On that day the LORD exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel, and they stood in awe of him just as they had stood in awe of Moses, all the days of his life.
The entire nation of Israel lined the banks of the Jordan River. It was time to cross into the Promised Land. However, the river was flowing high, as it flooded during harvest season (Joshua 3:15). So with the river engorged and moving swiftly, Joshua barked orders for the priests to carry the ark of the covenant about half-a-mile in front of the people. God’s presence dwelt there and would lead them. And He promised that when the soles of the priests’ feet dipped into the river, the water would immediately stop flowing.
The scene that followed was incredible—and should sound incredibly familiar.
The priests went ahead as planned, and upstream, the waters began to roll back on themselves. A waterfall cascaded in reverse, defying gravity and hurdling toward the clouds. A tower of water rose ever higher as an entire nation walked across a bone-dry riverbed.
Today’s text comes just after this miracle river crossing happened. The people stood in awe of Joshua exactly like they did with Moses. This teaches us something profound.
Leadership works differently within the household of God than in the kingdom of men. Joshua never promoted himself. He never clawed and scratched for praise or applause or showcased his own abilities. Instead, God set him up as a leader. God calls leaders and equips them—even when they seem an odd choice, like Moses did. And to cement Joshua’s position of authority and seal him with further approval, God explicitly showed the people He was with Joshua just like He was with Moses. Remember the parting of the Red Sea? I’ll bet you do — and so did they!
The people saw flashbacks of being chased between titanic walls of water by bloodthirsty warriors. They recalled defying incredible odds and escaping with their lives from Egypt. God marked Joshua with unquestionable authority and exalted him before the people. All Joshua had to do was pursue God, meditate on His words, and stay obedient (Joshua 1:5-9).
God’s leaders are simply the ones who seek God above all else, listen to Him, and then obey. Joshua didn’t have to validate or promote himself. God put his seal of approval on him.
Is this how you see leadership?