People should take the time to study history. You cannot know where you are going if you do not know where you came from. The greatest of people, the ones who stand out in our history books, all knew who they were as it related to where they had come from. They also knew where they were going. They possessed a vision for the future.
Before we begin our study of worship, it is imperative that we examine someone who has lived as a true worshiper of the living God. Someone who knew his history and how it affected him, and someone who, in addition to others, had a vision for the future. Joshua was just such a man.
Others may be used as examples of what it is to be a true worshiper of God, but it is my opinion that no other biblical character ever exhibited as fully as Joshua what it was to be a true worshiper. Certainly, Christ is the ultimate example, but I’m referring to someone who was neither perfect nor was he deity in the flesh. Joshua was nothing more than a man willing to serve both God and mankind, and it’s that willingness to serve that God can use to do His most mighty of miracles through us all.
“Joshua fit the battle ’round Jericho and the walls came tumbling down.” This is probably one of the most well-known lyrics any songwriter ever wrote, and quite possibly one of the most recognized stories from the Bible. But Joshua and his “battle” at Jericho is only one of many examples that led me to choose him as an example of true worship. The Life Application Study Bible (NIV), co-published by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. and Zondervan Publishing House, reveals that Joshua exhibited five key themes, called “megathemes,” throughout his storied life. These five megathemes are what I will use to help you understand why Joshua is an excellent example of a true worshiper, and these same megathemes will lay the foundation for our study on worship as it relates to each one of us, who are children of the living God.
The first of these five megathemes is Joshua’s success as the leader of his nation and his family. God gave success to Joshua and the nation of Israel because they were committed to following God’s plan for their lives. It wasn’t about Joshua’s plans and desires. It wasn’t about what Israel’s elders wanted or what the Israelites wanted, either. Success was given to them by God when they trusted in God and His plans for them (Proverbs 16:3; Jeremiah 29:11).
Success came to Joshua, the elders, and the nation they served, Israel, because their faith was not in their military might, nor was it in their economy, their own physical strength, or even in their own intelligence. Their success came because of their faithfulness in following God’s plan, which for them was the conquering of Canaan.
You see, God’s plan, when followed faithfully, will always bring about success in our lives, as it did in Joshua’s life. We can’t set our standards for success by the world’s definition. No, it must be set by God’s Word. We must adjust our thoughts to always consider God’s way. Then and only then can we realize similar success in our lives.
So, where does this fit into our study of worship? How does Joshua’s success lead us to become true worshipers of God? Joshua’s worship is his testimony/witness of God’s success in his life to his people. The success God gave Joshua became an opportunity Joshua would later use to teach the elders and testify to the nation of Israel about the importance of being faithful to God (Joshua 24:29-31).
Faithfulness to God and a willingness to testify about our faith in God are just two of the several acts of worship we will study. In fact, faith is the second megatheme connected with Joshua’s life, so let’s examine this act of worship modeled by Joshua.
First let’s understand the original meaning of the word, as the Hebrews would have understood it. Faith, or emunah (em-oo-naw’), means “steady,” “steadfast,” or “to support,” but there is another Hebraic word connected to faith that is both an active and passive word meaning two things at once — bittachon (bit-taw-khone’). Bittachon means both “truth” and “trust.” You see, to trust in the truth — to be confident in the truth — (bittachon) makes you steady (emunah). This, all together, is “faith.”
Joshua demonstrated his faith in God by choosing to trust in God’s truth; not once, but on a daily basis, thus allowing God to move in Joshua’s life and providing opportunity for God to save him and the nation of Israel from their enemies and also allowing God to guide Joshua in his leading of this fledgling nation.
Ultimately Joshua, the elders, and the nation of Israel became increasingly aware of God’s faithfulness to them and, as a result, they all developed a strong confidence that God would continue to be faithful in the days to come. This faith allowed God to make both Joshua and the Israelites strong in many ways.
Our confidence and strength comes along in this same way. In order to do God’s work, we have to have faith that truly God wants what is best for us; trusting that He is not out to harm us in any way. God’s promises found in Jeremiah 29:11, and in other Scriptures, reassure us of His love and that He will be there to guide us in the decisions and conflicts we face on a daily basis. Truth and trust can’t begin to exist in our lives until we believe in God, wholly. Joshua had a steady trust in the truths of the living God (Joshua 24:14-15).
These first two of the five megathemes in Joshua’s life set up the principles we all will need to follow if we are to become the true worshipers that our heavenly Father desires us to be. Our faith in God allows Him to bless us with success. A wholehearted trust in God’s truths allows our faith in God to grow in all areas of our lives.
Article 1, part two, will take us through the remaining three megathemes in Joshua’s life. These five megathemes together will become the foundation for the temple of worship in which God desires to reside.
The Joshua Project by J.Scott Harden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
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Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.
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Joshua Fit The Battle Of Jericho lyrics written as recorded by Elvis Presley (original author unknown).
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