Series: Thru the Bible
Message – The Book of Joshua…a Review
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A word concerning the man…
Historically Joshua has always lived in the shadow of Moses – but only in man’s eyes. In God’s eyes Joshua was His faithful servant who carried the torch and the banner where Moses had to leave off.
It may have been Moses who God trusted to deliver His people out of Egypt and bring them safely to the mouth of the Promised Land, but it was Joshua who led them in and caused them to take it and to remember & obey the law of the Lord.
Joshua was a great man!
An overview of the book
The literal, historical narrative of Joshua is really very straight forward.
As soon as Moses died – God started speaking to Joshua.
Joshua 1:1, “After the death of Moses the LORD’s servant, the LORD spoke to Joshua son of Nun, who had served Moses: “Moses My servant is dead. Now you and all the people prepare to cross over the Jordan to the land I am giving the Israelites.”
Of paramount necessity in any spiritual leader is the need to be one God speaks with, one who HEARS what God says & who obeys what they hear!
God encouraged Joshua to be strong and of good courage because he WOULD NOT FAIL to bring the people into their land, because “As I was with Moses, so will I be with you.”
Bullet-points through Joshua
- We saw that Joshua immediately took to his position and started leading both priest and people.
- The tribes of Reuben, Gad and 1/2 the tribe of Manasseh came with them to help conquer the land, though their settlements were on the wilderness side of the Jordan.
- They crossed the Jordan on dry land.
- Picked up 12 memorial stones (one for each non-priestly tribe) in the middle of the river.
- Built a memorial on the other side to commemorate God’s faithfulness in the crossing.
- This second generation is circumcised into the covenant and God says to Joshua concerning them, “Today I have rolled away the disgrace of Egypt from you.” Therefore, that place has been called Gilgal to this day.” ~ Joshua 5:9
- Joshua has his “firey bush” encounter with God and learns a lesson.
- They spy out Jericho.
- They conquer Jericho.
- Rahab a harlot from the “lower districts” of Jericho, helps them and they take the city.
- Rahab saves her family by tying a red (scarlet) cord in her window.
- The Temporary defeat at Ai – due to Achan being unfaithful to God in taking things intended for destruction as well as Israel getting a little sure of themselves in attempting to take Ai without consulting God and with just a few men.
- God judged Achan (with his whole family) – He and his family’s place of death was a mound of stones called the Valley of Achor – which became a symbol of judgment against rebellion in Israel. The prophets Isaiah & Hosea refer back to it in their prophecies as a comparison.
- Ai is defeated!
- Joshua builds an altar on Mount Ebal and offered up burnt sacrifices & fellowship sacrifices on it. Then Joshua copied the law onto the stones – EVERYONE was present – even foreigners like Rahab. Then he reenacted the events recorded in Deut. 27 by having the priests stand between the people and both mountains so that as Israel looked towards the mountains they had to look at the priests as well. Half of the people facing the mountain of curses (Mt. Ebal) and half of them facing the mountain of blessings (Mt. Gerizim). During this time Joshua read the law and blessed them and by this He renewed the covenant with Israel.
- Then they immediately fall into the deception of the people of Gibeon who were Hivites. They came deliberately wearing old clothes with patches, and dry bread and old wine-skins to make it appear as if they had traveled far and were seeking a treaty with Israel under the pretense of honoring their God. So Israel considered their appearance and did NOT seek the Lord – and made the treaty.
- God honored the treaty and even stopped the advancement of the sun in the sky in order to allow Joshua time to finish a battle. Adoni-Zedek, King of Jerusalem, was alarmed that Gibeon (a very large city filled with warriors) had joined with Israel. So he rallied other kings to go to battle against Gibeon. The inhabitants of Gibeon cried out for Israel’s help and so Israel defended Gibeon against these attackers and won – God having given them extended daylight to finish the battle.
- In the end, Gibeon admitted their deception and fell upon Israel’s mercy – so Joshua caused the Gibeonites to become woodcutters and water carriers for Israel.
- After several very successful military campaigns, MUCH of Israel’s inheritance still remained to be claimed, so Joshua called the remaining tribes to spy out the land, cast lots to determine what portions of and was to fall to which tribes and then go out to defeat the lands.
