The Israelites had spent 40 long years in the desert and though it was difficult, they had grown used to the manna and the tents and the travel. They had become a people and were accustomed to following Moses and the new laws they had been given.
All of a sudden everything changed. Moses was dead. Joshua was in charge. They were crossing the river and entering the promised land. They would go from wanderers to warriors overnight. It was all new and sudden and terrifying.
God saw the fear and spoke these words in Joshua 1,
“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
God repeated himself over and over in chapter 1, telling Joshua (who would then tell the people) not to be afraid.
Now why do you need to tell people not to be afraid? There is only one reason...because they are afraid. Joshua is afraid, the people are afraid and so God seeks to reassure them that He is in control and that they will be ok.
It seems today, for very different reasons, many of us are afraid. We are afraid of the Corona virus, afraid we won't have toilet paper or flour to buy, afraid our jobs will get shut down and we won't have enough money to buy things...we are afraid for a lot of reasons.
I get it, I am afraid too. But I do remember that God is still in control. I do remember His word is unchanging. I do remember how He has been faithful in the past. I do remember that He loves me. I do remember to pray for you all. I do remember his words "Be strong and courageous" and it does give me hope.
By the way, God was with the Israelites and they were successful everywhere they went.
And God will be with you too. So be strong. Be courageous. God is with you.
Pastor Scott McDermid