JOSHUA; Or, The Young Man's Courage
James Smith, 1856
"And Moses gave Joshua, the son of Nun, a charge, and said: Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you." Deuteronomy 31:6
Courage is of essential importance in a world like ours — for cowards never succeed; how can they? A coward is a discreditable character; a courageous man is always honorable. True courage is calm, patient, and persevering. It looks difficulty in the face, examines its resources, fixes on its end — and perseveres until it is obtained. Some people imagine that passion is courage; but passion is nasty, boisterous, and fitful; it seldom succeeds. Passion is often united to cowardice, and sets the coward boasting and swaggering; but it fails in the field — it is extinguished in the heat of battle.
Courage will always have plenty to do — and it will do it. The courageous are a blessing to many. Joshua was a type of Jesus — his name signifies a Savior. Joshua is an example for young men — his life is a copy they should strive to write after. Aged Moses, just about to leave Israel on the edge of the wilderness, on the borders of the promised land, called the young man Joshua and gave him a charge, and said, "Be strong and courageous!"
Courage was REQUIRED.Look at Joshua's WORK: he had to win Canaan for Israel. The inhabitants were many. They were used to war. They would fight for their homes, their families, and their own lives. They would fight like desperadoes. Each nation must be conquered. Every foot of land must be won, before it could be possessed.
Look at Joshua's TROOPS. They were unused to war. They were undisciplined. Under Moses their courage failed, and more than once they wished to return to Egypt. They had no war-horses or war-chariots like their foes. Looked upon with the eye of sense — they were unequal to the conflict.
Look at Joshua's OFFICE. It was to lead, to command, to
inspirit, and to save them. What a task for a young man! What a work
for any man! Surely, if ever a man needed courage — Joshua did! Moses
knew that, therefore he said, "Be strong and courageous!"
Courage was COMMANDED.Moses was God's mouth to Joshua, and he commands him in God's name to be courageous. God commands all his servants to exercise courage. He has a right to command. He will not command unkindly. He cannot command wrong — His love, wisdom, holiness, and justice, forbid the possibility of this. He commands what he loves. He commands what is for our good. If we saw things aright — we would see that there is as much divine love in a precept — as in a promise.
He intended to bestow the courage he required. Like every other good gift, it comes down from the Father of lights, in whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
His commands tell us what he requires;
his Spirit teaches us what we need;
his promises show what he is willing to bestow;
and in answer to prayer — we receive grace, whereby we may serve him acceptably with reverence and godly fear.
Let us never . . .
shrink from a precept,
draw back from a duty, or
fear to engage in any enterprise for God's glory.
For though we may feel unequal to the task, unfitted for the work — yet in answer to prayer, the Lord will make the feeble among us as strong David, and give us the courage of a Joshua. Only let us make sure of our call, and find our warrant in God's Word — then we may fearlessly exclaim with Paul, "I can do all things, through Christ who strengthens me!"
The Lord will be honored by our faith and
obedience. He is often trying our faith, and asking the question, "Will
you believe me?" As often he tries our receptivity, and asks, "Will
you obey me?" God loves to see his children believe his
promise, and unhesitatingly take him at his Word. He loves also to see his
children obedient, and endeavor to do what he bids them. Faith honors
God's veracity, obedience honors God's authority — and God
honors both with the crown of his blessing. Young friends, God commands you
to display courage in his cause, to play the man; he has a right to
command; he will give what he commands if you seek it; and he wishes
you to honor him by your faith and obedience.
Courage was OBTAINED.Joshua became courageous, and is an example for us. He obtained courage partly through his FELLOWSHIP with Moses. He attached himself to that venerable servant of the Lord — he saw Moses work, he heard him speak, he observed him pray.
He also obtained courage partly by his INTIMACY with God. He appears to have been much with God; to have found almost a home in the tabernacle. He lived at the fountain of strength and courage! It is no wonder, therefore, if he became courageous and strong.
If we were more with God — we would be more like God.
If we were more devout — we would be more devoted.
If we were more prayerful — we would be less concerned about man's opinion, or of man's power.
The way to be what God requires — is to live in close fellowship with the God who requires.
Joshua did this partly by his FAITH in God's promise. God
gave him his Word that he would be with him, that he would go before
him, and would drive out his enemies from before him. He believed
this. Joshua felt satisfied that God meant just what he said — that he would
do just as he promised. The pillar-cloud was withdrawn after the death of
Moses, it was no longer necessary; but the ark and the mercy-seat remained.
God was present in the camp; and a present God, realized by faith, . . .
fortified his mind,
encouraged his heart, and
emboldened his spirit.
Faith will make a man invincible. Nothing can daunt, discourage, or drive back — a strong and steady believer! Therefore said one, when he knew that in every place bonds and afflictions were awaiting him, "I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me — the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace."
Joshua did this partly by power in PRAYER. Like all devout people, "he had power with God." He first fought his battles on his knees before the mercy-seat; he conquered his foes in secret, before God — and then went to meet them in the open field, and chase them as the hunted deer. If we can succeed with God — we are sure to prevail with men. What is begun with powerful prayer — is almost sure to end with joyful praise.
In addition to . . .
his fellowship with Moses,
his intimacy with God,
his faith in the promise,
and his power in prayer —
Joshua was favored with the assistance of the great Captain of salvation. Hence we read, "When Joshua was near the town of Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with sword in hand. Joshua went up to him and demanded, 'Are you friend or foe?'
