Monday, November 21, 2016
An overview of the Book of Joshua
Joshua 24:15 "If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
Note: The map above derives from the website - http://www.believersmagazine.com/bm.php?i=20091110
Today's post features an overview of the sixth book of the Bible: the book of Joshua. Old Testament scholar Gleason Archer notes concerning this book:
"It is reasonable to deduce this book was basically compiled by Joshua himself. Intimate biographical details are given from the very first chapter the only Joshua himself could have known (Joshua 5:1,6 and 24:26). There is later evidence of editorial work, such as his decease (24:29-30; 24:31)".
The opening verses of this post are among the more well known scripture passages in all of the Bible. Joshua's book details the aftermath of Moses' death and what the Israelite nation would do in following Moses' successor and long-time protege - Joshua.
A brief note on Joshua, the man
Early-on we find Joshua being at Moses' side and ever ready to defend Moses (see Exodus 24:13; Numbers 11:28). Joshua would take on the role as a general of sorts in the battles the people would have against opponents (see Exodus 17:3-14). In Numbers 14:6,30 and 14:38, it was Joshua and Caleb who suggested that the people could enter the promised land despite protestations from their fellow spies who had journeyed in to spy out the promised land. God personally handpicked Joshua to succeed Joshua, an appointment he revealed before Moses died (Deuteronomy 1:38)
A brief summary of the book of Joshua and its connection to the Christian life
Joshua's book is all about how the people would cross the Jordan River and begin the process of possessing the land promised to their ancestors (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob). The Bible Knowledge Commentary notes:
"The purpose of the Book of Joshua is to give an official account of the historical fulfillment of the Lord’s promise to the patriarchs to give Israel the land of Canaan by holy war. A “holy war” was a conflict with religious overtones rather than one with a political motivation of defense or expansion. This can be seen in both the opening charge (1:2–6) and the concluding summary (21:43).
Specifically, the conquest of Canaan under Joshua’s leadership was based on the Abrahamic Covenant. God, having dealt with all nations, made Abraham the center of His purposes and determined to reach the lost world through Abraham’s seed."
In as much as Joshua covers a specific historic period in Israel's history (1399-1375 b.c), the New Testament gives hints to it having moral and spiritual application to today's Christian. For every New Testament doctrine, we have at least one concrete, historical illustration of that truth in the Old Testament. Hebrews uses the book of Joshua to highlight the need for repentance and even more so, how the promised-land portrays the struggles and victories experienced in one's sanctification. To put it another way, the crossing of the Red Sea illustrates salvation from sin and death; whereas the Jews crossing of the Jordan picture the death to self and entryway into the post-conversion Christian life. God promised the land of Canaan to Abraham.
In Joshua, we find the urgency to possess the land. For Christ-followers, receiving one's spiritual inheritance in Christ occurs in conversion, with the resultant Divine declarations of justification and adoption to sonship. What follows from one's salvation (i.e justification) amounts to the ongoing-work of the Spirit's sanctification, whereby the Christian is living out and working with God in their sanctification.
New Testament books such as Ephesians speak of the believer's spiritual inheritance and the military motif of "putting on the whole armor of God" to fight the good fight of faith. In Joshua, we see these same spiritual principles played out in a moral literal, historical fashion.
More next time.....