Joshua: Introduction (5)
“And they took strong cities and a rich land,
And possessed houses full of all goods,
Cisterns already dug, vineyards, olive groves,
And fruit trees in abundance.
So they ate and were filled and grew fat,
And delighted themselves in Your great goodness.” Nehemiah 9.25
Reflect and discuss.
1. What were conditions like in Jerusalem in the time of Ezra and Nehemiah? Do you think the people might have considered that the task before them was impossible? Explain.
2. Surrounded by enemies and possessing only the barest minimum of resources, the people of Ezra’s and Nehemiah’s day rebuilt the city and the temple. Why? What was so important about this in the ongoing history of God’s people?
Think about it.
The people who returned to the land of promise under Ezra and Nehemiah were not the battle-ready multitudes Joshua commanded. Nor were they the prosperous and feared nation David and Solomon brought into being. They were a few thousand priests and farmers, dependents of the Persian king, opposed by fierce enemies, prone to compromise, infighting, and neglect of duty, and doubtful that they could succeed in their assigned task.
But they were led by men such as Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Zerubbabel, men who had no doubt about God’s call, no fear of God’s enemies, no hesitation in confronting and rallying the people to work, and no lack of strength to lead the people in reclaiming their covenant heritage.
As the temple and wall of Jerusalem came to completion, the leaders rallied their people to renewal and hope by placing their situation firmly within the heritage and legacy of men like Moses, Joshua, and David. As God had been good to His people in Joshua’s day, He would be good to them again. The leaders called the people to renew their covenant with the Lord, and they sang with thanksgiving on the walls of the city, facing the very temple which would one day welcome the “Desire of all nations” (Neh. 9.38; Hag. 2.6-9).
Anchored in the example and achievement of Joshua and the people of Israel, this humble band of devoted disciples completed their task, renewing their covenant with God and looking forward to the promised day when God’s covenant would embrace all nations, and God’s glory would cover the earth as the water covers the sea (Hab. 2.14).
As the story of Joshua motivated the nation under David, so it sustained and energized the returning exiles under Ezra and Nehemiah. We are called to a similar task today: build the Lord’s city (Matt. 16.18; Eph. 4.11-16) and raise up with His Spirit a glorious temple for all the nations (Eph. 2.19-22). Perhaps we can find in the example of Joshua and the people of Israel renewed hope and vigor for the work we’ve been given to do.
Meditate and discuss.
1. In what ways is the task to which we have been called like that of the people under Nehemiah and Ezra? How is it similar to the challenge facing Joshua and the people of Israel in his day?
2. The people under Joshua and the people under Ezra and Nehemiah had to overcome considerable challenges in fulfilling their calling. Such as? What challenges do you face in fulfilling your calling from the Lord?
3. We are the people – the Lord’s temple (1 Cor. 6.19, 20) – to whom “the Desire of all nations” has come. What do you hope to learn from Joshua, and the people who first subdued the land of promise, for gaining more of God’s promises in our day?
“It was said above that they were confessing their sins and the sins of their ancestors; here, when Ezra prays, it is shown more fully how this was done. But where he says at the end, ‘Because of all this, therefore, we ourselves are making a covenant and writing it down, and our leaders, our Levites and our priests are signing it,’ and so on, it is shown more clearly with what gracious devotion all the various persons made a new assembly after the Feast of the Tabernacles, namely, so that after purging themselves with resolved purpose from the contagions of their wrongdoings, they might unite themselves to the divine covenant and confirm its terms by word and in writing.” The Venerable Bede (672-735 AD)
Thank You, Lord Jesus, Desire of all nations, for making me a chosen vessel for Your…
Pray Psalm 72.
Be sure to thank God for the many promises of blessing that accompany the coming of His Kingdom. Ask Him to show you how you might know more of those blessings, and be more of a blessing to the people around you today.
Psalm 72.1-8 (Martyrdom: Alas! And Did My Savior Bleed)
O give the King Your judgment, Lord, and righteousness Your Son;
And let Him judge by Your good Word the need of every one.
Let now the mountains ring with peace, the hills in righteousness.
Let justice rise, oppression cease, and all the needy bless.
Let nations fear You while the sun and moon endure on high;
Refresh, renew us, every one, like sweet rain falling from the sky.
Let righteousness abundant be where Jesus’ reign endures;
Let peace increase from sea to sea ‘til moonlight shall be no more.
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.
Not yet a subscriber to our Crosfigell teaching letter? You’re missing a wealth of insight from Scripture and Celtic Christian leaders. Use the pop-up at the website to update your subscriptions today.
Please prayerfully consider sharing with The Fellowship of Ailbe through your giving. You can contribute to The Fellowship by clicking the Contribute button at the website or by sending your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 19 Tyler Drive, Essex Junction, VT 05452.
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.