- Caleb requests the portion of land God had promised him 45+ years earlier.
- The priests and Joshua receive theirs lands.
- Reuben, Gad and half of Manasseh return in peace to their inheritance on the other side of the Jordan after being blessed by Joshua.
- They build an altar which is misunderstood by Israel but is later praised.
- Joshua dies and all the rest of Israel continues to honor God and His laws until the last of the elders and priests of that generation pass away.
The spiritual lessons we learned in Joshua…
Authority begets authority
One of the first lessons we learned from Joshua is that before he could be placed in a position of authority he FIRST had to be a man UNDER authority.
Joshua served Moses for many years.
“9 Then Moses went up with Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and 70 of Israel’s elders, 10 and they saw the God of Israel. Beneath His feet was something like a pavement made of sapphire stone, as clear as the sky itself. 11 God did not harm the Israelite nobles; they saw Him, and they ate and drank. 12 The LORD said to Moses, “Come up to Me on the mountain and stay there so that I may give you the stone tablets with the law and commands I have written for their instruction.” 13 So Moses arose with his assistant Joshua, and went up the mountain of God.”
This is an established principle in the kingdom…
- Like the disciples with Jesus
- Or Paul as a teacher in the church at Antioch – Acts 13:1
- Or Timothy & Titus as pupils and servants of Paul.
There is a general pattern of service before ministry.
When God is beginning a new work it may “appear” as though the one He calls has not been formally trained as someone’s apprentice, but be certain God Himself becomes such peoples trainer and teacher.
David was a shepherd for a good number of years in his youth and then served King Saul whom he was going to replace and then fled for his life taking refuge in small villages and caves all the while remaining under the authority of the king he was going to replace . This was his Crucible and this was his time of training.
You have Elisha with Elijah.
Even Moses was under Pharaoh for 40 years and his father-in-law as a Shepherd for 40 years before he was entrusted as The Shepherd of Israel for 40 years.
This represents one of the biggest mistakes we’ve made in the modern church.
- We place education before training.
- Degrees before experience.
- Charisma before proven service.
- and Performance before relationships.
The church needs mentors and apprentices perhaps more now than ever before.
It is a remarkable truth that the one office in the New Testament to whom our Chief Shepherd – Jesus, delegated authority to represent Him before His sheep is the Elder (Pastor) and it is the one office that has the greatest amount of requirements listed in the whole of scripture.
It is also remarkable that by comparison to the “requirements for being a Pastor” in the average modern church – God’s list of requirements only briefly mentions the advantage of having any gift. The overwhelming number of requirements are about possessing a traceable well-documented history of Godly character.
True leaders are not haughty or arrogant, but humble and respectful
We also saw a heart in Joshua that was much like his master’s heart. Even after the death of Moses, Joshua never failed to show respect for him and refer to him and his work in the more respectful of ways.
Koinonia between God and His leaders
We saw the give and receive relationship we have with God in Joshua. Joshua was to be mindful of all he had learned, obedient to all God had commanded. To TAKE heart and not be discouraged – God on the other hand promised to be with Him, strengthen him, protect him and go with him wherever he went and PROMISED that Joshua would accomplish all he was given to do.
This last part is about faithfulness – which is something regarded HIGHLY in the kingdom, is rewarded by God but treated lightly in Christian circles today.
Remember when Moses was challenged by Miriam and Aaron? What God said speaks to this issue of faithfulness and how it is regarded and rewarded in His kingdom…
Num. 12:3-8, “(3) Moses was a very humble man, more so than any man on the face of the earth. (4) Suddenly the LORD said to Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, “You three come out to the tent of meeting.” So the three of them went out. (5) Then the LORD descended in a pillar of cloud, stood at the entrance to the tent, and summoned Aaron and Miriam. When the two of them came forward, (6) He said: “Listen to what I say: If there is a prophet among you from the LORD, I make Myself known to him in a vision; I speak with him in a dream. (7) Not so with My servant Moses; he is faithful in all My household. (8) I speak with him directly, openly, and not in riddles; he sees the form of the LORD. So why were you not afraid to speak against My servant Moses?”
