Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: The Bible tells us how Joshua observed Moses and learned to pray.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: This was a key to Joshua’s preparation for future ministry: being around a man who sought the Lord and who lived in the presence of God.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Thursday, August 14, 2014.

When you’re in a conflict with someone at work or a child at home, your words make a big impact—not only on the person you’re dealing with, but on other people who are watching. They may be learning how to approach conflict from you. We’re about to see the importance of modeling godliness as Nancy continues the series "Lessons from the Life of Joshua (Part 2): Learning to be Teachable."

Nancy: We’ve been talking about Joshua and Moses meeting with God on a mountain. I think it’s important that we remember there’s a time to be on the mountain, and there’s a time to come down from the mountain. And coming down off the mountain to deal with people and their issues can be very messy at times.

Let me ask you, if you have your Bible, to turn to Exodus chapter 32. We’re continuing to look at snapshots from the life of Joshua, the servant of the Lord. And we’re seeing, in this stage of this life, how as a younger man he was learning lessons that were going to prepare him to be a leader of God’s people—and, ultimately, to leave a godly legacy.

As Moses’ time with God on the mountain comes to an end, God reveals to him that the people have fallen into flagrant idolatry. And God threatens to consume the people in His anger, to destroy them.

Moses intercedes and pleads with God to have mercy and to relent from sending this disaster. You read about that in Exodus 32:7–14. Then Moses takes the two stone tablets that God has given him, with the commandments written with God’s own finger, and he begins the descent down the mountain. He’s been there for forty days. It’s been this exhilarating, amazing, unspeakable time in the presence of God.

Now, Joshua has apparently—the best we can tell from this passage—has been waiting close by during all this time. Remember, he spent the first six days with Moses part way up the mountain. Then Moses went further up the mountain. Moses comes back down, meets Joshua, and they go the last part of the trip down together. Joshua has been waiting for Moses to come back, and he joins Moses for the last part of the journey back to the camp.

Now, you say, Joshua is there because he’s Moses’ assistant. So that’s his job, and he’s being faithful in that job. I think that’s probably true. But I also wonder, as I’ve been studying and meditating on the life of Joshua, if he wasn’t so drawn to the presence of God that he didn’t want to return to the camp until he had to.

I think you see in him—and we’ll see it in this passage today—that he had a heart to be where God’s glory was. I think he wanted to live in the same atmosphere that Moses did. That is a huge key to understanding the success of this man’s life—how he stayed faithful over the long haul. It’s because, from the time he was a younger man, he loved to be where God was.

As Joshua and Moses approach the camp, they hear the noise of people shouting. Now, keep in mind that they’ve been gone for almost six weeks, so they haven’t heard a lot of noise or people of any kind during this time. And in verse 17, Joshua says to Moses, “It sounds like there’s a war going on.”

But what Joshua thought was the sound of people fighting was actually the sound of people singing—singing around a golden calf that the people had erected in Moses’ absence. Apparently the music was so wild, so raucous, that it sounded like there was a battle going on. It sounded like there was a war.

People were dancing, according to verse 19 of Exodus 32. Verse 25 tells us that they were running wild; they were out of control. They called it worship, a feast to the Lord, but it was around this golden calf. They were in a frenzy. They were singing, dancing, partying out of control. in In fact, in verse 25 the phrase that is translated “running wild” (NIV) or “out of control” (NASB) says in the King James version, “The people were naked.” They were running around in their nakedness, half dressed.

Actually, the word really does mean half dressed or out of control. So some translators say the people had literally just thrown off their clothes when they got into this dance. Some would say that’s a figurative term to mean they were just out of control. In either case, you get the picture; this is a frenzy that is going on here.

The people are immodest; they’re indecent. This is sensual, lewd entertainment. And as we’ve said, they called it a feast to the Lord.

Aaron had said to the people after he built the golden calf, in verses 4 through 6, “Tomorrow we will have a feast to the Lord, and you can worship these gods who brought you out of Egypt.” They had so quickly traded the one true God, Jehovah, who had not spoken to them for awhile.

Moses hadn’t come back for a while. Moses was delayed. And they said, “We need a god we can see. We need a god we can celebrate.” This is what they came up with.

Now, as I have pondered that passage—and I realize I take a great risk in being misunderstood when I say this, but I’m going to say it anyway—this whole passage raises questions in my heart about some of the forms of entertainment and so-called worship that are even, at times, taking place in evangelical circles today.

