The Lord Is With You

I remember the excitement I felt when I began my new job as an assistant director of women’s ministry in a local church after graduating from seminary. I had the privilege of serving under two women who were far more seasoned in ministry than I was. Little did I know that I would assume the director role one year later. It was intimidating, to say the least. The previous director was well loved and had been faithfully serving for many years, the women loved her Bible teaching, they sought her counsel, and many considered her a spiritual mother and dear friend. In contrast, I was young and inexperienced, the women didn’t know me well, they had only heard me teach the Bible a few times, and not many had sought my counsel. Yet the Lord had providentially placed me in the director position. Even so, I felt fearful and insecure.                                       

               In light of God’s exhortations, this is also how Joshua felt (see Josh. 1:6-7, 9). His predecessor, Moses, had served the Lord faithfully for many years, he had received the Ten Commandments from the Lord, he had met with the Lord on multiple occasions, he had erected the tabernacle, and he had led Israel through the wilderness. However, he wasn’t a perfect servant. In fact, the Lord did not allow him to lead His people into Canaan because of his sin (Deut. 32:51; see Num. 20:10-13). Although the Lord showed him the land from the top of a mountain, and promised him that his prosperity would receive it, Moses died in the land of Moab (Deut. 34:1-8).

               Thankfully, the death of Gods people never comes as a surprise to Him. He always appoints new servants at the right time in the right place. Its not surprising, then, that God commissions Joshua to lead His people into Canaan. Joshua had been a faithful assistant to Moses for forty years. Significantly, the first time we are introduced to Joshua in Scripture is in a battle scene in which Moses appoints Joshua to choose Israelites and lead in fighting (Ex. 17:8-16). Even then the Lord was providentially preparing Joshua to lead in the conquest of Canaan.

               Joshua remained a faithful assistant to Moses, whether he was accompanying him halfway up Mount Sinai or guarding the tent of meeting (see Ex. 24:12-14; 32:15-20; 33:7-11). But perhaps he is most famous for being one of two faithful men Moses sent to spy out the land of Canaan (Num. 13:1-24). Out of twelve spies, only Caleb and Joshua encouraged God’s people to remain faithful to the Lord and not fear the Canaanites. Sadly, the people did not listen and the Lord brought judgment upon that entire generation (see Num. 14:26-35).

               When Moses learned he would only see the land, but not lead the people into it, he asked the Lord to appoint a new leader (Num. 27:15-17). In response, the Lord told Moses to commission Joshua (Num. 27:18-23). It was no surprise, then, that after Moses died, the Lord told Joshua to arise and cross the Jordan into the land He was giving them (Josh. 1:2).

               This gift of the land was first promised to Gods people in Gods covenant with Abraham (see Gen. 12:1-9; 13:14-18; 15:7-21; 17:7-8; 22:15-18). Later, when Moses was at Mount Sinai, the Lord promised to be their warrior in taking the land (Ex. 23:28-29). Even so, Israel had several reasons to fear. The people in Canaan were stronger and taller, the cities of Canaan were fortified and large, and the land was spotted with people (Num. 13:28-29, 32-33). No wonder, then, that the Lord gave Joshua these comforting words, Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you” (Josh. 1:5). This promise is the crux of the covenant of grace that runs from Genesis to Revelation (see, for example, Gen. 17:7-8; Jer. 32:38; 2 Cor. 6:16; Heb. 8:10; Rev. 21:3). God has always wanted a relationship with His people, a relationship that will come to its fullest and most beautiful expression in the new heaven and the new earth.            

               Alongside His words of assurance, the Lord also gave Joshua an exhortation and a promise, Be strong and very courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them…do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go” (Josh. 1:6, 9). Joshua would have to exercise strength and courage by faith, but he did so with the guarantee that God would keep His promise and would be present with him. Gods word had to be his spiritual food or he would fail. He would need to meditate on it day and night, and obey God’s commands (vv. 7-8). The same is true for you and me. A greater Joshua has called us to follow Him. The only way we can do this is by knowing and doing Gods word. Our strength and courage come from the Spirit of God as He teaches us truth and enables us to stand firm in the faith (John 16:13; Eph. 6:10-18).

               Perhaps today you have been called to something new and you feel afraid. Whether you are beginning a degree program or a career, getting married or entering motherhood, starting a new ministry position or caring for aging parents, beginning chemotherapy or learning to live with chronic pain, you likely feel fearful and insecure. Be encouraged, dear believer. The promise of Gods presence is as true for us today as it was for Joshua, “Do not be frightened…for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go” (Josh. 1:9).

Sarah Ivill (ThM, Dallas Theological Seminary) is a Reformed author, wife, homeschooling mom, Bible study teacher, and conference speaker who lives in Matthews, North Carolina, and is a member of Christ Covenant Church (PCA). To learn more, please visit

Sarah Ivill