15. Remembering the past: Lessons from Joshua

Joshua believed God’s promise, remembered God’s faithfulness, obeyed God’s orders, experienced God’s victory, and led the Israelite army under banner of God’s deliverance.

“The Lord is with us. Do not be afraid” (Numberrs 14:9).

Joshua Believed God’s Promise

How can I have the kind of faith that gets results? The story of Joshua in the Old Testament shows us a wonderful answer to that question.

When Moses sent them to explore Canaan, he said, “Go up through the Negev and on into the hill country.

At the end of forty days they returned from exploring the land…. They gave Moses this account: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites live in the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live near the sea and along the Jordan.”

Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.”

But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”

Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had explored the land, tore their clothes and said to the entire Israelite assembly, “The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. If the LORD is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. Only do not rebel against the LORD. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will swallow them up. Their protection is gone, but the LORD is with us. Do not be afraid of them.”

But the whole assembly talked about stoning them. Then the glory of the LORD appeared at the Tent of Meeting to all the Israelites.

–Numbers 13:17,25,27-33; 14:6-10

The Israelites were at Kadesh-Barnea, just 50 miles from the promised land. Moses sent twelve men to spy out the land. The land was magnificent, but the taking of it was impossible from a human viewpoint. Only Joshua and Caleb had the faith to believe that God could enable them to possess the land God had promised them. Had the Israelites believed God here, they could have been spared forty years of wandering in the wilderness!

Joshua’s Remembered God’s Faithfulness

Joshua was human just like you and I. What made Joshua different? Why did Joshua believe God could give them the land while almost everyone else trembled in fear? Joshua was different because Joshua remembered some things.

Joshua remembered God’s mighty deliverance of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. Joshua remembered the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. Joshua remembered how God departed the water so the Israelites could walk across on dry ground. Joshua remembered the Egyptian army drowning in the same water. Joshua remembered the manna that God provided each day.

Joshua remembered. While the rest of the people saw a situation that could not be overcome, Joshua remembered a God who could not be defeated. And Joshua’s mind must have gone back to the Israelites’ initial encounter with these huge warriors that lived in the land.

This initial encounter came not long after they crossed the river in flight from Pharaoh’s army. As slaves of the Egyptians, the Israelites had never been trained in warfare. God caused the Egyptians to give the Israelites food, clothes, cattle, gold, silver, weapons, and all they required before the Israelites fled from Pharaoh’s clutches, but the Israelites had never been taught to use the swords and shields they bore. As they wielded their armor, they were almost like children playing with toys.

Joshua Obeyed God’s Orders

Egypt had fought the Israelites’ battles before, because the Israelites were Egypt’s slaves. Now the Israelites must learn to fight for themselves. Surely God would give the Israelites a small battle at first, and gradually train them until they were capable of fighting a larger army. But this was not God’s plan. Here is the account of that initial encounter with the inhabitants of the land:

The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim. Moses said to Joshua, “Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.”

So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up–one on one side, one on the other–so that his hands remained steady till sunset. So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it, because I will completely blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.”

Moses built an altar and called it The LORD is my Banner.

–Exodus 17:8-15

Joshua Experienced God’s Victory

The Amalekite warriors were huge. Their army was vast and ruthless. All the heathen nations would reinforce the Amalekites to oppose Israel. What hope did Israel’s faltering, unskilled army have against the Amalekite army and all the heathen world?

Moses appointed Joshua to lead the Israelite army, and Moses himself stood on a hill and held holy hands up to God. Moses held high his rod. God had used Moses rod to perform miracles in the past. Moses’ rod represented God’s deliverance, and that deliverance was the banner of the Israelite army.

As long as Moses held high the banner of God’s deliverance, the Israelites were victorious. When the banner began to slip, the enemy prevailed.

Application

What hope do we as mothers have against the army of Satan as he marches against our children, pulling them into the clutches of a heathen world today?

After the battle was over, Moses built an altar and called it “Jehovah Nissi” in Hebrew, which means “The Lord is my banner.” We have the same banner today that Moses did. We have the same Lord.

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever” (Hebrews 13:8).

He is the same God who delivered Joshua and the Israelites from the Amalekites. We hold our hands high to him, and wave his banner of promise and victory.

Thought to Remember

Sometimes our hands get heavy. We cannot maintain the vigil. But our campaign of prayer has provided intercessory prayer partners who support us on either side. Our banner waves on.

Question for Discussion

  • How can I have the kind of faith that gets results? (part 1)

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Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted