Joshua, the Servant
INTRODUCTION: The Bible is given to us in two parts, the Old Testament and the New Testament. However, once we regard the Bible as ONE COMPLETE BOOK, it begins to take on a whole new meaning. Look at the two testaments in this way.
The Old Testament is preparatory for the New Testament. The NEW cannot be understood apart from the OLD, nor can the OLD be appreciated apart from the NEW. The way that God deals with people in the OLD TESTAMENT is but a picture of His dealing with us in the NEW TESTAMENT.
Perhaps more than any other Old Testament person, Joshua exemplifies POSITIVE examples of how to live the Christian life. Though he certainly made mistakes, Joshua stands out in the pages of the Old Testament as a man who very CONSISTENTLY obeyed God and walked in His will.
Exodus is the book of redemption OUT of Egypt; Joshua is the book of redemption INTO the promise land. In Exodus God parted the waters at the Red Sea to bring his people out of Egypt. Now in Joshua, God will part the waters of the Jordan River to bring his people into Canaan. Moses summarizes both Exodus and Joshua in Deuteronomy 6:23, “And he brought us out from thence, that he might bring us in, to give us the land which he sware unto our fathers.”
By way of comparison, Paul’s letter in the New Testament to the EPHESIANS explains DOCTRINALLY, what in the Old Testament the book of JOSHUA illustrates PRACTICALLY. The book of Joshua illustrates how BELIEVERS today can SAY GOOD-BYE to the OLD LIFE and ENTER into their RICH INHERITANCE in Jesus Christ. It explains how we can DEFEAT our ENEMIES, and how to CLAIM for ourselves all that we have in JESUS CHRIST.
When Israel was in EGYPT, the enemy was AROUND them.
When they crossed the RED SEA, the enemy was BEHIND them.
When the nation crossed the JORDAN RIVER, they saw new enemies BEFORE them, which they conquered by FAITH.
For the next several months, we are going to see from the book of Joshua that the victorious Christian life isn't a once-for-all triumph that ends all our problems. Rather the VICTORIOUS CHRISTIAN LIFE IS A SERIES OF CONFLICTS AND VICTORIES as we defeat one enemy after another and grow in this life God has given to us in Christ.
In fact, Joshua 1:2-6 points out that the key thought of this book of Joshua is “POSSESSION OF THE LAND.” God had given the children of Israel specific land in an unconditional covenant. Here we read,
“Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel. (3) Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses. (4) From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast. (5) There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. (6) Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them.”
In Genesis 13:14, 17 we read, “And the LORD said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: (17) Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee.” In Genesis 15:18 we read, “In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates:” In Genesis 17:8 we read, “And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.” God's promise of the land was reaffirmed to Isaac, Jacob and repeatedly reaffirmed in the books of Numbers and Leviticus.
In Moses’ farewell address in the book of Deuteronomy the word "LAND" is found 200 times and the word "POSSESS' over 50 times.
The word "LAND" is found 87 times in the book of Joshua where we find the record of Israel’s entering, conquering and claiming the Promise Land.
The LAND God gave to Israel is an “everlasting possession.” Their ENJOYMENT of that land is dependent on their faithful obedience to God. As long as the Jews obeyed God's law He blessed them, and they prospered in the land. However when Israel turned from God to worship idols, God first chastened them IN THE LAND (seen in the book of Judges) and then He took them FROM THE LAND as he did in a number of captivities.
In Deuteronomy 8:7 God called the Promised Land "A GOOD LAND."
In Ezekiel 20:6,15 Ezekiel the prophet called the Land of Israel "THE GLORY OF ALL LANDS."
In Daniel 11:16,41, 8:9 Daniel called the Land of Israel "THE PLEASANT LAND" and "THE GLORIOUS LAND."
God chose the LAND of Israel to be the STAGE on which the drama of redemption would be presented, and the events of the end time during the tribulation would take place. No wonder it is said of Jerusalem in Ezekiel 5:5, “Thus saith the Lord GOD; This is Jerusalem: I have set it in the midst of the nations and countries that are round about her.”
