A Voice in the
"No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will not abandon you nor forsake you. Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I have sworn to their fathers to give to them. Only be strong and very courageous...that you may prosper wherever you go... you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for Jehovah your God is with you wherever you go." (~Josh1:5-9)
Is this not what we hear regularly these days: God wants us to prosper! God wants to give us good things: "For I know the thoughts which I am planning for you, says Jehovah; thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." (Jer29:11)
And we see God's hand of blessing to Jabez: "And Jabez called upon the God of Israel saying, Oh, that You might bless me, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would deal to bless me, keeping me from evil, to not be hurt. And God brought to pass what he had asked." (1Ch4:10)
And if we but give some "seed" money to the televangelist of your choice, God has promised to "open the windows of heaven for you and pour out a blessing until there is not enough room to store it." (Mal3:10)
But as you read the opening passage from Joshua, did you notice the couple of "..."? The passage was 'excerpted'. It was 'edited'. But as it appears (above), is this not the message many of today's prophets are proclaiming! And, if you sense a big "BUT" is just about to come along here, well, just look at the passage. Isn't that what the Bible says? After all, isn't that what God's "grace" is, as today's popular version 'The Message' proclaims: "Out of sheer generosity..." (Rom3:24) no strings attached, just because God is "good", He lavishes victory, wealth and health upon us. All we need to do is "be courageous", and God promises to be 'with' us; all we need to do is "make our (own) way prosperous", and God will come along-side to make sure it comes about. We just need to be 'brave' and -do- it. Set out a course, and "go-for-it"; after all, God can't "steer" a vessel that's standing still.
What is the -context- of God's blessing? Is it "sheer generosity" because God "accepts us just as we are"?; or are there, actually, some "strings attached"? Some 'conditions'? What goes into those "..." places?
Let's have a look...
Why was Israel to be "strong and courageous"? In doing what? "...that you may take heed to do according to all the Law which Moses My servant has commanded you.." (Josh1:7)
To keep God's commandments requires 'strength'? Why? Who is it who would try to keep us from it? Against whom is the struggle? "..the world's rulers of the darkness of this age.." (Eph6:12) Satan and his demons; along with his followers, people lost in sin. We are exhorted: "..and having done all, to stand. Stand firm therefore..." (vs13-14)
Why does it require 'courage'? Because the enemy is like a "roaring lion" who is on the prowl, "seeking whom he may devour". (1Pe5:8) And sinners taunt, ridicule, belittle and threaten the Godly one. Courage, because it is the "cowardly" who end up in the lake of fire. (Rev21:8)
Now, in order for us to "prosper wherever we go" what is required? "..do not turn from [God's law] to the right hand or to the left..." (vs7) It's like following a map: if you want to "prosper" by actually arriving at the desired destination, you must look at the map and go on the roads the map indicates. If you deviate one way or another, you will not arrive at the intended place.
It's like the psalmist says, "Blessed is the man who has not walked in the counsel of the wicked, nor has stood in the way of sinners, nor has sat in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the Law of Jehovah; and in His Law he meditates day and night." (Ps1:1-2)
You see, we might observe several aspects to following either God's Law, or the way of sinners. A person is never just suddenly ensconced in evil. A person does not, without warning, one morning wake up and find themself (Sh'zamm!) an evil backslider. No. We are first enticed to "go with" the sinner; like during my college days, at this one particular summer job the fellow-workers, knowing I was a Christian, trying to taunt me; would 'invite' me to join them at the bars. I didn't 'go'. I did not "walk" in their counsel. Now, had I gone, the next step would be at the doorway, "standing" there to observe and consider. And then if I had gone yet further, I would have found myself inside and "sitting" and partaking. Balaam's initialization into enticing Israel astray at Baal-Peor was when he got on his donkey to "go" to Balak, when God initially had told him -NOT- to go. (Num22-26)
Even in the very initial stages of our committment, what are we to have? God's Word. Are we "walking"? Then, "Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path" (Ps119:105)
At what stage do we learn our behavior? In our youth. "How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your Word." (Ps119:9)
Back to Joshua: "This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may take heed to do according to all that is written in it. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall have good success." (vs8)
This "good success" is illustrated as a "tree planted by the rivers of water that brings forth its fruit in its season, and its leaf shall not wither, and all that he does shall prosper." (Ps1:3)
What are the "rivers of water"? Who provides that "Water of Life"? Jesus said to the woman of Samaria: "but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will not ever thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into eternal life." (Jn4:14)
Jesus invites: "Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat. Yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price." (Is55:1) "...If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink" (Jn7:37) "And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him who hears say, Come. And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take of the Water of Life freely." (Rev22:17)
You see, there is this inextricable link between the Scriptures and Jesus Christ. "In the beginning was the Word...and the Word was God... The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life... You [Jesus] have the Words of Eternal Life" (Jn1:1, 6:63,68)
The only way to truly "prosper" is to know Jesus Christ. And for the person who knows Christ and loves Him, the natural outcome is that we will "keep His commandments" (Jn14:15) We are saved "unto good works" (Eph2:10) A person who claims to love Christ, but does not keep His Word "is a liar, and the truth is not in him" (1Jn2:4) When a spiritual believer is "judgmental" against a carnal one's 'lifestyle', the spiritual one is merely following Scripture. Obeying Christ's commands -is- the Christian path. If a person rebels and insists on being like the world, "..the love of the Father is not in him" (1Jn2:15b)
You see, this was the same in Joshua's time. God had proclaimed within the Ten Commandments about His blessings: "...showing goodness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments." (Ex20:6)
Today's prosperity theology has people lusting after luxury cars, private jets and gold-plated bathroom fixtures; the things of money.
Jesus taught, "No one is able to serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. It is not possible to serve God and mammon." (Mt6:24) and again: "when Jesus saw that [the rich person] became very sorrowful [about giving away his wealth and following Jesus], He said, How hard it is for those who have riches to enter into the kingdom of God. For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God." (Lk18:24-25)
And yet there is a Godly principle: "The steps of a good man are ordered by Jehovah, and he delights in His way. Though he fall, he shall not be cast down, for Jehovah upholds his hand. I have been young, and now am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread. All day long he is gracious and lends, and his seed is blessed. Depart from evil and do good, and live forevermore." (Ps37:23-27)
If God takes care of the flowers and birds, will He not take care of his own children? (Mt6:30)
But what is our -eternal- blessing? How do we find ourselves being blessed when we stand before our Master, to hear the commendation, "Well done, good and faithful servant"? "Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find SO DOING." (Mt25,24:46)
And what is the servant's duty? "Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful." (1Co4:2) How do we know 'how' to be faithful? God's Law. It is not so difficult to understand, that we need umpteen zillion translations to explain-it-away. It is not so difficult to do, that we must explain it away by turning "the grace of our God into licentiousness" (Ju1:4) and piously calling it "graaeeeessss".