Friday, January 3, 2014

Counsel in Joshua...?

Joshua 1:9 says "...Be strong and courageous.  Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go."   Of course, with any Biblical text we need to use appropriate hermeneutical/interpretive tools or else we'll miss the focus/aim of the verse or passage, or worse, we'll turn a text on its head.  This verse is one part of a Biblical narrative which ultimately points to God's unfolding plan in the face of Jesus Christ.  Notice however by way of implication, that in the Lord's call to Joshua as he succeeds Moses' leadership, the Lord tells Joshua not to be afraid (in our day, a term could be anxious) and the text also gives us a remedy, "...for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go."  Joshua's reason for having courage...for not having fear, is the knowledge of the presence of the Lord. 

Just a few chapters later, Joshua is told to lead the people in "remembering" by the use of memorial stones: "so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the LORD is mighty, that you may fear the LORD your God forever" (Josh 4:24).   Again, the main focus of this narrative is God's movement of His sovereign plan of redemption ultimately accomplished in Jesus Christ. (SIDENOTE-helpful resources on this might be the works of Murray (HERE) or Goldsworthy (HERE)).  However, we can again see a call to right perspective of God and His presence.  One chapter later, in Joshua 5, we see several events that seem to validate the Joshua 1:9 call to courage because of God's presence.  The manna of provision ceases on the day after they ate the food of Canaan (Josh 5:12).  God provides!--a needful reminder in our daily worries (Matt 6:25-34).  A few verses later, Joshua encounters the Angel of the Lord and when Joshua asks whose side this great Warrior is on, the Angel of the Lord simply replies with Who He is. (Josh 5:14).  God's presence is the focus.  Perhaps we could script it this way: "Don't worry Joshua, I AM!" 

On and on the narrative unfolds, pointing us to the glory of God in the unfolding plan of redemption wrought through Jesus.  However, an implication along the way is that fear finds its cure primarily in the reminder of God's presence.  Friend, if you are in Christ, this hope is fulfilled.  We can take each of our fears captive to the reality of the presence of the LORD God.   When anxiety comes, remember that in Christ, God's presence is with us...