“Be There and Be Still”
By Pastor Hal Mayer
Thank you for joining Keep the Faith Ministry listeners this month to hear the message we have prepared for you. Thank you also for your prayers and support. Many people have told me that they pray for Keep the Faith every day, and we really appreciate it.
This month I want to share with you a message that I have been studying and preparing for some time. I hope that you will greatly benefit from it. The life of Joshua is very important to God’s people in the last days because it is a prophetic example of what they must be if they are ever going to cross over Jordan into their heavenly Promised Land. Joshua is a type of our times. He is a shining example of the character that God’s people must possess if they are to pass over the Jordon into Canaan. We need spiritual Joshua’s today. We need families today who will follow the Lord wholly and who will say, “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Perhaps you will be encouraged as we study this important example to those who live in the last moments of earth’s history.
I would like to start by reading a promise from Acts of the Apostles, page 53. “From the beginning, God has been working by His Holy Spirit through human instrumentalities for the accomplishment of His purpose in behalf of the fallen race. This was manifest in the lives of the patriarchs. To the church in the wilderness also, in the time of Moses, God gave His “good Spirit to instruct them.” Nehemiah 9:20. And in the days of the apostles He wrought mightily for His church through the agency of the Holy Spirit. The same power that sustained the patriarchs, that gave Caleb and Joshua faith and courage, and that made the work of the apostolic church effective, has upheld God’s faithful children in every succeeding age.”
Do you see the promise in that passage? God’s “good Spirit” will uphold you if you are like faithful Joshua and other Bible heroes in these last days. Do you see how Joshua fits into the stream of faithful witnesses right down to the end of time? Here was a man whom God could use. He could trust Joshua with His Holy Spirit and cause him to have courage and faith to lead the people through to Canaan. Likewise today, God needs people like Joshua whose faithfulness to His word will cause all of heaven to trust them. Christ is preparing this kind of people today so that he can place upon them His Holy Spirit in latter rain power.
Let us first try to think about Joshua as a young boy in Egypt. No doubt he heard the stories of the great patriarchs of Israel, how God spoke with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. No doubt he was thrilled by their faithfulness and how God worked miracles for them.
When he became a young man, he no doubt felt the burden of slavery himself. Certainly God would one day deliver His people from bondage! But when would it be? How? When Joshua felt the task master’s whip, he prayed that God would relieve His people of the terrible injustice. Perhaps, like most Israelites, he heard that one of their own was the adopted son of the princess, who was heir to the throne, but that he had killed a taskmaster and was under a death sentence ever since. And so the grinding burden of slavery had gone on, day after blistering hot day, month after lengthy month, and year after interminable year.
Then suddenly Moses was back. He spoke with the elders of Israel and told them that the time had come for their deliverance. No doubt the young man Joshua thrilled with hope as he heard that God had spoken to Moses through a burning bush and that God had sent Aaron to help him and that he was to go to pharaoh and ask for the release of Israel. He watched with intense interest as the stories of how Moses dealt with pharaoh filtered back to the homes and firesides of Israel’s families. He must have felt a rush of inspiration as he saw how God miraculously paved the way for Israel to be released from bondage.
As Joshua witnessed God’s dealings with Moses, his respect for Moses skyrocketed. And as Israel slowly rumbled out of Egypt while the Egyptians mourned their dead, Joshua longed to know the secret of Moses’ power. He wanted to be near Moses, to observe him, and maybe even talk with him. Perhaps when he got the chance he walked close to Moses and listened to what he said to the elders of Israel as they consulted together concerning the way to conduct their journey to Canaan. No doubt he was close at hand to Moses when, over against the Red Sea, Israel was pinned in by the Egyptian military in pursuit of them. His eyes must have looked intently upon Moses as fear gripped the people. In awe, Joshua watched as the pillar of fire went backwards and came down upon the Egyptians enshrouding them in darkness, and as Moses stretched his rod out over the Red Sea and the dry ground opened up before all Israel.
But Joshua longed to know the secret of Moses’ power. Joshua watched as time and again, the people murmured against Moses. Moses would go to God in prayer and God would give him instructions which Moses would follow and God would miraculously provide for His people. Eventually, it became obvious to Joshua that it was really God who was leading His people, His church. Moses was his humble human instrument, chosen to stand before them as the voice of God. In reality, the people were really complaining and murmuring against God. He saw the meekness and humility of Moses in dealing with the people. He also saw how Moses faithfully followed every command of God. All of this greatly impressed Joshua. Especially was he awed by Moses’ faith and courage. He yearned to understand God as Moses did.
