Join us as we read through the book of Joshua together.
Read Joshua 1:1-4
As we start the book of Joshua today, we see the call to him from God to now put him in charge after the death of Moses. These words from God are significant because the call is to go. Joshua must now lead Israel into the promised Land. This is affirmation of the original promise to Abraham showing God has not forgotten his promise. God gives the boundaries once again of this land. You can see the original promise boundaries in Genesis 15: 18.
Now the call on Joshua and Israel is to be faithful to their God. Just like Joshua was called; so are you as well. Maybe it's not as a leader of a nation, but you can know he has called you and wants you to be faithful where you are. How do you answer that call? You answer God’s call by living your life in the knowledge of his promises to use your life for his glory. Are you ready to listen and to go? Let’s listen to the call today and live our lives to glorify God.
Read Joshua 1:5-9
As we read the promises that God gave to Joshua here, we can see that no man will be able to stand against him. We also see a command——to be strong and courageous. This command is repeated three times in verses 6-7 and 9 to remind Joshua to trust God, do His will exactly as he has commanded, and keep His law. Joshua would have known the Law as the Torah. The Torah is what we know as the first five books of the Old Testament, also known as the Pentateuch. Joshua was reminded to not be frightened because God was with him.
Just as God was with Joshua, so Jesus has also promised to be our helper in Hebrews 13:6. We see that promise, which is the Holy Spirit, when we are walking with God and meditating on him. What is there to fear if we live a life in obedience to God and honor his Word? We will be blessed, just as Joshua was blessed. Let’s be strong in the Holy Spirit, obeying God’s Word, and being courageous to do his will as He has called us.
Read Joshua 1:10-18
This is “go time” for Joshua now! He gives the instruction to the officers of the people to let everyone know to prepare themselves; they are finally going home. There are a few things notable about the process here in these verses. First, the command goes to the officers, then to the people. Second, the command requires simple obedience. Third, there is a call to be unified in this obedience so that all of Israel may possess the promised land and be at rest.
The response of the people is unanimous to trust Joshua and obey God. Indeed, as we see the command and the call to unity in the promises of God, we can have hope in Jesus. Hebrews 13:5-6 is a reference to how God led Moses and then Joshua to finally bring the chosen people of Israel home. Furthermore, now Jesus leads his followers through the pastors and the elders of the church. As leaders they direct the people to follow Jesus, but also to be unified together as one to possess the promise of God and to be obedient to the word of God. It's really a picture of how we are to function as individuals to prepare ourselves and to be unified as a church in Jesus. In doing so we may live out the call of the church together——to proclaim his word and work to bring others to saving faith. So examine your heart and life——are you following the command to go? Are you following the command to be united?
Read Joshua 2:1-24
In these verses once more we see spies sent out to view the land that God promised to Israel. In the process, they almost get caught by the King’s men in Jericho. However, Rahab hides the men of God and helps them escape. In return, she wants a promise from the men to spare her and her family. The amazing part of this story is how God had reached Rahab and she already knew the God of Israel. In addition, she makes a covenant that is very similar to the Passover covenant that Israel had experienced in Egypt.
Rahab believed in the God of the Jews; God reaches out to those whom He wills, even the “worst” sinners. He has done the same act for you and for me. This is a cause for rejoicing! It shows God’s plan to reach more than just Israel, while at the same time remaining faithful to His promise with Israel. This speaks to us today in that no matter how far you may have strayed or how deeply immersed in sensuality, rebellion, or self-indulgence the Lord is still faithful to call you to Himself. He redeemed a harlot in Joshua and made her part of the bloodline of King David and Jesus Christ. Just imagine what he has planned for you if you are willing to be faithful and follow His call. Therefore, be courageous and live out God’s plan for your life today.
Read Joshua 3:1-17
As the time has come for Israel to take the land promised we see an obstacle; the Jordan river is overflowing. Look at verse fifteen. Israel camps at the edge of this river for three days. What is going to happen? They don’t seem to know, and I am sure they were thinking this was going to take some time. However, God steps in and gives clear instruction on what to do; we see that God alone wants to lead Israel by way of the Ark of the Covenant. Therefore, He performs a miracle and stops the water of the Jordan river so that his people can cross on dry ground directly over to Jericho. Truly the Lord was with Joshua, and he was faithful to perform God's commands. God promises Joshua that he will be exalted in Israel because of his faithful obedience.
