“Be Courageous and Very Strong”
“You men must not be afraid of them, for Jehovah your God is the One fighting for you.”—DEUTERONOMY 3:22.
1. (a) What was the situation in Israel at the end of the wilderness trek? (b) What exhortation did Moses then give?
THE time had come for momentous happenings in Israel’s history. God’s holy nation must now prepare to enter the Promised Land! For 40 years, Moses had led the Israelites through a great and fear-inspiring wilderness. But now, in the region of the Jordan River in the land of Moab, he addressed God’s people for the last time. At 120 years of age, “his eye had not grown dim, and his vital strength had not fled,” nor had his vocal powers failed. Joshua, who was about to succeed him, and all Israel must have thrilled to hear Moses’ powerful expositions of Jehovah’s law and his forceful exhortation to be courageous when they moved in to take possession of the land.—Deuteronomy 1:1-5, 19, 21, 29, 30; 3:22; 31:6, 7, 23; 34:7.
2. How do we know that the record of these things is for our instruction today?
2 Are those happenings of so long ago merely historical? Far from it! The apostle Paul tells us: “All the things that were written aforetime were written for our instruction, that through our endurance and through the comfort from the Scriptures we might have hope.” (Romans 15:4) That record has modern-day parallels. It can strengthen us today for spiritual warfare. It also serves as “a warning to us upon whom the ends of the systems of things have arrived,” helping us to avoid Satan’s snares.—1 Corinthians 10:11; 1 Peter 4:7.
Joshua’s Strength—From What Source?
3, 4. (a) Why do we need to cultivate fearlessness? (b) How may we do this?
3 Very soon now, God’s people will march into Jehovah’s new system of things. In view of events that are shaping up in the world, we need to cultivate fearlessness. How can we do this? As Joshua prepared to enter the Promised Land, God instructed him: “Only be courageous and very strong to take care to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn aside from it to the right or to the left, in order that you may act wisely everywhere you go. This book of the law should not depart from your mouth, and you must in an undertone read in it day and night, in order that you may take care to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way successful and then you will act wisely.”—Joshua 1:7, 8.
4 Ah, there is the secret! Read the Bible daily. It contains God’s law for us. Meditate on it. Heed its reminders. Do not let yourself be turned aside into the materialistic, immoral world around you. In whatever situation you find yourself, act with wisdom. Make practical application of the accurate knowledge and spiritual understanding that you have gained through your study of God’s Word. Speak about it to others. By doing so and by relying on Jehovah, you can indeed ‘be courageous and very strong, and make your way successful.’—Compare Psalm 1:1-3; 93:5; 119:165-168.
5. (a) Like Joshua, how can youthful ministers today gain strength? (b) What fine goal may young Witnesses have today?
5 Joshua had been “the minister of Moses from his young manhood” onward. (Numbers 11:28) No doubt this close association had helped him to gain spiritual strength. Likewise, youthful ministers today can gain strength through working along with devoted parents, pioneers, longtime Witnesses, and other loyal servants of Jehovah. Engaging in house-to-house witnessing with such zealous ones can be a joy and can help to build in our youths maturity and a desire to move forward in the ministry. (Acts 20:20, 21; Isaiah 40:28-31) What finer goal could young Witnesses have than full-time service in behalf of Jehovah’s Kingdom!—Psalm 35:18; 145:10-12.
6. How was Joshua an example to us in connection with the campaign against Amalek?
6 When Moses sent Joshua to fight the Amalekites, “Joshua did just as Moses had said to him.” He was obedient; so, he gained the victory. We, too, will share in Jehovah’s vindication if we pay close attention to the battle instructions that we receive through his organization. Jehovah told Moses to memorialize His triumph over Amalek by writing it in a book and propounding it in Joshua’s ears. No doubt Joshua further magnified Jehovah’s victory by speaking about it to others. In the same way, we today can make known the mighty acts of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah, and we can proclaim his impending “day of vengeance” upon the wicked.—Exodus 17:10, 13, 14; Isaiah 61:1, 2; Psalm 145:1-4.
7, 8. (a) What confidence did Joshua and Caleb express on returning from Canaan? (b) What warning and encouragement do we find in Jehovah’s handling of matters at that time?
7 When Moses sent 12 chieftains to spy out the Promised Land, he included Joshua in their number. On returning, ten of the spies expressed great fear of the Canaanite inhabitants of the land and persuaded the people to campaign for a return to Egypt. But Joshua and Caleb boldly declared: “If Jehovah has found delight in us, then he will certainly bring us into this land and give it to us, a land that is flowing with milk and honey. Only against Jehovah do not rebel; and you, do not you fear the people of the land, for they are bread to us. Their shelter has turned away from over them, and Jehovah is with us. Do not fear them.”—Numbers 13:1–14:38.
