quest for instruction in leadership which the Scriptures
contain, there is a wealth of teaching given in our
second great Old Testament instance, namely Joshua.
— Joshua — Jehoshua — Jesus means
“The Lord — the Saviour”.
like the One whom he typifies, is the link joining the
great salvation from with the great salvation unto.
Moses, in the main, had to do with the salvation from.
Joshua entered into that, shared it, and then took it to
the great unto of its purpose.
unto broke down in the case of Moses, although he
laid its foundation. It broke down with the first
generation who came out. They failed to go through. The
New Testament repeatedly refers to this failure in the
most solemn warnings to Christians of this dispensation.
In so doing it reflects the very great importance of the
leadership-work of Joshua, and thereby lifts Joshua and
his special aspect of leadership on to very high and
vital ground. Nothing less than the whole import of
salvation, and therefore ninety percent of the New
Testament is represented by the leadership of Joshua.
True, in his own case, it failed in full realization and
Joshua did not lead them into the “rest” (Heb.
4:8). But he did, in eternal principles, lead to
the One who has made his work complete, even Jesus.
order, therefore, to understand the true meaning and
value of Joshua’s vocation we have to begin from the
full issue and then work over the particular steps to see
the fundamentals of that vocation.
is no doubt that Joshua was the Old Testament counterpart
of Paul, each in his different and respective sphere. The
one, the earthly, temporal and limited; the other in the
heavenly, spiritual and universal.
both cases the dominating issue was
The fulness of Christ
being God’s supreme and all-inclusive purpose. This
was — and is — the object of the salvation
“out from”. Failing this salvation has lost its
most essential meaning and object. Failing this we
inherit all the reproaches resultant from the tragedy of
Kadesh-barnea. Failing this we are in the first letter to
the Corinthians where — with this very example
presented — a life-work can go up in smoke in
“the day”, and we be saved “yet only as by
fire”. Failing this the most grievous things in the
New Testament (see the Letter to the Hebrews chapters 6
and 10, etc.) will apply to us. From both the Old
Testament history and the New Testament admonitions it is
evident that it is possible to be saved in an elementary
sense but lose the “inheritance” and it is the
inheritance which justifies all.
Joshua represents the leadership which, energized by the
Holy Spirit, has in view that fulness into which Christ
has entered and which He is and has for His people.
Nothing less or other than that.
is a tremendous thing and it constitutes a very great
vocation. It gives leadership its highest and fullest
meaning. If it should be argued to the contrary on the
ground that Joshua is hardly mentioned in the New
Testament and his name is not listed with the heroes of
faith in Hebrews 11, the fact is that, rather than that
weakening the contention, it only strengthens it, and
that overwhelmingly. The Joshua of the Old Testament is
swallowed up in his transcendently great Namesake of the
New — Jesus. Further, Joshua was absolutely
overshadowed and mastered by “the captain of the
host of the Lord”, and thus the Holy Spirit eclipses
the human vessel.
Joshua really represents then is Christ under the
anointing Spirit committed to the full purpose of God
— the heavenly inheritance, God’s fulness in
will say that to have even a small place in this work is
not pre-eminently important? Here then leadership takes
on its superlative meaning.
pointed this out in so few words, we are able to go right
back and trace the steps in Joshua’s life and
schooling, the features and factors which led to his high
vocation and which are basic to such leadership. Let it
be understood that for many years Joshua himself was in
the school of leadership. He was being tested, proved,
drawn out to be approved. This aspect of his history was
in the wilderness, and forty being the number of
probation, Joshua’s leadership had its difficult and
testing probation. No one leaps suddenly into this
vocation. A great deal of history lies behind this
will surprise no one that, with such a purpose in view,
leadership is fundamentally linked with warfare.
