Repetition is used to gain our attention, I believe. And I couldn’t help but notice that in the books of Deuteronomy and Joshua, Joshua is admonished by either Moses or the Lord to be “strong and courageous” seven times in only two chapters (Deut 31, Joshua 1). While the Bible doesn’t specify Joshua’s character in too much detail, I’m led to believe he must have been a bit passive and/or timid. This reminds me of myself at times, specifically in situations of personal or relational confrontation and professional prospecting (more on this in future letters). I tend to shrink back and not take hold of what’s before me, whatever it may be. Sometimes it’s not a big deal, such as when I pay an extra dollar at Wal-Mart for a mis-priced item, and other times it may be a bigger deal, such as not confronting a brother about a habitual and dangerous sin. Joshua must have shrunk back from taking leadership of Israel, and I can’t say that I would do much different in that situation.
However, almost every time that either Moses or the Lord tells Joshua to “be strong and courageous” he/He reminds Joshua that the Lord will provide or that the Lord will be with him. I can take this same comfort, no matter what the circumstance. I can be strong and courageous about being the father to our coming baby girl, be strong and courageous about confronting a friend about his sin, and be strong and courageous about talking to that prospect about working with me as his advisor. The Lord will provide and will be with me.
An encouraging event happens later in the book of Joshua, and shows how Joshua became strong and courageous. He tells the people of Israel, just as he’s about to put to death five Amorite kings, for themselves to be “strong and courageous.” Not only did he come to believe it, but he was now passing the admonishment on to others. Now that is what I hope to be able to do to you. Till next time, Jack.