The Book of Joshua contains all the great events which took place among the people of Israel, from the death of Moses to the death of Joshua – a period of somewhat more than 20 years. During this time, the conquest of Canaan and its division among the tribes of Israel was accomplished. This was a memorable period in the history of God’s people – especially when it is considered as a representation of the spiritual conquest of the Church over her enemies by Jesus – our spiritual Joshua, Who subdues all opposition and brings His people into that rest which remains for the people of God (Heb. 4:9).
The power and truth of God in fulfilling His promises to Israel, and in executing His justly-threatened vengeance upon the Canaanites, are wonderfully displayed in this Book. This should teach us to take warning from the tremendous curses denounced in the Word of God against impenitent sinners, and also to seek refuge in the Lord Jesus!
Not only does the Book of Joshua show the Lord of Hosts as the One Who determines the issues of war and the bounds of people’s habitations, but it also shows us much of Christ and His grace. Although Joshua is not expressly mentioned in the New Testament as a picture of Christ, yet it is clearly evident that he was a very eminent one. He bore our Savior’s name, in its Hebrew form; and it means, “he shall save.” Joshua saved God’s people from the Canaanites, but our Lord Jesus saves them from their sins. Joshua represented Christ as the Captain of our salvation – a leader and commander of the people, to tread Satan under their feet, to put them in possession of the heavenly Canaan, and to give them rest (which Hebrews 4:8 tells us that Joshua did not do).
Joshua had formerly been the servant of Moses, but now he was to be his successor. It is fitting that those who are called to positions of honor should first be accustomed to filling positions of service. Even our Lord Jesus took upon Himself the form of a servant. After Moses’ death, the Lord gave Joshua a call to arise and work! The passing away of righteous men should quicken their survivors to be even more diligent in doing good. Joshua was to arise and finish the work which Moses had begun – that great work of bringing God’s people into the Promised Land. Christ, our Joshua, does for us what could never be done by the law of Moses; He both justifies (Acts 13:39) and sanctifies (Rom. 8:3).
“Arise!” said the Lord. “Go over Jordan!” And we must pause to observe that at this place and time, the banks of the Jordan River were overflowing. Joshua had no bridges or boats, and yet he was put into a position where he was forced to trust and believe that God – having ordered the people over the river – would open a way.
The Lord spoke of the ease with which the Israelites would gain possession of the Promised Land. “Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you” (verse 3). It was like saying, “Just set your feet upon it, and it’s all yours!” The Lord also made promises to Joshua for his encouragement. He could be assured of the presence of the Lord with him in this great work to which he was called. Those who go where God sends them will have Him with them, wherever they go.
The Lord’s charge to Joshua was that he was to make the law of God his rule. He was to meditate therein day and night, so that he might understand it. No matter what affairs of this world we must attend to, we ought never neglect the one thing needful! All Joshua’s orders to the people, and all his decisions, were to be according to the law of God; and he was to encourage himself with the promises and the presence of God. He was not to let the sense of his own infirmities dishearten him, for Jehovah is all-sufficient. When we are in the way of our duty, we have good reason to be strong and very bold. Even our Lord Jesus (like Joshua) was sustained under His sufferings by a regard to the will of God, and the commandment from His Father.
Joshua told the people to prepare to cross the Jordan River, so that they might go in to possess the land that God had given them! The tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half of Manasseh had been commanded by Moses (Numbers 32) to go over the Jordan with their brethren; and Joshua reminded them of that solemn obligation that they were under. They had received an advantage by being the first possessors of land which had been won by the work of the whole nation. And when God, by His Providence, has given us rest; we ought to consider what service we may also do to our brothers and sisters.
Happily, these tribes were indeed faithful to the promise that they had made to Moses. But it was not the heads of these tribes alone that returned an answer to Joshua. The officers and representatives of all the people concurred with the Divine appointment of Joshua as their leader; and they cheerfully and heartily promised to obey him in all that he commanded them, without murmuring or disputing. The leaders of the tribes also prayed for the presence of God to be with their new commander, and to give him prosperity and success. Prayers and supplications are to made for all who are in positions of authority (1 Tim. 2:1-2), and the best thing that we can pray for our leaders is that they would have the presence of God among them. This will make them blessings to us; and so when we seek this for them, it is for our own best interests as well.
O Captain of our salvation! We thank You for going before us in all the victories over sin, death, hell, and the grave. Give us strength and courage to follow You until You bring us home to heaven forever! Amen.
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