Joshua — the man of
first meet Joshua in connection with the withstanding of
God’s people by Amalek (Ex. 17). So early in the
people’s history, as they start with freshness
toward the ultimate goal, evil forces arise to bar the
way. Amalek took the initiative — “then fought
Amalek”. We need not embark upon all the details
such as what Amalek typifies in spiritual conflict. The
opposing forces take various forms, choosing their own
significant ground and time. For our purpose the fact of
opposition is the occasion for bringing to light what was
there, but hidden, as God’s answer.
in a time of conflict, when the enemy takes the
initiative that there is revealed what fighting spirit
there is hidden amongst the Lord’s people. Joshua
was the embodiment of this spirit. He knew that this move
of the enemy signified a disputing of the inheritance. It
was not just an incidental and unrelated thing. Defeat
here had a long-range connection. Everything was
involved. There would be many battles ahead and the
approach of the full end would be marked by an
intensification of conflict from which there would be
very brief, if any, respite, but this very early assault
involved the whole.
would be a great thing if the Lord’s people saw
everything in the light of the full end and weighed what
seems but incidental against the whole involvement of a
defeat at any given point. How much hangs upon this spirit
of leadership coming to light at a critical moment!
Leadership, in Joshua’s case, was hidden, so far as
the record shows until the hour of real need. Then it is
found to have been there but latent. But there is little
doubt that Joshua had
A secret history with God
come to a vital factor in leadership. It is a secret
history with God which is motivated by a deep and intense
jealousy for God’s full thought. Later it came out
in the revealing occasion when he and Caleb stood alone
against all Israel.
second occasion on which we meet Joshua is equally
revealing as to his spirit. It is when Moses was in the
mount with God. The forty days had proved too much for
the patience of this vacillating and self-willed people.
They broke loose and Aaron’s part in it was deeply
discreditable. (The story is in Exodus 32.)
Moses descended the mount, picking up Joshua on the way
down, they heard the noise in the camp. It must have been
loud and confused; indeed, very wild. Consistent with his
very spirit, Joshua interpreted it as “the noise of
battle”. The war-horse thought he scented conflict.
He was right, although the battle element was deeper than
the appearance. They were making merry, but their very
merriment was a battle against God.
for God’s honour will sense and see the really
inimical and hostile elements in things like this.
Anything that threatens to take the Lord’s unique
and utter place will make one like Joshua instinctively
scent battle and rise to it in spirit. Joshua represents
utterness for God and of God and this always means
battle. If the whole purpose of God concerning His
Son and His church really captures the spirit, compromise
is intolerable and unthinkable. In this, Joshua does
foreshadow his great New Testament counterpart Paul, and
they very definitely meet in the latter’s Letter to
spirit of battle which characterized Joshua on the way
down the mountain found its very definite materializing
in the immediate act of Moses. His challenge of:
“Who is on the Lord’s side” found Joshua a
wholly committed man. The test was a very grim and
exacting one, but it is evident that he was wholly one
with “the sons of Levi” in their uncompromising
tent was pitched outside the camp and to it Moses,
Joshua, with the sons of Levi resorted at the call of
Moses. This brings us to the next significant mention of
Joshua: “...Joshua... departed not out of the
tent”. Joshua had chosen the place of complete
separation and difference at great cost, and there he
Letter to the Hebrews takes this incident up and applies
it, on the one side to the compromising Judaisers, which
it calls “the camp”; and on the other side to
the non-compromising, committed devotees to Jesus Christ.
It says that to the latter “outside the camp”
is the place of “bearing his reproach”.
then, we have come to two more factors in true spiritual
leadership. One is that the true leader is one who will
never, however much it costs, be drawn into compromise. A
leader must never be weak. He must never allow policy to
override principle. He must never allow popular opinion
to weaken his committedness. He must never allow
sentiment to dilute his strength. He must never let
sociability make him sacrifice supreme interests and
spiritual or moral integrity under the cover and pretext
of a false usage of Paul’s words about becoming
“all things to all men”. “Hebrews”
says that “outside the camp” where Joshua
elected to be is the unpopular place, and it is always
very testing to be unpopular. But leadership often
demands this price.
other thing which arises at this point in the .case of
Joshua is reliability. Moses — not in compromise
— returned to the camp. Joshua abode in the tent.
