Moses will not be crossing the Jordan into the Promised Land, but Israel is assured that the Lord will be crossing with them. The presence of the Lord among the Israelites is more than a religious idea or an idle concept designed to inspire hope, but it is a fact that this generation has experienced for the last forty years. The Lord had entered their camp forty years before at Mount Sinai and had been with Israel through out the wilderness experience both in blessing and in judgment. The Lord had provided provisions such as the manna, but the Lord had also provided punishment such as the fiery serpents.
Now, before Israel crosses the Jordan they are told not to be afraid of the Canaanites. The reason they are not to fear is because this is the Lord’s will and his presence will continue with Israel even after they cross the Jordan. Israel has already experienced military victory as a result of the Lord’s presence with them when they defeated Sihon and Og, the kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan. The victory against them was a foretaste of what God’s presence would do for Israel when they fought the Canaanites on the west side of the Jordan.
Even though Moses is not crossing the Jordan, the Lord will go with Israel. Moses promises that the Lord “will never leave you nor forsake you.” These promises guarantee Israel’s success. But, from their experience in the wilderness Israel also has learned, that the Lord’s presence also demands obedience and holiness. If Israel does not obey and refuses to follow the commands of the Lord, then his presence will turn on them as punishment and discipline. Israel at this point in history understands this concept. They are not so foolish (as future generations will be) to think that the guarantee that the Lord “will never leave you nor forsake you” meant they could do whatever they wanted and live however they chose. The Lord can still keep his promise to “never leave…nor forsake” a disobedient people, but his presence would bring discipline and punishment instead of prosperity and peace.