Groomed for a Purpose (Part 1)
By Sophia Prinsloo
with Barbara Wilmerton Haas
Text Version | Afrikaans
A Bible Story About Joshua
Soul Seeker jerked back his head, squealing. "Stupid horse!" Philip said, disgruntled, "I never wanted to come here anyway. It would have been much more fun if my parents had sent me car racing instead." He tried to grab the reigns again and missed as Soul Seeker jerked back another time.
Philip stopped dead in his tracks, surprised by the trainer's stern voice behind him.
"A horse can spot a bad attitude a mile away. You'd better keep a level head and begin treating him with respect and kindness. You'll be amazed at what he'll be willing to do for you."
Philip had been sent to the ranch during school vacation, hopefully to improve his attitude. At first, he was very bored doing the seemingly mundane tasks of taking care of Soul Seeker — cleaning his stable, providing hay, water and carrots every now and then — but after a while he realized that this was an important job. It taught him a sense of responsibility. After a couple of grooming sessions, saddling and exercising around the ring, Philip and the horse finally became friends and Soul Seeker even let him ride him. He never thought riding a horse could be so much fun.
Philip was sad to say goodbye to his horse friend at the end of his vacation. That evening back at home, expressing what he learned, he told his dad, "I thought I was the one who was supposed to do the grooming but, in fact, the horse wound up grooming me. He taught me so much about life."
Joshua, the son of Nun from the tribe of Ephraim, was standing on the bank of the River Jordan, looking across the swirling water to the land on the other side — Canaan, the land of milk and honey, the PROMISED LAND. He remembered his excitement when he first set foot on the Promised Land 39 years ago, when Moses sent him and 11 other, EAGER spies to go, explore the land and scout it out.
It was truly a fertile land, make no mistake! The bright red pomegranates and soft, ripe figs were SO juicy and sweet, and a cluster of grapes was SO big that it took two men to carry it on a pole between them, back to the Israelite camp. The land was all theirs just for the taking.
Joshua was so sure, so full of faith that Israel could take the land the Lord had promised them at that time, but the eagerness of 10 of his fellow spies quickly vanished into thin air when they saw the Anakims, the FEROCIOUS GIANTS who lived in Canaan. The 10 fearful spies were scared to death of the giants and infected the entire land of Israel with utter despair and lack of faith in the Lord.
Oh, how the Israelites wailed, like howling dogs the whole night long, with fear at the thought of having to fight those giants in order to take the land! They preferred going back into slavery to Egypt and almost stoned Joshua and Caleb for trying to convince them otherwise. Only Joshua and Caleb had faith in the Lord's power to give them victory! Joshua grunted to himself, "What were a couple of giants anyway to the Almighty God Who parted the Red Sea and supernaturally killed a whole army of fierce, Egyptian soldiers?"
Israel's lack of faith in God's ability to help them defeat the heathen nations was devastating to Joshua. He could fully understand why the Lord was so disgusted with Israel and commanded them to go back into the desert, where they wandered around AIMLESSLY until all the faithless people older than 20 years had died. Of that generation, only he and Caleb — the ones who had true faith in God — were still alive. Although Joshua was also affected by Israel's sin because he couldn't go into the Promised Land just yet, the Lord worked it out for his good, training Joshua, during that time, to become a godly leader. Now 39 years later, the Israelites stood on the bank of the Jordan River again, on the brink of entering the Promised Land. Joshua prayed, "Oh, God! Don't let Israel be deceived into making the same mistake again. Let them have FAITH!"
As Joshua watched the sunset paint the sky with a range of gold, orange, and pink colored clouds, he wondered why Moses chose HIM, Joshua, from among so many able young men, to become his personal assistant soon after the exodus. It must have been GOD'S HAND that brought it about, GROOMING him for this PURPOSE, to lead Israel into the Promised Land!
Although he was his servant, Joshua felt so HONORED to constantly be so close to Moses, even climbing Mount Sinai with him, where Moses received the Ten Commandments and God's Law. He learned so much from Moses. Most importantly, Joshua's heart yearned for more of the Lord, serving Him WHOLEHEARTEDLY. That is why he loved to stay in the Tent of Meeting, in the presence of God, where Moses spoke to God as his friend. Even when Moses had to go out and speak the Word of God to the people, Joshua preferred to stay inside. It was there where Joshua got to KNOW the Great I AM and learned to HEAR his voice.
Joshua sighed, "Oh, how I wish Moses, my old master, teacher and friend, could be here with us to experience crossing Jordan and taking the Promised Land as Israel's everlasting possession!" But God had other plans, calling Moses upward to heavenly glory. When he was still alive, Moses knew he would not enter the Promised Land because of that fateful day when he had become ANGRY with thirsty, complaining Israelites and SINNED. He had let his irritation get the best of him when he DISOBEYED the Lord's command and struck the rock at Meribah twice, instead of talking to it. God graciously honored Moses, causing drinking water to gush from the rock!
Moses knew that in his absence, Israel would need someone with godly wisdom to lead them into the Promised Land. That's why he spent so much time teaching Joshua all he knew. When the Lord told him it was now his time to die, Moses pleaded with the Lord not to let Israel, whom he LOVED so dearly, be like sheep with no shepherd.
The Lord ANSWERED his prayer by commanding Moses to appoint Joshua — the one in whom God's Spirit lived — as their future leader. Moses LAID HIS HANDS on Joshua in front of High Priest Eleazar, with the people as witnesses. From then on, the people LISTENED to Joshua because he was filled with the Spirit of WISDOM. With a tear rolling down his cheek, Joshua remembered the countless times Moses had ENCOURAGED his faith, telling him that he, Joshua, would be the one to lead Israel into the Promised Land and cause them to INHERIT it with the Lord's help.
