A whole generation of Israel wished—and died wishing. For them, 40 years of wandering turned the Promised Land into Fantasy Land. For those same 40 years, Joshua nurtured a victory just waiting to happen. When God commissioned him, Joshua responded and turned others’ wishes into land, cities, homes and possessions—the inheritance of generations to come.
Why did Joshua succeed where others did not? It’s vitally important to first say that the reasons all lay in Joshua’s own heart, not in his circumstances. That’s the difference between what happens for some people and what doesn’t happen for others. Success is in ourselves and God’s Word, not in our circumstances.
Let’s look at the five victory factors behind Joshua’s success, all set out in Joshua 1.
1. Realize your greatness is in God. Twice the Bible makes this wonderful, all-inclusive statement: “With God all things are possible” (see Matt. 19:26, Mark 10:27). Note the preposition with. To you all things are possible, with God. Joshua did not ride into Canaan on the back of an Arabian stallion but marched in upon the basis of the promises of God. God told him: “Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you” (Josh. 1:3).
2. All of God’s promises to others are ours by faith. God’s Word is for you as much as if He personally appeared and spoke it to you. Your only requirement is to “put on” His promises by faith. What had God promised to Joshua? “From the wilderness ... to the going down of the sun, shall be your territory” (Josh. 1:4). For Joshua and Israel, the only land remaining to be possessed was what Joshua had made up his mind to have. It was theirs by faith. And it happened when he decided. The door of history swung open at his touch.
3. Get a vision of what you should do for God, then work to bring it about. One of the most deeply rooted beliefs (actually, unbeliefs) some have is that God’s presence is greater with some people than with others. But from the beginning God said, “I will not leave you nor forsake you” (Josh. 1:5). He promised this to Joshua and repeated the same statement 1,300 years later by the writer of Hebrews (see Heb. 13:5). God is with us not because we are good or because we have great faith; He is with us because He has committed Himself irrevocably to us. If God was with us only when we had success, success would never come.
4. Know that God is with you as much as He was with anybody. Don’t hang around waiting for the right circumstances. God is your circumstance. He is with you. Others before you simply took advantage of this great circumstance, believed it and acted on it. You can go forth in the name of the Lord with the same courage that God drummed into Joshua: “Be strong and of good courage” (1:6); “Only be strong and very courageous” (v. 7); “Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid nor be dismayed” (v. 9).
5. Believe God’s Word and act on it. God didn’t give Joshua much forewarning when He said within three days Joshua would cross the Jordan River to possess the land (see Josh. 1:11). Israel had been on the east side of the Jordan for an entire generation. They were used to thinking of the other side of the Jordan as Fantasy Land. They had become “grasshoppers” in their own sight (see Num. 13:33). If you think you are a grasshopper, you are; because as a person “thinks in his heart, so is he” (Prov. 23:7). But in God you are not a grasshopper—ever.
Realize what was happening when God called Joshua. “The Lord [said] to Joshua: ‘Moses ... is dead. Now therefore, arise, go’” (Josh. 1:1-2). What a moment for purpose to unfold! It began with a funeral. It was a disastrous hour. However, God revels in bringing life out of death.
Cast off feelings of inferiority. Remember: A person’s greatness lies only in God. That’s why Joshua succeeded—because the same God who was with Moses was with him. He’s the same God who is with you.
Reinhard Bonnke, an evangelist and author, is founder of Orlando, Fla.-based Christ for all Nations, which since the start of the new millennium has recorded 55 million decisions for Christ. His books include Evangelism By Fire, from which this article is adapted.