Just this morning, as I listened to a leadership study on Joshua, my mind somehow (or God’s Spirit) took me to a comparison of these three “men of God,” in just that order. I hurriedly tried to capture the jest of my thoughts. First Jonah, whose name literally means dove; the specific characteristic connoted in Hebrew is around “warmth”, possibly related to the intimate loving traits of this universally known pigeon mentioned throughout scripture, from the humble sacrifices of turtle doves in the Old Testament, to the New Covenant Comforter; each of us have our own understanding of this symbol of the Holy Spirit.
I see an allegory for discipleship, with Jonah as a man resisting God; Joshua, a man obeying God and then Jesus, a man redeeming men for God. Jesus, the ultimate God-man, literally God become flesh, demonstrates what full obedience to the Spirit may manifest within a human on this Earth. I wish more Christians truly believed that.
This Jonah was a preaching man, but as his name implies, he fully understood the holiness of God; ironically, this understanding of and reverence for holiness, along with his carnal kinship with humans, may have brought on the judgmental nature that caused him to deny redemption to the wicked Ninevites to whom he was called? Expressed throughout the Book of Jonah, we actually find the balance of the Trinity: the love of the Father for all creation; the redemptive and sacrificial compassion of the Son; and the respect for holiness and justice present within the Spirit.
Jonah may get a bum rap at times, but that may just come with the ‘prophet package’, often driven to extremes when in one’s humanity, these John the Baptist types decide to stubbornly drive home a point! This man was fearless in the face of life’s storms, sacrificial in his obedience, and yes, figuratively portrayed the One who would be resurrected for the sake of all fallen; and as stated before, named for the very creature used by God to denote His Son at the Baptism by John.
Then there was Joshua, bearing the same name as the Messiah; a humble servant, growing up in the shadow of Moses, in fact called the minister of Moses. Joshua never set out to climb the leadership ladder, rather, was simply a truth telling man of integrity. The Lord promoted him (Num. 27:18). Scripture even points out his probable humility to the point of weakness, the Lord repeatedly reassuring him of the need to be strong and of good courage. Unlike many of today’s leaders, this was no macho man just waiting for his time to lead. He was fearfully obedient, non-traditional in his tactics (i.e., Jericho and the trumpets) and spotless in his legacy.
Was Joshua’s life (or Jonah’s for that matter) any more abundant with grace than others? Was Joshua somehow singled out, escaping the sins of his mentor, Moses; avoiding the latter disgraces of David? Maybe Joshua, this well-fathered son of Nun, though tempted like we all, was simply an obedient, God-fearing man?
Maybe leadership was not what Joshua was after, and possibly like the Christ, both he and Jonah may have cried out at times, in their own way: “Father if at all possible, let this cup pass from me.” Maybe that’s what God wants of all our lives?