An overview of the book of Joshua
JOSHUA – The Conquest and Settlement Of The Promised Land
INTRODUCTION: We have been discussing the books of the Bible and the author and theme of each book. Review the class as follows: Genesis is the first book in the Bible. It was written by Moses, and its theme is “The Book of Beginnings.” The second book in the Bible is Exodus. It was also written by Moses and its theme is “The Jews Leave Egypt.” The third book in the Bible is Leviticus. It was also written by Moses, and its theme is “Rules for the Journey.” The fourth book in the Bible is Numbers. It was also written by Moses, and its theme is “The Forty Years in the Wilderness.” The fifth book in the Bible is Deuteronomy. It was also written by Moses, and its theme is “Moses’ Closing Words to the Israelites.”
Joshua is the first book in the series of twelve historical books. These history books record the rise and fall of the commonwealth of Israel. The Bible is a history book of records before it is a religious book (1 John 5:7-13). It is the only precise and honest record of history. This book records the military conquests of Joshua and the distribution of the land amongst the tribes of Israel.
This is the first book of the Bible that God did not use Moses to pen. Joshua is the first book in the Scriptures named after a man.
The sixth book of the Bible establishes the number six as man’s number (Revelation 13:18). As SEVEN was the sacred number, SIX fell short of it and failed. Man was created on the sixth day and his appointed days of labor was SIX. An embryo attaches itself to the womb on the sixth day. Man’s destruction was prophesied in Genesis 6:6, while man’s hope is given in Romans 6:6. Usually six men carry a coffin before a man is buried 6 feet up down. Six is obviously man’s number and this mathematical preciseness is only found in the King James Bible.
Joshua, the sixth book of the Bible, was penned by Joshua, and the theme is “The Jews Enter into the Promised Land.” The Jews have left Egypt, come to Kadesh-barnea, refused to go in, and spent forty years in the wilderness. Now Moses dies and God raises up a new leader, and the Jews enter into the Promised Land under Joshua.
His leading the Israelites into the Land of Promise was one of the first difficult tasks anyone ever had, and Moses was one of the most difficult men anyone ever had to follow.
The key passage of the book is Joshua 1:1-9.
Spiritually, the book reveals the steps to a victorious spiritual life. Joshua was the first man ordered to follow a book (1:8). Joshua was the first man to be guided by a Book (Luke 9:28; John 8:47; 12:48; 14:23). Spiritual success is only granted to the ones who follow the orders of the Book of God. The first step to the victorious Christian life is perform solely by God as illustrated in the walls of Jericho, but God expects the person to work also as one grows and grace. The comment saying is God helps those who help themselves. Doctrinally, the book reveals some prophetic truths in regards to the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus.
The book is divided into 3 definite divisions:
(1) The conquest of Canaan, Joshua 1-12;
(2) The distribution of Canaan, Joshua 13-22; and
(3) The farewell and death of Joshua, Joshua 23 and 24. Now let us understand something about Joshua and study him for our lesson.
Acts 7:44‑45 Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as he had appointed, speaking unto Moses, that he should make it according to the fashion that he had seen.
45 Which also our fathers that came after brought in with Jesus into the possession of the Gentiles, whom God drave out before the face of our fathers, unto the days of David;
“Joshua” in the Old Testament Hebrew is the same as “Jesus” in the New Testament Greek. Here is a beautiful picture also. As Moses represents the law, Joshua represents Jesus. Joshua is synonymous with the name of Jesus (Acts 7:45; Hebrews 4:8). Both names mean Jehovah is salvation. What Moses and the law could not do, Joshua did (John 1:17; Galatians 3:24; 5:4). What religion and the flesh cannot do, Jesus Christ can. Eternal life is only found in the Lord Jesus (Acts 4:12). A man representing the law could not lead the Israelites into the Promised Land. He could only lead them to the door. It was Joshua who led them in. This pictures that the law cannot lead us into salvation; it can only lead us to Jesus. Faith in Jesus takes us in. The Promised Land was called this because one had to live by faith in the Promises of God to make it. This is the only way a Christian can make it in life, by faith.
