Numbers 13:1-2, 8, 16 (NKJV):
And the Lordspoke to Moses, saying,
2 “Send men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the children of Israel; from each tribe of their fathers you shall send a man, every one a leader among them.”
8 from the tribe of Ephraim, Hoshea[a] the son of Nun;
16 Theseare the names of the men whom Moses sent to spy out the land. And Moses called Hoshea[b] the son of Nun, Joshua.
These are not well traversed verses, and this is what I like so much about the Bible is that we could read it day in and day out, and there would still always be something that speaks to our hearts anew. This is one of those scriptures that a lot of times gets ignored because we tend to skip over the lists of names or counts, but my attention really stopped on these verses the last time around when reading the book of Numbers. I`ve learnt my lesson to never omit any word of the Lord because every jot and tittle God uses to speak to us.
In this section we see that Moses sent out the spies to the Promised Land to evaluate the strength of the enemies, so they could prepare for the war using the right strategies and methods. God commanded to select a man from each tribe, so there were 12 spies who were elected for the trip. The part that we should heed to is the verse 8 where it says that “from the tribe of Ephraim, Hoshea the son of Nun”was selected as one of the spies. We further read in the verse 16 that this is actually Joshua who became a great leader succeeding Moses, and there is a particular reason as to why Moses sought it important to change his name from Hoshsea (which means“salvation”) to Joshua (means “in Him salvation”). At first it may seem like a plain game of words because the root of the word stayed the same in Hebrew, but the first letter in the name made all the difference. That first letter changed from “me being a salvation” to “God being my salvation”.
God has a plan for each one of us, and He chooses sometimes those who rely upon their own strength, like Joshua did, claiming that he was salvation and transitioning that self-reliance into God`s co-dependence. This is His plan for each one of our lives: to make us dependable upon Him, so we would recognize that our salvation is solely in Him and not in our own strength.
This is no doubt that Joshua was a prominent strong man with high intelligence because out of each tribe there had to be selected only one man, so the people when selecting “Hoshea” for the mission, they had to recognize that he was the best fit for the job. Hoshea, who was a salvation, had to be highly qualified for the job.
He had another attribute to him that was the most important one: he went everywhere with Moses. Whenever Moses went to the mountain to speak to the Lord, Hoshea would stay at the foot of the mountain and wait for Moses to return. Hoshea`s heart was cleaved to the Lord, and he sought God personally.
13 So Moses arose with his assistant Joshua, and Moses went up to the mountain of God (Exodus 24:13 NKJV).
Back in Exodus we read that Joshua was Moses` assistant, his servant, so he had a firsthand experience monitoring Moses` relationships with the Lord and seeing God`s glory. I think it`s very important to note this for our hearts because it`s not that God seeks some special talents or characters, but to God the most important trait is one`s heart. That`s all God needs in order to take that person and to move the mountain the way God used Moses, and Joshua, and David, etc.; it wasn`t their physical strength, because those skills could be easily acquired through the everyday training, but it was their hearts that promoted them from within by the Lord Himself to use them to make the difference in history.
Joshua`s heart was opting for serving Moses and the Lord; he wanted to be near the nation`s leader because he wanted to be closer to the Lord. This is what I want too for my life: to be closer to the Lord to see His glory like nobody else. My inner plea with the Lord has always been to be one of the vessels in honor to be used for His glory; I`ve prayed that prayer since I was a teenager. It`s not my skills, or experience, or knowledge that`s valuable to the Lord, but it`s my heart that God wanted all along in order to complete my plea.
I think it`s also important to note that Hoshea was from the Ephraim tribe. Ephraim was the son of Joseph, and Joseph had an Egyptian wife, so Joseph`s children were not 100% Jewish. Although God made a very specific emphasis on the Jewish heritage and all the blessings that were associated with that through their father Abraham, but I believe God made these specific exceptions on purpose in the Old Testament to show the succeeding generations that it`s not the heritage, it`s not the skills, but it`s the heart of a person that matters. God doesn`t discriminate against our backgrounds and all passed luggage when we come to Him, but He uses our passed experiences and skills we`ve acquired prior to us getting saved for serving Him.
