INTRODUCTION TO THE BOOK OF JOSHUA
A New Beginning
Why should anybody today study the Book of Joshua, an ancient book that gives a grim account of war, slaughter, and conquest? If the Book of Joshua were fiction, we might accept it as an exciting adventure story; but the book conveys real history and is a part of inspired Holy Scripture. What does it mean to us today?
“There never was a good war, or a bad peace,” Benjamin Franklin wrote in 1783; but it’s possible that the wise old patriot was wrong for once. After all, God called Joshua to be a general and to lead the army of Israel in holy conquest. But there were bigger issues involved in that conquest than the invasion and possession of a land—issues that touch our lives and our faith today.
That’s why we’re embarking on this study. The Book of Joshua is the book of new beginnings for the people of God, and many believers today need a new beginning. After forty years of wandering in the wilderness, Israel claimed their inheritance and enjoyed the blessings of the land that God had prepared for them, “as the days of heaven upon the earth” (Deut. 11:21). That’s the kind of life God wants us to experience today. Jesus Christ, our Joshua, wants to lead us in conquest now and share with us all the treasures of His wonderful inheritance. He has “blessed us with all spiritual blessings” (Eph. 1:3), but too often we live like defeated paupers.
1. The New Leader
From Exodus 3 to Deuteronomy 34, the Bible focuses attention on the ministry of Moses, God’s chosen servant to lead the nation of Israel. But Moses died; and though he would not be forgotten (he’s named over fifty times in the Book of Joshua), a new “servant of the Lord” (Josh. 24:29) would take his place. “God buries His workers, but His work goes on.” We shall note later that this change in leadership carries with it a tremendous spiritual lesson for believers who want to experience God’s best in their lives.
Joshua the slave. God spent many years preparing Joshua for his calling. He was born into slavery in Egypt and was given the name Hoshea (Num. 13:8), which means “salvation.” Moses later changed it to Joshua (v. 16, NIV), “Jehovah is salvation,” which is the Hebrew form of “Jesus” (Matt. 1:21; see Acts 7:45 and Heb. 4:8). When his parents gave the baby the name “salvation,” they were bearing witness to their faith in God’s promise of redemption for His people (Gen. 15:12–16; 50:24–26). Joshua belonged to the tribe of Ephraim and was the firstborn son of Nun (1 Chron. 7:20–27). This meant that his life was in danger the night of Passover, but he had faith in the Lord and was protected by the blood of the lamb (Ex. 11–12).
While in Egypt, Joshua saw all the signs and wonders that God performed (Ex. 7–12); and he knew that Jehovah was a God of power who would care for His people. The Lord had humiliated the gods of Egypt and demonstrated that He alone was the true God (Ex. 12:12; Num. 33:4). Joshua saw the Lord open the Red Sea and then close the waters and drown the pursuing Egyptian army (Ex. 14–15). Joshua was a man of faith who knew the Lord and trusted Him to do wonders for His people.
Taken from Wiersbe, W. W – Be Strong – part 1