One of my favorite chapters in all of Scripture is Joshua 1. Moses had just died and now the leadership baton had been passed on to Moses’ young associate, Joshua. To say the least, this was no small assignment that Joshua had been given. By this point in time, the Israelites numbered at least 2 million people, so for young Joshua to be taking the place of Moses was a big challenge. And not only would he be leading a large group of people, but he would be leading them into the Promised Land. As you know, the Promised Land was not an uninhabited, empty piece of land. There were several different peoples and tribes that they would have to conquer and defeat before the Promised Land would become their home land. I don’t think anyone would be surprised if Joshua was fearful during this transition. Well, it was into this context that the Lord God Himself, appeared to Joshua and gave him this charge:
1 After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: 2 “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites. 3 I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. 4 Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Great Sea [a] on the west. 5 No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.
6 “Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. 7 Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
If there is anything that we need today as Christians, it would be strength and courage. We need to be strong in the Lord and have the courage to stand up to those who oppose the truth of God. Make no mistake about it – we are in a battle. What kind of battle you might be wondering? We don’t have to conquer lands and peoples like Joshua and the Israelites did and there are no wars being fought on our turf – so what do I mean by that? The battle, at its most fundamental level, is being fought over the Word of God. And this battle is not just between Christian and non-Christian. This battle is also being fought between those who “appear” to be in the same camp as we are. What is at stake here is “truth” itself. Will we affirm that the Bible is the authoritative Word of God – or will we give into the pressure from the world and reduce the Bible to the status of non-authoritative? You see, there are plenty of people who would affirm that the Bible is a good book with some good stories, but they would never allow the Bible to become the authority for all matters of life and living. If the Bible truly is God’s Word to us, then it doesn’t matter what we think – God has the final say. The sad reality of Christendom today is that many (perhaps most) Christians are not will to hold to the Bible as the inerrant, infallible, inspired Word of God. In short, what that means is that the Bible is the truth and can stand up to the greatest scrutiny for that very reason. As Christians, we must be prepared to stand up for the truth and defend it. This will indeed take strength and courage.
Jesus said a remarkable thing (among others) in John 18:37, as he was being questioned by Pilate. “For this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to THE TRUTH. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” We have to decide for ourselves, which side of the truth will we be on? I recently read a book by Francis Schaeffer called, “The Great Evangelical Disaster.” In one of his chapters he explains how this very issue is a watershed issue. Those who hold to the truth of the Bible start very close to those who hold the Bible to be almost-true. However, just like a watershed, what starts off close together eventually it ends up miles apart, and sometimes on the opposite side of the continent. So the question I want to ask you is this: what side of truth are you on? Is the Word of God the authority in your life, or is it only authoritative in the areas you want it to be? Friends, we can’t just pick and choose – either it is truly God’s Word to us, or it is not. Let me finish by quoting, once again what God told Joshua in verse 8:
“Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.”