Joshua had some huge shoes to fill, he’s appointed the leader and immediately the writer says:
10 Since then there’s never been another prophet in Israel like Moses. The Eternal knew him face-to-face! 11 No one has ever done anything like the amazing things ….. 12 …..shown such great power or done such terrifying things as everyone in Israel saw Moses do.
Can you imagine it? A brand new job and on your first day, your employer tells you that your predecessor is better than anyone else has or will ever be. It would hardly boost your confidence. However, God had been preparing Joshua for years in the desert. We see verses where Joshua accompanied Moses up the mountain or lingered by the tent of meeting in God’s presence. These can get lost amid the great events and achievements of Moses but look out for them next time you read these books.
Joshua was appointed by Moses and filled by God with a spirit of wisdom to do the task ahead. God promised to be with him every step of the way and that he would lead the children of Israel to the Promised Land.
9 This is My command: be strong and courageous. Never be afraid or discouraged because I am your God, the Eternal One, and I will remain with you wherever you go.
God spoke to him; Joshua heard and obeyed. He had practised listening to God. He had stayed close to Moses who knew God better than anyone else ever had. I don’t think Joshua had a career plan in mind. I doubt he was speculating that one day Moses would retire and Joshua would take his place. I suspect that Joshua just wanted to be close to God.
God knows our hearts. He reads them as clearly as we read a book. No-one’s intents can be hidden from God so if Joshua had been trying to ‘suck up’ to God by hanging around the Tabernacle there would likely have been consuming flames. God saw Joshua’s heart and knew it was pursuing Him and He let Himself be found so that Joshua’s love and worship grew until Joshua was ready to lead the people.
It’s easy to feel second best when we look at others who seem to be more used by God. But God has no favourites and He eagerly accepts and comes close to all who seek Him. Each one of us is unique and has a purpose that no-one else can fulfil. Not all of them might be grand, as we see things, but all of them are important in God’s eyes because they demonstrate we are looking at Him and not ourselves.
We look at Joshua and see a mighty man of God but God told Joshua over and over to be strong and courageous. I think that’s because He knew Joshua needed to hear those words. We can’t see each other’s hearts like God can and we can’t see the struggles others are going through so we can’t compare ourselves properly with anyone else and shouldn’t even try.
Let’s just be like Joshua and focus on God and what He commands. Let’s be strong and courageous and encourage each other to be strong and courageous too. We’re in this together, running the race together so let’s cheer each other on.