Session 19: Joshua
Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Joshua 1:8
Joshua--Key verses: 1:1-8; 25:15.
Timeline, about 1200 BC. During the time of the early Israelites, the areas were ruled by the Hittites as Egypt fell in its power, the Greeks take Troy, the epic Odyssey is about as Odysseus (some true, mostly fiction) takes ten years to reach Ithaca after the Trojan War. The Iron Age is at its beginning and bronze is still the primary material of weapons and farming tools.
Key personalities: Joshua, two million Israelites
Conquest and a call to take land from those who were warned and given time but became more corrupt. As God judges, He also blesses; as He warns, He also guides. This is the time of conquest of the land. After 40 years of waiting in luxury, a new generation arises, fully trained, equipped and ready to take the land. This is where God starts to fulfill His promises. Remember as the Israelites waited, they had everything they needed and more--they had plenty to eat, clothes and shoes that never wore out, food from heaven, good health, property with the wealth from their plunders from Egypt, and camped at junctures on the richest trade routes in the world. They were rich and able to buy and sell and live in comfort. The only problem was that many did not want to go; they were comfortable and complacent. However, they went; spectacular wonders and drama emerge as they take the toughest fort first and proceed to settle the Promise Land.
The Book of Joshua is one of the historical narrative Books, there are 12, from Joshua through Esther. This Book connects the Pentateuch to the rest of the historical books. It may have even been originally a part of the Pentateuch, but since that means "five" it may have been called the 'Hexateuch,' 'six books' prior to 70 AD, because of its continuity. The name Joshua comes from its main character, Joshua. The first 23 chapters deal with the conquest of the land and how they land will be divided among the tribes of Israel. The final two chapters (23-24) are of renewal of the Covenant and a call and challenge to keep their covenantal commitment to God.
Key Happenings: We are to Obey our LORD God!
Canaan was the land now where Israel and Palestine are. The Canaanites are the people, amongst many others, who held the land prior to the Jews. They were driven off their land by the judgment of God by the conquest of Joshua. They were evil--sacrificing their children to false gods--so God took their land away and gave it to the Jews.
The Canaanites may have gotten complacent that the Israelites stayed put for 40 years and all the great miracles that caused fear were in a distant past. However, what Joshua accomplishes with Hand of God is even more spectacular than the parting of the Red Sea-a momentous, glorious, and awesome event.
Joshua-faithful leader, and one two (with Caleb) who remained truthful and faithful in reporting to Moses. Because of his faithfulness, Joshua was granted the leadership position that was vacated by Moses. This was significant because he lived the faith out by heart, faith gratitude and demonstrated by deed. This was essential for the Israelites to see God's call and precepts in action personified. A leader must model fully what is expected for the people to follow, or the people will remain stuck where they are. A good leader inspires and leads without pride and with a faithful and fruitful example. As God worked in Joshua, the people were accepting and able to do as they were called. This gave the people confidence, hope that trust and obedience was indeed possible, and that they could emulate. God also was patient, waiting on the people to step up and engage according to His will. So, they looked to Joshua as the one approved by God to lead them into the Promise Land (Num 14; Deut. 31:1-8; Joshua 3:7-16).
(Side note with pun: Joshua had no parents, because he was the son of Nun (Joshua 1:1-3).
Conquest. This may seem a brutal campaign of conquest of Canaan by overzealous warlord-type people. Not so. Yes, it was brutal, but the people they were taking out were heinously evil, sacrificing children and lived out total hatred toward the Creator. They were warned for generations and, as the Israelites came, they knew. In addition, the Israelites were mild-mannered in their conquest when compared to the extreme brutality of the Hittites and Assyrians--mass exterminators and masters of impaling and beheading. The Canaanites refused to repent and change their ways. They continued in sin and debauchery; there was no other solution. Where is God's love in this? This is the age before grace. However, God did not punish indiscriminately. He brought forth those who did repent, men like Rehab who even became a descendent to Jesus. Even in these tough times, God's hand of grace was extended; any obstruction of grace was solely due to man's pride and sin.
The people were trained and equipped with curved bronze sharp swords; they fought in small tight mobile groups similar to modern special forces. They could go behind enemy lines, attack by surprise and cause more damage than a large frontal assault. (This most effective tactic was how America won against the British, because George Washington, a student of the Bible, employed Joshua's tactics. Yet, this, will not be widely employed in modern warfare till WWII.)
The gods--Ba'al, Ashtoreth and Molech--of the Canaanites were worshipped in evil and brutal ways,where the priests were consecrated by prostitutes, orgies, blood cuttings, mutilation and human sacrifices. The main issues is that they do not tempt the Israelites to sin. So, they must go!
Jordan was the spot where the waters divided for Joshua on Israel's entrance into the Promised Land and just to the west was Jericho-the walls fell down. This is site of many Biblical events. This was the area were Abraham built alters to God, and where Jacob saw the ladder to Heaven. The Baptism of Jesus in Matthew 3:13-17 is here. Just to the south is where the once fertile valley and the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were judged and destroyed; nothing grows even today. Just to the east is the mountain Nebo where God shows Moses the land and the future of Israel and where Moses dies and is buried. This is where birds fed Elijah and where the chariots of God carried him away to Heaven. This is the spot where Jesus was facing His 40-day temptation and then goes to a bewildered John to be baptized!