Was this a good time for Joshua to try to do this crossing? Absolutely not! Was it good to sit and wait at the edge of a flooding river not knowing the next step for three days? No! Often we do similar things by saying, “Well, what does God expect of me? Or “What does he want?” You see, it’s not about the circumstances or the timing that we should look at. Instead, it's all about God and his faithfulness to see us through. The answer is that God wants you to faithfully respond to his call and act in pursuit of his promises even in the unlikely times. We can then stand up as Joshua did and be firm in our faith! The day of inheritance is here! So let’s let God step into those impossible situations today and you will be amazed by Him!
Read Joshua 4:1-24
In these verses, God had commanded the Israelites to create a memorial at the place where they had crossed the Jordan. The Ark of the Covenant had been carried by the priest to cross the Jordan as a reminder of his continual deliverance of his people. In addition, the Ark of the Covenant shows God’s constant presence with His people. How does this apply to Christians today? God wants us to remember all the good that he provides to those who fear him. We have an immense privilege and opportunity to teach others of his goodness through worship and remembrance. How will you speak of God’s works today?
Read Joshua 5: 1-12
In these verses, God reminds us how He had started over by delivering the Hebrews from the disappointment of Egypt. God gave a newly circumcised people to fulfill his promise to Israel in possessing the promised land and its abundant provisions. Indeed, God continued to bless them because of their obedience through the Passover remembrance and circumcision. How does this impact readers of the Old Testament today? Today, God continually deliverers us from our circumstances to bless us and provide provisions as we remember his grace of rescue. Will you take today’s hours to praise God for His grace and providence on your behalf?
Read Joshua 5:13-15
In this passage of Scripture, Joshua has an encounter with God in meeting with the commander of the Lord’s army. He is instructed as Moses was at the burning bush to take off his sandals because he was on holy ground in God’s presence. Joshua also learned, as we should, the battle belongs to the Lord. He is with us always; we are merely God’s servants. How can we put these verses into practice today? We can allow God to fight our battles and trust him when circumstances seem impossible. According to the Scriptures, when God confirms His promises in the face of insurmountable odds, is when God is most glorified. How can you learn to trust in God’s promises in deeper ways this week? Will you trust in His faithfulness to His promises today?
Read Joshua 6:1-27
The Lord was with Joshua. Indeed, God demonstrates his power and promise to his people through Joshua. In addition, we see a new circumcised and obedient generation of Israelites who enjoy God’s provisions and power. We see God’s power in his destruction of a mighty Jericho. Furthermore, the Israelite’s obedience and Joshua’s leadership to defeat the city is such an unorthodox method that God uses. What is the Holy Spirit saying to His people when we read this strange battle account? First, God rewards obedience. Secondly, God’s power cannot be stopped, even against a strong and powerful foe. These accounts we read about in Joshua are more about God’s great faithfulness to His promises rather than the fickle obedience of God’s people. However, even the weakness of humans can still see the greatness of God. We can praise Him for His great glory. He never fails. How will you praise Him today?
Read Joshua 6:15-21
Joshua 6:15-21 illustrates the deeper meaning behind the ḥērem, showing that it is not simply an act of mindless violence. Rather, this passage shows that the Lord commands the ḥērem to ensure that Israel remains religiously pure and therefore loyal.
The city of Jericho and everything in it was “to be devoted to the Lord” (ḥērem). The idea is that the city’s contents were to be given over to the Lord by totally destroying them. The conquest of a strong and mighty Jericho signified that Israel would receive all the promised land of Canaan from God. Finally, God’s purpose was to the nation of Israel in the land he promised and used the nation of Israel as a blessing to the world. The land had to be purified from the degenerate religion of the Canaanites. No loot from Jericho was to be taken by the people. In carrying out the ḥērem, people and animals were to be killed (Josh. 6:17, 21), and other things were either to be destroyed or set apart, as in this case, for the purposes of the sanctuary. These items included “silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron” (v. 19). All was “devoted” either to destruction or to the Lord’s “treasury”; all was to be forfeited by the people. Thank God for Jesus’ sacrifice otherwise we would receive the same fate as Jericho.
Let us observe God’s plan to bless the world through the nation of Israel and his sovereignty in dealing with a sinful nation. Obedience is rewarded, and yet again God is the initiator and covenant keeper through his decree of circumcision with his people He brought to the promised land.
