Having reminded Joshua of whom he serves, thereby assuring him of success through changing times, God now outlines his expectations: how should Joshua respond in this potentially unstable situation?
He presents Joshua with a “to do” list of just three items, all of which make perfect sense and strike us an eminently reasonable.
6 Be strong and courageous; for you shall put this people in possession of the land that I swore to their ancestors to give them. 7 Only be strong and very courageous … (Jos 1.6-7).
OK, I grant you that there’s no mention of the words trust, believe, or faith in there. Fair enough.
But if he’s going to stiffen his spine and lead 600,000 men into battle against people who are fighting for their homes—and who offer their own babies as fiery sacrifices to persuade their gods to give them bounteous crops—then he’s going to have to believe what the Lord has just told him—and what he tells him again in this sentence: that God’s power and presence is going to give him victory in all the coming battles.
That’s faith. That’s trust.
You don’t charge into the lion’s mouth unless you trust the lion tamer’s power over the lion. If Joshua allows his fear of failure—the consequences for which are extreme—then he’s telling God that he doesn’t believe him. As one commentator notes, “Fear and anxiety are tantamount to unbelief.”
It’s worth noting, I think, that God speaks of Israel’s “inheriting” the land (KJV NKJV ESV NIV) that he had promised them. You don’t “inherit” something by stealing it or taking it by force; you “inherit” it legally, because it is rightfully yours. “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof” (Ps 24.1 KJV)—or in modern parlance, the earth and everything in it belongs to God. The land of Canaan doesn’t belong to the Canaanites; it belongs to God, who can bequeath it to whichever heir he chooses. And he chooses Joshua and the people of Israel, Abraham’s seed.
Similarly, we have an inheritance that is ours by right and that we shall certainly receive. Peter writes,
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time (1P 1.3-5).
We need not fear any current chaos, personal, familial, civic, national, or global. Our inheritance is “imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven” for us. Our Father is infinitely more reliable than the governor, the banker, the taxman. Our inheritance is sure.
And so Peter can immediately say,
6 In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, 7 so that the genuineness of your faith—being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed (1P 1.6-7).
Trials do not terrorize God’s people; they are merely a mechanism for removing impurities in us and rendering us clearer trophies of his grace, more effective ambassadors of his kingdom.
Trusting God brings a calm confidence that astounds the terrorized. Sometimes they think we’re stupid; sometimes they think we’re crazy; sometimes they think we’re insufficiently concerned and therefore unloving.
No. None of those things. Calm, confident, trusting in the good plan of a strong and kind heavenly Father.