This is stated in the narrative evidently with a serious
meaning. What the full meaning is may be left for us to
consider, but this one thing is clear, you would always
know where to find Joshua. If it were asked, “Where
is Joshua?” everybody would have the answer:
“O, he is where he always is, in the tent.” If
Moses needed him he knew where to find him.
absolutely demands this characteristic of dependableness.
What a strength it is to know that a person can be
guaranteed to be in a definite spiritual position, right
on the spot spiritually; not temperamental, vacillating,
variable, or unpredictable. The multitude, especially
“the mixed multitude” is like that, not
consistently true for two days together. You never
know how you are going to find them at any given time. To
lead them into anything more of God demands this feature
of “abiding”. Yes, there may be discouragement,
disappointment, provocation, and heartbreak, but true
spiritual leadership rests upon an all-or-nothing basis,
and deep down there is an abandon to purpose which is
stronger than all that is against.
leader may adjust on points and be open to progressive
light, but as to the ultimate divine vision, he
will die rather than betray or recant. He is no
time-server or opportunist. He cannot be bought off. He
is going on or he is going out. He has seen, and he can
never unsee. He says, “Here I am, I can do no other.
May God help me”, or, “this one thing I
faithfulness and undeviating committal is something in
the very nature of the call and the vocation.
with all his strength of purpose, Joshua, like his New
Testament counterparts, was always in school learning
fresh lessons on leadership.
next touch with him is very indicative of this. It is in
Numbers 11. The Spirit of God is exercising His essential
sovereign liberty. Into this sovereign activity certain
“laymen” are caught up; that is, men who are
not recognized official prophets. They are not in the
recognized place for functioning in such a way. Eldad and
Medad come under the spontaneous movement of the Spirit
and prophesy in the camp. Joshua is alarmed and
scandalized. He rushes to Moses in his jealousy for that
great man and cries, “My lord Moses, forbid
them”. To his amazement and disconcertion, Moses
shows no sympathy with his jealousy and conventionality.
Rather does Moses rebuke it: “Would to God that all
the Lord’s people were prophets”; “Do not
be jealous for me.” In other words, “Do not
limit the Lord. Do not circumscribe the Holy
Spirit.” The Holy Spirit will not be bound by
jealous conventionality, nor by human fears as to what He
may do next — “The wind bloweth where it
situation is quite clear. Peter had to learn this lesson,
and failure to do so fully only resulted in fettering the
church and some of its apostles. The absolute sovereignty
of the Holy Spirit was something which meant an immense
amount in the after-life of Joshua and his leadership. If
it is true that “the love of God is broader than the
measure of man’s mind”, that is only another
way of saying that the Holy Spirit will demand the right
and liberty to overleap our prejudices, our stringencies
of interpretation; indeed, anything and everything that
makes Christ smaller than He really is.
very leadership itself can be jeopardized and falsified
if this lesson is not well and truly learned.
our special point here is not the range of the
Spirit’s work, for the occasion to which we are
referring was amongst the Lord’s people. What we are
especially pointing to as an essential law of leadership
is the absolute sovereign rights and liberty of the Holy
Spirit to choose His own ways and means, places and
times. The government of the Holy Spirit without
deference to anyone or anything other than His own nature
and authority has to be recognized, acknowledged and
accepted in order to implement the divine purpose. This
will arise again when the new generation is with Joshua
over the Jordan.
that there is almost as much again to be said regarding
leadership as revealed in Joshua, we had better make a
break here and put the remainder into a continuation
chapter. But let us sum up the points thus far.
Always has to do with a specific purpose.
Demands the soldier-spirit.
Will not and must not tolerate compromise.
Must be characterized by reliability and faithfulness.
