The Man whom God will use
By Nelson Thomas, Mumbai
Summary :- God can use any body: Moses from palace or Joshua from an ordinary household.
The main reason is the Call of the Lord. Also, the availability, faithfulness, confidence, firm stand, of Joshua are important traits of a servant of God. The training and encouragement he received are also noteworthy.
What is the basis for a successful Christian ministry? What can make some one a useful Christian worker? Many would attribute to theological education and individual talents. Some would even think financial strength or connections with well to do people.
Joshua in the Old Testament can be taken as one of the best examples for a victorious minister. He fulfilled God’s purposes for him and the people Israel. His military achievements and spiritual successes were remarkable. We read in the last chapter of the book of Joshua, “Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had known all the works of the Lord which He had done for Israel.” Joshua 24:31. This statement shows the influence of Joshua and his work in the lives of Jewish people. He was able to inspire them in such way to keep on following the Lord even after he left the scene.
What is the reason why God used Joshua in such a wonderful way? A study of the possible reasons would help us to understand the way God uses His servants even in this dispensation.
1. The Call of God. Numbers.27:18, 19. Joshua.1:2
The most important reason is that God had chosen Joshua to lead the people of Israel to Canaan. Moses did not choose a successor. That is something noteworthy. We see today many try to take give important positions on the basis of relationships. Whether in Christian ministry or politics we see people are tempted to give preference to relatives or close associates even when they are not qualified enough. But Moses did not select any of his own to continue the work of the Lord.
It is true that Moses was concerned about the people after his departure. He asked the Lord about it, requested Him to choose somebody to lead Israel. “Let the Lord, the God of the spirits of all flesh, set a man over the congregation, who may go out before them and go in before them, who may lead them out and bring in, that the congregation of the LORD may not be like sheep which have no shepherd”. Numbers. 27:16-23. The Lord immediately commanded Moses to separate Joshua and hand over the authority. (34.16, 17).
Again, after the death of Moses we see the Lord commissions Joshua to arise and lead the people of Israel to go over to Jordan and occupy the land. Josh.1:2ff.
This is the most important pre-requisite for a useful ministry. God has to call His man. An encouraging word of an individual or a challenge by an organization can not appoint God’s servant. For God’s work, He calls, prepares and provides.
Few months ago this writer saw an advertisement given in a Christian periodical. They need gospel workers, preferably married, for evangelistic ministry and asked the interested candidates to apply to the advertiser. Sorry to note that such a notice was given in a magazine published by The Brethren who are known for their commitment to New Testament principles.
Is it the way God sends His servants in the field? Did Moses make such an announcement that ‘I am going to die; some of you come forward and take the charge.’ Is the Lord’s work and employment where an employer recruits his workers, appoints, compensates and makes use of them. No.
In connection with choosing a leader for Israel we understand God had His servant in His plan; Moses knew that, so asked the Lord to appoint. Moses acknowledged, it is the Lord’s prerogative.
If we are burdened for ministry in a particular place, what shall we do? The Lord told us to pray to the Lord of the harvest. “The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few, therefore pray the Lord of the harvest that He will send out laborers into His harvest.” Matthew.9:37, 38. Notice 'His harvest', it is His work, His field; we can not appoint any body as we please, whether to teach, preach or lead.
Of course there is nothing wrong in making a need of work or workers known so that God’s people may pray about it. It is good to share ministry news one with another, so that all may know what is going on in and around to pray intelligently for it. That doesn’t mean we can call, send and control the servants of God.
God called Joshua to continue the work that He is to do with Moses. That is the basic reason for His success. It’s true, not only about Joshua, but also about all of whom God used, whether in the Biblical narrative or Church history.
2. The availability of Joshua. Exodus. 17:9—11
Even before God definitely called Joshua for His work, he was committed to serve the people of God in whatever capacity he could. That is what we can learn form Exodus.17:9—11. When Amalek came to fight with Israel during their wilderness journey, Moses found a ready soldier in Joshua. He commanded him to chose some men and fight with the enemy.
