You may be experiencing unforeseen and unwelcome changes in your life right now that are causing you to question your security. Take heart from God's message to Joshua . . . even when everyone and everything else forsakes you, He never will.
“Changing Of The Guard”
I invite your attention to the book of Joshua as we begin a series going back to the Old Testament as we jog through out continued studies of the bible.
There are unfortunately characters in the bible that we have relegated to one or two events. When we think of Daniel, if I were to throw his name out and ask you what is the first think that comes to your mind when I say Daniel, you would say: the lions den, Daniel and the lions den. If I say what comes to your mind when you hear the name Noah, you would think Noah and the flood, or Noah and the ark. When I throw out the name Joshua you are going to scratch your head for a minute for he is not quite familiar. But evidently you are going to say O, that’s right, Joshua and the battle of Jericho. That’s the one thing we remember him for.
Well I trust as we discover together in His word as we study we are going to find so many things that are going to be hard to contain them within our sessions each Sunday morning. In fact, I am entering the book of Joshua myself for the first time and not knowing exactly where to jump in and how long it is going to take, we are going to cover I think the first 6 verses this morning.
Joshua, let’s start with his birthplace that is not found in the book of Joshua by way of historical background. He was of course borne in the land of Egypt, under the rule of Pharaoh, his name Hoshea. according to Numbers 13 originally meant salvation, somewhere along the line Moses changed his name to Yehoshua, in the contracted form Yoshua. In our English you call him Joshua. That means Jehovah is salvation.
Now if you think back in your minds what it must had been liked to grow up in Egypt. Obviously, his childhood experiences were anything but pleasant. I hear a lot about the talk of what it must had been liked in your home, sometimes I wonder just how biblical it was if that indeed handicapped you because we look at a guy like Joshua. And he grew up under incredibly oppressed times. He saw his father very little, in fact what he saw him was would be a bloody man coming home at night after serving under a task master that could care less for the Jew. So, undoubtedly his home was rather unusual., but he was on hand to see the return of a man named Moses. And to hear Moses and his message as he went to Pharaoh declared in great courage and faith Let my people go. And he waited with anticipation with all the others wondering what Pharaoh would do when as he repeatedly, of course said no.
1 Chronicles 7 informs us that Joshua was the firstborn in his family. His father, Nun, was his name. So knowing that he was the firstborn gives special meaning then to that Passover, that day when Moses came and said God wants you to take a lamb and slay it and take the blood annoy the door post so the first born will live and not die.
So there is Joshua waiting himself seeing his father by faith annoyed the door post with the blood of the lamb. And Joshua then is safed.
So early on you can tell his life is marked with hardship, with difficulty and yet the expressions of God’s faith. And a faithful man. Evidently he chose to accept the ways of Hebrew parents he had and followed the leading of God’s man. In fact, we read in Numbers 11:28, he was the attendant of Moses from the days of his youth.
Other things would mark this man before we take a look at him in Joshua 1. Let me give you for the sake of your study several things that would develop him as Moses assistant.
The 1st would be the war with Amalek (Exodus 17:8-16) Moses turned to Joshua and ordered Joshua to lead the counter attack against the Amalekites. It was a battle he should had never won was stacked against him. The odds were stacked against him. But Joshua saw the supernatural power of God revealed as they defeated the Amalakites. He must had marked him well.
Of course another illustration of God’s faith and faithfulness would be when Joshua went with Moses on the mountain in Exodus 24. and Moses told the elders these words, wait her for us,until when we return to you. And the story goes on to tell that when they returned from the mountain that experience of close communion with God even though Joshua was around the corner somewhere was unable to be part of intimacy of Moses shared with Jehovah. Yet the bible tells us that when they came back down off the mountain top it says this, that his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, would not depart from the tent. That is Joshua was so overwhelmed with Moses that he just wanted to stay with him after having being so closed to God.
What camaraderie He must had shared with Moses. . . a closed relationship as he would in affect serve Moses for nearly 80 years before he assumes the leadership post.
You know the joy of sharing faith and vision with someone else. You know the feeling of camaraderie that you have with someone who is sharing the same burden and heart with you. I know for myself it has been a thrill to see God has done here. I think it would be no far less thrilling had it not been for the privilege of sharing it with my wife. There has been times when I come home and my expression was so typical. You will never believe this. We could not believe what God has done and is doing. There were times especially in the early days after the first few months we would come home and we would sit down and look at each other and break out into laughter. We could not believe that was a camaraderie that made even the events of faith more precious. You add to that a professor you may have had, some close friend that shares your heart. That was Joshua and Moses. They were in it together. They were partners in faith.
