After Moses' death Joshua became the shepherd of Israel. He was a soldier. He was a young man at the time of the Exodus. He became Moses’ aide. He fought and defeated the Amalekites while Moses prayed (Ex 17:10). When Moses went up Mount Sinai to receive the Law and the Commandments, Joshua went with him part of the way (Ex 24:13; 32:17). When the Israelites repented after the golden calf incident, Moses pitched a tent outside the camp and went there daily to meet God, seeking his forgiveness. Joshua stayed in that tent to guard it (Ex 33:11).
Joshua opens where Numbers and Deuteronomy end– with Israel encamped on the plains of Moab, on the east bank of the Jordan, just opposite Jericho. Forty years before, when they had reached to border of Canaan, Joshua was one of the 12 spies sent in to survey the land. Only he and Caleb had urged the people to obey God and go in and take the land. Their advice, however, was not followed. So the people received 40 years of wilderness training. Now, they were at the border of the promised land, ready to go in and conquer it.
In Deuteronomy, Moses reviewed the history and the law, gave instructions about how to conquer and live in the land, appointed Joshua to lead Israel, then climbed Mount Nebo and died. God had promised Abraham that he would give the land of Canaan to his descendants. This promise had sustained the people through 400 years of slavery in Egypt and 40 years in the wilderness. Now, Joshua must lead them into the land to conquer it and claim God's promise.
Joshua 1-12 -- Entering and conquering the land
Joshua 13-24 -- Dividing the Land
BE STRONG AND COURAGEOUS
Key Verse: 1:7
1. I will give you the land (1-5)
After Moses died, the leadership of God's people passed to Joshua. He had served God well as Moses' aide, but what would he do under the pressure of real responsibility? God told him what he must do. He and the people must cross the Jordan and claim the land God promised to give them. God promised to be with Joshua as he was with Moses. God’s promises are for those who claim them, and for those who obey God’s commands. Jesus gave a similar command and promise to his disciples in Matthew 28:19,20.
2. Be strong and very courageous (6-9)
Three times God told Joshua to be strong and courageous. Before conquering the land, he must conquer himself. He can do this by obeying God’s word. This is faith in action. God said, “Do not let this book of the Law depart from your mouth...Do everything written in it.” Strength and courage come from God’s word hidden in the heart and from believing God’s promise. Fear is the opposite of faith.
Prayer: Lord, help me to be strong and courageous to obey your word and claim your promises.
One Word: Be strong and very courageous
JOSHUA'S FIRST TEST OF LEADERSHIP
Key Verse: 1:16
1. Get ready to cross the Jordan (10,11)
Joshua told the people to prepare to cross the Jordan in three days. They would go in and possess the land God was giving them.
2. 2½ tribes settled on the east bank (12-15)
Moses had allowed the tribes of Reuben, Gad and half of Manasseh to settle east of the Jordan in land already conquered--on the condition that they join with the other tribes to fight until the whole land was conquered. Now, the time had come to cross the Jordan and fight. It was tempting for them to forget Moses' command and their promise, and settle down with their families to enjoy an easy life. Joshua challenged their fighting men to lead the way, fully armed, across the Jordan, and to fight until the land was conquered.
3. Whatever you command we will obey (16-18)
The men of these three tribes wholeheartedly obeyed Joshua. They prayed that God might be with him, and that he might be strong and courageous.
Prayer: Lord, forgive my desire for an easy life when so much of the world mission task is still not done.
One Word: ...until the land is conquered...
Key Verse: 2:11
1. Rahab helps the spies (1-7)
Rahab was a prostitute and a citizen of Jericho. When the Israeli spies came to her house, she protected them. She betrayed her own people and risked her life by lying to the king of Jericho. Why?
2. I heard about the Lord your God (8-24)
Rahab had heard about the mighty works of God on behalf of the Israelites. She believed that God had dried up the Red Sea to deliver Israel from Egypt, and that he had given Israel victory over the Amorites. She believed that the God of Israel was the God of heaven and earth, and that he would give Canaan to Israel. By faith, she helped the spies. She told them that the hearts of the people of Jericho were melting because of the God of Israel. She let them down by a rope through a window, and hung a scarlet cord in the window. They promised to protect her and her household. Her faith planted faith in Israel. She is listed among the heros of faith (Heb 11:31), and she is included in Jesus’ genealogy (Mt 1).