Perhaps one day, Joshua, young and eager, got close enough to Moses that he could ask a few questions. Moses certainly would have noted his eagerness to learn of God and His ways, and perhaps sensed that here was a young man that God might be able to use one day. We don’t exactly know how Joshua and Moses became acquainted, but perhaps somewhere along the line they became friends as Joshua pressed in on Moses to learn the secret of his success. Moses had a secret life with God, and Joshua wanted that secret life too. He longed to be able to talk to God like Moses, face to face “as a man talketh with his friend.” Exodus 33:11. Surely, Joshua must have yearned for the same experience as Moses.
Friends, if you want to succeed in life so that you can come over the Jordan into the Promised Land, you have to have a secret life with God too. No one else needs to know the depths of it, or the breadth of it, but you must have it. You need to find a time each day when you can have a secret engagement with your heavenly Father and with Christ. That secret time is sacred. It is yours and yours alone. You cannot share it with anyone else. It must be earnest. It must be passionate. It must be honest to the very depths of your being. People may know that you have a secret life with God, but they cannot know its inner core of discussion and passion. Make sure that you have this hidden life. That was the secret of success with Moses. It was the secret of success with Joshua. And it is the secret of success with all the heroes of faith throughout every age, including our own.
Joshua tried to get closer to Moses. Moses began to notice that Joshua was bright, energetic and strong, and could make a good soldier. It was obvious that he had a sincere desire to know more of God. And one day, perhaps they were talking together, and Moses was impressed to ask Joshua if he would like to be his minister. Exodus 24:13 tells that “Moses rose up, and his minister Joshua…” What is a minister? That is a servant. It is someone who ministers to the needs of others. We are all servants in a way, but this was especially meaningful to Moses. He needed someone special to help him. By the way, a pastor should be a servant too. A pastor is a minister too isn’t he? So Moses asked Joshua to be his minister. Not a slave. Perhaps Moses used that term as a distinction from the servile labor done in Egypt. It also has a spiritual connotation. Moses needed someone he could open up to spiritually. And it appeared to him that God sent him Joshua. So he brought him close in.
Joshua was thrilled! Now he could be with Moses every day. He could help him, but most importantly, he would be able to be close to all the action. Maybe he too would learn how to walk and talk with God.
Joshua’s tasks were humble. Perhaps he carried the water for Moses to wash his feet or to take a drink. Perhaps he brought Moses his food or his clothing and helped him dress. Perhaps he cleaned up after Moses. Who knows what his tasks were. But they were certainly very basic at first. Moses and Joshua quickly became friends. As time went on, Moses could see that Joshua had talent and could think clearly, and had leadership ability. He was a good organizer and strategic thinker. He was energetic and careful. But he noticed that Joshua also had an underlying faith and confidence in God, a reverent acceptance of God’s instructions. And this impressed Moses. He could see that Joshua had potential to be a leader in Israel, a judge perhaps.
When Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, suggested that Moses delegate responsibility to other wise men of Israel, Joshua was no doubt relieved that Moses would not be so burdened with detail of management and governance. Perhaps he even encouraged Moses in this decentralization. As time went on, Moses became more and more impressed with Joshua. Though Joshua had a very steep learning curve, he quickly grasped more complicated ideas and tasks. But in all of this, his heart and mind were deeply impressed by God’s ways. He could see that they were different from man’s ways. And he wanted more of it. Joshua shadowed Moses wherever he went. He was always ready to help Moses with his needs, and he would even offer advice when it seemed appropriate. But Joshua had a deeper reason for being Moses’ servant or minister. He wanted to get closer to God. He wanted to understand how to relate to God. He wanted to mature in his experience with God. He knew that Moses could teach him by precept and example.
Moses and Joshua talked a lot. They had a lot of time to fellowship about the joys and the burdens of leadership. They would talk about the problems that Israel faced and Joshua became a confidant of Moses. Moses could trust Joshua and grew to respect his judgment. But to Joshua the most important questions were questions about God. And he plied Moses with them, perhaps frequently.
One day Moses sent Joshua on a mission to fight Amalek. He wanted to prove Joshua as a leader, and see what he could do, and most of all, see if God would bless Joshua. That was the time when Moses sat on a hill and Aaron and Hur held up his hands in supplication to God until the going down of the sun, so that Joshua would be victorious. That’s all in Exodus 17. Note the cooperation between God, Moses and Joshua. As Joshua fought, Moses was in prayer, assisted by Aaron and Hur.
Joshua gained Moses’ loyalty and confidence. He knew he could trust Joshua to do the right thing. And he brought Joshua even more into the inner circle of planning and organizing.
Joshua’s heart was awed by God’s voice as He gave the Ten Commandments from Mt. Sinai. But something was about to happen that was going to change Joshua’s life.
Turn in your Bibles, if you can, to the 24th chapter of Exodus. Here is a very interesting passage that tells us in just a few words something wonderful about Joshua. It is amazing how that in a few words, the Bible can tell us so very much. And they are perhaps the most important and powerful lessons for the last generation.
After God gave the Ten Commandments verbally from Mt. Sinai, Moses was instructed to go up into the mountain to commune with God. Verse 12 says, “And the Lord said unto Moses, Come up to me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee tables of stone, and a Law, and commandments which I have written; that thou mayest teach them.”
Did you hear what that verse said? I want you to think about what God said to Moses. Remember Joshua was part of this, and was about to learn a very important lesson. God called Moses up into Mt. Sinai and said “be there.”
Friends, if you want to do something very important for God, you have to “be there.” You have to internally prepare yourself to “be there” spiritually in your heart and mind. If you want to be able to give God’s last message to the world which is to uphold the Ten Commandments once again, you have to “be there…;” right there on Mt. Sinai like Joshua was, but in a spiritual sense. You cannot keep the Ten Commandments unless you have received them on the tables of your heart. Listen to what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 3:3. “Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.” Did you hear that? God wants to write His Law on the fleshly tables of your heart, so that you no longer live merely in the flesh, but in the Spirit, and so that your life will reflect God’s holy Law. You have to have this experience if you really want to “be there,” and ready to do God’s bidding.
Moses and Joshua had to hike up the mountain. They were not carried there in some chariot. They had to exert themselves for some days in order to be with God. Up and up they went. The higher they went, the more fresh and cool the air. The higher they went, the more clearly they could think. It was exhilarating. They could see so much from up there, high up in the mountain. Yet their attention was fixed on the cloud. They were focused on getting to the cloud so God could talk to them.
What a lesson! Friends, you have to exert yourself if you want God to talk to you. You have to ascend the heights of the mount of God by faith. That means that you have to exercise yourself in the word of God. Your Bible study should be like climbing Mt. Sinai. Sometimes it is an easy path. Other times it is difficult and steep. Sometimes you will sweat and you struggle over the meaning of some verses. But whatever you do, climb the mountain. Dig into the soil with your feet. Hang on to the rocks with your hands. And as you climb, there will be times when you will look out and see what you have never seen before. And that is exhilarating. Friends, if you want God to talk to you, you have to follow God’s instructions and come up to the Mount of God. You have to plead with God to take you up Mt. Sinai. And He will. This is a special experience for the last generation. You have to live by the Ten Commandments, so you have to go and get them from the Mount of God. That’s why you have to spiritually climb Mt. Sinai.
God told Moses to “be there.” And that is what they did. They went to the top of the mountain just to “be there.” Only then could they get what God had for them. They could not “be there” while they were still in the camp of Israel. They had to climb the mountain.
If you want to “be there” my friends, you have to climb that mountain too. You have to get out of your regular life. You have to put away worldly things and your carnal desires. You may have to change your dress and become modest, or your eating habits and cut down on fat, or get rid of the chocolates, or the chicken and fish and whatever else. After all, you want to have a clear mind so that God can speak to you. You will probably have to adjust the way you spend your time. Most people don’t want to live a simple, spiritual life. They want all the trappings of Egypt. They don’t want to leave behind anything that will blunt their senses. They are like the children of Israel at the base of the mountain, confused and rebellious. But if you want God to talk to you, you have to go where other people will not go spiritually. You have to be where God is. Make sure that you have time each day to climb the Mount of God. Make sure that you are exhilarated by the word of God before you start your day. Do what Moses and Joshua did.
Verse 13 says, “And Moses rose up, and his minister Joshua; and Moses went up into the Mount of God.” Please notice that Joshua went with Moses up into Sinai. In other words Moses went up near the cloud that had come down over Mount Sinai. And in that cloud was the glory of the Lord. Verse 17 tells us that “the sight of the glory of the Lord was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel.” Moses and Joshua went up to that cloud of devouring fire. God was going to bring Joshua as close to Himself as he could stand to be. This was part of teaching Joshua to trust Him.
Do you think that God wants to bring you close to the cloud of fire? Of course He does. So you have to go up the mountain. But we cannot climb the Mount of God to where the cloud of fire is unless we open our Bibles and earnestly plead with God for an understanding of His Law and His word. This must be done every day, my friends. Each day is a step further up the mountain.
I want you to imagine what awe, respect and even fear that fiery cloud must have caused in Israel. As the fire churned and swirled around the top of the mountain, they must have wondered if Moses could survive it. Was he ever going to come back? Especially after he was gone for a couple of weeks, they started to worry.
Eventually, the impression wore off, and they began to wonder what to do. As usual, whenever there is a dilemma in the church, Satan always motivates the unsanctified and rebellious to urge the church to go in the opposite direction of where they should go. For instance, when we had the dilemma of how to keep the youth in the church, someone had the “bright idea” that we could bring in the drums and rock music into the holy sanctuary where there should be reverence. They beat out worldly sensual rhythms so the people can dance in church, just like the people did at the base of Mt Sinai around the golden calf. That is the very opposite of what God has instructed in the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy. What the youth need is modern examples of true Christianity in the adults, not a sensual substitute.
So the rebellious ones suggested that they make a god that they could see and worship, instead of the invisible God of heaven. While Moses and Joshua were up the mountain, getting close to God, the people made a golden calf, and left God.
But that is getting ahead of the story. Moses went up near the cloud. He knew that is where God was. He knew that was where the Glory of the Lord was dwelling. Verse 16 tells us something very interesting. “And the glory of the Lord abode upon mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days; and on the Seventh-day he called unto Moses out of the midst of the cloud.”
Let me ask you a question. What was Moses doing during those six days? Was he just idly waiting for God to speak to him? Was he fiddling around, casting about, talking about nothing important, and doing nothing of value? Do you think he got impatient with God for doing nothing for six days?
Not at all! Moses and Joshua were certainly praying and meditating on God and His Law that had just been given by the voice of God to all Israel. No doubt they were very impressed by the bigness and magnificence of God, and the glory of God’s presence. Perhaps they were fasting along with praying. And no doubt Moses was conversing with Joshua about the goodness of God. He was making use of the time to prepare himself for whatever God was going to tell him. His heart needed to be right with God, and no doubt he pled with God for purity of heart and nobility of soul. Perhaps he cried out to God to give him the Holy Spirit.
Joshua was also paying attention. He took it all in, and joined in the fasting and praying. Perhaps Joshua was troubled that God didn’t say anything to Moses for six whole days. Maybe he asked Moses why God doesn’t speak for day after day. And Moses may have told him that God has His own timing and they must be patient. Perhaps he told Joshua that he should prepare his heart to hear the voice of God too.
Whatever the case, it was six days before God said anything at all to Moses. The cloud of fire was there, but not a word came from God. Why six days? Why couldn’t God just give Moses the Ten Commandments and quickly give him the instructions for the building of the tabernacle and be done with it? Why the delay?
The reason for the delay, my friends, is because God wanted Moses’ heart to be ready to hear and deeply understand what God was going to show him. God was about to show him the holy temple in heaven in vision. He was going to show him the holy plan of salvation. But when Moses and Joshua arrived near the top of the Mount, they weren’t ready to hear what God had to say to them. Their minds were not yet adjusted to the quiet. They were not yet settled down in their thinking. What God was going to give Moses was so awesome that He knew that Moses’ heart had to be utterly surrendered so that God’s voice could properly be understood. Moses himself needed six days to settle his mind, and fully open his heart to appreciate the holiness of what God was going to share with him.
You see, my friends, God’s truth is so holy that you have to prepare your heart. You have to be still and reverent. You have to settle your mind, and open your heart to hear His still small voice. Remember the verse that says, “be still and know that I am God?” That’s Psalm 46:10. You have to take time to “be still.” You cannot just rush into your worship time, and rush back out into your chaotic day. You have to “be still” and listen. “Be still,” and open your heart to God. Once you are up on the mountain, then you have to wait. Wait for God. You may have to wait more time than you expect.
Six days was a long time for Moses and Joshua to wait. There was so much to do in the camp. But God knew that Moses needed to wait; wait until his own heart was ready.
Imagine if you knew how to wait on God like Moses. Think what God could tell you! Imagine what it would be like to have God speak to you face to face. Wouldn’t that be tremendous? He could give you instructions about how to go about your life and ministry. He could tell you when to speak and when to be silent; to speak to this soul, and avoid that one. If we knew the voice of God, we would be so much more effective in ministry. There would be a little voice behind us saying “this is the way, walk ye in it.” But sadly, most people don’t know how to hear the voice of God.
In our lives there are many voices clamoring for attention. Often there are competing voices vying for notice. And when chaos comes into our lives, we are overwhelmed by the confusion and we have difficulty with it because we have not trained ourselves to hear the voice of God. The only way we can hear the voice of God my friends, is when we have trained ourselves to listen for it. We have to be still so that we can become used to it. And you will never be able to be still, unless you are there on the Mount. You have to “be there” so that God can settle you down. He has to give you time so that He can open your eyes to see what He wants you to see, and hear what His voice sounds like. Then when the chaos starts, you will know His voice and can pick it out of the multitude.
But most of us have a hard time spending even a few moments each day in prayer for our devotions. We can hardly think of anything to say to God, and we repeat ourselves like a broken record. And we don’t really want to listen. We just want to ask for this and ask for that. We come needy and begging for mercy or for some advantage or protection. However, that is only part of prayer. Prayer also involves being still and waiting on God. That takes time, patience and discipline. It may take six days of earnest seeking after God until we are ready to hear what God has to say to us; before our hearts are humble enough to be willing to listen. We need to learn to wait on God. That waiting period is so that we can prepare our hearts to understand what God will tell us.
No doubt Joshua was very impressed by the wait. Perhaps he sensed that the way to understand the mind and heart of God is to “be there” and “be still” and meditate on Him. As Joshua waited those six days with Moses, he began to realize the secret of Moses’ success. He watched Moses settle down. He watched Moses humble himself before God. He watched Moses open his heart to his Friend. He listened as Moses poured himself out to God and pled for grace and power and wisdom. Joshua heard him plead for strength and courage.
On the seventh day, perhaps it was the Sabbath, Moses’ heart and mind were ready to truly hear what God had to say to him. Perhaps that is why God gave us His holy Sabbath day, so that we can “be there,“ “be still” and know Him.
God was about to give Moses the plan for the tabernacle which was in essence the sacred plan of salvation in living types and examples. Exodus 24:18 says, that after six days, when the Lord had called Moses from within the cloud, “Moses went into the midst of the cloud, and gat him up into the mount: and Moses was in the mount forty days and forty nights.
During this time, Joshua waited again. He waited the whole time for Moses to come out of his secret meeting with God. He waited and waited and waited. Day after day he must have wondered how Moses was getting along. Did Moses have enough food? Did he have enough water? Remember Joshua was Moses’ minister, his servant, so he naturally thought about those things. But moreover, Joshua saw the privilege he had to be close to God in the mount. He could not be in the cloud with Moses, but he was awfully close by. He could see it right there in front of him. Perhaps he spent a lot of his time in prayer. Maybe he spent a good bit of time in meditation about the things that God had done for Israel. Perhaps he thought about what might happen in the future to God’s church under the blessing of God. Certainly he meditated on the Law of God, the Ten Commandments and what they must mean. As he thought about the holiness of God and the holy Ten Commandments, he realized that this was the transcript of God’s character. This was the way in which God’s government of love is organized.
Friends, how is it that today people think so little of the Law of God. Ministers tell their people that Jesus forgives all their sins, but they don’t tell them how holy the Law is, and how important it is to honor the Law and live by the Law. Most ministers just tell the people that all they need is to acknowledge forgiveness and they have nothing else to do. Do you think that will get them across the Jordon River into the Promised Land?
