Joshua-God Strengthens

Josh. 1:6 Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them.

Josh. 1:7 Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go.


There is a growing movement in Christian circles to help those who are struggling with low self-esteem, or poor self-image.  These individuals feel as if others are more important than them, and in many cases view themselves as unimportant or worthless.  Most of these ministries to encourage those struggling with self-esteem issues and help them become more confident.  But is mere confidence the real solution to their problem?  The book of Joshua teaches us that just having confidence isn’t as important as what the source of that confidence.

Joshua begins as the children of Israel are mourning the death of their leader Moses, but their sorrow and fear was soon replaced by confidence and excitement that came from God.  The central point of Joshua is found in chapter one where the Lord challenges the new leader to be strong and exhibit faith as he prepares to conquer the land of Canaan.

He was commanded to put his foot down and show confidence (Josh. 1:3) conquer the entire promised land with all its borders (1:4, 11) prepare the people for battle and cross the Jordan (1:2) and to take up his sword which would be used to overcome enemy armies (1:8).  The confidence to obey in this way didn’t come from Joshua’s own strength but the promise of God (Josh. 1:3-5).

The Lord said that He would care for Joshua and give the Jews victory, as they trusted Him.  This promise was fulfilled as we see various challenges overcome with the help of God, such as Rabab’s caring for the spies (Josh. 2) and crossing of the flooded Jordan river (Joh. 3-4).  In these situations God demanded that the Jews trust Him to care for their needs instead of relying on their own strength.

The theme of finding confidence in God is continued in the fall of Jericho (Josh. 6) where the Israelites conquered a city by marching around it and shouting.  But God was quick to remind Joshua that confidence alone couldn’t win a battle the defeat at Ai (Josh 7:1-5) which came because of Achan’s sin.

Before attacking Jericho God demanded the Jews recommit themselves to Him through circumcision so their strength didn’t come from themselves but through Him (Josh. 5:1-12) because if they weren’t totally committed failure would come (Josh. 7:10-11).  This truth was illustrated with their great victory following the judgment upon Achan’s family and obedience (8:1-29).  But they quickly forgot their need for the Lords help and were deceived by a neighboring city (9:1-27).

After defeating the strongest armies of Canaan (Chapters 11-12) Joshua realized that it wouldn’t be possible to conquer the entire land on his own.  So he gave each of the Jewish tribes allotments or pieces of land, which they were meant to conquer (Chapters 13-19).  By doing this he was passing on the challenge from chapter one from God to move forward and conquer the land.  Unfortunately most of the tribes either didn’t show confidence, or had confidence in their own abilities instead of the Lords strength.  So much of Canaan was left unconquered.

Joshua towards the end of his life challenges the Jewish leaders to obey God with confidence and trust the Lord in times of need instead of themselves (Josh. 23) the book then ends with a speech to the people which contains one of the best-known verses in all of Scripture.  And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD[1].”

Most people when reading Joshua would be challenged to go and attempt great things for the Lord.  While the story of Israel’s victory should encourage our hearts we must be careful not to forget the source of that confidence.  It wasn’t ability or wisdom that gave Joshua success, but the presence of God.


Because of Who He is,


John Wilburn

[1] Joshua 24:15

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John Wilburn

Church planter, teacher, and disciple-maker in Barrouallie St. Vincent

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