John 1:17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.
Exodus 17:8‑13 Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim.
9 And Moses said unto Joshua, Choose us out men, and go out, fight with Amalek: tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in mine hand.
10 So Joshua did as Moses had said to him, and fought with Amalek: and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill.
11 And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed.
12 But Moses’ hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.
13 And Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.
Joshua was fighting the battle for Moses. He was a good follower. If one would be a good leader in the future, he must be a good follower at present.
Galatians 6:7‑9 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.
9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
God says that because of sowing and reaping you will one day have followers like you are when you are in charge. You will one day have children that obey you like you obey your parents. You will have friends that are like you are to your friends.
You reap what you sow.
You always reap more than you sow.
And you reap after you sow.
III. JOSHUA WAS MOSES’ MINISTER.
Exodus 24:12‑13 And the LORD said unto Moses, Come up to me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee tables of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written; that thou mayest teach them.
13 And Moses rose up, and his minister Joshua: and Moses went up into the mount of God.
Moses carried a heavy load. Joshua was willing to minister to him. Notice in Exodus 24:13 Joshua is called a “minister” of Moses. Along the same lines, it was Joshua who saw the golden calf when Moses came back down from the mountain. Exodus 32:17-19. Joshua was willing to be a servant. Oh, yes, he is going to be a general someday, but if one will be a general later, he must be a servant now. Think of the many people that God has used mightily who were first assistants or helpers to someone else. Billy Sunday, the great evangelist, got his start helping out J. Wilbur Chapman. Aaron was Moses’ right-hand man. He later became the high priest. Elisha was a servant for Elijah. He later became his successor. Paul was once named Saul and was second to Barnabas in the first missionary journey. The first missionary journey was “Barnabas and Saul”; later it was “Paul and Barnabas.” A servant is to be willing to do the menial tasks, the less glamorous tasks, the ones with the fewer thank you’s. (Teacher, especially teach the children this: There is a glory in serving.)
Matthew 20:25‑28 But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them.
26 But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;
27 And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:
28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
Mark 9:33‑35 And he came to Capernaum: and being in the house he asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way?
34 But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest.
35 And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.
1 Corinthians 9:19 For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more.
1 Corinthians 9:22 To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.
Being served is not great. Serving is great. Strength is not how much control you have over others but how much control you are supposed to have over yourself to serve others. You are as great as you are a servant. Are you God’s servant? Do you seek to serve the Lord and do what He wants you to do?
Exodus 33:11 And the LORD spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend. And he turned again into the camp: but his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, departed not out of the tabernacle.
While the main tabernacle was being built, God told Moses to build a temporary tabernacle. Joshua was in charge of this. Though Joshua was not the leader, nevertheless he could minister in the house of God. (Teacher, think for awhile what your pupils can do for God and for their church. Though they are not leaders, there are things they can do. Apply this to your own age group.)
Numbers 14:6‑9 And Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were of them that searched the land, rent their clothes:
7 And they spake unto all the company of the children of Israel, saying, The land, which we passed through to search it, is an exceeding good land.
8 If the LORD delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey.
9 Only rebel not ye against the LORD, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defence is departed from them, and the LORD is with us: fear them not.
When the Israelites came to Kadesh-barnea and the twelve spies went to view the Promised Land, only two of the twelve were optimistic and offered to possess the land. One was Joshua and the other was Caleb. Because of this they were the only two over age twenty allowed in the Promised Land forty years later. Joshua trusted God’s Word and lived by faith. He had faith in God that they could win the battle.
Remember faith is not optimism or positive thinking; it is believing the pure word of God regardless of the immediate outcome.
