And when Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said unto Moses, There is a noise of war in the camp.
There are three different types of people represented in the incident of the children of Israel and the golden calf. The first are the people making the noise. The second is Joshua who heard the noise. The third is Moses who discerned the noise. Two of these are very necessary for God’s people to do right, and one is the cause of the noise that must be stopped. Let me discuss these types of people.
First, I would hate to be the person that makes the noise of sin. Sin always adds noise to one’s life that leads to heartache, stress, and discontent with life. Sadly, the children of Israel looked like fools as they danced naked around a golden calf. Sin often makes one look like a fool. Yet, they were so caught up in making the noise that God could not speak to their heart. It is no wonder that many believers are living in sin and never see what sin is doing to their lives because the noise of their sin drowns out the voice of the Holy Spirit.
Second, Joshua heard the noise that was going on, but did not have the discernment to identify it. Joshua thought this noise was from war, and to some extent there was a spiritual warfare going on, but he was not yet mature enough to identify what this noise was. There are many believers who know and do what is right, but they don't have the discernment to see the actions that lead to sin.
Third, Moses not only heard the noise, but he discerned the cause of the noise. Moses had this discernment for many reasons. He could discern the noise because he remembered this noise from Egypt. He also discerned the noise because he spent much time with God in prayer and in God’s Word. Moses’ ability to discern the noise helped him to deal with the noise properly and to teach a younger Joshua how to discern the noises of sin so he could avoid them.
I have watched many Joshuas that wanted to preach leave a church prematurely to take a pastorate, only to watch them quit or compromise because they could not discern the noise. What I mean by this statement is that they had a great desire to do right, but they had little discernment about sin’s noise. I have watched believers in a church become impatient with their pastor using them in some position that desired to do right, but they didn't know that they did not have the discernment to differentiate the noise of sin. It is critical that believers have the discernment to differentiate sin’s noise. If I were a Joshua, there are a couple of things I would do.
First, I would stay close to the man of God to learn from him. Joshua became a great leader who could discern the noise because he spent time learning from Moses who had that discernment. Too many Joshuas are wrapped up in the euphoria of what is going on instead of learning from their Moses how and why he does things the way he does them. While you are enjoying what God is doing through your Moses, learn the why’s of his direction and methods.
Second, I would spend much time in prayer and in God’s Word. Nothing refines your discernment like prayer and God’s Word. My friend, one day you will be needed to discern the noise, but you must spend much time with God if you will ever have the ability to define the noise to the next generation.