Today we will learn about Joshua, who succeeded Moses as the leader of the ancient Israelites and led them into the Promised Land.
The Lord anointed Joshua after he showed extraordinary faith when the Israelites were rebelling against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites were distraught after hearing what awaited them when they entered the Promised Land after wandering in the desert for 40 years. (Read Numbers Chapter 14 subtitled “The People Rebel” for all the details.) What follows is a quick synopsis that begins in Numbers Chapter 13.
God told Moses to send one man from each of the 12 Tribes of Israel to “explore the land of Canaan which I am giving to the Israelites.” Joshua represented his tribe, Ephraim. Upon returning, the men described, “cities were fortified and very large,” with “people of great size,” but also saw the promised “fruit” of the land. Ten of the men were discouraged and encouraged rebellion against Moses and Aaron, warning, “ ‘We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are’ ” (Numbers 13:31).
But Joshua had a different mindset. He boldly proclaimed in front of “the entire Israeli assembly” that the land was “exceedingly good” and detailed his faith and action plan:
“‘If the LORD is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. Only do not rebel against the LORD. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will devour them. Their protection is gone, but the LORD is with us. Do not be afraid of them’ ” (Numbers 14:8-9).
Meanwhile, Moses was in his last chapter of life. Although a great leader and man of God, Moses had disobeyed God’s instructions only once, but for that was denied entry into the Promised Land. (See Vol. 86). Thus, Moses asked God to “appoint a man” to “lead them.” Moses’s request is recorded in Numbers 27:15-17, and God responded:
“‘Take Joshua son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit of leadership, and lay your hand on him’ ” (Numbers 27:18-23). (I linked God’s entire transition plan.)
In the Hebrew Bible, Numbers precedes Deuteronomy, where Chapter 31 details the transfer of power to Joshua shortly before Moses dies. Here is the “inauguration”:
“Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the presence of all Israel, ‘Be strong and courageous, for you must go with this people into the land that the Lord swore to their ancestors to give them, and you must divide it among them as their inheritance. The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged’ ” (Deuteronomy 31:7-8).
With that passage as his mission statement, Joshua successfully ruled over the Israelites for 28 years. He was a brilliant military leader because he understood that victory was delivered only through obedience and faith in HIM, not himself.
Following Deuteronomy, the book of Joshua begins with God’s guidelines and directives to His new leader, mirroring what Moses had told Joshua:
“‘No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them’ ” (Joshua 1: 5-6). Continuing, God says to Joshua:
“‘Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful’ ” (Joshua 1: 8).
Three times in the whole passage, God told Joshua to “be strong and courageous.” Joshua soon recognized that was how he would overcome his three complex and concurrent challenges: Conquer the land; keep the Israelites from worshipping foreign gods; lead the people to act with total faith and obedience to God.
Only once at Ai did Joshua suffer a military defeat. Afterward, it was discovered that Achan, one of Joshua’s men, had disobeyed the Lord’s instructions to destroy everything after the Battle of Jericho, but he had kept some of the loot.
The following passage ends with Joshua’s most familiar quote that hangs in our home and is often found in gift stores. Its ancient wisdom applies to modern culture with “gods” around us in many forms that block people from worshipping and serving Him:
“‘But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord’ ” (Joshua 24:15).
Through many battles, including the most famous at Jericho (“when the walls came tumbling down”) Joshua proves to his people that it is the Lord who gave them the land:
“‘Now then,’ said Joshua, ‘throw away the foreign gods that are among you and yield your hearts to the LORD, the God of Israel.’ And the people said to Joshua, ‘We will serve the LORD our God and obey him’ ” (Joshua 24: 23-24).
Finally, there is a Christian scholarly interpretation that Joshua foreshadows Jesus beginning with Joshua’s name. In Hebrew, his name is Yehochu’a, meaning, “Yahweh is salvation,” linked to Jesus’s Hebrew name – the similar-sounding Yeshua. Furthermore, chosen by the Lord, Joshua led his people to conquer their enemies and claim the Promised Land in God’s name. Whereas Lord Jesus leads believers to conquer sin so they will enter the eternal “Promised Land.”
For more commentary, I reached out to Rabbi Aaron Allsbrook, who leads the Ohev Yisrael Messianic Jewish Congregation in Springfield, Virginia. He said, “It seems quite evident to me that Joshua is a foreshadowing of Jesus. Like Joshua, Jesus is the one who establishes the Kingdom of God on earth.” Amen to that!
Now let’s listen to a famous song about Joshua’s miraculous military victory – all to His glory. First, a kid’s version with lyrics, and then a gospel singer from Graceland.
Author’s Note: Interested readers can find all previous volumes of this series here. News Flash: The first 56 volumes are compiled into a book titled “Bible Study For Those Who Don’t Read The Bible.” More details at the end. Now back to our regular programming.
Myra Kahn Adams is a media producer and conservative political and religious writer with numerous national credits. Her new book, “Bible Study For Those Who Don’t Read The Bible,” reprints the first 56 volumes of this popular study. Myra is also Executive Director of SignFromGod.org, a ministry dedicated to Shroud of Turin education. Contact: MyraAdams01@gmail.com or Twitter @MyraKAdams.
Cross-posted at Townhall and Substack.