Now after the death of Moses the servant of the LORD it came to pass, that the LORD spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses' minister…
The very name Joshua, Jesus, "God's salvation," is enough of itself to awaken special interest in the man who, on the page of Scripture, first bears it. It is suggestive at once of the nature of his life work, and it leads us to anticipate some points of analogy between him and the Savior of the world. Joshua is one of the few Old Testament characters against whose name there is no reproach. Not that this Book presents any formal delineation of his character or pronounces his praise. It is but a simple, matter of fact record of great events in which he took a leading part. His illustrious deeds are their own eulogium. He stands before us as the type of a godly warrior, reverent in spirit yet full of practical energy, blameless and fearless, gentle and strong, spending a long life in unselfish and unwearied devotion to the cause of the people and of God. He was the brave soldier whose work, dark and terrible as it was, was consecrated by the inspiration of a Divine call and of a beneficent purpose. A general view of Joshua's position in the annals of the Hebrew race is suggestive.
I. IT REMINDS US HOW, AT CRITICAL PERIODS IN HUMAN HISTORY, GOD RAISES UP MEN AS FITTING INSTRUMENTS FOR THE ACCOMPLISHMENT OF HIS PURPOSES. The death of Moses marks a crisis in the career of the chosen people, he who has been their "leader and commander" through all the forty years' wandering in the wilderness and has brought them to the borders of the land of promise, is taken from them just when they seem most to need him. Only Jordan now rolls between them and the fruition of their hopes; the prize is within their reach. Shall they fail, and, after all, come short of it? They would have failed if God had not been with them, moving, working among them, fulfilling His own will, magnifying His own name. Joshua's uprising is itself a Divine interposition. He is not the product of the mere natural working of events and second causes. He is a deliverer whom God has provided, well named God's salvation. The lesson is an important one. When God has any great work for men to do, he never fails to call forth those who can do it. The history of the Church, the general course of the world's life, establish this law. The demand and the supply, the hour and the man, always meet. When those who are in the high places of the field fall, others step forth, often from very unlikely quarters, to fill the gap and carry on the work to riper issues. This continuity of the Divine purpose and of the path of its development is very wonderful ?
"The voice that from the glory came
To tell how Moses died unseen,
And waken Joshua's spear of flame
To victory on the mountains green,
Its trumpet tones are sounding still," kindling our expectations, rousing our energies, rebuking our distrust. Through the shifting clouds of circumstance we catch "glimpses of the unchanging sky." God's redeeming purpose shines on through all human and earthly changes. We need not fear but that He "will plead his own cause," and when new emergencies arise provide some new instrument or agency to meet them.
II. IT REMINDS US OF THE PROCESS BY WHICH GOD IS WONT TO PREPARE MEN FOR THE WORK HE HAS FOR THEM TO DO. Joshua was a divinely chosen and ordained deliverer (Numbers 27:18-23; Deuteronomy 31:14-23). But God's choice is never arbitrary, reasonless. There is generally some native quality, or circumstantial advantage, that makes the chosen man the more fitting instrument. (Examples: Moses, David, Cyrus, Paul, Luther.) Joshua grew up as a slave in the brick fields of Egypt. Born about the time when Moses fled into Midian, he must have been forty years old at the exodus. It may seem strange that such greatness as his should have been nursed amid such associations. But when God has fixed His choice on a man He can make what seem to be the most adverse conditions a school of preparation. And, perhaps, the rough influences of such a lot were, after all, the best school. In servitude as a youth, he learnt how to command as a man. No doubt sudden emergencies have often developed unlooked for qualities in men. Tender spirits, nursed in the lap of luxury, have been found calm in danger, brave in battle. Still, as a nile, to "bear the yoke in one's youth" is the best preparation for the stern struggle of after life. Moreover, the trials and responsibilities of life are graduated. The right discharge of lesser duty qualifies for higher positions of trust. Joshua proved, in the previous expeditions on which Moses sent him (Exodus 17:9; Numbers 13:17), his fitness to take the place of the great leader. "He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much." "If thou hast run with the footmen," etc. (Jeremiah 12:5). Again: other circumstances of a different kind - miraculous manifestations, Divine revelations - had their part in Joshua's preparation, he had witnessed the wonders in Egypt and at the Red Sea, had been with Moses in the mount, had had direct communication from God to himself (Deuteronomy 31.). We are reminded of the higher, diviner influences that help in the formation of all noblest human character; there is always the blending of natural and supernatural elements, ordinary associations of life mingled with direct heavenly visitations, innate qualities sanctified and glorified by special ministries of the grace of God.
III. IT ILLUSTRATES THE HEROISM THAT SPRINGS FROM FAITH. Faith, the faith that brought him into personal contact with the living God, was the spring of all Joshua's strength and courage. He had no prophetic gift as regards the vision of the future, for it was through the priest Eleazar, "after the judgment of Urim," that he was to ask counsel of the Lord (Numbers 27:21). But as military leader of Israel he was divinely inspired; and his inspiration was the energy of faith. This has ever been the prolific root of the noblest forms of character and deed. By it "the elders," whose names shed lustre on the ages of the past, "obtained their good report." And so it always will be. There is no heroism like that which springs from the soul's living hold on the unseen and eternal. The hope of the world for deliverance from the ills that afflict it, and its being led into the heritage of a brighter future, is in the men of faith. And he is an enemy to his race who would attempt to dry up this spring of power. "This is the victory," etc. (1 John 5:4).
IV. IT PRESENTS US WITH AN INTERESTING HISTORIC TYPE OF GOSPEL SALVATION. Many points of typical resemblance have been traced. This, at least, is clear, as Joshua, "Moses' minister," consummates his work, leads the people into the promised land, divides to them their inheritance; so Christ, "made under the law," brings in the richer grace. He is the "end of the law for righteousness," etc. (Romans 10:4). The Captain of salvation leads many sons, His redeemed ones, to glory and eternal rest. - W.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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,