Read Joshua 7:1-26
Although this chapter details the fight against Ai and the initial defeat followed by the eventual victory over Ai, to fully appreciate what is happening you must step back and look at the big picture which includes the battle of Jericho. Through Joshua and these battles God shows us, the reader, that the battles were never about Israel versus Canaan, but God versus Canaan. Israel was obedient and hopefully watching how God was working.
In Joshua 6, the battle fought wasn’t “fought” by Israel at all but rather completely by God. Israel’s approach was passive. God delivered Jericho because of Joshua and Israel’s faithfulness. Now in chapter 7 the exact opposite happens; this time Israel gets bloody. You’ll see the sin of Achan, who is really the problem behind their failure. Achan stole things from Israel that were dedicated solely to God and then lied about it. As long as his sin was undealt with, Israel would fail. It wasn’t until Achan’s sin is confessed and punished that Israel is brought back into the good graces of God. And notice that even after Achan confessed, he, his family, his livestock, everything he had in totality was stoned and destroyed. Why?
The covenant with Israel is “You will be my people and I will be your God.” And what does THAT mean exactly? Well for starters, Israel is the image bearer of God. Their following of Torah is not just for their own safety and well-being, it’s a symbol to the whole world that God is God. The upside is that a people with God set over them will not fail – SO LONG AS THEY REMAIN FAITHFUL. That’s the key point to these chapters. Their infidelity must be purged so that the rest of the world sees the God of Israel as Holy.
This key takeaway point is that we are image bearers of Christ. And with that comes a responsibility: there’s nothing we must do, no battle we have to face except faithfulness. God does all the work and for the chief end which is, to make God famous.
Read Joshua 8:1-29
The defeat of Ai was not easy. But its difficulty was entirely self-caused. Israel lost at first but not because they had bad strategies or not enough men. They lost because they were unfaithful. However, after purging their sin, and in particular Achan and his progeny they were suddenly successful.
These two battles (Jericho and Ai) show us through both victory and defeat that obedience to God is what matters. In Jericho, they were faithful and patient and obeyed God. They achieved success. At Ai, they were unfaithful through Achan, and they faced defeat. And these two incidents occur back-to-back. Faithfulness equals success. Disobedience equals defeat. It’s a repeat of their wandering through the wilderness, complaining all over again. How quickly we all forget who God is and what we are pledged to do.
Read Joshua 8:30-35
In the closing verses of Chapter 8, we see Joshua building an altar and worshipping God in the wake of the battle of Ai. We see Joshua reading aloud the law of Moses and everything Moses had taught them. This epic oratory was before all of Israel, their wives, children, livestock, and any visitors who had tagged along. Joshua was reminding everyone that God is the victor and the reason they are there. He is reminding them of God’s faithfulness, providence and covenant with His people. Lest anyone should think Israel was successful, let it be known that the success was all by, to, and for God. Future generations of Israelites and indeed the whole world will look at what was done here and attribute it to God. As was said before, Israel is the image bearer of God. They must be in accordance with God because they are showing Him to the world just as you and I demonstrate (or ought to demonstrate) Christ’s love wherever we go. But in the time of Joshua, this group, Israel, was the only people on earth who knew and trusted God.
For the whole world to be blessed, as God promised they would be through Abraham, the whole world needed to see Israel? No. They needed to see GOD AT WORK! Israel did nothing at Jericho. It was God who fought and won. Israel is seeing now as Joshua “reacquaints” them with the Torah that it was never about them, but always about God. This lesson is timeless. It’s just as important to you and me right now today. It’s not about you or me. We are vapors in the wind. It’s about glorifying God the creator of the universe and the lover of our souls.
Read Joshua 9:1-27
Joshua 9 sees other inhabitants of the promised land trick Joshua into sparing their lives. But notice why: the Gibeonites heard and saw what God had done. God was becoming famous. See? That’s what this is all about. The word was spreading, and the victories of Joshua and Israel were becoming well renowned. The circle was widening. This was God’s plan all along. He was the One changing hearts. The Gibeonites had genuine fear of their own destruction and so lied and deceived their way into the good graces of Joshua. For them, it was an act of self-preservation. But notice, in particular verse 14, that Israel did not seek God’s counsel before entering into a covenant with the strangers. So again, Israel’s lack of faithfulness comes creeping back. That mistake would cost them. So they could not lift their hands against the Gibeonites but, the Gibeonite lies were dealt with by relegating them to be slaves from them on. This is an example of the Justice of God. He is a loving God; a restoring God; a faithful God and even a forgiving God. But none of that can compromise His justice for He is first a perfect God. Seeing how He doles out justice in this situation ought to strike fear into the hearts of all modern Christians: when you seriously consider your own sin, transgressions, whether deliberate or accidental, you have to see the distance between who you are and what you come from under the curse is totally beyond your or anybody’s ability to find your way back to God. In your heart, you don’t want to find your way back to God.
