Happy Father’s Day!
While it seems I often hear that it is a tough time to be a dad, I want to let you know that I think it is an amazing time to be a dad! We live in times that are ripe with opportunities for us to invest in our kids and model godliness, community and faith. In a day where so much of our world has NOT embraced their Creator, we have a chance to raise kids that are truly lights.
Today I want us to look at a great model for us as men. His name is Joshua.
There is a book named after him, but the contents of that book are mainly what takes place AFTER Joshua is appointed as a leader. Unlike Moses, whose story we followed from birth, to basket, to begrudging leader to dying breaths on a mountain at age 120, Joshua’s history before leadership comes in small pieces scattered throughout the Pentateuch.
It is the life Joshua lived UP TO that point of being commissioned as a leader that made him the perfect choice. So, let’s look at Joshua and some lessons we can learn about being leading as God intended.
The first time we are introduced to Joshua is in the book of Exodus:
Exodus 17:8–14 || 8 At Rephidim, Amalek came and fought against Israel. 9 Moses said to Joshua, “Select some men for us and go fight against Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the hilltop with God’s staff in my hand.” 10 Joshua did as Moses had told him, and fought against Amalek, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. 11 While Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, but whenever he put his hand down, Amalek prevailed. 12 When Moses’s hands grew heavy, they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat down on it. Then Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other so that his hands remained steady until the sun went down. 13 So Joshua defeated Amalek and his army with the sword. 14 The Lord then said to Moses, “Write this down on a scroll as a reminder and recite it to Joshua: I will completely blot out the memory of Amalek under heaven.” [CSB]
He knew how to follow orders, how to command and how to fight. When Israel faced their first real battle after leaving Egypt, Moses told Joshua to pick some men and go fight for the nation.
Joshua had to pick his soldier and go fight next to them against a skilled army. Remember, they are freed slaves who would not have been trained in battle! Joshua, without any hesitation that we know of, faced the challenge and trusted God for the outcome. Our passage says:
God not only made him successful, but God even has a message for Joshua, your success will be permanent. Your victory will be complete.
MEN – there are many battles that we must fight. We need to fight for our families, we need to fight for our purity, we need to fight for the gospel. In each of these, we must learn to charge forth with what God commands us and trust Him for the outcome. We must not shirk from the battle or give us, we must fight for and with those that we lead.
The next encounter with Joshua finds him in more of a supporting role (like Morgan Freeman).
Exodus 24:9–13, 18 || 9 Then Moses went up with Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of Israel’s elders, 10 and they saw the God of Israel. Beneath his feet was something like a pavement made of lapis lazuli, as clear as the sky itself. 11 God did not harm the Israelite nobles; they saw him, and they ate and drank. 12 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.” 13 So Moses arose with his assistant Joshua and went up the mountain of God … 18 Moses entered the cloud as he went up the mountain, and he remained on the mountain forty days and forty nights. [CSB]
In this passage, Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu and 70 elders go up the mountain. Notice that Joshua is not even named as one of the primary people. BUT he was there!
He was not one of the big names, but he was there with a purpose. His purpose was to assist and serve Moses. He was a servant. The Hebrew word for “assistant” means servant, minister or to care for.
Though this man was the first post-Exodus army leader with a sweeping victory over Amalek, he was also a very humble minister or servant to Moses.
MEN: are you willing to be servant leaders? Are you willing to make your leadership the kind that ministers to others around you? For us to be the kind of leaders that honor God we must be humble servants, not needing to be the ones recognized but ones who put the needs of others first?
The next very little tidbit we get on Joshua is about what happens 40 days later.
Exodus 32:15–17 || 15 Then Moses turned and went down the mountain with the two tablets of the testimony in his hands. They were inscribed on both sides—inscribed front and back. 16 The tablets were the work of God, and the writing was God’s writing, engraved on the tablets. 17 When Joshua heard the sound of the people as they shouted, he said to Moses, “There is a sound of war in the camp.” [CSB]
Exodus 24:18 says Moses remained on the mountain 40 days. Exodus 32:15-18 says that when Moses came down after 40 days, Joshua was with him.
While the rest of the nation wondered what happened to Moses, and Aaron made the golden calf at the bottom of the mountain, Joshua remained on the mountain, outside the cloud, waiting for Moses to appear. For 40 days. On a mountain. By himself.
MEN: for us to be leaders that God can use, we need to be faithful to what He tells us to do, even if we do not see immediate results. Loyalty is only ever tested under duress. So, expect problems, expect delays, expect uncertainty, and most of all EXPECT that you will be faithful and unswerving. Will you do what you need to do, serve whom you need to serve and wait until god shows you something different? Are you steadfast in your resolve to follow through with your commitments?
After this mountaintop experience, and the golden calf kafuffle, Moses pitches a tent outside the camp where people can meet with God.