One thing that marked him as well in continuing this introduction was his service as spy. Numbers 13-14. Turn and look at those verses. Together with me in chapter 14, verses 7-10, this is Joshua responds to a people that will not go into the land because of fear. this is wear he begins to immerse as a man of faith himself. The land which we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. If the Lord is pleased with us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us - a land which flows with milk and honey. 9. only do not rebel against the Lord, and do not fear the people of the land, for they shall be our prey. Their protection has been removed from them, and the Lord is with us; do not fear them. 10. but all the congregation said to stone them with stones.
Joshua’s response here in faith is very, very important. It tells us many things,
1. he wasn’t intimidated by God’ enemies. . .he relied on God for success in conquering the land.
2. Tells us as well that Joshua wasn’t the kind of man that was swayed by the majority vote. 10 spies did this, 2 spies said this. And he was in the minority. But it did not matter. He stuck to it.
3. He wasn’t afraid to warn the people of sinning look at the first part of verse 9. only do not rebel against the Lord. He was a man of conviction.
4. And also he did not resign his post because the people wouldn’t listen to him. He didn’t at that point say Moses I did my best and I put my life on the line, no thanks, this is where I get off the train.
So I think the next thing in the progression of Joshua is obvious. He is appointed by God. Look over at Deuteronomy 31: 14-16, what I like about Joshua as far as I can tell in this study that I have done this far, is that Joshua was not the terribly excited guy. He is not the guy you would automatically assumed would lead 2 million people. Joshua was a plodder, he was a down to earth kind of man who was concerned and convinced that all he really needed to do was to obey God. Nothing really flashy about this guy, he just simply obeyed.
What was qualifying Joshua to lead?
We are going to discover that in this passage. Let me give you some things if you are taking the notes in your worship folder.
Joshua was qualified for he learned several lessons of leadership.
1. He learned that his promotion to leadership was God’s decision.
Joshua would lead the people, not because he put his name in the hat. Not because he had the most votes, but because God choose him to lead.
Look at Deuteronomy 31:14, then the Lord said to Moses, Behold the time for you to die is near; call Joshua, and present yourself at the tent of meeting, that I may commission him” So Moses and Joshua wen and presented themselves at the tent of meeting. And the Lord appeared in the tent in a pillar of cloud and the pillar of clouds stood at the doorway of the tent. Joshua why are you going to leave these people? Because God chose it that way.
Now this does a couple of things, men and women.
1. It discourages fleshly efforts.
It discourages among God’s people ambition. In fact the Latin word for ambition could be divine as canvassing for promotion. Happens all the time on the job, where you work. Somebody in that office guaranteed that every time the boss comes around and sees, they sit up straight and work a little harder, smile, its a wonderful day. You know in your heart and everybody else does it that guy is canvassing for a promotion. As soon as the boss leaves, the truth comes out. Right? It happens in the church as well, people reveal their piety to others so that people can go oohs and aahs. In reality, they are canvassing for votes. Are we impressed? The trouble is we are often are.
I think it does something else, realizing this not only discourages fleshly efforts,
2. it encourages failing hearts.
There isn’t a leader alive who hasn’t questioned God. . .Am I really supposed to be teaching this class? Am I really supposed to be directing this ministry? Am I really supposed to be the one out front? Do you know what the answer is? Not that you are the most qualified, or the most talented, or the most gifted, the answer you hear from God in this passage is you are there because I chose you to be.
I think it also encourages the person who may not be a leader. Aren’t leaders more special to God - no they are not. Don’t leaders have a direct line to God more than those who follow? No they don’t. Don’t leaders have God’s real attention? No. Do you know why you are leading? Because God choose you to. Do you know why you are not in a position of leadership? Because God chose you not to.
I think the second lesson on leadership is this:
* He was aware that leadership involved hardship.
Before we get into verse 16 , I just want to tell you this is a very exciting event in Joshua’s life. He is about to be commissioned into the ministry of leading these people. One of the most exciting things that happened to our church was when we set aside two men who were called into the ministry we commissioned them. I remember in my own life, 20 pastors and professors got around and it was a great day when I was ordained and everything is exciting and they are positive and you are on cloud 9. Look at verse 16. And the Lord said to Moses,commencing services for Joshua Behold, you are about to lie down with your fathers; and this people will arise and (follow Joshua) play the harlot with the strange gods of the land, into the midst of which they are going, and will forsake Me and break My covenant which I have made with them.