Jesus is spoken of as faithful as well. Jesus said to the Father, as recorded in John 17:4-8,
“(4) I have glorified You on the earth by completing the work You gave Me to do. (5) Now, Father, glorify Me in Your presence with that glory I had with You before the world existed. (6) I have revealed Your name to the men You gave Me from the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. (7) Now they know that all things You have given to Me are from You, (8) because the words that You gave Me, I have given them. They have received them and have known for certain that I came from You. They have believed that You sent Me.”
…and the writer of Hebrews concurs…
Heb. 3:3-6, “(3) For Jesus is considered worthy of more glory than Moses, just as the builder has more honor than the house. (4) Now every house is built by someone, but the One who built everything is God. (5) Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s household, as a testimony to what would be said in the future. (6) But Christ was faithful as a Son over His household, whose household we are if we hold on to the courage and the confidence of our hope.”
So Joshua was promised by God that he would be faithful and finish the work God had given him to do…and we see that he did!
Another example of faithfulness and reward in this book is Caleb.
Caleb was also was faithful to God, honored Him and trusted in His word. Like Jacob, Caleb held onto God’s promise NOT in arrogance, but humility so that when it came time to take the land promised to him, he submitted himself before his friend AND authority Joshua for permission to take the land if the Lord would grant it to him. Caleb also glorified God for His faithfulness is keeping him young and strong all these years!
Sphere Authority – chapters 3 & 4
Sphere authority, is something we have learned about many times in our church.
Joshua was the leader of all of Israel. At all times this authority covered all Israel including the Levities and the Priests. However, there were things which were beyond Joshua’s authority.
While the priests were within his sphere or jurisdiction, not everything in the lives and duties of the Levites or Priests fell within his domain.
There were things given to the priests directly by God which fell within their sphere of authority – and TO WHICH, Joshua had no authority.
Though we do not see an example of Joshua overreaching his bounds here, we do see leaders later in Israel’s future attempt to do so and it meets with the disapproval of God. We only mention it here because this is yet another example of the beginnings of delegated authority within spheres and that some of these spheres overlap.
We need God’s guidance and if often comes through His leaders
“You haven’t traveled this way before”, became a theme for Israel during the time of conquest of the land of Canaan.
“(1) Joshua started early the next morning and left Acacia Grove with all the Israelites. They went as far as the Jordan and stayed there before crossing. (2) After three days the officers went through the camp (3) and commanded the people:
“When you see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God carried by the Levitical priests, you must break camp and follow it. (4) But keep a distance of about 1,000 yards between yourselves and the ark. Don’t go near it, so that you can see the way to go, for you haven’t traveled this way before.”
The location of the ark always before them in their journeys was a fact as well as type of teaching symbol of keeping the Lord ever before them because they no not where they go.
John mentions a conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews which is similar to this point. He told him that that which is born of the flesh is flesh and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Then Jesus said,
John 3:7-8, “(7) Do not be amazed that I told you that you must be born again. (8) The wind blows where it pleases, and you hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
That is to say that those born of the Spirit follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit and not those of the flesh – therefore those who have only been born of the flesh do not understand the ways of those born of the Spirit.
In fact, many of those ways not only run opposite of typical human nature they are completely contrary to it!
So a life-lesson to learn from this statement is that in order to be in step with the Holy Spirit, one must both keep their eyes upon Him and remember that where they are going is not like where they have been.
PROMOTION comes from above
Joshua 3:7, “(7) The LORD spoke to Joshua: “Today I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, so they will know that I will be with you just as I was with Moses.”
Memorial stones – deliberate and often seen reminders of God’s works in order to encourage hope and faith and faithfulness.
God’s Word above Man’s
Both the book of Joshua itself AND in particular the historical account of Jericho are yet two more places where the world attempts to discredit the scriptures.
Wikipedia’s entry on Joshua is both pathetic and nearly laughable. The world of academia like to condemn the accuracy of Joshua, in four major ways.
