Joshua: Power and Promise

Joshua teaches us the importance of the "double look."

Joshua: Introduction (2)

“If you should say in your heart, ‘These nations are greater than I; how can I dispossess them?’— you shall not be afraid of them, 
but you shall remember well what the LORD your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt…” Deuteronomy 7.17, 18

“Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the LORD your God will set you high above all nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the LORD your God… Deuteronomy 28.1, 2

Reflect and discuss.
1.  As we come to the beginning of the book of Joshua, God instructs His people not to be afraid, but to look back and remember His mighty works in the past. Which mighty works? Is it important that our faith be grounded in such works as these? Explain.

2.  At the same time, as we shall see, God commands His people to look forward and long for the precious and very great promises He holds out to them. Those promises are outlined in Genesis 12.1-3. Are these same promises ours as well? Explain.

Think about it.
Read Deuteronomy 7.17-24. As they waited on the plains of Moab, east of Canaan, the people of Israel knew that the task before them would be difficult. Many great nations inhabited the land of Canaan, and they were well trained in war and in defending their own lands. But Moses called them to set their doubts and fears into the larger framework of God’s power and redemption. They must remember all God had done for them, and go forward in faith, believing that God would do similar great works for them in dispossessing the nations of Canaan.

Read Deuteronomy 28.1-14. At the same time as God instructed His people to look back and remember His mighty works in the past, He pointed them forward, in practical and material terms, to the realization of His promised blessings, once they had accomplished their mission. The LORD their God would be with them in the land of promise, to sustain and bless them in line with the promises given to Abraham (Gen. 12.1-3).

Joshua would have taken these lessons to heart. As leader of God’s people, his faith and courage would have been bolstered and sustained by this “double look” – back to what God had done, and forward to what He promised to do. Each look requires faith. It takes faith to believe that God has really done the extraordinary works reported in Scripture. And it takes faith to believe that God will not fail in carrying out all His precious and very great promises.

Joshua would have to exemplify that faith, reminding the people of God and His works and calling them to struggle toward the promises yet to be realized. He was just the man to lead Israel into the next stage of their covenant relationship with God. Joshua embodied the work of God in the past, as he served with Moses to sustain Israel in the wilderness. And, as Israel’s new leader, he embodied the hopes of the future in his own name: “he delivers.”

In this, Joshua is like Jesus, Who accomplished God’s greatest work – redeeming His people and His world – and Who is the fullness of God’s promises, daily realized as we increase in Him, but only fully realized when we see Him face to face (2 Cor. 1.20; 3.12-18; 1 Jn. 3.1-3). And, like Joshua, Jesus’ names – Jesus and Immanuel – declare God’s work and promises in bringing the fullness of His covenant to those who believe (cf. Matt. 1.21-23).

Meditate and discuss.
1.  How does the idea of the “double look” apply to us as believers today?

2.  Joshua is a type of Christ. A type is something that is real and has significance in its own place and time, but it also points beyond itself to something yet to come. In what ways is Joshua a type of Christ?

3.  The land of promise (Deut. 28.1-14) is a type of God’s covenant, specifically, the New Covenant into which Jesus delivers all who believe in and follow Him. Explain.

The name of Jesus [Joshua] was a type. For this reason then, and because of the very name, the creation reverenced him. What then! Was no other person called Jesus [Joshua]? But this man was on this account so called as a type; for he used to be called Hoshea. Therefore the name was changed: for it was a prediction and a prophecy.” John Chrysostom (344-407 AD)

Lord, help me to contend each day by living in Your truth – 
all Your truth, including the Law and the prophets and…

Pray Psalm 105.42-45.

As you pray these words, recall as many of God’s precious and very great promises as you can, and thank Him for the ways He has fulfilled these promises for you in Jesus (Gen. 12.1-3; 2 Pet. 1.4).

Psalm 105.44, 45 (Warrington: Give to Our God Immortal Praise)
To them He granted the promised land, the portion of His gracious hand. 
Though they were few, and wandered far, He kept them close within His heart. 

So let us all in our Savior confide, and in His holy Law abide. 
Let us observe His glorious Word, and praise our sovereign, faithful Lord!

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.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT. 

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