Requires an absolute acceptance of the complete
sovereignty of the Holy Spirit, and therefore a capacity
for learning and making adjustments.
summarized the general ground of leadership as
represented by Joshua, there remains one specific and
inclusive factor which is given peculiar prominence and
emphasis at the beginning of the book which bears his
name. It is
The vital factor of courage
first chapters of that book are the preparation for all
that follows, or the foundation thereof, then, quite
clearly courage is the dominant characteristic.
times in the brief first chapter is this note strongly
struck: three times by the Lord, and once by the people.
Courage is made a command and a demand. “Be strong
and of a good courage” is the divine command and
have already shown the great context of this leadership;
the context of specific vocation. It was the context of
The complement of redemption
had been the great “Out”. Now there was to be
the great “In”. There had been the tremendous fact
of redemption. Now there was to be the purpose of
sense, so far it had been the negative, the great
“No”. Now it was to be the immense positive,
the emphatic “Yes”. As in electric light or
power there has to be the negative and the positive, so
these two — No and Yes, fact and purpose —
complete the cycle.
“Out” had made immense demands for courage in
the case of Moses, the “In” was going to make
equal, if not greater, demands in the case of Joshua.
value to be secured and every step of advance toward
fulness was going to be fraught with powerful and
relentless resistance. The issue was no less than
absolute dominion, and for this no quarter could be given
by either side.
salvation of the church from the power of
Satan’s dominion is a costly and withstood matter.
But the collective forces of his kingdom are stirred to
any and every kind of resistance when it comes to a
growing and additional apprehension of Christ and a
larger measure of Himself in possession of His people.
only the frontal attack or withstanding but the
paralysing insinuating of his own character in the form
of covetousness, as at Ai, or the deceptiveness of
compromise, as with the Gibeonites, are very effective
methods. Let it be clearly recognized that the effect of
the second of these, with a very long crippling
carry-over, was to take the fight out of the
Lord’s people. It is a subtly effective manoeuvre of
the enemy to make the church accept a compromise without
the need for battle.
there was always the temptation to accept an untimely and
too-early settlement and satisfaction. This, in the case
of Israel, resulted in the terrible period of the
“Judges”, the disgrace of the Bible.
impatience, and weariness were ever near to rob of
fulness and finality.
this was in the knowledge of God when He laid such
emphasis upon courage at the beginning.
could say that perhaps the greatest weapon of the foe of
spiritual progress and fulness is discouragement,
and he well knows the menace to his interests of
spiritual courage. We need not stay to do more than
remark that spiritual courage is a peculiar kind of
courage, and of a higher order than physical or even
moral courage. The courage of Jesus when on trial, the
courage to be silent, was more powerful than any other
kind of courage. The courage of the apostles on and after
the day of Pentecost was a victory over their own former
cowardice and something that was above the natural. To
meet the ultimate spiritual forces of this universe
requires more than the best natural courage. The best
human courage is no match for the devil and his hosts,
with their almost boundless resources of subtlety,
malice, guile, cunning, strength and tireless energy.
Only, as with Joshua, a knowledge of the “Captain of
the hosts of the Lord” as being in charge, though
unseen, will nerve the spirit of those in this
function of spiritual leadership to keep vision ever in
view and to inspire to its attainment is in itself a
battle with disappointment and despair. The leader has to
infect others, like Joshua, through intermediaries, and
be a constant inspiration to those in the battle. When he
himself is fighting a fierce battle with heartbreak he
has to “anoint his face, and go before the people as
at other times” and not bring his own personal
suffering upon them so that they are weakened. This is a
very real aspect of spiritual courage. The leader has to
get his courage at first hand from God, and this means
many a secret courageous battle with depression. His
temptation is very often and fierce to lower his
standard, to lessen his demands, to modify his
expectations and to accommodate the situation so that it
is not so exacting but easier for everyone.
thousand ways and in ever-recurring demands, courage is
called for as the only way through.
even the reminder of this may discourage unless we see
the other side. So we have to take account of
The incentives of courage
1) The unchanging purpose of
long long before the time of Joshua that God had made
known the intention with which Joshua was now confronted.