Who would have thought Moses would not enter into the Promised Land? (Numbers 20:1-13) Certainly Joshua would not have thought so. Nevertheless, Joshua was prepared for the inevitable. The wise man prepares himself for any task, not that he strives for another’s office, but he is a prepared man ready to do what God wants him to do. Abraham Lincoln said, “I will prepare myself, and my day will come.” You should not be as concerned about what God wants you to do as you are preparing yourself for what God has for you to do. God is not going to let you miss His will for your life. The question is, “Will you be ready when God touches your heart?”
VII. JOSHUA WAS STRONG AND COURAGEOUS.
Joshua 1:6‑9 Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them.
7 Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest.
8 This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.
9 Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.
Joshua 1:18 Whosoever he be that doth rebel against thy commandment, and will not hearken unto thy words in all that thou commandest him, he shall be put to death: only be strong and of a good courage.
Notice again and again the Lord says to Joshua, “Be strong and of a good courage.” The word “strong” there means “confident.” God wants people who have faith that He will work and people courageous enough to do His tasks. It takes courage to believe ALL the Words of God (Matt. 13:21; Acts 24:14; 1 Peter 2:8). Notice the word “success” in verse 8. In these passages we have the only place in the early Scriptures where the word “success” if found. The word “prosper” and “prosperous” are found 57 times. Joshua would settle for nothing but success. Whatever a person’s job is he ought to try to be successful. (Teach the pupils to be a success at whatever they do. If one is a student, he should be a successful student. If one is a paperboy, he should be a successful paperboy. If one is a preacher, he should be a successful preacher.) You can do anything God wants you to do. You are only a success as you do the Will of God. Remember, there is no failure in the Will of God, and there is no success outside the Will of God. Success is not based on money or position or possessions.
Success is you finding the Will of God and doing it.
Psalm 32:8 I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.
Psalm 40:8 I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.
Ps 143:10 Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness.
Luke 11:2 And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.
Mark 3:35 For whosoever shall do the Will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.
Acts 13:36 For David, after he had served his own generation by the Will of God,…
Romans 12:1‑2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, Will of God.
You cannot find the will of God while playing around with worldly things.
2 Corinthians 8:5 And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the Will of God.
Ephesians 6:5‑6 Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ;
6 Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the Will of God from the heart;
1 Thessalonians 4:3 For this is the Will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication:
1 Thessalonians 5:18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the Will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
1 Peter 2:15 For so is the Will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:
1 Peter 4:2 That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the Will of God.
It should be more important what God wants you to do than what you want to do.
1 Peter 4:19 Wherefore let them that suffer according to the Will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.
I John 2:15‑17 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the Will of God abideth for ever.
The Revealed Will of God for Every Christian is 5 things:
TRUTHS FROM THE BOOK OF JOSHUA
Joshua 2:1-4 And Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim two men to spy secretly, saying, Go view the land, even Jericho. And they went, and came into an harlot’s house, named Rahab, and lodged there.
2 And it was told the king of Jericho, saying, Behold, there came men in hither to night of the children of Israel to search out the country.
3 And the king of Jericho sent unto Rahab, saying, Bring forth the men that are come to thee, which are entered into thine house: for they be come to search out all the country.
4 And the woman took the two men, and hid them, and said thus, There came men unto me, but I wist not whence they were:
Rahab chose to obey God rather than man (Exodus 1:17; Acts 5:29). She was blessed by God because she chose two Israelites over 500,000 immoral and perverted Canaanites. If she told the truth, two men of Israel would’ve died; but when she lied, the entire city was doomed for destruction. Rahab chose lying over murder and she chose Israel over Canaan.
Joshua 4:1-6 And it came to pass, when all the people were clean passed over Jordan, that the Lord spake unto Joshua, saying,
2 Take you twelve men out of the people, out of every tribe a man,
3 And command ye them, saying, Take you hence out of the midst of Jordan, out of the place where the priests’ feet stood firm, twelve stones, and ye shall carry them over with you, and leave them in the lodging place, where ye shall lodge this night.
