“Be courageous and strong. . . . Jehovah your God is with you.”
(pgs 3-4 of the 2013 Examining the Scriptures Daily booklet)
There was a feeling of excitement in the air! Finally, after 40 years of wandering through a succession of wilderness areas, the Israelites were getting ready to enter the land that Jehovah had promised their forefather Abraham. It was Canaan, “a land good and spacious . . . a land flowing with milk and honey.” Once there, they would “lack nothing.”—Exodus 3:8; Deuteronomy 8:7-9.
There must also have been some feeling of fear and anxiety. Why? Because 40 years earlier, when under the leadership of Moses, the previous generation of Israelites had been in the same situation and had refused to enter the Promised Land. Their spies had reported: “The people who dwell in the land are strong, and the fortified cities are very great. . . . All the people whom we saw in the midst of it are men of extraordinary size.” Next to them, they felt that they looked “like grasshoppers.” Filled with fear, they thought it would be “better” to return to the oppression of Egypt and were on the verge of pelting the two faithful spies, Joshua and Caleb, with stones!—Numbers 13:28, 31-33; 14:3, 4, 10.
Were the Israelites justified in their fear? From a human standpoint, it would seem so. The reports of strong and fortified cities and giantlike men had been verified. It is also quite possible that Israel’s journeying in the wilderness and their intent to invade the land were known by the nations that inhabited Canaan. And some of them vastly outnumbered the Israelites! (Numbers 14:13-16; Deuteronomy 7:1, 7) Not to be overlooked is the fact that the Israelites, as slaves in Egypt, had not been trained in warfare or in military strategy. Now they were to face superior forces of trained, battle-hardened warriors. Also, after so many years, the miraculous nature of their deliverance from Egypt was a faded memory—events that the younger generation had not experienced.
Jehovah was aware of the situation. So he told Joshua: “Moses my servant is dead; and now get up, cross this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the sons of Israel. . . . Nobody will take a firm stand before you all the days of your life. . . . Be courageous and strong, for you are the one who will cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their forefathers to give to them.” Twice more God urged: “Be courageous and strong.” (Joshua. 1:2-7, 9) Acting on Jehovah’s instructions, Joshua told the Israelite warriors to prepare to cross the Jordan River in three days. How did they react? They affirmed their support of Joshua’s command and repeated to him the words: “Be courageous and strong.”—Joshua. 1:10-18.
Do you see any parallels between the situation of the Israelites back then and that of Jehovah’s people today? We too are poised to enter a land that Jehovah has promised—a new world where “righteousness is to dwell.” (2 Peter 3:13) We too face formidable foes—“the wicked spirit forces in the heavenly places” and their earthly cohorts—all bent on stopping Jehovah’s people from attaining their goal. (Ephesians 6:12) Still to come is a “great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning until now” and the “great and very fear-inspiring” day of Jehovah. (Matthew 24:21; Joel 2:11, 31) Although we have not personally witnessed any of Jehovah’s miraculous “saving acts,” we have full faith in his ability to preserve his people and bring them into the promised new world of righteousness.—Psalm 68:20; 2 Peter 2:9; Revelation 7:14-17.
How appropriate, then, are the words of our yeartext for 2013: “Be courageous and strong. . . . Jehovah your God is with you.” (Joshua 1:9) May we keep these words in mind as we preach the “good news of the kingdom” and fulfill Jesus’ command to “make disciples of people of all the nations.” (Matthew 24:14; 28:19, 20) Indeed, “if God is for us, who will be against us?”—Romans 8:31; Hebrews 13:6.