8 However, the assembly of Israel continued to murmur, so that Jehovah stepped in and condemned those fearful Israelites to 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. Except for Caleb and Joshua, all their men of war died without seeing the Promised Land. What a warning for us today! Let us never murmur against Jehovah’s arrangements. Even if we meet up with difficult witnessing territories, let us be courageous and strong in going to the people’s homes with the lifesaving Kingdom message. May we never be like those modern-day apostates who, rather than give a public witness, prefer to slander their brothers and to fall back into the ways of the world—antitypical Egypt.—Numbers 14:1-4, 26-30; Luke 12:45, 46; compare Acts 5:27-29, 41, 42.
Jehovah’s Name to the Fore!
9. How did Joshua live up to his new name?
9 The Bible list of 12 spies names Joshua as Hoshea, meaning “Salvation.” But at this point the record says: “Moses continued to call Hoshea the son of Nun Jehoshua [meaning, ‘Jehovah Is Salvation’].” Why did Moses thus emphasize Jehovah’s name? It was because Joshua served primarily for the vindication of that name. Joshua became a living example of obedience to the command that Moses would later emphasize to Israel: “You must love Jehovah your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your vital force.” In so doing, he was privileged to demonstrate that ‘Jehovah is salvation.’—Numbers 13:8, 16; Deuteronomy 6:5.
10. (a) What does Jehovah’s name mean to you? (b) What strength can we draw from Jehovah’s further words to Joshua?
10 Have we not also come to regard Jehovah’s name as most precious and deserving of all praise? His illustrious name means “He Causes to Become” with regard to fulfilling his promises. How heartwarming his Kingdom promises are! With zeal like that of Joshua, we should want to magnify Jehovah’s name and purposes before all who may yet embrace the hope of his clean and righteous new system of things. In these trying times, we can draw strength from Jehovah’s further words to Joshua: “Have I not commanded you? Be courageous and strong. Do not suffer shock or be terrified, for Jehovah your God is with you wherever you go.”—Joshua 1:9.*
11. (a) How was the meaning of Jesus’ name emphasized when he rode into Jerusalem? (b) How did Jesus regard Jehovah’s name, and what shows this?
11 The Greek equivalent of the name Joshua, or Jehoshua, is Jesus, also meaning “Jehovah Is Salvation.” It is through Jesus Christ that Jehovah provides salvation for mankind. In 33 C.E. when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a colt, the crowd kept crying out: “Save, we pray! Blessed is he that comes in Jehovah’s name!” (Mark 11:9; Zechariah 9:9) Joshua was a true type of Jesus, who ‘left us a model for us to follow his steps closely.’ (1 Peter 2:21) Like Joshua, Jesus held Jehovah’s name to be precious, and he exalted that name. Twice in his final prayer with his disciples, he emphasized God’s name, saying: “I have made your name manifest to the men you gave me out of the world. . . . I have made your name known to them and will make it known, in order that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in union with them.” (John 17:6, 26) What a privilege we have to make that name known to others!
12. What mighty acts do we await today, and why?
12 As we read the Bible record of Joshua’s loyal leadership, we can have in mind that the Greater Joshua, Jesus Christ, is leading God’s people today. “Jehovah’s day” of vindication is now at hand. How eagerly we await the fulfillment of his promise of a righteous new system that will follow that day! (2 Peter 3:10-13, 17, 18) Confidently, then, we look forward to further mighty acts of Jehovah, even mightier than those he performed through Joshua.
Jehovah’s Miracle at Jordan
13. (a) What seemingly impossible situation faced Israel on the east side of the Jordan? (b) How was Israel’s obedience rewarded?
13 It was the time of harvest in the year 1473 B.C.E., and the Jordan River was at flood stage. How could several million souls, old and young, men, women, and children, be brought through that raging torrent? Yet Jehovah had commanded Joshua: “Now get up, cross this Jordan, you and all this people.” In turn, the people told Joshua: “All that you have commanded us we shall do.” Israel broke camp. The priests marched out first, bearing the ark of the covenant, which was carefully covered and which represented Jehovah’s presence with them. Jehovah then started to ‘do wonderful things in their midst,’ for “at the instant that the carriers of the Ark came as far as the Jordan and the feet of the priests carrying the Ark were dipped in the edge of the waters . . . the waters descending from above began to stand still.” The waters below “were cut off,” to flow on to the Dead Sea, “and the people passed over.” (Joshua 1:2, 16; 3:5-16) A stupendous miracle indeed!
14. What parallel exists in this day, and what has been the result of the witness given?
14 The rampaging Jordan finds a parallel in the flood of humanity that is now plunging headlong toward destruction at Armageddon. (Compare Isaiah 57:20; Revelation 17:15.) Today, as mankind stands at the brink of that final plunge, Jehovah fortifies his people, now numbering over 3,000,000—a number comparable to that of God’s people who marched with Joshua.—Compare Habakkuk 2:3.
15. (a) What in modern times resembles the courageous action of the priests back there? (b) How is the “great crowd” represented in this picture?
15 While the millions of Israel were passing over the riverbed, “the priests carrying the ark of Jehovah’s covenant kept standing immovable on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan,” to represent the interruption of matters by Jehovah God. (Joshua 3:17) It was in 1919 that the small band of anointed Witnesses stepped courageously before the “waters” of mankind. In 1922 they boldly answered the call to ‘advertise, advertise, advertise the King and his Kingdom,’ saying in effect: “Here I am! Send me.” Jehovah assures them: “In case you should pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not flood over you.” In 1931, he honored them by bestowing upon them the name Jehovah’s Witnesses. (Isaiah 6:8; 43:2, 12) Among those who crossed over the Jordan would be the non-Levitical Israelites and the descendants of the non-Israelite “vast mixed company” that had left Egypt with Moses. In like manner, the “great crowd” today shares in crossing over to God’s new system, while the remaining ones of the spiritual priestly class stand “steadfast, unmovable,” exemplary in their faith.—Exodus 12:38; Revelation 7:9; 1 Corinthians 15:58.
Memorializing the Miracle
16. (a) How was the Jordan miracle memorialized? (b) What does this suggest as to Jehovah’s mighty acts today?
16 Jehovah proceeded to memorialize this Jordan miracle, commanding that 12 men, representing the tribes of Israel, take up 12 stones from the riverbed and deposit these on the western shore at Gilgal. Those stones would stand there as a lasting memorial to Jehovah’s name and his mighty acts. Future sons of Israel were to be told that this memorial was “in order that all the peoples of the earth may know Jehovah’s hand, that it is strong; in order that you may indeed fear Jehovah your God always.” (Joshua 4:1-8, 20-24) In modern times, marvelous acts of Jehovah in preserving his people, despite vicious attacks by political and religious leaders, stand as a memorial that he is with his people. No doubt his grand modern-day works in vindication of his name will be memorialized permanently in his new system of things.—Revelation 12:15, 16; Psalm 135:6, 13.
17. (a) What further memorial did Joshua set up? (b) Humankind has been unable to evade what similar testimony today?
17 A further memorial was in order: “There were also twelve stones that Joshua set up in the middle of the Jordan on the standing place of the feet of the priests carrying the ark of the covenant, and they continue there until this day.” As the priests came up out of the riverbed and Jehovah released the dammed-up floodwaters, these came swirling around the 12 stones of testimony. (Joshua 4:9) Henceforth, that flood could not escape the presence of those stones. Likewise today, humankind plunges ever more swiftly toward the “Dead Sea” of Armageddon. But it cannot escape the testimony that Jehovah’s Witnesses have piled up worldwide as they stand “firm in one spirit, with one soul striving side by side for the faith of the good news.” (Philippians 1:27, 28) Available records show that, during the 67 years up until this year 1986, the Witnesses have placed in the homes of the people earth wide over 570,000,000 bound books and more than 6,400,000,000 copies of the Watchtower and Awake! magazines, as well as millions of magazine subscriptions—a monumental testimony indeed!
18. (a) What qualities has the priestly class shown today? (b) How have all of God’s people been stimulated?
18 We can be happy that the witness has continued until this year 1986. Doing God’s will has been hard work, as when the 12 men each shouldered his memorial stone and carried it all the way to Gilgal. But a grand pioneer spirit has united God’s modern-day people, stimulating them constantly to “be courageous and very strong.”—Psalm 27:14; 31:24; Zephaniah 3:9.
19. In reviewing further events of Joshua’s day, what confidence may we have?
19 Other events in Joshua’s day should encourage us to move forward, confident that Jehovah will perform further miracles in behalf of his people. Our next article will review some of these.
Asher Goldenberg writes in Metre and Its Significance in the Bible (Hebrew) that in the First Temple period, proper names were commonly given a longer form, incorporating part of the Tetragrammaton, to indicate loyalty to Jehovah. He comments that “in the Pentateuch, Moses changes the name of Hoshe ben-Nun into ‘Jehoshua’ when he sends him to go spying; thus he foresaw that [Joshua] would not betray [Jehovah].”
Reflecting on Events in Joshua’s Day—
◻ Why must these be viewed as more than mere history?
◻ How may we cultivate courage and spiritual strength?
◻ What fine pattern did Joshua leave for us?
◻ In what ways did Joshua foreshadow Jesus?
◻ What happenings today parallel those at the Jordan?