JOSHUA 2: LEADERS LEARN TO TRUST IN THE LORD
In our preaching series within JOURNEY BIBLE PROJECT, "FOLLOW THE LEADER," we are in Joshua and considering leadership.
Here we might consider one of the greatest failures of leadership and one of the most un-sung successes of leadership. The failure is known as the reason Israel had to wonder in the wilderness forty years. And the leadership success has been hailed by the writer of Hebrews for her faith, and James the brother of Jesus for her works.
What was this leadership failure?
Who was this leadership success and what was it about this that so contrasted the leadership failure?
To answer the first question, consider the report of the ten spies from Numbers 13:25-33. Ten spies perceived the inhabitants of Canaan as giants and so feared them and felt as if they were grasshoppers from the Canaanites' point of view. Joshua and Caleb had a different view about the land and inhabitants. They said, “Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.” But they were shouted down, and panic broke out in the camp all that night. If you read Numbers 14, you can see how this leadership failure of the ten spies led to God's decision to forgive them but to discipline them by disqualifying the current generation from entering the land and wandering forty years in the wilderness, and calling out Caleb for his faith in speaking up, and Joshua is also assumed to be part of that faith though he's not mentioned in this text. Keep this failure in mind as we move to answer who was one of the most unsung leadership successes.
For this we go to Joshua 2. A generation has passed and Joshua is sending spies again as Moses did. This time two spies enter Jericho and stay with a prostitute named Rahab. Are these spies the heroes of the story? No, Rahab is. She is the one whose leadership is unsung. Read what she says from Joshua 2:
Before they went to sleep, she came up to them on the roof and said to the men: “I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that dread of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt in fear before you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites that were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. As soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no courage left in any of us because of you. The Lord your God is indeed God in heaven above and on earth below. Now then, since I have dealt kindly with you, swear to me by the Lord that you in turn will deal kindly with my family. Give me a sign of good faith that you will spare my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death.” The men said to her, “Our life for yours! If you do not tell this business of ours, then we will deal kindly and faithfully with you when the Lord gives us the land.”
Remember the failure of the ten spies? Who was really afraid? According to Rahab, their hearts were melting in fear of Israel and their god.
We could hail Rahab for her courage to defy the king of Jericho and creatively deceive his soldiers looking for the Israelite spies, sending them on pursuit the opposite way the spies went.
What I want to notice about the leadership of Rahab is that she learned to trust in the Lord.
What is one of your leadership failures?
What is one of your leadership successes?
When you think about failures and successes, do you consider the connection with trust in God?
LORD, I have failed as a leader many times. I want to say to you, and I want my own heart to know, and I want others to know that you are my leader. Jesus, you are the head of the church, and that's why we speak of the "Body of Christ," so we ask more and more that people follow you and not humans, not our whims, our own passions, our own wills, but that we follow you and you alone and learn how to do that collectively as groups of believers around the world.
Greg Taylor preaches for The Journey: A New Generation Church of Christ. Greg's wife, Jill, teaches math at Broken Arrow High School and Tulsa Community College. Greg and Jill have three adult children, Ashley, Anna, and Jacob. Greg is the author of many books, including his latest co-authored with Randy Harris, Daring Faith: Meeting Jesus in the Book of John.