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Joshua and God's Presence
Moses' "right-hand man" understood the source of his strength.

I have friends that I love to be with. Just being in their presence lifts my spirits. I know that we'll laugh, share stories and simply enjoy each other's company. I make time to be with them. At times I hunger for their presence. Do you have people like that in your life? People that you can't live without, who nourish you and encourage you? Do you long to be in their presence? Israel's leader, Joshua, had such a friend.

*****The secret of Moses' success was that he constantly sought the presence and counsel of God.*****

In the Book of Exodus, we read that Moses was the man God appointed to lead the people of Israel out of slavery in Egypt and into the Promised Land. But Moses did not live to see the task completed. The responsibility was passed to Joshua during a very difficult time in the nation's history. He was to lead the people on the final crossing of the Jordan River and into the land that would have to be conquered and settled. What a daunting task! What qualified Joshua for this huge assignment? Joshua was prepared because of the guidance he received from his friend and mentor, Moses.

Moses commissioned Joshua to take over the leadership of the Israelite people after his death. Joshua was as an aide to Moses, an understudy who learned from the great spiritual leader. He had accompanied Moses on Mount Sinai where God had given Moses the Ten Commandments. Joshua was Moses' "right-hand man." During the course of his training, Joshua discovered that the secret of Moses' success was that he constantly sought the presence and counsel of God.

Exodus 33:1-11 describes the Tent of Meeting, a place where Moses met regularly with God as he sought to be obedient to His calling. The tent was a holy place that held the very presence of God. Joshua accompanied Moses to this Tent of Meeting as God spoke to Moses face to face. After Moses had heard from God, he would leave the Tent of Meeting and address the Israelite people.

But verse 11 says Joshua "did not leave the tent." Why did he stay? I believe that Joshua had a deep passion to be in God's presence. He desired to really know God and learn His ways. Above all, he wanted to know God's heart in matters that concerned him and the lives of his people. This intimate connection with God, cultivated early in his training, served Joshua well as he led the Israelites in their transition from wilderness wanderers to dwellers in God's promised land.

Joshua's desire to stay in the tent evokes a sense of wonder at the intimate relationship between God and mankind. Joshua sought God's presence and God responded by providing the wisdom and strength that Joshua needed to lead. The Bible speaks of a God who is personal, a God who cares about our everyday existence and the details of our lives. It speaks of a God who is available to us, ready to meet our needs if we will only trust and obey His commands. What does this kind of relationship require of us? It requires a hunger for His presence. Like Joshua, we need to spend time with God, getting to know Him intimately.

Do you ever feel like God is remote or distant? Do you sometimes feel as though He is somewhere "out there" and not available to you? Joshua's experience tells us differently. If you hunger to know God, you can find Him through prayer, reading the Bible and worship. He is there, anxious to draw us into His presence.

The tent of Joshua's day becomes for us the experience of God living in our hearts. He is that close! Don't leave the tent.

Questions for further reflection:

Read Deuteronomy 31:1-8.

  • In the presentation of Joshua to the people of Israel, what does Moses say about living in God's presence?
  • Joshua 1:1-9 records the words of God to Joshua as he takes leadership of the people of Israel. What is Joshua promised?
  • Why do you think Joshua hungered for God's presence?
  • What can you do this week to experience God's presence?

Experience the difference that being close to God can make as you seek Him daily.

Originally published in Faith and Friends, September 2001




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