'Neither one,' he replied. 'I am the commander of the Lord's army.' At this, Joshua fell with his face to the ground in reverence. 'I am at your command,' Joshua said. 'What do you want your servant to do?'" (Joshua 5:13, 14.)
This was, no doubt, our beloved Lord and Savior; he came
to embolden his servant, to encourage the people, and to teach Joshua to
whom the glory of his victories would be due. Just so,
when the people of God are our companions,
when intimacy with God has become a habit,
when faith is exercised in God's promise,
when we plead earnestly at God's throne,
— then Jesus comes forth to us and says: "Surely, I am with you always! I will never leave you! My strength is made perfect in your weakness!"
Courage was DISPLAYED.He obeyed the Lord at Jericho: the people were circumcised, the ark was carried around the city seven days, the rams' horn trumpets were blown, faith in God was exercised, the walls fell down flat, and the first city of the promised land was captured.
Joshua never troubled himself about what the inhabitants might say respecting his strange proceedings — but his eyes rested on God's command — and his heart on God's promise. He headed his troops, leading them on to conflict and to conquest.
He conquered his foes, as God had promised — and he had expected. He led Israel into the promised land, and divided it among them. His courage never failed him. His God never forsook him. His enemies never prevailed against him. With his last breath, he could call his people to witness, and say, "Soon I will die, going the way of everything on earth. Deep in your hearts you know that every promise of the Lord your God has come true. Not a single one has failed!" (Joshua 23:14).
Now observe — young people in the present day need courage. They need it to resist temptation. The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, will tempt them. The great adversary of souls will study them, prepare temptations suitable to their temperament, situation in life, and present habits. Evil-hearted people will endeavor to lead them astray.
Temptations of all sorts and kinds will be tried; but they are not to be yielded unto — but to be manfully resisted. You must meet them, face them, struggle with them, and either overcome them — or be overcome by them. Now this will require courage. No one knows the power of temptation — but he who has been tried by it. No one can expect to conquer — but in the Lord's strength, especially when temptation and opportunity to sin meet. At such times, the struggle is fearful. They need courage to break away from old friends. Friendships are often formed by young people very thoughtlessly — which afterward prove a source of great grief.
To meet the banter, the sneer, the contemptuous look, the depreciating expressions of old, unhallowed friends, because we cannot run with them to the same excess of folly, or feel it imperative upon us to break away from them — requires courage like the courage of a Joshua!
They need courage to obey God, particularly when called to walk in an unfashionable path, to take up the cross of Jesus, and to unite with the poor, illiterate, and despised people of God.
To follow the multitude is easy; but to go in a contrary direction with a few, and those few the despised, rejected and hated of mankind — is hard.
Just so, to resist Satan as a serpent, a roaring lion, and a dragon — requires courage. But he must be met, opposed and conquered! We must, like the saints of old, overcome him by the blood of the Lamb and the Word of our testimony; or, like a more dishonorable company — be led captive by him at his will.
Once more, it requires courage to be USEFUL. To speak of Jesus where he is hated or despised — to distribute tracts among those who oppose themselves to the truth — to go and sit down in some humble Sunday school, surrounded by a few crude, unruly, and neglected children, in order to try and lead them to Jesus — to visit the sick and dying, to speak to them of Jesus, or read God's most blessed word — or invite the thoughtless, the careless, the giddy, and the mirthful, to accompany you to hear the faithful preaching of the gospel — all this requires great courage — and yet you ought to be so employed.
Young people should have courage. God can give it to them. He has promised it; as it is written, "He gives courage to the faint; and to those who have no might — he increases strength." Yet he will be sought unto, for it. He does even now bestow it. My young friends, be decided for God — be devoted to God — seek courage from God — show courage in the cause of God — so shall you go in and possess the land which the Lord our God has promised us!
Not only so, you will be . . .
useful in life,
happy in death,
triumphant at the resurrection, and
be crowned with a diadem of glory for evermore!
God will honor you,
men will be the better for you,
the church will admire you,
Satan will fear you, saints will commend you, and
you will obtain a good name, which "is better than precious ointment."
Do not be afraid to own that you are a Christian. Do not be ashamed to show your colors. "Do not be slothful — but followers of those who through faith and patience do now inherit the promises." And when tempted to be shy, timid, or cowardly — arm yourself against it by reflecting upon that solemn passage at the close of God's book, "He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars — their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur!" (Revelation 21:7-8).
Courage then, fellow Christian, courage! Work for God, fight for Jesus, labor for souls! May God give us wisdom and courage, that we may win souls, and a multitude of souls too.
Am I a soldier of the cross,
A follower of the Lamb?
And shall I fear to own his cause,
Or blush to speak his name?
Must I be carried to the skies
On flowery beds of ease;
While others fought to win the prize,
And sailed through bloody seas?
Are there no foes for me to face?
Must I not stem the flood?
Is this vile world a friend to grace,
To help me on to God?
Sure I must fight, if I would reign;
Increase my courage, Lord!
I'll bear the toil, endure the pain,
Supported by your Word.
Your saints, in all this glorious war,
Shall conquer, though they die;
They see the triumph from afar,
And seize it with their eye!
When that illustrious day shall rise,
And all your armies shine,
In robes of victory through the skies,
The glory shall be Thine!