Summary: Principles on how to live life successful taken from Joshua assuming leadership of the Israelites.
A Study of the Book of Joshua
“How to Live Life Successfully”
Success is a difficult thing to truly define. “Among the apostles, the one absolutely stunning success was Judas, and the one thoroughly groveling failure was Peter. Judas was a success in the ways that most impress us: he was successful both financially and politically. He cleverly arranged to control the money of the apostolic band; he skillfully manipulated the political forces of the day to accomplish his goal. And Peter was a failure in ways that we most dread: he was impotent in a crisis and socially inept. At the arrest of Jesus he collapsed, a hapless, blustering coward; in the most critical situations of his life with Jesus, the confession on the road to Caesarea Philippi and the vision on the Mount of transfiguration, he said the most embarrassingly inappropriate things. He was not the companion we would want with us in time of danger, and he was not the kind of person we would feel comfortable with at a social occasion.
Time, of course, has reversed our judgments on the two men. Judas is now a byword for betrayal, and Peter is one of the most honored names in the church and in the world. Judas is a villain; Peter is a saint. Yet the world continues to chase after the successes of Judas, financial wealth and political power, and to defend itself against the failures of Peter, ….” [Eugene Petersen, Little House on the Freeway, Tim Kimmel, pp. 191-192]
True success is not what the world thinks of you and what you have done, but what God thinks of you and what you have done.
The book of Joshua is a book of new beginnings for the people of God. Many of us here tonight have a weary sense of spiritual need for a new beginning.
Joshua had some very big shoes to fill. Joshua was facing one of the greatest crisis points of his life. He was not only facing the challenge of replacing Moses as the leader of the nation but also of actually leading the people into the promise land.
1. God Prepares Those Whom He Calls (vv. 1-2)
“After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, it came to pass that the LORD spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, saying: (2) “Moses My servant is dead. Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them—the children of Israel.”
Joshua call to leadership may seem abrupt but God spent many years preparing Joshua for the new responsibilities of leadership. Joshua was born a slave in Egypt. We are told that he is the oldest son of a man named Nun of the tribe of Ephraim. The fact that Joshua was the first born meant that his life had been in danger on the night of the Passover but that his family in faith had applied the blood to the door post of their home.
The first time we are introduced to Joshua was in Exodus 17:8, where he is picked by Moses lead the Israelites as they fought the Amalekites. Even then God was seasoning him, preparation for the many battles he would fight in the Promised Land. Here we read about him, “Now Amalek came and fought with Israel … (9) And Moses said to Joshua, “Choose us some men and go out, fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in my hand.” (10) So Joshua did as Moses said to him, and fought with Amalek….”
We next see Joshua in Exodus 24:12-13, “Then the LORD said to Moses, “Come up to Me on the mountain and be there; and I will give you tablets of stone, and the law and commandments which I have written, that you may teach them.” (13) So Moses arose with his assistant Joshua, and Moses went up to the mountain of God.” Joshua is not the personal assistant to the leader of Israel, Moses.
In Numbers 13-14 we see that Joshua is one of the twelve spies sent into the land. You will remember that when the children of Israel first reached the border of the Promised Land that Moses sent in twelve spies to see what lay ahead. When the spies returned all agreed that land was indeed a land that flowed with milk and honey. But ten of the spies stated that it was useless to think that they could conquer it. Only Joshua and Caleb declared that the people could and should move on into the land. The people believed the majority report and the result was 40 years in the wilderness and a whole generation that did not inherit the promise.