An Admirable Faith
Hain-Lee Hsueh—East Bay, California, USA
After Moses died, Joshua led the Israelites into the land of Canaan, and
won victory upon victory over many of the nations inhabiting the land at
the time. Joshua 12 lists thirty-one kings that the Israelites conquered
under Joshua’s leadership, with an army that had never seen war prior to
entering Canaan. Sometimes we take this for granted because we have
heard the stories many times, but if we really think about it, that’s
simply amazing. Joshua was the man!
And what did God have to say about Joshua’s victories?
Now Joshua was old, advanced in years. And the LORD said to him: “You
are old, advanced in years, and there remains very much land yet to be
If we were Joshua, how would we feel? In this society, we are taught to
develop our potential, to be the best that we can be, to do something
impactful, so we can be acknowledged for our achievements and endeavors.
How would we feel, if at the end of a prosperous career, our boss
doesn’t say, “Good job,” but instead says, “You’re already old, man, and
look how much there’s left to do”? Wouldn’t we want to burst out and
say, “Look at all I’ve done! Don’t I deserve some commendation and
From Joshua there was no such outburst, and it is from this that we can
learn something about true faith. To us, God’s words may seem
discouraging, but Joshua continued to obey God as he had before. And
before he died, he even earnestly urged the Israelites to continue to
serve God and no one else. There is something that Joshua understood
about faith that we often subconsciously forget—God’s plan is bigger
We often think of faith in a self-centered, personal sense, always
wondering, “What is God’s plan for me? How can I please God?” But do we
have faith in God’s plan beyond how it relates to ourselves? How
concerned are we about the part of God’s work that is still to be done
Many of God’s workers in the Bible, such as Joshua, have set the example
for us. They were not out to show the world that with God they could do
great things and live glorious lives. They understood that they were
merely vessels, pilgrims carrying out God’s plan and passing it down to
those who followed. They understood that they were just unprofitable
servants (Lk 17:10). Joshua’s silent and continual submission proves
that he understood that.
Hebrews 11 mentions many such workers, all of them playing just a small
part in God’s plan and many of them concerned with the future. Think
Abraham, who obeyed God without seeing his descendants become as
numerous as the sand. Isaac, who blessed Jacob and Esau “concerning
things to come” (Heb 11:20). Joseph, who “made mention of the departure
of the children of Israel” (Heb 11:22) from Egypt. Moses, who “suffered
affliction with the people of God” (Heb 11:25), leading them to a
promised land that he himself could not enter and enjoy. All these
people acted by faith—a faith that had vision.
God’s plan extends much further past our own lives, but sometimes we
live as if it didn’t. We may even have this attitude of serving God to
accumulate enough brownie points to go to heaven. But at the end of our
lives, we should not glory in all the labor we have done for God, but
work to ensure that the service continues after us.
From the Bible we know the goal of God’s plan is salvation. May our
faith cover not just our own salvation, but the salvation of those who
follow us. May we add to our faith, vision.
These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having
seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed
that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.