It appears to me that these people had gotten bored with waiting on God. They said, “Moses is delayed. We want to do something.” And I think it’s very true in our generation that people have gotten bored with waiting on God. So we’re trying to entertain ourselves because we haven’t experienced the reality of God’s presence. Listen, when you find the reality of God’s presence, you will never be bored. You cannot be bored when you truly experience God.

But in the absence of that, just having religion­—just having "churchianity," just having the form rather than the substance of our faith—we get bored. So we want to entertain ourselves, and sometimes we even call it worship, and in fact, it may be worldly or pagan practices that we are being involved in.

I'm not going to labels on things and say "this is worldly and this is pagan, or this is godly and this is worship." God knows the heart and He know the heart of what we call worship or entertainment.

Let me give you an example of something along these lines that happened some years ago and really grieved me. I had been asked to speak at a conference for several hundred college students—Christian college students. I had been asked to speak specifically on the subject of the holiness of God and the call for us to be holy.

God put a message on my heart and I poured my heart out. I was thrilled that there was a group of college students who wanted to hear a message on holiness.

I remember that after the session, as I was going back to my room and walking down the hall in the hotel where this conference was being held, I heard noise—singing and music. I stuck my head in a room; it was a room that was very dark, with a lot of loud music going on. And this organization that had put on the conference and had asked me to come speak about holiness was sponsoring after the session that night a dance for the college students.

I just stuck my head in the room and heard the music and saw the kind of dancing that was going on, and I was heartbroken. I could not believe my ears and eyes. And I thought, Something is really, really wrong with this picture.

Now, I’m not saying where everybody’s heart was in that situation. I wrote what I think was a gracious letter, carefully thought through, to the leader of that group afterward and just asked some questions. It’s not my place to determine what God wants them to do at their conference, and I’m not the judge or the jury in this situation.

But I asked some questions about what are we trying to see accomplished with these students? And is this event for these students, sponsored by this organization, encouraging and helping them to move more closely toward the message of holiness? Is that what you want for your students?

Now, I don’t have to answer for anybody else, and neither do you. It’s not our place to fix everything that’s wrong in the Christian world—or even to know that we always know what is wrong. I think we have to have humble hearts as we watch these kinds of things.

But I do think we need some prophets in the land to raise questions, to raise these issues. The Children of Israel thought they were having a worship service, but they had substituted pagan practices for the true worship of Jehovah.

When you meet God, you don't have to have all kinds of noise and entertainment and programs. I'm not saying that those things are all inheritantly wrong. I'm saying, "Have we settled for substitutes for the real thing and called it worship, called it entertainment, and in the process perhaps grieved the Holy Spirit of God

Now, Moses and Joshua had just spent nearly six weeks in the presence of the shekinah glory of God. Just imagine, as they came on this scene, how stark the contrast must have been when they got back to the camp. For almost six weeks they had been sensitized to the presence of God. That’s all they had known. Don’t you think it was a huge shock to their system to come on this lewd, sensual scene down at the base of the mountain?

It’s like going into some great mountaintop spiritual experience. You know how you go to a great conference or retreat, and God really ministers to you? Remember when you were a kid, and you went to Christian camp or on a mission trip, and it was a really moving experience? And then you come back into the real world; you get back home. The TV is blaring; there’s entertainment that’s spewing out filth and profanity, and Christians are laughing at all this.

Your system is in shock because you’ve been sensitized. Things that you might have laughed at before, that you might have found entertaining . . . now you’re saying, “Those things aren’t funny to me because I’ve been in a different environment.” It’s a major shock to the system.

People, however, who have not been with God—who’ve not been experiencing what Moses and Joshua did during that era—think this is normal. They’re used to it. So they don’t see anything wrong with this picture. They’re just having fun from their perspective.

Now, though Joshua’s name doesn’t surface again in the scene that follows, the golden calf incident, he clearly witnessed Moses’ response. Moses was appalled. He could not believe his eyes. He was furious. He was horrified. He was heartbroken. He felt all those deep, passionate emotions as he saw the glory of Jehovah God being trampled on the ground.

And in an instinctive reaction, he takes the tablets he’s just received from God, on which God wrote the Ten Commandments—the expression of the holiness of God and the commandments of God for His redeemed people . . . Moses takes those tablets, and he throws them on the ground, and they are shattered.

Then Aaron has the gall to say, “Brother, stop overreacting. Why are you so angry?” You see that in verse 22 of Exodus 32.

God’s law had been broken. Joshua saw the strong, decisive manner in which Moses dealt with the situation; his earnest intercession on the people’s behalf; and the plague that God sent as a judgment on the people.

