Joshua was one of those figures of history who tends not to get the recognition he deserves because he lived in the shadow of someone even greater.
As Moses trusted assistant, he spent 4 decades faithfully following & serving him.
He was one of the few men of
For that faith & loyalty, he was one of only 3 who survived the Wilderness wandering; Moses & Caleb being the other 2.
Joshua was born in Egyptian slavery.
He is repeatedly referred to as the son of Nun who was of the tribe of Ephraim. (1 Chron. 7:20-27)
His original name was Hoshea, which means “salvation,” but Moses changed it to Jehoshua; Joshua for short, which means “Jehovah is salvation” (Num. 13:16).
When the Amalekites attacked
And of course, he & Caleb were
the 2 spies who returned to
But the other 10 spies convinced the nation to give up in rebellion & unbelief. (Num. 14)
God instructed Moses that Joshua was to replace him at the
head of the nation & take the people of
So Moses brought him before the elders of the nation, and formally commissioned him as the leader.
God showed His approval by sending the pillar of cloud to stand over the spot where the commissioning was done. [Deut. 31:15]
Shortly after that, Moses hiked to the summit of
And that brings us to the beginning of the book of Joshua.
The conquest of
The remainder of Joshua’s life was spent dividing up the land among the tribes.
It’s been said that for every NT truth, there is an OT picture to illustrate that truth.
The Book of Joshua is a marvelous picture book of some of the most important NT truths.
In Heb. 4 the writer draws an analogy between the life of faith in Christ & Israel’s entering the Promised Land.
In that analogy, he refers to Joshua as a type of Christ who gives rest to His people.
What’s doubly interesting is that the name “Jesus” and “Joshua” are the same word.
“Jesus” is the Greek form of the Hebrew “Joshua/Yahshua” = Yahweh is salvation.
And of course, as we’ve repeatedly seen, in 1 Cor. 10, Paul makes it clear that the whole Exodus experience of Israel is an example to us of our lives in Christ.
In fact, the word he uses in 1 Cor. 10:11 “examples” in the Greek is word “typos” = type.
In the NT, a “type” is a sign or picture that points to something else of greater significance.
So what Paul is saying is that while the Exodus was a real historical event, it’s also to be understood as pointing to something even more significant.
What that is he makes clear when he says in v. 11 . . .
Some of the old hymns & spirituals present the Promised Land as picturing heaven.
But that can’t be right because
There were enemies there.
So the Promised Land can’t refer to heaven.
What it’s a type of, as Hebrew 4 makes clear – is the rest that awaits the people of God who cease from their own attempts at being right with God, & instead trust wholly & only in Christ.
The Spirit-filled life is not free
from trouble, but it does overcome all trouble because it depends in the power
of God, not man – just as
And this is why Moses, who represents the law, could not take them into the Land.
It was Joshua who divided up their
inheritance as the children of
death of Moses the servant of the Lord,
it came to pass that the Lord
spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, saying: 2“Moses My servant is dead. Now
therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land
which I am giving to them—the children of
An old saying says, “God buries His workmen, but His work goes on.”
While God uses men & women, it’s comforting to know that He is not dependent on them.
History shows, & His sovereignty teaches, that even when those God picks balk or mess up at their assignments, His work still goes forward.
The work & plan of God will not be stalled or hindered by the frailty of human faith & strength.
3Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses. 4From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the River Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your territory.
This was a vast territory God marked out here.
The mention of the Hittites is interesting & bears comment.
The Hittites were one of the early
empires that spread all over the ancient
Their home was in Anatolia,
But their dominance was short lived.
When the borders of their empire
collapsed, many of their people stayed in the colonies they’d planted
throughout the area, including several in
But later empires despised the Hittites & tried to erase all evidence of them.
For that reason, there was no record of the Hittites except in scripture & skeptics universally mocked the Bible for it’s numerous references to them.
