Today we move on to the Book of Joshua! In the first eight chapters of this amazing record we find that a new man is leading the nation of Israel: Joshua. He was Moses’ assistant for many years, but now that Moses is gone, he must take the lead. And he learns, and we learn, that what you cannot righteously run away from, will define who you are.
Joshua was an assistant to Moses from the time he was young. It isn’t specified as to how old he was there, but Jewish sources say that he was 19 at the Exodus from Egypt, 40 when he was one of the 12 spies sent into the Promised Land originally, and 59 years old here when we meet him.
He was Moses’ assistant for years and years. He performed lots of different leadership and sacred duties under Moses’ command, from leading a military battle against the Amalekites to going with Moses up the mountain to get the Ten Commandments. He saw everything, did some things, but was never solely in charge. He was a great “second in command” but did he have what it would take to be solely in charge?
That’s what happened here. The groundwork was laid, the inauguration ceremony held, the anointing oil came out, all before Moses disappeared. It wasn’t like it was a surprise, but the plan was clear: when Moses dies, Joshua will be in charge.
Have you ever been prepared to do something but when the reality hits it is a whole new, somewhat unanticipated experience? Did you ever take over a role for the first time and found that you weren’t as prepared for the new reality?
“I really need this job and I have to work it to support my family.”
“I just got married and now I’m a husband or wife.”
“I just had a baby and while I dreamed of being a parent, now I have to raise this little one.”
“I just graduated and now I’m off to live life as an independent adult. So how do I take care of myself…?”
That’s how Joshua felt when we read the first chapter of this book. He was in a role that he was prepared for somewhat, but that he couldn’t easily or righteously get out of.
What you do with what you cannot righteously run away from defines you.
So what got Joshua through this experience? He is now the earthly leader of the nation of Israel, poised on the cusp of actually entering and taking the Promised Land, the land of Canaan with close to two million people. Here are three necessities that Joshua found and you will find to be essentials for those positions, roles, in life that you cannot righteously get out of.
Vs. 2 “Moses, My servant, is dead.”
I always wondered why that was there. Until I realized that Joshua and everyone else needed that. Moses was taken, by God to a mountain top to see from a distance the Promised Land. But then he died there. And angels took his body and buried it somewhere they wouldn’t find it. So did he really die or did he disappear? He died.
You need to have as much clarity as you can find, in every role you are called to take and your identity in it. Are you really in charge? What’s the job description? Do you have power of attorney? Does everyone know that you are in the role you are called to, clearly communicated? Do you know your own identity? For Joshua to lead successfully, everyone, especially him, needed to have clarity.
Joshua was to lead the nation across the Jordan River, at flood stage. For people who didn’t have swimming lessons at the Y, they couldn’t do this without help. So God brought them across the river by similar means to the Red Sea crossing. God dried up the river, they walked across, took some souvenir rocks from the riverbed, and camped on the other side. The river closed in behind them.
Then God wanted them to circumcise the males, which hadn’t been done for a generation.
So Moses’ body was on the other side of the river. The river had closed up behind them. And the men were all scheduled for surgery, with angry, defensive people ready to fight with them. Guess what? They were all in.
You can embrace a role in life but not be all in. You can be half hearted about your job, your marriage, your ministry. And it will show. But when you’re all in, especially if you are forced to be all in, it gives you the focus you need. Joshua was focused.
Let God inform you, don’t try to inform Him. How did God inform Joshua? It took two different forms.
One, the Word of God.
“This book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe 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.” Verse 8.
That’s on a lot of Christian refrigerators but not always in a lot of Christian lives.
Two, the strategy (instruction) of the Holy Spirit.
I learned how to change brakes on a car from a few fine men! I collected the right tools to do that on my own. But one Friday afternoon I actually tried to change the front brakes on my car. I took the wheels off. Okay. But try as I might, I couldn’t get to the bolts that needed to come off. Man, they were on tight and I couldn’t quite reach them to get a good grip.
I was frustrated. I was tired. And I didn’t handle the experience very well. Don’t ask sweet Robin.
But that night as I drifted off to sleep, frustrated, I got a gracious picture from the Lord. I remembered and could see one of my teachers turning the car engine on and turning the steering wheel to expose the stubborn bolts. The next day I tried again, took the wheels off, turned it out, and I did it! Both sides! And I thanked the Lord because I couldn’t have done it if I hadn’t been reminded by Him of the strategy.
Joshua was given a strategy. Joshua 5.13-15 says:
“And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, a Man stood opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand. And Joshua went to Him and said to Him, ‘Are You for us or for our adversaries?’ “
This was God Himself coming and giving Joshua a strategy. How similar to Moses!
God will give you a specific strategy for handling your role. Do you have a very difficult child? God will show you the way. You can hear His strategy by the Holy Spirit directly, from your pastor, or hear it from your spouse or child. It may come by unlikely means but it will always be wise even if it’s strange. And this strategy was strange, especially considering that this was the largest and most difficult situation Joshua had ever faced.
“Be strong and of good courage.” God told this to Joshua three times in chapter one, and the leaders of the people repeated it once, to be strong and of good courage.
Strength here is from a Hebrew word that means to fasten, bond and harden. Sounds like Gorilla Glue. Grab it, become one with it, and keep it that way indefinitely. That’s strength.
Courage here means strong in the feet, swift footed. What happens when you’re scared? You hold back. But when you’re afraid but instead run straight at whatever it is, you’re courageous. God didn’t want Joshua to be afraid.
God wants you to fill your life with strength and courage. Bond with your challenging role and don’t hesitate, run straight ahead with His strategy guiding you.
Joshua wasn’t always named Joshua. He was born with the name “Oshea” which means a prayer for salvation or rescue. Moses changed his name to Jehoshua or Joshua, which means God will save and rescue. He went from a prayer to a promise, just in his name. And he led the nation in conquering and claiming new life.
Know what the name Joshua is in the Greek language? Jesus. Yes, Joshua was a type, a foreshadowing of the Savior and Lord Jesus.
What do you need today? Clarity? Commitment? Strategy? Or are you just in need of some Gorilla glue strength and swift footed courage in the face of fear? Remember, what you do with what you cannot righteously run away from defines you.
What God gave to Joshua, He will give to you!