I think this whole scene must have been pressed on Joshua, who was a younger man in training for leadership. It must have pressed on him the exceeding holiness of God and the exceeding sinfulness of sin. Most of us get the lines blurred because we’re so comfortable living in the world and bringing the world into the church that we don’t see any difference.

Joshua watched as Moses confronted Aaron with his responsibility in this manner. I wonder if that scene came to mind some years later—many years later—when Joshua had to confront Achan over his sin. You see, Joshua had learned that sin among God’s people was no small matter, that it had to be dealt with directly and decisively.

The next time Joshua’s name surfaces is in Exodus 33, in a scene that takes place right after this major failure. Go to verse 7 of Exodus 33. “Now Moses used to take the tent and pitch it outside the camp, far off from the camp, and he called it the tent of meeting.” The reason he had to take the tent outside the camp was to symbolize the people’s broken fellowship with God.

Continuing in verse 7: “And everyone who sought the LORD would go out to the tent of meeting, which was outside the camp.”

It is a huge picture of God’s grace that there was still a tent of meeting. It was a picture of God’s holiness that it was outside the camp because sin separates us from God. But the fact that God still wanted to meet with His people—that’s awesome. That’s grace. That’s mercy.

And it was grace that was available to all the people, everyone who sought the Lord. The people went out to this tent for one purpose, one reason. What was it? To seek the Lord. And those who went were rewarded in their search.

Verse 9 tells us that the Lord would speak with Moses. When Moses went out to this tent, he would meet with God.

Now, to go to the tent required personal initiative, effort. The tent was far off from the camp, verse 7 tells us. There were two to three million people who lived in this tent city, this camp. So that could have been quite a hike to get to this tent of meeting that was far outside the camp.

In order to get there, the people had to leave their own tent, whatever their business was, their friends and their activities, and they had to be intentional about going to meet with the Lord. We know that Moses went there often to seek the Lord. And when he went into the tent, the entire camp was aware and was impacted.

Verses 8 tells us, “Whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people would rise up, and each would stand at his tent door, and watch Moses until he had gone into the tent.”

And then verse 10 tells us, “All the people would rise up and worship.” They watched, and they worshiped. When they saw Moses go into the tent of meeting, they watched. And when they saw the glory of God come down and fill that place, they would worship the Lord.

Then verse 11: “The LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend.” An amazing verse.

And yet, as we come into the New Testament, we’re reminded that God wants to have an intimate relationship and friendship with His people, and that God communicates with His people. God spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with His friend. That was highly unusual in those days.

But through Christ we have seen the glory of God. “In these last days,” Hebrews says, “God has spoken to us by His Son” (1:2). God speaks to us through Christ. He speaks to us by His Spirit through His Word. Jesus said in John 10, “My sheep hear my voice and I know them, and they follow me” (v. 27).

And then we come to the second half of verse 11 of Exodus 33: “When Moses turned again into the camp, his assistant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, would not depart from the tent.”

So here Joshua goes with Moses; wherever Moses is, there Joshua is. He’s following the older man, the mentor. And he goes with Moses to the tent of meeting. Moses stays there; Moses talks with God; Moses sees the glory of God. Then after some period of time—we don’t know how long, hours, minutes, whatever—Moses goes back to the camp. But there’s that little interesting phrase: Joshua, his assistant, would not depart from the tent.

This was a key to Joshua’s preparation for future ministry: being around a man who sought the Lord and who lived in the presence of God. He did this as a young man. He had a heart and a desire as a young man. Now, we know that he was somewhere in his forties, so he was young compared to Moses. But he was young in that he had not started his life's work. It would be forty more years before he would actually be given his ultimate responsibility as leader of the Children of Israel.

That's a reminder that the experiences we have and the choices we make when we are young affect who we are when we are old. Joshua’s lifelong character was being formed and set in the presence of God. Joshua didn’t have a major leadership role at this point. He was just an assistant, so to speak. But this was a vital chapter in the making of a man of God.

I just think of the impact in my life as a young girl and a younger woman of being around men and women who walk with God, and how that has shaped and touched and molded my life—hearing them pray, hearing them talk about the things of God.

Then I ask myself, “Now that I’m becoming an older woman, are those who are around me being exposed to the presence of God?” The people who follow me, the people who listen to our ministry, the people who work in our office, the younger assistants and people on our team—are they being exposed to God’s presence when they’re around me? Am I leading them into the presence of God, not by my teaching, but by my heart and my lifestyle?

