Moses had passed away, leaving the nation in the capable hands of Joshua. Joshua lived through the plaques in Egypt. He witnessed the miracles God performed at the hand of Moses. He saw the enemy army drown in the Red Sea. He witnessed the quail and manna and the bitter water turning into fresh water. He saw the many miracles performed by God at the hand of Moses. In Joshua 1:5-6 God assures Joshua that he what he saw in Moses’ life will continue in his own life, “No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them.” John Calvin comments, “Joshua, therefore, is ordered to behold in the assistance given to Moses the future issue of the wars which he was to undertake under the same guidance and protection. For the series of favours is continued without interruption to the successor.”[1]

“Be strong and courageous” was the command that Moses gave to Joshua. It was the command that God gave to Joshua in this passage. It is also the command that Joshua gives to the people of Israel in Joshua 10:25, “And Joshua said to them, ‘Do not be afraid or dismayed; be strong and courageous.’” The preaching of this passage is probably well-known. Like Moses, Joshua, and the children of Israel, we are called to be “strong and courageous” as well. Redford challenges all of us with his comments, “God had given the order to advance and take the land of Canaan. That was reason enough to be strong and courageous. When God’s people are obeying his orders, there is no reason to be terrified of giants or to be discouraged by formidable city walls. When you are committed to his will, the Lord … will be with you wherever you go. The enemy may be too strong for you alone, but he cannot stand against you and the Lord.”[2]

There is another take on the understanding and application of this passage, I’d like to mention. Moses failed. Joshua could be said to have failed at times as well. The people of Israel surely failed to fulfill God’s call to occupy the land. Furthermore, throughout the Old Testament, we see how all of the Old Testament reproduces the failures of all of the heroes, including King David. There is only one who did not fail to be “strong and courageous” to the very end. That was Jesus, the true deliverer of failures. Gage puts it this way, “What is being suggested by the shadow in the typology of Joshua, who required seven challenges to be strong and courageous for the battle? When the reality of the type came in the great battle of Jesus, the Lord had to summon all His strength and courage to win the promised inheritance of all of God’s people. What was the nature of the struggle in the garden when the whole of redemptive history was ventured on the strength and courage of one man, in truth a God-man, but nonetheless an authentic man, who was commissioned to bear the weight of the sins of the world? The sins of finite man had aroused the wrath of an infinite God. Who would be able to stand in so great a battle? In the mystery of the incarnation the immortal God became a mortal man that finite man, who had offended an infinite God, might by His infinite sacrifice deliver us from eternal death through the mystery of God’s redemption. Such was the battle faced by Jesus, for which He must be strong and courageous like Joshua before Him.”[3]

[1] Calvin, John, and Henry Beveridge. 2010. Commentary on the Book of Joshua. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[2] Redford, Douglas. 2008. The History of Israel. Vol. 2. Standard Reference Library: Old Testament. Cincinnati, OH: Standard Publishing.

[3] Gage, Warren Austin. 2013. Gospel Typology in Joshua and Revelation: A Whore and Her Scarlet, Seven Trumpets Sound, A Great City Falls. Fort Lauderdale, FL: St. Andrews House.