Joshua knew once they crossed Jordan, MANY BATTLES would be fought, but he knew from experience that the Lord would deliver them. Being Captain of Israel's army, he had surely been TRAINED for leading the people in war. During their time in the desert, with the Lord's supernatural help, Joshua and his men conquered the Amalekites, King Og of Bashan and King Sihon of Heshbon. What FAITH-BUILDING, MIRACULOUS victories for a bunch of inexperienced men who knew nothing of war, but knew only how to be slaves to the Egyptians, making clay bricks, building cities and then picking up manna in the desert.
Moses often REHEARSED past victories in Joshua's ears to build his faith even more and said, "So shall the Lord do to all the kingdoms into which you are going over the Jordan. You shall NOT FEAR them, for the Lord your God shall fight for you."
And Joshua BELIEVED what the Spirit of the Lord said through Moses.
With another look across the river, Joshua returned to the Tent of Meeting to pray to the Lord and wait on Him. It was not long before God spoke, giving him details:
1. The Lord confirmed Joshua's LEADERSHIP and TASK by saying, "My servant Moses is dead and you are the new leader of Israel. Get ready to lead my people across the Jordan River to the Promised Land."
2. The Lord mapped out the TERRITORY they had to take, instructing, "I say to you the same as what I have said to Moses: Every place on which the sole of your foot will tread, I have given to you, all the way from the Negeb Desert in the south to the Lebanon Mountains in the north, and from the Mediterranean Sea in the west to the Euphrates River in the east, including all the land of the Hittites."
3. The Lord assured Joshua of his HELP in battle, predicting, "No one will be able to stand before you as long as you live, for I will be with you as I have been with Moses. I will not abandon you or fail to help you."
4. The Lord laid out Joshua's PURPOSE when He said, "Be strong, brave and of good courage because you will cause Israel to conquer and inherit the land I promised their ancestors."
5. The Lord encouraged Joshua to be OBEDIENT to the Law of Moses: "You must be strong and courageous and obey to the letter every law Moses gave you. If you are obedient, you will be successful in everything you do."
6. The Lord urged Joshua to REMIND himself and the people about the Commandments when He said, "Think about these Commandments day and night and speak about them to the people. Make sure you obey all the laws. Only then will you be able to deal wisely, be prosperous and succeed in your task."
7. The Lord commanded Joshua NOT TO FEAR, saying, "Be strong and bold, and very courageous! Banish all fear and anxiety for I, the Lord your God, am with you wherever you go!"
Joshua was greatly INSPIRED by the words of the Lord and IMMEDIATELY called together the leaders of Israel, and instructed them: "Go, tell the people to prepare their provisions for, in three days, they will cross the Jordan River to enter into the Promised Land and take possession of it!"
The men of Reuben, Gad and half the tribe of Manasseh, who had already been given land east of the Jordan River, pledged to help their brothers take the land west of the river while their women and children stayed at home. They assured Joshua, "May the Lord be with you as He was with Moses, and may those who rebel against you be killed. So lead on with courage and strength!"
(Continued in Part 2)
Never despise serving others or doing menial tasks. Be bold, have faith and do your best because the Lord has a plan for your life. He is grooming you for a purpose.
1. Whose personal assistant was Joshua?
2. Did he like being Moses' servant? Why?
3. Who were the only two survivors of the generation of Egyptian slaves?
4. Why did they outlive all others in their generation?
5. Why did the Lord tell Joshua to be strong and brave?
6. Would obedience to God's Word be important for him to succeed as leader?
7. Why did Joshua not need to fear?
A VERSE TO LEARN
"Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest" (Joshua 1:9).
AN ALTERNATIVE VERSE TO LEARN
"Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might" (Ephesians 6:10).
Did God have a purpose for Joshua’s life? Do you know what it was? What about the generation of Israelites who once were slaves in Egypt and experienced the miraculous exodus? Did God have a purpose for them? Wasn’t it that they, too, may enter, conquer and inherit the Promised Land? Who entered the Promised Land, Joshua or that generation of Israelites? Whose purpose was fulfilled?
Do you know why Joshua’s purpose was fulfilled and not those Israelites? It was because Joshua had faith in God and in his plans. The Israelites, on the other hand, didn’t enter in because of their unbelief. Where did Joshua get his faith? He spent a lot of time with God in the Tent of Meeting.
Do you think God has a purpose for your life? Can you imagine what it may be?
[After discussion:] God may have different plans for different people according to the talents they have, but the greatest purpose God has for everybody, is that they believe in his Son, Jesus Christ, so that they may inherit his promises written in the Bible. The greatest of all God’s promises is his promise of eternal life.
Would you like to have God’s plan for your life fulfilled? Let’s then take a moment and ask God to show us his purpose in all things for our lives. Let’s also ask Him to help us always seek his counsel. Pray, too, that He will give us faith and courage to always do his will.
Heavenly Father, thank You that You have a wonderful
plan for my life. Help me grow in obedience, wisdom,
strength and boldness while I serve You wholeheartedly
here on earth, living out your plan and purpose for my life.
In Jesus' Name I pray. Amen.
CAN YOU FIND THIS STORY IN THE BIBLE?
Joshua 1:1-11; Exodus 17, 24:13, 33:11;
Numbers 27:18-23, 32:17; Deuteronomy 31:23, 34:9
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