Summary: This is the first in a series of sermons on the life of Joshua. We discuss five vignettes from his life prior to the book that bears his name
ECLIPSING THE FAMILIAR
HEROES: THE SECRET—Part 1
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Hero—noun—a person of distinguished courage or ability, admired for brave deeds and noble qualities.
The Bible has many heroes but perhaps none better than Joshua. Joshua had played a key role in the exodus from Egypt. Introduced as the field general of Israel’s army, he was the only person allowed to accompany Moses partway up the mountain when Moses received the law. Joshua and Caleb were the only two among the 12 spies to bring back an encouraging report after being sent into the promised land the first time. Other references show him to have been Moses’ constant shadow. His basic training was living with Moses—experiencing firsthand what it meant to lead God’s people.
Today we begin a series of messages on the life of one of history’s best military leaders. A man who took a group of former slaves and sons of slaves and shaped them into an effective fighting force.
Joshua was a hero, but he started out as a slave. Today we’ll focus our attention on the process that God used to mold this slave into a hero. And here’s the secret of Joshua’s story…as is the secret with all heroes…the heroics begin inside before we ever see it displayed outside.
God brought Joshua out of Egypt but he also had to get Egypt out of Joshua. It wasn’t an easy task. Egypt had been the Hebrews’ home for 400+ years. In the end only two people eclipsed the allure of the familiar patterns of Egypt ….Joshua and Caleb.
Today we’ll look at four experiences through which God triggers an eclipse in Joshua’s soul. That eclipse changed Joshua internally from the familiar approach to life that he inherited from his life in Egypt to a totally different approach to life--singlehearted devotion to God that would carry him into the promise land.
God’s call to Joshua and his fellow Hebrews was not just to leave Egypt, but leave behind everything that Egypt stood for. All the familiar approaches to life, worship, morality even the measure of time had to be eradicated. 400 years of slavery had left a mark on the Hebrew soul. Until they were completely convinced of the truth that God alone was the one, true, all-powerful Creator who could bring order and harmony to their world, the familiar story of Egypt and Egypt’s gods would always retain its hold on the Hebrew’s hearts.
So God had to totally reshape their identity. They had to reject Egypt’s gods, Egypt’s view of chaos and order, Egypt’s moral standards, its glorification of human achievement and accompanying devaluation of human life, its focus on death. All of these familiar stories had to be eclipsed by God’s story!
What was it like for these Hebrew slaves while they were in Egypt. Many times in the bible narrative we read that the people of Israel entertained the idea that they wanted to go back to Egypt. We think to ourselves, “These people are nuts! Why would they want to go back into slavery?!” What was so alluring about their lives in Egypt that would cause them to disdain their freedom and liberty.
Ray Vanderlaan says it better than I could—take a look at this video
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Sadly, even though God abundantly provided for the Hebrews while they lived in Goshen, they became enamored with Egypt—its story, its worldview, and its gods. As they experienced worldly comfort and success they became unfaithful to God and His story, and allowed Egypt’s story to become a part of them. In a sense, they became slaves to Egypt before they became slaves in Egypt.
Hundreds of years earlier God had called Abraham out of a pagan culture, and now his descendants were so wrapped up in what Egypt offered that they no longer remembered him.
God had used terrible plagues to get Pharoah to release His people from slavery. In those plagues he directly challenged Egypt’s gods and Pharoah’s ability to maintain order and harmony. This got the Hebrew’s attention. God further demonstrated his power with the parting of the Red Sea. Despite these miraculous interventions the familiar patterns of thinking and behaving were deep in the Hebrew hearts.
God had to eclipse this familiar lifestyle and pattern of thinking for Joshua and all the ex slaves.
Only a few days after the Red Sea crossing the Hebrews began complaining. God instructed Moses to strike a rock and God miraculously provided water. On the heels of that experience the Amalekites came up to make war against them.
This is the point where Joshua is introduced to us. We meet him as the leader of the Hebrew fighting men who would defend God’s people with the sword.