Preparation to Promotion to Greatness
November 21, 2014
Deuteronomy 34:9 (NKJV) 9 Now Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him; so the children of Israel heeded him, and did as the LORD had commanded Moses.
Yesterday we looked at another Old Testament character that walked in greatness. His name is Joshua. As Moses successor, he had one of the most difficult tasks in history. As the one who would lead Israel into the possession of their Promised Land, he lived in one of the most important times in history. What was the key to greatness in the life of Joshua? I believe it was that he was prepared.
We have followed him through his initial victory over the Amalekites. Joshua led the battle against the them but it was won because Moses held up his hands over the battlefield. It was Moses anointing that won the day for Israel. This battle did identify something that was in Joshua’s life. He had the potential to lead the people in military campaigns. This was an important ability when it came to driving out the enemies of Israel who lived in Canaan.
As important as this skill was, winning one battle did not mean Joshua was ready to be Moses’ successor. Just a few of the things he learned in his years with Moses were discernment, the importance of prayer, the presence of God and the value God placed on all the people not just the leaders. These were all things that he would need to lead Israel politically as well as on the battlefield.
It is so interesting to me that Joshua does not go from leading Israel in battle to the position of general. He becomes Moses’ assistant. He was not assisting Moses in ruling but was his personal servant. This seems to be a demotion but nothing could be farther from the truth.
I have had similar experiences. I began in ministry at the age of 24. As I look back, I realize I did not know very much. After one year of mentoring I became the Pastor of the church my friend and I had started. By age 33, I was starting my third church. Until that time, I had no fathers in the faith. I had an older brother in the faith but I had been saved longer than he had. He had been in the ministry for a few years though and asked me to work with him.
Our fathers were books and tapes. He taught me what he could, but by the time I was in this third church, he was doing something else and I needed more preparation. I took some courses to continue my education, but that really did not help much. To make a long story short, I came into relationship with some very powerful older ministers of the Gospel who took me under their wing and helped me.
One in particular is a man who is one of the best teachers and greatest prophets in the world. He asked me to begin traveling with him to help in a form of prophetic ministry that requires a team. As the junior member, I was there to minister prophetically and to help this senior man in any way I could. I had been preaching quite a few years and most people seemed to think I had some skill in this area, but when I traveled with Doc, no one wanted to hear me. It was many years before I preached in front of him.
Although I was the pastor of my third church and I knew how to preach I was not the boss on these trips. I carried his bags. I did what I was asked and I did things he did not want to do. In some ways, I was his “assistant” in the same way Joshua was Moses’ assistant.
In those years, I learned more about flowing in the prophetic and teaching the Word of God than I could have learned from many years in Seminary. It is not that Doc taught me per se. He certainly taught me in our times of conversation. He taught me by the example he displayed in his ministry and personal life. Just being with him on the field brought an impartation to my life that I do not believe anything else could have. Today, God is moving me into part of the fulfillment of my calling that would not be impossible without my time with him. I certainly do not believe I would enjoy the respect I have been given. Nothing has been more important than my time serving a senior man of God. So it was with Joshua.
In the book of numbers, we see a maturing that has occurred in Joshua. We all know this story from Numbers 14. Moses sends out twelve spies. Ten of them return with what the Lord calls an evil report. They said, “The land is all God said it would be but we cannot take it. The opposition is just too great.”
Joshua and Caleb had a different report.
Numbers 14:7-9 (NKJV) 7 and they spoke to all the congregation of the children of Israel, saying: “The land we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. 8 If the LORD delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, ‘a land which flows with milk and honey.’ 9 Only do not rebel against the LORD, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the LORD is with us. Do not fear them.”
What caused these two men to be able to see past the difficulties so they could walk in faith toward God? In the case of Caleb, he is an older man. He seems to be a man of exceptional faith. We do not know much more about him and the next time we see him is in Canaan where he asks for permission to take the Mountain Moses promised him.
In Joshua’s case, I think the explanation is somewhat different. Joshua obviously had faith as well. I believe that his ability to stand in the face of contradictory evidence was enhanced by something else. Joshua had been prepared for this by his time as Moses’ servant.
Caleb was also great in the Kingdom of God. I am sure he was prepared for his role in God’s plan. He was to be an example to the people. In that way, he would help lead them. He was called to take a mountain for the Lord. However, Joshua was called to replace Moses and lead the nation. His preparation was different from Caleb’s preparation. For him to become great he had to follow his own path.
Each of us has a calling to fulfill. Greatness in the Kingdom of God is measured on a very personal level. We must do what God asks us to do. We do not have to do more and we cannot do less. Each of us will go through our own personal preparation plan. However, if we do not allow God to prepare us we will never reach true greatness in the kingdom. We do that by cooperation with God. We do it by taking the time in each phase of life that God requires. We do it by not complaining but by praising God through all the things we face. In the end, we will see greatness emerge as we walk through his chosen path for our lives.
That is what we see in the life of Joshua. In today’s scripture, we see the fulfillment of Joshua’s preparation as it manifests in a promotion. That promotion did not really come at the hands of Moses. Even though it seemed that Joshua was the logical choice to succeed Moses he could not be confirmed until the Lord said he was ready. Moses laid his hands upon Joshua because God told him to do so.
God is the one who is training you. God is the one who will promote you. God will use people in your preparation. God will use circumstances in your preparation. God will use the experience gained living life in your preparation. I worked five years in a factory. At the time, I did not understand how that related to my future ministry. However, when I had to deal with people who worked all day and had a hard time coming to church or getting into the word, I could understand them in a way I would not have been able to without those years.
Let God do in you what he needs to. When the time for promotion comes, he will bring it and no one, not even the devil will be able to stop it.