Seven Stages of Preparation to Lead – Joshua 1

Josh

Seven Stages of Preparation to Lead – Joshua 1

The Principle Approach: “Standing In The Doorway of a New Promise”

Doors open and close. They offer exciting new opportunities and perhaps some significant (and often painful) challenges. Doors abound. They are all around us – beckoning us to new rooms of experience. Some doors come into focus through meeting new people, others are first clearly seen through the tear-filled eyes of loss. One Bible character found himself in the threshold of a new door facing a commission from the Most High through the tears of such a loss.

Joshua spent nearly forty years of his life serving behind the towering figure of Moses. Yet, the day finally came that God took the mantle of leadership off of the lifeless shoulders of the old chief, and placed it firmly on Joshua. The door opened to a new era of God’s people, and the lessons involved in this new direction were captured eternally in the Biblical record, in a book that bears Joshua’s name.

The Church through the ages has primarily thought of the Book of Joshua as a historical record, but the ancient Jewish organization of the Scriptures placed the book as part of the Prophets (Nevi’im). The Prophets are divided into the Early Prophets (Nevi’im Rishonim) and the Latter Prophets (Nevi’im Ahronim). Joshua was placed at the opening of the Early Prophets. The writing can easily divided into three sections: Entering Canaan (Joshua 1-5); Conquering Canaan (Joshua 6-12); Dividing Canaan (Joshua 13-24). The first chapter of Joshua is read in the final reading of the annual schedule of synagogue portion readings (parashot) at the end of the Hebrew calendar year, as the Haftarah (selections from the prophets and writings that accompany the Torah selections) reading to follow the text from Deuteronomy 33:1-34:12 called Vezot Habrachah (“And this is blessing”).

The Preparation Stages: Seven Critical Lessons

Joshua 1 opens with the memory of a meeting between God and Joshua. The text relates:

“Now after the death of Moses the servant of the Lord it came to pass, that the Lord spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ minister, saying: Moses my servant is dead: now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel…”

Though God met with Joshua and spoke directly to him for the first time in the Scripture record, Joshua had a long road of preparation to get to that point. God did not simply clone Moses, but rather included in the record of His Word a slow and steady training of Joshua from military adviser to Chief of the Tribes, an office that had only one prior leader (Moses) and left tough sandals to fill! Serving Moses from about age 40, Joshua did not receive the mantle of leadership until about age 80, yet he no doubt seemed young compared to his mentor and predecessor (who was about 120 when he passed on)!

The Bible writer took great pains to show the gradual formation of Joshua, as he was prepared by God to lead the people into the very critical operation of attaining the land God had promised to their fathers. Joshua was groomed for the job, and the Torah reveals that he had seven specific experiences that shaped his leadership style, his heart for God and his daily priorities. A closer look at these seven events of Joshua’s life can help us understand the preparation this choice servant of God experienced, but it can offer much more. Observing these shaping experiences can also help us understand how our Lord shapes those who He can use.

Each experience was a stage in his training and included first three “external” leadership lessons:

  • Stage One: The Value of the Worn Knee – Learning the Power of Intercession (Ex. 17:9-16)
  • Stage Two: The Value of the Locked Arms – Learning the Mystery of Communion (Ex. 24)
  • Stage Three: The Value of the Trained Ear – Learning to Hear the Hearts of Men (Ex. 32)

Following the lessons of these external leadership qualities, the training continued with three essential “internal” leadership processes:

  • Stage Four: The Value of a Thirsty Heart – Learning the Process of Worship Encounters (Ex. 33)
  • Stage Five: The Value of a Controlled Appetite – Learning to Overcome the Need for Recognition (Num. 11:26-29)
  • Stage Six:  The Value of Vision – Learning to See with the Eyes of Faith (Num. 13:16; 14:6-10; 14:38)

 

The seventh and final preparation stage was the commissioning service itself, and the lessons that come with finally taking the leadership place. With all the preparation to that time, there was still a lesson to be gained at the diploma time.

Stage Seven: Learning to Receive a Commission (Num. 27:12-23; 34:17; Dt. 1:38; 3:21; 31:3; 34:3)

Without fanfare or special announcement, Joshua emerged into the scene of the Bible record amidst a brewing conflict with the desert people called the Amalekites. The children of Israel were tired by the beginning of the Amalekite conflict. Part way through the fifty-day journey from the territory of Egypt to the mountain of the law (recalled now in the days between Passover or Pesach and Pentecost or Shavuot they already neared exhaustion.

They had seen God’s provision at the healed bitter waters of Marah (Ex. 15:23-26) and the refreshing oasis of twelve pools and ten palm trees at Elim (Ex. 15:27), yet they were compelled to move on to the mountain where God planned a meeting with Moses on their behalf. To the mountain they trudged, sheep and goats, carts and children. Suffering hunger in the dry and barren wilderness, God rained upon them first bread, then quail from the heavens to fill their stomachs (Ex. 16). Their incessant complaining and overt disobedience led even God to ask, “How long will you refuse to trust Me?” (16:28). The manna in a pot became the first of many memorials for the Israelites, and was later placed beside the tablets of the law that Moses received from God (Ex. 16:34).

Arriving inside the fanlike fingers of the Wadi Feiran system, a connected system of valleys with water in underground rivers beneath, the Israelites arrived depleted of water in their storage, and thirsty. Though God had shown them His might at the parting of the Sea, the cloud and pillar of fire, and numerous supply demonstrations, the people again panicked. The huge uplifted granite mountains of the Sinai peninsula sloped above them, and God directed Moses to take the elders to the slope of a mountain he knew well from his shepherding days (cp. Ex. 3:1). This was the shepherding territory of Jethro the Midianite, the father-in-law of Moses. Unknown to the people, but familiar to Moses, he did not doubt that God could, and would supply the water necessary for the people. He also knew how to get the water.

