Joshua is mentioned about 200 times in Scripture (mostly within his own book). Only twice in the New Testament. In Acts 7:45, he is referenced in passing during Stephen’s great oration prior to his being stoned to death. And then the name is spoken of again in Hebrews 4:8. Candor depends upon your translation, for it is actually Jesus being imputed there.
By most standards and deductions, Joshua himself wrote the Book that bears his name. Thomas Nelson Bibles has facilitated this using seven basic principles. If you wish to know them, check out their website (thomasnelsonbibles.com) or type “who wrote the book of Joshua” in Google and it will be on the first page. Since the point of the author is not the point of our study, I won’t go into it any further than that. He wrote his own book.
That said, we are reminded that all Scripture itself was given by inspiration of God (2 Tim. 3:16-17). And I remind you that I generally use the New King James Version. But I might use the NIV. Or the Message. Or even God forbid the New Living Translation. The truth is God gave us a message. Sometimes, it’s easier to understand what He is saying by way of someone else’s interpretation. Don’t pass out if it’s not your favorite version!
Our story begins as Joshua is taking the reins from Moses. Recall, if you will, that Moses had lost his temper (Num. 20) and struck the rock that God had told him to speak to in order that water would come forth to replenish God’s people. He was mad because of the sin of the Israelites, which was an ongoing difficulty. But his anger caused God to banish him from the Land of Promise. He died within sight of that same land.
You may also recall the first we hear of Joshua was in Exodus 17, where Moses commands him to choose some men and go out to fight Amalek. But as recorded in Numbers (a later book), we see that Joshua had been among the 12 leaders sent into Canaan earlier to spy it out. He and Caleb were the only ones to return with a positive notion about the “Promised Land.” This is covered in Numbers 13 and 14.
So in the first chapter of Joshua, we pick up as Moses has died and Joshua, who is given the title “Moses’ assistant” (the King James refers to him as Moses’ Minister – a little more dignified but the same Hebrew word, sharath, meaning to serve), hears from the Lord to take the people over the Jordan River.
We won’t get too far here because this is more than just mere words and stories in a book. This is far greater than a man taking control from another and leading the people into a great destiny. Much of what happens along the way is food for you and me. It is not enough to have the simple book knowledge and the memorizations of the path that this man blazed. It is not enough to say to one’s self, “I have read the Bible.” It is not enough to look at this as a notch on our ever-quivering belt of Christian experiences.
No. Indeed, it is imperative that we gain the spiritual meanings, references, allegories, and underlying “nuggets” that God truly intends for us to garner. Otherwise, it is just a story in a book of books. And, perchance that the Bible is just that for you, my strongest advice is to plunge into it like you would into the deep end of the pool from the high dive on a sultry, sweaty summer day! Give rapt attention to this as we proceed, for much of this is no plain account but a plan that God laid out for us from the beginning of time. A plan that will take you from reading the simplest of narratives to a full life-altering realization that you may indeed never recover from. So we hopest!
Shall we begin?
The initial paragraph speaks, as we mentioned, of the handing off of the leadership to Joshua from Moses as Moses dies and God does the handing off. God tells his servant Joshua to begin by leading the children of Israel across the Jordan. Remember, we speak here of over one million people. Which is very difficult for us to comprehend. The numbers are not exact, but it would be somewhat equivalent to leading the entire city of San Diego, California forward as one massive group. A daunting task.
We also tend to become familiar with our central character and lose sight of the overall picture. Which is just that: THE BIG PICTURE! As we read in the previous accounts of Scripture, Joshua had a special relationship with Moses. God had plans to place him in a position of authority from the beginning. In fact, he had even joined Moses as he scaled the “Mountain of God,” Mount Sinai (Ex. 24). So we see, Joshua didn’t just show up and God didn’t just say, “Take over.” In fact, we often do not realize the age of Joshua at this point. But then, we fail to realize the age of many of the men in the Bible. We tend to picture them as Hollywood would do so. As inaccurate as that is, it remains not the point, nonetheless.
To keep this within a readable length, we will close here. When we come back in the next study, we will break down more of the conversation between God and Joshua, much of which can be a lesson to us directly. We struggle with the Old Testament not being pertinent to our day-to-day life. We often focus on the teachings of the Apostles in the New Testament. Which, to be sure, is a grand thing to apply to our lives. But there is much in the Old “Covenant” that still applies to us today.
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on authormrdavenport.wixsite.com/mrdavenport
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