What would have made Moses to command Joshua to lead the fight? Certainly it was because of the evident zeal and commitment of Joshua in the work of God. Moses found that ‘here is a young man in whom I can trust, he will be willing to do the job and he is competent and committed to the task.’ Moses’ choice was not wrong. Without any complaint he joyfully and successfully completed the job assigned to him. Incidentally this is first reference to Joshua in the Bible. He is presented as a victorious fighter. (In the spiritual perspective Amalek refers to our flesh. God chooses those who win over flesh for His work.)
This is another quality of whom God uses. They do not wait for an opportunity to come to them, but they do whatever they can for the Lord. They are already active and zealous in the things of God. How can we recognize them? They will come out during a crisis. They are available for anything God would have them to do at any given time. Yes, God does not call lazy men who prefer to sit idle.
If you wanted be used by God, be active where ever you are. Do not wait for opportunity. Enter through the open door and see what you can do for the Lord in the given set up. At the same time do not overtake the Lord's plan. Do not go beyond what is intended for you now. As we consider the next quality of Joshua we will discuss this aspect.
3. The Faithfulness of Joshua: - Exodus.24.13
This is the Second reference to Joshua. As an assistant of Moses he faithfully discharged his duties for forty long years. In the above mentioned reference we see Moses going up to the mountain to meet God. Joshua was with him till a particular place. From Exodus.32:17 we understand well that after meeting with God, as Moses comes back to the camp, Joshua was still with him. That means he was alone for forty days and nights with out any complaint, he waited patiently for the return of Moses to serve him.
At the same time what happened to Aaron in the camp? Moses had told the elders, if any man had difficulty go to Aaron and Hur. Exodus.24:14, 15. But, we see, Aaron miserably failed, surrendered to the demands of the people. Exodus.32.1. What loss, curse that had brought on the lives of Israel! However Joshua, though alone on the mountain, waited for Moses. He did not think of going back to the camp. Is it not faithfulness, loyalty?
Another aspect of his faithful assistance to Moses is that he never tried to grab the position that Moses held. He was very much near to the position of Moses, that too for around forty years, but he never tried to be at the top. Even after the death of Moses, Joshua did not try to take that place. Joshua.11:15; 1:1.
God always looks for faithful men. About Moses the scripture says, “...Was faithful in all His house as a servant...” Hebrews.3:5. Paul instructs Timothy, “The things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able tot teach others also.” 1 Timothy.2:2. In 1 Corinthians.4:2 Paul wrote, “Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.” (God always honours those who serve His servants. Many fail to stay one-step behind. They always want to be on the top!)
4. His trust in the Lord. Numbers.13:8, 16, 17; 14:6-9.
God wants His servants to trust Him. It is according to the measure of our faith in Him that He works in and through us. In connection with Joshua, we see His absolute confidence in the Lord particularly at the time of spying out the land. We are aware of the catastrophe brought about because of the doubt, fear and distrust of the other ten spies.
In the positive report of Joshua with Caleb we see the best proof for his complete faith in the Lord. Listen to his words, “The land we pass through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. If the Lord delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us….Only do not rebel against the Lord, nor fear the people of the land, they are our bread…..the Lord is with us. Do not fear them.” Numbers.14:7—9. He was a man, full of faith. He followed the Lord fully. Numbers .32:12
A Servant of God should never fear man; never put faith in a human being. The secret of victory in the work of the Lord is to realize that the battle as well as the victory belongs to the Lord.
5. His unyielding stand for the Lord. Numbers. 14:6—10.
When the majority spoke against the plan of God Joshua chose to stand for God. Even the congregation said to stone Joshua and Caleb for taking a stand against the opinion of the majority! That is another significant feature of a servant of God. He will hold on to the word of God, keep the precepts and follow the purposes of God even if he is alone. Earlier, the Levites stood alone for the Lord and His word. He made them priests. Exodus.32:26; Malachi.2:5—7.