In areas of that desert where the metamorphic rock (sand stone and the underlying granite beds) meet sedimentary rock there are strata deposits of water. Shepherds of the ancient world, as the Bedouin Sinai dwellers today, knew exactly where these deposits of water awaited their needs. As we travel through the desert today on camel back through this Egyptian landscape, we still see the places where the calcified deposits on the walls of the great Wadi Feiran have been pierced by sticks and rocks to access the water deposits that exists in those pockets behind the walls. Moses knew the method, and had he had the time to look carefully, he could even predict with fair accuracy the location of water deposits. The appearance of small mosses and damp surfaces can be signs of water deposits. He was, after all, a skilled shepherd from the region before he led the children of Israel. A modern discovery of this phenomenon by a westerner illustrates what a Near Eastern shepherd of the region knows so well. This selection is taken from records of the British governor of the Sinai region of the 1930’s, Major C.S. Jarvis – today a part of the “Palestine Exploration Fund” records:

“Several men of the Sinai Camel Corps had halted in a dry wadi and were in the process of digging about in the rough sand that had accumulated at the foot of a rock face. They were trying to get at the water that was trickling slowly out of the limestone rock. The men were taking their time about it and Besh Shawish – the color sergeant – said, “Here, give it to me”. He took the spade of one of the men and began digging furiously in the manners of NCO’s the world over who want to show their men how to do things but have no intention of keeping it up for more than a couple of minutes. One of his violent blows hit the rock by mistake. The smooth hard crust which always forms the weathered limestone split open and fell away. The soft-stone underneath was thereby exposed and out of its apertures shot a powerful stream of water. The Sudanese, who are well up in the activities of the prophets but do not treat them with a vast amount of respect, overwhelmed their sergeant with cries of ‘Look at him! Prophet Moses’!”

What a miracle God demonstrated at the rock! In order for such a large cask of water to have been stored in the rock ledge deposit, the rain waters would have begun to accumulate long before Joseph even lead the children of Israel into Egypt. God may have instantly stored to necessary water, but there is no reason to believe He did not begin to supply the answer long before the question! It may well be that hundreds of years before rains began to form in the water deposit so that it was ready for God’s thirty children. It would be just like our God to be creating the solution before we face the problem. Is that not like His character?

Stage One: Learning the Power of Intercession (Ex. 17:9-16)

Not long after, the masses of Israel came to a resting place along the soft bed of the wadi near the sheer walls to the south. The name they gave the place gives a hint of the character of the place, Rephidim. The word comes from the descriptive verb Rah-fahd which literally means “to spread a mat for the bed”, or to create a bedding area. The word was sometimes used to denote a place of comfort – a place of rest. Just what the doctor ordered, a little rest for the weary troops. Finally, the Israelites probably thought, a little break. That’s when the armies of Amalek hit, just about the time the guard was down and the group was depleted. How like our enemy that is!

Out of the story of the Amalekite attack came the first lesson to the “Chief in the making”, Joshua. Moses faced a tough situation, and Joshua watched the solution unfold. He was able to pick out what any leader needs to quickly understand: Everyone can see the problem, leaders devise solutions. That is what the people needed, and that is what Moses provided.

Moses focused immediately on the six things a leader must know to make good decisions, and Joshua got the benefit of seeing the lesson close up:

  1. Leaders must know the circumstances, the situation they are faced with. Nobody conquers a demon they don’t know about. Every significant move of a leader is preceded by an accurate assessment of the circumstances that they face. (17:8).
  2. Leaders must know the enemy they face. Sometimes reconnaissance is necessary to gain knowledge (Num. 13 and 14), as knowledge of the enemy’s strengths and weaknesses make all the difference in battle. Whether physical or spiritual, battles are won or lost often on the enemy assessment. Understand where and how an enemy will attack is essential to preparing defenses that will withstand his onslaught (17:9).
  3. Leaders must know their resources for problem solving. Foolish leaders tackle every problem on their own. Wise leaders assess their own team to meet the demand of battle (17:9).
  4. Leaders must understand that even the physical problems of God’s people are fought in Heavenly places. This is a critical area often neglected. Paul later addressed the physical disturbances to his work with the truth that “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against spiritual powers” (2 Cor. 10:3ff). Moses didn’t need a simple head count and weapons assessment, he needed to bow before God and intercede for the battle. (17:10-13). The upward palms have long been understood by rabbis as a position of prayer. In the Hebrew world of long ago (as in Orthodox traditions today), prayers of supplication were symbolized by holding the hands palms up. In times of extreme need, the arms were lifted upward and palms were held up, a position probably referred to in the instruction of Paul to Timothy (1 Tim. 2:8). If understood in this way, there was nothing mystical about the hands of Moses, but POWER lay in the intercession of the leader. What a great lesson for any leader that gets caught up in the mechanics of the problem to the exclusion of the spiritual reality!
  5. Leaders must be good followers (17:9-10). Look at the unquestioning obedience of Joshua. Moses said, “Jump!” Joshua jumped. It is worth highlighting that Joshua was not prepared to lead if he was not prepared to follow.
  6. Leaders must acknowledge where true victory comes from. Note the instruction at the end of the battle (17:14). Joshua was to be brought in to hear the specific promise of God; He would cut off Amalek from the earth because of this attack. Joshua needed to hear it, and understand that any work that he would do in that cause was not his victory, it was God fulfilling His promise. Leaders need to feel responsible to faithfully execute the work of God, but not to own the work. It is God’s work, and we are privileged to be a part of it.

In the final analysis, Joshua needed to see the power of an interceding leader. The troops can do the work, but they will easily believe that it was at their hands that victory was attained –because of their skill, their ingenuity, and their power. They, of course, would draw the wrong conclusion. It is only an interceding leader that can see the truth.

Stage Two: Learning the Mystery of Communion (Ex. 24)

The Setting: Shavuot

Following the Amalekite war, Moses went through the painful but profitable experience of correction by Jethro, his father-in-law. Moses placed himself in a position of unrealistic expectation, trying to accomplish more than anyone could expect – a mistake common to driven leaders. The result was an overuse of his abilities, a slow draining of all of the creativity and leadership vision by the wearing grind of daily administration. Jethro told him to delegate administration, and in those words, God used a man that could get Moses’ attention, and get him to change the pattern of his work habits to refresh him and pull him back on track (Ex. 18:24).