Exodus 33:11 || 11 The Lord would speak with Moses face to face, just as a man speaks with his friend, then Moses would return to the camp. His assistant, the young man Joshua son of Nun, would not leave the inside of the tent. [CSB]
Mere obedience is not enough. Proximity matters. We need to not just know about God, we need to know God. We need to be close to God. Joshua remained at the tent of meeting – at the very place where God would appear. He wanted to be close to God, to spend as much time with God as possible.
I struggle with this one. I am driven to do things, to serve. It is not easy for me to stay quiet or still long enough to get close to God.
I would say that it is more natural for most of us men to show up for 3 hours and do stuff at the church building than to spend 30 minutes in prayer and Bible reading.
MEN: we need to passionate about being with God, not just doing things for God! We need to make sure we spend time in the very presence of God – in His Word, in prayer, in corporate services, in small groups, alone, with others… we must seek to be near God.
When it finally came time to enter the Promised Land, Joshua was one of the 12 men selected to spy out the land. It is here that we get our next insight:
Numbers 14:6–10 || 6 Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among those who scouted out the land, tore their clothes 7 and said to the entire Israelite community: “The land we passed through and explored is an extremely good land. 8 If the Lord is pleased with us, he will bring us into this land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and give it to us. 9 Only don’t rebel against the Lord, and don’t be afraid of the people of the land, for we will devour them. Their protection has been removed from them, and the Lord is with us. Don’t be afraid of them!” 10 While the whole community threatened to stone them, the glory of the Lord appeared to all the Israelites at the tent of meeting. [CSB]
Joshua saw God as bigger than any obstacle and He saw God as being in control.
Joshua was not demanding (God will have to give us the land), he was not wishy-washy (God could, perhaps, maybe do this thing for us, possibly), he was determined to place his faith and life in the hands of God and see what would happen.
IF God is pleased, HE WILL do this or that. The Lord is with us! Yahweh is with us!
When his companions viewed their future with fear, Joshua viewed to future with faith.
MEN: we need to have a big enough view of God that we trust him with our lives, our families, our future. We are NOT created to be self-made men. We are created as God-made men, made in the image of God to prove and display to the world around us that GOD is what matters and He is the one in control.
Finally, as Moses’ days were ending, we read about the passing of the torch to Joshua. THIS is the part of Joshua’s life that most of us are familiar with:
Numbers 27:18–23 || 18 The Lord replied to Moses, “Take Joshua son of Nun, a man who has the Spirit in him, and lay your hands on him. 19 Have him stand before the priest Eleazar and the whole community, and commission him in their sight. 20 Confer some of your authority on him so that the entire Israelite community will obey him. 21 He will stand before the priest Eleazar who will consult the Lord for him with the decision of the Urim. He and all the Israelites with him, even the entire community, will go out and come back in at his command.” 22 Moses did as the Lord commanded him. He took Joshua, had him stand before the priest Eleazar and the entire community, 23 laid his hands on him, and commissioned him, as the Lord had spoken through Moses. [CSB]
Deuteronomy 3:28 || 28 But commission Joshua and encourage and strengthen him, for he will cross over ahead of the people and enable them to inherit this land that you will see.’ [CSB]
Deuteronomy 31:23 || 23 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.” [CSB]
I want you to catch that Moses put his hands on him, that Eleazar verified God’s calling on Joshua, but Joshua was commissioned by Yahweh himself.
To commission someone is to lay a charge on them, do assign to them a duty or a post that comes with certain responsibilities. For Joshua, this leant leading the mass of Israelites into the promised land. ‘
Though it appears as if Joshua may have been a bit intimidated by the enormity of the task at hand, as we see through the continual encouragement to be strong and courageous, he takes the role without hesitation. This is in direct contrast to the man who laid hands on him – for Moses tried multiple times to get out of the task. Joshua was willing to accept his commission.
MEN: you and I are commissioned by God and we have one job: do the work of the Father:
John 6:40 || For this is the will of my Father: that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him will have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” [CSB]
Our mission is to join God on his mission. Perhaps we should call it the Great CO-mission, because we are on mission with God to point people to restoration with God through faith in the work of Jesus. Anything less than to accomplish this mission is to waste the lives that were given us.
Men, you and I know that great leaders are made, not born. We know that great leaders do not fake it until they make it. Great leaders live intentional lives doing the things that they know will bring about success for the people they lead as well as themselves.
Joshua was selected as a leader because he spent his life faithfully committed to:
Joshua is a model leader because he modeled the very things Jesus would model – long after Joshua passed away.
Our ultimate example ought to be Jesus. Jesus IS:
Men, it is not once you are picked that you will be great leaders, you become great leaders by:
We need more leading and less social media ranting. We need men who be image bearers for the King of Kings and reflect the greatness and splendor of our God by living for Him wholeheartedly in the presence of our family, friends, co-workers and neighbors.
Men, “Be Strong & Courageous!”
The God who has called you is able to make you successful as you follow his lead!