Prayer: Lord, root my faith in your history. Teach me commitment to you and your people.
One Word: By faith, Rahab...
CROSSING THE JORDAN
Key Verse: 3:4a
1. Follow the ark (1-6)
God's people were at the edge of the Jordan, the border of the Promised Land. They had never been this way before. God told Joshua to let the ark of the covenant lead the way. The ark symbolized God's living presence among them; it contained the Bible. God still leads his people by his word. The ark was carried by Levites, as the Law of God commanded.
2. The living God is among you (7-17)
The powerful and hostile Canaanites were on the other side of the Jordan; Joshua's leadership was untested. God used the miraculous crossing of the Jordan to teach the people that God was with Joshua, as he had been with Moses. God would be with them to drive out their enemies. The Jordan was at flood stage, but when the feet of the priests carrying the ark touched the water, the water piled up in a heap and the people crossed the river on dry ground. God who opened the way for them to leave Egypt, was opening the way to enter the promised land.
Prayer: Lord, I do not know the way unless you lead me. Help me to follow your word.
One Word: Cross over by faith; follow God's word
WHAT DO THESE STONES MEAN?
Key Verse: 4:24
1. The Lord exalted Joshua (1-18)
While the priests carrying the ark of the covenant stood in the middle of the Jordan, Israel crossed over on dry land, the Trans-Jordan tribes leading the way. One man from each tribe brought a large stone from the middle of the river where the priests carrying the ark stood. Joshua set up these stones at Gilgal. God established Joshua’s leadership by drying up the Jordan. The people obeyed him as they had obeyed Moses. As soon as everyone had crossed over, the waters returned.
2. What do these stones mean? (19-24)
The stones were a reminder of what God had done. Crossing the Jordan marked the beginning of the battle, not the end. The stones were to remind God's people and their children to fight with a sense of history and a sense of victory. All the people of the earth must know that the hand of the Lord is powerful, and God's people must fear him.
Prayer: Lord, help me to remember your mighty work and have a sense of history so that I can fight the good fight of faith.
One Word: So that all the people might know
PREPARATION FOR BATTLE
Key Verse: 5:9
1. Circumcision (1-9)
Forty years before the Israelites had failed to enter the promised land because of unbelief and disobedience. All those of fighting age who had come out of Egypt had died on the way. Now, the new generation was ready to enter the land. But those born in the desert had not been circumcised. Circumcision identified them as God’s people. It was a sign of their covenant with God. It was a sign of repentance and the cutting away of the old slave life. Now, at Gilgal (“rolled-away”) Joshua circumcised the Israelites. Before beginning the battle, God's people must repent. God rolled away the reproach of Egypt.
2. The Passover (10-12)
The Israelites celebrated their first Passover in the promised land. It was a reminder of God’s forgiveness and God’s redemption. They ate the passover, then the manna ceased. From this time, they would eat the produce of the land of Canaan. There was no turning back. They must go forward with God and conquer.
Prayer: Lord, circumcise my heart and dwell with me so that I may win the victory over life.
One Word: Be ready for the battle
THE COMMANDER OF THE LORD’S ARMY
Key Verse: 5:14
1. Holy ground (5:13-6:1)
As Joshua approached Jericho, he saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword. He asked him, “Are you for us or for our enemies?” The Lord does not take sides. Joshua and we must choose to be on his side. Joshua fell facedown in reverence. He surrendered to the Lord. The place where we meet God is holy ground. Joshua awaited his orders. Jericho was tightly shut up, like a city under siege because of the fear of Israel.
2. The Lord’s instructions (6:2-5)
The Lord promised Joshua victory before he even started fighting. God had already delivered Jericho into his hands. But the victory must be claimed by faith. And the faith must be expressed in obedience. Marching around the city looks dangerous and pointless, but the Lord promised victory. At the sound of the trumpet on the 7th day the walls would fall and the people must shout and go in and take the city.
Prayer: Lord, help me to find victory through surrender to you.
