A Look At Joshua | Part 2
Growth is typically measured in what you can see. A child receives an ‘A’ on her exam – who-hoo! The hard work paid off as the teacher and parents spent extra time teaching her. The results of the student’s stellar grade reveal the growth in her math skills.
What about those subtle places of growth that are not as obvious? Like roots from a tree, some forms of growth are not visible but necessary. The further the roots deepen and spread underground, the more secure the tree is when the winds come. The healthier the tree is, the deeper roots can access more nutrients.
As we continue our series on ‘Grow in Place’, we’ve been looking at the life of Joshua before he led the Israelites into the promise land. Under Moses’ leadership, Joshua is still learning, and he’s in ‘process’ – between the promise and the fulfillment of that promise. God always has a plan… even if we cannot see it yet! His purpose for Joshua will be the many outstanding victories he will have in the promise land. But that time is not now. Instead, it’s time for Joshua to embrace the process and trust what God has for him to prepare him for his future. (See last week’s blog: Grow in Place – Process).
This week, we will continue to look at the preparation God had for Joshua, where the growth is hidden but vital for his relationship with the Lord. So it is for you and me – that indispensable and lasting growth takes place in the intimate moments with God.
In Exodus 32, Moses had come down from Mt. Sinai, and what does he see? People are worshipping a golden calf! Although the Lord brought about a great miracle and parted the Red Sea, this action reveals the Israelites hearts – divided and fickle. Even Moses’ brother Aaron bows under pressure and makes the golden calf for them! (In his ‘defense’, he threw the earrings in, and “out came this calf!” Talk about the excuse of the century! – Exodus 32:24). After this, the Lord tells Moses to move on towards the promise land.
Here we find the special relationship between Moses and the Lord with the description of the Tent of Meeting:
“Now Moses used to take a tent and pitch it outside the camp some distance away, calling it the “tent of meeting.” Anyone inquiring of the Lord would go to the tent of meeting outside the camp. And whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people rose and stood at the entrances to their tents, watching Moses until he entered the tent. As Moses went into the tent, the pillar of cloud would come down and stay at the entrance, while the Lord spoke with Moses. Whenever the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance to the tent, they all stood and worshiped, each at the entrance to their tent. The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend.” – Exodus 33:7-11a
I absolutely love this passage! Who would not want a relationship with the Lord, the God Almighty, like this? Where the God of the Universe speaks to you ‘face to face’? What a special relationship the Lord had with Moses.
That’s why I believe the next sentence of verse 11 is remarkable:
“Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent.” – Exodus 33:11b
It’s easy to bypass this verse’s relevance, but its importance is too critical to skim over. First, Joshua was allowed in the tent, even if the meeting was between God and Moses. Second, he was permitted to STAY IN THE TENT. After Moses left, Joshua did not leave. And I have a strong suspicion why:
Joshua wanted more of God.
He saw the relationship Moses had with the Lord, and he wanted it for himself. He was not content to stay outside the tent like everyone else. He was not satisfied by only witnessing the miracle of the Red Sea. Rather, Joshua wanted to know the God of the miraculous. To hear His voice and to know His ways. To be in fellowship with Him, even in the hours of the night.
They say hunger is a sign of a person who is alive. One of the unfortunate side effects of someone going to pass soon is that they lose their appetite. I’ve witnessed this in visits to the hospital. Once I hear that they are not eating anymore, I know that they will see the Lord soon.
Joshua’s hunger is evident as he stays when Moses leaves. His desire for more of God is sought in that hidden place – when no one else is looking. In this instance, everyone is asleep, but Joshua is in the tent. It didn’t matter how tired he was because he wanted more of God.
I think about Joshua in the hidden place versus the people of Israel in the open space. When the presence of God manifested, the people stood at the entrance of their tent and worshipped. (Exodus 33:10). Wow, praise God that they did so! But I wonder – was this out of obligation or desire? I ask because we know the hearts of the people already and the complaining that will begin as they continue their trek through the wilderness (Read the Book of Numbers, and you will feel sorry for Moses!). It’s one thing to do the obvious – stand and give praise when everyone is looking; it’s a whole other perspective when it’s in the hidden place. When no one was looking, Joshua was in the tent. His relationship with God was growing in that place. In contrast, the Israelites are known as ‘stiff-necked’ and wanting to go back to Egypt.
Going to church on Sunday would be the obvious and right thing to do in our day and age. I see this as the Israelites standing and worshipping. The key is our desire when we come to the Sunday service. Are we ‘going through the motions’? Or are we excited and ready to join with our brothers in sisters in worshipping the Lord?
However, a relationship with God one day of the week is not enough. The Lord is not just a Sunday God, but an every day God! Joshua was hungry to know the Lord more; it didn’t matter what day or time it was. Even with restrictions in effect in most churches, are you seeking the Lord? Like Joshua, no one is looking. Like Joshua, are you hungry for more of God’s presence?
These are times of unprecedented growth that only the Lord can see and know in your life. It doesn’t matter if you cannot walk into the church building because God wants to meet you now. It makes no difference if you cannot leave your home since you can invite the presence of God wherever you are. Growing in place is determined by your hunger, which is fed in the hidden places.
We know the Lord rewards those who diligently seek Him, not only seeking Him in general (Hebrews 11:6). The key is the motive. If you want something, what are you willing to do to get it? If it’s more of the Lord, let that time be occupied in hiddenness. The Lord rewards those who pray, give, and fast in secret (Matthew 6:1-18). Imagine the rich rewards you can have as you spend precious alone time ‘in the tent’ with God!
When I read this verse, the question I kept asking over and over is, “What was Joshua doing in the tent?” Did Joshua spend time worshipping? Did he ask God questions? I will never know. What I do know is that Joshua hungered after the Lord and sought Him in those hidden places. The hunger in hiddenness was crucial in Joshua’s development to be positioned as Israel’s next leader.
There’s a lot to think about through this verse, and I hope that it draws you nearer to the Lord. I encourage you to carve out specific and planned time with the Lord and ask the Holy Spirit what that looks like for you. It could entail worshipping with music, prayer walks, a scheduled Bible reading plan, a journal or devotional book (like mine here, check it out! Write the Vision), or sitting in solitude in that secret place with the Lord. The Lord desires for you to draw near – how will you respond? Not only does God want you to know Him better, but He’s doing a great and mighty work within you. Remember, growth still happens in the hidden places, especially when no one is looking.
Have a blessed week!