After the departure of Jethro, Moses brought the people to the edge of the Mountain of the Law, as God instructed. The time came that would later be memorialized in Shavuot (or “the Feast of weeks”), a holy convocation instructed in Levitical law (Lev. 23:15). This feast was an agricultural celebration, but its true importance is underscored in the Biblical instruction that included it as one of three mandatory offering appearances before the Lord annually (Dt. 16:16). God did not want this day forgotten! This was a day He gathered the children of Israel and God blew a shofar (ram’s horn trumpet) before them that shook their camp (Ex. 19:16)! God has seldom made Himself so obvious in the affairs of men – this day was not common! They had already traveled fifty days from the departure from Egypt (Ex.12: 15-20) to the time of the arrival at the mountain (Ex. 19:1). The term “fifty days” was captured in the word “Pentecost”, still a holy memorial each year among observant Jews recalling the encounter with God at the mountain, and the giving of the law. The Sabbath days between Passover and Pentecost were counted according to God’s instruction (Lev. 23:15).[1]

God invited seventy elders and a specific guest list of leaders to the mountain to worship Him (Ex. 24:1). They were not allowed to move up the mountain with Moses, but they were instructed to come together for a corporate time of reverence (the Hebrew verb shakhaw means to bow before, prostrate one’s self, or revere, Ex. 24:1) some distance away from Moses. Moses prepared himself for the meeting. He rose early in the morning, wrote down the words God had given him in the previous encounter, raised up an altar and standing stones for the tribes, and sprinkled the blood of offerings on the altar. He read over the words he had written before the people, and they affirmed their commitment to God’s holy covenant. He took the elders and leaders up to the mountain.

The event that followed was unprecedented in human history. God passed by before the men, and they beheld a brightness that seemed like the sun. The mystery in the event was not simply that they gazed upon the path of God, and stood before a striking brightness. The shocking part of the story was their response! They were called there to worship, and yet the text reveals they “saw God, and did eat and drink.” What a response! God came, and they had a banquet together.

At a certain time in the meal, God instructed Moses, “Come up before Me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee tablets of stone…” Moses arose, and took Joshua with him (Ex. 24:13). God made it clear that Moses was to appear alone (24:2) and either Joshua stopped some distance away or was considered necessary by God to help Moses in and out of His holy presence. The text does not say clearly, and only Joshua, Moses and God know for sure. One thing is certain: Joshua learned an important lesson in his preparation to the lead the nation that day.

Having grasped that intercession by a leader was essential, it was obviously not the whole training course. Joshua saw something new at the mountain of God’s appearing. He learned a graphic lesson that Moses heard from Jethro weeks before this encounter. Joshua saw a picture of a communal team that honored God. He ate with the others, drank with them, and communed with them. He saw a team leadership formation in corporate worship. There is a time for personal time with God, but there is equally a time for team.

The passage not only stemmed any uprising concerning the veracity of God’s authorship of the commandments (some might have thought Moses was making the commands up on his own), but it also gave the elders the opportunity to commune together and feast and worship. What an important lesson: Leaders need to lock arms with other leaders. We are not called to be “Supermen” that face the forces of darkness alone, depending solely on our “superhuman” ability or even the work of the Spirit within. We need each other, and grow when we can worship corporately, not only individually. We are stronger in communion, not in “Lone Ranger” mode.

Moses learned this in a rebuke by an older priest and relative. Joshua avoided the painful experience of sapping his own strength and “burning out” by observing the incredible benefit of corporate strength. The team can worship together, eat and drink together, and help to strengthen one another! It is significant that we have no Bible record of Joshua hoarding power, nor of him taking on responsibility that God had not ordained. His record of leadership and delegation is impressive. He may well have grasped the lesson at a banquet on a mountain!

The Divine wisdom penned out in the words of King Solomon recall:

“Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. Again, if two lie together, then they can have heat: but how can one be warm alone? And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, KJV)

Joshua’s training included the graphic display of the advantages Solomon later cited. The wise king reminds us, ‘Together-

1)      We can accomplish more, so the rewards are greater (Eccl. 4:9).

2)      We can assist and rescue one another, so the endurance is greater (Eccl. 4:10).

3)      We can comfort one another, so the encouragement is greater (Eccl. 4:11).

4)      We can defend one another, so the strength is greater (Eccl. 4:12).’

Often leaders fall into the trap of believing their own press, subscribing to the affirmation of the positive view of their followers and not remembering their own weaknesses. It is part of the fabric of our makeup. We lead – they follow. We know – they don’t. It is a dangerous tendency to distance ourselves from the accountability that helps refocus and redirect us. We need other leaders. Joshua could have duplicated Moses’ mistake, but in this awesome display God accomplished another step in his training. It all happened at the buffet table on the mountain!

Stage Three: Learning to Hear the Hearts of Men (Ex. 32)

We have been studying the training that God superintended in the life of Joshua before he took over leadership of the children of Israel. We began our exploration with the leadership lesson that Joshua gained at Rephidim in the conflict with the Amalekites. In the midst of trouble, we observed the significance of a leader learning the power that comes from Heavenly places in intercessory prayer. In a way, we could say Joshua learned to have the prayer KNEES of a leader. Next, we saw a leadership lesson of accountability at the mountain of the law in the setting of the banquet of the seventy elders. We noted that Godly leaders need to be accountable to other leaders. In that way, Joshua learned to have the ARMS of a leader, locked in the arms of others. As we continue in this series, there is a third lesson that God used to prepare Joshua to take up the mantle of leadership. Joshua needed to have the EARS of a leader, to hear the sounds of the people in the camp with greater sensitivity and understanding.

The Setting

Moses led the people to Sinai, and left the tribal leaders at the banquet we looked at in our last lesson to go up on to the higher parts of the mountain of the law. He remained away from the people forty days and nights and received the plans for the building of the Tabernacle. The people below observed a fire that engulfed the mountaintop (Ex. 24:17-18); which probably caused some to feel Moses was not returning to them (Ex. 32:1; 23). Aaron returned to the people during that time and succumbed to their pressure, allowing the creation of a “god visual” along with some celebrations of the deity in the camp (Ex. 32:23-25).

The choice of a god was likely that of the Egyptian deity “Hathor” – normally symbolized by a woman’s body with a calf head in Egyptian records. Other representations were more basic, a calf or a woman with a horn arrangement on her head. The horn “flip” became so common a motif that archaeologists refer to household “gods” (teraphim) that have a flip in their hair as having “Hathor locks”.[2] The influence of Hathor was evidenced in the excavation at Timnah, the copper mining site near Eilat, in southern Israel. Several stone stelae (inscribed standing stones) were found, and at least one had the head of Hathor. The excavation included what appeared to be a Midianite shrine, as Hathor may have spread into their cultic practices as well.[3] Several scholars have noted the relationship between the worship of Hathor and the peoples of the Sinai desert – the Midianites and the Egyptians. It is possible that she was the goddess of both slaves and journeys – and these were slaves on a journey. They probably chose the god image that suited the times. Their experience with the God of Abraham was quite limited, though He had brought the plagues upon Egypt  (Ex. 6-12) and had parted the sea (Ex. 15). They knew His power, but not His tender care. They learned that as their generation experienced God in the desert heat.

