Thoughts About What We’re Reading…

The Book of Joshua

For many the book of Joshua can be perplexing, as we witness the fulfillment of the Lord’s promise to the patriarchs to give Israel the land of Canaan.

By the end of Deuteronomy, Israel has been brought into the blessing of covenant relationship with the Lord and has become a great people. But, they remain outside of the Land of Promise, on the plains of Moab.

Just as Joshua’s leadership begins with the death of Moses, so the book of Joshua follows and some might say, completes the book of Deuteronomy.

As we read through the Book of Joshua we have to keep a few things in mind.

The Old Testament teaches that Yahweh, the God of Israel, is the Creator of everything, and therefore the owner of all lands. He has the right to distribute territories according to His good and holy will.

As the universal Creator, He is also the universal Judge, to whom all people everywhere are accountable. The Flood, Tower of Babel, and judgment on Egypt during the time of the Exodus all serve as examples of His Justice.

This means that God has the ultimate rights over the land of Canaan, and that He has the right to bring the Canaanites to judgment for their moral condition and deeds.

Here in the Book of Joshua, the Lord as divine Warrior, brings His people into the Land of Promise and gives them “rest”.  This is the land promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob back in the Book of Genesis.

God gave them victories, but each victory required a step of faith.

That the nation was later dispossessed reflects not on the character of God but on the fickleness of a people who took divine blessings for granted, fell into the worship of their neighbors’ gods, and therefore came under the chastisement God had warned them about in Deuteronomy prior to the Conquest we read about in Joshua.

We will explore this further in the Book Of Judges.

Paul taught that the events of the Exodus and the Conquest are meaningful for Christians symbolizing the work and ministry of Jesus.

The Greek form of the name “Joshua” (“Yahweh saves” or “Yahweh is salvation”) is “Jesus.”

Joshua led Israel to victory over her enemies and into possession of the Promised Land, and he interceded for the nation after it had sinned and been defeated at Ai.

In the same way, Jesus brings His people into a promised rest, intercedes for us continually, and enables us to defeat our enemies.

These factors—God’s right to allocate land and judge the world with perfect justice; the need to protect the purity of the Israelite theocracy; and the provisions for even Canaanites to be saved (Rahab and her family, the Gibeonites, etc.)—all illustrate the justice that lies behind the events that take place in Joshua.

Until next time…keep reading.

Jim

Excerpts and references: ESV Study Bible, HCSB Study Bible, Bible Knowledge Commentary

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