Instead, t was God who found His way to YOU. Calling you; forgiving you; ultimately dying for you. This is a big deal. You didn’t deserve it and you still don’t. Your very best efforts are as filthy rags. This feeling you have as you consider these truths is the rightful fear of God, the respect for His awesomeness. And the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.
Read Joshua 10:1-15
The other kings in Jerusalem and beyond saw what God did at Ai and Jericho and Gibeon. They were rightly terrified and joined forces to strike back against Gibeon and Israel. The Gibeonites had only just joined forces with Israel and here it was where Israel would have to defend Gibeon against this massive army of attackers from Jerusalem. Notice in these verses that the attackers are driven by fear not of the Lord, but of His wrath. But being non-believers, it wasn’t God whom they feared but rather Joshua and his army. But you see in this story God at work in an almost typical God way: Joshua defeats the intruders and drives them back, but the men vanquished by Joshua fall greatly to those who were destroyed by God alone.
In many battles you may read about in later times such as the Civil or Revolutionary Wars fought in America, you’ll notice fighting stops when the sun goes down because it’s too dark to see what you’re aiming at. And in this battle in Joshua, God, once again doing what only God can do, stops the very rotation of the earth holding the daylight until the battle was over and Israel was triumphant. Jerusalem’s fear of Joshua was misguided. Because, not to belabor the point though it’s worth belaboring, the battle was never against Gibeon or Israel, but rather against the almighty God. And as always, the battle belongs to the LORD.
This is a good place to interject that your battles are “not against flesh and blood” no matter how much you may think they are. This is why modern Christians must fight their battles on their knees with all humility and repentance. Humility for arrogantly thinking that we are the ones fighting, and repentance for the times, like Achan, we sinned against the Lord and need to be honest about it.
In these verses, we can easily miss what the Holy Spirit is communicating. Indeed, there are gruesome details about the death of the five kings. However, we must remember that this is a unique time in the life of Israel. What does this text say and what does it mean to the original audience?
A key clue for help in reading the First Testament is to look for repetition. Since these writings were read to God’s people, they would have been trained to listen for the author’s repeats. In these verses, you can observe that the writer states that the LORD God gave the land to the Israelites five times. This concept is emphasized from the beginning of the book to the end of the book. God wants us to see that the conquest could only have been accomplished with His complete work. Our first application must be to praise God for His work in His world. Even thousands of years removed from this story, we can continue to see that God is still King over His world!
Another idea that we see is the meticulous obedience of Joshua. Verse forty states that Joshua did all that the Lord had commanded him. We cannot assume that this work that God gave to Joshua was an easy task. We have to look at God’s repeated commands to Joshua in the first chapter to see that Joshua was timid and afraid to continue the work that Moses started. However, Joshua has grown into a courageous leader. He has practiced what God has called him to. What is the secret to his strength? He obeyed God’s Word that was given. In the same way, we must obey God’s Word. The same God of Joshua is our God who gives us His glorious commands. The only question to you is this——will you obey Him?
As you begin reading this passage, you can observe that word has traveled fast among the enemy people groups. The conquest described at the end of chapter ten occurs in southern Canaan. Chapter eleven describes the actions of the region of northern Canaan. The southern-most tip of Canaan to the northern-most region is approximately sixty miles. If you calculate a person’s journey of about seven miles per day, that means that the news of the war would reach the opposite region in about a week’s time. The northern region’s leaders build an alliance so they can destroy Israel. However, as we see again, God’s work cannot be stopped. In these fifteen verses, the writer emphasizes the word “all.” Despite the efforts of the Canaanite army, the Lord brings victory over them all.