This says so much about Joshua’s heart. How unlike most young people is it that Joshua wanted to hang around church long after the service let out? That's pretty unusual not just for young people, but for any people of any age. But it is typical of younger adults to want to be active, productive, doing something constructive, achieving. But as we've seen before, Joshua was intent on seeking the Lord, to a greater extent, apparently, than others.

Nothing was more important to him. It seems that he couldn’t bear to leave the presence of the Lord. He didn’t get bored. You know why? Because God was there. He recognized and treasured and cherished and valued being with God.

I see Joshua using those early adult years, before the demands and deadlines of his career pressed in on him, to be with God. What a foundation that laid for his life’s work. We’re seeing this over and over again in different snapshots from this younger period of time in Joshua’s life.

I can’t think of any better counsel for young men and women who are preparing to serve the Lord, whether vocationally or otherwise—young women who are preparing for marriage, for motherhood, for life—I can’t think of any better counsel than to say, “Spend much time alone with God.”

Psalm 92 tells us, “Those who are planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bear fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and flourishing” (vv. 13–14 NKJV).

Isn’t that what you want to be in old age? I look at Miss Dorothy sitting here in her eighties. She is bearing fruit. She’s fresh. She’s flourishing. She’s learning new things from God’s Word. She’s hungry. She’s eager.

And I say, “That’s what I want to be in my eighties.” You don’t just turn eighty and end up there. You choose to spend time with the Lord and seek Him when you’re younger, at my age. And those who are planted in the house of the Lord will flourish into old age.

I’m so thankful, very thankful, for the years of relative obscurity that the Lord planned for me before I got thrust into more public ministry. I look back, and I realize that every opportunity that I took in those years to seek the Lord and to be with Him in my childhood, in my young-womanhood years—every one of those opportunities helped to prepare me for this season of intense ministry with its pressures and deadlines and demands.

I look at college students today, and I know we have some college students who listen to Revive Our Hearts. Some of them are downloading it as a podcast. I know that some of them, in the busyness of classes and exams and demands, are thinking, When I get to be older, I’ll have time to seek the Lord.

How many of you mothers with children wish that you would have started younger seeking the Lord and realize that you will never have more time? Life will never be simpler. Life gets busier. Life gets more hectic. We always think it’s as hectic as it can be, but it gets more so.

I’m so thankful for the times that the Lord did call me apart to seek Him. If I have one regret, it’s only that I didn’t seek Him more intentionally, that I didn’t linger longer in His presence. But you know what? I’m not an old lady yet. It’s not too late.

I’m reminded that each opportunity that we have today to seek the Lord and to spend time with Him will prepare us for future battles and will pave the way for us to finish well, to be fervent and faithful and fruitful even in old age.

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss will be right back to pray. If you have trouble spending concentrated time with God, I hope you’ll pray with Nancy. Today’s program has helped me consider some important issues. How much time am I spending alone with God? I need that time. I need God’s strength in order to model right action for my kids and other people who might be learning from my example.

To help you develop the habit of spending time in God’s Word, we’d like to send you a workbook Nancy wrote. It’s called A Thirty Day Walk with God in the Psalms.

Each day for thirty days, you’ll read a psalm, dig into what is really says by answering questions.  Then you’ll see how to live out what you’re reading and make each psalm personal.

We’ll send you A Thirty Day Walk with God in the Psalms when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any amount. We’ll be making this offer through the end of the week, so contact us right away. We can send one copy per household. 

Ask for the workbook when you call 1–800–569–5959, or donate at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Well, you have a huge influence on your children. Are you inviting other mentors to encourage and teach them as well? Find out why it matters tomorrow.

Now Nancy’s back with a final thought.

Nancy: I wonder if perhaps God’s been speaking to your heart about the need to spend time alone with the Lord—to carve out that time, to be intentional about seeking Him, and maybe needing to linger in His presence as we see Joshua doing.

Would you in this moment respond to the Lord and say, “That’s what I want to do”? Set your heart to make choices in your schedule to be alone with the Lord, to be in His Word, to be in prayer, to be seeking His face. There’s no way you can do what God’s called you to do, to fulfill the tasks He’s given to you and to be the woman God wants you to be, in any season of life, without having that time.

Lord, I pray that we would be women who would linger in Your presence, even after everyone else is gone and everybody has gone back to their business. May we be women who in our hearts love to be in Your court, love to be in Your presence. And as a result may we be faithful and fruitful all the way to the finish line. I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

 

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.

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