Trained to Lead
The Lord replied, “Take Joshua son of Nun, who has the Spirit in him, and lay your hands on him. … Transfer some of your authority to him, so the whole community of Israel will obey him.” Numbers 27:18, 20 (NLT)
“Joshua fit the battle of Jericho … and the walls came tumbling down.” Maybe, like many, you best remember Joshua as the victorious commander at Jericho. But many years of slavery and servanthood preceded that miraculous day.
Joshua grew up a slave, perhaps making mud bricks and hauling them to Egyptian construction sites or tending crops in the merciless North African heat (Exodus 1:14). When Moses reappeared in Egypt after God commissioned him to deliver the Israelites, Joshua was a young man. He witnessed the destruction of Egypt’s vast resources, he walked between the watery walls of the Red Sea, and he heard the cries of Pharaoh’s warriors as they perished.
Scripture doesn’t reveal what motivated Moses to make Joshua his righthand man—military prowess, level-headed thinking, steadfast loyalty? Maybe God just said to Moses, “This is a man you want by your side.” The Bible only tells us that when the Israelites fought their first battle as a nation, Joshua was the commander (Exodus 17:8–16).
For the duration of the forty-year wilderness trek, Joshua remained loyal to God and to Moses. In Exodus 24, Joshua accompanied Moses, Aaron, and the elders on their climb up Mt. Sinai, where they “saw the God of Israel” (v. 9). When Aaron and the people created and worshiped a golden calf, Joshua was with Moses on the mountain (Exodus 32:17). Before the tabernacle was constructed, Joshua remained at the tent of meeting where God’s presence dwelled (Exodus 33:11). He was also one of two tribal representatives who wanted to obey God and enter the Promised Land at Kadesh Barnea when the other leaders refused to go (Numbers 13–14).
These historical glimpses suggest that Joshua was a devout, humble man, committed to serve Moses and the Israelites in whatever way God directed. His faithfulness and perseverance during adversity prepared him to succeed Moses as the leader of God’s people (Numbers 27:15–23).
God equips those who lead, and sometimes the leadership training takes years. In what ways has God used your previous experiences to prepare you for current responsibilities? What are you learning today that may equip you for a future task?
Read Numbers 27:15–23. How did God ensure that Moses, Joshua, and the Israelites accepted Joshua’s new position? How readily do you accept the roles God assigns you and others?
Read Joshua 1:1–10. What did God say would enable Joshua to be the leader he was called to be? What spiritual practices are you cultivating that will enable you to do the tasks God assigns?
Read Numbers 13–14. What qualities does Joshua demonstrate in these chapters that indicate he will be the right successor for Moses forty years later? What qualities did you cultivate in your youth that prepared you for future ministry? What qualities are you cultivating now?
Denise K. Loock
This devotion is part of our series Not-As-Famous Men and Women of the Bible.