Friends, many people are going to be lost because they have not learned to love and respect the holy Law of God. That Law is perpetual. It has always been in force, even before Sinai, it was the basis of heaven’s government. It is the foundation of all social order. It is the centerpiece of God’s universe. It is going to be the foundation of His government throughout all eternity. The last generation of righteous souls on earth will keep the holy Law of God, the very Law that God gave to Moses on Mt. Sinai; the very Law that Moses took so seriously that he waited six days on the Mount of God and prayed and fasted to know and understand them.
Likewise today, we must understand God’s Law. And unless we come to grips with the idea that God’s Law is still to be the principle in our lives, we will never really mature in our spiritual experience, or in our understanding of His truth. God’s Law is holy, just and good. It is our standard of righteousness. We keep the Law because we love Jesus and because when we have Jesus truly in our Hearts, we can do nothing else. Note that point. When Jesus is in your heart, you keep His holy Law, for sin is put out of your heart. Jesus purifies your heart, and you then will do His bidding. He will never bid you do anything contrary to His holy Law.
As he waited, Joshua worshiped. And God impressed his mind too, with faith and courage. He could see that Moses needed help with his administration and Joshua sensed his own calling; the calling of God upon him to assist Moses in every way he could. Maybe he began to sense too, that God would one day call upon him to do a special work for His people. Waiting for forty days for Moses to come back out of the cloud was no doubt a test for Joshua. He sensed that God had appointed him to endure the test of patience and waiting.
When the forty days were over, Moses came back to Joshua carrying the two tables of stone with the Law of God written upon them. Joshua was impressed. What marvelous treasures these were! Moses also had all the instructions for the tabernacle and its services. Joshua was eager for Moses to tell him all that had happened, but Moses had a light about his face that Joshua could hardly look upon. It awed him to be in the presence of a man who had been in the presence of God and had spoken with God face to face. What a great privilege that must have been for Joshua.
As the two men went down the mountain, no doubt they had a lot to talk about as Moses explained to Joshua what God had told him. As they got toward the end of their journey, they began to hear noise. Joshua, being a man of war, naturally thought it was the sound of war. Exodus chapter 32 says in verse 17 that “when Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said unto Moses, There is a noise of war in the camp.” You see, Joshua didn’t know that God had told Moses that the people had perverted themselves. He was still naïve. But Moses quickly straightened him out.
Joshua watched in horror as Moses broke the Ten Commandments. He watch as Moses dealt with the apostasy. He watched as Moses confronted Aaron, and saw how Aaron tried to lie his way out of it. He saw the punishment of the people for their perversity. And no doubt he was very impressed with God’s mercy and long suffering. He was also impressed by Moses and his mature, spiritual way of dealing with the problem.
Now let us notice something else about Joshua. Exodus 33:7-9 tells us that until the tabernacle could be constructed right in the center of the camp, that Moses set up a temporary tabernacle well outside the camp. It was his place of meeting with God. Joshua could go there with him.
Verse 9 tells us that when Moses (and also Joshua) went into this temporary tabernacle to talk with God, the “cloudy pillar descended and stood at the door of the tabernacle.” Now notice verse 11. When Moses was finished talking with God face to face, the Bible says, “he turned again into the camp: but his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, departed not out of the tabernacle.
What about this. Joshua stayed in the tabernacle. He was so hungry for God that he wanted more! He stayed right there for an extra blessing. He yearned for God. He longed to talk to God face to face too!
Here is something very special about Joshua. This young man was opening his heart to God. And God saw it. And Moses saw it, and noted it here for our benefit. Moses wanted us to know the depths of Joshua’s desire to know God as a friend. Joshua wanted to learn to trust God as Moses did.
What a lesson! Do you have that yearning desire? Or do you just blast through your devotional time and don’t linger with God? Friends, you have to linger in the tabernacle if you want to know God. The tabernacle is wherever your place of study and prayer is. It is your place of meeting with God.
As the children of Israel neared the borders of Canaan, Moses was given permission by God to spy out the land. Twelve leaders were chosen including Joshua and Caleb to conduct this international espionage. In fact, this is where Joshua got his name. His original given name was Oshea (see Numbers 13:16), so in earlier references to Joshua, the son of Nun, we see that Moses used his spiritual name when writing these books. This new name means Jehovah is Salvation. It is also a Hebrew equivalent of Jesus.
