-Introduction: The book of Joshua picks up the narrative immediately after the death of God’s servant, Moses, as the children of Israel were now ready to make the crossing into the Promised Land through the Jordan River just north of the Dead Sea. This book is authored by Joshua, the commander of God’s people in conquest of the Promised Land, except for the ending portion generally attributed to the high priest, Phinehas, upon the passing of Joshua. Phinehas would have been an eyewitness (Joshua 24:29-33). The setting for this book focuses on the entire breadth of conquest in the land of Israel, which is more or less the same territory that is controlled by the modern state of Israel in the Middle East; although, God promised His people land all the way to the Lebanese wilderness as far as the Euphrates River. The children of Israel fell short in some ways of realizing all of God’s promises at this time, but yet they were very strong and very courageous under the leadership of a great commander, Joshua. The book can be divided into distinct sections: section one could be called “Preparation and Entering the Promised Land (Joshua 1:1-5:12),” section two could be called “Conquering the Promised Land (Joshua 5:13-12:24),” and section three could be called “Dividing the Promised Land (Joshua 13:1-24:33).” The events of this book took place around 1400 years before the coming of Messiah Jesus. A special feature of this book is the blessing of Joshua and Caleb, the only two to make it from Egypt through the wilderness and into the Promised Land because of their faith and obedience to the LORD. This sets up the mega themes of the work, which include: Strength, Courage, Success, Faith, Guidance, Leadership, Conquest, and Obedience (or Submission). So, as we study this Holy Spirit inspired writing, let us consider that we can choose for ourselves whom we will serve today…”but for me and my house, we will serve the LORD (Joshua 24:15).”
-Chapter 1: God spoke to Joshua, the son of Nun, after the death of Moses, who was the servant of the LORD as he guided God’s people out of Egypt and through the wilderness where he received the commands of the LORD and the promises for a hope and a future in the Promised Land for His people. The LORD was very specific with His new leader telling him to “arise” and “cross this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them, to the sons of Israel (Joshua 1:1-2).” Every place Joshua would step was promised to be given to him as a commander of the LORD’s earthly army. This was just as He had spoken to Moses (Deuteronomy 1:38; 3:28; 31:7). Land was promised by God “from the wilderness and this Lebanon, even as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and as far as the Great Sea toward the setting of the sun… (Joshua 1:3-4).” God further guaranteed that “no man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you (Joshua 1:5).” The LORD Himself then exhorts His warrior to “be strong and courageous” in taking possession of the land which was sworn to them by the Sovereign. God challenged him to “be careful to do” all of the Law which He had given to them through Moses. The children of Israel were not to turn from it to the right or to the left. They would need to walk the straight and narrow path of God to find success wherever they went. The Book of the Law was not to depart from the mouth of this leader. He was commanded by the LORD to meditate on it day and night, and then do all that it said to do in obedience. This would insure the blessing: prosperity and success in the way. God then reiterated for the third time to “be strong and courageous” with no trembling (`arats – to be in fear, dread, terror, oppression) or dismay (chathath – to be shattered, dismayed, broken, sacred) (Joshua 1:6-9).
-Joshua took this word from the LORD and commanded his officers of the people to pass through the midst of the camp and authoritatively tell the people to prepare provisions for themselves because in three days they were going to cross the Jordan River into the Promised Land that the LORD had given them. A special message was given to those who had been given land on the eastern side of the Jordan, which was the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh. Joshua called them to remind them of the covenant they had made with Moses to go into the Promised Land with their brothers until all was conquered and there was peace from the conflict. The wives, children, and cattle could remain behind, but the fighting men were required to go into the fray with their comrades in order to help according to their word (Numbers 32:31-32). They of course followed in accordance with what they had promised and pledged obedience once again to Joshua to go wherever he sent them and do all that he commanded to do. They too assured the authority of Joshua, like God had previously done, and warned of any rebellion against that authority as long as Joshua was “strong and courageous (Joshua 1:10-18).”
-*Application* God crafts us in the early part of our journey for the mission and call He has for us in the end. Joshua is a prime example of being faithful in little and then in much (Luke 16:10). His responsibilities and favor kept increasing as he sojourned through the earth in obedience to his King. We should be no different. God calls us to promise in various ways and then expects us to be very strong and very courageous with unwavering devotion to His purposes. Expect great things in your life as you hear from God and respond in total faith. Don’t ever cave in to fear, dread, terror, oppression, breaking down, or trouble. God is with you too, wherever you go. He will never leave us or forsake us in the journey no matter what the circumstances seem to indicate (Joshua 1:5). None of His promises will fail.
Verses to Memorize: Joshua 1:5, 7-9