The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent.
There is so much about the life of Moses that astounds me. I mean, he spoke with God face to face like speaking to a friend! It makes me sit in wonder every time I read it. Moses had such a unique relationship with God. There is not another type like it elsewhere in the Bible.
But it's the very end of this verse that I want to focus on. Such a tiny part of the story that holds a powerful truth. In these few words we get a behind the scenes glimpse of who Joshua is and how his relationship with God unfolds.
Moses is in the tent of meeting (this is before the Tabernacle was constructed - see 33:7) talking with God like friends do. - kills me! The conversation comes to an end, Moses leaves to go do his work, but Joshua stays behind.
Now Joshua is Moses's aide, his helper, his servant. He basically does whatever Moses requires of him. They are practically joined at the hip for the 40 years of desert living experience. But here, (Okay, the word but is always significant in the Bible. I tell whomever I'm teaching to watch out for the buts. It also gets a laugh - which is a bonus.) we see Joshua stay behind.
...but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent. Exodus 33:11
This particular tent was set up by Moses outside of the camp and verse seven of that same chapter tells us that anyone inquiring of the LORD would go there.
No one knows for certain why Joshua remained and Moses left. Perhaps this was part of his responsibility to keep watch over this tent during Moses's absence. We do know that Joshua was a student of Moses's life and would have known the smallest detail concerning Moses's habits with the LORD. We also read in scripture of Joshua's devotion to Moses and how he stood up for him in Numbers 11:29. Moses rebukes him, but the depth of the relationship is seen. And we know the eventual outcome is for Joshua to succeed Moses. God even tells Moses in Exodus 17:14 to write down the victory over the Amalekites as a memorial for Joshua in days ahead.
What we can see from this text is that staying at the tent, the place where God and Moses met, may have been the beginning of Joshua's personal relationship with the LORD.
We all have people we look up to, who mentor us, who we attempt to model their behavior. We all have spiritual giants who we admire from a far and wish we could have the kind of relationship they do with God. I mean, who wouldn't look at Moses and be provoked to a spiritual jealousy? I'm jealous just thinking about the kind of relationship he and God shared.
What we forget is that is all begins with staying at the tent. Not leaving the place where we know the presence of God lingers.
Not leaving the place where we know the presence of God lingers.
We can only rest upon the back of what others have built for so long. There comes a moment, a time in everyone's life when your relationship with God must become your relationship with God. It must be built on your experiences with him as he leads, guides and directs you personally. You must be willing to not leave the tent. You must linger in his presence. You must seek out his presence. It must be you.
I love how God operates. He is so very willing to spend time with us. Maybe it was in his design from the beginning for Moses to leave Joshua at the tent, outside of the camp, free from distraction so he could focus on the presence of God. Who knows? We only can guess the intermediate parts from what we can read. But we do know that by the time the book of Joshua begins, Joshua has a firm foundation and it is all based on the LORD. There is no question in his mind who the LORD is, and whom Joshua and all his household will serve.
I can't help but think that it all began by staying at the tent.
The LORD looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, and who seek God. Psalm 14:2
God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. For in him we live and move and have our being. Acts 17:27-28