Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: Because Joshua faced incredibly challenging tasks, he needed time alone with God. Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I believe what sustained Joshua through those difficult years—through those hard issues, those hard times, those times when he had to sort through all the problems that the people had, those times when he had to figure out, “How do you take this walled city?”—that it was the vision of God’s glory that sustained him.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Wednesday, August 13, 2014.

Imagine getting an invitation to meet with someone extremely famous—someone with a lot of wisdom and the ability to get things done. You’d probably arrange your schedule to make that meeting happen.

Well, you have been offered that kind of invitation. Nancy will describe your chance to be alone with God as she continues in the series "Lessons from the Life of Joshua (Part 2): Learning to Be Teachable." 

Nancy: We’re looking for secrets in the life of Joshua that helped him to stay faithful to the Lord over the long haul of his life, because I want to learn from those secrets. I want to learn from his example, and because God has given us this example in His Word, it’s no secret. We’ve come in the last session and this one to what I think is one of the most important keys in the life of Joshua, and that is spending time alone with God.

We’re looking at Exodus chapter 24, the passage that begins in verse 12. Let me just read the verse we looked at in the last session. “The Lord said to Moses, ‘Come up to me on the mountain and wait there’”—or as some translations say, “be there” (KJV, NKJV)—“‘that I may give you the tablets of stone, with the law and the commandment, which I have written for their instruction’” (ESV).

So God calls Moses up to meet Him on the mountain so that God can give him the tablets of stone on which He has written His commandments. God is also going to give him instruction—detailed instruction for the building of the tabernacle, a place where the people can meet with God. You read about those instructions God gave to Moses up on the mountain in Exodus 25–31, those several chapters. So God says, “Come up to Me on the mountain and be there.”

Verse 13, “So Moses rose with his assistant Joshua, and Moses went up into the mountain of God.” He said, “Yes, Lord. You want to be with me; I want to be with You. You’ve invited me. You’ve initiated calling me to draw near to You. Yes, Lord, that’s what I want to do.” He responds to God’s invitation.

As I've studied this passage, I've wondered why Moses didn't take Aaron with him. Moses and Aaron had been together for a long time. Aaron was, as far as the people were concerned, the number two man. He was the spokesman for Moses. 

Scripture doesn't tell us why he took Joshua instead of Aaron, but I just wonder if Moses didn't sense that Joshua was the one who had the real heart to be in God's presence. We're going to see that proved throughout Joshua's life. We're going to see that Aaron doesn't have the same heart. He knows a lot about God, but he doesn't know God in the same way that Moses and Joshua did.

We’ve talked about the need to spend time with the Lord “on the mountain.” It may not be for you a literal mountain where you go and spend time with the Lord, but it’s a set aside time and place to be with God. Sometimes we need to be with the Lord totally alone.

In Exodus chapter 34, we won’t look at that passage today, but there’s a later point in Moses’ life where God says to Moses, “Come up to Me on the mountain again, and this time no one is to come with you” (vv. 2–3 paraphrased). We need times when we are absolutely alone with the Lord—radio turned off, TV turned off, not other books, not other magazines, not other people—just us and God and His Word.

Then there needs to be times, as Moses experienced with Joshua here, when we’re with older servants of God who can mentor and mold our lives. We spend time together in the presence of the Lord. It’s the model of Titus 2 that older women are to teach younger women. I think about how much I have learned over the years by listening to older, godly people pray and talk about the things of God.

I think about my precious friend Vonette Bright, the widow of Dr. Bill Bright from Campus Crusade for Christ. Vonette is now in her eighties. I’ve known her all my life, and what a blessing it’s been to me to be around this older woman, to hear her pray, to talk with her about the things of God. I’ve been mentored around older servants of the Lord like that.

Sometimes we need to be with younger servants to whom we will one day pass the baton that’s been entrusted to us. The benefits to Joshua being along for the ride on this trip are obvious, but I think that Moses apparently saw the value to himself of having a younger man at his side during those six days that they were together in the presence of God, rather than waiting alone.