4 Then Joshua called the twelve men, whom he had prepared of the children of Israel, out of every tribe a man:
5 And Joshua said unto them, Pass over before the ark of the Lord your God into the midst of Jordan, and take ye up every man of you a stone upon his shoulder, according unto the number of the tribes of the children of Israel:
6 That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones?
Spiritually, the Jordan River represents a major crossing in one’s life into the victorious spiritual life. The stones represent the words of God (Matthew 13:21; 1 Peter 2:8), which teach contrary to one’s religious training. When the Lord’s beliefs cross man’s beliefs, that man can either change his believes to match Gods doctrines or change God’s words to match his vain beliefs (Romans 1:25). The miracle of the crossing of the Jordan violated several scientific laws and God’s doctrines violate several of man’s religious viewpoints (Isaiah 55:6-11). When a man rejects this spiritual Crossing, he wanders in the wilderness (1 John 5:16-17).
Joshua 4:14 On that day the Lord magnified Joshua in the sight of all Israel; and they feared him, as they feared Moses, all the days of his life.
The Lord God magnify Joshua through signs, wonders, and miracles because he was the chosen leader for the Jewish people (Exodus 4:8-9). God’s method of leadership is through one man (Proverbs 28:2; Jeremiah 5:1; Ezekiel 22:30). It is never wrong to find the right man on the right path in service to God (1 Cor. 11:1; Eph. 5:1; 1 Thess. 1:6; 1 Tim. 4:12).
Joshua 7:5-13 And the men of Ai smote of them about thirty and six men: for they chased them from before the gate even unto Shebarim, and smote them in the going down: wherefore the hearts of the people melted, and became as water.
6 And Joshua rent his clothes, and fell to the earth upon his face before the ark of the Lord until the eventide, he and the elders of Israel, and put dust upon their heads.
7 And Joshua said, Alas, O Lord God, wherefore hast thou at all brought this people over Jordan, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? would to God we had been content, and dwelt on the other side Jordan!
8 O Lord, what shall I say, when Israel turneth their backs before their enemies!
9 For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land shall hear of it, and shall environ us round, and cut off our name from the earth: and what wilt thou do unto thy great name?
10 And the Lord said unto Joshua, Get thee up; wherefore liest thou thus upon thy face?
11 Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant which I commanded them: for they have even taken of the accursed thing, and have also stolen, and dissembled also, and they have put it even among their own stuff.
12 Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, but turned their backs before their enemies, because they were accursed: neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed from among you.
13 Up, sanctify the people, and say, Sanctify yourselves against to morrow: for thus saith the Lord God of Israel, There is an accursed thing in the midst of thee, O Israel: thou canst not stand before thine enemies, until ye take away the accursed thing from among you.
Do not use this passage as a restriction for revival. God dealt with nations in the Old Testament but in the New Testament God deals with individuals. Sin will hinder revival in your personal life but your sin does not restrict or determine revival in another Christian’s life. You are as close to God as you want to be.
Notice vs 10. Prayer wasn’t the solution; confession of sin against the word of the Lord and judgment against that sin were the solutions.
Show how one sinner affected the entire nation of Israel just like one person can split and destroy a church (Eccl. 9:18; Romans 14:7; 1 Cor. 5). Most problems are self-inflicted by disobeying the words of God.
Joshua 14:6-8 Then the children of Judah came unto Joshua in Gilgal: and Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezite said unto him, Thou knowest the thing that the Lord said unto Moses the man of God concerning me and thee in Kadesh-barnea.
7 Forty years old was I when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh-barnea to espy out the land; and I brought him word again as it was in mine heart.
8 Nevertheless my brethren that went up with me made the heart of the people melt: but I wholly followed the Lord my God.
Everyone agrees with the Bible to some extent, but the ones who believe ALL of the Words of God are rewarded with a complete inheritance (Acts 20:27; Col. 1:28-29). Caleb’s faith in the Words of God is revealed by the phrase as he said (14:10, 12; Rom. 10:17; Heb. 11:1-6).