When Joshua led the Nation of Israel into Canaan, he was obeying God's command to take the land that had been given to them some 800 years earlier.
Ok, so you are now wondering how all this applies to you, here and now in the 21st century. In order to understand this, you need to take a look at Israel.
God had redeemed the Nation of Israel out of Egypt.
He had victoriously brought them through the Red sea, and provided everything they needed – manna from heaven and water from a rock in the desert.
They came to the land of their inheritance, yet they chose to wander in the WILDERNESS for 40 years in UNBELIEF; living in defeat as they allowed the pagan Canaanite nations to still occupy what was rightfully theirs.
Let me remind you, God in His sovereign grace at Calvary provided for us a TOTAL REDEMPTION. It was COMPLETED, when Jesus cried, "IT IS FINISHED." As a result of our faith in the finished work of Calvary, God promised to REGENERATE US and JUSTIFY US. He provided REDEMPTION at Calvary that we might enjoy all the riches of His grace.
Then, why, like Israel, are the majority of us content with a wilderness experience in our Christian life? Why are so many of God's people living in the WILDERNESS of DEFEAT? We are saved and redeemed, yet always in constant struggle, living with NO BLESSING, NO VICTORY, and NO REST.
Has not God promised us so much more?
Yet, in spite of Calvary, in spite of the Empty Tomb, in spite of the Ascended Lord, and in spite of the power of the Holy Spirit, the majority of BORN AGAIN believers choose to live and perish in the wilderness of unbelief being DEPRIVED of our spiritual riches in Christ and DEFEATED from living the VICTORIOUS CHRISTIAN LIFE.
Let me share one more thing in the interest of background to the Book of Joshua. Surprisingly, the leading person in the book of Joshua is not JOSHUA, rather it is the LORD JEHOVAH. For example in Joshua 7:14, GOD is referred to as "The LORD God of Israel" at least 14 times! Everything that Israel did brought either glory, or disgrace to the name of their God.
When Israel obeyed by faith, God kept His promises and worked on their behalf; and God was GLORIFIED. But when they disobeyed in unbelief, God abandoned them to their own ways and they were humiliated in defeat.
Now having said this, would you focus your attention on Joshua 1:1-2 where we read,
“Now after the death of Moses the servant of the LORD it came to pass, that the LORD spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses' minister, saying, (2) Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel.”
From Exodus 3 to Deuteronomy 34, the Bible focuses attention on the ministry of Moses, God’s chosen servant to lead the nation of Israel. Even after Moses died; he would not be forgotten, since his name was mentioned 50 times in the book, God, in His wisdom, raised up a new leader whom he had been preparing. Remember this – "God buries His workers, but His work goes on."
Would you notice again verse 1 and this arresting phrase, "…Joshua the son of Nun, Moses minister…" The word “minister” carries the idea of “servant.” As we read from Exodus through Deuteronomy we discover that:
Before Joshua led the Israelites across the Jordan,
Before Joshua led the Israelites around the city of Jericho, and even
Before Joshua led the Israelites through the land to victory,
Joshua was first a servant, the Aid-to-camp to Moses. He was the SECOND man before he became the FIRST man. Please understand that God uses servants. Check it out – some 900 times the word servant is used in the Bible.
When Jude wrote his letter, he calls himself a SERVANT of Jesus Christ.
When Paul wrote Romans, he called himself a SERVANT of Jesus Christ.
When Peter wrote II Peter, he called himself a SERVANT of Jesus Christ.
When James wrote his Epistle, He called himself a SERVANT of Jesus Christ.
Joshua was a servant. He was the SECOND man before he became the FIRST man. He was the FOLLOWER before he became the LEADER. In Numbers 11:28 we read, "And Joshua, the SERVANT of Moses…" In Numbers 13:8 Joshua was originally called Hoshes. The name HOSHES means "salvation." However during the wilderness journey found in Numbers 13:16, Moses changed his name to JOSHUA, which literally means "JEHOVAH IS SALVATION."