- They claim that the time of Israel’s taking the Promised Land was a time of wide-spread city destruction but with few exceptions the ones destroyed are not those conquered by Joshua.
- This of course is not a problem since MOST of the cities conquered by Israel were NOT destroyed. They were occupied!
- Even the Gibeonites said that it was the people destroyed not the cities – “The Gibeonites answered him, “It was clearly reported to your servants that the LORD your God had commanded His servant Moses to give you all the land and to destroy all the inhabitants of the land before you. We greatly feared for our lives because of you, and that is why we did this.” – Joshua 9:24
- If you look up the words destroy or destroyed, they only appear in 6 chapters and only in a few does it say that they destroyed the cities themselves. In MOST cases, they only drove out and or destroyed it’s inhabitants.
- That the wall of Jericho was not even present during the time Israel is said to have conquered the city. This “belief” was based upon the flawed “interpretation” of a single archaeologist (Kathleen Kenyon whi is also a reported anti-Zionist) over 70 years ago and has since been proven false, because she got the dating wrong. But for decades the scriptures were assaulted with claims of in-authenticity as if the “opinions” of one archaeologist was to be taken in preference to the recorded and inspired historical account of scripture!
- The fact that Miss Kenyon was a reported anti-Zionist should at very least made her claims the subject of professional scrutiny. The double-standard which is rampant in the “sciences” is astonishing and hypocritical to science’s claim of objectivity and following the evidence where it leads. If evidences had come to light, from archaeologists who are Zionists, which backed the biblical narrative it would have been highly-scrutinized by those in the field and if proven fact, would hardly have seen the light of day in terms of news coverage. This is not simply an opinion, it has been demonstrated time and again with exceedingly few exceptions!
- In fact, excavations of ancient Jericho reveal that it WAS conquered, it WAS burned and that it had just recently beforehand taken in a harvest (their jars and storage areas for food were completely full) thus, giving further proof of that the city was even ABLE to be fully closed up so that none went out and none came in!
- It also revealed that the walls were DOUBLE walls. The upper of which fell, and the stones of which rolled down below the lower wall effectively making a ramp allowing Israel to enter the city.
- One portion of the wall remained intact and it showed living quarters within, proving the Biblical account of Rahab living in the wall.
- They claim that Israel clearly did not kill the inhabitants of Canaan in that many years later there are still descendants of those lands alive today – yet even the book of Joshua itself says as much. (see on such article here and an interesting retort I found after teaching this lesson here)
- Finally they claim that the archaeological evidence from the time show remains of cities which are of Canaanite origin…not Israeli – yet again, this agrees with the book’s account that they lived in cities and houses that they did not build…so their reasons for discrediting it’s reliability actually only points out why it IS reliable!
- Also, one of the things that even academics and archaeologists see, which points to the books authenticity, is that in those cities dug down to the level in which Israel is said to have occupied those lands – there is a surprising total absence of pig bones! Something quite remarkable in that day!
One thing of note is that even in the Wikipedia article, under ‘Historicity’ (which is the say, “reliability”) it ends that section with the words, “The question of the date and degrees of conquest and/or assimilation of the indigenous population is uncertain, as academics and archaeologists differ in their interpretation of the archaeological and other evidence.”
Taking the Land and God taking the land of our hearts
The battle of Jericho was very significant in what it depicted. We already know that the taking of the promised land was a “type” of the kingdom of God and it’s reign being made complete in us as we take on the nature of Christ – by ceasing from our labors for right standing with God and taking His by entering into the rest of faith. We do not have to guess at this the dots are connected for us in the 3rd and 4th chapters of Hebrews.
Jericho was simply the first of these cities to fall making it an example for all that would follow.
In the new birth, we enter into God’s rest which is typified as the “sabbath rest” of the Lord. So it is on THIS day that the city was taken.
Seven also represents completion and perfection – as in the days of Creation. While the Promised Land still had to be physically conquered – it was already given to the Israelites on THIS day! In this way the Promised Land is analogous to Christ in us. We receive the “seed” of Christ within and our natures change the moment we are born again, but He is formed in us as we walk in union with Him…more “land” is taken for the kingdom.
