It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will
not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”
Joshua would be the next leader. He would lead the people into the promised land. And God knew he would need to be often reminded not to be afraid or dismayed. Dismayed is not a word we use that often, but the meaning of the word is one we are familiar with. It's that feeling of fear or discouragement that stops you in your tracks. It shatters confidence and erodes courage. God knew that Joshua would need to be strong and courageous to do the things God was asking him to do. It would take absolute trust in and obedience to God to be successful. He knew that fear or dismay would be a game-stopper.
After the death of Moses, Joshua assumes command. Again God tells him to be strong and courageous and not give into fear or dismay. After they cross the Jordan River into the promised land, their first success is taking Jericho. Already Joshua is learning firsthand that God's strategies are unique. Therefore it was vital that Joshua listened to and obeyed God. God was the One who caused the walls to fall when the Joshua and the people did what God told them to do.
God's instructions had been very specific. He made it clear that everyone in the city was to be destroyed except Rahab and her household. Everything was to be destroyed except the gold, silver, bronze, and iron which would be kept for the Lord and put into His treasury. God told them what would happen if His instructions were not fully carried out, "Do not take any of the things set apart for destruction, or you yourselves will be completely destroyed, and you will bring trouble on the camp of Israel." (Joshua 6:18).
After defeating Jericho, Joshua sent some men to spy out the town of Ai. When the men returned, they told Joshua they wouldn't need all the men to fight. So Joshua sent only 3,000 warriors, but they were easily defeated. Joshua was dismayed. He tore his clothing, threw dust on his head, and fell face down to the ground before the Ark of the Lord and stayed there until evening. He wanted to know why this happened. You can hear the fear in his voice, "Oh, Sovereign Lord, why did you bring us across the Jordan River if you were going to let the Amorites kill us? If only we had been content to stay on the other side!" (Joshua 7:7). He went on to ask what the people of the land would think when they heard of this defeat? What would happen to the honor of God's great name?
Joshua was wishing they had never come. Why would God bring them here just to let them die? What Joshua didn't know is that Achan had stolen some of the plunder, lied about it and hid it among his belongings. This defeat was God doing what He said He said He would do. It had nothing to do with His plans for the Israelites to defeat their enemies, the very thing God had promised. Joshua couldn't get beyond what had just happened. He lost sight of God's promises. He let his thoughts run wild. It never occurred to him that someone had disobeyed and this was God's word coming to pass. At that moment, Joshua thought his future was over when in reality, his best days were still ahead. Israel would go on to defeat their enemies.
How often have you become dismayed when reviewing in your mind what went wrong with your prodigal? What if their best days are ahead? What if this happened for a reason? God was not surprised when your loved one walked away. Just because they left Him doesn't mean He left them. He is still crazy about them. Even now He is speaking to them words of love to draw them back.
He is saying to you, "I am going before you. I am with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed. I am in control always. Don't ask how this could happen; don't think the worst but trust in My love for you and your prodigal and ask "What's next?"