INTRODUCTION TO THE BOOK OF JOSHUA (Part 2)
Joshua the soldier. The first official recorded act of Joshua in Scripture is his defeat of the Amalekites when they attacked Israel about two months after Israel’s exodus from Egypt (17:8–16). Moses was a prophet and legislator, but Joshua was a general with exceptional military skills. He was also a man of great courage, who wasn’t afraid to confront the enemy and trust the Lord for victory.
Where did Joshua learn to use a sword and to command an army? Certainly he was especially gifted by the Lord, but even heavenly gifts must be discovered and developed in an earthly setting. Had Joshua in some way been involved with the Egyptian army and received his early training in its ranks? This is possible, though the Scriptures are silent and we must not be dogmatic. Just as Moses refused a high position in Pharaoh’s palace but received his education there (Hebrews 11:24–26; Acts 7:22), so Joshua may have turned down army promotions that he might identify with his people and serve the Lord.
According to Exodus 17:14, the writer suggests that God had chosen Joshua for a special work in the future. Unknown to Joshua, the battle with Amalek was a testing time when God was examining his faith and courage. “Make every occasion a great occasion, for you can never tell when someone may be taking your measure for a larger place” (Marsden). Joshua’s conflict with Amalek was the preparation for many battles he would fight in the Promised Land.
Joshua the servant. In Exodus 24:13, Joshua is called Moses’ servant (“minister”), which indicates that Joshua was now an official assistant to the leader of Israel. He accompanied Moses to the mount and went with him when he judged the people for making the golden calf (32:17). It wasn’t enough that Joshua be a good warrior; he also had to know the God of Israel and the holy laws God gave His people to obey. We shall discover that the secret of Joshua’s victories was not his skill with the sword but his submission to the Word of God (Joshua 1:8) and to the God of the Word (5:13–15).
During Israel’s wilderness journey, Moses had a special tent set up outside the camp where he could meet with God (Exodus 33:7–11). It was Joshua’s responsibility to stay at the tent and guard it. Not only was Joshua a warrior, but he was also a worshiper and knew how to live in the presence of God.
Joshua was jealous not only for the glory of God but also for the honor and authority of Moses. This is a good characteristic for a servant to have, and it showed up when God sent His Spirit upon the seventy elders Moses had chosen to assist him in his work (Numbers 11:16–30). When the Spirit came upon Eldad and Medad in the camp, two men who had not assembled with the other elders at the tabernacle, Joshua protested and asked Moses to stop them from prophesying. (For a New Testament parallel, see Luke 9:49–50.) The breadth of Moses’ spirit must have moved Joshua as Moses claimed no special privileges for himself. It’s worth noting that when the inheritance was allotted after the conquest of the Promised Land, Joshua took his share last (Joshua 19:49–51).
Wiersbe, W. W. Be Strong. Part 2