What did God see in Joshua that circumvented any need for a political campaign and an election to make him Moses' successor? The Bible tells us he was filled with "the spirit of wisdom" (see Deut. 34:9). After Moses died, God turned immediately to Joshua, choosing him as the man who would finish leading Israel into the land of promise. In short, God hand-picked him as the next leader of the nation, giving him the assurance that He would not fail or abandon him (see Josh. 1:5).
God said: "'This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid
or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go'" (Josh.
1:9, NLT). When God owns a man, things that might normally be terrifying
aren't. Whatever might stop him from going into battle doesn't.
Joshua was both a good soldier and wise servant of God. He shouldn't have
been able to conquer Jericho, but he did. Why? Because he didn't go forward on his own. The commander of the Lord's army was there beside him
(see Josh. 5:13-15). Joshua moved out, but not in his own strength. He
went in the strength of God.
Joshua could have taken credit for the fall of Ai, but he didn't. When the
city fell, Joshua built an altar to the Lord (see Josh. 8:30-33). He didn't swagger in a victory parade. Instead, he read the entire Book of the Law to the people (see Josh. 8:34-35). Joshua knew who made his victories possible and so does any man who understands what it means to follow God.
The great battle of Gibeon was still ahead for Joshua—there is always
another battle a man has to face. Sometimes we think that if God was
really on our side, we wouldn't have to fight any battles. God didn't make
the battle of Gibeon easier for Joshua and his soldiers. Instead, He gave
the army a longer day to get the job done by making the sun stand still
(see Josh. 10:13-14).
Joshua called on God that day (see Josh. 10:12). So does any man who
understands life's challenges and knows where his strength and ability
come from. God's men learn to look to Him and see what He is doing. God
listens to men who obey Him.
Before Joshua died, he took a large stone and set it up so all the people
could see it. Then he gave them his final charge: "'Destroy the idols
among you, and turn your hearts to the Lord, the God of Israel'" (Josh.
Then, pointing to the stone, he said: "'This stone has heard everything
the Lord said to us. It will be a witness to testify against you if you go
back on your word to God'" (Josh. 24:27). Joshua must have been
anticipating the future after he was gone.
He must have known that in spite of all that God had done for them, some
men would still turn away from Him. Joshua's warning is just as necessary
today for every man!
Roger C. Palms is former editor of Billy Graham's Decision magazine and
author of 15 books and hundreds of magazine and newspaper articles.