Then, once archaeology really came
of age as a science & discipline and work began in the
5No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you. 6Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. 7Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go.
As we saw Sunday, God calls Joshua to be strong and courageous, not so much in facing the Canaanites, but in facing his task of leading the nation in keeping the Law and depending on the Lord.
8This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. 9Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
10Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people, saying, 11“Pass through the camp and command the people, saying, ‘Prepare provisions for yourselves, for within three days you will cross over this Jordan, to go in to possess the land which the Lord your God is giving you to possess.’”
Joshua sent out the word via the leaders that they would
begin the last leg of their journey to
12And to the Reubenites, the Gadites, and half the tribe of Manasseh Joshua spoke, saying,
These tribes had already settled on the Eastern side of
But Moses had made them swear to
assist the other tribes in their conquest of
the word which Moses the servant of the Lord
commanded you, saying, ‘The Lord
your God is giving you rest and is giving you this land.’ 14Your wives, your little ones, and your
livestock shall remain in the land which Moses gave you on this side [the east
side] of the
The 2½ tribes gave their whole-hearted assent to Joshua and affirmed his leadership with words that confirmed God’s anointing on his life.
the son of Nun sent out two men from Acacia Grove [Hebrew • Shittim] to
spy secretly, saying, “Go, view the land, especially
At this point, Joshua doesn’t know how God is planning to
give them the city of
All he knows is that he’s to lead in the conquest of the land.
The first challenge facing them is
It was one of Canaan’s most heavily
fortified sites & protected all access from the
Over the years the Canaanites had learned that the only way to survive & hold on to their land was to form an alliance with other strong kingdoms.
These alliances shifted back & forth from generation to generation.
Joshua knew that the best way to
conquer the region would be to drive a wedge right through the middle of the
So he sent a couple spies in to
As spies, they needed to stay undercover, so they went to a local prostitute’s house.
The author is clear by his use of terms that while they stayed there, they did not use her services.
But if the spies had thought they could remain covert, they were mistaken.
2And it was
told the king of Jericho, saying, “Behold, men have come here tonight from the
She told the king that she’d not inquired where they were from; they were nothing more to her than just a couple customers. She said . . .
5And it happened as the gate was being shut, when it was dark, that the men went out. Where the men went I do not know; pursue them quickly, for you may overtake them.” 6(But she had brought them up to the roof and hidden them with the stalks of flax, which she had laid in order on the roof.)
Why Rahab helped the spies becomes clear a little bit later.
The king bought her story and sent out his men to track down the spies.
7Then the men pursued them by the road to the Jordan, to the fords. And as soon as those who pursued them had gone out, they shut the gate. 8Now before they [the spies] lay down, she came up to them on the roof, 9and said to the men: “I know that the Lord -
Notice she used the covenant name of God here!
“I know that the Lord has given you the land, that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land are fainthearted because of you. 10For we have heard how the Lord
Again she uses the name “Yahweh.”
have heard how the Lord dried
up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of
That took place nearly a half century before, but it is still fresh in the minds of the Canaanites.
and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were on the other side of the Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. 11And as soon as we heard these things, our hearts melted; neither did there remain any more courage in anyone because of you, for the Lord [Yahweh] your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.
Don’t miss the significance of what Rahab is saying here.
To a woman, raised in a culture & religious tradition that conceives of gods as local deities with limited power and fickle & arbitrary moods, what she says here is staggering!
She has come to understand that
He is God of heaven & earth & His power is over all.
She tells them that all of Canaan is shaking in their
sandals because of the reports they’ve heard about
In her mind, the conquest is certain.
12Now therefore, I beg you, swear to me by the Lord, since I have shown you kindness, that you also will show kindness to my father’s house, and give me a true token, 13and spare my father, my mother, my brothers, my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death.” 14So the men answered her, “Our lives for yours, if none of you tell this business of ours. And it shall be, when the Lord has given us the land, that we will deal kindly and truly with you.”
