God's Promise in Joshua 1:5

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Question
What does Joshua 1:5 mean when God promises, "I will be with you?"
Answer
One of the things that we always want to bear in mind as we think about what the Bible means is it's a good thing to read the surrounding context. And in the immediate context, the Lord had said, "As I was with Moses, so I will be with you." And I think what's happening in part here is, back in Deuteronomy 18, the Lord had instructed Israel — he said to them, "When you go into this land^^elli^^" — essentially what he's saying is, these other peoples, when they look for supernatural guidance, they seek mediums. They seek necromancers. They have all these means of divination, all these ways of getting supernatural guidance. And the Lord says you're not to follow any of those practices, but "I'm going to raise up a prophet like you," the Lord says to Moses, "from among your brothers." And, in one sense, there's not a prophet like Moses, Deuteronomy 34 tells us, until Jesus comes. But in another sense, all of the prophets that follow Moses are prophets like Moses. In some cases, they have experiences very much like Moses' experience when the Lord called him. And that's the case with Joshua. So, I think, in part, what the Lord is saying is, "Joshua, as I was with Moses, and as I led him, and as I gave revelation to him for the people of Israel, so I'm going to be with you. And as I gave him authenticating signs, so I will be with you." And then, Joshua has very similar experiences to the one that Moses had at the burning bush at Mount Sinai when he's told to take off his sandals for the place on which he stands is holy ground. And so, I think the key thing here is that the Lord is continuing the work that he had been doing in Israel through Moses, now through Joshua.

Answer by Dr. Jim Hamilton

Dr. James M. Hamilton is Professor of Biblical Theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky and author of several works, including God's Indwelling Presence: The Ministry of the Holy Spirit in the Old and New Testaments.