JOSHUA: MOSES’ SILENT PARTNER

Exodus 24:12-13; 33:7-11

Moses was a mighty man of God. It’s true that he wavered in the beginning; questioning God about the His plan to free the House of Israel from the Egyptian taskmasters. And it is also true that he felt like he needed somebody else to help him in his calling, but God allowed this, and together Moses and Aaron became unstoppable.

After the Israelites crossed the Red Sea, Moses led them on their journey across the desert. By the time we get to chapter 24 of Exodus, the Ten Commandments and the Book of the Covenant had been given to Israel. The nation had ratified it, committed itself to live by the statutes God had demanded of them. Now, God has further instructions to give the people. In order to live lives that pleased Him, God knew the people needed to learn how to worship Him in an acceptable manner. While the Ten Commandments outlined social requirements and laws, from this point onward, Exodus deals with the ritual and ceremonial laws that would govern Judaism from that day till now.

1. Who was Joshua?

Joshua was the son of Nun. All through the book of Exodus, we see him hovering in the background. He accompanies Moses, doesn’t say much, does what he is told, and seems to be loyal to both Moses and to God. Though the spotlight was definitely shining on Moses in the book of Exodus, in the following book, the book of Joshua, the spotlight shifts to Joshua. He receives his calling from God in chapter 1, verse 5:

As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.

Joshua was the chief aide to Moses and the military commander of the armed forces of Israel.

2. Exodus 24:12-13; 33:7-11

The LORD said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain and stay here, and I will give you the tablets of stone, with the law and commands I have written for their instruction.” Then Moses set out with Joshua his aide, and Moses went up on the mountain of God.

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 his tent. The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent.

Moses was commanded to ascend the mount, 24:2-13, in order to receive the tablets of stone, and the law, and commandments which God Himself had written. The Ten Commandments were written on the tablets, and the law and commands were written elsewhere, and likely contained instructions for worship, the sanctuary of the Lord, and the ritual laws we read in Leviticus and Deuteronomy.

In verse 13, we read that Moses took Joshua with him as he went to meet with the Lord. It is not said, but it is implied that only Moses met with God, that Joshua remained, like he always did, in the background.

What was Joshua doing during this time?

He likely spent that time in prayer. Consider Matthew 6:5-8–

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”

Jesus is not condemning public prayer, but rather emphasizing the proper attitude of private prayer. The point of verse 6 is that hypocrites would rather pray in public because they were more concerned with appearing pious before man than receiving God’s approval. So important is one’s attitude, and so unimportant is what other people think of our prayers, that Jesus says go in a “private room” and pray.

Jesus warns His followers not to “babble” when they pray. The Greek word used is battalogeo, and is very rare. It’s root means “idle” or “useless.” Jesus is not condemning long prayers or prayers prayed using poor English. Remember, He is emphasizing the attitude of the heart. Nor is Jesus condemning repetitious prayers; He often repeated Himself when He prayed (Matt. 26:44). His point was that we should avoid meaningless, repetitive prayers that are prayed under the impression that “longer is better.” Our God is a personal God, He is our Father, and He doesn’t need a lot of information about our needs. He already knows them.

Why should we pray if God already knows what our needs are?

“As a father knows the needs of his family, yet teaches them to ask in confidence and trust, so does God treat His children.” (Hill)

How is the Lord’s Prayer, Matt. 6:9-13, serve as a good model prayer?

Notice how Jesus introduces this prayer: This, then, is how you should pray. In the original language, this sentence looks like this: In this manner, you should pray. While it is not wrong to repeat this prayer verbatim as many believers do, that was not Jesus’ intent. The key thought is “This is how you should pray…” The so-called Lord’s Prayer is really the “Apostle’s Prayer,” but technically it’s the Model Prayer, and it should serve a pattern for our prayers.

There are three points of interest in this prayer:

  • It’s brief; to the point. It consists of three parts: an invocation, followed by six petitions or requests, and a conclusion. It’s just 70 words long.
  • The priority of the contents. The glory of God is the most important factor of the prayer. The first three petitions have reference to the Father’s name, kingdom and will. Human needs–bread, pardon from sin, and victory of the evil one–take second place.
  • It’s scope. The prayer looks like this:

GOD’S:
Name first petition verse 9b
Reign second petition verse 10a
Will third petition verse 10b

OUR:
Bread fourth petition verse 11
Debts fifth petition verse 12
Foe sixth petition verse 13

Joshua stayed in the background for a long time before he was ready to assume leadership of the nation of Israel. His character was forged in the presence of Moses, while witnessing some of the most notable events in history.

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