The lesson of the calf in Exodus had many dimensions. The people learned the price of disobedience, as some of them were forced to drink ground gold dust in water (Ex. 32:20), while others were slaughtered because of the sexual sins carried on with the great celebration in the camp (Ex. 32:27-28). For the Levites, this was their first great blood-letting sacrifice, as they took their knives to their own cousins as an atonement for the debauchery. They learned the pain of intercession and judgment of sin in a graphic way. For Moses, the lesson was about the control of his emotional being (his flesh), as the tablets of stone that God hand carved for him lay broken on the ground. For Joshua, the lesson was something even greater – it was a lesson of discernment.

Before Moses and Joshua came down and discovered the sin in the camp, God revealed to Moses the fact that the people were in sin (Ex. 32:7ff) and that He wanted to wipe the people out and begin with the family of Moses to rebuild the children of Israel. Moses pleaded on behalf of the people, offering reminders about the nature of the eternal promise God made to Abraham (Ex. 32:13), and arguing that the Egyptians would not learn of God’s love if He wiped out the children of Israel in the desert. Moses knew something was wrong in the camp, but only because God told him it was so. It does not appear in the text that Joshua was privy to this revelation of God.

Joshua, on the other hand, heard the commotion in the camp below – but did not perceive it properly (Ex. 32:17,18). He called to Moses in a concerned voice that the people were stirring as if they were under attack! Moses replied, “It is not the shout of those calling for leadership in the field of battle, nor is it the cry of those who are being slaughtered. This is the sound of singing that we hear!” To be fair, since Joshua had not been given the Divine insight of the sin that was going on in the camp, he was responding in the area of his strength, military leadership. This was (and is) the natural inclination of any leader.

The critical error of Joshua was to “satisfice”, a term coined in the 1990s for when the first explanation that makes sense becomes the answer without any search for other facts. It was clear that without the correction of Moses, Joshua was bent on proceeding on a false notion because his assumption made sense to him. Yet, he needed to learn to move past his natural strengths, and begin to learn to hear the truth of the situation. In this test many a leader trusts his own intuition rather than carefully listening. This was a danger that a more experienced leader could avoid. Moses was not told the nature of that sin, but he had the ears of a leader. He knew the sounds of the people, and he knew their nature. He gently corrected Joshua, for Moses was a more seasoned leader. This was an opportunity for Joshua to grow.

Any true leader will attract followers; this is the nature of leadership. More mature leaders (like Moses) will have the opportunity to lead other leaders, an even more significant ministry! There is a danger for the leader who has not developed the sensitivity to hear the hearts of his followers in their spoken voices. Many followers cannot truly express what they are experiencing. In fact, many cannot understand what they are going through, that is why they need leadership in their lives! They need direction, help and understanding. The leader needs to be able to hear their needs even when the follower cannot properly express the needs. It is not unlike the experience of the young mother that hears an infant crying. The more experienced mom will perceive the sound of the “hungry” cry as distinct from the “wet” cry. She will know how to meet the need, often by the sound of the cry and its timing! How much like that mom Joshua needed to learn to be! He would need to be able to pick out the voices, know the times, sense the needs and respond.

Sometimes the leader needs to be able to pick out the words of the follower from their intent. In the case of the discouraged worker, the leader will need to lift up the follower by helping them see the larger vision of the work. General George Patton, in his book War As I Knew It, offered the insight: “Never assess the battle from the words of a wounded soldier!” What an insight! It is important that leaders hear past the words, and listen with understanding to the heart! The reports from the field are filtered by the lives of the followers; we must remember that!

Other dangers lurk in the words of the followers. Some will share what we want to hear, not what is truly on their heart! The opportunities arise for a leader to be praised by their followers. This can be a dangerous time if the leader cannot hear past the words and perceive the hearts of followers. Some flatter with words to gain some significance in the eyes of the leader. Yet, Proverbs 27 warns the greatest help is not in flattery, but in the truthful words of a friend (even if those words are hurtful, 27:6). Joshua needed to learn early the true nature of the people. He needed to be able to hear their voices – but gauge their needs beyond the sounds!

Movie Sequels

There is another dimension to this story (and another reason it was relayed by the Spirit into the eternal text of God’s Word!) that should be recalled to truly understand what God’s people were to learn from the discipline and tragedy from the sin in the camp. The Bible is a library, but its writers often presupposed that you knew earlier stories when they shared later ones. This story has a sequel found in the Christian Scriptures that is built on its foundation, and helps open our eyes to the incredible events at the mountain of the law. Carefully examining both stories adds a dimension of understanding the spiritual lessons that cannot be found another way.

Trying to understand a sequel to a movie is much easier if you have seen and can recall the original movie. Most of the time, when a sequel is released, the original movie begins to air again so people can recall the characters. Catching up on the plot, and the interplay between characters is much more difficult if the first movie was forgotten. In the same way, we need to recall the events at Sinai to understand what the Biblical author in the early church thought we would remember when reading the Christian Scriptures (New Testament).

In the case of our story, it is essential for any Bible student of the Book of Acts to understand the background of the giving of the Law at Sinai to truly understand the coming of the Spirit to the Apostles. The key to this reminder is in the beginning of Acts 2:1, “Now when the day of Pentecost had fully come…” What was the writer reminding us about? What should that day have recalled in our minds? How could the time of the year enhance our knowledge of the event

Our story at the mountain of the law is set at the earliest “Shavuot” (later called in Greek, Pentecost). The story of the coming of the Spirit in Acts 2:1ff is set at the same time of year – thousands of years later. The Acts setting is, in a real sense, the “movie sequel” to the original events at the mountain of the law. The meaning of the second great Pentecost event (the “sequel”) is clear only when we grasp the illusions to the event at Sinai, set at the same time of the year. Let me explain: As Moses and the people came into the area of the “Mountain of the Law,” God instructed the leadership to restrict the access to the mountain for the people by gathering them in one place (Ex. 19:12). After they were in one place, strange weather descended onto the mountain (19:16). The holy fire of God descended from heaven onto the mountain and filled the area with smoke (19:18) and there was a rumbling of an earthquake. The scene eventually settled, and more than a month later, Moses emerged with the tablets to find 3000 people caught up in the debauchery scene described above. He ordered the Levites to have them killed (32:28).