Jericho. An ancient resort city then perhaps first built right after the flood, modern scholars say, 8,000 BC. The battle of Jericho (Joshua, chapter six), where the sounds of the trumpets echo God's voice and destroy the mighty city's walls. This indicates God's Sovereign rule as He "invades" over all history, time, and place. This was also to move the people to submit and show the power of God, not by sword, but by God's voice, yet they refused to repent. This is one of the most epic scenes in the Bible.
Jericho fell. An example of faith: Joshua led the people into the Promise Land to attack the biggest and most fortified city by using means that may have seemed foolish, so that the new generation could learn obedience, confidence, and trust in God. The conquest of the land was not just about war; it was a battle of faith and the obstacles thereof (Jos. 6; 24:15).
Trumpets were used as war cries, warnings to a town or city, celebrations, the pronouncement of the presence of a king or important emissary, or to assemble people, much as they are used today. As with Jericho, this means God's complete and final victory (1 Chron. 15:24; Neh. 12:41; Rev. 11:13).
A warrior Angel, perhaps a "Christophany," a pre-incarnate Christ, speaks to Joshua, and warns him to trust and obey (Judges 5:13-14).
Ai. After the incredible victory over Jericho, the Israelites lost a very small skirmish, because of unfaithfulness. The main purpose was to show God's might as He leads so the people will trust Him, the Canaanites to repent or leave, but many stubbornly stayed to die. Here the Israelites, manly Achan, by greed, did not honor God and stole and lied and he was judged and his sin affects many, until repentance was given (7:1-8:29).
God told them to destroy everything; they looked to and trusted God's provision and did not make idols from the plunder, and they were not influenced or corrupted.
Cities of Refuge. This was one of Joshua's first duties when he went into the promise land. God told Moses and Joshua to go out of His way to set up cities of refuge to protect people from wrongful vengeance, even though the law is clear on the matter. Why? Because of the sin of vengeance and not seeking justice, to protect innocents and allow for lawful trials (Joshua 20:1-9).
God wants our obedience and trust, and He often leads His children down the roads less lit--the paths of life that seem scary and foreboding, where we fear to tread and dare not go. He is there, God with us-Emmanuel--His hand on our shoulder, His presence in our hearts, leading us where we think is too hard, where we do not understand the whys and what is going on. Dear people, this is where the crucible of faith is lit, where our doubts are melted and our faith is poured out and formed, molded and polished and presented for inspection and use. We have to take the faith and go, trust in His presence and seize the opportunities all to glorify His Name. Do not fall to sin and corruption for He is Emmanuel, God with us. No, do not forsake your faith and replace it with fear. Do not hold onto doubts; rather, hold on to Him.
Key Takeaway: Our mandate is to forsake sin, selfish desires, and pride; we are turn to Christ with obedience and trust in Him-Our Lord. We can build healthy, effectual relationships with God and others and a church that glorifies God. To make this work, we have to be careful that we do not reason and rationalize our desires, working for our will. This would show we do not realize God is the One who gives wisdom and gives it liberally.
The foreshadow of Jesus Christ? The name Joshua, Yeshua, Yah, short for Yahweh, God, meaning saves. God used Joshua to save His people and God sends Christ to save us. This points to Christ as Jesus in the form of a name that shares similar pronunciation. The smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet "yod" which was a popular Jewish illustration at the time meaning the smallest thing of which one can conceive. There is also an ancient Hebrew myth that when God took the word yod from Sarai's name to make Sarah, the very letter cried out to God and complained, so He gave that letter to Joshua, which restored its significance. Jesus' name also has yod in it!
Questions to Ponder
1. One of the themes in Joshua is Obedience from Love. How does love inspire obedience?
2. Has God led you down roads less lit? What do you do, when the paths of life seem scary and foreboding?
3. God is waiting patiently for our trust and obedience. What holds you back-fears, or not knowing how? Why are good examples so important?
4. The judgments in Joshua seem horrific, what do you think? Consider this: as God judges, He also blesses; as He warns, He also guides.
5. How do you feel that the evil Canaanites were warned and given time but became more corrupt?
6. Why do you think God told them to destroy everything? Why did God set up cities of refuge?
7. How does the main purpose to show God's might as He leads so the people will help people to reverence and trust Him?
8. Why do you suppose the Canaanites refused to repent or leave, but many stubbornly stayed to die?
9. How can Joshua be an example to church leaders today? What can we learn by his faithfulness, he was granted the leadership?
10. What did you need to fully engage your life and commitment to Christ? If not yet, what do you need?
11. What are the real reasons you do not spend as much time growing in your faith as you should? What can you do about it?
12. What would your life and church look like if you more so lived the faith out by heart, faith gratitude and demonstrated by deed?
© 2013 R. J. Krejcir, Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries www.intothyword.org