The Secret to Joshua's Strength and Courage

(Photo by Miguel Bruna on Unsplash)

President Trump recently put tariffs on $34 billions of Chinese imports. The Chinese immediately responded with retaliatory tariffs for the same amount on U. S. soybeans, pork and electric vehicles. President Trump has targeted an additional $200 billions of Chinese imports for tariffs, and reportedly has an additional $300 billions of goods which could face higher tariffs, if needed.

President Trump is correct to argue that nearly all of the world has trade rules and practices that greatly disadvantage the U. S. Since the second world war, the U. S. has complained about the trading environment, but has done very little to balance the field. Reported Chinese appropriation of intellectual property is particularly troubling. The president believes that fair and reciprocal trade is good. He believes that while trades wars hurt everyone, we will win this one, and the final result will be international trade which is fairer and reciprocal. The question is "Who will win?"

Chinese exports of their goods into the U. S. comprise about 4 percent of their gross domestic product (GDP). U. S. exports of goods into China total about 0.4 percent of our GDP. The magnitude of the trade imbalance increases the negotiating power of the U. S. However, China also held nearly $1.2 trillion of U. S. debt at the beginning of the year. China is also the world's primary supplier of rare-earth metals used in technology. The U. S. could restrict Chinese investments, especially in technology. Who will blink?

Whether one agrees or disagrees with President Trump and his policies, most would agree that he has been bold and courageous. He has accomplished more than most presidents, at least partly in response to his boldness and courage. A few of examples are listed below.

  • Movement of the U. S. Embassy to Jerusalem. Many presidents have promised the move, but only President Trump delivered.
  • Withdrew from the Paris Climate Agreement, which unfairly disadvantaged the U. S. with new environmental regulations.
  • Withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which had trade rules disadvantageous to the U. S.
  • Withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal because of security concerns.
  • Has pushed ISIS out of nearly all of their previously held territory.
  • Has launched two military attacks against Syria because of their use of weapons of mass destruction.
  • Has confronted North Korea with strong sanctions and threats about its nuclear weapons program.
  • Sold arms to Ukraine in response to Russian incursions.
  • Has convinced NATO members to contribute more of the funding for which they had previously agreed.
  • Confronted and is still confronting China and much of the world on unfair trading practices.

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No one knows for sure what will be the final result of current and future trade tensions. However, given the rather muted response of the markets to the trade war thus far, at last investors appear to be betting on President Trump's boldness and courage.

If we want to accomplish our God-given purpose in life, we must be strong and courageous. Joshua spent the first 40 years of his life as a slave in Egypt. He and the rest of Israel were then delivered, by the miraculous power of God, from the most powerful nation in the world at the time. Joshua was one of the 10 spies who were sent by Moses to enter and spy on the nations currently holding the land promised to Israel by God. Eight of the 10 spies were frightened and began to murmur. However, Joshua and Caleb were strong and courageous realizing that God would give them victory. The eight unfaithful spies began to talk and got all of Israel complaining. This unfaithful generation of Israel was banished to the wilderness for 40 years.

After 40 years (at the age of 80), Joshua was called to replace Moses and lead the descendants of unfaithful Israel into the promised land. The 40-year delay which Joshua experienced had nothing to do with him—he was faithful. Joshua and Caleb experienced the consequences of unfaithful Israel.

When Moses commissioned Joshua, he told him that the Lord was with him. Moses cautioned Joshua to be strong and courageous for he would lead the people into the promised land. After the death of Moses, the Lord spoke directly to Joshua.

The Lord assured Joshua that He was with him. Then the Lord them told him to be strong and courageous, and he would be victorious. When the Bible repeats something, its import is emphasized. Amazingly, the Lord told Joshua three times in four verses to be strong and courageous. In English, it would be similar to "Be strong and courageous to enter the promised land!!!" David's counsel to Solomon was similar.

"He gave Joshua, the son of Nun, an exhortation, and said, "Be strong and of a good courage, for you will bring the children of Israel into the land which I swore to them, and I will be with you'" (Deut. 31:23).

"Be strong and courageous, for you shall provide the land that I swore to their fathers to give them as an inheritance for this people" (Josh. 1:6).

"Then you will prosper if you carefully observe the statutes and the judgments which the Lord commanded Moses for Israel. Be strong and of good courage. Do not be afraid or dismayed" (1 Chron. 22:13).

In the Old Testament, the charge to be "strong and courageous," was often linked with the assurance that "the Lord will be with you." In the New Testament, we are assured that He will never leave us or forsake us (Heb. 13:5). The resurrected Jesus is in heaven, but He lives in us via the Holy Spirit.

At Pentecost, when the Holy Spirt came to baptize willing believers, with power, love and discipline (see 2 Tim. 1:7), we see evidence that strength and courage were imparted. Peter had previously denied the Lord. But when under arrest and facing the same accusers, who had crucified our Lord, he boldly testified. Something had changed within Peter, for he was now filled with a new boldness and courage. Specifically, Peter had received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Peter was also hungry for more. Upon release, he prayed for more boldness.

If we want to succeed, we need to be strong and have courage. Let us endeavor to have God's strength and courage by seeking to be filled or refilled with the Holy Spirit.

Dr. James Russell is a professor of economics at Oral Roberts University.

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