Still He is looking for such who will stand for Him at any cost. Even later on the Lord reminded Joshua how he must be courageous to stand for the word of God with out turning to the left or right. Joshua.1:7, 8. Yes, He demands such consistency and commitment from us. Those who succumb to public pressure, those who listen to the majority more than the Spirit of God are not worthy for the work of the Lord. The Lord Jesus Christ had to stand alone. All the great servants of God had to stand alone some time or other for the sake of the truth. 2 Timothy. 4:16
6. His training under Moses. Exodus.24:13 etc
His assistance to Moses for forty years can be considered as a training period for Joshua. God in His wisdom made it sure that Joshua gets prepared under the great leader and man of God, Moses.
Notice that none of the above qualities from no.2—6 is the basis for being a servant of God. As we have seen already, it is the call of the Lord. Nevertheless, we understand from the above references, God Himself gives such one, an opportunity to be trained under godly men. Joshua was willing to undergo that schooling humbly and faithfully. All those good qualities came out during those training period.
When God has a plan for His servant He bestows him suitable traits and equips him both naturally and spiritually.
It is applicable even today. In this dispensation the local church is the place where the new believers must be trained for service. Ephesians. 4:11—16. Under the able leadership of elders, evangelists and teachers young Christians must be educated with Biblical as well as practical knowledge so that they may be equipped to take up the leadership in due time.
There are some who are not willing to abide by a local assembly or its leadership but they are zealous to serve the Lord. Is it a good sign? No, never. We have already considered the faithfulness and humility of Joshua in serving the servant of God for forty long years, before he was called by the Lord to take up the leadership.
Though Joshua was active and performed many important tasks, he never tried to become a leader. In the right time we saw God himself directs Moses to make the arrangements to commission Him. That’s the way God always appoints his chosen servants – in His own time and way. He didn’t allow Joshua to be the self styled leader, nor did he allow Moses to choose. The Lord always ordains the committed, prepared one for His ministry.
Be engaged in the work, serve His servants, He will entrust the work in His time.
Remember, though he was appointed formally, still Joshua was under probation till the death of Moses! How humble and patient he was!
7. The encouragement Joshua received. Deuteronomy. 1: 38; 3: 21
He was not a discouraged, depressed servant of God. He was encouraged by God, by Moses and even the people. Not only God calls His servants, but also encourages along the way. Joshua. .1.3-6 Notice that God had instructed Moses to encourage Joshua. Deuteronomy. 1.38; 3.21). Then the people also stood by him. Joshua.1.16-18; Deuteronomy. 34.9) Pink has rightly said, “When He fits a man to minister, He also prepares a people for him to minister”. Thus Joshua became the successor to Moses.
A study of the book of Joshua will tell us more about this great man of God. There are many qualities that must be emulated by a servant of God. His devotion to the Lord, concern for the people and the selfless service are exemplary.
Why did the Lord choose Joshua after Moses? Cp.Joshua.1:1. Considering the background of Joshua in comparison to Moses it was God’s sovereign grace alone that made Joshua as the leader of Israel. Moses was reared in palace whereas Joshua in an ordinary household under slavery. Moses was a learned man with special military training. Joshua had no such privileges. He knew no dignity at all in his early life. Even he had no face-to-face communion with the Lord as Moses had, yet the Lord used him mightily.
This clearly shows that the Lord can use any body provided he is willing to yield to Him. Let us consider the steps that led to his appointment as the successor of Moses. Still those steps are valid and worthy for any one to be in God’s work.
Beloved, the Lord can use you and me effectively, provided we are willing to follow the example of Joshua. Remember, God is not going to call us to be another Joshua. The role of Moses is over, Joshua is over. He has a specific plan for each one of us. We only need to take the principles underlined in the story of choosing and using Joshua as a servant God.
Let us be available, be faithful and loyal to the Lord and His Church. Enjoy the presence of God; stand for the truth at any cost. Trust God absolutely. Patiently wait under the mighty hands of God that He may exalt us in due time.