“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
Moses imparted these words on Joshua as he preparing to take over leadership of the Israelites and enter the promised land. There are two different aspects of this task that seem especially daunting to me. The first is obvious. Joshua is about to take over control of an entire nation of people. He is responsible for leading them, judging them, caring for them, and guiding their faith. That’s a heavy weight to carry. On top of that, he is facing perhaps an even bigger challenge. He is following in the footsteps of Moses. Joshua knows all of the miraculous things that God did through Moses. He knows how great of a prophet Moses was throughout his life. And now he has to take up the reins after Moses’ death and try to fill those shoes.
Needless to say, the task set before him was probably terrifying. Surely Moses knew that, and this was the message he gave to Joshua to reassure him. He didn’t reaffirm all of Joshua’s leadership qualities or personal strengths. He reassured him of the qualities of God and his strength. Moses knew that Joshua’s success or failure wouldn’t lie in his own abilities, but on whether he allowed God to work through him. Moses knew this first hand. He was a murderer on the run when God called him. He was afraid, he protested the role because of his speech problems. God called him nonetheless. Moses learned firsthand that it wasn’t at all about his own abilities, but about God’s. That’s the message he left with Joshua.
He reminded Joshua that God would always be walking ahead of him. He would always be with him. He would never leave him, and he would never betray him. God would be faithful even in the midst of Israel’s faithlessness. He would be there, he would lead the way, and he would never leave. All of this, he says, means that Joshua doesn’t have to be afraid. He has no reason to be discouraged.
We need to remember when you are facing hard times, that God himself, the creator of the entire universe, the all-knowing, the all-powerful, the everlasting God, is with you. You need not be afraid or discouraged. He will never leave you. He will never forsake you. He is, and always will be, on your side.
Thank you for these words of encouragement and strength. Thank you for your constant presence in our lives and for your faithfulness to us even despite our sin. Help me to always be confident in your power, not my own, and to never be afraid or discouraged.
In Jesus’ Name,