Now Joshua is the Hebrew form of "Jesus." The names of JESUS and JOSHUA mean the same thing. Joshua is a type of Jesus Christ. Interestingly Jesus came not to be served but to be a servant, for in Philippians 2:7 we read that "…He took upon Him the form of a servant…"
For nearly 80 years, Joshua had played the second fiddle. God's pattern for leadership is summarized in Matthew 25:21 where we read, “His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” What is that pattern? "When we prove ourselves faithful as servants over a few things, then God can make us rulers over many things.” Joshua was able to GIVE orders because he'd learned how to TAKE orders. God had spent many years preparing Joshua for his calling.
First: Joshua had lived 40 years in bondage, enduring the hardships, the frustration and the cruelty of the Egyptian task masters.
Second: For another 40 years, he wandered in the wilderness as an aid to Moses.
Now after 80 years as a servant, behind the scenes, playing second fiddle, after the death of Moses, God hands the leadership over to Joshua.
Stop for a moment and think. Would you agree that we often murmur at the mundane activities of DAILY DUTY? We may think, I am worthy of bigger and better. My little sphere of service at times seems so INADEQUATE, so UNWORTHY, and even UN-NOTICED, yet so necessary. Let God be the judge as to when TO MOVE you up and not yourself. The Bible teaches us,
"Those who we EXALT, the Lord HUMBLES,"
“Those who are HUMBLE, the Lord EXALTS,"
"Those who we think are NOTHING, the Lord thinks they are SOMETHING,"and
"Those who think they are SOMETHING, the Lord thinks they are NOTHING."
The Bible teaches in I Peter 5:5-6, “…be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.”
God's will for your life and mine never comes through the BIG things, but through the LITTLE things. If we ACCOMPLISH the SMALLEST responsibility, DIGNIFY the SMALLEST duty, one day God will relieve us of the little things and give us a BIG thing to do for His glory.
Over a kitchen sink a motto was placed: "Divine service is conducted here 3x a day." There is a breath of Heaven in that statement. Faithful in small things enables God to trust us with bigger things in life.
Someone said, "We have a lot of USED TO WAS'ERS in our churches, HAS BEEN'ERS and GONNA DOERS, and USED TO BE'ERS. What we need are some DOING NOW'ERS servant mentality."
One day a visitor noticed a man cleaning out the pews after the service. He asked his friend, “Is that the church janitor?” Oh, no was the reply, "THAT IS THE TOWN MAYOR!" For years he has done the minimal task no one else would do. Yes, he truly was a real servant.
One day Jesus emerged from obscurity, He had put 30 years of preparation in for 3 years of ministry. Jesus came to be a servant. He dignified the servant’s spirit. Just before the cross, we see Jesus provide us with an example of the servant's spirit. He was about to demonstrate His love in a way that would demonstrate that the "MASTER IS NOT THE GREATEST, BUT RATHER THE SERVANT IS THE GREATEST."
Would you turn your attention to John 13:1-5 where we read,
“Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. (2) And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him; (3) Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; (4) He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.” Now carefully notice verse 5, “After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.”
This was no minor incident, as it was the job of a servant, in an middle-eastern household, to welcome guests in this way. Since they walked through the dusty streets in footwear that would hardly compare with our modern shoes, guests who entered a home had their feet washed by one of the household servants.
Since this was a private meal in a borrowed facility, there was no household servant. No doubt Christ had waited for one of the disciples to volunteer to carry out this role.
The basin of water was there.
The towel to wipe their feet was there.
But there was one major problem, the absence of a servant. Herein became Christ's opportunity, TO BECOME THAT SERVANT. Now in verses 12-17 we read,
“So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? (13) Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. (14) If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. (15) For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Now carefully notice verse 16-17, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. (17) If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.” In many respects this was a shocking experience for the disciples.
It threatened them, especially in view of their prideful argument.
It violated their cultured tradition.
It hit at the very heart of their self-centeredness, their desire to dominate and control one another.
