Wednesday, October 16, 2013
From Slavery to Seniority
By Brenda Black
When Moses lifted his staff to split the Red Sea, a middle aged slave named Joshua would be among the masses that marched across on dry land. He witnessed the Egyptians swallowed alive by recoiling waves and rushing tides. He captained an army under Moses' command and routed the Amalekites with the help of the Almighty. Joshua ventured up the slopes of Mount Sinai and saw God's presence envelope the peak. All the while, the slave set free was learning to lead.
Having seen God's power, experienced His victory and sensed His reality, it is no wonder that Joshua would boldly stand in the minority. He with only one other, Caleb, would take God at His word and believe His promises trustworthy on the edge of the Promised Land. By then, Joshua was 80.
It occurs to me that faith is born in and grown incrementally. Even one with first-hand encounters with the living God needed time and opportunity to prevail in faith walking. One of the main themes of the book of Joshua is that success is possible through obedience. Another lesson it teaches is the unrelenting faithfulness of God. And what God wants for His children is to live in such obedience that they begin to exhibit His faith-filled qualities and look like their Abba Daddy.
Slavery is bound by inability. Freedom is stifled. Choice is absent. But once a soul is set free, abilities are expected to be stroked and honed and used for God's glory. Freedom provides opportunity to learn and grow. Choice becomes a responsibility. Joshua never forgot from where he had come. He relived that powerful sea-splitting moment over and over in his mind. He fought valiantly because He understood who equipped him and went before him in battle. He used his freedom to make the choice to be faithful to the One who had been faithful to Him and his people.
“Moses said to the Lord, 'May the Lord, the God of the spirits of all mankind, appoint a man over this community who will lead them out and bring them in, so the Lord's people will not be like sheep without a shepherd.'
“So the Lord said to Moses, 'Take Joshua son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit, and lay your hand on him...and commission him in their presence...Moses did as the Lord commanded him.” (Numbers 27:15-22a)
We're each called to remember the place where Jesus found us and never forget that from which He rescued us. We must remember the battles God has fought for us and count the victories frequently so we never forget who goes before us. We're challenged to go forth in faith because we have a history with One who is ever faithful!
Nowhere do we read in Scripture that Joshua ever returned to a life of slavery. In fact, in his final years, he still bellowed allegiance to the God of Freedom. “'Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.'” (Joshua 24:14-15)
Joshua's path from slavery to seniority crossed a dry sea and a vast desert. His journey took him up a cloud covered mountain and across enemy borders. “After these things, Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died at the age of a hundred and ten. And they buried him in the land of his inheritance...” (Josh. 24:29-30a)
Like Joshua, we should never forget what lies behind, but we should never turn back to it either. If we want to live free in Christ and we want to lead others into the promised land filled with His presence, we have to live faithful, not enchained. The only way to achieve such freedom is to be one in whom is the spirit. “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36)