7The Lord told Joshua, “Today I will begin to make you a great leader in the eyes of all the Israelites. They will know that I am with you, just as I was with Moses. 8Give this command to the priests who carry the Ark of the Covenant: ‘When you reach the banks of the Jordan River, take a few steps into the river and stop there.’”
God already saw Joshua as a great leader before he had even left Egypt. God had been training Joshua under Moses for the past 40 years to see himself as a great leader and to grow into this calling. Now, God would cause the people to see Joshua as their leader in the same way they saw Moses. This promotion wasn’t something Joshua could make happen of his own accord. It had to come from the Lord. As Psalm 75:6 makes clear: “For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. It is God who judges: He brings one down, He exalts another.” Self-promotion is a faulty platform that will give way when the pressure is on. God-promotion is a rock to stand on because if He’s the one who brought you there He’s the one who will keep you there. Self-Promotion requires people pleasing and results in mission drift. God-promotion means only pleasing an audience of one which helps a leader to stay mission true. Though Joshua was not remotely ready to lead God’s people at the outset because he submitted to the process he would now receive the promotion. His command in verse 5 reveals that he saw himself the way the Lord saw him and was not afraid to call the people to repentance: “Then Joshua told the people, “Purify yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do great wonders among you.” This shows a man who is secure in his relationship with God and his mantle of authority. He declared the miracle of the splitting of the Jordan before it even happened. This reveals that he knew his position wasn’t based on his own power but on the Lord’s.
Self-promotion requires self-preservation and often results in playing it safe. Not Joshua. He was all in on God so God to do all He wanted through him. Joshua wasn’t seeking a platform or pedestal. His priority was the presence of God. Even if everyone else chose to follow their own gods and their own way Joshua would lead with a single focus- to follow God’s leading. If you fast forward to the end of Joshua you can see that his identity stayed true all the way through and that the people truly did see him as their leader.
“14“So fear the LORD and serve him wholeheartedly. Put away forever the idols your ancestors worshiped when they lived beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt. Serve the LORD alone. 15But if you refuse to serve the LORD, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the LORD. 21But the people answered Joshua, “No, we will serve the LORD!” 22“You are a witness to your own decision,” Joshua said. “You have chosen to serve the LORD.” Yes,” they replied, “we are witnesses to what we have said.” 23“All right then,” Joshua said, “destroy the idols among you, and turn your hearts to the LORD, the God of Israel.” 24The people said to Joshua, “We will serve the LORD our God. We will obey him alone.” 25So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day at Shechem, committing them to follow the decrees and regulations of the LORD.” Joshua 24:14-24
God promoted Joshua in the eyes of the people because Joshua’s eyes were focused on promoting God.
Pastor Wayne said it this way, “Don’t go after honor. Let honor come to you.” In our modern day age of self-promotion through multiple platforms, this idea is a foreign concept to many Christians. Realizing my tendency to crave the spotlight sometimes, I have chosen to fast social media for the 40 Day’s leading up to Easter and I must say it has been quite liberating. The focus is no longer on how many saw my latest post but rather in what the presence of the Lord is doing in the room. It’s helped me to be more fully present and aware of what God is doing whether at home or at work. I can say with confidence that I will not be going back to the way I used to do things after the fast. It’s only out of insecurity, inferiority or misplaced identity that I would need to promote myself through social media platforms.
Social media is a great tool of communication provided that it is submitted to God’s leading rather than my longing for attention or notice. When I’m more focused on promoting what God is doing through others rather then myself it keeps my heart in the right place- submitted to His leadership in my life and promoting what God Is doing!
Lord, I repent for my pride and for getting off track. I’m so thankful for this reminder in scripture and for the process of this season of fasting that is taking me back to what matters most. May I never take for granted the positions of influence you have entrusted to me. It is a massive privilege you have given me to love my wife, raise my five boys and pastor this amazing church. Let me lead as Joshua did- always leading the focus off of me and back to you. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.