Now look at the “sequel” events at the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost in Acts 2. Note the comparisons: the people were in “one accord in one place” (Acts 2:1), there was the “sound of a mighty rushing wind” (Acts 2:2), there was the “appearance of fire” (2:3) and there were “3000 people” (2:41). The similarity is intentional, and the meaning clear. With the coming of the Torah (the Law) at Shavuot (the original scene in Exodus) came the knowledge of our sin and the clarity of why we die. With the coming of the Spirit (the Torah “written in the hearts of men”- the sequel in Acts) came the internal understanding of our sin (note: “their hearts were broken”, Acts 3:37-38) and the salvation of those who repented! The writer intentionally highlighted the second Shavuot (Pentecost) event details to match the first, to point to a sequel! What a tragedy that many of us study the later Christian stories and avoid the older foundational stories that make its setting come alive!

Hearing it wrong

Though Joshua misheard the people, God used Moses to correct him, and gently move him another step in his leadership learning curve. This is one of only two missteps of Joshua ever recorded in the Bible. He got most answers right, but this was a hard lesson. How many great leaders are sidelined because they have believed the things which followers told them of themselves. I think about the insightful words of Charles Haddon Spurgeon:

The story was related by Spurgeon that after one night of exceptional preaching at a local church, a young and beautiful woman came to the preacher as he descended moved toward the rear door of the hall. She called out to him, “Oh, brother Spurgeon, that was truly a great message from God! What a man of God you are!” He replied softly in an uncharacteristic moment, “I know, madam! For the devil told me the very same thing when I came down the stairs!”

The aging preacher new better than to listen to what he wanted to hear. He knew enough to hear the words with the sensitive ears of one that is accustomed to the Master’s voice, not the roar of the crowds. Learning to hear past the noise, and listen with ears attuned to the hearts of men and the agenda of God is an essential part of the training process. Failure to do so will destroy the leadership and testimony of both men and ministries. This was an important lesson, but there was yet more to learn. Next we will focus on the HEART of the leader as we see what Joshua learned to cherish more than anything else!

Stage Four: Learning the Process of Worship Encounters (Ex. 33)

In each of the leadership lessons Joshua experienced while Moses was alive, he moved steadily toward the task of taking on the leadership of the children of Israel. We saw Joshua learn the value of intercession – we called it the “well-worn knees lesson” – from the example of Moses before the Amalekites. A second experience on the “Mountain of the Law” helped Joshua understand the concept of the team and its role in leadership – “the locking arms lesson.” We also observed an incident of Moses correction of Joshua when Joshua misunderstood the cries of the Israelites – “the trained ear lesson.” With the knees of intercession well worn, and the arms of the leader locked firmly in the arms of the team members, and even with the ears tuned to the followers – Joshua was still unprepared to lead. Why? Each of those three lessons was external – a “how to” course on leadership that Joshua observed. Yet, he could not lead the people of God until he experienced and mastered three great internal lessons that were firmly rooted in his heart.

The three internal leadership lessons included quenching the internal thirst for God (worship encounters), finding the true compass of direction (overcoming the need for affirmation and recognition of followers in order to feel significant) and seeing through new eyes (viewing life through faith). Of the three lessons, the first is the most important. Nothing can substitute for the intimate communion with God in worship encounters, and this first great internal event was where God opened chambers deep within Joshua’s heart that the man of God was unaware of until their doors were pried apart.

Deep within the heart of every man is the desire to communion with God. It began with the fall of man in the Garden of Eden when a hole was burrowed through his heart that could not (and cannot) be filled with anything but communion with man’s Creator. Before sin, Adam and Eve knew the voice of their Creator. They experienced His gentle touch, and felt the warmth of His presence. After the fall, the most intimate experiences of life were now in the relationship between the two of them, and God seemed more distant. Yet, the need to know God and to sense His approval in their lives was, no doubt, still very real.

As generations passed, many of the conditions changed, yet the need to experience intimacy with God did not diminish. In an effort to mask the pain of this emptiness, men accumulated things to occupy and distract themselves. They masked the emptiness with mind numbing drugs and filled their lives with amusements of every sort. They measured life by the accumulation of material possessions and experiences. Yet, most knew that life was more than possessions and a string of events. That innate sense was a leftover of the garden days – that man was not simply material and temporal. Even in areas where the Bible has not penetrated the culture, people knew of afterlife and a “Higher Power.”

I cannot resist the analogy of this sad history, evident in the book Watership Down by Richard Adams, published in 1969. The story was set in the region he grew up in, Newbury in the Berkshire Downs, England. One summer day in 1967, the author was driving along the road to Stratford-on-Avon with his family as he told the story to his daughters (then 10 and 8 years old). He later wrote the tale down that had become a children’s story treasure.

For the uninitiated, Watership Down is about a group of rabbits that set out on a journey to create a new warren. It was told from the perspective of the rabbits who developed their own institutions of religion, government, economics, education, and family. From my fading memory of the book, one particular scene remains. During the exodus of the rabbits, they made their way across a farm property and discovered a pen of rabbits that were raised for slaughter. My loose paraphrase of the story will serve well enough to make my point.

The rabbits discovered the most amazing site! A fence surrounded a small group of rabbits that were happily resting inside. The weary travelers were amazed at how at ease and well fed the caged rabbits were. After some discussion, the weary bunnies decided – at least for a period of time – to join the rabbits in the pen. They burrowed beneath the rather flimsy fence and entered the cage, welcomed by the relaxed occupants. They asked the rabbits how they came to enter the place, and how they were able to eat so well in spite of the fact they had no foraging party! They were amazed at the response. “It is the most peculiar thing!” one bunny said. “Each day, the bowls are filled to the brim by the humans with these very delicious pellets. We eat the pellets, as much as we want! There is no search for food, and there is no worry!”

The traveling rabbits enjoyed the time in the cage. Yet, the whole scene seemed too easy – a suspicious setting for world savvy rabbits. Their leader detected that something was wrong, and soon his suspicions were validated. One morning he awoke to find that the largest and most impressive bunny was gone. He asked all of the other bunnies, but no one seemed to know where the large bunny went. Unsatisfied to allow the matter to drop, the Moses-like bunny burrowed beneath the cage, and began to check out the scene. Rounding the edge of the barn, he was shocked and sickened to see the pelt of the great rabbit hanging from the wall. He quickly hopped back to the cage and called the bunnies together.

