Humble Beginnings: Joshua
Most of Joshua’s life was spent in the Wilderness with Moses and the rebellious Israelites. He started his leadership training as a young man. Moses saw something in him that stood above Aaron and many other leaders that surrounded Moses. What was the difference between Joshua and the other men?
The Spirit was in him.
“The LORD replied to Moses, ‘Take Joshua son of Nun, a man who has the Spirit in him, and lay your hands on him.’” – Numbers 27:18
There are some people that stand out in our minds as extra special. They may have a gifting that shines through them, even at a young age. While working in a school for a time, I was fascinated at the leadership qualities that stood out among some of the children. I could feel the Spirit working in them. The Lord’s joy would radiate through them. Their wisdom would surpass their years. Their discernment and listening ear would keep them safe and guide them in the right way.
“Let no one despise your youth; instead, you should be an example to the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” – 1 Timothy 4:12
Joshua was such an example. He lived with faith and passion for the Lord, even when many of the people of Israel did not. It was his faith that allowed him to live beyond the generation that came out of Egypt and into the promised land. He and one other spy that scoped out the land of Canaan believed that the Israelites had the power, by God alone, to conquer the giants that awaited them. They knew that the land was theirs by the promised word of God. Yet, the other spies that were with them riled the Israelites to turn against them and doubt. Caleb and Joshua tore their clothes and grieved at this, their faith withstanding the culture’s temptations to do otherwise.
There were times when Joshua was tested. He fought against Amalek while Moses, Aaron, and Hur stood on the mountaintop with Moses’ hands and staff lifted high. He led the Israelites in other battles throughout the wilderness as the Lord directed in order to gain ground and move towards the promised land.
Then there were moments when the Lord provided counsel and shelter for him. It seemed like basic everyday training. Before the Israelites built the tabernacle, people were allowed to enter the tent of meeting in order to consult the Lord on certain matters. When Moses would enter it, the Lord would meet with him face to face.
“The Lord spoke with Moses face to face, just as a man speaks with his friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his assistant, the young man Joshua son of Nun, would not leave the inside of the tent.” – Exodus 33:11
No matter who came or went, Joshua stayed inside the tent to help govern the use of it. Oh, the things he must have learned while he waited and worked in that tent.
There were also moments of complete privilege for Joshua. Moses and all the elders of Israel were summoned to come before the Lord at the base of the mountain of God to offer sacrifices and worship Him. Then, Moses was called to come up the mountain to meet with the Lord. He would spend 40 days and 40 nights in the Lord’s glorious cloud learning about the ten commandments and a whole host of other orders the Lord instructed him with. But it said that Moses also brought Joshua part way up the mountain with him: Only Moses and Joshua. What was Joshua doing that entire time? Was he fasting and praying for Moses and the people of Israel? Could he hear part of what the Lord and Moses were talking about?
“The Lord said to Moses, “Come up to Me on the mountain and stay there so that I may give you the stone tablets with the law and commandments I have written for their instruction.”
So Moses arose with his assistant Joshua and went up the mountain of God. He told the elders, “Wait here for us until we return to you. Aaron and Hur are here with you. Whoever has a dispute should go to them.” When Moses went up the mountain, the cloud covered it. The glory of the Lord settled on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days. On the seventh day He called to Moses from the cloud. The appearance of the Lord’s glory to the Israelites was like a consuming fire on the mountaintop. Moses entered the cloud as he went up the mountain, and he remained on the mountain 40 days and 40 nights.” – Exodus 24:12-18
Though Joshua witnessed so much corruption from the Israelites, his faith in the Lord only continued to grow. He remained humble and passionate for the Lord and His plans. He learned all that he could from Moses and the Lord. He waited decades for the moment that his time of leadership would come.
“I commanded Joshua at that time: Your own eyes have seen everything the Lord your God has done to these two kings. The Lord will do the same to all the kingdoms you are about to enter. Don’t be afraid of them, for the Lord your God fights for you. – Deuteronomy 3:21-22
Moses had made a grave mistake. His anger got the best of him and his right to lead the people into the promised land was taken away. However, his humble assistant Joshua was about to receive that privilege. He had served the Lord faithfully alongside Moses. He had learned all the commandments and instructions. He had trained for the battles he would face by showing himself faithful in trusting the Lord with the ones he had already fought. Moses’ time was coming to an end and Joshua’s was about to begin.
“The Lord commissioned Joshua son of Nun, “Be strong and courageous, for you will bring the Israelites into the land I swore to them, and I will be with you.” – Deuteronomy 31:23
Joshua served his time in training in the wilderness. He was patient. He was always seen as Moses’ assistant: second best. But in the quiet waiting and learning, he was gaining respect from the Israelites. They were familiar with him. They respected Moses as a leader and it was going to take someone strong and well engrained in listening to the Lord to lead the people into the Promised Land.
You see, the battle would transfer from trying to not only lead the Israelites, but also fight and conquer the land of the Canaanites. Joshua had been there before. He and Caleb were the only ones that knew what they were up against. But he trusted the Lord to guide him. He had seen the Lord’s faithfulness throughout the wilderness and knew greatness was ahead. He held onto hope.
The Lord and Moses encouraged Joshua on various occasions to “be strong and courageous”, and to “not be afraid”. The Lord would go before him, as He had so faithfully done many times before. He didn’t have to fear the leadership. He had trained for decades under Moses, now he was about to lead and serve under the leadership of Yahweh Himself.
Because he never gave up or turned from the Lord, he led the people well until his very death.
“Israel worshipped Yahweh throughout Joshua’s lifetime and during the lifetimes of the elders who outlived Joshua and who had experienced all the works Yahweh had done for Israel” – Joshua 24:31
Are you in training right now? Is there someone that you respect that you’re walking alongside in this stage of your life? And/or are you discipling someone else? It is what this life is all about. We are supposed to be learning from our elders and training the younger generations to thirst after the Lord; to understand His word and ways, and to desire an intimate relationship with Him. What a legacy we can leave when we faithfully fulfill what the Lord asks of us. Remember it is not by your own power but by His strength and courage that we fight our battles and conquer our “promised lands”.
Joshua had an incredible time of leadership because he faithfully endured his Humble Beginnings.