Even as God has already given victory over the southern region of Canaan, we can see that God still gives a promise to Joshua in verse six. Observe some of the words that Gid uses to pump iron into Joshua’s spine: don’t be afraid of them, tomorrow at this time, and I will give over all of them to Israel. God emphasizes that even the fortitude of this combined army cannot stop God’s plans. You can see the urgency of the event: tomorrow at this time. What can we learn from this description? We can continue to praise God for His great power and glory that He holds for all of eternity!
As the book of Joshua began, Joshua was cowering behind the shadow of Moses. Here in verse fifteen, we can see the glorious accomplishment of Joshua. There is a succession plan that began back in Deuteronomy. Joshua would be the successor of Moses. The enormous task of leading God’s people into His promised land would fall to Joshua. How would we evaluate Joshua’s job as leader? Verse fifteen describes his success for us——"He left nothing undone of all that the Lord had commanded Moses.” This is our call as Christians today. Are we committed to full obedience of God? How would other people evaluate your obedience?
In these verses, we can read even more about the nations that were conquered by Israel. It is important not to pass over these names, because verse twenty shows again the sovereignty of God in all this conflict. However, before you get to verse twenty, make sure that you see the distinction between the inhabitants of Gibeon and the other nations that declared war against Israel. So far in Joshua we have seen from Rahab’s testimony to the spies that the people had heard of the exodus from Egypt and were scared. However, the account of war in Joshua emphasizes that these nations pursued Israel to fight. Why was Gibeon the only nation that pursued peace? I’ll let verse twenty speak for Itself——“For it was the Lord’s doing to harden their hearts that they should come against Israel in battle…” Even as Joshua was the human leader, God still led the people and was working out His perfect plan. Furthermore, this perfect plan was brought to completion just as God had promised to Abraham!
There is a key idea that ends this section of Joshua. God says that the land had rest from war. Verse eighteen states, “Joshua made war a long time with all those kings.” This verse is a huge understatement! The promise made to Abraham had finally come to completion. Jacob had arrived in Egypt to run from the famine; his family numbered only seventy people. What a difference God makes with a few hundred years. The weakness in Exodus now becomes the strength and conquest of Joshua! This rest that God grants His people is all from His grace and mercy! Will you praise God today because of His grace towards you?
As you read the names of these cities and nations that have been conquered by Israel, you might be tempted to quickly skim over or oven skip their names entirely. However, as faithful Bible readers, we must ask some questions before we move on to the next chapters. Question number one: what does the chapter say? Question number two: what does the chapter mean? When we ask what the chapter means, we are not trying to answer what it means to us. Instead, we must ask what it means to the author who wrote it.
This book of Joshua was the first of the historical books of the First Testament. It records the mighty acts of God in giving Israel His promised land. Therefore, these details in chapter twelve are important. Every name of each king represents a giant victory for God. The first unfaithful generation that lived and died in the wilderness believed that these kings looked like giants. However, the next generation saw these kings as grasshoppers that God would beat down. There were thirty-one kings defeated. Each victory reminds God’s people of His faithfulness to accomplish his promises. Furthermore, each reminder of victory can also recall the efforts that God’s people pursued to obey God’s commands. God didn’t simply just hand over the land of promise. God’s people were required to fight and obey God exactly as He had prescribed. What a great God that we serve!
This chapter is a description of how the land was divided. The boundaries of each tribe are clearly laid out. While most of the descriptions do not unpack the number of cities that each territory receives, the territory of Judah does receive one hundred and twelve cities. Even the other territories receive cities. This is significant because God continues to show the blessing of the promised land. God’s people did not have to build their cities from scratch. Instead, they simply took over the cities that were already there.
These verses describe details that might not make much difference to people reading the Bible today. However, there is an emphasis that we can easily miss if we read too quickly. Did you notice what was stated about the Levites? God uses repetition in the First Testament to get the people’s attention. In chapters thirteen and fourteen, God mentions four times that the tribe of Levi did not receive any land. Instead, God gives the following reason why they did not receive land: God was their inheritance. The people of God are reminded that even as they receive their land, God remains their reward and their treasure. He is enough to satisfy. He is their portion. What a testament to the power of God’s living presence. He is enough to satisfy! Let’s praise Him together as the same God of Israel also offers his presence to us!