“They are killing bunnies!” he cried. “We must leave here at once! We cannot stay in this place, we will all be killed.” The rabbits who had traveled with him were hastily organized, but the other rabbits did not seem to care. He could not understand why they did not move quickly to abandon the doomed cage. They seemed unconcerned about their own destiny. The graphic image of the pelt burned in his mind! He pressed them, “You must leave! Your lives are in peril!”

“Well,” one rabbit answered, “We know that is how you feel. We also know that from time to time, one of the bunnies is missing from the pen. Yet, in balance, it is a good life we have. We just sit and eat our pellets. We don’t have all your worries, we have wonderful, delicious pellets!”

What a telling analogy of fallen man with an empty heart! With no way of truly comforting himself in his distance from God and with fear of his own end, he simply ignores the reality of physical death and eats his pellets. Watch how quickly he moves from the funeral of a friend to a few drinks to dull the senses. He feels the need to fill the emptiness, and yet it is with spirits, and not with the intended Holy Spirit.

Enter the believer – one who knows God. It would seem a simple matter for the believer to have time in intimate communion with His maker. Yet, Joshua learned that knowing God was not enough. Interceding before God on behalf of the people was not enough. The hole in his heart could only be filled by times of personal and private worship. This was the source of satisfying drink that quenched the Psalmist (“As the deer pants by the rivers of water…” Ps. 42) and it is the source of strength and refreshment for every man or woman of God commissioned to lead. It cannot be neglected, replaced or overlooked.

Exodus 32 closed with the repentance offering of the children of Israel after 3000 perished because of the sin of the golden calf. God threatened to delegate the march to the Promised Land to an angel (32:34) rather than His personal presence. The news brought wailing to the camp of Israel, and Moses appealed the decision in chapter 33, as he begged God to first show Himself (33:13f) and then requested the journey be cancelled if God would not personally join the journey (33:15). Obviously the main concern of the narrative was the record of the words of God to Moses. Yet, I was struck by a detail tucked inside the record. I could not help but note the physical position of Joshua amid the debate and discussion between Moses and God.

After the sin in the camp and the death of the thousands, Moses moved the tent that acted as the “proto-tabernacle” out of camp (the actual tabernacle was not yet erected) and had it set up some distance from the camp (33:7). Moses left the camp each day and made his way to the tent to commune with God, where God spoke to him tenderly, as two old friends with many great memories shared (33:11). The record includes the detail that the men of Israel rose up each day and observed as the man of God passed on his way to the tent (33:8) and that the cloudy pillar descended on the place when Moses met with God (33:9). The great request Moses gave to the Lord to see Him in all His glory was made in that setting (33:18).

Moses entered and exited each day. This was a time for him to meet with God, yet the two were not alone! A closer look at the narrative reminds us that Joshua was present, and that he “departed not out of the tabernacle” (33:11). Imagine that scene! God and Moses communed together, the cloud ascended, and there was Joshua, serving Moses by day and staying through the night! What a place of privilege!

Isn’t it interesting that Moses did not remain, but came from the camp and returned to it daily! I suspect the memory of Israel’s defection after Moses was gone for forty days reminded Moses that a knowledge of his presence helped Israel remain obedient to the Lord. He returned because they needed him to be among them. Joshua did not need to return, he was not yet the leader.

I wonder what Joshua did on those lonely nights. I wonder if he felt he could let his mind wander in fields of lust or envy and greed – or if his sense of the close proximity of his God caused him to be diligent, and attend to every thought. I suspect that was the case! Yes, with a graphic display of God’s presence, Joshua surely knew he could not indulge his own lazy mind. He could not allow his thoughts to drift into the forbidden.

In final analysis, I suspect that is truly the problem with those of us who have allowed our inner disciplines to slip away from honoring the Master. The sense that God is busy running the world, and the deceitfulness of the physical nature of life beckon us to take our heart walk less seriously. Television shows, songs on the radio, and even advertisements call out to us: “Physical comfort and pleasure are what is important!” How easy it is to believe!

A sense of God’s very real presence in the room with us is essential to begin to walk, act and think uprightly. Paul told the Philippians they were to “ever rejoice in the Lord” and “act in a gentle and reasonable way” because “the Lord is nearby” (Phil. 4:5). The writer of Hebrews called the early Messianic followers to “draw near to God” fully assured of God’s full satisfaction in the work of Messiah and His power to cleanse our sin once for all (Heb. 10:22).

The secret to acting rightly is thinking in a way that honors God. The secret to thinking rightly is perceiving God’s presence! Walking daily with the knowledge that He knows everything is less important than living with a moment-by-moment reminder that He intimately knows my thoughts and the intents of my heart – and He cares about each one! Nothing escapes His holy inspection. He is near! His loving presence should evoke the same desire we had as a child to please the watchful eye of our parent. It is not fear of retribution that motivates us; it is the joy of pleasing Him! His kindness leads us to repentance; His mercy leads us to a sweet walk with Him! Joshua could see it, and the realization of God’s real presence was the beginning of a heart journey that changed him!

Stage Five: Learning to Overcome the Need for Recognition (Num. 11:26-29)

Step by step, God used various situations to train Joshua while Moses was yet alive, until he eventually took on the leadership of the children of Israel. In the course of his leadership training, Joshua learned three great external qualities of Godly leadership: the “well-worn knees” of intercession, the “locked arms” of teamwork and the “trained ear” of perception. Yet, he could not lead the people of God until he experienced and mastered three great internal lessons that were firmly rooted in his heart. In our last study, we saw the inner need to recognize the close presence of God, and not quench the internal thirst for God in true worship encounters.

Another great lesson Joshua mastered was the conscious discipline of curbing his appetite for affirmation and recognition by his followers in order to feel more significant. It was the lesson of learning to find “true north” on the compass of direction, not falling into the trap of walking according to the compass of applause. Just as nothing can substitute for the intimate communion with God in worship encounters, nothing can cause a leader to stray more quickly than “believing his own press” and hungering for more self-praise.

