• Anna Brooksby

BLOG: (May 23-29) Joshua 1-8, 23-24, "Be Strong and of a Good Courage"

It was time.

The Israelites had finally come full circle, back to the place where they had doubted and lost the chance to enter the promised land 40 years earlier. They had come to their do-over, their chance to try again and get it right, and this time they were ready.

The Lord told Joshua:

Therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel.

Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that I have given unto you, as I said unto Moses.

There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.

Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them.

Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest. (Joshua 1:2-3, 5-6, 9)

The Lord told Joshua three times in that conversation to be strong and courageous. Was He speaking of physical strength? No - He knew that it was not physical might or power that the Israelites needed for their final push into the promised land; it was faith. Fear had kept them out of the promised land before. They needed faith to go all the way this time.

They were ready.

Joshua gave the officers of the people very specific instructions from the Lord, which they were to follow with exactness. What was their response this time? Did they doubt or fear? Did they tell Joshua they wanted to go back to Egypt? No. This time they were ready. They responded with faith and obedience.

And they answered Joshua, saying, All that thou commandest us we will do, and whithersoever thou sendest us, we will go. (Joshua 1:16)

Joshua brought the children of Israel to Jordan, and they commenced the Lord’s plan for bringing them into the promised land. Forty years earlier, they had walked through the Red Sea on dry ground. The Lord had worked all night to part the Red Sea for them. Now they had to cross the Jordan, and the Lord gave them a similar miracle, but this time more faith was required. They were to follow the bearers of the ark of the covenant as they stepped into the still-flowing river, and watch it part before their eyes. And they did. As the bearers of the ark stepped into the water, the waters parted, and once again, the children of Israel walked through a body of water on dry ground.

Then it was time to receive the blessings the Lord had for them. Again, He gave them very specific instructions. His direction to walk around the city of Jericho every day for seven days, and then shout, must have seemed like a strange battle strategy to the Israelites. But they obeyed without hesitation. They finally had enough faith to recognize that they didn’t have to fight their battles alone. Uniting the Israelite forces with the host of the Lord, they were unstoppable, as Joshua and Caleb had known they would be so many years ago. They swept through and conquered all the land of Canaan in an unbelievably short amount of time. They just had to be ready. And when they were, the way was opened for them.

Reaching our personal promised land

All of us have to get to that same point of complete trust and submissiveness to the will of the Lord, and it often requires a wilderness experience - or more than one - to get us there. The sooner we can sincerely say “Thy will be done,” the sooner the Lord can ease our burdens. No, He won’t always take us out of the wilderness immediately. But we will find that, like the Nephites in the city of Helam, the Lord will be with us, even in our wilderness experiences, and will temper them for us until the time comes for our deliverance.

And Alma and his people did not raise their voices to the Lord their God, but did pour out their hearts to him; and he did know the thoughts of their hearts.

And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord came to them in their afflictions, saying: Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage.

And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.

And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.

And it came to pass that so great was their faith and their patience that the voice of the Lord came unto them again, saying: Be of good comfort, for on the morrow I will deliver you out of bondage. (Mosiah 24:12-16)

I believe that there is a promised land ahead for every person who will trust the Lord and submit to His will. In a 1999 devotional at BYU, “Cast Not Away Therefore Your Confidence,” Elder Holland said this about our personal promised lands:

“...in time ye shall possess the goodly land.” [D&C 103:20]

What goodly land? Your goodly land. Your promised land. Your New Jerusalem. Your own little acre flowing with milk and honey. Your future. Your dreams. Your destiny. I believe that in our own individual ways, God takes us to the grove or the mountain or the temple and there shows us the wonder of what his plan is for us. We may not see it as fully as Moses or Nephi or the brother of Jared did, but we see as much as we need to see in order to know the Lord’s will for us and to know that he loves us beyond mortal comprehension.

The Lord has a plan for every single one of us, and His plans are always glorious. But we can only get there in His way. We must be willing to turn our lives over to Heavenly Father, to “submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.”

President Ezra Taft Benson taught:

…men and women who turn their lives over to God will find out that he can make a lot more out of their lives than they can. He will deepen their joys, expand their vision, quicken their minds, strengthen their muscles, lift their spirits, multiply their blessings, increase their opportunities, comfort their souls, raise up friends, and pour out peace. Whoever will lose his life to God will find he has eternal life. (Source)

May we, as the Prophet Joseph Smith directed, “cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed.” (Doctrine and Covenants 123:17)

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