Those who Followed 4. Joshua
Key Text: Joshua 24:15
We are in week 4 of our series. Tonight looking at Joshua, the man who took over from Moses. And in his own right Joshua was an incredible man with a ton of things that we can say about who he was and how he followed God.
But if there was one thing that we can say; or one thing that we can take away from the life of Joshua we find it at the end of his life in Joshua 24:15
5 And if it is evil in your eyes to serve theLord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve theLord.”
The single characteristic that Joshua exhibited throughout his life was a practical commitment to God through faith.
To me Joshua becomes one of the most powerful characters that we can follow in this series. Why? Because he consistently committed himself to following God’s promises and then by faith acted according to the promise
The first instance of this come right at the beginning of the story of Joshua we find this in Numbers 13 and specifically his answer in 14:7-10.
12 Spies (Opposed Faith)
For those of you who are not familiar with the story; the nation of Israel was on the edge of the Promise Land after their initial journey from Egypt to Canaan. Moses calls 12 men to go through the Promised Land and give a report.
10 of the men return and say;
25At the end of forty days they returned from spying out the land. 26And they came to Moses and Aaron and to all the congregation of the people of Israel in the wilderness of Paran, at Kadesh. They brought back word to them and to all the congregation, and showed them the fruit of the land. 27And they told him, “We came to the land to which you sent us. It flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. 28However, the people who dwell in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large. And besides, we saw the descendants of Anak there. 29The Amalekites dwell in the land of the Negeb. The Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the hill country. And the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and along the Jordan.”
30But Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.” 31Then the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are.”32So they brought to the people of Israel a bad report of the land that they had spied out, saying, “The land, through which we have gone to spy it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people that we saw in it are of great height. 33And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.”
Now I don’t believe that the 10 spies were being overly pessimistic; I do believe that what they were saying was true.
Their observations were rational and practical. I do believe that there were giants in the land; and that in the eyes of man the task was insurmountable.
But Caleb and Joshua were not bound by the eyes of practical men; their eyes did not see only what was in front of them.
Rather their perspective was shaped by the promises of God they responded to the people by saying in Number 14:6
6And Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes7and said to all the congregation of the people of Israel, “The land, which we passed through to spy it out, is an exceedingly good land.8If theLorddelights in us, he will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land that flows with milk and honey.9Only do not rebel against theLord. And do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. Their protection is removed from them, and theLordis with us; do not fear them.”
Joshua and Caleb had their eyes fixed on what God had said.
This is a great lesson to us today church; are we bound by our reality or by what God says of our reality? Do you fear the markets; or do you trust in what God says Romans 8:28?
We declare that the Word is our final authority for life and everything; well the question is if it is are we believing it even when it is unpopular to do so.
An example of this today would be disciplining your children; just the other day I read a post on face book about behaviour problems in kids and the parenting associated with it. The problem was every single one of the suggestions were counter to what the Bible says; it was essentially telling parents to just let your children be; stop being overprotective and disciplining your kids‘cause this will damage your child.
The Bible tells us to discipline our children though; I trust in the Word of God.
This is also not a once off reality of Joshua’s life but it is a pattern; He trusts the Word of God as we see this again in;
2.Jericho (Impossible Faith)
The story of Jericho remains a Sunday School classic for good reasons; a ragtag group of people defeating insurmountable odds in incredible ways.
The story goes that the people of God approach the city of Jericho a city surrounded by huge impassable walls. But before the people even arrived they sent spies into the city and overheard the people say that they are terrified of the Israelites because their God fights for them. (here the famous story of Rahab the prostitute happens).
But God commands Joshua to do something impossible and ridiculous; march around the city for 6 days; then on the seventh day to march around 7 times.
What I find fascinating about this story is not that the walls came down; but that Joshua convinced an entire nation and the army of that nation to do this.
I can imagine the planning meeting with all the generals gathered ready to brainstorm their attack and Joshua come and says God told me we must march!
Joshua was convinced of this impossible reality because He trusted in the words of God. They had not let him down yet; and he knew they wouldn’t let him down now. So he trusted; and he trusted so much that he got an entire nation and the army of that nation to trust in those words as well.
I wonder if we trust the words of God so much that we are willing to apply them to our lives even when it seems impossible.
The stories of this are countless; but tithing is a classic example; God says give and you will be blessed. If you told the world that you tithe 10% of what you earn; they would be; in this economic climate; rather save it as that would be better; but we who know God is faithful to His words know that it is better that we give that away than hold onto it. And we trust when it says it is better to give than to receive.
I have found more and more that God is faithful to His Words and so I am finding it more and more that it makes more sense to follow them than to go against them.
Even if following them seems impossible to me at the moment.
Joshua trusted God’s Word even when it was impossible.
Finally Joshua had;
3. Faithful end (Enduring Faith)
At the end of Joshua’s life he calls the assembly of Israel together and asks them to have faith; he preaches those words that we read the beginning of this message:
“…choose this day whom you will serve... But as for me and my house, we will serve theLord.”
Joshua ends his life with a commitment and calls all who are around him to endure. To me this is one of the most important lessons we can learn from the life of Joshua;
It is not how well we start it is the fact that we endure to the end that is important.
The powerful reality of this, church is that God Himself is enabling us to stay strong to the end; Jude writes in verse 24-25;
24 Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,
25 To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.
God Himself church is enabling us to stay strong to the end; the practical reality of this is the longer I know God the more I want to know Him, it is like it is the engagement of God makes me more resolute to Him. I believe that this is God’s doing in my life.
Now, Joshua is an example of someone who followed and trusted the words of God till the end.
In fact to so much so that he called others to so the same; to decide who they will be faithful to.
He is a testimony to all of us, church, we can endure.
The simple reality is that Joshua did not trust in his trust of God; he trusted in the word of God – taking what God said as the guide and scope of his life.
This becomes the single applicable lesson to our lives tonight.
Are we taking God at his word? Are we taking God at his word even when it is unpopular, when it goes against what seems possible and are we enduring in this?
Joshua become an encouragement and example to us that we can endure to the end we can take God at His Word and preserved in this his whole life.
Church our challenge in an increasing “everything is okay” world will be to have the conviction that what God says is true, and to stand on them.
Essentially do you believe that the Word of God is true; and are you willing to uncompromisingly follow through on that conviction?
This will set us apart from those who follow on the fringe and those like Joshua who stood up to make a difference.