be strong and of good courage for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them.” (1:6)
First, God tells Joshua, be strong because I promised this. It brings to mind the sixth chapter of Hebrews where the writer is discussing God’s promise concerning the blessing of His people, and he writes of two “immutable things”: that it is impossible for God to lie, and that He not only gave His Word, but also sealed it with an oath. In other words, God not only said, I promise this, He also said, I promise to keep My promise. God doesn’t need to say things twice, but He understands our nature and seals His promise with an oath so that we might lay hold of it with strength and courage.
Friend, I may not know what promise of God applies to your specific situation, but I will tell you how to get the promise of God: Get on your knees before Him and ask for His Word regarding your present and your tomorrows. You may not hear a Voice in that moment, but I guarantee that the Lord will give you the promise from His Word that will fit your situation. Then you lay hold of it and don’t go “flabby”!
Lay Hold of God’s Pattern
“Be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to the law which Moses My servant commanded you.” (1:7)
Your pathway into tomorrow is not navigated on the basis of iron will or strength of character; it’s navigated on the basis of God fulfilling His Word in people who lay hold of it and let that bear them along. It is the power of the Holy Spirit making the Word alive in you. Lay hold of God’s pattern.
The Lord reinforces this in verses 7 and 8, telling Joshua to observe His law and that it will “make your way prosperous, and you will have good success.” The word that is translated “prosperous” means you’re going to know how to do the right thing. It’s not talking about prosperity as cash in the bank, but as wisdom and knowing how to live. The fact is, life works for people with practical wisdom, no matter how much or how little they have. And success depends on our obedience to stay on the path God has ordained to fulfill His promise. We do that by laying hold of His pattern, His Word.