Summary: Dramatic monologue as if Joshua were speaking: we are to be courageous, for God is with us when we do battle for Him. The ultimate victory will come because Joshua/Jesus has won it for us.
"We are soldiers, in the army; we are soldiers, in the army; and we have to fight; and we have to fight".
We have indeed had to fight. We have fought long and hard. We have fought our way against scores of chieftains and their armies; we have fought our way against scorching heat, fearful hearts, and disobedience. We have been soldiers in an army which has known victory, and at remarkably little cost.
I can stand here before you today at rest from war, because of the incredible things which the Lord God has done. I am here as the captain whose armies, in rapid succession, took the cities of the Judean hills: Makkedah, Libnah, Lachish, Eglon, Hebron, Debir. The whole hill country, down to the Negeb desert and the coastal plains, fell to us, quickly.
When word of our victories spread far and wide, the chieftains of the northern towns of Canaan banded together against us, but they were too little too late. By the waters of Merom we struck them and chased them all the way up to Lebanon and Syria! The land is ours now, the whole land, except for Gaza, Gath, Ashdod, the southern Palestinian plain; but that doesn’t count for much. The land is ours. Ours. And at last we have rest from our war.
How did this come about? Do you imagine that it was my military genius or the immensity of our armies that accomplished this? The secrets of our success can be yours, in your own time.
Have I introduced myself? No? Forgive me. The exhaustion of battle sometimes rattles me, but I do come back, front and center, for one great thought has sustained me in all that I have done. One great truth focuses me whenever I am tempted to be afraid or to stray from what I know to be right.
Let me teach it to you, now, before I tell you about myself or describe our battles. If you remember nothing else of what I tell you, this you must know. Listen, and then repeat it with me: "Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." Say it with me, please: "Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."
My name is Joshua. When my father, Nun, gave me that name, I do not know whether he understood how prophetic it was, for the name Joshua means, "The Lord saves." And certainly the Lord has saved His people, many times over, through the weapons given to me, His servant, Joshua.
I was but a child when our people were freed from slavery in Egypt. I was so young I do not remember much, but I heard my father and my uncles and their friends tell the story around the campfires. I have heard it told, over and over again, how the great leader Moses and his brother Aaron confronted the Pharaoh of Egypt and demanded, "Let my people go." How each time they thundered, "Let my people go," the king would agree and then, at the last instant, change his mind and hold them back. But finally the angel of death passed over and took the sons of the Egyptians, even the Pharaoh’s son. Then the people passed through the Reed Sea, into freedom. I can scarcely remember seeing all this, and yet I know it well, for they took the time to teach the children how the Lord saves.
I was privileged above all the young men of our nation to have been selected, first, as Moses’ assistant, and then, as his successor. What an incomparable privilege, to be chosen to take over from this great man! And yet, what an awesome challenge! You see, our people are stubborn. They are arrogant. Each one of them thinks he knows more than the next; each one thinks his own voice ought to be heard. And so it was most intimidating that, just when they were demanding and clamoring for better food ... it was most intimidating that, right in the middle of a food fight, Moses would turn to me and say, "You are going to be the next leader of this people!"
I wanted to say no. I wanted to refuse. But you just did not say no to Moses. You just did not cross his path. His brother Aaron had tried to do so, back at Mt. Sinai, and had been beaten back. Others had wanted to turn around and return to Egypt, but he had kept them in line by the sheer force of his will. I was no different. I could not resist him. And so I accepted Moses’ commission and listened carefully when he said, "Be strong and bold, for you shall bring the Israelites into the land that [the Lord has] promised them; and [the Lord] will be with you."