In my reading, I found that four times in Joshua 1, God said, Be strong and of a good courage.
The book of Joshua marks the end of wandering in the wilderness. The Israelites were finally stepping into The Promised Land! But the fight for the land God had given them was about to begin. The people that they would fight against had been given over 400 years to repent, but had grown worse and worse in their sin. By the time the Israelites came onto the scene, the stench of their sin rose up to Heaven to the point where their shedding of innocent blood could no longer be ignored. The justice of God was finally to be carried out, but who said justice was beautiful? Though justice is right and good, yet it can be ugly and painful, because the wrong is even uglier and far more painful. But without justice, would there be any good left in the world? Without justice, would anyone live in peace? No.
There is a price for peace. There is a price for safety. There is a price that must be paid to preserve life. There are some who condemn the price that is paid, calling it unnecessary, and crying, “Peace, Peace!” And some of those crying for peace are people within the church. But if you believe in the “Gospel of Peace,” then how can you reconcile within your own mind what Christ did for you? Jesus had to wage war on sin and death; He laid down His life in the fight. You were too afraid to fight… you were unable to fight… so Jesus chose to take your place, fight on your behalf, and give you the reward for His sacrifice. It is true that God commanded us not to kill, but as Jesus hung upon that cross, He chose to forgive those who nailed Him to the cross… those who killed Him. The death of One brought life to millions. This does not condone murder, but where there is sin, there is death, and you better believe that God can transform acts of violence into channels for His peace, an eternal peace. The price for sin is death, to deny that is to deny the existence of hell and to deny the existence of Heaven. If you deny either location or both, then what is the point in calling yourself a Christian? I, for one, call upon the God of Heaven, who saved me from hell through the power of His blood.
When Jesus died for me, and for all His creation, was that justice? Was that peaceful? To our standards, it was not just. But to God, the sacrifice of His Son was just, because Jesus chose to lay down His perfect life for those He loves. We were unable and unfit to pay the price for our sins, only our Creator could pay, though He did not have to. The God of all creation chose to wage war on sin, to lay down His life for the weak, and to claim victory for the coward. But the coward that calls on Jesus is not welcomed into a Kingdom of peace, but a Kingdom that fights daily against the encroachment of darkness and sin. The difference in this fight is that we have a King who ultimately wins the war. For now, the found in Christ must put their flesh to death, and raise to life anew. We are called to hate the sin in our own lives and hate even the flesh spotted by sin.
If Christ’s Kingdom was of this world, then would His servants fight…1 but since His Kingdom is not of this world, it was only He who could fight and defeat death. In ourselves, we have no power over death, sin, and the grave, but Christ arose our victorious King. So, live in His victory. By the power of His name, put to death your flesh and the sin that pollutes it. You have been called to new life, to an eternal kingdom; the glory of Christ is worth the loss of friends, fame, earthly pleasures, and decomposing treasures. In Heaven, eternity equals joy, so this world’s temporary carpet-bagger products cannot hold a candle.
If you think that your religion should accommodate and not suffer to be abrasive, then your religion is a false one, because the Gospel Jesus preached divides families and garners hatred from the world. The world loves darkness rather than light2, therefore they only live to hate Christ. The world thinks their sins are hidden in darkness, beyond the eyes of men, but the light of Christ pierces through the darkness and reveals the ugliness of their sin. Our Savior hung on that cross that all the sins of the world can never be covered again.
The sad truth remains that the world has seen the light, and within their own eyes they understand that they are dirty and vile, but not wanting to admit their sin, they shove a crown of thorns upon the head of the King. They mock Him, beat Him, and kill His children, but funny how those acts don’t seem to hide the light… It still shines today, brighter and brighter, come what may. The world sees the truth and rejects it, because they don’t want to be accountable to any man, or God, for their actions. Death to popularity. Let the light grow in the darkness if it must; within homes in secret, to preserve the good seed and prepare the fruitful ground.
I need these words as much as you. Though I sometimes pretend and try to hide the truth. I have been redeemed, and I have no earthly need, yet my spirit must be fed daily. I need Jesus to keep showing me His Way. By the grace of God, I’ve been spared the worst of scars, but if it were not for Christ, these wounds would still be open and my heart would be barred. Even now, God is working to soften this heart of mine, because I had set up walls and been waiting for signs. The only sign I am left with is Rahab3… Who, though she had sold herself, chose to wait on God and trust that He would be her help. When Jericho’s walls came tumbling down, Rahab and her family were saved by a thread; all those who stayed in that house were delivered from God’s wrath.
In what house do you stand? Will you and your household be spared or do you cry in the streets, yelling, “Peace, peace;” when there is none?4 God tells you to be strong and of a good courage, but what for? Does it take courage to sit quietly and allow the world to mock the King? Does it take courage to condone sin just so that you can have another body on a bench? God did not call you to strength and courage to save bodies, but to save souls, so forget about all that you have been told; be in the world, but not of the world. 5
Build your foundation on the Rock that is higher than you, so no storm will blow away the foundations of your home. And when the walls finally come crashing down, may you then in Christ be found. Be strong and of a good courage, these walls were never meant to last. Fight the good fight until your final breath. Read the Word, proclaim the truth, and claim victory over death.6 Grace brings life while you’re still in the land of the living, so call on Jesus’ name while there is time. And when this world fades, so too will the suffering, battles, and pain. Amen.
1. John 18:36
2. John 3:19
3. Joshua 2-3
4. Jeremiah 6:14 & 8:11
5. John 17:14
6. Joshua 1:8
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