Audio Sermon “God's Miniature”

Aug 14, 2016
Japanese and English Joint Service:

“Be Strong!" by Rev. Toru Asai
Josh 1:6-9, Judg 6:11-16, etc.

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Eph 5:1-2)


Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go (Josh 1:9).

Here, God was encouraging Joshua who was about to enter the Promised Land leading the whole people of Israel in order to let them inherit the land. What did God mean by "be strong and courageous"? How could Joshua be strong and courageous? Note that it is in the imperative mood, and God commanded him to be so: it indicates that to be strong and courageous was something Joshua could do and had to do. You can compare these words with those spoken to Gideon.

The LORD is with you, mighty warrior (Judg 6:12)!

Note that in Joshua's case, too, the Lord promised that he would be with him. Keep in mind that both Joshua and Gideon were about to fight against enemies, and God encouraged them. The command to Joshua, "Be strong and courageous," corresponds to the vocative of "mighty warrior (lit. man of the power)" calling Gideon. Interestingly, this way of calling him was especially necessary for him because he had a very low self-image as expressed in the following words:

But Lord, how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family (v. 15).

Then, the Lord answered:

I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites together (lit. as one man) (v. 16).

This is what it means to "be strong and courageous." It is to change your self-image to the one given by God who says, "I will be with you." In other words, it is to discard the way you think of yourself, and accept the spiritual image of you whom God says you are. This spiritual image of you is the real you, and the you that you think you are in this world is fake. So, accepting this real you is the key to becoming strong and courageous. The self-image that you have in this world has nothing to do with the real you in God just as the worldly wealth has nothing to do with the true riches (Luke 16:16). In other words, even if you have a very high self-image in this world, but do not know who you are in God, and your true image before God is low, you are spiritually weak and unusable for God's kingdom. If you wish to be used by God, it is essential that you discard the worldly self-image you may have, and replace it with the real you in Christ. We have king Saul as a negative example in which he failed to accept his real self-image, but instead he kept and sought his worldly self-image. At one time, God commanded him to totally destroy the Amalekites and devote them and their livestock to God, but he spared their king as well as the best of their sheep and cattle. Furthermore, he set up a monument in his own honor on Mt. Carmel ignoring the fact that it was God who commanded him to fight, and gave him victory. As a result, the spirit of the Lord departed from him, and an evil spirit tormented him. Samuel said to him:

Although you were once small in your own eyes, did you not become the head of the tribes of Israel? The LORD anointed you king over Israel. And he sent you on a mission, saying, "Go and completely destroy those wicked people, the Amalekites; make war on them until you have wiped them out." Why did you not obey the LORD? Why did you pounce on the plunder and do evil in the eyes of the LORD (1 Sam 15:17-19)?

Satan always shows us the splendor (glory) of this world, and tempts us to seek it. When you give your soul to him in exchange of this glory, you become unrighteousness losing the real self-image God gives you, and not being able to resist the control of Satan, you have no choice but to live as his slave. But the good news is that Satan has been defeated, and we in Christ have overcome the world. So, accept who you are in Christ, and be strong and courageous!

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