The Word in the Wings
From the study: God's word to be with you
By: KAYA WEAVER
As Joshua prepares to succeed Moses and lead God’s people into the land promised to Abraham, God repeatedly instructs Joshua to “be strong and be bold.” Between repetitions of this refrain, Yahweh reminds Joshua of the motivation, the method, and the basis for this command and underscores the continuity of God’s committed relationship to Israel.
Joshua 1:1 And it happened after the death of Moses,
that Yahweh spoke to Joshua son of Nun,
who ministered to Moses, saying…
Moses has a close relationship with Yahweh, listening to God and mediating God’s instructions to the people of Israel so they could hear and follow. Joshua in turn works in the service of Moses. Now, after Moses has died, Yahweh speaks to Joshua.
Though Moses has played an integral role in how Yahweh leads the Israelites out of Egypt and through the wil
derness, Moses’ death does not cut the people off from contact with Yahweh. Moses’s leadership has been a medium for Yahweh’s leadership, and Yahweh continues to lead Israel through Joshua.
2 “My servant Moses has died,
so now, arise and cross this Jordan, you and this whole people,
into the land which I am giving to them–to the Israelites.
3 Every place on which the sole of your foot steps, I give it to you,
just as I told Moses.
4 From the wilderness and this Lebanon to the great river–the river Euphrates–
all the land of the Hittites, and to the great sea where the sun sets,
it will be your possession.
5 No one will hold their ground against you all the days of your life;
I will be with you as I was with Moses–
I will not abandon you nor forsake you.
As Yahweh continues to lead Israel through a new human partner, the promises Yahweh conveyed through Moses still stand. Yahweh assures Joshua that the Israelites will inherit a good land, in accordance with Yahweh’s words to Moses. Further, Yahweh promises to remain present with Joshua just as Yahweh was present with Moses. Through
the change in human leadership, Yahweh’s covenant commitment to Israel remains consistent.
6 Be strong and be bold,
for you will cause this people to inherit the land
which I swore to their ancestors to give them.
7 Be greatly strong and be very bold,
to keep doing in accord with all the instruction which my servant Moses commanded you;
don’t turn from it to the right or to the left
so that you may be wise wherever you go.
8 Don’t let this scroll of instruction depart from your mouth, and meditate on it day and night
so you may keep doing in accord with everything written in it,
for then you will make your path prosper,
and then you will be wise.
9 Haven’t I commanded you? Be strong and be bold;
don’t be afraid, and don’t be dismayed,
for Yahweh your God is with you
wherever you go.”
The refrain, “Be strong and be bold,” repeats three times. The first time, God directs
Joshua to be strong and bold in the assurance of God’s promise and in preparation to face adversaries who occupy the promised land. When the refrain repeats, the directive intensifies; as Joshua and the people enter the land, it will require even greater courage to maintain their commitment to Yahweh’s instruction. In the third iteration, the directive is surrounded by assurances of Yahweh’s presence with Joshua. God’s command to be strong comes to Joshua not as a send-off but as an encouragement that Yahweh goes with him.
From start to finish, this passage emphasizes the continuity of Yahweh’s presence. Yahweh doesn’t leave Israel when Moses dies but remains present with Joshua, the new leader. Yahweh’s promises through Moses don’t fail but remain true for God’s covenant people. Yahweh’s instructions for the people through Moses are not invalidated but remain as a means to guide and reassure them. Remembering God’s word, which is constant, will guide Joshua’s choices and actions even through changing situations. Wherever he goes, he can be bold and not afraid because God never leaves but remains and teaches him how to be wise.
Yahweh commands Joshua not to be afraid, despite the context of changing circumstances and looming unknowns as he takes up leadership and brings Israel into the land across the Jordan. God has given Joshua and the Israelites instructions through Moses which guide them in how to act courageously, and God reaffirms that Joshua can rely on God’s continued presence and has no need to fear. In GPA’s new ballet Casefile: Euangelion, the character Izabelle faces frightening circumstances, living in a location where it isn’t safe to practice her faith openly. But other Christians remind Izabelle that God is with her even in her dangerous situation, giving her a basis to remain strong and bold and continue to act in accordance with God’s word.
Scripture quotations in this post are my translation.
Tickets for Casefile: Euangelion are available now! We hope you’ll join us for this action-packed ballet on November 10-12, 2022.
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