The setting for this lesson is found in Numbers 11, part of the section that recalls the march from Kadesh Barnea to the “great and terrible” wilderness of Paran (10:11-12:16). During the journey God showed Himself faithful again to Moses in the request for Divine direction as they began the march. Moses asked God: “Do not leave us, I beg you. You comprehend exactly our problem of sojourning through this wilderness. Be our eyes for us!” (10:31) God answered with a cloud that led them each day they moved the camp (10:34). Moses was careful to acknowledge his need of Divine guidance with each move. Every time the camp was moved, the Holy Ark was moved ahead of the people. As it was taken up, Moses exclaimed, “Rise up, Lord, and let your enemies be scattered!” When the new camp was begun, the Ark was placed at rest to the sound of the words, “Return O Lord to the camp of Israel!” Moses graphically reminded the people of his daily dependence on God for direction, a wise move for any leader.

Despite Moses’ dedication, the people were easily drawn into complaining. The murmuring was a pain to the Lord’s ears, and no doubt caused pain and heartache for the leaders of the people as well. Moses was not untouched by the constant whining. The days were hot, the land was dry and the nights were often very cool. Nothing was ever clean. Nothing was ever convenient. Nothing was ever easy. It was a miserable place to fight for survival, and Moses was taking the people on a trek to their new home. Goals are not the stuff of the desert. Desert people quickly learn to expend as little energy as possible to survive. Yet, Moses pushed on.

The first group to squeal and crack under the pressure of the sun was the “rabble,” called in the King James Version “the mixed multitude” (Numbers 11:4; see also Exodus 12:381). This group included other Semites not part of the children of Israel. In fact, it was for this group God included the special condition that the Law given to Moses was to be carefully observed by the stranger in the midst of Israel, as it was observed by Israel itself (Ex. 12:49). This group began to clamor for a change of menu, complaining that the God of Abraham forced them onto a vegetarian diet! What was worse, they began to cry out to the children of Israel and remind them of the diet of Egypt, including the rather pronounced tastes of onions, garlic and leeks. Compared to the “Moshe Crocker Cookbook: 1,000 ways to serve manna” (see Num. 11:8 for great ways to serve it!), the Egyptian fish restaurant menus began to sound incredible (Numbers 11:5). The heat of the desert was thinly veiled in their complaint, “We are dried up! There is nothing but this manna!” (Num. 11:6)

Moses heard the complaints, and the weeping at night. It grieved him to the point that he wanted to quit. He turned to God and (swept by the complaining spirit that inhabited the camp) whined: “Why have I not found favor in your sight? Why did you place the burden of these people on me? Are these MY children that you should tell me to provide for them all … I cannot take more of this alone! If this is the way it must be, take me and kill me, this is too much! (Num. 11:10-15, my paraphrase).

God patiently answered Moses, and told him to get ready for God to answer the requests of the people. First, God told Moses to get the seventy elders of the people and gather with them at the Tabernacle, where God distributed the Spirit given to Moses upon the other leaders. This was an answer to the lonely feeling Moses had. Second, God told Moses to get the children of Israel prepared for a feast of meat that He was about to send upon them. God promised to send an abundance of meat that would overwhelm them until they were sick of it, a month long special of quail by the ton. When Moses heard that claim, he doubted saying, “Have you forgotten how many people are here?” (Num 11:21). God reminded Moses, “Are you saying this is too hard for Me?” Moses got the point and told the people to get ready.

Always true to His Word, God swept over the leadership council at the Tabernacle (Num. 11:25) and they began to openly proclaim God’s truths from their mouths. Even the two leaders that were not at the gathering (for reasons that are not given) – Eldad and Medad began to prophesy from the Lord in the midst of the camp. God’s spirit rested on them, and people took notice! A young man saw what was happening and ran to report to Moses at the Tabernacle. When the group heard the report, Joshua stepped forth and bid Moses, “Stop them, tell them to be quiet!”

Moses looked into the eyes of his young leader in training. He knew what was bothering him. He said to Joshua, “Are you envious of them for my sake? Josh, I wish all of Israel experienced the move of God’s Spirit in these prophesies!” (Num. 11:28-29, paraphrased).

Then quail came down like a flood on the plain, and the people scooped them up. Day and night for two days the people caught and cooked fowl. They were as overcome with quail as a mom on free shopping spree at the local grocery! There was no limit to how tightly the shopping cart was stuffed! Yet, their hard hearts did not melt with their full stomachs. God knew a lesson was in order, and He sent a sickness to draw the people back to Him (11:33).

What of the lesson to Joshua? Certainly he was loyal to Moses, and that was obvious from this account. He possessed the desire to protect Moses and to ensure his leadership. His motives were good. Yet, Moses possessed a quality that Joshua needed to understand and learn. Numbers 12:3 recalls, “Moses was a humble man, the most humble of his day!” When criticized by his own family, Moses did not feel the need to respond in kind. Joshua needed to understand this critical feature of a Godly leader. The truth that he needed to grasp: When we walk with God and truly care about what is on His heart, we need not defend ourselves. He is our refuge – His powerful arms shield us! When we thrash about to prove ourselves right under attack, we lose our God-ward focus.

The lesson revolved around the understanding of one word – “humility”. The Hebrew term2 was used twenty-four times in the Hebrew Bible, and was translated “meek” in the majority of them. The true meaning of humility can easily be obscured by our proud culture, however. Humility is not thinking poorly of one’s self – that is a poor self-image (and is a sin)! Humility is placing the needs and desires of others above one’s self! It is that quality that inspired great men and women of the Bible to go beyond measure for another. It was the quality that Paul recalled in the Messiah, who considered Heaven’s throne something that He could let go of, to put on the skin of a servant (see Phil. 2:1ff). It was the lesson of “other person centeredness”.

Akin to humility was the byproduct of other person centered thinking – security. Moses was not insecure in his leadership, for he knew in his heart it was bestowed and maintained by the Most High God. He did not feel the people made him their leader! He felt that God put him in the place of leadership, and God alone maintained his place. He was not intimidated by another’s giftedness, nor was he moved by self-protection. Moses had an abundant supply of God-given security, and the recognition of men was a distant second on his mind. How much Joshua needed this lesson to help transform his natural abilities into a Godly leader!

When the leader feeds his ego from the followers, he loses the strong sense that he serves God and not the followers. When they complain, he loses heart. Conversely, when the leader remembers that God placed him in the position, complaints by the flock drive the leader back to his Master, and strengthen his grip on the hand of God. Joshua needed to learn from one who was marked by the grip of a Powerful and Loving God!