She makes the spies swear an oath that when
15Then she let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was on the city wall; she dwelt on the wall. 16And she said to them, “Get to the mountain, lest the pursuers meet you. Hide there three days, until the pursuers have returned. Afterward you may go your way.”
The mountain lie just to the west of
Rahab was concerned that some of the returning patrols out looking for them would stumble across them if they headed east.
But after 3 days, all the patrols would be well back.
17So the men said to her: “We will be blameless of this oath of yours which you have made us swear, 18unless, when we come into the land, you bind this line of scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and unless you bring your father, your mother, your brothers, and all your father’s household to your own home. 19So it shall be that whoever goes outside the doors of your house into the street, his blood shall be on his own head, and we will be guiltless. And whoever is with you in the house, his blood shall be on our head if a hand is laid on him. 20And if you tell this business of ours, then we will be free from your oath which you made us swear.” 21Then she said, “According to your words, so be it.” And she sent them away, and they departed. And she bound the scarlet cord in the window.
That red rope in the window was a kind of flag marking off Rahab’s house as exempt from the destruction to come.
V. 15 says that her house was a part of the city wall.
It was those walls that collapsed
Since we read later that Rahab & her family were saved, it’s safe to conclude that her house, alone of all the wall, was left standing.
That scarlet cord, a sign of her faith in God, preserved her & her family from the judgment of God.
But the spies made it clear, if any of them wandered outside the scope of that scarlet cord, their life was forfeit.
This scarlet cord is an emblem of the scarlet cord that weaves all through the redemptive history of scripture.
Isaac was redeemed from death by
the ram caught in the thicket on
The Nation was redeemed each year through the blood of the sacrifice on the Day of Atonement.
Rahab was redeemed from destruction by the scarlet cord.
And we are redeemed by the blood of the covenant which we commemorate at every Communion.
22They departed and went to the mountain, and stayed there three days until the pursuers returned. The pursuers sought them all along the way, but did not find them. 23So the two men returned, descended from the mountain, and crossed over; and they came to Joshua the son of Nun, and told him all that had befallen them. 24And they said to Joshua, “Truly the Lord has delivered all the land into our hands, for indeed all the inhabitants of the country are fainthearted because of us.”
When the spies returned to the camp they told Joshua all that Rahab had told them about how the Canaanites already felt defeated.
God had already given
The lesson for us is this – The Canaanites represent those spiritual adversaries who would resist our laying claim to the abundance God gives us in the Spirit-filled life.
Just as the Canaanites had heard of
Yahweh & knew
They know they cannot keep us from laying hold of all God has given us – but just like the Canaanites, they will stand their ground for as long as they can, trying to see if we understand or if we’ll wimp out & back off.
In other words, they know they cannot win, but they don’t know if we know it & resist just long enough to find out.
As you grow in Christ, there isn’t a single obstacle that can stand in the way of your laying hold of all that God intends for you.
Christ’s victory is complete.
He wants each & every one of us to experience the reality of that victory in our own lives.
But don’t make the mistake of thinking that means your spiritual adversary is going to pack up & move out the moment you’re born again.
He will hold his ground as long as he can, until we understand exactly what the victory of Christ means for us personally, in the face of opposition.
We must come to the place Paul
In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
1Then Joshua rose early in the morning; and they set out from Acacia Grove and came to the Jordan, he and all the children of Israel, and lodged there before they crossed over. 2So it was, after three days, that the officers went through the camp; 3and they commanded the people, saying, “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the priests, the Levites, bearing it, then you shall set out from your place and go after it. 4Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure. Do not come near it, that you may know the way by which you must go, for you have not passed this way before.”
Now the ark will set out first, and the people were to leave a distance of nearly ¾’s of a mile between it and they.
This was meant to affirm in them the awareness of something we looked at last week in Deuteronomy, where God said that not only would He go with them, He would go before them.
