The name, Joshua, comes from the Hebrew word Yehoshua, which means Saviour or Deliverer. The Greek word that is equivalent to the Hebrew word Yehoshua is the word Iesous, and that is where we get the English word, Jesus. So Joshua is the same name as Jesus, just in the Hebrew language.
It was Joshua who took the children of Israel into the land of Canaan. “And it came to pass, when all the people had completely crossed over the Jordan, that the Lord spoke to Joshua, saying: Take for yourselves twelve men from the people, one man from every tribe, and command them saying, Take for yourselves twelve stones from here, from out of the midst of the Jordan, from the place where the priests’ feet stood firm. You shall carry them over with you and leave them in the lodging place where you lodge tonight. Then Joshua called the twelve men whom he had appointed from the children of Israel, one man from every tribe; and Joshua said to them: Cross over before the ark of the Lord your God into the midst of the Jordan, and each one of you take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, that this may be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come, saying, What do these stones mean to you? Then you shall answer them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it crossed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. And these stones shall be for a memorial to the children of Israel forever. And the children of Israel did so, just as Joshua commanded, and took up twelve stones from the midst of the Jordan, as the Lord had spoken to Joshua, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, and carried them over with them to the place where they lodged, and laid them down there. Then Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of the Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests who bore the ark of the covenant stood; and they are there to this day.” Joshua 4:1–9.
This event was not simply something that Joshua decided to do. It was something for which the Lord gave him special instructions, and the Lord worked a miracle so that His people did not have to build any pontoons or bridges. Even though it was in flood season, the Lord miraculously caused the waters of the Jordan River to stop flowing.
Lest We Forget
The Lord told Joshua,
“You are to do something to make a memorial of what I did here, so that in the future when your children come to you and they say, ‘What are these stones here?’ you can tell them the story of what the Lord did. You are to make a memorial so that the whole nation will remember what God did here.”
It is important for us today to remember and to know the leading of the Lord in our past history. In fact, it is so important that Ellen White wrote that we have nothing to fear for the future except as we forget how the Lord has led us in our past history and His teaching. (See Review and Herald, October 12, 1905.)
What do these stones mean? The stones are a memorial of what God will do for the children of Israel to bring them into the Promised Land. God has been leading in the second advent movement. God has been leading in the revival and reformation movement in Adventism that has been going on now for a number of years. We need to understand and know how the Lord has led us.
Of course, there are people saying that the Lord has not led us. We get a lot of phone calls and letters along that line. Some people say we are being led by the devil. Such an accusation is not anything new. Jesus had to meet that same accusation. It was said that He was performing miracles through Beelzebub, the chief of the devils. (See Matthew 12:22–28; Mark 3:22–26; Luke 11:15–20.)
The apostles had to meet it. The reformers had to meet it. John Wesley had to meet it. James and Ellen White had to meet it. And we will have to meet it until the end. There are going to be people saying that the Lord is with them and that we are being led by the devil, that we are going the wrong way.
Do you know who is leading you? How can you tell who is leading?
Signs and Miracles
You cannot tell who is leading you because of signs or miracles. If you decide that the Lord is leading you because of certain signs and miracles, the devil can provide those things and lead you down the wrong path. The New Testament teaches that false miracles are going to happen more and more as we approach the close of time.
“And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume [destroy] with the breath [spirit] of his mouth and destroy with the brightness of his coming. The coming of the [lawless one] is according to the working of Satan, with all power and signs and lying wonders.” 2 Thessalonians 2:8, 9.
There are going to be miracles. These verses are referring to the antichrist power. The devil is the chief antichrist, but he has human agents who are also antichrists. Verse 10 tells us, “And with all deceitfulness of unrighteousness among those who are perishing, because they did not receive the love of the truth so that they might be saved.”
The Scripture goes on to say how the Lord is going to send them strong delusions because they are having pleasure in unrighteousness. (See verses 11, 12.) If you are having pleasure in something that you know is not right, you need to go to the Lord and pray about that, because unless the Lord delivers you from that pleasure in unrighteousness, you will be deceived at the end.
