In Joshua 1:9, God commanded Joshua, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Does this promise apply to Christians today?
In one sense, the promise in this passage was specific to Joshua’s role as leader of the Israelites as he took them into the Promised Land. Joshua had a tremendous task to fulfill after the death of Moses—the responsibility of leading an entire nation into a new land. God’s words of boldness and encouragement served as an important message to strengthen Joshua as the leader of God’s people.
While the promise that God would be with Joshua was specific to Joshua, the principle extends to us today. First, God expects His followers to live strong and courageous lives. In the New Testament, we find the apostle Paul telling Timothy, “The Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7). In Acts 1:8 Jesus told His followers, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
In addition to living bold and courageous lives as Christians, we are called to live without fear. Jesus taught, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul” (Matthew 10:28). When Paul was imprisoned, he wrote, “Because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear” (Philippians 1:14). While there is a sense in which we are called to fear God, meaning to live in respect and reverence of Him, Scripture is clear that we are to live with confidence in God’s promises and power.
Third, the reason we can live courageously and without fear is that God is with us wherever we go. What God commanded Joshua is also seen in the Great Commission: “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). Also, we have the promise of Hebrews 13:5: “God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’”
In summary, while the promise of Joshua 1:9 was specific to Joshua, the principle is affirmed elsewhere in Scripture as applicable to all believers today. God calls us to live courageously, without fear, knowing that God is with us at all times.