In these verses we have a description of God’s work and Caleb’s heart after God. Let’s look first at the way that God emphasizes the integrity of Caleb. In this passage, we find that the author mentions that Joshua followed after the Lord. Indeed, the Scripture defines his following even more closely by stating that he “wholly followed the Lord his God.” It is importance to observe that the author repeats this character description of Caleb three times in these verses. In addition, Numbers 32 and Deuteronomy 1 also declare the same characteristic about Caleb. Caleb serves as an example for us today. Our challenge is to wholly follow our God in what He commands, no matter what the outcome. God doesn’t use Caleb’s example as a way for the prosperity gospel to trickle into our Biblical worldview. Instead, Caleb’s example calls for obedience to God despite the outcome. We follow God because He is King.
This passage also emphasizes that God is the central figure. Caleb’s wholehearted obedience is the background of God’s call for Israel to enter the Promised Land. Caleb states in verse ten that God has kept him alive for the past forty-five years. In addition, the presence of God is still the hope for Caleb in verse twelve. Even as Caleb shows his character, God still is the one that shows Himself faithful to the promise that was given to Caleb and Joshua. Furthermore, as Caleb stares at another difficult battle, the strength of the Lord is what brings success. God rewards faithful obedience to His call. While His faithful people may not always receive reward on this earth, the ultimate prize is eternal life in heaven. In heaven, nothing can rot; we will be with God forever!
In these verses we observe the setting up of the cities of refuge. According to the First Testament Law, there were six cities that were given as a destination of refuge. The Law explicitly stated that if someone kills another person unintentionally, the person can flee to a city of refuge. One important idea to point out is that these six cities of refuge were six of the cities that were given to the Levites.
The text here describes the process that occurs upon an accidental killing. First of all, the elders of the city hear the case. In addition, verses six and nine state, “till he stood before the congregation.” The avenger of blood is allowed to pursue the killer to the city. However, if the court finds him not guilty of murder, he is allowed to live out his days in the city. When the high priest dies, the person is allowed to return back to his home. This account shows the high priority that God gives to human life. It also emphasizes the importance of character witnesses during a court case. God cares even about these details of how people related to each other in highly emotional situations.
These verses describe the giving of the cities to the Levites. In this study of Joshua, there hasn’t been much attention given to the Levites. However, here in chapter twenty-one we see that the Lord provides for them. Back in chapter eighteen, we read that the Levites were not given official property like the other Israelites because they already had the Lord as their possession because of the priesthood. One lesson that we find in this idea is the privilege of having God be a personal God that cares about His people. Even in this book of the Bible that focuses on establishing territory in the promised land, the Lord shows them and us through His Spirit that He is the greatest treasure.
In addition to God being the great treasure of the Levites, we can observe the number of cities that God gave to them. Verse 41 gives the number as forty-eight. Even as the other tribes also received cities, we can see that the Levites received the greatest number of cities. God provided for their needs, even as they continued their work of the priesthood. You can observe that this providence of God for them appears to be doubted by the Levites. This doubt shows itself in verse two where they go before the elders and Joshua to make sure that they are also given a place to live. We can see that God provides for His people. He will supply our needs, just like the needs of the Levites. What a great God that we serve!
In these three verses, we see the Holy Spirit emphasizing who really is the hero of this account of great conquest. The name Yahweh is used four times in these verses. Yahweh started the book of Joshua by stating that the great Moses was His servant. Yahweh made the promises to Abraham and commissioned Joshua to fulfill the conquest. Without Yahweh, there is no promise. Without Yahweh, there is no leadership succession. Without Yahweh, there is no victory over the “giants” of the land. Our God shows His immense power and faithfulness here.
The Holy Spirit shows us another important idea in the following verses: completeness. Verse forty-three states, “gave to Israel all the land.” Verse forty-four states, “the LORD gave them rest on every side.” In addition, verse forty-four also adds, “not one of all their enemies.” Finally, verse forty-five states, “not one word of all the good promises.”
A third way that we see God more clearly is His meticulous attention to faithfully fulfilling His promises. Verse forty-five serves as a theme of the entire book, “Not one word of all the good promises that the Lord had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass.” These promises reach back over generations and succeed over the power of Egypt and Canaan. No one and no thing can ever frustrate God’s perfect plans! Let’s praise God today as He continues to be faithful to us with His steadfast love!
These verses describe an interesting account at the end of the book of Joshua. As God’s people have been given rest according to the end of the last chapter, people begin to return to their territories. We learn from the first chapters of Deuteronomy that these two and a half tribes wanted to on the other side of the Jordan River, directly across from the promised land. This land was granted to them by Moses, based on the conditions that they would travel across the river to help their brothers fight. The beginning of chapter twenty-two shows that they have been faithful in obeying those words that Moses gave them.