We see in this passage of Scripture that we cannot depend on miracles to know that the Lord is leading us. Revelation 16:13, 14 talks more along these lines. In those verses is the description about Armageddon, and about three unclean spirits coming up like frogs out of the mouth of the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet. It talks about them working signs and miracles. Those signs and miracles are going to be so successful that the whole world is going to be gathered together for the great battle. They are going to think, of course, that they are getting together for a millenium of peace. They are going to walk right into Armageddon. No, we cannot depend on miracles or signs to know that the Lord is leading us.
Can we Count on Numbers?
Not only can we not depend on miracles or signs, but we cannot count on numbers! Never before in Adventism have I seen the importance of numbers being used, as they are today.
In the mail we received information from someone who was going to India, and they said they were going to baptize 50,000 people there. We have sent workers to countries such as India, and we have conducted evangelistic campaigns with the native workers in some of these countries. We have baptized people in these countries, but we have never baptized them by the thousands. Not yet! Again I say that we cannot ever depend on numbers to know whether God is leading us.
In Constantine’s time, do you know what he did to increase the baptisms? He had a very innovative method. He gave everyone, who would consent to be baptized, a new exchange of clothes (we would call it a new suit of clothes) and a piece of gold. He got a lot of people baptized in just a short time. He baptized full armies of people. People thought at that time that they were experiencing a wonderful evangelistic success.
The Latter Rain?
I remember reading an article in a Review and Herald, published a short time after World War II. One of our leading ministers wrote how Seventh-day Adventists had gone into some of the countries, which had not had freedom before World War II, and baptized thousands of people. He said he thought this was the beginning of the latter rain. This article was printed in 1948, but I was reading it in the 1990s. When I read that, I wondered, if indeed that really was the beginning of the latter rain, why are we still here?
If we were depending on numbers, Noah would have been a complete flop! If we were depending on numbers, Jesus, when He dwelt among men in the flesh, would have been a total failure, too. The night that Jesus was betrayed, He only had twelve disciples and a few faithful women who were following Him, and one of those twelve denied Him! So we cannot depend on miracles, and we cannot depend on numbers to know that the Lord is leading.
We have been warned that, as we approach the end, there will be many confusing voices saying, “Come, follow me; I have great light.” Do you see that happening today? It is going to happen more and more.
Every one of us should know that the Lord has been leading us. We should also know that the Lord has been leading in the second advent movement and in the revival and reformation movement in Adventism. There are two or three points that we always need to check when we are challenged about whether or not the Lord is leading.
Troublers of Israel
Ellen White saw, in vision, the true and faithful people during the time of trouble. (See Maranatha, 209.) She said that the wicked people were coming to the true and faithful and saying, “We have the truth!” And they would say, “Angels are walking among us and there are miracles among us. The Lord is leading us, and if you would not be so stubborn, He would lead you too.”
She wrote that the wicked would say that the whole world was at peace and in harmony with the Sunday law. They are going to have the numbers, and they are going to have the miracles, and they are going to say to the true and faithful, “If you would come into harmony, then everything would be all right. You are the fly in the ointment. You are the reason for the trouble, because you are at variance with everybody else in the world. The Lord is leading us. We know it, because the angels are walking among us and there are all these miracles happening. The whole world is converted—except you! You are going the opposite of everybody else, so you must be led by the devil.”
We are going to encounter this sort of thing more and more, right up to the end. It is not going to stop; it is going to get worse. God’s people are going to be just a little, tiny handful of people compared with the world’s population.
Is God Leading Us?
We must know for sure that God has been leading us, or we will not make it. Here is a way to be assured that God is leading us.
If God is leading us, He will always, without exception, be leading us in harmony with His law. In Matthew 7:21–23, we have the record of a number of people who thought that the Lord was leading them, yet they come right up to the end of time and find out that they have made a terrible mistake. They are so sure that they are right, though, that they start arguing with the Lord.
Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’”
These people are not in harmony with God’s law, but they think that God has been leading them. They are mistaken. If God is leading you, He will always, without fail, be leading you in harmony with His law.
Of Which Spirit are We?
Another interesting text from the Old Testament addresses this point: “To the law and to the testimony, if they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” Isaiah 8:20. The context of this text, beginning in verse 19, is talking about spirits, or those who are led by or instructed by spirits. So this verse would apply either to spirits or to prophets especially.