One Word: Surrender to God and win the victory
THE FALL OF JERICHO
Key Verse: 6:27
1. Marching around Jericho (6-14)
Joshua first mobilized the priests who carried the ark. Seven priests blowing trumpets marched in front of the ark. An armed guard went ahead, and a rear guard followed. No one spoke. They circled the city once and returned to camp. The next morning they again circled the city once and returned to camp. This continued each day for six days. Joshua depended on the Lord, not on himself, and he obeyed the word of the Lord.
2. The walls fall down (15-20)
On the 7th day they marched silently around the city seven times. Then they gave a great shout. The walls collapsed and each man charged straight in. They took the city. The wicked and adulterous city of Jericho was devoted to destruction. The spies kept their promise. Rahab and her family were saved because of her faith in God. God was with his obedient servant, Joshua, and his fame spread.
Prayer: Lord, be with me in the spiritual battle. Help me to fight in your way, and help me to live by faith.
One Word: The Lord was with Joshua
DEFEAT AT AI
Key Verse: 7:10-11a
1. Defeat and despair (1-9)
They had been warned not to take any plunder from Jericho (6:18). But greed burned in Achan’s heart and he took something. The next city to be conquered was the small city of Ai. They thought Ai was a piece of cake, but when they attacked, they were utterly humiliated. They were defeated and chased from the city gates. The people's hearts melted. Joshua fell face down before the Lord. In his heart he thought that God had failed them.
2. Stand up! Israel has sinned (10-12)
But God had not failed. Israel had been defeated because of a hidden sin. God's covenant had been violated because someone had been greedy. One man had been unfaithful and the nation suffered.
3. The Lord turned from his fierce anger (13-26)
Achan and his act of greed and disobedience was exposed, and he and his family were punished. God's people are defeated if they harbor hidden sin.
Prayer: Lord, cleanse me from hidden sin.
One Word: One man's sin defeats a nation
THE CONQUEST OF AI
Key Verse: 8:1,18
1. I have delivered the city into your hands (1-8)
The people lost courage because of their defeat at Ai. They had failed because of their sin, and they had repented. Now it was time to try again. The Lord's word of promise to Joshua renewed their courage. The Lord gave Joshua a plan for action. They must listen carefully and follow the Lord's plan. Then they would win a victory. They needed the obedience that comes from faith.
2. Hold out your javelin toward Ai (9-29)
Joshua sent 30,000 men behind the city to set an ambush. He spent the night in the camp with his men, then early the next morning they marched out to become bait to lure the soldiers of Ai out of the city. At exactly the right time, the Lord said, "Hold out toward Ai the javelin..." This was the signal for the men in ambush to attack the city. There was a great victory over Ai that day. God gives victory when his people repent and obey his word.
Prayer: Lord, help me to repent and obey your word. Give me courage to try again.
One Word: Obedience to God's word brings victory
THE ALTAR AND THE WORD OF GOD
Key Verse: 8:34,35
1. The altar that became a Bible (30-32)
Joshua built an altar according to the specifications of the Law of Moses. After offering blood sacrifices to atone for sin, Joshua copied on the stones of the altar the blessings and the curses written in the Law of Moses. The altar became a Bible.
2. A solemn promise before God (33-35)
Half of the people stood in front of Mount Ebal, and half stood in front of Mount Gerizim. The ark of the covenant was between them. Joshua read to them the words of the Law--the blessings and the curses. When he read the curses, the people standing on Mount Ebal shouted, "Amen." When he read the blessings, those standing on Mount Gerizim shouted "Amen." This ceremony marked the new beginning that had been made in the promised land. God's people are a people of the Book. The Bible is our only rule of faith and practice. It tells us what the life of blessing is, and what the life of curse is. When we believe God's promises and obey his commands, he blesses us, and we are truly blessed.
Prayer: Lord, help me to obey your word so that I may live under your blessing.
One Word: Obey God's word and be blessed
A TREATY WITH THE GIBEONITES
Key Verse: 9:14,15
1. The Gibeonite ruse (1-15)
The inhabitants of Canaan came together to stop the Israelite invasion. But the Gibeonites did not join them because they heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai, and they believed that God was with Israel. They feared for their lives, so they sent a delegation of men disguised to look as if they had come from a distant country. The Israelites did not pray about their request for peace--they tasted the moldy bread, believed the ruse and made a treaty.
