5 minutes reading time (976 words)

Trust the Lord - Joshua


This week our daily readings will carry us into the book and the major portion of the story of Joshua. His is a very familiar story. His exploits and accomplishments are of heroic proportion. After all, he is the one that finally leads the nation of Israel into the Promised Land. He is the supreme commander of their entire military as it defeats every opponent. He is numbered with a very small group of people that are responsible for the preservation of the Lord's people. 

And yet, there is something very unique about Joshua. Unlike the deliverers that came before and after Joshua, his introduction is completely unheralded. As far as we know, the Lord does not personally commission him into action as with Noah. God didn't initially instruct him personally as with Abram. Joshua's appearance wasn't prophesied in advance. As far as we know he was not instructed in a dream, he was never anointed, and he didn't wrestle any angels. 

Joshua more or less just showed up, no credentials, no references; he was just the son of Nun, and given the absence of any obvious noteworthy pedigree, that name just somehow seems to fit. By the way, pardon the lame Nun pun because the truth of the matter is that even though we know nothing else about them, Mr. and Mrs. Nun must have been some rather remarkable parents. They grew up in slavery, endured the hardships involved with the exodus, and somehow managed to raise young Hoshea into a man that Moses would one day recognize to be a courageous leader who was totally devoted to God. After all, it was Moses who would give Hoshea the name Joshua, which means Yahweh is salvation.

Having suggested a possible lack of noteworthy pedigree, there is a rather subtle oddity in Joshua's family tree that begs mention. When the 12 spies were selected, we learned that Joshua was of the tribe of Ephraim (Numbers 13:8). Remember that the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh were descended from the sons of Joseph that were born in Egypt. Recall also the puzzling incident near the time of Jacob's death. The occasion was when Joseph brought his two sons to Jacob for a blessing. However, much to Joseph's displeasure, Jacob insisted on placing precedence on Ephraim rather than Manasseh who was the firstborn. Joseph assumed a mistake on his father's part, but Jacob insisted and explained that the younger brother Ephraim would be the greater. Perhaps Ephraim's descendent Joshua is prophesied after all.

Nonetheless, as we return to the actual introduction of Joshua into Hebrew history, the occasion is without any pomp or circumstance. Joshua's entrance onto the scene is without benefit of any prior background or reference check (except as we learn later, Joshua serves as Moses' aide). We are simply introduced to Joshua for the first time by reading (Exodus 17:9) that "Moses said to Joshua, 'Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites…'". And for the record, this first episode with Joshua is quite impressive as he completely overcomes the Amalekite army with the sword. And also for the record, the Lord wanted Joshua to know that it was to BE on the record. "Then the Lord said to Moses, 'Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it…" (Exodus 17:14). 

We learn after the fact that Joshua had been an aide to Moses from the time of his youth (Numbers 11:28) and it was apparently in this capacity that Joshua would be stationed at the tent of meeting (Exodus 33:11) and even accompany Moses on Mt Sinai (Exodus 24:13). But it was not until later that God tells Moses that Joshua will be the one to lead Israel into the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 1:38) and shortly thereafter God specifically tells Moses to commission him for this role (Deuteronomy 3:28). That must have been an imposing commissioning service. Picture in your mind as Moses summoned Joshua to him in the presence of ALL of Israel (Deuteronomy 31:7) and said "Be strong and courageous, for you must go with this people into the land that the LORD swore to their ancestors to give them…".

The rest, as they say, is history. Beginning in the first chapter of Joshua, the LORD now speaks to Joshua directly as he did to Moses. The LORD personally and repeatedly reminds Joshua to be Strong and Courageous. And Joshua, along with Caleb, become the only two people to have lived under the slavery of Egypt AND in the victorious freedom of the Promised Land. 

What is the takeaway from the life of Joshua? There are many, but consider this: There is a classic Norman Rockwell illustration entitled "Saying Grace". The scene appears to be from the 1950's. In the center of the frame a little old lady and her young grandson are bowed in prayer while seated at a small crowded table in a train station diner. Like most of Rockwell's illustrations, this one suggests a story. The pause and the study in the faces of the other people in the illustration convey a combination of curiosity and reverence. The surroundings suggest urgency, noise, trouble and distraction. To actually see this illustration would easily convey the balance of the 1000 words this illustration expresses. 

So the connection and the takeaway is this: no matter if it's the 2020s, the 1950s or 1300BC, dependence upon the LORD in all circumstances is the key. Whether young or old, or young with old, keep leaning into the LORD and into each other. Even if the times are troubled, or the resources limited, or the strength is questionable, or the future unknown, trust the LORD. Be Strong and Courageous; do not be afraid. The LORD goes with you each and every day. 

Joshua Trivia
Deuteronomy Trivia


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Wednesday, 01 December 2021

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