Old Testament Survey Book of Joshua

The Book of Joshua

 Introduction: Joshua records Israel’s completion of redemption out of Egypt and entrance into the Promised Land.  The first five Books of Moses lead the Nation of Israel to the door of the Land of Canaan. Joshua complements these Books by leading Israel into Canaan.

Joshua covers a period of about 25 years and he records one of the greatest conquests in the history of mankind. The occupation of this small strip of land, which is barely larger than Wales, had molded the moral and religious history of the world.

Author: Joshua

Central message: The Victory of Faith. The Book of Joshua is in sharp contrast to the Book of Numbers, where we see many failures of unbelief: the failure to enter (Numbers 14:2-4); failure to overcome, (Num. 14:44-45), failure to occupy, (Num. 14:28-34).

Key thought: Entering; occupying; overcoming.

Type of Canaan: Many of our songs and hymns represent Canaan as Heaven and the Jordan River as death. Crossing the Jordan (death) and entering Canaan (Heaven). IF Jordan were death and Canaan were Heaven, then it would follow that our entire Christian life, up to death, corresponds to the wilderness that the Israelites wandered in for 40 years.

Canaan Land was a place of fighting, conquest (victory), settlement and rest. All of this was done in the power of God. Israel never completely occupied all of the Promised Land.

Canaan cannot be a type of Heaven for a few reasons:  Canaan  was  a place of conquest through conflict. Little fighting occurred in the wilderness, but to enter Canaan, Israel had to fight; enemies must be destroyed. How could Canaan typify the calm restfulness of the ultimate inheritance of Heaven.

Another reason was that eventually, because of idolatry, disobedience and other sins, Israel was ejected from Canaan Land. We can never be ejected from Heaven. For these reasons, we cannot equate Canaan with a type of Heaven.

Characteristics: First – Canaan was Israel’s promised Rest. There was a home for the Israelites.   Second – Canaan was a place of Bounty. It was a Land “flowing with milk and honey;” Exodus 3:8. A land of “corn and wine, kissed with the dews of Heaven,” Deut. 33:28. A land of olives and vines, firs and cedars, rich fruits etc. Lev. 26:5

Third – Canaan was a place of Triumph.  There were enemies in the Land, but they were a defeated people before Israel fought their first battle. God had already defeated them for the Nation of Israel,  Deut. 7:1.

Israel was to remember what God had done for them; what God had done to Pharaoh and Egypt.

I. The Commission Given To Joshua Chap. 1:1-9

  1. God will be with Joshua – vs 5
  2. Be strong etc. vs 6 John 16:33
  3. He will divide the inheritance – vs 6
  4. Obey God’s Laws – obedience; vs 7-8 and II Cor. 10:5-6
  5. The commission is from God – vs 9

II. Rahab And The Spies; Chap.

A. Two spies are sent out – vs 1

  1. They enter Rahab the harlot’s house
  2. The King of Jericho calls for them – vs 2
  3. She hides them: vs 4
  4. The testimony of the power of God – vs 10 “For we have heard …”
  5. There is a big difference between believing and presuming. To make God’s promises an excuse for not taking reasonable  precautions, is to tempt God.
  1. God uses the unlikely; here, God used Rahab: she believed                                                                                   B. Lessons from this chapter                                                                                                                                                          1. We will have crisis in our lives. Here, the two spies had a crisis – someone was after them. We must have            faith and dependence upon God.
  1. Every person has a crisis of salvation                                                                                                                                       a. Do I exercise faith and receive Jesus as Saviour?                                                                                                           b. Do I fail to exercise faith and remain unsaved bound for hell?                                                                                          a. Every person has a crisis of obedience after salvation                                                                                                      b. Will I follow the Lord in baptism, being obedient to the Word of God                                                                        c. Will I refuse to obey the Lord in baptism? Do we have the faith to believe in and trust the Word of God                in these matters?                                                                                                                                                                      d. Will I have the faith to tell others how to be saved?                                                                                                          e. Will I lack in the faith and not tell my neighbor, perhaps resulting in their not hearing the Gospel and                   leave them headed for hell?                                                                                                                                                  d. Will I have the faith to tithe on my income? Will I lack the faith to believe in and obey God’s Word in this           and other matters?
  1. Every time a Christian faces a crisis and comes through it by faith, the begin to have a

victorious Christian life. Every time we fail, by disobedience (lack of faith) we

experience a defeat in our Christian life. The root problem is always lack of faith.

  1. We read of Israel’s failure to enter Canaan; “Giants in the land.”                                                                              a. We may say: “Why didn’t they just believe God’s Word, follow it, believe it, act upon it, do it … and gain the      victory that God had waiting for them?”                                                                                                                            b. Are we not guilty of the same things, only in other areas of our lives? Where is your faith? Faith to believe;        faith to act; faith to do?

