Text: Exodus 33:7-11
As we begin this series, and we look at the way in which God prepared Joshua, I want to ask you and challenge you; what are you being prepared for? Joshua we are told is the son of Nun, of the tribe of Ephraim. Joshua is a type of Christ, not only in name, but also in his calling and life.
We see Joshua mentioned in several occasions prior to the crossing of the Jordan, and each one of these has a lesson for us today. The first time we read about Joshua is in Exodus 17; in this fascinating account we read that as the Children of Israel were camping at Rephidim, the Amalekites attacked them. Moses called on a young man named Joshua. He told Joshua to take some men and go out and fight the Amalekites. As the battle ensued, Moses went and stood on top of a hill with the staff of God in his hands, as long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites won were winning. As Moses grew tired, Aaron and Hur held up his hands and they also put a rock under him to sit on. The battle raged until sunset and in verse 13 we read that; “Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword”. But in v14 we read something interesting; “Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it.” God used the battle, so that he could teach the people and Joshua an important lesson. Joshua learned by this battle that the Lord is the one who fights for him and not himself. Joshua needed to learn this lesson before he would be able to take the Israelites across the Jordan and begin fighting for the Promised Land, because God would fight for them. Notice also that Joshua didn’t complain or try to defer to someone else he did as he was told, and he was obedient.
That is the first character trait we need to learn from Joshua, he was obedient.
The next reference to Joshua is in Numbers 11. The Spirit of God had come on 70 elders, who prophesied, and then there were two elders who stayed back in the camp, who prophesied, and we read about a young man- Joshua; verse 28 says ; “Joshua son of Nun, who had been Moses’ aide since youth, spoke up and said, “Moses, my lord, stop them!” He was zealous for the things of the Lord and didn’t want to see Moses lose control or respect. Joshua was committed, he served without consideration for his own ambitions.
What about us today as Christians, do we serve Jesus because of our own ambitions or plans of making a name for ourselves? We need to serve with one ambition in mind, to make the name of Jesus known.
Then we see Joshua in Exodus 24, Moses is called by God up to the top of Mount Sinai to receive instructions and the Law. We read in verse 13; “Then Moses set out with Joshua his aide, and Moses went up on the mountain of God…” Evidently Joshua did not go the whole way with Moses, but waited on the slopes of the mountain for his master. Joshua patiently waited on his own for 40 days and nights. What a test of his faith and character. We know too that the Israelites were also waiting, and after some time, they began to think Moses had died, so they asked Aaron to make gods for them to worship. We read this in chapter 32. This is when the people gave Aaron all their jewelry and he fashioned a golden calf for them to worship, things quickly got out of hand. But Joshua passed the test – he remained faithful and did not doubt God.
How well do you do when God is silent? Do you look for ways to solve the problem yourself? Do you doubt God? Joshua – the man God uses, is one who trusts in spite of the circumstances and surrounding uncertainty.
Then in the following chapter of Exodus, chapter 33, we see that Moses set up a tent and it became a prayer room, people could come to the tent and ask the Lord when they had situations or concerns in their lives. When Moses came to the tent of meeting, the pillar of cloud would come down and God would speak to Moses. In the 11th verse we read a key note on Joshua; “Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent. “Joshua spent time with the Lord in prayer, he stayed in the tent of meeting. He was being prepared by God. It is absolutely vital for us as Christians to develop our own habit of spending time with God. Find your own tent of meeting, spend time with God. It will revolutionize your life.
The next time we see Joshua mentioned is in Numbers 13, when the Lord told Moses to send 12 spies into Canaan to spy out the land that He was going to give to them. The 12 spies were leaders from each of the 12 tribes including a man by the name of Hoshea son of Nun from the tribe of Ephraim. We go on to read in verse 16 of Numbers 13 that Hoshea’s name was changed to Joshua by Moses. This is significant. Hoshea means; “the one who saves” and Moses changed his name to Joshua meaning; “the Lord Saves” or the Lord our salvation – hence the name Jesus which is the Greek form of Joshua. Moses changing his name was putting a new identity on him, making it clear to all who called him by this name that the strength of Joshua was not in himself, but in the Lord.
We know the story; the spies went out and came back after 40 days with news of a wonderful land filled with terrible giants. All but two of the spies came back with tales of an impossible task, but then we have Joshua and Caleb, men who agreed that there were giants, but with God’s help the land can be taken. That is Faith!
When you look to the future do you fear the giants? The giants of the unknown, the lack of finances, lack of resources. Sure they may all be there but if the Lord has given you the land, you dare not say that it is impossible.
Joshua displayed courage, here he was from a lesser tribe, standing against 10 other leaders and saying that they were wrong. Joshua was a man of courage.
So we see in this brief look at the preparation of Joshua, five characteristics of this great man of God.
- Obedience – as he took up the sword and defeated the Amalekites, he did not question or doubt.
- Selfless – as he served Moses and made sure that Moses was protected when the Elders began prophesying in the camp.
- Faith – when Moses was gone up the mountain for 40 days, Joshua waited in faith and did not sin.
- Prayer – Joshua was always in the tent of meeting – praying and developing a relationship with God.
- Courage – Joshua stood against the popular opinion of the other spies
But this is not just a story of a man who lived thousands of years ago the principles apply to us in the 21st century. What is God preparing you for? You are never too old or too young to be used by God. He is preparing you today for tomorrow.
The characteristics that Joshua displayed need to become the characteristics of our lives.
But these 5 characteristics are impossible to do in your own strength there is something that needs to take place first; you need a name change. Joshua had a name changed, before he was commissioned and put to work. You need to be born again. When you say yes to Jesus and make him the Lord of your life, you get a new name, a seal, a deposit – the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit enables you to walk out these 5 characteristics that we see in the life of Joshua, and we see in the lives of many other people who have taken the words of Jesus Seriously.
So what is God calling you to do? What is he preparing you for tomorrow? The church, needs Joshua’s; people of courage and faith who will lead fellow Christians into the future.