Rahab’s message to the spies shows, God had indeed already gone before
The ark going out front this great distance was meant to teach them that as they now embarked on a new road, they must look to the Lord’s leading & follow the path He directs in.
To ‘sanctify’ means to set something apart as special and reserved for a special purpose.
God intended to use
But once the work of judgment was
complete, God wanted to make
5And Joshua said to the people, “Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.”
The inauguration of their
spoke to the priests, saying, “Take up the ark of the covenant and cross over
before the people.” So they took up the
ark of the covenant and went before the people. 7And
the Lord said to Joshua, “This day I will begin to exalt you in the
sight of all
The primary reason the people had come to honor Moses so much was because of the numerous miracles God performed through Moses.
The next day would see Joshua as the agent through which some dramatic things would be done – elevating him in the esteem of the people.
God told Josh he was to tell the priests carrying the ark to wade in to the water of the river.
9So Joshua said to the children of Israel, “Come here, and hear the words of the Lord your God.” 10And Joshua said, “By this you shall know that the living God is among you, and that He will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Hivites and the Perizzites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Jebusites: 11Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is crossing over before you into the Jordan. 12Now therefore, take for yourselves twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one man from every tribe. 13And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests who bear the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, that the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off, the waters that come down from upstream, and they shall stand as a heap.”
it was, when the people set out from their camp to cross over the Jordan, with
the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people, 15and as those who bore the ark came to
the Jordan, and the feet of the priests who bore the ark dipped in the edge of
the water (for the Jordan overflows all its banks during the whole time of
the waters which came down from upstream stood still, and rose in a
heap very far away at Adam, the city that is beside Zaretan. So the
waters that went down into the Sea of the Arabah, the
As soon as the priests waded into the river, the down-stream flow stopped & began to back up to the north a distance of 17 miles.
This left a large space of open riverbed for the nation to pass over quickly.
Now, it’s entirely possible that God simply stopped the flow
miraculously, as He had divided the
In fact, a miraculous crossing of
But it is interesting to note that in 1267 & 1906, &
1927, landslides dammed the
If God did use such an event to halt the River, it’s still miraculous that it occurred at the very moment the priests put their feet in the river, just as Joshua had instructed.
came to pass, when all the people had completely crossed over the Jordan, that
the Lord spoke to Joshua, saying: 2“Take
for yourselves twelve men from the people, one man from every tribe, 3and
command them, saying, ‘Take for yourselves twelve stones from here, out of the
midst of the Jordan, from the place where the priests’ feet stood firm. You
shall carry them over with you and leave them in the lodging place where you
lodge tonight.’” 4Then Joshua called the twelve men whom he had appointed from
the children of Israel, one man from every tribe; 5and
Joshua said to them: “Cross over before the ark of the Lord your God into the midst of the
Jordan, and each one of you take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the
number of the tribes of the children of Israel, 6that this may be a sign among you when
your children ask in time to come, saying, ‘What do these stones mean
to you?’ 7Then
you shall answer them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark
of the covenant of the Lord;
when it crossed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. And
these stones shall be for a memorial to the children of
Representatives of each of the tribes were to take a boulder
from the riverbed and carry it to where they camped that first night in
They were to pile these 12 boulders on top of each other, making a monument to the miracle they had witnessed that day.
One of the main highways of the
So in generations to come, when passing through this area and their kids asked what the significance of the monument was, they were tell them how God had dried up the waters of the River to let their ancestors cross.
I’ve spoken on this before – how building memorial to significant moments of spiritual breakthrough are a great way to keep the lesson fresh and helpful to passing on to our children the reality of our walk & experiences with God.
Really, that’s what the holidays are supposed to be – memorials to the times God has worked in history.
But all too often, we just take the time off without every really using the time to tell our children about why the holiday is a holy-day.