If God could have been discouraged and made to
abandon His purpose, He had had more than enough to bring
that about. Right here at the threshold of the land was
the cemetery of a generation which had failed Him. But,
in that instance alone, if it meant the sacrifice of a
whole generation God goes on with another and the link is
the courage of Joshua and Caleb. What we have just said
has an immense amount of history wrapped up in it. (Our
book God’s Reactions to Man’s Defections
is an enlargement of this matter.) How often the Lord has
had to say regarding His purpose, “I meant it to be
with this people in this place, and I made a beginning
which was in much life, but I am being limited by them.
They want an easier way. I cannot go beyond the measure
they give Me, so I must move on and carry it further with
others and elsewhere.” The book of the Revelation is
the summation and the consummation of these divine
reactions and it sees victory and realization at last,
with every faithful remnant present.
means that, although at many times and with many means it
looks as though God has been defeated and frustrated by
the imposed limitations of those concerned, He has never
abandoned His purpose but is going on.
years were a seeming vacuum in divine purpose, but a new
generation was being prepared, and Joshua’s courage
was vindicated therein.
persistent, unchanging and unrelenting purpose of God has
to be a great encouragement if once the vision has been
caught, although many a set-back has been suffered.
2) The end is already secured
Joshua, before a blow was struck or a step was taken, the
Lord’s word was, “I have given”.
While there were conditions of possession as to Joshua
and the people, with God there were no chances or
peradventures. The end is with Him because He is
the end. The test of courage often comes when fierce and
remorseless conflict rages around a situation or in
relation to some new “possessing”, and it is
far from easy to believe that this is something that has
been given. Then courage means holding on, and
there is nothing more to do.
somewhere, sometime, a truly committed people will know
that God reserved the purpose unto them and that it was
in His hands despite all the appearances to the contrary.
3) The Lord’s presence
I was... so I will be”; “the Lord thy God is
with thee” (Josh. 1:5,9).
conditions govern the presence of the Lord.
Being wholly committed to, and fully in line with His
Being completely under the government of, and faithful to
His word (see chap. 1).
these two things His presence is assured.
because of the greatness of the commission, was given an
experience of the Lord’s presence in the
“Captain of the hosts of the Lord”, but
henceforth he would not see but, like Moses, have to
“endure as seeing Him that is invisible”.
hosts of the Lord” might mean the church
militant, or the battling forces of Israel. But,
additionally, it certainly means the unseen hosts
at the Lord’s command. They were seen by a
prophet. They are often referred to in Scripture. Jesus
spoke of “twelve legions of angels” which could
have come to His rescue on request. The writer of the
letter to the Hebrews speaks of them as “ministering
spirits, sent forth to do service for the sake of them
that shall inherit salvation”.
we have greater resources by the presence of the Lord
than we have realized or reckoned with.
last word in connection with Joshua and his aspect of
courage is a “foot-by-foot” matter. “Every
place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon have I
a “sole-of-your-foot” progress and process, not
all at once. Every step has to be consolidated. Every few
inches, so to speak, have to be secured by conquest, and
there will never be a patch that is not marked by
all this can be so abstract. What does it really mean in
practice? It just means this. There are numerous
situations and positions where the enemy has his
feet, and which he is holding against Christ. It may be a
strained or disrupted relationship between two
christians. It may be something in the personal life, in
a home situation, in the local assembly, or any one of a
thousand things which just locks up those concerned. That
ground has got to be taken from the devil. It may
necessitate a confession of wrong, a plea for
forgiveness, a letting go to God and man. It may require
a going back to where we went wrong and seeing if, in any
way, the damage can be repaired. This is what it means to
take ground from the devil and to put there some feature
of Christ, some aspect of grace: meekness for pride,
kindness for hardness, love for bitterness, patience for
impetuosity. In all — Christ for self. Every one of
us must know what “the sole of your feet” means
unto breaking the enemy’s power and increasing the
measure of Christ.
calls for courage, and this is where and how courage will