15 Moses turned and went down the mountain with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands. They were inscribed on both sides, front and back. 16 The tablets were the work of God; the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets.
17 When Joshua heard the noise of the people shouting, he said to Moses, “There is the sound of war in the camp.” (Ex. 32:15-17) NIV
This story is one of the great stories in the bible. Moses has been in God’s presence for 40 days and 40 nights. God has given him all kinds of instructions—from the Ten Commandments, to the building of the tabernacle. There were rules of how the Israelites were to worship Him, what the priest were to wear, how to sacrifice animals, etc. After God had finished, Moses heads down the mountain with the tablets written by God Himself. But something caught my attention this time: “When Joshua heard the noise of the people shouting, he said to Moses,” It occurred to me that Joshua had been waiting for Moses the entire 40 days and 40 nights. He did not give up hope, he waited! Yet Aaron, who along with the Israelites, did not. Both men had been with Moses at the parting of the seas. Aaron had been with him when the elders met with God!
9 Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel went up 10 and saw the God of Israel. (Ex. 24:9-10a)
13 Then Moses set out with Joshua his aide, and Moses went up on the mountain of God. 14 He said to the elders, “Wait here for us until we come back to you. Aaron and Hur are with you, and anyone involved in a dispute can go to them.” (Ex. 24:13-14)
Both Joshua and Aaron have been walking with Moses, they have encountered the same God. Yet one remains steadfast in his waiting and the other is swayed by the demands of the loudest of the Israelites. Joshua waited in silence, in isolation, as Moses spoke with God. Just as the others waited below the mountain, Joshua waited ON the mountain—close to God. He could have decided it was taking too long; he could have given up and gone back down the mountain to join the others. Yet he did not. He was trusting that God was working and waited. Aaron, and the 70 elders who had been in God’s very presence, let themselves be convinced that God was not working, that Moses was not going to come back, and instead of leading the Israelites TO God, they listened to the voices pulling the people AWAY from God!
Oh my—aren’t there times that is me! God is there—I’ve seen miracles in my own life. He’s revealed Himself to me in so many ways. I know that I know that I know—my Redeemer lives! And yet . . . “God, why is it taking you so long to answer my prayer?” I begin to doubt. Those voices begin to beckon me AWAY from God, from believing what my very own eyes have seen Him do!
Maybe the difference between Joshua and Aaron was what they chose to do in the waiting. Joshua chose to stay on the mountain, close to God. Our proximity to God has a whole lot to do with our faith. The closer we remain to God, the easier it is to stay strong. Joshua kept looking up while Aaron looked out! They had an entirely different focus.
8 I keep my eyes always on the Lord.
With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
9 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest secure,
10 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
nor will you let your faithfulone see decay.
11 You make known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand. (Ps. 16:8-11) NIV
It is easy to lose focus when I am going through a trial. My emotions can get the better of me; fear can turn my attention away from the Lord. I can see the obstacles, I can succumb to what others think I should do that draws me away from God. But I must be intentional. I must choose to stay focused on God. It may require isolation, time away, time set apart to devote myself to the One I know is working on my behalf.
The Israelites had no clue what was going on between Moses and God over the course of those 40 days and 40 nights as they waited for his return. God was imparting so much wisdom and direction to him about how to lead this nation in the way He wanted them. Likewise, I have no idea what God is doing while I wait.
Perhaps this devotion, this choice to wait on God no matter how long it takes, this characteristic we see in Joshua, is why God chose him to lead the Israelites after Moses death.
Heavenly Father, I know I do not always wait well. But if I’m honest with myself, it is because I choose to look out instead of up. That is not how I want to live my life. I want to keep my focus on You. There are so many times I feel isolated but that is my own choice as well. I let feelings speak louder than Truth. I want to wait well, like Joshua. In Jesus name, Amen