GNB 2.33

February 8, 2023


“Have I not commanded you, ‘Be strong and of good courage. Do not be afraid. Do not be discouraged. The Lord your God will be with you wherever you go‘.” (Joshua 1.9)


Third time is a charm, right? As the leadership of liberated Israel was given over to Joshua by God following the death of Moses, this principle was apparently invoked. In verse six, God says “Be strong and courageous because you will lead these people to inherit the land.” In verse seven, God says “Be strong and very courageous and careful to obey the Law given to you from Me by Moses.” That’s one, two and then “three”…”Be strong and of good courage so you will know prosperity and success.” Remembering the introduction to that third declaration, God said “Have I not commanded you?” Joshua was under orders. There were only two options available to him: obey or disregard.

The choice was easy for Joshua. He had demonstrated his fealty to God’s promise concerning the promised land thirty-eight years previous. He and Caleb were two of twelve spies sent into the Promised Land to verify what the Lord had said about this land that was being given to them. In actuality, all twelve spies saw the promise of that land which God had ordained to give into their hands. They even took some of the produce of that land and brought it back with them including a cluster of grapes so large it was carried hanging from a large stick between two bearers. We do not know who those two men were but the storyteller in me wants to say “Joshua and Caleb.” The fruit of the land was the evidence of God’s description of the promise of “a land flowing with milk and honey.” The bearers of the fruit became the front guard of the band of twelve. They led the way to confirm what God had said. It was another evidence of God’s promise and provision which had been made from the beginning of their journey out of bondage and through the Wilderness of Sin (literally that was the name). But, ten of the twelve spies did not carry evidence. They were bound by fear and not the fear of God. They allowed the challenge to stand before the promise. Even while Joshua and Caleb bore witness to what God had promised and how it would be accomplished by trusting in God, the sad but true paradigm of “majority rules” went into effect. God didn’t say it but it could have been said, “Don’t let the door slam against your backside as you leave.”

Now, what seemed like a long two years of learning to be free people of God would become like an eternity of transforming into a generation of authentic believers. The struggle to become the people of God worthy of claiming the promise of God was engaged. And all it would have taken was a willingness to “trust God and go.” Instead, they trusted only in themselves and went. We are not sure they even went anywhere. For the most part, the whole nation of Israel just camped out in a place called Kadesh Barnea. They were used to “camping out.” This remainder of the current generation had been raised in the work camp of Pharaoh in the land of Goshen. It was comfortable and acceptable. It was almost like “the good old days” for many. And there they got stuck. Some might say they were in Kadesh Barnea for thirty-eight years. But, it was better than going back to Egypt. In Egypt they were slave labor building bricks of mud with little to no straw and prisoners’ rations. They didn’t really like that situation because it was said “God heard their cries and answered them.” And they were “better off” at Kadesh Barnea instead of Goshen because they had the riches of Egypt in their possession and they didn’t have to lift a finger. But, the riches were of little use in the wilderness. They were no malls. There was no Amazon. Their foreign trade policy was non-existent. We have no idea how they even survived in conditions that were so similar to those “good old days.” Let’s call this time a “season of sabbath.” All they did was rest on their laurels and do no work. Ah, the “life of Riley.” But, what kind of life was it really?

It had to be a life of dissatisfaction! As time went on, a new generation of Hebrews was coming into its own. The old guard was literally passing away and the new guard was rising up. And the stories of the goodness of the land that had been promised to them remained. Joshua and Caleb did not pass away. They bore witness to the truth throughout the whole “rest in place” season of Israel’s encampment. They continued to promote the word and promise of God. They kept alive the stories of how God had delivered them from Pharaoh and indentured servitude which became forced labor. They kept alive the witness of God’s miracles of deliverance from internal and external enemies. They followed the rule of Law which God had given Moses as their source of life, living and future. They developed a hunger for the something more which God was offering to them. And just on the horizon stood what God had promised them. It never changed. It didn’t disappear from sight. It was a continual witness of the providence of God. All that was needed was a people who would be “strong and of good courage.”

Mighty ones of God, are we in any different a situation than that today? We are being led by a leadership which shows no promise that comes from God. We are being asked to believe not to believe in the Word of God which is timeless and true. The more they promote the barrenness and antiquity of the “Law of the Lord,” in both its Old and New Covenant versions, the more we are privileged to see the validity and promise of that same Word. But, what we dare not envision is a future that hearkens to the past. Our greatness is to be based on the goodness of God. Our goodness is to be based on the greatness of God. Our hope is in Him who is our salvation and our strong tower. And we might do well to consider that maxim of “third time is a charm.” We are on the cusp of a third revealing of God’s Word as this season of Christ following is coming to its conclusion. It has been longer than a generation. It has been a lifetime of lifetimes of those who have sought to know the difference between “our will and His will be done.” We are seeing the fruits of the labors of those who decided that trusting in God is far too great a task to accomplish and believe in. Regardless of the “human” advance, we are a stuck people. We are rutted and rooted in the ways of humanity abiding by the words of the enemy which said from the beginning “surely God did not say.” Now we are in the stages of “there is no God to say anything of value, purpose and promise.” It is time for the generation of those who believe in the witness of Jesus as the Christ to shoulder the cross which bears the fruit of abundant life and carry it before all the people. We need the leadership of Joshua and Caleb, the two witnesses, to take their rightful place and declare the truth which is of God and from God. We are now, regardless of age, invited to be the generation of promise which shall know no end. We shall be “strong and of good courage.” Or we shall die forever and become as the sands of time in the hour glass of eternity. Those dry sands merely shift from one end to another and never go anywhere. They are fixed behind the barrier that cannot be breached. That fate is sealed as surely as is the fate of those who choose this day “to serve the Lord our God.” Let the faithful say so. Let the faithful be so. Let the faithful go! There is no time like the present. There will never be another time such as this.


Father, You are with us always. We know we are never alone left to our fear and discouragements. You have placed in the midst of us the elements of truth which guide us and encourage us to press into and through the challenges which this broken world presents. It is Your will to be done that we will do just as we have been created and made for in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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