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Chapter 1: 9

  1:9 "Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest."

This text focuses on Joshua as he receives encouragement to cross over Jordan into the unknown trails of the promised land.
    Joshua was very apprehensive about assuming the role of leadership of Israel. For 40 years, all the people had known was Moses. For 40 years they were sheltered in the wilderness and literally fed by the hand of God. Now they faced the prospect of crossing into unknown territory. The Promised land was full of promise, but it had so many challenges. It had cities that were fortified by great walls. Each city seemed to have giant warriors that were well armed and well trained. The people were so intimidated that they felt like grasshoppers in their own sight. As a young man, Joshua was bold. When he was forty years younger, he was stronger and more able to withstand the pressures of war. Now, in his senior years, he was being called upon to lead the people. It was an awesome challenge.
   The land of Canaan represented many things to the people of Israel. It represented the fulfilment of God's promise to them through Abraham. God promised them the land they saw. They had suffered greatly to reach the threshold of the new land which was a fulfillment of that promise. Now it lay before them.
    The land is given to the people of Israel, but it still had to be possessed. Title to it is the gift of God; possession of it is the result of an obedient walk.  God promised, "Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, as I promised to Moses." {Josh 1:3 RSV}
The idea was simple, God gave them the land but they had to go and claim it themselves. Any amount they claimed they could have. If they ended up with nothing it was only because they would not possess that which God had already given. Israel's choice was to stand on the side of Jordan and observe or rise up to the challenge.
     Although the land was promised it would not come without a formidable challenge. There would be people poised to stand between what God has promised and life in the wilderness. Yet God promised Joshua that no man would be able stand against him. Just as he had been with the patriarch Moses, he would also stand with Joshua.
    But if the land is filled with challenge it is also filled with the prospect of victory. It is the prospect of victory upon which God focuses Joshua's attention, not the size of the challenge. He is promised that, "No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you." {Josh 1:5 RSV}
    Joshua was encouraged to be strong and courageous as he pondered the prospects of the new land. The strength referred to is both physical and spiritual.  Taking on such a challenge would no doubt be physically challenging and draining. Yet God encouraged Joshua to be strong. It would also take spiritual strength for the times when both faith and confidence would fail.
It is going to take courage.
     Moreover, Joshua was warned to obey God's commandments, not stray away from them. The promise of victory therefore was conditional. It was conditioned on Joshua's willingness to obey the command of God and not to stray away from them. To claim the victory, Joshua was told to study the word of God, "....for then you shall make your way prosperous." {Joshua 1:8 }
   At verse nine God summarizes his words of encouragement to Joshua. If he did exactly as he was commanded and proceeded to tackle the new land without being afraid, God promised he would be with him wherever he went. That was perhaps the most encouraging part of the God's words to Joshua, the knowledge that the maker of the universe was with him.
    Thus, Joshua, standing before a great new challenge is told be courageous and seize the moment. He is reassured that if he obeyed God's command, because God promised it, he would be victorious.
Chapter 3: 5 

3:5 "And Joshua said unto the people, Sanctify yourselves: for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you."

This text focuses on Joshua as he began a new experience in his life. In this passage God reassures Joshua that his experiences on the other side of Jordan would be great and rewarding. The other side of Jordan, represented the unknown future. For some it was fearful and they approached it with apprehension. They doubted their own abilities and decided that the huge size of the inhabitants made them feel like grasshoppers in their own eyes. They shrank as the thought of tomorrow was presented to them. They chose to wander around in circles for 40 years rather than go forward. For Joshua, tomorrow, represented a Plethora of challenges. First, there was the impossible task of carrying 600,000 people across the river Jordan, without a bridge. Second, the cities of Jordan were well fortified. Jericho and other cities of Jordan had great walls, military equipment and experience in such matters. Third, in Jordan, Israel would have to feed and provide for itself. This generation had been feeding from manna and quail for 40 years. They had never planted a crop or brought in a harvest. Tomorrow represented the uncertainty of providing the necessities of life for themselves. Obviously, Israel was anxious as it stood on the banks of Jordan, wondering about tomorrow!

Now God speaks to Joshua and gives him a word of advice and a promise. The advice was simple: "Sanctify Yourself." The promise was equally simple "tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you." The advice to sanctify himself meant to prepare himself. When something is sanctified it is set aside, or reserved for a special work or purpose. For Joshua, it meant to be prepared and ready for the mighty wonders that were to come tomorrow. Even though God was about to perform great wonders for Israel it was still necessary for them to be prepared to do their part, however great or small. The promise that accompanied the advice was that tomorrow, wonders would be performed! "Tomorrow" was both a literal and figurative term. The next day God actually performed a wonder for Israel. He caused the waters of the River Jordan to roll back such that the nation crossed on dry land. That was its literal application. However, figuratively "tomorrow" went even further, it applied to a series of wonders that God would do in the future to make his promise come true. Not only did the River Jordan roll back, but weeks later, the walls of Jericho fell, the earth stood still in its orbit causing the sun to lock itself in the sky, countless victories came their way as God performed wonders for them. Tomorrow was not just one day, but it also referred to their future.

Therefore Israel faced tomorrow with fear and uncertainty, but they were assured by God that if they prepared themselves he would do mighty wonders in their tomorrows. They were encouraged to go forth today, expecting "wonders tomorrow."

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