Moses’ need may have been as great to have companionship, accountability, and encouragement and to be investing his life in a successor. Moses may have needed that as much as Joshua needed to be with Moses. They both needed, together, the influence of one another’s lives.

There are times when we need to have around us younger ones that we can be investing in, that we can be speaking to about the ways of God. Your children, your grandchildren need to see and hear you spend time with the Lord.

I got an email from a friend who was going to speak at a retreat. She said she was taking her, I think, seven-year-old granddaughter with her, and she said,

My little granddaughter is a princess in the making, and I’m going to get some good mentoring time with this little girl who does not yet know the Lord. I’m going to be planting seeds in her life on this drive and on this trip.

That’s what Moses is doing with Joshua here—investing in his life, giving this younger man a heart and a hunger to be around the things of God. In order to do this, Moses and Joshua had to leave the crowd. They had to pull away from the company and the fellowship of other people. They had to leave other activities—good activities. Sometimes, in order to be with God, we’ve got to sacrifice the good in order to enjoy the best and to realize that nothing is more important at that moment than being with God.

Verse 14, “[Moses] said to the elders,” as he and Joshua were getting ready to leave and go be with God, “‘Wait here for us until we return to you. And behold, Aaron and Hur are with you. Whoever has a dispute, let him go to them.”

Now Moses being willing to make this trek and spend this time—he didn’t know how long it was going to be—he had to be willing to relinquish control. He was the leader. He had to be willing to turn over the reins to somebody else. He had to be willing to let others deal with the daily issues that needed to be dealt with and realize that, in his absence, those he left in charge might blow it, which in fact they did. Remember, it was while Moses was up on this trip to the mountain that the golden calf incident took place. We’ll look at that in a bit.

It required that Moses trust God to take care of the people and that he be willing to live with the consequences of what might happen in his absence. We think the whole world can’t go on without us being there. “I’ve got to be here. I’ve got to be in this meeting. I’ve got to be in this place. I’ve got to be doing this.” No, you don’t; not necessarily; not all the time. There are times when God calls us away to spend time with Him, and the world can go on without us. We need to recognize that it’s a sign of humility to say, “This can be done without me. I can leave God to take care of this situation.”

Now, I’m not talking about being irresponsible. God was the one who clearly said at this point, “Come up here.” I’m not saying that you ought to just leave home for forty days and say to your children, “Take care of yourselves down there.” That would probably not be what God would lead you to do, but there are moments and seasons when God will lead you to step away and to be with Him, and you have to trust that God is caring for those details in your absence.

So Aaron and Hur were left in charge of the people. Now it occurs to me that as a young man, Joshua—and I say young . . . he was in the forty to fifty range, and that is young, right? As a young man (he’s called a young man there in the Scripture), Joshua might have preferred to be where the action was, or to have been given the responsibility that was entrusted to Aaron and Hur.

Younger people generally want to be doing, producing, achieving. They don’t like to be assigned to inactive duty, but this was part of Joshua’s training. It was part of his preparation for spiritual leadership—pulling away from the crowd and other activities and spending time with Moses and God on the mountain.

Now look at verse 15, Exodus 24: “Then Moses went up on the mountain,” Joshua is with him, we’ve already seen that, “and the cloud . . .” What is the cloud? It is the presence and the glory of God, “the cloud covered the mountain.” Verse 16, “The glory of the Lord dwelt on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days. And on the seventh day [God] called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud.”

For six days Moses and Joshua were together on Mount Sinai that was covered with the cloud of the glory of the Lord. And what were they doing during those six days? What were they doing? What did they have to show for that week? What were they able to check off of their to-do list? Nothing.

What were they doing? They were waiting. No agenda. No to-do list. Just waiting. God said, “Come up to Me on the mountain and be there—wait there—sit there—just be there,” and we think, What a waste of time. God, don’t You have something to do? God didn’t say anything during all those days. They were just there in the presence of God.

