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4-9-3 Peer Pressure

Joshua like many modern Christians was very prone to being influenced by peer pressure and the views and expectations of others, especially in these situations. He told Israel they’d done a good job and driven out all the tribes- when they were still worshipping idols, and hadn’t driven out all the tribes. Only in his deathbed speech did he face up to the reality of their sinfulness. Ex. 32:17,18 is another example of Joshua’s genuine naievity- thinking that Israel were far stronger than they were. He mistook the sound of their idolatrous partying for the sound of a battle; and Moses almost rebukes him for his naievity. He allowed the leaders of Israel to lead him into wrong decisions about the initial attack on Ai, and also into being deceived by the Gibeonites. And yet as a younger man, he had boldly stood up to the peer pressure of the princes of Israel in faithfully declaring that Israel could and should go up into Canaan; when the other princes must have put huge pressure upon him to agree with them. He is described as maintaining “another spirit” to theirs (Num. 14:24). The resolution of youth seems to have been somewhat lost as he grew older.

In Ps. 1:1-3, David makes several allusions to Joshua. He speaks of how the man who meditates in God’s word day and night will prosper in his ways; and he uses the very same Hebrew words as found in Josh. 1:8 in recounting God’s charge to Joshua. But David’s point is that the man who does these things will not “walk in the counsel of the ungodly”- he won't give in to peer pressure. The fact that Joshua was wrongly influenced by his peers in later life would indicate that he didn’t keep the charge given to him.

Forgetting The Commission

Joshua had been charged to be strong, of good courage, not fearful nor be dismayed. Yet he had a tendency to forget those charges, the implications of his having been called by God for a purpose; and needed to be reminded of them as he forgot or lost faith in them. Perhaps this is why he is an otherwise surprising omission from the list of faithful men and women in Hebrews 11. And here of course is the challenge to us. We too have been given commissions and callings. Whether it be to raise a Godly family, to establish an ecclesia in a certain place, to overcome a specific vice…the obstacles will flee before us, every place where the soles of our feet rest, will be blessed…if we truly believe in God’s purpose with us. Yet like Joshua, we usually fail to have a full faith in this. We get distracted by the views of others, peer pressure, worried by lack of resources, discouraged by setbacks; when it is belief in God’s most basic initial promises to us that will overcome them. Joshua’s fear is all the more reprehensible when we consider the testimony of Ps. 91. Here Moses speaks about Joshua, the one who dwelt in the secret place or tabernacle of God (Ps. 91:1 = Ex. 33:11), and who therefore was miraculously preserved throughout the wilderness wanderings. Thousands of Joshua’s generation died at his side from the various plagues which wasted out his generation during those wanderings; but they never came near him (Ps. 91:5-8). As a result of this, he was commanded by Moses to “not be afraid” (Ps. 91:5), perhaps Moses was thinking specifically about peer pressure, with the assurance that truly God would hear Joshua’s prayers (Ps. 91:14,15). His amazing preservation during the wilderness years ought to have instilled a faith and lack of fearfulness within him; and yet the implication is that he did very often fall prey to fearfulness in later life. Just as with us, the circumstances of earlier life are controlled by the Father to give us faith with which to cope with later crises; but we don’t always learn the lessons we are intended to.