Throughout the Word there are men and women who, with the help of God, defied the expectations of man. Sometimes the expectations they broke had to do with where they lived, what they did, or even who they were. Yet, as God shows us again and again, He does not call the qualified, He qualifies the called…
Moses, Daniel, Abraham, Ruth, and many others defied the expectations of man, becoming expectation breakers as they followed the will of God… and Joshua was no exception.
Believed by many to have been born into slavery, perhaps around the time when Moses first left Egypt—or sometime before his return—Joshua, like Moses, would have been unlikely to have had high expectations placed upon him by those around him, be they Egyptian or Israelites. After all, born into slavery and poverty with no end to their suffering in sight, few Hebrews would have been expected to rise above their circumstances. And even his slight advantage over Moses in not facing potential drowning as an infant, was hardly what we might consider growing up as “privileged.”
That Joshua—or any of the Israelites—made it to adulthood in a land where living or dying was almost solely in the hands of their “owners” is impressive. Yet, surpassing such small expectations hardly classifies Joshua as an expectation breaker. No, it is what began to happen when Moses reentered the scene that caused Joshua to eventually propel beyond what anyone would have assumed.
Moses returned to Egypt and began to—with his brother, Aaron, and God—work toward what would be the ultimate freeing of the Israelites from slavery. Joshua, likely at this time a young adult, witnessed the signs, wonders, and miracles God made manifest. He would have fled from the Egyptians, crossed the Red Sea on DRY ground, and seen the Egyptian army swallowed by the waters behind him. He saw God move on the mountain, heard the commandments, and while many around him did not take them or God to heart… Joshua did.
He was young enough and willing enough to be open to God. Open to His miracles… and to the personal realization that, “with God, all things are possible” (see Matthew 19:26, Mark 10:27, and Luke 18:27).
Because of that, God chose to work in Him.
Joshua may not have been qualified for what was coming in the natural, but his open heart and God’s mighty power caused him to become more than qualified.
Yet, there is some confusion for many in regards to Joshua…
This confusion primarily resting on Moses sending twelve spies into the Promised Land—one of whom was Hoshea, whom Moses called Joshua. Two of the spies viewed the land favorably due to their belief in the promises of God, and ten trembled with fear. Of the twelve spies, the two who viewed the land through God’s promises, Caleb and Joshua, were both permitted to enter the Promised Land; their trust in God making them the only ones of their generation given that privilege.
Now, even though Joshua was named as one of the spies, there could be controversy that this one may not be the same Joshua who led the children of Israel into the Promised Land. However, it does not automatically indicate that they were different people either. It is only through viewing who they were the son of, taking into account various time-lines and conversations in Scripture… that we are able to know for certain.
“Both” Joshua’s are given as the son of Nun—Joshua, the spy and Joshua, the servant of Moses—making the likelihood of their being the same person exceptionally high. And when we read through the time-lines and conversations from the Exodus to the Promised land, we are able to confirm that they were one and the same—Joshua 14:6-12 includes a time-line and conversation which alone should be enough to confirm this…
In Joshua 14:6-12, Caleb—one of the two faithful spies—comes to the now leader, Joshua, and speaks the word of the Lord which God had given Moses concerning the two of them. Further Caleb relates how he had been faithful, the blessings God promised, and how despite his advancing years he was still strong…
Thus, we can say with great certainty that Joshua and Caleb spied the Promised Land together, and that same Joshua led the children of Israel across the Jordan River on dry ground and into the promise.
The only remaining issue for some then lies with the belief that Joshua was born when Moses left Egypt the first time. This is due to some scholars’ estimation that Joshua ruled the people of Israel for approximately 52 years and is based on calculations dating back 300 years from the battle with the Amorite King Sihon (see Judges 11:26) to the time recorded of Aaron’s death in Numbers 20:28.
This 300 year period of time from Joshua’s rule to the beginning of Jephthah’s rule, calculates Joshua’s leadership at 52 years. Thus, counting back 52 years from the age of Joshua’s death at 110, we find that Joshua would have been as young as the age of 58 at the time when he led the people across the Jordan, instead of in his 80’s as Caleb had been. This means that Joshua would have been around 19 years old when he left Egypt and in his early 20’s when he spied out the land with Caleb and the other ten spies…
Yet, no matter how old Joshua was at the time, when we realize that Joshua the spy is the same Joshua who led the Israelites, we more clearly see why he was chosen of God.
Joshua was one of two faithful men out of twelve who should have ALL been faithful. They had ALL seen the wonders God performed in Egypt then the desert. They had ALL heard the stories of what God had done in the past. They had ALL been given the Ten Commandments, God’s directives, and promises. They KNEW that God could do anything and had kept them not only in the desert, but throughout all their prior generations—even in slavery. Yet, somehow, only TWO saw the land God promised them through HIS eyes. Only two had 20-20 vision in the spirit and were not stuck in the natural.
Because of this faithfulness, God used Joshua to break expectations. He did so by acting as Moses’ assistant. By saying alongside Caleb that they could take the land, and that God would be with them! By taking up the mantel of Moses as God commanded and LEADING the Children of Israel on DRY ground into the Promised Land…
Yet, God did not stop using Joshua upon their crossing over. No. God led Joshua and those he was in charge of through victory after victory. From the walls of Jericho, to Ai, and beyond, God used Joshua to not only break the expectations of the Children of Israel, but all those they came in contact with. And, because of Joshua’s faithfulness, not only did he, his family, and the Children of Israel prosper—when they followed God with all their hearts—but so did many others!
God chose to work wonders through a slave, led him through the desert, took him covertly into the Promised Land to spy out their enemies, and gave him the mantle of leader to save His people and any who were willing.
Through the faithfulness of Joshua and many like him, much of the land of Israel was set in place for generations to come. Without such steadfastness, without expectation breakers… the land of Israel, the Promised Land, would not even be in the hands of God’s chosen and grafted-in children today. Because God, while capable of doing everything without us, delights in bringing honor to Himself through raising up the unqualified.
Whenever God moves through us, His expectation breakers, the Kingdom of Heaven comes to earth!