Summary: My goal here is to lay a foundation for our understanding of who Joshua is, by pointing out a few references to him prior to his assuming the leadership of the nation and the events or situations that led to his spiritual development
The making of a man of God Exodus 17:8-14
Surprised to see an empty seat at the Super Bowl stadium, a diehard fan asked the woman sitting next to him who’s it was. “It was my husband’s,” the woman explained, “But he died.” “I’m very sorry,” said the man. “You know, I’m really surprised that a friend or relative didn’t jump at the chance to accompany you to the game and take advantage of the seat.” “Beats me,” she said. “They were all stuck on going to the funeral.”
“Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim. And Moses said unto Joshua, choose us out men, and go out, fight with Amalek: tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in mine hand. So Joshua did as Moses had said to him, and fought with Amalek: and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. And Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword. And the LORD said unto Moses, write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua: for I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.”
Someone once said, “The two things that will affect your life in the next five years are the people you meet and the books you read.” And along those lines I think that’s why God gave us so many biographical studies in the Bible. He wants all of us to read about and meet the people who can change our lives. And I also think the purpose of our meeting them is so we can learn scriptural truths from both them and their successes or failures.
I mean, God could have just given us a box of rules which would have been rather boring but He gave us real life examples of what happens when we either obey or ignore His word. And I believe Joshua is a great example of the struggles each of us face in living in a non-Christian world where everybody’s philosophy is to ignore God and do your own thing. I mean, not only do we have to struggle with the non-believing world but we also face persecution from half-hearted believers as well. And Joshua experienced all this too.
The life of Joshua can probably be divided into three stages. He was born in slavery in Egypt where he spent the first forty years, then he spent forty years as Moses assistant in the desert and then after Moses died he became the leader of the nation for about twenty-five years. And during his life he certainly had his share of ups and downs but overall he had led a consistent spiritual life.
I heard someone say that God’s people are in it for the long-haul because God is involved with us in a long-term discipleship and training program. In other words, He’s been working in us so He can work through us. And as we study the life of Joshua you can’t help but see that God who began a good work in him continued it through to the day of completion.
We really don’t have too much background on Joshua in terms of his family or what his life was like in Egypt but we do know that he was one of the two million Jews who were delivered from slavery by God through Moses. And according to 1 Chronicles 7:27 Joshua was the eldest son or the first born of his family. When we hear this we think; big deal, but it was a big deal. Remember the final plaque God sent against Egypt was the death of the firstborn. Many of us have probably seen the movie “The Ten Commandments” and we assume that the Egyptians experienced the death of thousands of their children but if you read the scriptures closely you’ll notice that God didn’t place an age limit on the first born, so, there may have been those in their forties or fifties who died that night.
And since it was the parents who were responsible for killing the lamb and sprinkling the blood over the door posts we can assume that Joshua had come from a family of believers. I mean, if he didn’t then he would have died with the Egyptians. So, the exodus from Egypt would have been a turning point in his life in more ways than one; it meant he was free from the influences of paganism, he no longer lived in the country he was born in and he was free to have dreams and aspirations that a slave could never have. And he would also be conscious of the fact that God had spared his life and that would have given him a whole new purpose for living.