The one point that is important to notice is the zeal that the Israelites have for the name of God. The altar that is made near the Jordan River almost causes a civil war between the parties. In the conversations between the two sides, Achan’s name is brought up. Israel is zealous here to obey God’s commands in not worshiping any other idols. Unfortunately, within two generations, God’s people can see in the book of Judges that the people fell into disobedience. However, this chapter tells a different story. God had shown Himself faithful, and the people were committed to worshiping Him alone. I wonder if we are as zealous to God as the people are in this account. How can we show more commitment to honor God’s name in how we live?
As we come to the end of the book of Joshua, we can see that Joshua is now old and advanced in years. This account parallels the final words that Moses gives to the people at the end of Deuteronomy. You could almost think of this speech and the one in chapter twenty-four as a last challenge that he gives. What do we find in this challenge?
We can see that the challenge before the Israelites is to be strong to obey all the words that were given to Moses. The Law must be meticulously obeyed. This challenge sounds like the challenge that God gave to Joshua in chapter one. The people must not turn aside from obeying the Law. Furthermore, you can observe that there are still nations that remain that will need to be conquered. The danger in the remaining nations is to remain distinct from them. God states in Judges 3:1-6 that God left some of the nations to test the Israelites’ obedience. The warning from Joshua here in chapter twenty-three was to remain loyal to God. Unfortunately, we see in Judges 3 that the people disobeyed God and did not remain loyal. This is a great lesson for us to be careful to do all that the Lord commands us. We must guard our hearts because there is always a draw to follow other gods.
In this challenge we also hear the reminder of God’s faithfulness to His promise. There are two sides to this reminder. Because God’s does not allow one promise to fail, Israel can rest in the providence of God. There is great assurance and security in this fact. However, just as God promises to bring blessing through obedience, He also promises to bring judgment if Israel fails to obey. God must be honored. He does not waffle or appear indecisive to His people. If the people honor God, He will continue to bless them. Disobedience would be disaster.
How does this apply to our world? God’s people have inherited the sin of Adam. Therefore, we deserve God’s judgment. However, Jesus fulfilled the Law perfectly and took the judgment that was on us. Because of the cross, we have been credited with the perfect righteousness of Christ. For those who believe, we also have the promise of rest and assurance. How does this reality impact your heart today?
These verses give a refrain that is written on many Scripture boards, paintings, and pictures: “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” It’s a fantastic challenge that resounds with deep conviction and focus. God’s people must remember to make the same commitment. However, have you ever read the entire chapter to see the context where this final command is given?
Notice the condition of the respected patriarch Abraham in verse two: “they served other gods.” Why is the Holy Spirit bringing up this history? The answer is found in the following verse: “Then I took your father Abraham from beyond the River and led him through all the land of Canaan, and made his offspring many.” God even describes his work in conquering Egypt. The final clue to this chapter is found in verse thirteen: “I gave you a land on which you had not labored and cities that you had not built, and you dwell in them. You eat the fruit of vineyards and olive orchards that you did not plant.” We can see here that God is reminding them of His sovereign election of His people. They are called God’s people because of God’s work alone. It’s important to recognize this first point of God’s grace to His people. The people did nothing to earn this calling. Abraham simply believed God’s promises and God credited it to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:6). Don’t miss the order of what is going on here in the First Testament——God gives grace, then commands come out of that relationship. The obedience comes after the gift of salvation.
Once we see the offer of God’s grace to the people, the power of Joshua’s call to obedience becomes more potent. They must put away the gods that their fathers served beyond the River. The people will only receive power to obey this call when they first remember the goodness and grace of God in calling them to be His people. As people forget God’s work, they walk away from God. Unfortunately, you can see that the end of the chapter shows that after Joshua died, the obedience also stopped when the elders who served alongside Joshua died. The people lost sight of God’s great work.
How can we respond to this last chapter? Joshua points toward our Savior who was sent by our great Father. The Father promised all the way back in Genesis 3:15 that Jesus would crush the head of Satan. We can rejoice and rest in the finished work of Christ. Even further, we must think of the events of Good Friday and Easter to drive us to deeper worship of Christ. Will you repeat along with Joshua—as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord?