The Command To Be Strong
6 “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.” Joshua 1: 6 NKJV
It was up to Joshua to lead the people into their inheritance. Without that leadership, they could not possess what was theirs just as they had not been able to possess it all the years that they were in the wilderness. This was clearly not going to be an easy task for Joshua as the Lord encouraged him here to be strong and of good courage. God would not have said this to Joshua if Joshua was not feeling in his soul the reservations and fear of the daunting task before Him.
The word “strong” there means to overpower. When you read the verse in the Wycliffe Bible it includes the words “be encouraged”. God is commanding Joshua to be encouraged in Him. Certainly, God would not ask Joshua to do something that would be impossible for him to do in the Lord. Joshua, thus encouraged, had to take the steps then and move with the strength to “overpower” all that stood between the people and the promises of God.
It is interesting because we see this same phraseology a few verses later in verse 9: Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
In verse 9 we now see a few more important words are added. This is the command of God, it is not a request. We also see that in this verse he is to be more than just strong, now he is additionally told not to be afraid. Fear is the human reaction to the difficult and seemingly impossible tasks before us. We naturally become afraid. We are told directly by God not to be afraid. Once more God would not command something that He had not already provided the power for him to accomplish.
I looked up the word “dismayed” in the Hebrew. It means to be so scared and confused, that you are literally shattered. The Lord asks us to do specific things in our lives that appear in the natural to be quite impossible. In our own minds we cannot conceive how we can achieve the goals. If we trust in our own mind to figure out how to do what we have been instructed to do, before we actually will do it, then we can expect to be given over to confusion and fear. This will eventually shatter us.
What we need to do is what Joshua did and that is to start moving. Joshua did not see the plan on how to cross the Jordon for example, until they moved ahead in obedience. Then as their feet touched the water, the flow stopped supernaturally. If they had stopped and tried to figure out how to do it themselves, they would find fear and confusion.
In your life, move ahead as He has instructed and He will give you His strength and His courage. Do not be dismayed and start moving forward with what He has laid before you. Then He will do the supernatural, and overpower the situation.
J Todd Hostetler