joshua, second fiddle to moses

Numbers 11:26-30

Two men had remained in the camp, one named Eldad and the other Medad; the Spirit rested on them – they were among those listed, but had not gone out to the tent – and they prophesied in the camp. A young man ran and reported to Moses, ‘Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.’

Joshua son of Nun, assistant to Moses since his youth, responded, ‘Moses, my lord, stop them!’

But Moses asked him, ‘Are you jealous on my account? If only all the Lord’s people were prophets and the Lord would place his Spirit on them!’ Then Moses returned to the camp along with the elders of Israel.
joshua served as moses’ assistant for 40 years. 40 years, one of israel’s greatest military leaders, conqueror of the amalekites, an assistant. most people don’t even hold the same position for more than 10 years, much less 40.

perhaps it was for joshua’s sake – ours now as well – that we see accounts like this. exodus 17 recalls joshua leading israel to battle the amalekites; when the staff of god was raised, he prevailed, but when it was lowered, amalek prevailed. how humbling that must have been! for all his training, expertise, fighting spirit, the outcome of the battle was determined by the height of a wooden staff. and now we see in numbers joshua being rebuked for defending moses. we see so clearly that the spirit of god is not reserved for any one man, but that the lord gives to whom He pleases. He alone holds all things in His hand.

what does it mean to serve a god like that? what would that do to you?

it would give you cause to serve as second fiddle for 40 years, even though you are younger, stronger – braver one might argue – than the one above. for the leadership of god’s people is no place for ego, or might, or human expertise – no, it is a place of surrender and submission. surrender to the god who holds all things in his hand, submission to his sovereignty that triumphs over all other kingdoms. and if he should hold you in the same position for 40 years, you should be glad and rejoice in his divine, sovereign, good, will for you.
ever since my reformation, or perhaps before that, i have desired to teach. to preach. to share my knowledge with those around me. so often have i written fanciful words and elegant prose with no regard for those who might hear, only that they might look upon me and approve. oh the pieces i’ve written to glorify myself! the testimonies i’ve planned and executed not to share the gospel, but to esteem myself! god, so long i have asked you what i am to do with what you have given me, yet i realise in ever increasing detail, that the question i am truly asking is this, ‘why have you not esteemed me?’ or perhaps a more honest version, ‘lord, why have i not been worshipped?’

the audacity! o how truly stupid and foolish and blind i still am, that i would demand of god a position of honor and authority among his people, among any people. how am i to serve a god to whom i have not submitted? how am i to worship a god that i have demanded worship me? who is in charge here? who is king?
if lord for 40 years i am to plan children’s lessons, or play second fiddle to every electric guitarist in the worship team, then o god let it be so. yet let it be so not with my heart as it is, but lord help me to rejoice, to delight, to truly revel in serving a god so big. if i am to be forgotten by the world, then let me take pleasure only in that i am remembered by you. and o lord, i have been!

help me take joy in the gospel of Christ, in living in out, in proclaiming it, no matter where you place me. lord this is your kingdom, i am your servant, rule and reign as you please.

jesus, you are king. the throne belongs to you.

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