Summary: Joshua learned from Moses, leaned on God and let God be in control.
Carrie Bryant tells about the time her brother moved to California, and her parents needed to get his car out to him. Her Mom decided to drive the car out and then her husband would fly out for Christmas, and they would fly home together. But the day before the trip, her mother fell and broke her left wrist and had to have a cast which went up to her elbow. She decided to go anyway and plotted her trip through Indiana and on to California. About the fourth day of the trip she called home. She was in Texas, not far from some of their friends, but she had been so tired that she pulled off the road for a short nap. When she woke up she drove to a restaurant where she got some coffee and called her friends. As she stepped outside the restaurant, a man came up to her and asked if she was driving a Ford EXP with Michigan plates, and whether she had pulled off the road somewhere earlier. She was somewhat apprehensive about being questioned by him, but he assured her that he meant no harm. Once she answered his questions, he asked her to wait while he made a call and then he would explain. When he returned, he told her that truck drivers had been following her since Indiana. One of them had noticed this little white-haired lady, with a cast on her left arm, driving a stick-shift across the country, and they took it upon themselves to watch over her. They watched to see what motel she stayed at each evening, and in the morning another driver would pick her up and continue the trip. If they had to exit, another trucker would take their place. When she pulled off for a nap, they lost sight of her and were about to call the State Police. They were still looking for her when one of them spotted her car at the restaurant. She had no idea that somebody cared enough about her to do something like that. She had been driving all those miles and never knew that someone was watching after her night and day.
As the Israelites were on their journey they too were being watched and cared for. Imagine what it must have been like to be constantly under God’s protective eye and his watchful care. And yet they acted as though God did not care about them at all. God had reassured them over and over of his love for them, and he had proved his love with powerful deeds on their behalf, but they did not believe he cared for them. They complained that God hated them and had only delivered them from Egypt so he could destroy them (Deuteronomy 1:27). When God asked them to go into the Promised Land of Canaan they complained that it was too difficult and dangerous, and that God did not care about what would happen to them. The Israelites were not too different from us. God blesses us and cares for us. He watches over us and spares us, and we continue to act as though God has never acted on our behalf or done a thing for us. We forget the blessings of the past and act as though they never happened. God had watched over the people of Israel the whole way, when they were awake and when they were asleep, but it was as if God had never shown them that he was look after them in love and concern.
However, there was one man who stood out among the people of Israel and was unlike all the rest. He was one of only two people who made it all the way from Egypt to Canaan, because the rest died in the desert because of their rebellion and refusal to receive what God was giving them. This man’s name was Joshua. He was one of the few who were willing to believe God against all odds. I want us to look at Joshua’s life this morning to see what made him the kind of man he was. First of all, Joshua’s greatness can be explained in that: Joshua learned from Moses. In our culture of radical individualism this is not often seen as an attribute. We talk about self-made men. We say, “I did it my way.” But Joshua knew that to become a great man of God he needed to model his life after a great man of God. From the time that Moses led the people out of Egypt, Joshua was Moses’ right hand man. He was his shadow wherever he went. When Moses went up on Mt. Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments, Joshua accompanied him part way up (Exodus 32:17). Moses appointed him as the commander of Israel’s army and anointed him to be the one who would lead Israel after his death. The Lord said to Moses, “Take Joshua son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit, and lay your hand on him. Have him stand before Eleazar the priest and the entire assembly and commission him in their presence. Give him some of your authority so the whole Israelite community will obey him” (Numbers 27:15-20).