Martin Luther is an example of men whom God has used who were not in harmony with all of His law, because they did not know any better. This verse, however, is not talking about men and women. A man or a woman could be used of God even if they were mixed up on some points about the law or about theology. It is not talking about just anybody in this text. It is talking specifically about spirits, and it would apply to anyone who is led or instructed by spirits, so it would apply to a prophet. This verse is one of the tests for anyone who claims to be a prophet. It is a test for any spirit that gives any instruction to anybody. A spirit is never in the situation that Martin Luther, or any other Protestant reformer in the sixteenth century, was in where he did not know all the truth.
A spirit is either a spirit from God and knows the truth, or it is a spirit from the devil and there is no light in him. One of God’s angels will never instruct you contrary to His law or to His word. So, if a spirit gives you any instruction that is contrary to God’s law or to His word, there is no light there. It is a wrong spirit, no matter how many miracles there are and no matter how many numbers there are.
God’s children are going to be tempted on this point even during the time of trouble. Ellen White wrote about meeting all of this opposition, about people saying, “You are wrong!” What do you do after you have been told 500 times that you are wrong? Does it have an affect on you? Mrs. White mentions two things that will give assurance to God’s people during the time of trouble. She says their conscience and the word of God assure them that they are correct. (See The Great Controversy, 610.) So it is important to know, from the word of God, that the Lord is leading you. Remember,
“We have nothing to fear for the future, except as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us, and His teaching in our past history.” Life Sketches of Ellen G. White, 196.
If you look at that quotation closely, you will realize that Mrs. White is assuming that we know that the Lord has led us. Have we forgotten how the Lord has led us? The Lord has been leading us individually; the Lord has been leading the second advent movement, and the Lord has been leading the revival and reformation movement in Adventism. But we need to remember how.
The evidences of the Lord’s leading in the second advent movement are overwhelming. We could go clear back to before the War of 1812 and show how the Lord arranged events and prepared the world for the first angel’s message, which William Miller began to preach in the United States in 1831.
We could show what happened in 1843 and 1844 with the many signs and wonders whereby the Lord showed unequivocally that He was guiding this movement. We could go to the ministry of Ellen White, God’s special messenger to the Advent movement, and we could show over and over again how God showed to us, through her, that He was leading.
You have perhaps heard of the vision that Ellen White had in which she saw church leaders doing and saying certain things. At least once in public she was going to relate this vision, but as she began to tell it, her mind went blank and she could not relate it.
Several months later an early morning (5:30 a.m.) meeting was being held at camp meeting. Ellen White was elderly at this time, so her son, William C. White, was not going to wake her up to go to the early meeting; he was just going to get up and go to the meeting himself. But as he passed her room, he noticed that the light was on in her room. He knocked and asked if she intended on going to the 5:30 meeting. She replied that she was.
Then he asked, “Do you have some message from the Lord to declare to the people?” And she responded that she most certainly did. At this meeting she related what the Lord had shown her in vision. It became very, very quiet. The Lord had shown her that the brethren—some of the ministers, some of the editors, and some of the writers—did not want to talk about the Sabbath in the religious liberty magazine. They said the magazine would be much more successful if the Sabbath was not openly presented in it.
She related all that the Lord had shown her about that and how wrong it was. When she finished, there were some pale-faced people in the meeting. A brother stood up, and he said, “What you have related to us as having happened, just happened last night. We had a meeting that lasted almost all night, and everything that you said happened. We were saying these very things that you were talking about.”
You see the Lord had shown her exactly what they were going to say and what they were going to do a long time before they even did it or said it. That is why the Lord made her mind go blank when she was trying to relate it before, so she could not relate it until it happened. Things like that happened on a number of occasions, friends. You and I serve a God who knows everything. (See Manuscript Releases No. 1033: The Salamanca Vision and the 1890 Diary, 64, 65.)
Leading Us Home
After Ellen White died, in 1915, did the Lord continue to lead the advent movement? Yes! Is He going to lead us until the end? Yes! So, we need to study and to remember—just as the children of Israel put up a memorial when they went across the Jordan River—how the Lord has led us, not just up until 1915 but up to today.
In the development, in the understanding, and in the proclamation of the three angels’ messages, the Lord has been leading. We should know how the Lord has led, and we need to recognize how the devil has attacked and what the Lord has done in return. Our faith, as Adventists, must be grounded in the Bible.