Moses was a rare leader with remarkable foresight. Most of Israel’s righteous judges and kings did not think to train worthy successors to their leadership. Moses was an exception. From the small group of young men who gravitated to Moses, Joshua was chosen as Moses’ right hand man. And God instructed Moses to constantly encourage Joshua and charge him with responsibility.
Joshua was not given a brief training period and then catapulted immediately into Israeli leadership. We are not sure exactly how long he was mentored by Moses, but it may have been close to forty long years. During this time, Joshua attended to the menial needs of Moses as well as to greater challenges and opportunities. Though most of Joshua’s early duties were of a civilian nature, he did lead Israel’s forces against the Amalekites early in the wilderness journey. He also had the awesome privilege of hiking with Moses up Mount Sinai when Yahweh dictated to the great leader the tablets of the Law. Experiences such as these must have had a terrific impact on Moses’ willing young assistant. Another glimpse of Joshua’s character is evident when he returned with other Israeli spies sent to assess Canaan. Only he and one other young man expressed the faith that God could defeat the Canaanites and give them the land.
It was a well-seasoned, mature Joshua who finally led the Hebrews into Canaan at Moses’ death. From the very beginning, he was characterized by boldness, courage, and uncompromising consecration to God.
Shortly before his first battle, General Joshua was again commissioned by a mysterious figure calling himself the ‘Commander of the Lord’s army.’ Undoubtedly, this experience further empowered the new leader to face the upcoming battles with boldness and faith.
Space does not allow description of each battle Joshua led for the Hebrew people. Suffice it to say that, because of Joshua’s godly example to the Hebrews and his implicit obedience to God, the land of Canaan was largely subdued and settled by God’s people.
Joshua did neglect in one case to consult God before a major decision. When the nearby Hivites from Gibeon pretended to be distant admirers seeking peace, Joshua signed a peace treaty without inquiring of the Lord. Yet Joshua never appears like King Saul, a leader who blatantly did his own thing, in spite of instructions from the great prophet, Samuel. Thus, in Joshua’s case, though God disapproved, he certainly didn’t banish Joshua from leadership.
Joshua reflected that courage and coolheaded character that wins fierce battles of any sort. The general’s attitude was humbly obedient to a God he’d become well acquainted with through Moses, a mentor who actually knew God face to face. That is why, shortly before his death, Joshua could unequivocally declare to the people, “Choose you this day which god you will serve; as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.”
What can we learn from Joshua?
Joshua’s attitude toward God was always characterized by calm, unflinching confidence. Early on, he had made a decision that, whatever happened, he and his family would serve Yahweh alone. Despite our failings, we always should try to maintain an attitude toward God that moves forward no matter how overwhelming the obstacles or enemies appear.
Bible Verses about Joshua
Exodus 17:9-14, 24:13, 32:17; Numbers 11:28, 26:65, 27:18-22, Deuteronomy 1:38, 3:21, 28, 34:9; Joshua 1-24; Judges 1:1, 2:6-8, 21, 23, 1 Kings 16:34
What questions does this help to answer?
- Who was Joshua in the Bible?
- What’s the story of Joshua and Jericho?
- How did Joshua lead Israel?
- How did God help Joshua?
- How can we serve God alone?
Steve Fortosis served for six years as youth minister in several parishes. Meanwhile he was also working toward his masters, then his doctorate in religious education. Through the years he has enjoyed teaching on the college and seminary levels and writing professionally. He has published a number of books including story and prayer compilations, missionary biography, Biblical character biography, devotional lit, children’s lit, and even stories of Bible translation. Presently he resides in Florida with his wife, Debra, where he teaches part-time and writes on a free-lance basis.Steve Fortosis