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Joshua is first seen in the Bible during this passage of scripture in Exodus. His life and story of faith, courage and leadership is a strong example for all. In the scripture we find Joshua being called by Moses, who was the current lead of the Israelites. Joshua will soon become the leader of the Israelites and see them through their journey over the Jordan River into the Promised Land. But first, Joshua must respond to his initial calling against the Amalekites. Joshua and the Israelites prevail in their battle at Rephidim. But of important note in this story are two important factors: First, Joshua would surely not have become a strong and successful leader of the Israelites if he had not responded to Moses’ call. Second, Moses, with the help of Aaron and Hur, kept his arms and staff in the air at all times during Joshua’s battle against the Amalekites.
As you serve over the next number of days, take this challenge upon yourself: what’s your purpose here? Surely, you must be here for a reason. You must be here because you were called by God for something big, right? Imagine being in Joshua’s shoes. In the process of twenty four hours, Joshua goes from being an unnamed and unknown member of the Israelites to being a leading fighter in an epic battle on the way to their freedom. Joshua, Moses, Aaron, Hur, and the Israelites were on a journey, on a mission. They were called and God had a role for each of them.
Moses gave the twelve spies specific instructions to check out the land and bring back proof of what the promised land looked like. The land was wonderful. It was everything they dreamed of and hoped for. God surely had something special in store for the Israelites, and they promised to conquer Canaan and establish residence there. However, there was a problem. Only two of the twelve spies (Joshua and Caleb) were optimistic and faithful enough to stand firm in their belief that God was calling them to something great, and that they had God’s favor on their side. The other ten spies focused on everything that was bad and challenging. They focused on the giants in the land, their strength and size. They saw themselves as grasshoppers and said they would surely be devoured by the land if they were to try to seize it. Joshua and Caleb stood firm in their belief that God had them right where he wanted them - ready to enter into Canaan and take hold of what God had promised. Surely, they were not going to let earthly challenges stop them from their destiny.
What is your perspective this week? Do you view your mission field a Canaan of sorts? No, you’re not going into a physical war, but there is a spiritual battle taking place. Do you believe that God has you and your team in your mission field for a real purpose? Are you focusing on everything that is positive and good about the land and effort? Or are you distracted by the challenges that you face? Will you let those challenges deter you from the greater good of loving God and loving others? Or will you chase after relationships, partnership, and ministry that lasts long beyond your time in this place?
Moses has just died. There’s a change in leadership. Joshua is up, it’s his turn. He has thousands of people looking at him and expecting him to direct them, as Moses had been doing. What happens next? Joshua hears from God. He listens to God, and God prepares his heart and mind for the next step in his journey. God repeatedly calls Joshua to strength and courage in chapter one of the book of Joshua. It’s a repeated theme throughout his life that we can see highlighted here. Joshua sets forth a plan for the Israelites to take hold of what God has promised to them within three days after God speaks to him here. Among the things that God states to Joshua is a message of strength, courage, and a lack of fear. He calls Joshua to extreme confidence in knowing that he is striving after something great. He has had training, he’s been prepared for this, and he’s ready to lead others into the truth that he is confident in. God also calls Joshua to faithfulness. He reminds Joshua that he needs to meditate on the book of the law, day and night, or all the time. Surely these messages from God are key in Joshua’s success as a leader of the Israelites.
Are you needing a reminder that strength and courage is key to your mission and effort his week? Maybe you are a Joshua - leading a group or being a student leader. Maybe you’re not a Joshua, maybe you’re one that Joshua is leading. Either way, we have lessons to learn from the introduction of the book of Joshua. We should all be striving for being fearless in ministry, being confident that God has prepared something special for us personally, special for our week serving in missions, and special for us in eternity.
It’s just like God to include a prostitute in the story of God’s people, making Rahab a staple in the discussion of how God uses broken, sinful people to do great things and to further the Kingdom. Rahab is recognized as a person of great faith. She risked her well being out of recognition that the Israelite’s had a powerful God on their side. Her decision to hide and assist the spies in their quest to conquer Jericho could have ended very badly for her. Rahab, as opposed to the rest of the population of Jericho, saw the Israelites as God’s chosen people, and she opened her heart to them.
The challenge and focus for us with this story is this: how many of us are guilty of sin and a life of worldly passion and desires? Sure, we’re likely not prostitutes, but we’re guilty of chasing after things that we think will fulfill us in this world: money, power, influence, and earthly satisfaction. The impressive thing we must recognize with Rahab is that she still had hope in her heart. God confirmed that, and the Israelites spared her life by the sign of the scarlet cord. That scarlet cord is now known as a sign of security, safety and obedience. We find later that everyone in Rahab’s house were spared, as a result of her obedience in the placement of the scarlet cord.
God does a great miracle in stopping the Jordan river, which was going to flood, and reminds the Israelites of his great power to do miracles. This was a glorious entry into the land they were working toward. While a heavy focus can justifiably be put on the miracle of the Jordan river being split apart, there are a few other important messages in this chapter. The night before the Israelites march into Canaan, Joshua directs all the people to consecrate themselves. Consecration is the process of preparing, setting aside, or making sacred something of religious or spiritual significance. In this situation, Joshua told the people that they are to bring themselves before God and make their hearts right, so that they were ready for the epic miracle and battle that lay ahead of them in crossing the Jordan and preparing for the battles in Canaan. Joshua also told the Israelites to keep their eyes on the ark of the covenant, which was the presence of God.
Whatever your day looks like tomorrow, take to heart the calling of Joshua and make it personal. Consecrate yourself. Tomorrow God will do great things. He may not stop a river from flowing, but you never know, he might! Your heart and mind need to be right with God, clear, and focused, so that you can comprehend His power, presence, and guidance. Focus on Him and follow his presence where He leads.
Although Joshua is known for his great leadership and faithfulness to God, he wasn’t perfect. Joshua ends up making a mistake in his leadership when the Gibeonites trick him and the other Israelite leaders into thinking they’re wanderers from a distant country. Because Joshua and the leaders of Israel didn’t inquire of the Lord (verse 14), they make a treaty which protects the Gibeonites, who are living in the Promised Land. Joshua, for a moment, relied to heavily on his own human nature instead of continually going to God and asking for discernment and wisdom.
How often do we do this same thing? We think we’re doing the right thing, but in the end, we realize we didn’t really consult God about it. Good decisions absent from God’s involvement are empty efforts. Had Joshua and the Israelites asked God about the Gibeonites, they would have had his leading and wisdom to guide their decision. Instead, the Gibeonites survived the Israelite conquest of Canaan. When we face challenges in our lives and strange situations, are we inquiring of God? Do we go to him even if we think we know what’s best?
Joshua did well. It’s that simple. God called him to something big, gave him great responsibility, and Joshua did well. He led the Israelites into Canaan, the Promised Land God had said they would inherit. In his elderly years he leaves words of wisdom and a challenge to the people he was leading. We, too, can be challenged by Joshua’s words here. We must reflect on our accomplishments, recognize that God has done something great through us, and encourage others to be faithful to the Lord. How great would it be to die a death like Joshua? Knowing that we had fully accomplished God’s calling?
As you finish your effort serving God this week, challenge yourself to look at who’s following you. Maybe you’re not a “leader,” but people are watching you. Do they see you being faithful to Jesus, as Joshua was? Do you make a profound and courageous statement with your words and actions to continually follow the Lord? Will you die happy knowing that you’re living right with God? Do your best. Follow God’s calling. Passionately pursue the promises of God.
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