I hope you read part one of this series about the life of Joshua, because it helps us understand how we’ve come to this point in which we find Joshua at the walls of Jericho, stepping out as the brand new leader of the people of Israel. Though we did see him lead the army into battle once before, mostly we saw him learning, serving, and watching. We saw him sitting silently in the presence of God, meditating regularly upon the words of his Lord. Through Joshua’s example of servant leadership, we learned so much about what it looks like to be strong and courageous even when we’re simply learning quietly!
We also mentioned how the life of Joshua was kind of unique because he served so many different roles from beginning to end. In this part of the series, we’re going to look at another one of those roles. As leadership is passed down from Moses to Joshua, we’ll see a new kind of strength and courage from the new commander. No matter what God asks, we always find Joshua standing firm in faith! Here are the other parts of the series:
- Part One – Joshua as a Servant Leader (the first 60ish years of his life)
- Part Two – Joshua at the Walls of Jericho
- Part Three – Joshua the Warrior (Conquering the Promised Land)
- Part Four – Joshua Leaving a Legacy of Faith
Moses and Joshua – Leadership Passed Down
After reading Exodus-Deuteronomy it may seem like we know what to expect from Joshua. So, as we begin the book that bears his name, we’re likely wondering how the bold but quiet student is going to handle stepping into the limelight. How will Moses and Joshua’s leadership styles compare?
After the death of Moses, the Lord’s servant, the Lord spoke to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ assistant. He said,“Moses my servant is dead. Therefore, the time has come for you to lead these people, the Israelites, across the Jordan River into the land I am giving them. I promise you what I promised Moses:
‘Wherever you set foot, you will be on land I have given you – from the Negev wilderness in the south to the Lebanon mountains in the north, from the Euphrates River in the east to the Mediterranean Sea in the west, including all the land of the Hittites.’ No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. For I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you.
Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do.
Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.
This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Be Strong and Courageous
Did you notice a theme in those verses? God doesn’t mince words with Joshua, does He? Before God places Joshua at the walls of Jericho, He lays out the situation plainly:
Moses is dead; you’re in charge now.
I’m going to give you the land.
Your life will be marked by victory because I’m going to be with you.
Then He gives His commands: (Which will be repeated again and again throughout the entire book!)
- Be strong and courageous.
- Be strong and very courageous.
- Be obedient; study and meditate on the Word.
- Be strong and courageous!
Joshua wasted no time! He sent out word right away for all the people to pack up and get ready to move. They would cross the Jordan into the Promised Land in three days. And just like that, Joshua was in command.
Of course, how they were going to get at least a million people across the Jordan River, no one had a clue. And that was just the first hurdle. How would they defeat the strong, fortified city of Jericho once they were there? If they somehow pulled that off, where would they go next, and how could they possibly defeat one city after another in order to claim the entire expanse of land God had promised them?
Joshua didn’t bother worrying about any of that. He was already demonstrating strength and courage. He was already acting like someone who knew God would go before him and make a way.
Standing Firm in Faith
Of course, this wasn’t the first time Joshua had the opportunity to trust God in this. In Numbers 13-14, forty years before Joshua would actually lead God’s people into the promised land, he had been chosen, along with 11 other tribal leaders, to cross the border and spy out Canaan. For forty days those 12 men had crossed land the Lord God had promised to give to the descendants of Abraham as their own special possession. They saw many astonishing things, finding first hand it was indeed a rich land, “flowing with milk and honey.”
Unfortunately, 10 of those men were so blinded by the great size of the Canaanites they forgot the grandeur of the One who had promised to go ahead of them. Not Joshua though. Among those 12 spies, only he and Caleb were found standing firm in faith. Only they refused to be intimidated, and spoke up saying they should go quickly and take possession of the land.
The rest of Israel revolted, and as a result the people had been wandering in the dessert for forty years, waiting for every one of those rebellious men and women to die.
It had taken a great deal of strength and courage to stand up to the whole community of Israel! Joshua and Caleb could have lost their lives, and they came awfully close that day! The people were preparing to stone them when the Lord Himself intervened. When we find Joshua at the walls of Jericho forty years later, he must have been remembering that day! Standing firm in faith was nothing new to him! The Lord his God was with him, and he knew it! After all, you don’t spend years basking in the presence of Almighty God, serving in the shadow of a man like Moses, and emerge without total confidence in the Lord God of Heavens Armies!
For the Lord Your God is With You!
And so, forty years later, we find Joshua once again standing on the border of Canaan wholly believing God was going to make a way when it didn’t seem possible.
Did He ever! God made a way right through the middle of the Jordan River, just like He had made a way right through the middle of the Red Sea for Moses!
Now, remember, this group of Israelites was very young. Only Joshua and Caleb would have been 60 years or older. Everyone else would have been children when God parted the Red Sea before Moses. I’m sure many of them remembered that miracle, but they remembered it from the perspective of a child. The story had likely become almost fantastical to them. I’m certain no one expected God to do something like it again. But God was in the business of proving Himself to His people, and He wanted to establish Joshua’s leadership among a group who had likely begun to sort of idealize Moses.
As the waters parted it was as if God said, “This is my guy, and he’s the one I chose to do this task. I’m going to do for him what I did for Moses and more! So buckle up guys!”
The waters of the Jordan (which the Bible tells us was overflowing its banks) stopped flowing, and God dried up a path right in front of His people. Just as they had done on their march out of Egypt, the Israelites crossed a massive body of water on dry ground. The Lord had made a way, and the first of many hurdles had been jumped. Next up: Jericho.
Joshua at the Walls of Jericho
Now, let me ask you, if you’re about to lead your rookie army into the first battle in what will be a very long campaign to conquer a vast land, what’s the first thing you’d do to prepare? I bet it wouldn’t be to circumcise your entire army!
However, the only reason the men of Israel hadn’t already been circumcised is their parents had been a disobedient and rebellious generation. Moses and Joshua’s leadership is contrasted here as the young leader takes the time to demand obedience to God before being willing to move on to face the walls of Jericho. Bold move!
After that, they celebrated Passover. Another unexpected act of fearless obedience.
Joshua was a rare man! His leadership seems so temperate but strong. He always had the courage to do what God commanded, even when it seemed absurd, without getting all worked up about it. He just obeyed.
Once Joshua had prepared his army by honoring their God and renewing the covenant He had made with their ancestors, they were ready to go into battle, but Joshua had yet to receive the marching orders from God.
So, he waited.
With the walls of Jericho looming before them… he waited!
He waited until a man, who claimed to be the Commander of the Army of the Lord (otherwise known as the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies, or the pre-incarnate Christ.) presented Himself and said,
“I have given you Jericho, its king, and all its strong warriors. You and your fighting men should march around the town once a day for six days. Seven priests will walk ahead of the Ark, each carrying a ram’s horn. On the seventh day you are to march around the town seven times, with the priests blowing the horns. When you hear the priests give one long blast on the rams’ horns, have all the people shout as loud as they can. Then the walls of the town will collapse, and the people can charge straight into the town.” Joshua 6:2-5
The Insanity of Joshua at the Walls of Jericho
I’m sure we’ve all considered the utter ridiculousness of this command, but humor me for a minute and really think about it. Can you imagine? Here’s another great article about the insanity of God’s call to Joshua at the walls of Jericho.
Joshua had some serious confidence in his God to do something so boldly insane only days after taking charge! Respect, y’all! I don’t think I could do it. I would feel so stupid and vulnerable, marching in silence around the massive walls. But Joshua at the walls of Jericho did exactly that, and Israel followed his lead…
and the walls came tumbling down!
I find myself challenged beyond words by Joshua. I want that kind of faith! I want to be willing to look like a fool for the sake of my God. I want to know exactly what He has called me to, and I want to fulfill His purposes for me with instant obedience. And when He hasn’t made His plan clear, I want to be ready to wait! I want unwavering confidence that knows He is going before me so I have nothing to fear. I want to stop digging away at my Jericho walls trying to bring them down on my own, one stone at a time. Instead, I want to step out of the way and watch God bring them crashing to the ground!
I want to be the one with a story so preposterous the credit can go to no one but Him! I want the years I’ve spent sitting in His presence to create in me a faith so big that waters will part to make a way before me as I follow His leading. I want so badly to be like Joshua – strong, courageous, and victorious!