Sound Teaching

This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

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“Be Strong and of Good Courage”

When Moses was 120 years old he called Israel together, and told them that their sojourn in the wilderness was coming to an end. Because of his sin at Kadesh (cf. Numbers 20), Moses would not be allowed to lead the people into the promised land. After promising the people that God was with them, he anointed Joshua as the new leader of the fledgling nation. He told Joshua in the presence of the people, “Be strong and of good courage, for you must go with this people to the land which the Lord has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall cause them to inherit it. And the Lord, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed” (Deuteronomy 31:7-8).

When King David charged his son Solomon to build the temple of God in Jerusalem, he gave him almost the exact same charge, “Now, my son, may the Lord be with you; and may you prosper, and build the house of the Lord your God, as He has said to you. Only may the Lord give you wisdom and understanding, and give you charge concerning Israel, that you may keep the law of the Lord your God. Then you will prosper, if you take care to fulfill the statutes and judgments with which the Lord charged Moses concerning Israel. Be strong and of good courage; do not fear nor be dismayed” (1 Chronicles 22:11-13).

There is only one big difference between the two passages. Moses indicated that God was with them. He promised that the evil nations would be routed, and they would inhabit the land he promised. In contrast, David promised Solomon that God would be with him, IF he took care “to fulfill the statutes and judgments with which the Lord charged Moses concerning Israel.”

Interestingly, in Deuteronomy 31 God predicted that Israel would become unfaithful. “And the Lord said to Moses: ‘Behold, you will rest with your fathers; and this people will rise and play the harlot with the gods of the foreigners of the land, where they go to be among them, and they will forsake Me and break My covenant which I have made with them. Then My anger shall be aroused against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide My face from them, and they shall be devoured. And many evils and troubles shall befall them, so that they will say in that day, “Have not these evils come upon us because our God is not among us?” And I will surely hide My face in that day because of all the evil which they have done, in that they have turned to other gods’” (16-18). It is important to note that when Israel did indeed sin, that God forsook them as He said He would. Their sin separated them from God (cf. Isaiah 59:1-2).

While Solomon as a young man kept the precepts of God, and was blessed in return — as an older man he allowed his foreign wives to turn him to idols (cf. 1 Kings 11). Because of his sin, “Therefore the Lord said to Solomon, ‘Because you have done this, and have not kept My covenant and My statutes, which I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom away from you and give it to your servant’” (vs. 11). The full consequence of Solomon’s sin led to the division of the kingdom at his death, and the rebellion of the 10 northern tribes.

The lessons here are clear. If God is with us, we have reason to “Be strong and of good courage.” As Paul wrote in Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” Later in the chapter he wrote, “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (vs. 37).

However, it remains that we must “Be strong and of good courage.” It is not enough to have a reason to be courageous. We must screw up our resolve, and wage the good warfare. We must, “Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13).

Today, in the face of opposition, the child of God must seek first the kingdom of God (cf. Matthew 6:33). He must faithfully follow his Lord (cf. Matthew 10:22). He must endure persecution (2 Timothy 3:12). He must withstand temptation (1 Peter 1:5-6). May we each heed the admonition to “Be strong and of good courage.”