III.  Chapter 3-5                                                                                                                                                                                              A. Don’t get ahead of the Lord chap. 3 – vs 3-5

  1. Vs 4 – leave a space; stay behind and follow
  2. Israel had not “passed this way heretofore;”                                                                                                                           a. vs 4 for the greater respect, because the presence of the ark was the symbol and pledge of the Divine presence.                                                                                                                                                                                b. the ark was to be their pilot over these  waters                                                                                          B. Memorial stones 4:5-7 & vs 21-24
  1. this was done to remind the Israelites of what God did for them
  2. today, we may use a monument; a plaque etc. as a reminder
  3. we, too, should remember and be reminded what the Lord has done for us                                                                   both, as individual Christians and as a local church.
  1. Circumcision: chapter 5 vs 2-8
  2. this is a sign of the Abrahamic Covenant – Genesis 17:7-14 & Romans 4:11-16                                                         C. spiritually, or in typology, this is putting to death the deeds of the body through the                                                  Spirit: Colossians 2:11-13 & 3:5-10                                                                                                                                       D. The “unseen Captain;” 5:13-15

IV. Chapters 6-12

  1. The conquest of Jericho chapter 6
  2. God’s plan was to show His power and glory and not man’s
  3. Rahab and her family spared vs 25
  4. The sin of Achan;  7:1
  5. the sin of disobedience; covetousness; sinful pride
  6. this is also love of the world and “disagreeing” with God’s Word
  7. “pay day” comes to all vs 12 – Israel pays for the sin of Achan
  8. Three campaigns
  9. The Central Campaign 6:6-8:29
  10. includes the battle of Jericho
  11. the defeat at Ai, because of Achan’s sin, the victory was in the second battle
  12. The Southern Campaign: 9:1-10:43
  13. The treaty with Gibeah
  14. destruction of the Amorite coalition
  15. The Northern Campaign 11:1-15

Summary of the conquest: 11:16-23.  The list of the defeated Kings are in chapter 12.

Lessons: One: Just as the Lord led Israel into the Promised Land,  likewise, the Lord Jesus Christ, our Commander in Chief, leads us into the promised Land of the Christian life by way of our salvation through faith in Jesus Christ; Hebrews 2:9-10.

Two: Jesus Christ is the one who leads us to become victorious overcomers once we have entered into the Promised Land of our Christian life; I John 5:4-5.

Three: Through the three campaigns of this section of Joshua, we learn that obedience brings victory by the power of God through our faith in Him.

Our sin, (example in Joshua, sin of Achan) breaks the flow of power from God and we defeat ourselves (battle of Ai). When the sin problem is dealt with, we can experience victory in exactly the same situation as we had previously experienced defeat.  We also learn that our sin can  cause defeat for those around us also; I Cor, 12:25-26.

Four: We learn that it is the power of God and not our own power and might, that gives us the victory.                          V. The Occupation chapters 12-24

  1. The Lord instructs Joshua about the division of the Land 13:1-7
  2. A portion for Caleb chap 14
  3. this fulfills the promise God made through Moses
  4. the promise was that Caleb and his descendants would inherit the land that his feet                                                  walked on when he entered the land.
  5. The portion to the Tribe of Judah chap. 15
  6. The portion to the Tribe of Joseph chap. 16-17
  7. The portion to the seven remaining Tribes chaps 18-19
  8. Cities of refuge and the Cities of the Levites chaps 20-21:42
  9. The portion to the Levites chap 21

VI. Joshua’s Last Counsels To The People chap. 23 – 24

A. Farewell address by Joshua chap 23

B. Joshua rehearses the past and renews God’s Covenant with the people chap. 24

C. Death of Joshua and Eleazer the High Priest  24:29-33


Summary: Genesis is the Book of beginnings. Exodus is the leading out of God’s people and their redemption. Leviticus shows us the story of Atonement and Holiness that God expected of the people. Numbers showed the consequences of unbelief and the cleansing and purifying of the nation in the wilderness; their eventual victory according to God’s will. Deuteronomy shows a faithful God and His love as God prepared the new generation to receive the  promise that was rejected by the old generation. Deut. 6:23 “He brought us out … that He might bring us in …” Joshua  shows us God’s fulfillment of His promises  to bring the people into the Land by His power and might. This is the same power that brought them out. He divides the Land to give each Tribe the inheritance that he promised to them.

Not all of the Tribes would take the inheritance that was offered to them. This sin delayed the victories that God had awaiting them. God offers to us the victorious Christian life, but He will not force us to  take it. It is our choice to obey; get rid of our sin and properly use what He offers to us.