What`s more, I believe Hoshea`s heritage represents a split between believer and non-believer: Egyptian and Jewish. Egypt represents a sinful life, and in the context of the New Testament Egypt represents our old sinful lifestyle before we got saved. A lot of times after people get saved, they continue to feel unworthy to serve the Lord because of their past. This example of Hoshea`s heritage (having Egyptian as one of his grand-grand-grand… parents) makes a strong statement that for those who once were“Egyptians” and led a sinful lifestyle, now, through the blood of Jesus are saved by the Almighty God, and none of the past matters. Even if in the past Hoshea had an Egyptian grand-parent, that`s in the past, but his present is founded upon the salvation in the Lord. It`s only going forward and our relationships with Jesus that makes a difference for the Lord. God made this emphasis to show that YOU and I MATTER regardless of our heritage, upbringing, or sins we`ve committed in the past. The only thing that matters is if we accept Jesus as our salvation and surrender our hearts to the Lord the way Joshua did.
This conversion of Hoshea into Joshua is a prototype of our new life in Christ Jesus, and just the way he was given a new meaning in life relying completely and solely on the Lord, we too, have access to our heavenly Father through the precious blood of Jesus. We can get a new “name”—new identity in Jesus Christ because God promised to cloth us with the robe of righteousness when we accept Jesus as our Lord (2 Corinthians 5:21).
We cannot do anything in our own strength because we are short-sighted, but God always has far-sighted plans for our lives to bless us. In order for us to allow blessings in, we must recognize that we matter to the Lord, and that our salvation is only in Him. When we do that, God would be faithful to “re-name” us and promote from within to bring glory to Him. Once Hoshea committed his heart to the Lord and surrendered his own strength, “his own salvation” to the Lord, God called him Joshua—in God salvation! God seeing Joshua`s heart pre-planned to promote him into the leader of Israelites, but He first had to assure that Joshua recognized and learned to believe that in God is salvation only.
Out of all 12 spies who returned from the mission trip, only Joshua and Caleb were the faithful servants of the Lord who trusted God to deliver the Promised Land into the hands of the Israelites the way He promised them all along. The rest of the 10 spies, they faltered in their belief and brought rebellion through murmuring against God (Numbers 13:26-34). Joshua and Caleb tried to subside the mob by shifting their focus back on the Lord while the Israelites prepared to stone them (Numbers 14). I think it`s important that we keep our focus on God`s character and on His promises especially when the adversaries are significantly larger than our own strength.
Every time I think of the entire economic downfall that America experiences now, I think of the engraved Biblical statement that governed the nation for centuries: “In God We trust”.This belief was substituted by people`s own salvation instead of keeping their focus on the One who is salvation. Only God could save Israelites and give them the Promised Land, and only God can save you and me. The difference is in our hearts: do we make God our strength, or do we make ourselves our strength when dealing with problems.
God chose Joshua because of his heart`s desire to serve the Lord, and that`s the only thing that mattered to God. When looking at the multitude of the people who needed a strong leader, God was looking for only one main character trait:“salvation in God” belief and He found that in Joshua. You and I matter to the Lord, and He wants to use us regardless of our heritage or the back load that we carry from the old sinful life, but God would only be able to use us if we would agree to surrender our own strength and claim Him as our salvation.
I believe that when Joshua got saved, he claimed God as His salvation. We to, have that today in Jesus Who is our salvation. He died and rose again, so we would be saved from all the“giants”that we face in our lives. When we get saved, we commit our hearts to the Lord making Him our salvation and strength.
I am facing “giants”in my life, and it`s only by casting my problems and concerns to His feet that I survive. If you think that you are unworthy for God`s purpose, I would encourage you to reconsider and look at someone like Joshua who was selected by the Lord to lead the entire nation of Israelites into the Promised land because he chose to cleave to the Lord. That`s all that God wants from us—our hearts and right motivations because He is capable to equip and train with the necessary skills, but the heart is something that only we can choose to steer to the Lord. You matter to God, so choose to make Him your salvation, and He would honor you in return by using for His glory.