“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
Forty years ago, a movie came out called “Halloween.” The year was 1978, and I was a sophomore in college. I remember seeing this movie at the theater with a bunch of my fraternity brothers. Although we put on a good front, we were just as scared as all the girls in the theater.
First there is the music. I still get goose bumps as I hear the piano playing and the suspense building. Next, the setting is small town America on Halloween weekend. Bad things like this aren’t supposed to happen in small towns. Add to this the “creepy” mask that the killer wore. I can still picture him in my mind. On top of that, the guy’s name is Michael Myers (no relation to Mike Meier) and he cannot be killed, no matter what.
We know that this movie is not real, but the overwhelming emotion of fear you get when you see it is real. Many people deny that they have any fear. There is a saying in the military that goes like this: “The one who is not afraid to die is a dead soldier.” If we are going to overcome our fear, we have to acknowledge it exists.
Joshua is the new leader of the nation of Israel and the commander of the army. He is given the mission of bringing the people into the Promised Land. It will not be easy. They will have to battle people who are better equipped and better trained in warfare. They are outnumbered. Yet Joshua had one thing going for him, the Lord was with him.
In the above passage, God gives Joshua a huge command. He is to “be strong and of good courage,” which is a positive command. It’s an encouraging command. It sounds like something an officer would tell his men before a battle. God knows many of our battles begin in our minds. If we enter theses battles with a negative mindset, we can be defeated even before we begin.
The command then is restated in a negative way:”Do not be afraid nor be dismayed.” Easier said than done, right? If we focus on the external circumstances and challenges we can easily become discouraged and dismayed. This also can include the outside influence of people as well.
This command is followed by a promise to Joshua that the Lord will be with him. This promise was ultimately fulfilled in Jesus, Immanuel, God with us. This same promise is available to us today.
On November 11 and 18, I will preach a two part series called “Facing Our Fears” based on this passage. It is my prayer that we at RoS can apply this verse in our every day challenges. We live in a world where people are afraid. As Followers of Jesus, we can face our fears because He is with us.
I love you and it’s a privilege to be your pastor.