Imagine you’re Joshua, hey this is great news. Wow, I am so happy to be leading these peoples. As soon as Moses die, they are going to rebel. Thanks Lord. I am not wired to take jobs like this. Just be real for a second here, I know it is Sunday morning, but imagine you’ve just taken a coaching job and as soon as you take it a voice from heaven says you won’t win one game. Wow, that is the kind of coaching job I want to have. We all want to be on the winning team. Yesterday, I had the third experience of watching my two 5 year old boys scamper back and forth on that soccer field and I am screaming at the top of my lungs, no one knowing that I am a preacher, and I want to keep it that way. And they got this rule, don’t keep score, nobody keeps score. These are 5 year olds who wants them to play to win. Believe me I do. I want them to play to win. . .excuse me, the truth is out I want them to have fun and to enjoy themselves and on along the sidelines you hear these parents what’s the score, what’s the score. I am not part of that. But we won 2 and tied 1. Just for your information.
You need to understand as Joshua entered this that the people of Israel will never captured the land that God has promised them. Never. Joshua will learn then, very quickly that leadership involves hardship.
3rd lesson, he would understand that leadership hinges on accountability to scripture.
Turn over to Deuteronomy 34:9. Now Joshua the son of Nun was filled with the spirit of wisdom.
Not the Holy Spirit, not a capital H or S, but the spirit of wisdom. Wisdom in the Bible never relates to intellectual capacity. Never I Q. Wisdom in the word always relates to the person who understands the scripture and who obeys the scriptures. Joshua was committed to knowing the book and obeying the book. Pure and simple. Ladies and gentlemen, there isn’t one person in this room who isn’t capable of being a wise person.
As great as Moses was, the overwhelming epitaph, you look at the last chapter of Deuteronomy and the 1st chapter of Joshua, three times in 10 verses you will hear the phrase Moses . . . my servant. Deuteronomy tells us that there is no greater leader in the land and there will never be anyone as great until the one later than Moses come, reference to Jesus Christ. Moses is a great man. What does God say? Moses my servant, Moses my servant, 3 times. That is, he knows the word and he obeys the word.
And Joshua had that same spirit of obedience in him. In fact, you know the very familiar phase in Joshua and hangs in many of your living room and dining rooms, that little plague that says As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Who said that? Joshua. That wasn’t a newly wed statement. Joshua said that when he was 95 years of age. It wasn’t like he said that thinking that life is rosy, going to be wonderful, no bumps. He said that after he had been through life. What we need ladies and gentlemen, is for people in their 40s and 50s and 60s to clarify, As for me and my house, now that I know what the battle is all about, now that I understand pressure like never before, we will serve the Lord.
The announcement comes to Joshua.
We are in Joshua 1:1, Now it came about after the death of Moses the servant of the Lord that the Lord spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ attendant, saying Moses my servant is dead.
Look back just a page of Deuteronomy 34, last chapter verse 5,6, tells us a little about that day. So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord, and He buried him in the valley in the land of Moab.
No one was present but God. . .God performed the funeral, God buried the body. No body knows where he did it. Now the Lord delivers to young Joshua the message, Joshua, Moses is dead.
We ought to add to that list of lessons on leadership one other one, right hear. A leader is not irreplaceable. He is not indispensable. You will find that in the book of Joshua, that God is not handicapped because of Moses died. In fact the bible tells us that he died according to the word of the Lord. The last chapter of Deuteronomy tells us that his eye was not dimmed, his health was not abated, he was ready and wearing to go. But he died. Why? Because God said, the end of your life is here.
God’s plans are not tied down necessarily to people. He uses us in His sovereign grace. But when you take someone off the scene or someone to heaven, His plans never change. They do not even hiccup. One of the great lessons of leadership of your leadership that you are not indispensable. God can have someone else take your place. So God is not shook up from what the rest of God’s word to Joshua in chapter 1 is obviously that Joshua is shooked up. In fact, 4 times in chapter 1, God says, be strong and courageous. God doesn’t say that because Joshua is filled with courage, but He says that because Joshua is lacking courage. Be strong Joshua. Don’t tremble. Be courageous. The last phrase of chapter 1, be strong and courageous. Why is this? Because Moses or Joshua is evidently filled with fear. Terrified. Two million people. Why do you think he would be afraid? This kind of problem I prompt my feet on the desk and I begin to think, Why was Joshua so terrified? I got some suggestions,
1. let me suggest that the death of a national leader usually can create a crisis!
