Joshua: Dependent Conqueror (Pt. 1-Ex. 17)
Some men and women are named for greatness. The name Joshua in the Old Testament commanded attention and respect. The name meant “Yahweh is Salvation”. Joshua would indeed fulfill his name’s meaning throughout the book named for him as he conquered the land of Canaan between 1406-1446. However, his story humbly began as the son of a Hebrew slave in Egypt. For 400 years the children of Israel were held in captivity to the Egyptians. This type of beginning does not seem to be the foundation of a conquering leader. But Joshua would emerge from the shadow of Moses to become one of Israel’s greatest leaders.
One of the first glimpses we get of Joshua is in Exodus 17 following the exodus from Egypt. In this portion of Scripture Joshua realizes what the writer of the Proverbs (21:31) penned, “the horse in prepared for the day of battle, but victory comes from the Lord.” Joshua would later be called the assistant of Moses in Ex. 24:13. For now, it would appear he is simply a military leader in Israel. Moses called upon him to swiftly assemble and valiantly lead the people against a looming Amalek. The people of God are extremely vulnerable in the wide-open wilderness and must be defended. In his instruction, Moses reminded Joshua that God would be present in the battle to come. He said, “Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.” Joshua obeys Moses, trusts in God, and enters the battle. The battle rises and falls with Moses’ ability to lift and lower the staff of God. Moses even tired at some point in the battle and needed help to lift the rod of God. The result of the fighting was that, “Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the sword.”
Now there are many lessons to be learned from this first glimpse of Joshua in the Scriptures. First, we never know when God will call us to enter a battle for the sake of others. We must be ready and willing to obey his calling just as Joshua did. The nation of Israel was vulnerable in the wilderness and Joshua stepped up and stepped out in faith to lead them. Second, we are reminded God goes with us into the battles he calls us to enter. His sovereign presence ensures success and survival. This does eliminate injury or hardship in the fight he calls us to engage. God defines success according to the fulfillment of his eternal kingdom purposes. Moses assured Joshua God was directing Israel into battle and that he would not abandon them in the fight. Third, the glory of victory goes to God alone. It did not belong to Moses or Joshua or the army of Israel. Moses did not want Israel to forget this so he recorded the following message as a Memorial. He said, “Write this as a memorial in a book and recite it in the ears of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.”
We too are engaged in spiritual warfare and must be ready to be called upon at any time to enter the battle for the sake of Christ and his people.When we enter the fight for life, we must realize that God’s presence is with us and our awareness of Him is essential as we battle our enemy.God will bring success, but only as he defines it and according to his eternal plan. We, like the children of Israel, have the hope that someday our enemy will be blotted out in the final restoration of the world. Rev. 20:7-10 reveals the final blotting out of Satan. It says, “And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison8 and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea.9 And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them,10 and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”