2. Joshua honors the treaty (16-27)
When the Israelites heard that the Gibeonites did not live in a distant land, but were near neighbors who had tricked them, they were angry. But Joshua honored the treaty and protected the Gibeonites. Promises should not be made hastily--and when they are made, they should be kept. The Gibeonites were humble. They were willing to become menial servants in order to live among the people of God.
Prayer: Lord, help me to keep my promises, even when doing so is costly. Thank you for the privilege of living among God's people.
One Word: Pray first; keep promises
THE DAY THE SUN STOOD STILL
Joshua 10:1-43 (Read 1-15)
Key Verse: 10:14
1. The sun stands still (1-15)
The kings of southern Canaan were alarmed when they heard about the treaty of peace which Gibeon had made with Israel. So five Amorite kings joined forces to attack Gibeon. The Gibeonites asked for help. Joshua honored his treaty with them. The Lord promised victory to Joshua, and Joshua believed his promise. He took the Amorite kings by surprise, attacking them at Gibeon, and the Lord helped him by hurling down hailstones. The day was not long enough to finish the job, so at Joshua's request, the Lord made the sun stand still for a full day. The Lord's promised judgment fell on the Amorites (Ge 15:15).
2. The southern campaign (16-43)
The battle at Gibeon broke the hold of the Canaanites in the southern region. After executing the five Amorite kings, Joshua attacked and destroyed the important cities of the southern region in one campaign. The Lord fought for Israel.
Prayer: Lord, when you fight for your people, victory is sure. Help me to stand on your side, and fight your battles.
One Word: The Lord fights for his people
THE TASK COMPLETED
Key Verse: 11:15
1. The northern campaign (1-20)
The kings of northern Canaan gathered at the Waters of Merom to fight Israel. They came with a huge army, like the sand on the seashore. God encouraged Joshua with his word (6). Joshua obeyed the instructions God had given Moses. He did not act from anger or with vengeance; he persevered until the land was conquered. He was an instrument of God's judgment on a corrupt and godless people. We are engaged in a spiritual war. Our enemy is Satan and the powers of darkness and evil; our weapon, the sword of the Spirit, the word of God (Eph 6:10-18). God gives victory to those who obey his word.
2. The land had rest from war (21-23)
Joshua even attacked and destroyed the Anakites--the giants who had terrified the Israelites 40 years before. They took the whole land, just as the Lord had told Moses. It took time, but Joshua kept on until he finished the task, and the land had rest from war. We must not rest from the spiritual battle until God gives each of us the final victory. (See Heb 4:8-11.)
Prayer: Lord, help me to persevere in the fight of faith until I can claim the victory and enter your rest.
One Word: Obey God--persevere and win the victory
THE LAND STILL TO BE TAKEN
Key Verse: 13:1
(Chapter 12 is a summary of the conquests of Moses on the east side of the Jordan, and of Joshua on the west side, up until the land had rest from war.)
1. The land still to be taken (1-7)
God did not promise his people an easy time. The land had to be conquered. Even though it was occupied by hostile people, Joshua was to divide it and allot it to the various tribes by faith, believing that God would drive out Israel's enemies and give his people the land when they claimed it by faith. Each tribe must claim its own inheritance.
2. The Eastern tribes and Levi (8-33)
The land east of the Jordan had been conquered and assigned to 2½ tribes during Moses' lifetime. The men of those tribes, however, had joined in the military campaigns. It was time for them to claim their own inheritance. The tribe of Levi was a tribe of priests. They received no land, for the Lord was their inheritance. They were assigned to live in various cities throughout the land.
Prayer: Lord, teach me to trust and obey you; help me to claim your promised inheritance.
One Word: Claim your inheritance by faith
Key Verse: 14:12
1. As the Lord commanded Moses (1-5)
Joshua divided the land among the tribes just as the Lord had commanded Moses. He was obedient to God's word.
