Moses Changed Joshua’s Name—Why It Matters

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GOLF-NATURAL TALENTGolf. You either love it or hate it. Perhaps there are those who have no opinion of the strange past-time where over-dressed men and women swing sticks at little white balls aiming at tiny holes in the ground. I used to hate it, mostly because my mom did. Her dad was a lawyer and played the game too much—thus, causing my mother’s vow never to marry a golfer. My dad mowed lawns but never golfed.

Imagine her horror when I started dating a guy who had been on the golf team in high school (actually, that was the least of her worries with this guy—my current, one-and-only husband). Her horror turned to nightmare when I picked up a golf bag and announced I was joining the enemy. My brave hubby, Roy, was going to teach me to play golf!

Six hours later, we called it quits after nine holes. I scored a fifty-four—which is a respectable first round of golf—and I’ve never picked up a golf club since. Why? Because I’m not sure I’ll ever do better, so I’m content with that score. Let’s not mess it up. Roy now contents himself with infecting our sons-in-love with that evil past-time.

My Best, God’s Best

I’m sure Freud would have a hay-day with my golf logic, but let’s set aside my failure aversion for a moment. Think of something you’re good at. Don’t be modest. No one else is listening—you’re reading silently!


Just one thing…for heaven’s sake, don’t get cocky. 😆  So, if you’re naturally good at this ONE thing, how often do you ask God to help you do this thing you’re good at? Probably not as often as you’d ask His help for something that was hard for you, right?

Others See Your Natural Talent

Moses chose twelve men—one from each of the twelve “tribes” of Israel—to explore Canaan, the land Yahweh had promised to give Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He must have seen some natural leadership qualities in these men, some ability to assess a military target, the wisdom to make sound decisions for the nation as a whole.

 “…from the tribe of Reuben, Shammua son of Zaccur; from the tribe of Simeon, Shaphat son of Hori; from the tribe of Judah, Caleb son of Jephunneh; from the tribe of Issachar, Igal son of Joseph; from the tribe of Ephraim, Hoshea son of Nun; from the tribe of Benjamin, Palti son of Raphu; from the tribe of Zebulun, Gaddiel son of Sodi; from the tribe of Manasseh (a tribe of Joseph), Gaddi son of Susi; from the tribe of Dan, Ammiel son of Gemalli; from the tribe of Asher, Sethur son of Michael; from the tribe of Naphtali, Nahbi son of Vophsi; from the tribe of Gad, Geuel son of Maki. These are the names of the men Moses sent to explore the land. (Moses gave Hoshea son of Nun the name Joshua.)” Numbers 13:4-16

But in ONE MAN—Hoshea—Moses must have seen a tendency to lean on his human ability. “Hoshea” means salvation, and Moses renamed this man, Yahweh saves. All twelve men undoubtedly displayed some natural confidence and competence for the tasks laid before them, but as God’s mouthpiece, Moses spoke into Hoshea’s life—reminding him to LOOK UP even when his natural abilities are strong.

When Was He Renamed?

From the very first steps of the Exodus journey, the Israelites had to trust Yahweh. Young Hoshea was given his first leadership task in battle…I think it’s called baptism by fire. No time to work up the ranks when everyone in the army is a newbie!

“The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim. Moses said to Joshua, ‘Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.’” Exodus 17:8-9

Notice, Moses calls Hoshea “Joshua” from his very first God-assignment. This job was too big for the naturally-talented Hoshea—no matter how big, strong, smart, or competent the young man might have been.

And notice Moses didn’t make a big ceremony of the renaming! We have a parenthetical statement in Numbers 13:16 that tells us he renamed Joshua, but we don’t know exactly when or how it happened. Why? Because it’s not about Joshua. It’s not about Moses. It’s about the natural flow of God’s power working through these men to accomplish God’s good plan.

Why It Matters To You (And Me)

We’re all naturally good at something—and it’s probably NOT golf…just sayin. Other people may even recognize our natural abilities, but the really WISE people in our lives will encourage us to lean on Yahweh for even those things we naturally do well.


Because when our natural talent partners with God’s supernatural anointing, big things happen. God-sized things happen. We defeat Amalekites. We enter the Land of God’s Promise. And GOD gets the glory. May it be so in my life, Lord! Selah.


  • How often do we ask God help us accomplish things we’re naturally good at?
  • Anyone can recognize talent, but wisdom counsels natural ability to lean on God and go farther.
  • When natural talent invites God’s supernatural anointing, impossible victories occur.

Today’s Question:

  • What circumstance have you been “handling” with your own very competent abilities? Is it time to let go of your old name, Hoshea (salvation), and embrace your new name, Joshua (God saves)?