We are thrilled to be starting a new series this Sunday, looking at the Old Testament character of Joshua. Joshua is one of the great characters of the Old Testament, he plays many roles in his lifetime: assistant to Moses; warrior/general in the army; spy and finally succeeding Moses as the leader of Gods people. We see in Joshua a man who loved God and lived with courageous faith.
Moses led God’s people out of slavery in Egypt, Joshua was given the role of leading the people into the promised land. Deuteronomy 3:28,‘Charge Joshua, and encourage and strengthen him, for he shall go over at the head of this people, and he shall put them in possession of the land that you shall see.’ On the whole, the story of Joshua’s leadership is one of success and advance, they advanced into the land claiming what God had promised them. That said, there were a few moments of failure and compromise that are worth us considering as we go through the series – as we can often learn as much if not more from failure!
Joshua grew as a leader through his experience in the different roles he took on and he undoubtedly learnt a lot from Moses. However, the key measure of Joshua is not anything to do with his capabilities, but his love of God and his abiding presence. We see that as Moses assistant he got to go up the mountain of God with Moses (Exodus 24:13, 32:17), at another time we see that he loved to remain in God’s presence in the Tent of Meeting, long after Moses had left (Exodus 33:11). Joshua was shaped and prepared for his call by God’s presence, just like Joshua, we need to encounter and meet with God himself more than we need any specific training or experience if we are to live out all that God has for us.
Joshua is much more than just a good example of faith, he points us to Jesus himself, who is not just our example but our answer and source of all our courage and faith! The name Jesus is in fact the Greek version of the word Joshua (Joshua being a Hebrew word). Joshua means, ‘the LORD is salvation’. More than this there are other ways in which Joshua is considered to be a type of Christ, one who pre-figures and points to the greater work of Christ himself. Joshua brings God’s people into a promised land, as Jesus bring his people to a new Canaan and Joshua succeeds Moses as the Gospel succeeds the Law.
As we press on in for all that God has for us together at Emmanuel, we are looking forward to learning from Joshua. Considering how can we press on with the same courageous faith in God that Joshua had and how our faith and courage can grow as we look to Jesus! God spoke over Joshua, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” We can know these words to be true over our lives as well, God promises to never leave or forsake any who choose to follow his son Jesus (Hebrews 13:5)! God has poured out his Holy Spirit, so we can know his presence with us everywhere we go.