2. Caleb remembers God's promise (6-9)
Caleb was one of the 12 spies who explored Canaan 40 years before. He and Joshua looked at the land with the eyes of faith and had encouraged the people to go in and conquer. Because he followed the Lord wholeheartedly, Moses gave him the land he had explored, Hebron. Now, 45 years had passed and Caleb was 85 years old.
3. The Anakites (10-15)
The land Caleb asked for was full of large fortified cities and giants--the Anakites. Caleb did not shrink back. He still trusted God with his whole heart, and he was ready, with the Lord's help, to take the land the Lord had promised him.
Prayer: Lord, help me to follow you wholeheartedly all my life; give me faith to fight giants when I am 85!
One Word: Claim God's promise by faith
SETTLING IN THE LAND
(Read Joshua 15:12-19)
Key Verse: 15:16
1. Boundaries of Judah’s inheritance(1-12)
Chapters 15-22 tell how the land was allotted to the twelve tribes of Israel. Chapter 15 describes the boundaries of Judah. There is also a glimpse of the romance and history of settling the land.
2. Othniel and Caleb's daughter Acsah (13-19)
With God's help, Caleb drove the giants out of his inheritance and claimed it. He offered his daughter's hand in marriage to the man who captured Debir. Acsah must have been as beautiful as she was able, and her father loved her very much (18,19). Othniel risked his life to conquer Debir and claim her as his bride.
3. The clans of Judah and the Jebusites (20-63)
The clans of Judah were allotted land within their boundaries. The Canaanites left in the land became a corrupting influence. Jerusalem was not conquered until David's time (15:63). The land was promised to Israel, but promises of God must be claimed by faith.
Prayer: Lord, give me courage and patience and faith to claim your promises.
One Word: Claim God's promises
CLEAR THE LAND FOR YOURSELVES
(Read Joshua 17:1-18)
Key Verse: 17:15
1. The daughters of Zelophehad (16:1-17:11)
Joseph's two sons each received a son's--not a grandson's--portion of the land. The sons of Makir, Manasseh's firstborn, were great soldiers. They had inherited Gilead and Bashan, the east bank of the Jordan. Zelophehad was a descendant of Makir. He had five daughters and no sons. These daughters had asked Moses for their father's inheritance, and Moses had acquiesced (Nu 27,36). Now they came forward to claim their inheritance. Faith and courage have priority in God's sight.
2. Pioneers of the new land (17:12-18)
Joseph's descendants thought that their land allotment was too small, and they complained because the Canaanites on their borders were too powerful. So Joshua challenged them. He gave them rights to the land occupied by the Canaanites. All they had to do was to claim it by faith and clear it for themselves.
Prayer: Lord, give me faith and courage to claim the promises of your word. Help me to depend on you and be a pioneer.
One Word: Don't complain--do it yourself!
DIVIDING THE LAND
(Read Joshua 18:1-10)
Key Verse: 18:3
1. How long will you wait? (1-7)
The Israelites brought the land of Canaan under their control and set up the Tent of Meeting at Shiloh. Canaanites had been driven out or subdued. But there were seven tribes which had not claimed their inheritance. It was time for them to do so. We must also claim the spiritual inheritance which God has promised us in his word.
2. A survey and land assignments (8-10)
Three men from each of the concerned tribes were appointed to participate in the survey. They were to divide the land into seven parts; then, Joshua cast lots and made assignments. The Levites’ inheritance was not land but it was the priestly service of the Lord (7). Judah was dominant in the south, and Ephraim in the north. Benjamin was assigned land between Judah and Ephraim. Simeon was assigned land within Judah; Zebulun, Issachar, Asher, Naphtali and Dan were assigned land to the north.
Prayer: Lord, give me faith and courage to claim the spiritual inheritance you promised.
One Word: How long will you procrastinate?
CITIES OF REFUGE
Key Verse: 20:2
1. Designate cities of refuge (1-3; 7-10)
The Lord God is merciful, and he is just. He reveals himself through his word, and his laws reflect his character. He spoke to Moses, then to Joshua concerning the establishment of cities of refuge. The purpose of these cities was to keep people from committing acts of revenge, and to ensure that justice was carried out. God is just, but he tempers justice with mercy. The guilty should be punished, but God does not want his people to harbor a spirit of revenge. A vengeful spirit destroys the man or nation that holds on to it. God's people must not nurse grudges.