I just think those six days must have seemed like an eternity. Wouldn’t it to you if there weren’t anything to do? There were no restaurants up there, there’s no place to go, there’s nothing to see, there’s nothing to do; you’re just being there in this remote, isolated, forlorn place, just you and your friend and God—six days. Come on, tell me, am I right? Six days. You’d be going crazy.

We’re so addicted to activity, we can’t just be there. I just think of all the potential for boredom, for restlessness, for impatience, especially for the younger man. “Moses, let’s do something. Let’s start something. Let’s plan something. God’s going to give the plans for the tabernacle; let’s come up with some plans.”

In six days, I could do a lot of planning, a lot of writing, a lot of lists. You don’t see any of that. You don’t see them coming up with some activity. I think the temptation could have been great over the six days to leave. I mean, “Nothing’s happening here. God’s not saying anything. We’re not having revival. Souls aren’t getting saved. We’re not counseling people. Who knows what’s going on down there in the valley that needs our attention. We’re out of here.” How many of us could have sat there for six days? 

It may have been easier for Moses than for Joshua. Moses had already spent forty quiet years in the Midian wilderness where God got a lot of the activist stuff out of his system. When Moses left Egypt the first time and went to Midian, he was . . . let's kill this person, let's win this battle, let's set the slaves free. He was all about doing.

But then God took him out to the wilderness for forty years—the desert—tending sheep alone. He was learning to be still. I think by this point in Moses' life, he had been stripped with any obsession with crowds, activity, achievement.

But Joshua is another story. He had spent his adult life up to the point under the pressure of deadlines—driven by the whips of the Egyptian taskmasters. "Get this done by the end of the day—or else!" His life had been on the move ever since leaving Egypt. Was it hard for Joshua to sit in solitude for those six days; to have no assignment but to be with Moses waiting in God's presence?

Is it hard for you to sit still and be with God? I want to tell you, it is very hard for me. My mind is always going, and if my mind weren’t going fast, by the time I sit down in my quiet time chair to meet with God, my mind’s going 100 miles a minute. I start thinking of all the things I need to do. I get a new burden for house cleaning. It’s amazing what comes in my mind once I sit down just to be with God. It’s hard. It’s a discipline.

What did they talk about for those six days? I wonder if Joshua asked Moses questions—questions about God, questions about the ways of God. I wonder if Moses took the time to instruct, tutor, and mentor Joshua. Maybe they prayed together. Maybe they rehearsed the amazing things they had seen God do over the past few months. Maybe they talked about the challenges that lay ahead and how God was going to meet those challenges. 

They had just seen the Red Sea crossing. They had just seen God bring water from a rock. They had just seen God destroy the Amalekites. They had just seen God destroy the Egyptian army in the Red Sea—pretty amazing stuff! Maybe they talked about what was yet to come. Maybe they didn't talk at all for long periods of time. Maybe they just looked at the cloud, the glory of God, and sat there in wonder and awe and amazement—no need to talk because God was there.

Being with God, waiting on God, it's not easy. Sometimes to our frenetic minds it can even seem counter-productive—wasting time—but I want to suggest that when God says, “It’s time to be alone with Me,” there is no more productive use of our time.

The Scripture says in Luke 5, “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (v. 16 NIV). It was the pattern of His life. It wasn’t like there weren’t more people to talk to or to teach or heal. There were always people who needed to be met with, things that needed to be done, but He pulled away, He withdrew to lonely places and prayed—being with God.

Jesus told us to do that in the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 6. He said, “When you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret” (v. 6). How often do we have time when we’re just sitting alone with God with the door shut—the door of our heart shut—ruling out the distractions, pushing them out and saying, “I’m going to be with God”? Six days.

Then verse 16 tells us, “On the seventh day [God] called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud.” Don’t you imagine that the moment they first heard that voice that their heart said, “I’m so glad I waited, so glad I didn’t go home yesterday, so glad I didn’t give up on day three. It was worth the wait.”

Listen, when you have waited in the presence of the Lord and then God makes His Word be quickened to your heart and all of a sudden you know what you’re supposed to do, you know what God is saying, you say, “It was worth waiting.”

