Lessons From Joshua
“As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).
This famous verse has appeared on wall plaques mounted in millions of homes. How did Joshua get to the point where this was his passionate and emphatic declaration? The answer is that he climbed to that height slowly and steadily. Joshua was faithful to the Lord from his youth. Our spiritual fathers didn’t get there by chance, but by practice.
God’s Deliverance and Provision
The children of Israel were delivered from Egypt by God’s power when Pharaoh and his army drowned in the Red Sea. As the Israelites started their journey to the Promised Land of Canaan, they began to complain. Their needs for food and water were legitimate, but their complaints were not. They had just experienced God’s power, but they quickly took their eyes off God and focused on their circumstances. Christians today do the same thing. We tend to magnify our problems and minimize our Lord! God, in His grace, had provided manna to eat and water to drink (Exodus 16:1–17:7). Israel continued their journey, having experienced both God’s magnificent power and His bountiful provision. But a new problem arose—the Amalekites.
Battling the Flesh
Joshua, whose name means “Jehovah is Savior,” is first mentioned in connection with Moses, who instructed him to choose some men and go fight the Amalekites. As Joshua and his men were fighting them in the valley, Moses stood on the mountain with his arms raised. As long as Moses’ hands were raised Israel prevailed; when Moses lowered his hands Amalek prevailed. In the end, Israel, led by Joshua, defeated the Amalekites (Exodus 17:13).
This is the first lesson to learn from Joshua’s experiences as a young man: we can defeat Amalek, but we need help. Amalek reminds us of our fleshly nature. Although we Christians are born of the Spirit (John 3:6-8; 1 Peter 1:23), we still have to deal with the flesh (Romans 7:13–25; Galatians 5:16–26). Thankfully, we are not alone. Moses’ intercession was a picture of Christ, our Great High Priest in Heaven, with His hands uplifted to help (Hebrews 4:14–16).
How are we to engage in our conflict with the flesh today? First, we must recognize that the flesh is always there (see Exodus 17:16), and it will rise and manifest itself in our thoughts. Second, we must judge it by reading and applying God’s word to our lives. Third, we should pray for the Lord’s help. Our Great High Priest is able to give us victory.
Learning From a Mentor
In Exodus 24, Moses is instructed to ascend Mount Sinai to receive the Law and the Ten Commandments. Verse 13 says, “Moses rose with his assistant Joshua, and Moses went up into the mountain of God.” As Moses’ assistant, God blessed Joshua with solid spiritual training. Joshua undoubtedly learned invaluable lessons from being in the presence of Moses.
We Christians learn our best lessons from God in numerous ways: from Bible study, preaching, teaching, written ministry and prayer. Sometimes the Lord also gives us an older brother or sister who is our Moses. We should thank God for mentors and learn from them. And those of us who are older believers can work to build up the younger ones.
Staying in God’s Presence
After Israel committed the grievous sin of worshiping the golden calf, Moses took his tent outside the camp of Israel and called it the tabernacle of meeting (Exodus 33:7). He set up a place away from the sin and failure, where the Lord could meet with him. Moses returned to the camp to deal with the people, but Joshua did “not depart from the tent” (Exodus 33:11).
Joshua wanted to be where the Lord spoke, where divine instructions were given. At the same time, he wanted to be away from sin and defilement. Joshua took up the practice of being always in the presence of the Lord. How can we do this? We need to develop our personal relationship with the Lord through reading His word, through meditation, and prayer. We need to obey Him and listen to His voice. We must filter everything through Him and His word. We need to gather with His people. There must be separation from evil.
Joshua’s statement, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord,” was the summation of a life lived for God. May we follow and learn from his example!
—Al Stuart, adapted