2. The accused must stand trial (4-6)
Although a man accused of manslaughter was protected from the avenger of blood by taking refuge in the city of refuge, he could not use the city of refuge as a ploy to obstruct justice. He must have a fair trial before the assembly.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for not punishing me according to my sins. Thank you for Jesus, my great city of refuge.
One Word: Justice tempered with mercy
GOD KEEPS HIS PROMISES
Key Verse: 21:45
1. The Levites's inheritance (1-42)
Levi had three sons: Kohath, Gershon and Merari. Aaron and Moses were descendants of Kohath. All priests were descended from Aaron. The Levites were the spiritual shepherds of Israel, so they were not assigned a territory, but were scattered in various cities throughout Israel. This fulfilled God's promises to Jacob (Ge 49:7) and to Moses (Ex 32:28,29). God can turn curses into blessings and blessings into curses, depending on one's faith and obedience, or lack of it.
2. The Lord gave rest (43-45)
God promised to give the land to Israel. He kept his promise. Israel occupied the land of Canaan and had rest from war. God is faithful to keep his promises. God's people may lose a few battles, but God is sure to win the war.
Prayer: Lord, I sometimes lose a battle, but I believe that you will win the war. Help me to persevere so that I may share in your victory.
One Word: God keeps his promises
THE EASTERN TRIBES RETURN HOME
Key Verse: 22:3
1. Mission accomplished (1-9)
The tribes of Reuben, Gad and half of Manasseh inherited the land east of the Jordan, the first territory to be conquered. But the men of these tribes did not settle down until the whole war of conquest was over. They joined in the fight until the mission was accomplished, and the task finished.
2. A misunderstanding cleared up (10-34)
When the men of the eastern tribes crossed the Jordan to return to their homes, they built an altar on the border. It seemed to the men of the other tribes that they were establishing their own religion and separating from Israel. Phinehas, who had singlehandedly stopped Baal worship with his spear (Nu 25), led the investigation committee. He was ready to fight. But he listened to the explanation and found that his brothers were actually faithful to God.
Prayer: Lord, help me to finish the mission you have given me; help me to work for the peace and unity of God's people.
One Word: Finish the task
BE CAREFUL TO LOVE THE LORD
Key Verse: 23:10,11
1. Be careful to obey the Book (1-10)
Joshua had some important last words. First, he reminded them that they had conquered the land because the Lord fought with them (3). The Lord would continue fighting for them to push out the godless nations which remained (5,10). So they must not compromise with idolatry in any way, and they must be careful to obey all that is written in the Book-- the Bible.
2. Be careful to love the Lord (11-13)
God does not want superficial lip service. He wants us to love him from the heart. To worship other gods or to compromise with false religions is spiritual adultery. If we love God, we will obey his commandments (Jn 14:21,23).
3. Remember that God keeps his promises (14-16)
God promised to bless those who love and obey him and to destroy those who compromise with idolatry.
Prayer: Lord, I love you. Help me to obey your word and claim your promises.
One Word: Love God--He fights for you
CHOOSE FOR YOURSELVES
Key Verse: 24:15
1. Joshua's message and decision (1-15)
Joshua assembled the people and reviewed what God had done. God called Abraham and gave him countless descendants. God sent Moses to deliver them, and when the Egyptians pursued, God opened the Red Sea before them. He was with them in the desert. He gave them victory over the Amorites on the east bank of the Jordan. He turned Balak's curses into blessings. God drove out the Canaanites and gave them cities which they did not build and vineyards which they did not plant. God poured out his grace on them. They must fear God and serve him faithfully. It was the time to get rid of idols. It was the time for them to choose whom they would serve. Joshua made his decision: He would serve the Lord.
2. A covenant with God (16-33)
When the people declared that they too would serve the Lord, Joshua warned them that this was a dangerous decision. If they indulged in idolatry after having covenanted with God, it would be disastrous. But the people decided, and the covenant was sealed.
Prayer: Lord, help me to keep my covenant with you.