I think one of the reasons some of us don’t hear more from God is because we don’t sit and wait until God speaks. We’re expecting God to cut through the din of all the other noise and activity in our lives, and God is saying, “You don’t have time to wait? I don’t have time to speak.” I don’t mean that disrespectfully, but I think that’s the way some of us are living.

Verse 17, “Now the appearance of the glory of the Lord was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel.” You would not walk into the midst of a devouring fire—not on purpose—but that’s exactly what it looked like to the people of Israel down in the valley, at the base, the bottom of this mountain, but for Moses, there was an invitation to come up into the presence of God.

So, verse 18, “Moses entered the cloud and went up on the mountain, and Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights.” A commentator seemed to think it was a total of forty days and nights, including the six days they had just spent waiting together, Moses and Joshua. It’s not clear in the text, and different commentators look at this differently—but it appears that Joshua accompanied Moses part way up the mountain and waited with Moses for those first six days, and then stayed behind while Moses went further up the mountain into the immediate presence of God.

So Joshua waited not only those first six days but thirty-four more days. Now, ladies, we’re talking almost five weeks! This is a young man, ambitious, active. He's not in the season of life where he wants to sit in a rocking chair and wile away his days.

Can't you imagine in your forties thinking, There are things I could be doing with this time. There are things I need to be doing. Who's answering all the email? Who's taking all the calls? Who's taking all the orders? Who's handling all the issues with the kids?

Joshua waits for Moses until he returns from receiving the tablets. Then when you go to Exodus 32, you see that they returned together to the Israelite camp. They came down together.

Events like this were formative in Joshua’s life and his character. They prepared him for the very busy days ahead, for the demands of leadership, for the day when he would be the one in charge and Moses would be gone.

What was some of the fruit of this time in Joshua’s life? Well, by being with Moses those six days and then spending thirty-four days alone waiting for Moses, Joshua learned the importance of waiting, the importance of listening for the voice of God. He learned the discipline of seclusion, solitude, stillness, and secret communion with God.

As the story of Joshua’s life unfolds, it becomes apparent that here’s a man who had a heart for spending time with God. He’s not a man who was driven by schedules or driven by other people’s agenda for his life. He’s a man who loved to be in the presence of God.

He also learned that a leader, which Joshua was in training to be, needs to get his direction from God. Moses didn’t come up with his own list of commandments for the people. He didn’t come up with his own plan for the tabernacle. He got those from God, and Joshua was watching this.

Joshua’s going to know that later, when he becomes the leader, it’s important that he gets his direction—when they go into Jericho, when they go into Ai, when they have the treaty with the Gibeonites—we’ll see later that he learns the importance of getting his direction from God. Now is when he’s laying the foundation for that kind of lifestyle.

This time gave Joshua a vision of God’s glory, and that vision of God’s glory, I believe, is what sustained Joshua through later years of leadership and hard warfare. He became a man with a very difficult position. We see the hero part of him, but there were huge challenges in leading the Children of Israel into the Promised Land.

I believe what sustained Joshua during those difficult years—through those hard issues, those times when he had to sort through all the problems that the people had, those times when he had to figure out, “How do you take this walled city?”—that it was the vision of God’s glory that sustained him, that helped him to operate in faith. Remember, he was one of the spies who went into the Promised Land and came back and said, “God will enable us to take this” (see Numbers 14:6–9). What gave him faith? It was the fact that he’d been with God. He had seen God. He knew God could be trusted.

So Joshua passed the test of solitude, unlike the Children of Israel who were at the bottom of the mountain. Remember when they saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, they gathered themselves to Aaron and said to him, “Come, make us gods who will go before us” (Ex. 32:1 NIV). They got bored. They got impatient. They said, “We’ve got to do something.” They didn’t pass the test of solitude. They built the golden calf and paid dearly for it.

Can you be still in the presence of God, or do you become impatient and start coming up with your own plan when God seems to delay, when God doesn’t seem to be speaking? Communion with God—learning to be still, learning to be with God, to wait on Him—is an important aspect of preparation for service and leadership.

