I love Joshua chapter 1! “Be strong and courageous!” Such a great word…but how do we do that?
Surely there’s got to be more than just cowboy up and “be strong”!
The Hebrews used many literary forms in writing the Old Testament. One of them was called a Chiastic structure (named after the Greek letter Chi, which looks like an “X”). They’d make a series of statements and then walk back point by point mirroring a previous point.* Here’s the Chiastic structure of Joshua 1:5-9.
A I will be with you (v. 5).
B Be strong and courageous (v. 6, 7).
C That you may have success (v. 7).
D This book of the law (v. 8).
C' Then you will have success (v. 8).
B' Be strong and courageous (v. 9).
A' The Lord your God is with you (v. 9).
Here’s what strikes me:
God’s presence is no substitute for God’s word.
God’s word is no substitute for God’s presence.
We need both. Kind of like how Jesus embodied both grace and truth (John 1:17).
I think we all naturally lean toward one of these – some people naturally inclined to truth – God’s word. They study it, debate it, and seek to interpret it correctly (all valid). Others naturally gravitate towards the presence of God in a more relational experience (also valid).
The thing about Joshua 1:5-9 is that “success” is bracketed by both God’s presence (v. 5 and v. 9), and God’s word (v. 8). I think the point is that we need both.
The other thing about being successful in Joshua 1:5-9 is that between God’s presence and God’s word, we are commanded to “be strong and courageous.” The NET translation says “Make sure you are very strong and brave” (1:7).
How can I “make sure I am very strong and courageous”? By slowing down and partaking in God’s presence and meditating on His word. By talking His word to Him throughout the day. As we do that, we will act and respond to things differently throughout our days. His presence and His word change our hearts our minds and our wills. We become different people that are more confident, not in ourselves, but in who God is and what He is doing in the middle of our situation(s). We are also (likely) to be more obedient which sets off a cascade of favorable things in and through us (some of which may be suffering so don’t freak out when that hits).
How about you? Today, are you leaning a little towards God’s presence or God’s word?
What would it take for you to balance that out?
Can you reach out to a friend and share your path forward?
Enjoy Walking With the Savior Today!
*It’s called a Chiastic structure because the pattern resembles the left half of a large X.