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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

What is the book of Joshua about?

            In Exodus 24:13, it is written that Joshua served Moses. Later, in Exodus 33:11, Joshua is called a "servant." How did Joshua rise from being a "servant" to being the leader of the conquest? What was it like to "play second fiddle" to Moses? And why did God choose Joshua to replace Moses?
 
 JOSHUA'S FIRST ROLE - PROTECTING THE PEOPLE OF GOD (Exodus 17:8-16):
 
            We do not know what type of education Joshua had. We suppose that he did not study military science in Egypt! He did not go to a war college. But when we see him for the first time in Exodus 17, when Israel needed to fight against the Amalekites, Moses appointed Joshua to lead the soldiers.
 
            Early in Joshua's life we see the Christian virtue expressed by Jesus in Mark 9:35: "If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all!"
 
 
JOSHUA'S SECOND ROLE - SPYING OUT THE LAND (Numbers 13:16; 14:6, 30, 38):
 
            Do you remember Shammua, Shaphat, Igal, Palti, Gaddiel, Gaddi, Ammiel, Sethur, Nahbi, Geuel? Do you know them? How about Joshua and Caleb? Why do you not remember the others? Why do we remember Caleb and Joshua? Is it not because Caleb and Joshua were believers in God and returned to the Israelites with the optimistic message?
 
          In Joshua, we see the willingness to play second fiddle to Moses. However, he is not a "second fiddle" believer! He had faith in God, optimism, willingness to see through to completion the commandment of God. He had the courage to confront the majority with the message: "Don't deceive yourselves! The way to the promises of God is not behind us - in Egypt! They are ahead of us in the promised land!"
 
          Jesus promised his good and faithful servants: "if you are faithful in the little things, I will put you over many things" (Matthew 25:21). Joshua served God and did everything that Moses commanded him, and in the end, God gave Joshua a much greater responsibility.
 
 JOSHUA'S COMMISSION - (Numbers 27:15-23):
 
            At the end of the book of Numbers, the Israelites are at the point of entering into the Promised Land. In Numbers 27, God tells Moses that he will die and he has to name someone to take the helm.  The task fell to Joshua.
 
            In Numbers 27:18, God tells Moses the reason why He chose Joshua: "Take Joshua, the son of Nun, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand on him." After that God gave Joshua "some of Moses' authority" (vs 20). The word literally means majesty. Now, Joshua has authority over Israel (vs 21).
 
            At the beginning, Joshua was only a servant. Now, forty years later, he receives the responsibility to lead Israel into the Promised Land.
 
            If we are faithful in the small things, God will give us great things - that is, greater responsibilities. But the key is to follow God totally, even in the small things! If we don't follow Him totally in the small things, He has no basis to trust that we will follow totally in the big things (Joshua 8:35; 11:15).
 
--Paul Holland
 

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