8And the children of Israel did so, just as Joshua
commanded, and took up twelve stones from the midst of the Jordan, as the Lord had spoken to Joshua, according to
the number of the tribes of the children of
While 12 men from each tribe carried boulders to the camping place to make a memorial pile, Joshua piled up 12 boulders in the middle of the river.
The stones were large enough that when the water returned the flow as not strong enough to knock them over.
They were still in place when this was written.
This pillar of boulders in the midst of the River corresponded to the pillar of boulders in the camping place; 1 pointed to the other, & was meant to show that the River had miraculously dried up.
That’s the only way to account for the pillar of stones in the middle of the River.
Besides, the boulders taken from the riverbed and piled up in the camp would have been very different from the rocks of the camping place, another sign that they were taken from the riverbed, which must have been dried up.
The point is – the power of God must be great to stop the
10So the priests who bore the ark stood in the midst of the Jordan until everything was finished that the Lord had commanded Joshua to speak to the people, according to all that Moses had commanded Joshua; and the people hurried and crossed over. 11Then it came to pass, when all the people had completely crossed over, that the ark of the Lord and the priests crossed over in the presence of the people.
12And the men of Reuben, the men of Gad, and half the
tribe of Manasseh crossed over armed before the children of Israel, as Moses
had spoken to them. 13About forty thousand prepared for war
crossed over before the Lord
for battle, to the plains of
This 40,000 were just of the eastern 2½ tribes.
15Then the Lord spoke to Joshua, saying, 16“Command the priests who bear the ark of the Testimony to come up from the Jordan.” 17Joshua therefore commanded the priests, saying, “Come up from the Jordan.” 18And it came to pass, when the priests who bore the ark of the covenant of the Lord had come from the midst of the Jordan, and the soles of the priests’ feet touched the dry land, that the waters of the Jordan returned to their place and overflowed all its banks as before.
the people came up from the Jordan on the tenth day of the first
month, and they camped in Gilgal on the east border of
It’s an interesting little side note that we’re studying this in our first month of the year – just as their entrance into Canaan was at the outset of their new year.
21Then he spoke to the children of Israel, saying: “When your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, ‘What are these stones?’ 22then you shall let your children know, saying, ‘Israel crossed over this Jordan on dry land’; 23for the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed over, 24that all the peoples of the earth may know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.”
Vs. 1-9 are my text for this coming Sunday.
10Now the children of
Now that they’re in a place where crops are grown, they no longer needed the miraculous provision of God in the manna.
They could enjoy the bounty of the land.
This speaks about the way God wants His people who are walking in the Spirit to find their spiritual nourishment.
The wilderness wandering is a
picture of the time of our spiritual infancy, when we get our spiritual
nourishment by what others give us – just as
But spiritual maturity is marked by not depending on others to sustain our spiritual growth.
The spiritually mature person is able to “fend for him/herself.”
They are able to read & study God’s Word on their own and harvest fruit from it.
Babies have to be fed. Adults feed themselves.
It all still comes from the Lord, it’s just that the route alters as we mature.
It’s my experience that those who are truly spiritually mature as opposed to those who have just been around for a long time, is the difference between the one who studies the Bible regularly & often on their own, and the one who only bothers with the Bible when they go to church.
There are some fine Bible teachers out there today and with the radio and CD’s and so on, you can turn on quality Bible teaching just about 24 hours a day.
But that will never compare with what YOU can learn personally by digging in to the Word on your own.
If you’ve been a Christian for more than a few months, then stop living off the manna of Bible studies someone else gives & start your own study of the Word.
Now, I am not saying that the spiritually mature don’t benefit from attending Bible study & listening to someone teach the Word.
If anything, they will glean MORE from such study than the spiritually immature because they’ve sharpened their own skills at rightly dividing the Word.
What I am saying is that one of the marks of spiritual maturity is that it doesn’t DEPEND on others for its growth.
Since vs. 13-15 go with the story in ch. 6, we’ll leave them till next week.