Summary: Joshua, Final Part


After twenty years two college rivals bumped into each other. “Do you realize how I used to be so fat and flabby?” asked the first. “Well, I’ve been on an exercise program for a few years, and now I run marathons.” “That’s great!” replied the other man.

“And,” the first man continued, “ Do you remember how I used to be shy, too, and a poor student? Well, I took a course in public speaking, and now I make hundreds of thousand of dollars a year on the lecture circuit.” “That’s great!” came the reply.

“What about you?” The first man inquired. “Have you changed at all?” “Yes, I have,” said the young man. “Remember how brutally honest I used to be and how when someone said something uninteresting, I would reply, ‘I couldn’t care less?’ Well, now I just say, ‘That’s great!’” (Reader’s Digest 1/97)

Joshua lived to an incredibly old age of 110 and he did all that God had asked of him, even though he had a pair of large shoes to fill. Moses was the all-time uncontested servant of the Lord. Eighteen of twenty-two occurrences of the phrase “the Servant of the Lord” in the Old Testament refers to Moses. The odds were stacked against Joshua, humanly speaking. Not only was Moses known popularly as “the servant of the Lord,” the Lord affectionately called him “My servant Moses” (Josh 1:2, 7), and even Gentiles regard him as “His servant Moses” (Josh 9:24). However, in many ways, Joshua was no different from Moses. Joshua (Josh 24:29, Judg 2:8), too, received the designation “the servant of the Lord” posthumously, as Moses did right after their death. Joshua was originally known as “servant of Moses” (Num 11:28) but he stepped out of Moses’ shadows in the end to be known as ‘the servant of the Lord.” God’s promise to him was realized: “No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. (Josh 1:5)

What shaped Joshua’ life? How did a man succeed a legend that was irreplaceable and distinguish himself in his own right? How does improve on the past when there appears to be no room for improvement, no call for improvement, and no formula for improvement?

Make Your Learning and Lessons Count

24:1 Then Joshua assembled all the tribes of Israel at Shechem. He summoned the elders, leaders, judges and officials of Israel, and they presented themselves before God. 2 Joshua said to all the people, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ’Long ago your forefathers, including Terah the father of Abraham and Nahor, lived beyond the River and worshiped other gods. 3 But I took your father Abraham from the land beyond the River and led him throughout Canaan and gave him many descendants. I gave him Isaac, 4 and to Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau. I assigned the hill country of Seir to Esau, but Jacob and his sons went down to Egypt. 5 “’Then I sent Moses and Aaron, and I afflicted the Egyptians by what I did there, and I brought you out. 6 When I brought your fathers out of Egypt, you came to the sea, and the Egyptians pursued them with chariots and horsemen as far as the Red Sea. 7 But they cried to the LORD for help, and he put darkness between you and the Egyptians; he brought the sea over them and covered them. You saw with your own eyes what I did to the Egyptians. Then you lived in the desert for a long time.

One day Lucy overheard Charlie Brown wistfully bemoaning his lot in life to himself: “Y’know I’ll bet if I were to disappear tomorrow nobody would miss me!” Lucy came up to Charlie Brown and said pointedly to him, “Oh! I don’t think that’s true, Charlie Brown.” The ever-hopeful Charlie Brown, caught off-guard by Lucy’s remarks, said, “You don’t?” Lucy put her hands behind her back, tilted her head slightly to the ground, and whispered, “No, I don’t think that’s strictly true at all.” Then she raised her head to face Charlie Brown and bluntly corrected: “Even if you were to disappear today, nobody would miss you!”

Joshua knew in his heart what God had done not only for him, but also for his forefathers and his people. They were nothing special, and they had nothing much and did nothing significant. As Moses had charged Israel before his death and their arrival at the new land (Deut 31:14), Joshua charged the new generation to be true and faithful to the Lord in the new land now that the conquest was realized. He reminded Israel how insignificant they were and how futile, meaningless, and hopeless their lives were previously. Joshua presented a stunning account of Israel’s history with the Hebrew word “took.” According to Gen 11:31, Terah “took” Abraham from the Ur of the Chaldees to go into the land of Canaan with him, but in Joshua’s version God stated that He was the one who “took” Abraham to the Promised Land. Why the discrepancy? Terah took Abraham out of Ur but Terah died on the way to the Promised Land. Abraham’s trip was going nowhere, but God intervened and took him on an incredible journey on the road to the Promised Land.

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