What must it have been like to receive instructions directly from the mouth of the Lord? “Now you and all the people prepare to cross over the Jordan to the land I am giving the Israelites,” God told Joshua (Joshua 1:2). Moses had died, and now it was Joshua’s turn to lead—not because Joshua said so, but because God had said so.
Scripture does not describe Joshua’s emotional reaction to God’s directive, but we can infer from what God said next that Joshua was less than confident about the enormous task ahead of him: “I will be with you, just as I was with Moses. I will not leave you or abandon you” (Joshua 1:5). Put yourself in Joshua’s place, the weight of a nation’s survival on your shoulders and impossible battles before you. Let God’s promise sink in.
God was indeed with Joshua. In the chapters that follow, we see Joshua successfully lead the Israelite people across the Jordan accompanied by none other than the tangible presence of God with the ark of the covenant. And we see God fight for Israel as they take possession of the promised land under Joshua’s command. Everyone who followed Joshua benefited from God’s presence.
But Joshua’s life and mission point to someone greater: Jesus Christ. And just as God’s promise to Joshua was for the benefit of all those who followed and obeyed Joshua, the promise is extended today to all those who follow and obey Jesus. The Lord’s presence is with us, wherever Christ leads. We can, therefore, rejoice in the freedom from fear that is ours in Christ. “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:6).