JOSHUA ~ Dipping Our Toes into the Book of Joshua
JOSHUA ~ Book #6
In Joshua, God gives Israel the long-awaited Promised Land through a spectacular series of battles and miracles. Joshua reveals that salvation is a gift from God by His grace, not as a result of a person’s worthiness or efforts.
A Little Background
Ever since Genesis 15, God’s promise of a land for His chosen people dangled in some distant future like an engagement with no wedding date. In the book of Joshua, we finally see God fulfill the promise. Israel moved into the Promised Land.
Unfortunately, the move wasn’t as simple as hiring Two Men and a Truck to transfer their belongings out of their tents and into their new homes.
Fortunately, however, God was their Mover — and their salvation.
Israel Gets a New Leader
When the book of Joshua opens, God is speaking to Joshua, Israel’s new leader.
“Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan [River], you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel” (Joshua 1:2 ESV).
With great encouragement from God to be strong and courageous because He was with Joshua and would never leave him, Joshua assumed command.
Rahab’s Red Thread
Sending spies into the walled city of Jericho was Joshua’s first act as leader.
The two spies snuck into Jericho where they met Rahab, a woman of the night.
Rahab hid the spies from the king and told them, “I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before you” (Joshua 2:9 NASB).
She begged the spies to save her and her family because she believed in the Israelites’ God.
The spies told her to hang a red cord out of her window in the city’s wall, bring all her family into her home, and stay there when they come. They escaped out her window and reported back to Joshua.
Rahab and the red cord (or as I like to call it, the red thread) make a stunning picture of Jesus’ salvation offered to sinners by grace through faith, not personal merit or works.
Through the Jordan and Into the Land
Ready to take the Promised Land, Joshua marched Israel right through the middle of the Jordan River and into the land.
At the very moment the priest stepped into the flood-stage waters of the Jordan carrying the Ark of the Covenant, God heaped up the water on either side and made a straight path through the river.
The Ark of the Covenant was a holy box made of gold that contained the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments, Aaron’s blooming rod, and manna. The ark’s cover was the Mercy Seat where God forgave their sin and His presence dwelled.
Joshua Meets the Commander of the LORD’s Army
In the Promised Land, Joshua met the Commander of the Lord’s Army—the Lord Jesus Himself (Joshua 5:13-15).
Most Bible scholars believe the Commander was Jesus because God’s angels never accept worship. But this Commander did. Worship belongs to the Lord alone.
Plus, the Commander told Joshua to take off his shoes because he was standing on holy ground. This reminds us of when God spoke to Moses from within the burning bush and told Moses to take off his shoes because he was standing on holy ground (Exodus 3:4-5).
The Fall of Jericho—But Not Rahab
After Joshua talked with the Commander, the dramatic events of the fall of Jericho unfolded (Joshua 6).
Israel marched around Jericho once a day for six days.
On the seventh day, they blew their trumpets and marched around the city seven times.
And the walls came tumbling down – every one of them – except Rahab’s tower.
God saved Rahab and her family and continued the beautiful picture of Jesus’ salvation by faith, not works.
From Stunning Victory to Shocking Defeat
After this stunning victory, Israel suffered a shocking defeat at the city of Ai (Joshua 7:1-9).
It was Achan’s fault (Joshua 7:10-26).
Achan stole items from Jericho that God had commanded they dedicate to destruction – gold, silver, and fancy clothing. They weren’t to conquer the Promised Land to build their wealth.
But Jericho’s shiny stuff dazzled Achan. He stole it and buried it in the ground in his tent when no one was looking. Except for God. Duh.
Israel and Achan learned a tragic lesson.
After they dealt with the sin, they dealt with Ai and God gave them the victory in dramatic fashion (Joshua 8). Imagine that.
Joshua renewed God’s great covenant with Israel, and then they blew it. Again. Israel fell for a clever scheme set by men from Gibeon (Joshua 9).
The Gibeonites didn’t want Israel to destroy them, so they pretended to come from a far away country—a country outside the Promised Land. (Remember, God said they were to extend mercy to nations outside the Promised Land.)
They asked Joshua to make a treaty of peace with them. Their sneaky plan worked because Joshua failed to check with God.
Taking the Land
At this point, the conquest of the Promised Land marched forward in full force and many battles took place.
The sun stood still (Joshua 10:1-15), five enemy kings got trapped in a cave (Joshua 10:16-28), and Joshua and his army defeated the giants Israel had so feared before (Joshua 11:21-22).
Despite the many victories Israel enjoyed, they didn’t conquer all the land.
God promised to give them all the land, but they didn’t trust Him and take it all. God’s promises didn’t fail. Israel did.
And just as God warned, the remaining nations proved to be a stumbling block to Israel. Over time they drew Israel into the worship of false gods and other terrible sins.
Dividing the Land and A Civil War?
The book of Joshua then records Joshua dividing the conquered land among the tribes of Israel, including pastureland for the Levite priests.
As soon as the eastern tribes set out to take possession of their allotted land, trouble arose when they stopped along the way to build an altar.
The western tribes mistakenly believed the eastern tribes were making an idol for themselves rather than worship at the true altar (Joshua 22).
But cool heads and wise words averted a war.
Side Note: If the eastern tribes had chosen to settle inside the borders of the Promised Land rather than outside, none of this would have happened. (Kind of like when we Christians think we can live with one toe in “the world” outside of godly standards and think no harm could come of it. Hmmmm.)
Joshua’s Final Words
Before the end of the book of Joshua and the end of his life, Joshua presented a final charge to Israel’s leaders:
(That was one long sentence – 83 words – and an important charge.)
Joshua then renewed God’s covenant with Israel once again and commanded them to choose whom they would serve:
About 25 years had passed since Israel first crossed the Jordan into the Promised Land. It was now time for Joshua to join the Lord with his forefathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Stay tuned for what comes next: The book of Judges, where every man did what was right in his own eyes.