We can see how this corresponds to our own deliverance. We were set free from the enslavement to sin and the law at the death and resurrection of Christ – but we enter into salvation individually much later.
Even after we have entered the Promised Land – there are MANY cities left to conquer. Though they have already been given to us, and their protection has left them, we still must take the ground in His Name!
Of course the fact that all of these natural conquests were being led by Joshua which is the Hebrew name for Jesus is profoundly significant. It reminds us of the passage in 2Corinthians were Paul said, “
2Cor. 2:14, “Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.”
Mass genocide – Chapters 11-12
Many have questioned the goodness and unchanging nature of God since He appears so loving and kind to Israel and in the New Testament – yet He orders the mass destruction of nearly an entire continent in the settling of Canaan.
We learned though, that after the flood, God gave Canaan originally to those who occupied it when Israel came to conquer it. Meaning they had been given that land for nearly 1,000+ years!
We also learned that God give land to kingdoms in order that they might seek after Him (Acts 17). These all entered this land with a knowledge of the true God. We see that when Abraham was passing through the land LONG before it’s conquest in the times of Joshua.
People saw, recognized and even called the God of Abraham the TRUE GOD. Yet, for all that they did not worship Him but made for themselves gods of their own creation.
So when the time was right and the sins of the kings and kingdoms of Canaan had come “ripe” God took their lands from them. If you are NOT faithful over what you have – what you have will be taken from you. If you remember another key to this was given to us in Genesis 15:13-16, where God foretold Abraham about the captivity of his people in Egypt and that they would be there for 400 years BECAUSE the iniquity of the Amorites was not yet at its full measure. THIS fully explains the righteousness of the conquest!
Be sure that it is God’s desire for man to be redeemed and reconciled. However, God has given man freedom to choose, and to choose separation from God IS to choose separation from ALL that is life and goodness.
Life and goodness DO NOT exist independent of God, so the sentence of death and misery is one that is not so much chosen or dictated by God for man, but is the only choice remaining if one rejects God.
It cannot be said that mercy is so much a core character of God since sin should not exist. Since it does however, mercy was born out of the love God has for His creation which has rejected Him. The Bible has removed the questions one has about who gets mercy and who does not through MANY examples and statements.
Partial obedience IS disobedience
We also learned about partial obedience IS disobedience. Israel, for purposes which were all their own, decided to not drive ALL the Canaanites out and that decision eventually told on them in years to come.
We all need to encounter God for ourselves
The lands are conquered and occupied and Reuben, Gad and half of Manasseh return to their land on the far side of the Jordan, but the BIGGEST lesson here was a confirmation of the need for each generation to encounter God on their own. This is a cure for 2nd & 3rd generation “faith”.
This is reflected in the New Testament with the concept of “knowing God”. It is a relational term which requires EACH individual be be intimate with God – NOT just know about Him or be exposed to Him vicariously through one’s culture, family or religion.
The account is that after Joshua’s death the people continued to honor, worship and serve the Lord UNTIL the death of the last elders and leaders who had seen the works of the Lord. In Judges we are told that AFTER this – the people turned from God and committed evil in worshiping Baal!
God’s pursuit of man
Finally, this also teaches a secondary lesson.
In MOST cases – it is God’s pursuit that gets man’s response. God had encounters with the 1st and second generation of Israelites, but not so much the third who settled in the land.
These had the stories of their fathers, markers and memorial stones – but these did not work to encourage that generation to seek God for themselves.
It usually isn’t until we reap the destruction of our ways that we cry out to God in desperation and He, in His gracious mercy, comes to our aid once again.
I hope this message will bless you richly…not because I taught it, but because it reveals Christ. He alone is our blessing and if in any way – whether big or small, 100% accurate or even just partially so – I have revealed our great God and Savior to you in a relationally knowable way, then this was time well spent on both our parts.
We at Living Grace Fellowship encourage you to place your trust in Jesus Christ, deliberately choosing Him and bowing the knee to Him as your Master and Lord, so as to come to realize Him as your Savior.
You have a special place in God’s family & kingdom. The fact that you exist… that you are His creation, says you were in His heart, you are His delight!
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