Perhaps you heard the news and were living then, FDR is dead. . . and everyone wondered I am sure that day, if Truman take up the ball and run with it.
Eighteen years later, the announcement came over the radio, John F. Kennedy has been assassinated. Johnson was sworn in. Creates such an amount of crisis in the hearts of people who followed. From the human point of view transition from Moses this servant of God, this man who has been down the road, is now dead. And now is goes Joshua. How much experience leading the people? Just about zero. Can he do it?
Let me suggest another thing.
The death of a popular leader can produce a conflict in the people.
Now we know that Israel mourned for thirty days. . .the death of Moses, that is no small thing and they were not professional mourners. This was the grieving of a nation over a beloved leader. Sometimes I am sure he wondered if might had been shocked to discover that they mourned for him for 30 days. But they did. They loved him, he was a great leader. You think about it for a moment. Who was the president after Abraham Lincoln? Who was the prime minister after Winston Churchill? These men just seemed to over shadow epitaphs of history.
Joshua undoubtedly is imitated by the fact that the great leader now has left his sandals and somehow Joshua, is he supposed to fill them? What more in the 1st chapter of Joshua even though it is to introduce Joshua, Moses is mentioned 11 times. I am sure there was a conflict in Joshua’s mind because he had this 40 year old memory. He remembers coming back with that report telling the people we can take the land. God is good, if He is pleased with us, we can conquered. What did the people do? They picked up stones (he is thinking, wait a second, 40 years ago they did not follow me, I could not influence them, why will I be able to now?) I can just imagine the old critics saying, Joshua, lead , ha ha, Joshua. Have you ever balked at ministry? Or leadership? If only I had her voice. If only I had his connections. If only I had her gifts. If only I had her personality. If only, if only, if only. What and if only game Joshua could had played there as he is commissioned by God and given this ministry.
Would you take a look again at Joshua 1:2 Moses, my servant is dead; God says. Whatever will we do now. or Moses my servant is dead, Joshua, you try as best as you can to be like him.
You will notice in this chapter that God never tells Joshua to measure up to Moses. God never will tell Joshua act like him, fills his shoes. O no. In fact as we get into the next session, God tells Joshua to measure to the word.
Let me suggest another one, the death of an effective leader can destroy continuity.
By going to one of the main points that God’s communication to Joshua in chapter 1 is this, Joshua, leaders may die. . .but I do not. Joshua, leaders will change. . .but I won’t, there is a continuity in God’s plan. His purposes and his plans cannot be obstructive. He will have his sovereign way. Moses’ people will change, my purposes will never change. There is a continuity as a God’s character, because He never changes. I like one man who said this, God doesn’t make plans. . .He’s always had plans.
Look at how God establishes the promise of continuity, look at verse 2 of chapter 1, Moses, My servant is dead, now therefore arise, cross this Jordan, you and all this people to the land which I am giving to them, to the sons of Israel. Every place on which the sole of your foot treads, I have given it to you, just as I spoke to Moses.
From the wilderness and this Lebanon, even as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and as far as the Great Sea toward the setting of the sun, this will be your territory.
No man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you, I will not fail you nor forsake you. Joshua, will you fail? Yes, but God won’t. 6. Be strong and courageous, for you shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to your fathers to give them.
7. Only be strong and very courageous. skip to verse 9. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous, do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you where you go. skip to verse 18, the last phrase. only be strong and courageous.
Well that is wonderful for Joshua, what about me?
Hebrews 13: 5, 6, Jesus Christ says to His beloved, I will never leave you nor forsake you. The writer then says, Hence I will say the Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid, what can man do to me?
Has God put some of your plans to death. Has He smashed your security, your crutch.
For nearly 80 years, Joshua had depended upon Moses,
for 80 years, Joshua had heard God speak through Moses,
for 80 years, Joshua had followed Moses, he had gotten directions from Moses, now Moses is dead,
In Chapter 1 there stands Joshua, not a man of great courage, but a man trembling, feeling all along. And God says to Joshua, Moses is gone, but I’m not.
Perhaps He wants you to hear the same message this morning. I will never leave you nor forsake you, therefore the basis of that be strong and very courageous.