I think we’d have a whole lot less fallout and burnout among God’s people if we didn’t bypass this essential element of the training process. We need time in God’s presence—waiting on Him, being with Him, beholding His glory, listening to Him, getting His direction—without the radio on, the TV on, the people talking. We need time to just be still and quiet and listen. This is a really foreign concept in our culture. It’s a foreign concept in our Christian culture.

It’s alone with God that Moses received God’s Word, received God’s law. Mothers—some of you are teaching your children, whether homeschooling your children or in another sort of schooling arrangement, you’re still a teacher of your children—where are you going to get the instruction you need to teach them, to train them? Would you just make it up on your own? “Oh, I think this is what this child needs. I think I need to teach this here.” Or are you going to get still and quiet before God and say, “Lord, what does this child need to hear? What does this child need to learn?”

Some of you are Bible teachers, or you lead a small group, or you’re involved in a mentoring relationship. How do you know what to share with others? How do you know how to minister to their need? Go up in the mountain. Be with God. Wait for Him. Listen to Him. Receive His Word before you go to instruct others.

I want to tell you, I think the success or the failure of this ministry, in the long run, depends on my willingness to get away and be quiet and still and focused and listening to God, being with Him—not just the time I’m reading everybody else’s books and studying what everybody else has to say about these passages, but getting into God’s Word myself and being still and quiet and listening to Him.

There are some days when I think, and you think, I can’t afford the time. There’s too much to do. Taking nearly six weeks away from the Israelites for Moses and Joshua . . . remember, Moses was the guy in charge. That must have seemed impossible or foolish, and in fact, during Moses’ extended absence, the people did backslide terribly, but that didn’t catch God off guard.

Somehow in God’s economy and wisdom, in spite of that failure, God knew this time was crucial. God’s the one who said, “Come up here.” You think God didn’t know what was going to happen while Moses was gone? He did know, and God was able to handle that, too, and God revealed His glory even through the people’s failure.

You need periodic times away. Sometimes it may seem impossible or irresponsible to leave the work, to leave the troops for extended times of listening to God. Let me say those extended times for you probably won’t be six weeks. It wasn’t often six weeks for Moses. It may be six days, six hours. It may be six minutes in the middle of a busy day where you just stop and you wait and you listen and you reconnect your heart to the Lord.

In the midst of everything else that’s going on in your day, you pull away, and you teach your children that you need this time, and that they need you to get this time—it’s essential for me; it’s essential for you. It’s essential for our spiritual well being to get the direction we need from the Lord.

So God invites us, “Come up to Me on the mountain and wait there—be there—and you’ll see My glory.”

Leslie: The opportunity to connect with God is amazing. Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been reminding us how important it is to get alone with Him. When you study the life of Joshua and his mentor Moses, there are many practical applications. Most of us associate Joshua with battlefield exploits, and Nancy is covering some of those in this study of Joshua, but she is also pulls out many helpful practical applications for women in 2014.

You have a lot to learn from the life of Joshua on topics like trusting God when you face an impossible task; leaning on other people when you’re weak, and the importance of getting alone with God.

We’re bringing you several series on the life of Joshua this year. The current series is "Lessons from the Life of Joshua (Part 2): Learning to Be Teachable." 

We’re able to provide series like this one thanks to listeners who believe in Revive Our Hearts and support the ministry financially. This week, when you make a donation of any size, we’ll show our thanks by sending you Nancy’s workbook, A Thirty Day Walk with God in the Psalms.

Each day for thirty days, you’ll go through a different Psalm—Nancy picked thirty of her favorites. You’ll read it and answer questions to dig into the text. Then you’ll make practical application and see how each Psalm speaks to practical issues of your life.

Ask for A Thirty Day Walk with God in the Psalms when you call with your donation of any size.  The number is 1–800–569–5959, or donate online at ReviveOurHearts.com. We’ll send one copy per household for your donation this week.

Is there a messy situation you’re dealing with, one that involves people’s feelings and attitudes? God may be doing more in that situation than you realize. Nancy will explain tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

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.


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