It takes courage to believe all the Words of God because the world and worldly Christians will mock and ridicule the holy standards of God’s holy Word (1 Thess. 4:7-8). Carnal people will not endure the offense of the word (Matt. 13:21; 1 Peter 2:8; 2 Tim. 4:2-4).
Can you wholly follow the Lord when others around you won’t? This could very easily lead to
Joshua 24:15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
Joshua 24:14-22 Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the Lord.
15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
16 And the people answered and said, God forbid that we should forsake the Lord, to serve other gods;
17 For the Lord our God, he it is that brought us up and our fathers out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, and which did those great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all the way wherein we went, and among all the people through whom we passed:
18 And the Lord drave out from before us all the people, even the Amorites which dwelt in the land: therefore will we also serve the Lord; for he is our God.
19 And Joshua said unto the people, Ye cannot serve the Lord: for he is an holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins.
20 If ye forsake the Lord, and serve strange gods, then he will turn and do you hurt, and consume you, after that he hath done you good.
21 And the people said unto Joshua, Nay; but we will serve the Lord.
22 And Joshua said unto the people, Ye are witnesses against yourselves that ye have chosen you the Lord, to serve him. And they said, We are witnesses.
Notice vs 19
These people refused to mention the putting away of their gods. They wanted to add God to their other gods; they refused any negative issue (Jer. 1:9-10). The negative precedes the positive as destruction precedes construction and travail precedes birth. One must humbly and sincerely reject his or her opinion to accept truth (Rom. 3:4). The Lord Jesus Christ is the ONLY way of salvation (John 14:6; Acts 4:12).
Joshua 24:26-28 And Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God, and took a great stone, and set it up there under an oak, that was by the sanctuary of the Lord.
27 And Joshua said unto all the people, Behold, this stone shall be a witness unto us; for it hath heard all the words of the Lord which he spake unto us: it shall be therefore a witness unto you, lest ye deny your God.
28 So Joshua let the people depart, every man unto his inheritance.
In 1850 Frederick Bastiat disclosed the proper purpose of the law in a pamphlet, The Law. This timeless treatise reveals that laws do not create life, liberty, and property, but men create laws to protect life, liberty, and property. The proper purpose of law is the collective organization of the individual right to lawful defense of his person, his liberty, and his property. The law is a defensive force against lawless behavior and plunder (1 Tim. 1:8-10). True law is organized to act against injustice; therefore, law is justice (Prov. 21:3; Rom. 7:12). Written law is known as lex scripta (Deut. 30:10; Josh. 1:8; Luke 10:28). The purpose of law is to cause justice and deter injustice. The law is a negative force against evil, but liberty is a positive energy for labor and wealth. Liberty and wealth abound when just laws protect the rights of the people (Esther 10:3; Prov. 29:2). The law is perverted by political parasites when they create laws to plunder the people (1 Kings 21:7-15; Ps. 94:20; Zeph. 3:1-5). Adam Smith wrote in Wealth of Nations, “There is no art which one government sooner learns from another than how to drain money from the pockets of the people.” If taxation is not limited to national defense, taxation will become legalized plunder of the profits of a free people. Perfect laws protect the liberty in labor of the common people (Isa. 65:17-23; 2 Cor. 3:17; James 1:25).
CONCLUSION: Under the leadership of this man, in the book of Joshua the Jews cross over Jordan on dry ground; they go around the city of Jericho once a day for six days and seven times the seventh day, the walls fall down, and they conquer the city of Jericho; they then divide the land; and they reach the Promised Land! The sad thing is that it took them so long. It should not have taken them forty years; in fact, they could have done it in less than one year. God bypassed an entire generation because they would not go forward. It is time each of us dedicates himself to be a success, go forward for God, believe the impossible, be strong and courageous, cross the Jordan, and live in the Promised Land! Let us not wander in the wilderness but let us go forward to possess the best God has for us and to give His service the best that we have for Him.