Summary: The calling of Joshua gives clear instruction to those on the edge of greatness when going into unchartered territory
Recently I came across an article that described the Cherokee Indian youth's rite of passage from boyhood to manhood? In this ritual the father leaves his son alone in a forest blindfolded. He is told to sit on a tree stump the whole night and to not remove the blindfold until the rays of the morning sun shine through. He is forbidden to cower, cry out or seek help from anyone. In the ritual it is said that once he survives the night, he is a man. Because each boy must come into manhood on his own, he cannot tell the other boys of this experience. The boy is naturally terrified. Can you imagine the anxiety, tension and fear that lurks from without and within. He can hear all kinds of noises. Wild beasts must surely be all around him. Maybe even some human might do him harm. The wind blows the grass and shakes the trees, but the boy is to sit stoically, never removing the blindfold. Finally, after a horrific night, the sun appears and the boy removes his blindfold. But much to his surprise and delight he discovers his father sitting on the stump next to him. Interestingly, the proud father has been there the entire night, watching over and protecting his son from harm.
When I first read that story I thought about the fact that there is a thin divine line between spiritual infancy and spiritual maturity. So often we will become fearful and frightened by the hounding winds of helplessness and the haunting howls of hopelessness, despair and discouragement. But God, Who is our sovereign, resourceful, omniscient, all-wise heavenly Father sees us and knows where we are. Even when He cannot be viewed by us, we are still in His view and foresight. The problems we face in time are eternally in His view. He will never leave us nor forsake us.
This is the message that God rings clear to young Joshua. The opening words of the book of Joshua describe a period of transition. It marks not only a change in leadership but a change in purpose. The people would change from Moses to Joshua and also from wanderers to warriors. This change would not only be difficult for the fledging nation, but also for Joshua. Verse 1 informs us that Moses is dead. The death of Moses was a heavy blow to the Israelites. He was the one who had led them out of the oppressive Egyptian bondage.
- When the people were discouraged and wanted to go back to Egypt, God uses Moses to calm and rally the people to ‘Fear not, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord’.
- When the Israelites were thirsty, God used Moses to cause water to flow from a stone.
- When the Israelites were hungry, God answered Moses' prayers and sent quail and bread from heaven.
- For almost 40 years, Moses had served as the Israelite's leader and legislator. He alone spoke face-to-face with God on their behalf. But now he was dead!
Here Israel is still encamped on the plains of Moab, directly east of the Jordan River, at the very edge of the Land of Promise. For 30 days they mourned Moses, their beloved leader, but now it was time to inherit the land God had promised to Abraham and their forefathers hundreds of years earlier. Joshua, God’s newly anointed and appointed leader of the Israelites, according to Numbers 27:22 and 23, had been commissioned by Moses before his death, and he was now being ordained by God. So let’s walk through these opening verses of the call of Joshua and consider the practical implications of possessing God’s promises.
I. We are Called to Follow God’s Plan
Verse 1 is an historical summary of the death of Moses. But verse 2 is the actual recording of God’s visit with Joshua to reiterate to this new kid on the black, ‘Moses my servant is dead.’ In verse 2 we have both a negative inference and a positive inference tucked away in the text. The negative inference here is that Moses, God’s servant, is now dead. Let me stop long enough to remind you that life has a way, through the providential orchestration of God, of shifting, moving and rearranging certain aspects of the plan in His own time and in His own way. He will allow some things, people and spiritual moments of grandeur to fade off the scene so that He may set up His new plan and purpose; in order that He may reinforce the fact of His sovereignty and glory. The negative inference in the text is that Moses, this great leader is dead. It’s painful and it hurts. But the positive inference in the text is when God begins to unfold His plan to the new guy, Brother Joshua. He says, in verse 2, Joshua He says, ‘Joshua, grieve the loss of your leader; but don’t grieve long’. You can grieve over what has been lost or what has been left behind; but don’t allow your grief to cause you to abandon your progress or stop your mobility.