Usually when we think of Joshua we picture a great military leader confidently leading Israel to conquer Canaan. While that is not an entirely wrong picture, it certainly didn’t begin there. For one thing, Joshua was 90 years old when he led Israel into Canaan so I don’t envision Joshua slinging a sword in battle. For another, remember that Joshua’s life had not been an easy one. The same may also be true for you as well.
What you are presently is not what you were. Nor is your life at this moment what it will be if you live by faith. Hopefully that is good news for you. While Joshua’s life may look somewhat glamorous in the book of Joshua, his life had not been easy up to this point.
From what I have pieced together this is Joshua’s story. Joshua’s given name at birth was Hoshea. Hoshea was born as a slave in Egypt in approximately 1497 BC. At his birth, his family had been entrenched in Egypt for more than 350 years, and much of that time as slaves. Just to give some perspective, America has only been a country for a little over 200 years and look how much things have changed over our history. In the 350 years In Egypt things went from great to good to bad and finally to horrible. Although he was a slave in the land of his birth, the main theme of his life seemed to be one of hope and in his story we see the victory of faith! I guess that what I am trying to say is this: regardless of circumstances it is possible for you to make wise choices and to live by faith. The one thing that no one can take from you is your faith and your moral choices. Life is supposed to shape our faithThe faith we see in Joshua as he leads Israel into Canaan had been carved out over a lifetime. I cannot help but wonder whether or not his parents had a vision for freedom, not only for their family, but also for their nation. I think that is a plausible theory since they named their son “salvation” – that is the meaning of Hoshea.
Like other Israelite boys, Hoshea’s big dream and constant prayer was to see his people delivered from oppression. We know that he had been taught and held onto the knowledge of God’s promise to Abraham that He would give the descendants of Abraham the land of Canaan. That is why it is called the Promised Land, because God promised it to his people. We know that Israel honored the past because when they left Egypt they carried Joseph’s corpse with them until they finally buried him in Canaan with his father Jacob. It is likely that as this boy turned into a man he dreamed of the day that God would deliver them. Although he could not have known when and certainly not how He would deliver them from the Egyptians he still believed that God would keep his promise, when it was time to do so.
It was not to be until Hoshea was 50 years old that God sent Moses, who was 80 at the time, to deliver the Israelites from Egyptian bondage. So we have as our leaders a 50 year old and a 80 years old. That’s what I call retirement! If you have ever thought that you are too old for things to change I would encourage you to think differently about the purpose your life. Don’t trade your dreams and aspirations for living in status quo. Whenever you think that nothing is ever going to change just remember that when God is moves, everything is possible. And boy did things start to change. For one thing, when Moses showed up he changed Hoshea’s name to Joshua. Remember that Hoshea was 50 years old! That’s 50! Five, zero! So at half of a century “salvation” became “Yahweh saves.” Add Yahweh to your life and experience the exponential difference.
At this point we pick up Joshua’s story by first being introduced to him as the military field commander under Moses shortly after the Exodus. He is probably most familiar because his faith in God was affirmed in the matter of spying out the land by unsuccessfully seeking along with Caleb to counteract the unbelieving, negative, pessimistic attitude of the other ten spies. God rewarded their courage and faith by promising them entrance into the land. However, before that promise could be fulfilled they had to first spend 40 years in the wilderness, thanks to their unbelieving friends. But even this did not turn him bitter or cynical. Both he and his sidekick Caleb kept their faith in God rather than circumstances and their minds fixed on His promise.
“Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls! Hebrews 12:1-3, The Message
(This is an excerpt from Monumental Living, which is a book that I am writing based on the life of Joshua and what it looks like to live by faith.)