We’ve been looking at the life of one of the most complex characters in the Bible, finding a treasury of lessons from the life of Joshua. But before we talk about his commitment to leaving a legacy of faith, let’s remember what we’ve already learned. He started out as Moses’s assistant, a minor supporting character and servant leader. During his time in that role, Joshua watched and learned. He communed with God, and his faith grew and grew and grew. Then Moses died, and Joshua was called to take over as the leader of Israel. The command for his life, “be strong and courageous for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go,” was demonstrated at the walls of Jericho, and then throughout the years when Joshua the warrior swept through Canaan, conquering the Promised Land with the army of Israel. We’ve come to know him as everything from a calm and easy-going leader to a fierce and savage warrior. We’ve been impressed by his willingness to do whatever is asked of him. But as his story starts to come to the end, we see a few final aspects of Joshua’s character, particularly his determination to leave a spiritual legacy, and find ourselves inspired one last time! Here is what you may have missed:
- 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
Leaving a Spiritual Legacy
We pick up the account of Joshua’s life after many years of waging war. The land was finally conquered, and once again, Joshua was asked to take on a whole new role with a whole new set of requirements. He would set aside the role of executioner and become God’s administrator, carefully dividing the land according to the Lord’s instructions. In this role, Joshua was leaving a spiritual legacy for the many generations that would follow and have the privilege to LIVE in the land God had given them!
So Joshua conquered the entire region – the hill country, the entire Negev, the whole area around the town of Goshen, the western foothills, the Jordan Valley, the mountain of Israel, and the Galilean foothills…
Joshua killed all the kings of those territories, waging war for a long time to accomplish this…
So Joshua took control of the entire land, just as the Lord had instructed Moses. He gave it to the people of Israel as their special possession, dividing the land among the tribes. So the land finally had rest from war.” Joshua 11:16-23
From there chapters 12-21 begin the detailed description of the division of the land under Joshua’s command. It’s about as exciting to read as your local property archives! It may not have been fun, but it was a big, very meticulous job. Just the kind of thing you would naturally hand over to your most ferocious warrior, right? Probably not… but Joshua was a rare man! Not only did he do this boring, copious job, he did it with wisdom, care, and attention to detail.
I hope it’s as obvious to you by now as it is to me that Joshua is a tough guy to figure out. It’s tough to wrap his complicated character up in a neat, well defined package and put a tidy bow on it, but I think this passage from Psalm 1 comes pretty darn close!
Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers.
But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season.
Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.
There’s no doubt, Joshua was like that tree planted by the riverbank. The strength and courage that defined his life empowered him to follow God with his whole heart, and as a result he prospered. It’s almost unbelievable how much victory followed him! I mean, look what the Bible says about him in Joshua 10:12-14
On the day the Lord gave the Israelites victory over the Amorites, Joshua prayed to the Lord in front of all the people of Israel. He said, “Let the sun stand still over Gibeon, and the moon over the valley of Aijalon.”
So the sun stood still and the moon stayed in place until the nation of Israel had defeated its enemies…
There has never been a day like this one before or since, when the Lord answered such a prayer. Surely the Lord fought for Israel that day!
Did He ever! The Lord seemed to fight for Israel, on behalf of Joshua, an awful lot during those years! But why? What made the Lord answer such outrageous, brazenly bold requests from this man?
Joshua was Wholly Devoted to God
I believe the answer is simple, and that it’s woven consistently through the fabric of Joshua’s life from beginning to end. The whole time, he was leaving a legacy of faith! We can see it in his farewell address to Israel just before he died. As he stood before the people the most important thing to him was this:
Fear the Lord and serve him wholeheartedly.
Put away forever the idols your ancestors worshiped when they lived beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt.
Serve the Lord alone.
But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live?
But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.”
Joshua was a man devoted to God! Wholly devoted! He may be remembered for his victories, but his life was defined by devotion.
When he was in the shadows of Moses, attentively learning in the presence of God – he was devoted to God.
When he spied out the land and came back with steadfast courage, ready to stand alone for what God had promised – he was wholly devoted to God.
When he renewed the covenant of circumcision, and built alters of remembrance to the mighty works of God – he was wholly devoted.
When he stepped out from the shadows and took charge of Israel, stoically leading them across the Jordan and around the walls of Jericho – he was devoted to God.
When the fierce beast of a warrior swept across Canaan and wiped out its abhorrent, Godless nations with savage justice – he was wholly devoted to God.
When he settled the land, and paid meticulous attention to all the directions the Lord had given, properly dividing the country between the twelve tribes, setting up cities of refuge, and making sure the Levites had what they needed – he was wholly devoted.
When he boldly approached the Throne of Grace and asked God to make a way across the Jordan or bring down the walls of Jericho, or defeat the army of Ai, or MAKE THE SUN STAND STILL – he was devoted to God.
When he reached the end of his life, and stood before the people, reminding them of all God had done, all He had promised, and warned them to remain faithful – he was wholly devoted to God
Yes, Joshua is tough to figure out. He was a complicated man. What he would do next was never predictable, save one thing. It’s tough to sum up who he was, apart from this one simple truth – HE WAS WHOLLY DEVOTED TO THE LORD HIS GOD!
Lessons from the Life of Joshua
There are SO MANY things we could learn from Joshua:
- How to be a servant leader.
- What it looks like to learn from a spiritual mentor
- How to sit quietly before the Lord and simply abide in His presence
- How to stand firm in faith, even when you have to do it alone
- How to be strong and courageous
- How to have a testimony so crazy it can only point to God
- How to trust that the Lord your God is with you wherever you go
- How to be obedient to God, even when it’s confusing
- How to be passionate about justice
- What leaving a legacy of faith looks like
- How to live victoriously
- How to make bold and audacious requests of God
- How to finish well
- How to be wholly devoted to God!
And those are just a few of the lessons from the life of Joshua! I think as his life came to an end, though, and we see how devoted he was to leaving a legacy of faith, there is a very important take-away for us. The next generation matters! Joshua demonstrated this both by taking seriously the importance of learning from those who went before him, and his resolve to impart the truth of God’s Word on those who would come behind.
Leaving a Legacy of Faith
Joshua’s journey through life was not about Joshua! His image was never what he was worried about. He spent his time being obedient, not carefully crafting his reputation. When it came to his legacy, he wasn’t all that concerned with how HE would be remembered, but that HIS GOD would be remembered!
Joshua serves as a constant inspiration to me in my own life. He has since I was a little girl. I want to live my life the way he lived his – wholly devoted to God. I want to be strong and courageous. I want to stand firm in faith. I want the constant assurance that God is with me and that He goes ahead of me. I want to abide in the presence of the Lord, to wait on Him, and follow His instructions. I want to study His Word faithfully. I want to be bold enough to stand alone for Him, and I want to be a fierce warrior against sin and evil. I want to be faithful to carry out the details (even when they seem boring) of what God has asked of me. But most of all, I want to leave a legacy of faith. I want to be able to say with confidence, as he did: