I am always amazed at how God uses both conventional and non-conventional methods through the agency of our human personalities to fulfill His purpose. This should give us great pause when too often we consider ourselves incompetent to effectively accomplish the tasks we receive from God.
In this four-part series (1 of 4) I would like to briefly look at four very familiar, yet unseemly, biblical characters such as Joshua, Gideon,David, Daniel and friends, demonstrating how their obedience allowed them to be used in powerful ways and glorify the Kingdom of God. As stated in Hebrews 11:32-34 about the patriarchs, “who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword,out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the enemies…”
In Part 1 of the series, we will take a look at Joshua,Moses’ assistant. God delivers the Children of Israel, over six hundred thousand people, from the bondage of Egypt by the hand of Moses from the extremely harsh conditions imposed on them by Pharaoh, the King of Egypt – the most powerful nation in ancient times. Moses is not allowed to enter the promise land. God instructs Moses to place the mantle of leadership on Joshua, the son of Nun, who obedient to God through great military exploits successfully conquers the land of Canaan (Joshua 1:3-5; 14:10-11;21:43-45). Although the argument is silent from scripture, it seems reasonable to suggest that during their captivity in Egypt, none of the men of Israel actually became skilled in military warfare. Remember, the Children of Israel were shepherds(Genesis 47:1-6) and later slaves in Egypt (Exodus 1:6-11). It was God who promised to bring them to ‘a land flowing with milk and honey’ in order that His name be declared in all the earth. But ten of the twelve leaders, who for 40 days, spied out the land of Canaan came back with a bad report discouraging the people from entering the promise land – refused to go conquer the land of Canaan – due to their disobedience God determined that they would spend 40 years in the wilderness (a year for each day) until that whole rebellious generation died (Numbers 13:2, 26-33; 14:26-34).
However, these judgments did not fall on two of the leaders, Caleb and Joshua. Why? Think about it. God promised that he would go before them and drive out the Canaanites. They believed and obeyed God. God takes Joshua an ordinary man, with no military background, no combat experience and calls him to lead a large ‘motley crew’ of men with no military experience into battle. Through Joshua’s leadership the Children of Israel entered national territories and conquer lands that were more powerful and stronger than they. What made the difference? I believe it was Joshua’s desire to stay close to the presence of God during their wilderness journeyings (Exodus 33:11) that equipped him for his future calling as leader (Joshua 1:1-18). Four times in the first chapter of Joshua, God encourages Joshua ‘to be strong and of good courage, do not be afraid’ because the Lord your God is with you wherever you go (vs 6, 7, 9 and 18).
God told Joshua, ‘do not beafraid’ because He will go with him. Fear is often used as a stronghold torender the individual useless both spiritually, mentally and physicallypreventing us to do God’s will. It’swhat I call psychological warfare. An age-old practice used by soldiers for millenniato defeat an opponent or enemy (Satan our enemy uses this method frequentlyagainst us Christians). Joshua’s witnessingthe extraordinary deliverance of the Children of Israel out of Egypt, taughthim how to trust in the power and word of God. He trusted God. He believed God,therefore God was able to use Joshua in a powerful way. As theprophet Zechariah 4:6 said, which still rings true, even for us today “…not by might nor by power, but by my Spiritsays the Lord Almighty.”
So, as we draw closer to God and stand on the promises of Jesus stated in Matthew 28:18-20, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and earth….I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen’ we can also do great exploits and bring His name to the nations.
In Part 2 of the series (Part 2 of 4) we will visit Gideon, “A Man of Valor! When you feel incompetent to complete the task.”