Captain of the Lord’s Host
Moses was God’s great servant; David was God’s great shepherd; Isaiah was God’s great statesman, but Joshua was God’s great soldier. The author of the book which bears his name takes an unchallenged place among the great military leaders the world has known. No book is more full of encouragement, wisdom and invigoration for the spiritual soldier. It is said that Stonewall Jackson learned the secret of his unbeatable tactics from pouring over the campaigns of the conqueror of Palestine. The plan of campaign was to smash the center citadel of the enemy. A swift turn southward and victory crowned his arms from Kadesh to Gibeon. This left him free to attack and vanquish the combined arrays of kings in the north, and the land had rest from war. Its counterpart in the New Testament are the books of the Acts and Ephesians. These two books demonstrate the presence, power and possessions of the Christian in the living Lord. The book of Joshua throbs with the same divine truth and typifies the warfare of the spirit and the life that overcomes. The forces that made Joshua are told out in the Exodus, the Wilderness and the Land.
As A Soldier (Exodus 17:13)
Joshua is seen as the chosen instrument to fight against Amalek, the grandson of Esau (Genesis 4:22; 29; 36:12). He typifies the man after flesh. Joshua utterly wiped him out for his was a campaign of annihilation. In the life of the believer we are to remember the battle with Amalek. We do not have the right to forget what God remembers. Amalek is that sin principle of satanic origin which makes you what you are apart from what God is, and what you do (which God is willing to forgive and forget) stems from what you are. Only the Holy Spirit is sufficient to overcome the self-life. Christ alone is Victor. Do not be deceived by Amalek. Resist him with the rod of God held high appropriating the victory already won by the Captain of our Salvation. Cut your way through his ranks, for this is the victory, even your faith. Oh! the blessedness of experiencing the truth of Jehovah Nissi. Only under His banner is victory, (Romans 13:14; Galatians 5:19-21).
As A Servant (Exodus 24:13)
Joshua is seen as an attendant of the man of God, Moses. What lessons he learned in that office. Joshua is seen waiting. How difficult to the flesh. Yet all who serve must first wait (Psalm 27:14; Isaiah 40:31).
Waiting implies training of the mind, discipline of spirit and restraint of bodily appetites in order to become an athlete of the soul. How the heart of Joshua must have been stirred as he listened to the counsel of the man trained in all the wisdom and learning of the Egyptians. How his eyes must have flashed as he beheld Moses marshalling the forces of Israel, leading them, calling upon God, seeking to shepherd them as a flock, a vessel truly equipped under God. How oft we too can draw inspiration from the privilege of working in association with others. God gave Elijah an Elisha; Paul a Luke; Moses a Joshua, even so in our generation.
As A Supplicant (Exodus 33:11)
Here is another lovely slant on the preparation of the man called Joshua. Moses is seen here speaking to God face to face, before coming out to the people. Joshua is left in the Tabernacle. The Tabernacle was the residence and revelation of Jehovah. It would appear then that Joshua was here as a worshipper— seeking the face of God in the midst of His dwelling in the desert. What need today for praying rather than saying prayers. Let us take heed to the advice of a great preacher, C. H. Spurgeon, to “prepare our prayers by preparing ourselves”. How beautifully the prophet defines prayer in the words, “There is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee” (Isaiah 64:7). It simply means to rouse oneself out of sleep, and seize hold of Jehovah, and implies the call of a man who is persistent, insistent and resistant to all and any who would hinder. His very soul is in deadly earnest, his eyes, his hands, his very fingers reach out by faith to lay hold of God. Surely, prayer is the slender nerve that moves the arm of Omnipotence. Joshua proved this in his conflict with the world (Jericho); the flesh (the seven nations), and the devil (the kings of the land).
As A Sent One (Numbers 13:16; 14:6-9)
Israel is seen on the threshold of the land. Before crossing the border spies are sent out to view the Land (Numbers 13:17-20). They had to ascend, meet with adversity, and personally appropiate. On their return they had the fruit as witness to the plenteousness of the promised land. It was a land flowing with milk and honey; milk was a necessity, honey was a luxury; God gives His children both. In spite of the grapes, a witness to God’s faithfulness, all the other spies save Caleb and Joshua saw giants. It is only as we realize we are sent of God into this world that we shall not look on ourselves as grasshoppers but heirs of the grace of God with the ability to say, “Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.”
As A Spirit-Filled Leader (Numbers 27:18)
Another trait manifested in the life of Joshua was his spirit-filled leadership. Moses prayed for a man with a shepherd’s heart, (v. 17). God’s answer to that prayer was Joshua. How striking the words, “take”: “lay thine hand upon him”; “set” (vv. 18, 19). It is ever thus in the things of God (Acts 6:3). Think of Stephen, Barnabas, Paul; men in whom the Spirit of God dwelled in ungrieved power. It is no wonder they left such an impact for God. God builds today through spiritual leadership. Unless God ordains men into positions of leadership among His people it is still true, “Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it”.
As A Steward (Numbers 32:1 2)
What a blessed pen-sketch here of Joshua. While we know little of his life as a boy we do know by the record in the wilderness as a man he was courageous, loyal, devoted and faithful. As the old negro spiritual puts it —
De Son of Nun;
He never would stop
Til de work was done.”
His name enshrines the word, “Jesus” and means deliverance. Moses adds an extra syllable, (Jeoshea) meaning, “God would deliver.” Carrying out his name to the letter Joshua went on and on for God, experiencing victory after victory till his work was done. How precious to behold his motto at the end of a long and faithful life, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).
As A Successor (Deuteronomy 34:9; Joshua 1:1, 2)
John Wesley said, “God buries His workmen, but carries on His work,” so Joshua succeeds the prophet of God, a great leader and fallen in the ranks of Israel. The words still fall on our ears like the tolling of a great bell. Heine says, “He was a great artist, who fashioned his works not of bricks and granite but of living men. He took a poor chicken-hearted shepherd tribe and created a people who would defy the centuries and mould the history of the world. Moses died on the threshold of achievement when it seemed his presence was indispensable. It was a terrific blow to God’s people. God’s task was still unfinished. Never a Moses dies but what God has a Joshua to take his place. God’s command to Joshua is ‘Arise and go over this Jordan.’ Whenever there is a vacant place the divine challenge is to fulfil it — if the sceptre falls, lift it. The night is far spent—many are falling who were leaders among the people of God. Let us go on—let us possess— let us dare and do till the shout.”
“Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:24).