Today we continue our message series entitled “Courageous Leadership.” In this series, we’re learning principles of growing as leaders from the life of Joshua. Our message today is called “Prepare to Lead.” Last Sunday, we talked about how God calls leaders to specific tasks and positions. I believe that God calls each of His followers to lead others.
We are to lead others closer to God and to show them biblical principles to follow. This is not just about leading people to salvation, although that is the most important. It is also about leading others so that our country continues to be based on godly principles. As God calls us as leaders, He will call us to do things that we’ve never done before. Things that would be impossible without God’s help. So, as we go through this series, be listening for God to speak to you about leading out in ways that perhaps you’ve never done before.
In the book of Joshua, we see that God called Joshua to replace Moses and lead the people into the Promised Land. This was not an easy task. The Promised Land, the land of Canaan was inhabited by armies and fortified cities that were going to resist conquest. Yet God had decreed that Israel would bring judgement on those ungodly nations and settle in the land that God had given to them.
The call of God on Joshua’s life was a call to warfare with physical enemies. God calls believers today to warfare as well, but it is not physical warfare but spiritual warfare. We are called to expand the kingdom of heaven against the hosts of darkness.
Matthew 6:10 (ESV) Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
This prayer request in the Lord’ Prayer does not just refer to the second coming of Jesus. It refers to the continual expansion of God’s kingdom through spiritual warfare. The kingdom comes as God conquers men’s hearts and rescues them from the enemy Satan. As part of God’s army, we engage the enemy through prayer, action and our words.
How do we know what to do, where to go, what to say? We listen to orders from our commander, the Lord Jesus, who communicates with us through the Holy Spirit. Our operations manual is the Bible, God’s Word in authoritative written form. The Bible is not just a book of words, the Holy Spirit speaks to us through it. The Holy Spirit also speaks to us directly, but we must be sure everything that we think the Spirit is saying must line up with the written Word of God. Many have gone astray and ended up on the enemies’ side by being deceived by spirits that were not the Holy Spirit. They did not test the spirits with God’s Word.
John 10:27 (ESV) My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.
We must learn to hear the voice of Jesus, our shepherd, so that we can follow Him closely. Today, we’re going to begin in the 2nd chapter of Joshua and see how Joshua learned to hear and follow God’s Word. Both the written Word from Moses and the direct Word from God Himself. Let’s see how he …
Joshua 2:1 (ESV) And Joshua the son of Nun sent two men secretly from Shittim as spies, saying, “Go, view the land, especially Jericho.” And they went and came into the house of a prostitute whose name was Rahab and lodged there.
Joshua had been one of the spies that Moses had sent into the Promised Land forty years earlier. Now Joshua gives orders to two men to secretly spy out the enemy that they were going to confront in the fortified city of Jericho. Although the spies intended to remain secret, the news of their arrival reached the king. He sent men to capture the spies at Rahab’s house, but she had hidden them, risking her own life. Why did she do it?
Joshua 2:8-9 (ESV) Before the men lay down, she came up to them on the roof and said to the men, “I know that the LORD has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you.
Somehow, God had spoken to Rahab and she had become a believer, as we learn from Hebrews 11. Not only did she save the lives of the spies, she informed them that all of Jericho was afraid of Israel. It was a sign from the Lord, that He indeed had prepared the way for the conquest of Jericho.
Joshua 2:23-24 (ESV) Then the two men returned … and came to Joshua the son of Nun, and they told him all that had happened to them. And they said to Joshua, “Truly the LORD has given all the land into our hands. And also, all the inhabitants of the land melt away because of us.”
These spies gave a faith-filled report that confirmed the promise of God. The Lord was giving all the Promised Land to them and the people were filled with the fear of them. Why was the enemy filled with fear? Rahab told the spies it was because of how the Lord miraculously helped Israel to cross the Red Sea on dry land forty years prior. The report of the spies confirmed the words that God had spoken to Joshua.
Some of the biggest mistakes in life are made by people who make decisions thinking that God has spoken to them when He hasn’t. There are many voices that we can listen to besides the voice of the Holy Spirit. We can be deceived by our own desires, by evil spirits and by the voices of other people. Some are deceived by incorrect interpretations of Scripture.
How can we be sure that what we think God is telling us to do is from Him? We must be sure that what the voice we hear is saying lines up with God’s Word. So, we must diligently study God’s Word so we know how it applies to our situation. Secondly, we must seek out godly counsel for important decisions from people who know God’s Word and have learned to hear His Spirit. Finally, we take into account our circumstances to see how they line up.
Joshua believed that God had spoken to him and the report of the spies confirmed that God had already gone ahead of them, preparing the way. Next its important to …
Joshua 3:7 (ESV) The LORD said to Joshua, “Today I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with you.
The Lord was giving Joshua specific instructions on how to advance into the land. The ark of the covenant was to be carried by the priests and go before the people. The ark of the covenant was the place where God’s presence was revealed in the tent of meeting. The ark going first and leading the people signified that they were following God.
Certainly the temptation in Joshua’s mind was whether the people would follow him as they followed Moses. God reassures Joshua that He is with him. And that He would cause the people of Israel to recognize Joshua as a great leader. We’ll see how God did that in a minute.
Joshua 3:8 (ESV) And as for you, command the priests who bear the ark of the covenant, ‘When you come to the brink of the waters of the Jordan, you shall stand still in the Jordan.’”
