Joshua: Introduction (1)
Then Moses called Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, “Be strong and of good courage, for you must go with this people to the land which the LORD has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall cause them to inherit it. And the LORD, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31.7, 8
Reflect and discuss.
1. What was Moses’ charge to Joshua? On what was that charge based? Faithfully carried out, what would that charge accomplish?
2. What’s the difference between being afraid and being dismayed? Why must we overcome each of these in doing the Lord’s work?
Think about it.
We begin our study of the book of Joshua by meeting him who is the central character of this story. For nearly forty years, Joshua served as an assistant to Moses (cf. Ex. 17.9-13; 24.13). He would have seen the glory of God many times over and would have understood well the challenges involved in leading the people of Israel into the land of promise. An entire generation grew up seeing Moses and Joshua together, and they would have recognized him as the logical successor to the lawgiver of Sinai.
Joshua seems to have had a bent for battle (Ex. 32.17), and thus he was the logical candidate for Moses to appoint in leading the people against the Amalekites in the wilderness (Ex. 17.9-13), and as part of the team sent to spy out the land of promise (Num. 13.8). His name originally was Hoshea, but Moses changed it to Joshua – “He delivers” (Num. 13.16). Moses seems to have understood that God had great plans for his young assistant.
It was probably no surprise when Moses appointed Joshua to lead the people across the Jordan in conquest of the land of Canaan (Deut. 31.1-8). Shortly before Moses’ death, he charged Joshua and installed him as leader of Israel in the presence of the Lord in the tabernacle (Deut. 31.14-23). It was evident to all the people that Joshua was not only an effective military leader, but he “was full of the spirit of wisdom” as Moses had been (Deut. 34.9). They readily and wholeheartedly embraced him as the one to lead them into the land of promise (Deut. 34.9).
Joshua was a great man, but like all men, he was flawed. We’ll try to learn from his example and his flaws how we should follow the Lord in realizing more of His promised deliverance. Joshua succeeded in the task to which he was appointed, and thus the people of God moved one step further along in their covenantal journey with the Lord.
But Joshua’s greatest achievement was to point forward to a coming day when a greater Joshua would deliver all who believe in and follow Him into the eternal promises and rest of God, into the Kingdom and City to Come, where all the blessings promised to Abraham and typified in the land of promise would finally be realized (Heb. 4.1-10).
As we study the book of Joshua, we’ll look forward to Jesus and the promises He delivers His people into in the new covenant.
Meditate and discuss.
1. Moses changed Hoshea’s name to Joshua. What significance should we attach to that? The book of Joshua is the first book in the Bible that carries the name of a main character. Why is this important?
2. In many ways, Joshua symbolizes Jesus and Jesus fulfills the promise of Joshua. Explain.
3. The story of Joshua is a continuation of God’s covenant as given to Abraham and Moses. Which aspects of each of these periods – Abrahamic and Mosaic – should we expect to see continuing in Joshua?
“And the same [Moses] by divine inspiration foresaw the name Jesus very clearly and again also endowed this with special privilege. The name of Jesus, which had never been uttered among men before it was made known to Moses, Moses applied first to this one alone.”Eusebius of Caesarea (260-340 AD)
Thank You, Lord Jesus, that You have set Your Name – Christian – on me. Help me to fulfill the promise of that Name by…
Pray Psalm 105.1-12.
Thank God for His covenant, judgments, faithfulness, promises, and power, as these were realized in Moses’ and Joshua’s day, and as you anticipate realizing them today.
Psalm 105.1-11 (Warrington: Give to Our God Immortal Praise)
Give thanks unto the Lord Most High; call on His Name, before Him cry!
Make known His deeds in every land; sing praise for all the works of His hand.
Glory in God, rejoice in heart, all you who seek His holy part.
Him and His strength and presence seek; His works proclaim, His judgments speak.
You holy children of Abraham, you chosen ones of Jacob, stand!
He is our Lord, of wondrous worth; His judgments are in all the earth.
He will His covenant faithfully guard – His oath, the promise of His Word.
That which He to our fathers swore, He will perform forevermore!
T. M. Moore
Where does the book of Joshua fit in the ongoing story of God’s covenant? Our workbook, God’s Covenant, can help you discover the place in God’s work of redemption not only of Joshua but of all the books of the Bible. God’s Covenant is a valuable resource to guide you in all your studies in God’s Word. To order your copy, click here.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006.