“The Disciples were ready to FIGHT FOR A THRONE, BUT NOT FOR A TOWEL." Is this not often true in our lives?
We are ready and willing to fight for the THRONE, but not for the TOWEL.
We are willing to fight for the CELEBRITY STATUS, but not for the OBSCURE POSITION.
We are willing to stand up and be counted if it will give us preeminence, but the servant’s job is beneath us.
What a profound statement, "THERE MUST ALWAYS BE A TOWEL BEFORE THE THRONE." In Mark 10:45 Jesus said, "For even the Son of man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to live His life a ransom for many." just a simple admission, "Jesus came to SERVE and to GIVE."
Many years ago, Colonel James Irwin, a former astronaut who was part of the crew that had made the successful moon walk, gave a speech.
"He spoke of the thrill connected with leaving this planet and seeing it shrink in size. He mentioned watching the earth rise one day … and thinking how privileged he was to be a member of that unique crew. And then he began to realize en route back home that many would consider him a "superstar."
Humbled by the awesome goodness of God, he said, "As I was returning to earth, I realized that I was a SERVANT not a celebrity. So I am here as God's SERVANT on planet earth to share what I have experienced that others MIGHT KNOW THE GLORY OF GOD."
God allowed this man to break loose from the small cage we call earth during which time He revealed to him a basic motto all of us do well to learn, "A SERVANT NOT A CELEBRITY."
In this day of "media magic," WE DON'T NEED MORE CELEBRITIES, BUT WE CERTAINLY DO NEED MORE SERVANTS.
Our Lord used a towel and wash basin to wash 12 pair of dirty, filthy and possibly in some cases manure-filled feet. In so doing, He gave us a unique example of a SERVANT ATTITUDE.
In the everyday grind of life, our Lord showed us how "to really love as Christ loved." Until we baptize ourselves in service for others, we will never understand what it means to really love as Christ loved.
May I encourage you to put into practice the great proof of servant-hood? You know what the great proof of being a servant is, it is ANONYMITY. Listen to these words.
You know Lord, how I serve You
With great emotional fervor In the limelight.
But how would I react,
I wonder If you pointed to a Basin of water
And asked me to wash the callused feet
Of a bent and wrinkled old saint of God
Day after Day Month after Month
In a room where NOBODY SAW AND NOBODY KNEW
Let those last words sink in, "NOBODY SAW AND NOBODY KNEW." Remember, the art of servant-hood is anonymity.
God is looking for SERVANTS. God blesses SERVANTS. Joshua was Moses’ servant, the SECOND man FIRST. For 80 years he played second fiddle in preparation to become for 30 years the first man. In Joel 2:29 we read, "And, also, upon the servants … will I pour out my spirit." No greater commendation of Joshua's character was made then when God said of him in Numbers 27:18 "A man in whom is the Holy Spirit.'
In I Corinthians 9:19 we read Paul saying, "For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself SERVANT unto all…"
Today, may those of us who name the name of Jesus not seek greatness, but forget greatness to be servants until that day in Glory, if we have reached for the towel, when we hear those words of our JEHOVAH GOD, "Well done thou good and faithful SERVANT."
If God has spoken to your heart, after reading the sermon “Joshua the Servant” right now talk to God about what He has spoken to you.
Do you have the assurance that one day you will go to heaven? If you have no assurance that you know Jesus Christ, then I trust you will decide to accept Him as your personal Savior. The Bible tells us in
Acts 16:31, “…Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…”
Romans 10:13, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
This prayer is here for those who need to ask Jesus to be their personal Savior: “I do want to go to Heaven. I know I am a sinner, and I do believe Jesus Christ died for me. I realize I cannot buy this great salvation, nor can I earn it. Knowing Jesus died on the cross and arose from the grave to pay my sin debt and to purchase my salvation, I do now trust Him as my Savior, and from this moment on I am completely depending on Him for my salvation.”
If you made the decision to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, let me know. Please send an e-mail to pdmikBBM@aol.com and I will send you some literature that will help you in your Christian life.
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