Stage Six: Learning to See with the Eyes of Faith (Num. 13:16; 14:6-10; 14:38)

If you have followed the whole series of studies on the preparation of Joshua for leadership of the children of Israel, you are already aware that the lessons that Moses learned from the hand of God were as much for Joshua and Israel as for Moses. God included them in His Word as evidence that the lessons were much more than a simple personal encounter; they were a pattern for all of His followers that are fashioned by their living of Bible truth. Seven passages of Scripture include details of the God’s training camp, learning situations and challenges faced by Moses and observed by his deputy, the much younger Joshua.

We have examined three external qualities of Godly leadership: intercession, teamwork and perception. Next, we observed two of three internal lessons: constant recognition of the close presence of God and curbing the appetite for affirmation and recognition in order to feel more significant. Finally, we have come to the final step before Joshua cued in line for graduation and received his commission diploma. The third internal lesson was a most critical one – the lesson that gave Joshua the ability to see more than his contemporaries. This was the lesson of vision, the ability to see with eyes of faith.

There are a great many people who can identify problems and challenges. God has even gifted some with a naturally high sense of detail. These “gifted ones” are apt to find the mistakes in any product or plan, and are at their best in the “Quality Control Division” of the company. The same personalities are not normally the best people for the vision casting and brainstorming of the “Product Development Department”! They can identify the problem, and may even be able to suggest alternative engineering for the product, but they have a different skill set than a visionary planner. Vision requires seeing the product complete and working in the mind’s eye before the building is begun.

In the context of ministry leadership, vision is more than advanced insight and marketing savvy. Leadership of God’s people requires time spent in the presence of the Master, and a careful and sensitive ear to His Divine direction and desire. Beyond those qualities, God must build into a leader a specific vision of the work. Joshua learned about this invaluable tool of ministry in his first recorded espionage attempt, the entry of the spies into Canaan in Numbers 13. Let’s look more carefully at this well told account.

God spoke to Moses (13:1) and told him to send men to search the land of Canaan from the southern access (v. 17). The men were told to measure the size of the defending army (v.18), the terrain (v. 19), the measure of the walled embattlements and fortifications (v. 20) and the raw materials of the landscape that can aid in the plan of attack (v. 20). One additional request was given, though only a few of the spies seemed to hear it. They were to bring the “fruit of the land” (v. 20), as it was the time of the first harvest of grapes. This was the autumn of the year. After months of heat and no sign of rain, this was the beginning of God’s great miracle harvest in Israel, the grapes begun to ripen on the vines in un-watered vineyards!

In general, horticulturalists affirm that fruit will not form on trees or vines with less than the equivalent of seven inches of rainfall. This is the minimum required. Yet, after months of hot and dry weather in the central mountains of Israel (and not a single rain!), the Autumn landscape still yields marvelous grapes to this day! How is this possible? God brings the rain water in the form of heavy dew that crawls up the mountain slopes in a mist at night. We sat many nights watching the mist move across the landscape in my home on the edge of the Judean Wilderness. No special effect of Cecil B. DeMill’s “The Ten Commandments” was any more impressive than this “hand of God” fog that creeps slowly until the streetlamp outside was no longer visible. Today the night fog is a driving hazard, but the water is still essential for the formation of the grapes.

In the Joshua story, the children of Israel trekked through the “great and terrible wilderness” of Paran (v.3) and were accustomed to the surreal lunar-like dead and dry landscape. In Paran, no plant stands a chance. The land was possible to pass through, but never to inhabit. It is beyond dry, it is stripped of almost all life.

Stage Seven: Learning to Receive a Commission (Num. 27:12-23; 34:17; Dt. 1:38; 3:21; 31:3; 34:3)

Finally, graduation day came for the prepared Joshua! Moses led the people for 40 years, and God revealed the journey was over for him. Looking closely at the passage that recorded the rise of Joshua to leadership, we can see several important principles:

  1. The true leader of God learns to care more for the flock than his own life (Num. 27:12-17).
  2. The new leader should have the endorsement of the old one, it will ease the transition pains (Num. 27:18-20).
  3. The new leader needs to be established in the existing leadership structure (27:21-23).


[1] A careful study of the Apostle Paul’s journeys demonstrates the care with which Jews recalled this command. Nearing the end of the “Third Mission Journey” (see Acts 20:6ff) the Apostle was making his way from Macedonia to Jerusalem by way of the ships that skirt along the coasts of Asia Minor, stopping to change ships and offer greeting to the believers who knew him well in the region from previous ministry.

 

The Days of Unleavened Bread had passed (Acts 20:6) when Paul came to Troas to preach. The text of Acts 20:7 was translated in English (KJV): “And upon the first day of the week when the disciples came together to break bread…” Dr. Charles Ryrie, in his study Bible, makes a note on the verse: “This became the regular day of worship for Christians in remembrance of Christ’s resurrection on Sunday.” Yet a closer look at this passage appears to reveal a completely different intent (RSB, p.1577).

The Greek of the passage (transliterated) says: “’En de te mia ton Sabbaton..” Even if you cannot read the Greek, you can see the word “Sabbath” in the Greek “Sabbaton”. The term for Sunday not only does not appear in the text, introducing it misses the point of the text. The KJV translator apparently understood Luke to be saying “on the first day after the Sabbath”, but this is a very awkward reading. Consider that Luke had carefully noted the Passover (and the adjacent Feast of Unleavened Bread) had passed. He then added (literal translation of the Greek): “On and the one of the Sabbaths”). The time was not a Sunday morning, but rather a night meeting (as was demonstrated by Eutychus’ untimely slumber (Acts 20:9)! Paul preached until morning (Acts 20:11).

It may well be that the writer was trying to convey the timing of the event as a Sabbath evening meeting at the time of the first of the Sabbaths after the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Though Luke was a Gentile physician, his knowledge of Jewish observance is unassailed, and has led a number of scholars to conclude that Theophilus (the intended first recipient of his letters that today constitute the Gospel of Luke and Book of Acts) may have been a proselyte to Judaism before Luke communicated the Gospel to him. Jews count the Sabbaths between Passover and Pentecost, and the sermon of Paul at Troas was on the evening of the first Sabbath of the “countdown”.

[2] See Archaeology of the Land of the Bible, Prof. Amihai Mazar. Doubleday: The Anchor Bible Reference Library, 1992. Note pages 274-76 in reference to teraphim.

[3] Ibid, p. 286ff.

1 The Hebrew term is transliterated As-pes-oof’: meaning “multitude”; from the agricultural term in Hebrew “Aw-saf”- something that is gathered and stored (as in a harvest);

2 transliterated “aw-nawv”