The Book of Joshua begins forty years after the Jewish people were released from Egyptian slavery. Because of their disobedience, their entrance into their Promised Land was postponed, stretching what should have been an eleven-day journey into forty years of difficulty. As great a man as Moses was, and as unique a relationship as his with God might have been, God broke the news to him in Deuteronomy 1—he would not be allowed to lead the people west, across the Jordan river and actually enter the land. Rather, his longtime apprentice and eventual successor, a younger man named Joshua, would be given that responsibility.
Gene Bartow coached the UCLA men’s basketball team for two years. His record as their coach was 52-9. (FYI—that’s really good.) But Bartow resigned because he couldn’t take the pressure—remember, he had replaced John Wooden. Now, I loved Coach Wooden, but can you imagine being asked to take over after Moses retired? Yikes! No one in Israel under 40 had ever even had a different national leader. In fact, the only other national leader any living Jew could remember was Pharaoh. It’s fair to say that Mo’s shoes were big shoes. Joshua probably even wondered why God chose him to be the guy. But God chose Joshua as Israel’s CEO because he checked three essential boxes:
JOSHUA WAS COURAGEOUS
Joshua was one of the 12 spies commissioned by Moses to explore the Promised Land. They were sent in covertly to help identify a strategy to conquer it. After delivering their report to Moses, Joshua and Caleb were the only two who gave Moses the green light. The other ten, a full 83%voted “No, we can’t attack.”
So, I’m thinking, “What do you mean, we can’t attack?” Anyone can attack!
Even when God promises to give us victory in battle, He can’t do it until we attack. I say it all the time—even God can’t steer a parked car! And He can’t give the victory unless someone attacks.
By definition, courage is "the willingness to face uncertainty or danger." But it’s not natural to engage either one without fear. Courage is less a personal trait than it is a recognition of your resources. The question, then, isn’t, “Are you courageous?” The real question is, “Do you trust your resources?”
If it’s just me and a grizzly, I’m running. If you ever expect me to stand my ground against an oncoming bear, you better hand me a Remington 870, 7-load 12-Guage. What separates the chicken from the brave? Resources.
When you think about it, where can you thrive in this world without support resources? When you're asked to lead an undersized army into battle, it’s good to have an oversized God at your backs! As a lifelong military man, Joshua was savvy enough to recognize a strategic resource advantage when he saw one.
JOSHUA WAS EXPECTANT
In Exodus 33, there’s an interesting story about Joshua, still operating as Moses’ righthand man, remaining behind in the “Tent of Meeting” where Moses would regularly speak with God.
Joshua not only wanted to witness and share in what God was doing through Moses, he wanted to hear and experience God too. Prior to his lingering there, the narrative describes how Moses was in the tent, talking with God as if He were a friend. When the conversation ended, Moses walked outside. But, even after Moses left, the pillar of the cloud of God’s presence remained. That’s why Joshua wasn’t leaving—he was sticking around to experience God for Himself.
When you lose a leader of Moses’ stature, certainly a sense of loss could have immobilized the nation, especially since they’d just finally arrived at a long-anticipated destination. Never again would their key leader match Moses’ personal friendship with God. Who would have blamed them, even Joshua himself for not expecting as much without Moses as the people enjoyed with him?
Here’s a principle we cannot afford to ever forget: Expect less from people and more from God. Most of us expect too much from people, but expect way too little from God. We all know people (probably someone who’s in your oikos) who have walked away from the church. Why? Because they were let down by their pastor, or their small group leader, or a volunteer, or their parents. Did Jesus let them down? No, people did. But, in walking away from the people, they walked away from Jesus too. Go figure.
Expectations are important because they frame the outcome of any relationship. Take a person who expects God to do amazing things and another person who doesn’t expect Him to do much. What do they both have in common? They’re both right. So, what do you expect from God? That He would just use your pastor? Or that He would use you?
JOSHUA WAS OBEDIENT
Obedience is a major theme in Joshua’s interaction with God. Obedience is the natural consequence of trust. Submitting to the will of another is only a joyful and confident decision when you believe that the one you’re submitting to is trustworthy. So, you could say that trust actually engineers obedience.
But what happens when God says to submit to people we don’t trust? When a parent isn’t trusted, it’s difficult for a child to want to submit. When the husband isn’t trusted, it’s difficult for the wife to want to submit. When a boss isn’t trusted, it’s difficult for an employee to want to submit. When the government isn’t trusted, it’s difficult for a citizen to want to submit. So, when God’s Word says we should submit to earthly authorities anyway, that decision is a recognition that our trust ultimately is in God, not in the people we share life with. Others let us down at times, but God is always trustworthy.
Obedience to God begins in His Word. If you’re in a season of trying to figure out God’s will for your future, do what you’re already sure of, what’s clearly understood in His Word. You may not know what the future holds, but you certainly know what the Bible says, and virtually all of it is crystal clear to a reader of average intelligence. The question is, “How much do you trust the God who wrote Bible?” It all comes back to courage—and trusting God as your resource. Do you trust the Bible enough to believe it, or do you trust it enough to obey it?
The answer to that question determines whether or not you qualify as a CEO in GodCorp, because it frames what it means to attack the obstacles of life in the name of Yahweh.
Simply and systematically trust Him as your resource, fully expect Him to give you the victory, and then submit to His Word.