God promised to His people a land flowing with milk and honey. We read from the book of Deuteronomy –
Deuteronomy 6:10 “The Lord your God will soon bring you into the land he swore to give you when he made a vow to your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It is a land with large, prosperous cities that you did not build. 11 The houses will be richly stocked with goods you did not produce. You will draw water from cisterns you did not dig, and you will eat from vineyards and olive trees you did not plant.” (NLT)
In some ways it could be said that the people were moving into homes that were ‘fully furnished.’ Yet with such abundant prosperity also came a great danger. Deuteronomy 6:11… When you have eaten your fill in this land, 12 be careful not to forget the Lord, who rescued you from slavery in the land of Egypt. 13 You must fear the Lord your God and serve him. (NLT)
Not only was there the danger of giants that might resist them, there was also the danger of prosperity that might deceive them. God feared that once His people began to enjoy their prosperity, they would forget who it was that had prospered them.
In many ways the danger of prosperity was greater than the danger of the giants. More Christians have wandered away from God during the good times, than in the bad. Adversity often draws us closer to God, while prosperity lures us away. It is for this reason that God gave this command to Joshua –
Joshua 1:7 Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. 8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. ESV
Not only did Joshua need to be strong in order to lead the people to stand up against the giants; he needed to be strong in order to lead the people to remain true to God. Was Joshua such a leader? Consider the words of his final message to the people –
“So fear the Lord and serve him wholeheartedly. Put away forever the idols your ancestors worshiped when they lived beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord alone. But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:14-15 ESV)