THE CROSS-OVER MIRACLE (1)/ JOSHUA, SPY-SERVANT-SOLDIER-SAVIOR (1)
During the first Sunday service in 2023, Pastor (Mrs) Silvia Lia Leigh preached a sermon titled ‘The Cross-over Miracle’ (1). Her main text was taken from the books of Deuteronomy, chapter 34, and Joshua, chapter 1.
The Old Testament is divided into three parts: The law, the historical writings, and the prophets. The Book of Joshua is a transition Book, describing the events from the death of Moses to the leadership of Joshua, the crossing of Jordan, and the taken over the Promised Land. Joshua is the first in the books of History (from Joshua to Esther). But Joshua is not just a book of history. The Bible scholars consider Joshua to be a Prophetic Book. Joshua is a leader with a prophetic mandate. The Book of Joshua has a spiritual purpose. It does not only describe history, but it applies these events for us to understand the mind of God. And that is the work of a prophet. As we study the Book of Joshua, we identify with the transition between Moses and Joshua. It is a cross over from great to greater things. The Holy Spirit leads us into this truth.
God named the book of Joshua after his name. Joshua in Hebrew is the same as Jesus in Greek. Joshua is a symbol of Jesus Christ. Joshua is a great man of faith. He fulfilled destiny. He is a great example for us all! The word “Hebrew” means to ‘cross-over’. For example, Abraham is called the Hebrew (Gen 14:13) because he crossed over from false gods to the only true God. He crossed over physically by leaving his homeland and coming to the Promised Land. The Israelites are called the Hebrews because they were delivered by God from the Egyptians as they crossed through the Red Sea, and then crossed through the Jordan River into the Promised Land. All these are pictures of transition, of deliverance and salvation. The meaning of the word ‘cross-over’ is a movement, a transition, from one place to another. It takes courage to cross-over, to move on in life. Spiritually, it is a miracle! Just as the Resurrection is a miracle, the cross over from death to life is a miracle! Please note that God always leads in this transition. Nobody knows the way of the Cross of over except Jesus! To God be all the glory!
It is amazing to know that the place where the people crossed over Jordan is the same place where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. Today it is known as Kasser Al Yahud, the Baptismal place of Jesus, opposite Jericho. Thru baptism in Christ, the believers cross over from death to life, from a life of sin into a new life of spiritual maturity, victory, and freedom.
After 400 years in the land of bondage, the people of God led by Moses have left Egypt. This exodus was a miracle. God does another miracle of deliverance and parts the Red Sea for them to cross over. By faith, they passed thru the Red Sea as on a dry ground. The same waters came back and killed the Egyptians who were pursuing them (Heb 11:29). On the other side, they praise God for His deliverance. Moses then sends twelve spies to inspect the Promised Land. Only Joshua and Caleb bring a good report. The other ten spies discourage the people. Because of their unbelief, God punishes them. They stay in the wilderness for forty years until all the adults die. From that unbelieving generation, only Joshua and Caleb survive. They are now at the edge of the Promised Land. Moses dies up on the mountain. Because of his disobedience, God does not allow him to enter the Promised Land. God gives the mantle of leadership for the next stage to Joshua, who was Moses’ attendant for all the forty years in the desert. Joshua is a hero of faith. He is not as ‘famous’ as Moses but he is more efficient in the things of God. He is not related to Moses. He is from a different tribe. Moses is from Levi and Joshua is from Ephraim. Joshua was mentored by Moses. He knew Moses more than any other person. He was obedient to the leadership of Moses unto the end. Clearly, Joshua has learned to obey God’s Word and to avoid the mistakes of his leader. He never complained but always trusted and obeyed God to the end of his life. Now God Himself calls Joshua to lead the people into the Promised Land and to conquer it (Joshua 1). Their dreams will become a reality. Faith must become sight! They must possess their possessions! Moses was great! Joshua is even greater! The future is better than the past. This is the hope for every child of God!
The Book of Joshua is a transition prophetic book. The man called Joshua, the son of Nun, is one of the greatest heroes of faith. God names the Book after his name to encourage him. Joshua is a great model to study. He leads God’s people to possess the Promised Land. God has given already the Land to them. They must believe His promise. Joshua leads them from a position of victory to take over the Land that becomes theirs by faith. As a solider, Joshua leads three main military campaigns defeating more than 30 enemy armies. He was more than a conqueror. In Christ we declare that “in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Rom 8:37). The word ‘conqueror’ means to gain decisive victory, to prevail mightily. The conqueror totally defeats the enemy, wins the war, and takes complete control over the people.