When the spies returned they had a good and a bad report. Numbers 13:27 tells us that they said, “We came unto the land whither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it.”
At first the people were thrilled with the good news and would have been ready to go in and conquer Canaan right then and there. But the spies also had a bad report, and the enthusiasm turned into bitterness and sorrow. The people just did not have faith.
Verse 28 and 29; “Nevertheless the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great: and moreover we saw the children of Anak there. The Amalekites dwell in the land of the south: and the Hittites, and the Jebusites, and the Amorites, dwell in the mountains: and the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and by the coast of Jordan.
Read verse 30 and onward; ”And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it. But the men that went up with him said, We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we. And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched unto the children of Israel, saying, The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature. And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.”
How could the men be of great stature, giants in fact, if the land eatheth up the inhabitants thereof. This was not only a contradictory report, but a lying report.
And when the people murmured against God and against Moses, Joshua could no longer stand it. He could not hold himself back. His zeal for the honor of God motivated his act.
Listen to Numbers 14. “And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night. And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness! And wherefore hath the Lord brought us unto this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey? Were it not better for us to return into Egypt?
They actually began organizing themselves to go back to Egypt. “And they said one to another, Let us make a captain, and let us return into Egypt. Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly of the congregation of the children of Israel.
But Joshua could not stand it any longer. His zeal for the honor of God motivated him and Caleb and they tried to intervene. But the rebellion had gone too far.
Listen to verse six and onward. “And Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were of them that searched the land, rent their clothes: And they spoke unto all the company of the children of Israel, saying, The land, which we passed through to search it, is an exceeding good land. If the Lord delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey. Only rebel not ye against the Lord, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defense is departed from them, and the Lord is with us: fear them not. But all the congregation bade stone them with stones. And the glory of the Lord appeared in the tabernacle of the congregation before all the children of Israel.”
Why is it that when God needs men of courage, the majority are cowards? Why is it that when there is a challenge to our faith, we grumble and complain as if God has done us a disservice? I have noticed during my lifetime that often it is this way. And the resulting compromise never leads to victory. I’ve heard all sorts of excuses such as; “This town is too secular, we can’t do evangelism.” “We can’t move out of the city. It is too difficult. There are too many obstacles.” “What God says about sports being idolatry is not in step with the times. We have to have these things to keep up with other schools.” “We can’t stop the rock music in our churches because we have to keep the youth involved.” “We can’t do anything because we don’t have a pastor.” And there are many, many more examples that could be given. Somehow we think that God cannot work miracles for His church any more. We have ignored His instructions. We have gone our own way in so many areas that God no longer can work in the way He would like to work.
It takes courage and faith, my friends, to live by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. It takes courage and faith, my friends, to stand for the right though the heavens fall. It takes courage and faith, my friends, just to let go of the TV and open the Bible.
Joshua had courage to follow the Lord wholly. Listen to Numbers 32:11 and 12. “Surely none of the men that came up out of Egypt, from twenty years old and upward, shall see the land which I swore unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob; because they have not wholly followed me: Save Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezite, and Joshua the son of Nun: for they have wholly followed the Lord.”
Notice that the heavenly record tells us that Caleb and Joshua were going to go into Canaan alive because they wholly followed the Lord.
If you want to be part of the 144,000, and go into Canaan alive, you have to wholly follow the Lord. You can’t just partially follow the Lord. You have to wholly and completely follow the Lord in all things. You may be accused of being a fanatic and a legalist. But that is not your problem. You may be the only one, but you have to follow the Lord. Notice that Joshua and Caleb were just two out of twelve. In fact, they were just two out of all Israel (other than Moses). Not even Aaron raised his voice.
Now we come to the 34th chapter of Deuteronomy. Moses was told to go up into the mountain again. This time it was mount Nebo, near Pisgah the Bible says. Moses was about to die. Joshua was not permitted to go with him. No doubt Joshua sensed that this would be the last time he would see Moses. Perhaps he even went to the edge of the camp with him. They must have talked a long time about the goodness of God. There he bid him goodbye as the tears streamed down Joshua’s face. What a life they had had together! Joshua knew that he was the chosen successor to Moses. But saying goodbye was perhaps the hardest thing for Joshua. He would never again see his mentor and confidant. He would be left to handle the whole nation of Israel alone. No doubt Moses reminded him that he would have God by his side. All he needed was courage and faith to trust God’s wisdom.
