“Moses my servant is dead. Get ready! 1 Cross the Jordan River! Lead these people into the land which I am ready to hand over to them.“ – Joshua 1:2 NET
“The Book of Joshua, like all other books of the Bible, is primarily a book of theology. Through it God has revealed himself and continues to do so.” – Donald H. Madvig, The Expositors Bible Commentary
As we begin a new book, we begin a new chapter in the lives of the Israelites. They have a new leader in Joshua. They have a new generation. The old generation – the one that refused to go into the Promised Land 40 years earlier – has died off. Moses and Aaron are now dead. Joshua has been commissioned by God to serve in Moses’ place. “Then the LORD commissioned Joshua son of Nun with these words: “Be strong and courageous! You must bring the people of Israel into the land I swore to give them. I will be with you” (Deuteronomy 31:23 NLT).
Interestingly enough, the man who God chose to lead His people into the Promised Land was named Joshua. His name means, “Yahweh Saves.” Joshua is the Hebrew name that translates into Aramaic as Jesus. Yahweh, God Himself, was going to save His people, but He was going to do it through a man named Joshua. God was going to use this man to lead the people of God into the blessing of His promises for them. Just as Jesus, the God-man was going to lead those whom God has chosen into the blessings of His promise of eternal life and life more abundantly. While the book of Joshua is an historical account, it is more than that. It is a revelation of God’s will. It is a picture of God’s interaction with men as they attempt, sometimes unsuccessfully, to accomplish His will in a land rife with trials, temptations, and powerful forces that stand in opposition to them. So in a lot of ways, the book of Joshua is a glimpse into the very lives we lead as the people of God today. We have been given a Promised Land. We have been promised abundant life. We have been warned that there will be battles in the days ahead. But like the Israelites, we have been assured of God’s presence and of access to His power.
This book is going to be a sometimes uncomfortable reflection of our own struggle with believing God. He has given us our own Promised Land to possess, but it is occupied by enemy forces. It is filled with formidable foes who make it appear as if the promises of God are false. We face the constant temptation to allow fear to replace faith. We have to daily fight the urge to give up on God and give in to the desire to compromise with enemies rather than conquer them. God is going to be highly visible and active in this book. He will be behind the scenes working His plan and fulfilling His promises to His people. But they will be active as well – stumbling, bumbling, failing, and falling – as they attempt to live as God’s people in the land He has promised to give them.
They will experience victories and defeats. They will have moments when they obey and moments when they rebel. They will succeed and they will fail. They will listen to God, but then they will have times when they refuse to even hear His voice. Sound familiar? It should. Their story is our story. We are going to see ourselves in the lives of the people of God as they cross over the Jordan and attempt to possess what God has promised.
Father, make this book come alive to me. May I see You clearly in its pages. May I learn more and more about You and how You work. But may I also see me and my tendency to live like the Israelites – with limited faith and a seemingly unlimited propensity to disobey and doubt You. Show me the reality of Your promises and the barriers to enjoying them. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men