The Jordan river was not a little creek. It was a mighty river and was in flood stage at this time. In the natural there did not seem anyway for anyone let alone thousands of people to cross it. Yet, Joshua was to command the priests carrying the ark to stand still in the middle of the Jordan. That did not seem humanly possible. It would take great courage for the priests to march into the roaring Jordan river. Joshua then brought together the people of Israel and spoke to them.
Joshua 3:10 (ESV) And Joshua said, “Here is how you shall know that the living God is among you and that he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites … and the Jebusites.
God had told Joshua that He was going to do wonders before the people to allow them to cross the Jordan. Just as He had done a miracle to allow them to cross the Red Sea as they came out of Egypt. The purpose of the coming miracle was two-fold. First of all, it would cause the people to follow Joshua as their leader. Secondly, it would build the people’s faith that they could drive out all seven groups of inhabitants of the Promised Land.
Joshua 3:13 (ESV) And when the soles of the feet of the priests bearing the ark of the LORD, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off from flowing, and the waters coming down from above shall stand in one heap.”
Joshua now tells the people beforehand what miracle that the Lord was going to do. When the priests carrying the ark step into the Jordan, the flow of water would be cut off, leading to a dry path for Israel to cross over. And that was exactly what happened. As the priests stood in the middle of the Jordan on dry ground, all the people of Israel passed through into the land of Canaan.
Joshua 4:20-22 (ESV) And those twelve stones, which they took out of the Jordan, Joshua set up at Gilgal. And he said to the people of Israel, “When your children ask their fathers in times to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’ then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground.’
A monument was created to help the people remember the miracle that God had done. And so that they could teach their children who hadn’t seen the miracle. We must remember and tell others of the miracles that God does in our lives. Everyone wants to see God work miracles and that’s not a wrong desire.
But when does God work miracles? God works miracles when we are in impossible situations. Situations where the solution does not seem to be humanly possible. God does not perform miracles to transport you through the air from one part of St Louis to another. The reason is because He’s provided cars for us to get around. The point of this is that when you face very difficult or seemingly impossible situations, that is the time to look to God for a miracle.
In order for miracles to happen, we need to listen to and follow God’s instructions with faith. If Joshua had refused to command the priests to walk into the Jordan, no miracle would have happened. If the priests had not followed Joshua’s command because they were afraid they would drown, no miracle would have happened. Fear and doubt will keep you from experiencing miracles in your life.
Are you facing a difficult situation in your life? If so, begin to seek God for what He wants to do. Begin to seek God for a miracle. Be prepared to step out in faith. Leaders must learn to step out in faith in difficult situations and trust God. God will cause people to follow leaders who step out in faith.
Joshua 5:2-3 (ESV) At that time the LORD said to Joshua, “Make flint knives and circumcise the sons of Israel a second time.” So Joshua made flint knives and circumcised the sons of Israel at Gibeath-haaraloth.
Circumcision was a sign commanded by God that represented the people’s commitment to God and His Word. The men of Israel who came out of Egypt had been circumcised, but their children had not been. So all of the men alive at this time needed to be circumcised before they began the conquest of Canaan. Joshua made sure that God’s Word was followed.
Joshua 5:9 (ESV) And the LORD said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” And so the name of that place is called Gilgal to this day.
This commitment to keep God’s Word through circumcision was of great importance. In the past, God had delivered His people from slavery in Egypt. He offered to them the Promised Land. Yet, the nation rebelled against God, did not believe His Word and wandered in the desert forty years until all but Joshua and Caleb had died. Now, God was giving Israel a second chance, a fresh start to inherit the promise of the land of Canaan. He rolled away the past sin of the nation, as the name Gilgal means.
Joshua 5:11-12a (ESV) And the day after the Passover, on that very day, they ate of the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain. And the manna ceased the day after they ate of the produce of the land.
Joshua also led Israel in keeping God’s Word to observe the Passover. The Passover reminded the people of the passing over of the death angel from their homes as God led them out of Egypt. They were now in the Promised Land and were able to eat the fruit of that land. The manna that God had provided throughout their desert wanderings stopped coming. It was no longer needed. A leader leads others to keep God’s Word, so that God’s blessing can come upon their lives.
The nation of Israel had a covenant relationship with God. A covenant relationship is a relationship in which both parties have responsibilities. n the Old Covenant of the Old Testament, God laid out His commands and when the people obeyed, which was their responsibility, they were blessed. In the New Testament era, we are also in a covenant relationship with God under the New Covenant. Our responsibility is to believe in Jesus and to follow Him. As we do, we are blessed as well.
Each of us has seasons in our lives, determined by God. There are seasons of being single and being married. Seasons of going to school, graduating, working and retiring. There are seasons of having children and the children growing up. There are different seasons of ministry in church and God’s kingdom. In each new season, it is important to renew our commitment to our relationship with Jesus. It’s only as we obey Him and His Word, that we will be blessed navigating through the new season. New seasons also involve meeting new challenges and learning new things. But as we keep God’s Word, He will guide us through and bless us.
Today, we’ve looked at how God prepared Joshua to lead the nation of Israel in their conquest of the Promised Land. We also, must make sure that we confirm God’s Word to us before stepping out into a new season of life. New seasons in life involve stepping out in faith, doing things we never have done before. We must remember that every difficult situation that we face is an opportunity for God to work a miracle. If we have faith. Finally and through it all, we must commit to keeping God’s Word. It is our authoritative guide in life, by which we must measure all other guidance. As we keep God’s Word, through our relationship with the Holy Spirit, God’s blessing flows into and through our lives. May God prepare each one of us to be leaders in every season of life He has for us.