Joshua had learned to trust God, but he had never been alone in leadership with only God. He had always had Moses to counsel him. He had always had Moses to strengthen him. Moses certainly reminded him that God would stand by his side too.
They said their final goodbye and Moses turned and headed up the mountain. Moses had one last secret appointment with God and he had to “be there” and “be still” so that God could talk to him one last time. Joshua watched until Moses disappeared out of sight, and then he too turned back slowly into the camp.
As Moses trudged up that mountain, he must have been filled with remorse for his sin. Perhaps he wept as he pled with God for forgiveness. God heard his prayer. Moses was forgiven. But he was not to go into earthly Canaan. Instead, he was very soon going to the heavenly Canaan. He would be raised from the dead by God himself in a private, or secret resurrection.
But there on the top of Nebo God honored his humble servant once more. Listen to Deuteronomy 34:1 and onward. “And the Lord showed him all the land of Gilead, unto Dan, And all Naphtali, and the land of Ephraim, and Manasseh, and all the land of Judah, unto the utmost sea, And the south, and the plain of the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees, unto Zoar. And the Lord said unto him, This is the land which I swore unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, saying, I will give it unto thy seed: I have caused thee to see it with thine eyes, but thou shalt not go over thither.”
Notice the places Moses saw. Israel had not crossed Jordon yet. They had not spread themselves all over the land of Canaan. But Moses saw them all spread out. Do you see how the Bible uses the Hebrew names for the places they had not yet conquered? So what did Moses see? Moses saw the land of Canaan as it would become under the blessing of God. He saw the fullness of beauty and the completeness of God’s promise in a glorious vision that must have thrilled his heart.
Then God took Moses breath away and he died there on the mountain. Verse five says; “So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord. And he buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Beth-peor: but no man knoweth of his sepulcher unto this day. And Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died: his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated.
“And the children of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days: so the days of weeping and mourning for Moses were ended.”
Now I want you to notice the next verse. It is verse nine. “And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom; for Moses had laid his hands upon him: and the children of Israel hearkened unto him, and did as the Lord commanded Moses.”
Did you catch that? Moses had ordained Joshua to take his place. And God blessed Joshua with the spirit of wisdom. God’s Spirit rested upon Joshua because he feared the Lord; for “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.” Proverbs 9:10. Joshua had pursued this knowledge all his life, and now he had it! Joshua got his wish. He had learned to know the voice of God. He had developed his own secret life with God. He had a knowledge of the holiness of God. He knew God and God was now ready to speak to him face to face, just like he had spoken with Moses.
Listen to what he tells him in Joshua chapter one. “Now after the death of Moses the servant of the Lord it came to pass, that the Lord spoke unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ minister, saying, ‘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. Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses. 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. 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.”
What a promise! Joshua had learned the secret. He knew that when God needed him, he had to “be there” and “be still” so that God could speak to him. And He did. He plainly told Joshua that just like He had been with Moses, so He would be with Joshua.
And then he reminded him, “Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I swore unto their fathers to give them. Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the Law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest.”
Joshua knew the holiness of the Law, so God’s words to him were especially meaningful. “This book of the Law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.”
Friends, if we want to have success, and go over the Jordan into the Promised Land, this counsel is for us. We are to meditate on the Law of God day and night. We are to make it our song of rejoicing. We are to observe and do all that is written in the Ten Commandments. If we want spiritual prosperity, we must pursue it with all our hearts. This must be our studied and practiced mentality.
And if we do, the promises to Joshua will be fulfilled for us. “Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.”
Friends, Joshua represents God’s people in the last days who will be faithful to His Law and his voice in everything. Their meditation day and night will be the Law of God. They will set no wicked thing before their eyes. Psalm 101:3. They will have a mature experience with Jesus Christ and He will see to it that every foe is defeated, every temptation overcome, every challenge met through His unlimited power.
Joshua got his wish. Do you want to have the experience of Joshua too? Then you can do what Joshua did. Climb the mountain and “be there and be still.” Joshua’s parting words after all the land of Canaan was conquered were; “choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Is that your conviction today my friends? It must be. It is the ringing testimony of a man who longed to know God face to face. And it will be the ringing testimony of all who are privileged to go through the time of trouble and see Jesus coming in the clouds of heaven.
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