Times of transition in leadership can be stressful. When the lives of others are in your hands, and there has been a sudden departure of the only leader the people have ever known, the prospect of assuming leadership can be even more intimidating. Such was the situation that Joshua was thrust into upon the passing of Moses.

After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, “Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel. (Joshua 1:1, 2 ESV)

Joshua was probably feeling very inadequate to the task at hand. I believe that because of what God says to him after this. I don’t think God wastes words, and He would not have said what He did next in order to give Joshua the confidence needed to accomplish the mission God had given the nation.

God begins by assuring Joshua that he would have God’s backing in the same way Moses did.

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. (Joshua 1:5 ESV)

He then goes on to tell Joshua what would be required for him to succeed. The problem Joshua must have been contending with was fear of failure in such a monumental undertaking. Otherwise, why would God have repeated the same instruction three times?

Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. 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. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:6-9 ESV)

The positive command is given to be strong and courageous, and is restated in the negative a fourth time as “do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed.” And He did not just give the command, but told Joshua how to gain the courage and strength. He was to constantly talk about and meditate upon the Book of the Law. By keeping the promises of the Word of God constantly in his mouth and mind, his courage and strength would not be rooted in his own abilities and talents, but upon God.

By constant meditation on God’s Word, he would also be better equipped to mentor those who would someday replace him when he died, in the same way Moses had done for him. Centuries later, Paul would give similar advice to Timothy.

and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. (2 Timothy 2:2 ESV)

This was very effective, as we can see at the end of the Book of Joshua. Those who served with Joshua and witnessed his example were all faithful to the God he had served, and led Israel in the right path.

Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua and had known all the work that the Lord did for Israel. (Joshua 24:31 ESV)

So whatever situation or circumstance is before you, be strong and very courageous. Keep the Word of God “dwelling in you richly” and believe what God says and not what man may say. In doing so you will be brought safely through to the other side of the problem, and will set an example for others to follow after you are gone!

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