What was Joshua’s secret? It is the same with Joseph in the Old Testament. “So the Lord was with Joshua (Josh 6:27)”. The victorious life of Joshua, leading God’s people to conquer and possess the Promised Land is a parable of the Christian life. Christ has won everything. He has the victory. We must by faith experience the gains. Joshua is a symbol of our Lord Jesus Christ. His name Joshua is the same as Jesus, in Greek.
Moses was a colossus of a man. There was no man like Moses. But Moses is now dead (Deut 34:9-12). Joshua is the new leader. He is overwhelmed by the responsibility of occupying Moses’ shoes. He had many questions: ‘how can I lead these people?’ Like many of us, he was afraid of failure. How can Joshua become a successful leader? What will be the secret of good success? We must learn the lessons from Joshua!
Joshua was the son of Nun from the tribe of Ephraim. His father’s name ‘Nun’ means prosperity. His original name was Hoshea (meaning Savior, Helper). Moses changed it to Joshua (meaning God’s Helper or Savior) (Nu 13:8, 16). He was Moses’ assistant (Nu 11:28; Josh 1:1). The word ‘assistant’ means menial servant, or worshipper. Joshua was about 85 years during the cross over. He died when he was 110. The whole nation mourned this great man of God. Joshua was a slave in Egypt. He knew the meaning of suffering and oppression. Like Joseph who rose from pit to Palace, Joshua too rose from slave to savior of his nation! He was an excellent soldier for Christ. The secular army generals study how he conquered the Promised Land and divided it to his people. He was a faithful servant to Moses, a faithful spy, a great soldier, and a saint. He was filled with God’s Word and God’s Spirit (Josh 1:8; Deut 34:9).
God has already commanded Moses to appoint Joshua as the next leader of Israel. Moses brought Joshua to Eleazer the Priest and before the people. Moses laid his hands to Joshua to appoint him as his successor (Numbers 27:15-23).
Why did God choose Joshua? The first reason is this: Joshua already has a testimony as a tested man of God. He was a faithful servant to Moses. Like Moses, Joshua was born in Egypt as a slave. God gave these two babies as a gift to God’s people, but they did not know that for a long time. Moses grew in the royal palace in Egypt. Joshua grew up among the poor slaves in Egypt. They have different backgrounds. They are from different tribes. Moses is from the tribe of Levi and Joshua is from Ephraim, the son of Joseph. As a young man, Joshua remembered the exodus, the power of God demonstrated thru the plagues on the Egyptians and the Red Sea being divided. He saw the pillar of fire. He saw how manna came. Moses called him as a servant. He totally submitted to Moses. He saw how God used Moses to lead the people, how Moses was seeking God and prayed to Him. Joshua saw how God provided food and water for His people in the desert. As a child and a young man, Joshua witnessed the work of God. But there were other young people in Israel who witnessed the power of God. Why did God choose Joshua as the new leader? What was the difference? From his young age Joshua dedicated himself to serve God. He did not only ‘enjoy’ the miracles. He wanted to be used by God to do them. He wanted to experience revival. In a time of crisis, Moses called Joshua to fight the Amalekites (Ex 17). Moses prayed on the hill and Joshua fought in the valley. Moses saw that Joshua has the zeal and passion for God. Joshua has learned to fight and defeat enemies. This is a wise saying: The crisis does not make the person. It only reveals who that person is. Joshua took the things of God seriously long before Moses died. Moses went to meet with God on the mountain. Joshua followed him. He heard Moses talking to God. Moses came down and saw that the people forgot God and they made a golden calf to worship. Joshua saw the holy anger and zeal of Moses in serving God (Exodus 32). When Moses carried his tent far from the crowd, Joshua stayed there waiting on God when Moses was not there (Exodus 33). It is such people that God uses. It was the same with David and Daniel and his friends. They wanted to know God better and to serve Him. Question: Is that what you want?
Lesson: Joshua became a man of God long before he became famous. God uses people who are faithful in the background. God trains and tests them for a long time before he approves them as leaders. The way you serve God now as a young man, will determine the way God will use you as an older man. Many revivals are started by young people. Never estimate the impact of the Holy Spirit on your children as you bring them to church, and you read the Bible to them. Worship the Lord!