This is the first of the 12 historical books, from Joshua through to Esther, that provides the link between the Pentateuch and the continuation of Israel’s history.
The title is named after Joshua the son of Nun, whose original name is Hoshea, “Salvation” (Num 13:8); however, Moses changes this to Yehoshua, “Yahweh is Salvation” (Num 13:16). This is the Hebrew equivalent of the Greek name Iesous (Jesus). The name is symbolic of the fact that although he is the leader of the Israelite nation during the conquest, it is the Lord that is the conqueror.
Joshua was from the tribe of Ephraim (Num 13:8) and was Moses assistant throughout the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. He had been with Moses on Mount Sinai (Exodus 24:13) and he had been one of the 12 spies sent out to bring back a report, only he and Caleb declared that with God’s strength that they could conquer the land of Canaan. Joshua is over 80 years of age when God tells him that he is His choice to succeed Moses following his death. Moses had led Israel out of Egypt and now Joshua would lead His people into the Promised Land. Chapter 1 sees Joshua commissioned as leader by God. In v5, God tells him, that as He was with Moses, so He will be with him. That He will not leave him nor forsake him. In v8 God says that He will make his way prosperous, which as opposed to what some may think prosperous means, it means that he will achieve what he sets out to achieve in God’s name. In v9, one of my favourite verses: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
These words of great encouragement where not just for Joshua on a personal level, but they were for all His people to be fortified to be strengthened in the knowledge that God was with them. As Moses was a great leader and lawgiver, Joshua was to be a great leader in Gods strength.
In Jericho, Rahab the prostitute puts her faith in the God of Israel after hearing of the miracles that God had done for His people. At the risk of her own life, she helps the Israelite spies. Hanging a scarlet cord from the window of her house saved her and her house from harm during the Israelite attack on Jericho.
With Joshua’s army walking around the walls for 7 days being led by the ark of the Lord, trumpets blowing, God flattens the wall’s of Jericho in Chapter 6.
Joshua leads many successful military campaigns to rid the lands of pagan, idol worshipping people, the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzitets, Hivites and Jebusites. Much like the book of Acts is the ‘explosion’ to smash through paganism in the New Testament, Joshua is in the Old Testament smashing his way through the pagans.
The book of Joshua not only gives us a reminder of the great things that can be achieved when God is with us but also what to expect as a result of the opposite, sinning against God. The sin of Achan is a deception against the whole of the people by not owning up to the theft of goods that he had stole from at Jericho, he brought on swift judgement to himself from God, being stoned to death by the people. Like Ananias and Sapphira in the New Testament, the couple lied about money to keep it for themselves against the common good of the people, the judgement of God was swift.
The book is a picture of Salvation, which is the same in our own lives today, as Moses brought the people out of Egypt, it was Joshua the saviour who brought them into the Promised Land. Getting out of Egypt did not in itself constitute salvation, but getting into Canaan did.
Christians are not just saved ‘from’ something, we are saved ‘to’ something. It is possible to get out of Egypt but still be in the wilderness; to stop living the lifestyle of a non -believer but not enjoy the glory of the Christian life.
Joshua shows many times, how God blesses His people. The Promised Land is His gift to them.