“Now after the death of Moses the servant of the Lord it came to pass, that the Lord spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ minister, saying, 2 Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel. 3 Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses.
4 From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast. 5 There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. 6 Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them.
7 Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest.
8 This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. 9 Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” ~Joshua 1:1-9
He had been born into Egyptian slavery, c. 1500 BC. However, his godly parents, from the tribe of Ephraim, believed that one day the Lord would deliver His people as He had promised. So, they named their child Hoshea (Oshea) “salvation” (Num. 13:8; Deut. 32:44).
The child grew to be a young warrior of exceptional courage and leadership ability which was recognized by Moses. Two months after Israel’s exodus, c. 1446 BC, Oshea was honored to be appointed Moses’ commander. The selection was a good one, for Oshea successfully repulsed an Amalekite attack (Ex. 17:9).
To honor the man and the mission, Moses changed the commander’s name to Jehoshua, “Jehovah’s salvation” (Num. 13:16; 1 Chron. 7:27) which in Greek is “Jesus” (Acts 7:45; Heb. 4:8). Joshua became a symbol of the Substance to come. Joshua remained close to Moses. He was with Moses on Sinai (Ex. 24:13; 32:17) and he stood guard over both his tent (Ex. 33:11) and his position (Num. 11:28).
Every spiritual leader needs faithful men of like mind and heart to support him in the work that God has called him to do. Without such total support there can be no forward progress or positive direction given.
Not only was Joshua loyal to Moses, he was a man of great faith. In 1445 BC, when Moses sent out spies to report on the land of Palestine, Joshua, along with Caleb, opposed the majority report, insisting that faith in God could lead the way to conquest of Canaan. He was almost stoned for excessive optimism (Num. 14:7-10). The Lord honored such faith (Num. 33:12). Joshua and Caleb were assured that they would enter the Land of Promise while the rest of their generation died in the wilderness (Num. 13:30; 14:24; 26:65).
The time had now come for Israel to enter Canaan. Joshua would be the leader of the people in this endeavor for Moses was dead. He who had led Israel for 40 years was now dead. The importance of Moses to the national life of Israel cannot be underestimated. His influence on the Jewish people, and the world, is still recognized to the present hour.
Without doubt the greatest legacy Moses left Israel was the Law as set forth in the Pentateuch. In the first five books of the Bible the whole of the Christian life is anticipated and set forth, reflected in the great doctrinal themes of salvation in each work. Genesis is the book of beginnings, both physically and spiritually. Physically, the beginning of the heavens and the earth is recorded. Spiritually, doctrinal truths begin to be set forth. In the book of Genesis, we find the Doctrine of Election, reflecting the fact that salvation began in God’s eternal purpose.
In Genesis we read that Noah “found grace in the eyes of the Lord” (Gen. 6:8). Shem, rather than Japheth or Ham, was the one selected to be the channel through which the Savior would come (Gen. 9:26). We see the call of Abram to be the father of the chosen Nation. We behold God passing by Ishmael to love Jacob, while hating Esau. We witness God appointing Joseph from the twelve sons of Jacob to be the honored instrument of saving his brethren and their families from starvation.
The same principle of election applies in the selection of the younger son of Joseph to be blessed instead of his firstborn. And so it is, “God hath from the beginning chosen you unto salvation” (2 Thess. 2:13). As election is a great theme in Genesis, the Doctrine of Redemption is displayed in Exodus. The sovereign God has a right to pass by one and choose another to salvation and service. Those who are elected by God for salvation will be redeemed. Moses was commanded to speak to the people of Israel and say, “I am the Lord, and will bring you out from under the burden of the Egyptians, and I will rid with great judgments” (Ex. 6:6). God kept His word.
On the other side of their passage through the Red Sea the children of Israel sang praises to God saying, “Thou in Thy mercy hast led froth the people which Thou hast redeemed. Thou hast guided them in Thy strength unto Thy holy habitation” (Ex. 15:13). The natural desire to praise and worship the Lord was encouraged in Leviticus.
The book of Leviticus covers a very short period of Hebrew history, of less than two months (Ex. 40:17 cf. Num. 10:11). The doctrinal theme of Leviticus is that of fellowship and worship. Elect persons who have been redeemed will want to worship and have fellowship with their God. From the door of the tabernacle “the Lord called unto Moses and spake unto him” (Lev. 1:1) to instruct him on the proper form of worship. God will be “sanctified in them that draw nigh Him” (Lev. 10:3). The redeemed will also be sanctified, so that they might walk in an acceptable manner before God. Such is the teaching of the book of Numbers.
The fourth book of the Bible teaches the doctrine of sanctification. God has a numbered people who are to walk before Him in righteousness and love. But notice that Leviticus precedes Numbers, which reminds the believer that it is only as they commune with God within the veil, they are able to go out into the world and walk before Him. It is not easy to be in the world but this is the place the Lord would have His people remain for a little while after conversion. The Christian is not to be isolated from the world, but insulated from its corruption through sanctification. The reason why people fail morally and spiritually in their personal lives is because they stop the process of sanctification. They turn away from having a faithful communion with God.
Anticipating failure in life, God in matchless grace comes again to His people to tell them once more, “This is the way, walk in it.” The book of Deuteronomy teaches the doctrine of a second chance, and gospel obedience. The name Deuteronomy literally means “a second law.” In this book the law is repeated a second time (Ex. 20 cf. Deut. 5) after the horrific sin of Israel at Kadesh-barnea. It was at Kadesh-barnea that the people tested the Lord’s patience. In His wrath God swore that all the adult Israelites who came out of Egypt, with two exceptions in Caleb and Joshua, would perish. In His mercy God renewed the law with His people. The new generation was expected to obey the law, reflected in the key words of Deuteronomy: “remember” (14 times); “hear” (over 30 times) and “do” (about 100).
There is a natural progression in the divine revelation of the Pentateuch. The doctrine of election is followed by redemption, which is followed by fellowship and worship. This in turn leads to a holy life, and, if marred by sin, a return to the Lord by repentance and remembering the Laws of God. When a people is chosen, redeemed, worshiping the Lord, large in number and united in gospel obedience, it becomes a powerful force in the world. And that is the scene that is set before us in the book of Joshua. In the nation of Israel God now has a people He can use. He will send them forth to fight for a possession, but only according to principles of righteousness.
Before sending them into battle the Lord has a Great Commission to give. It is not unusual for commanders of an army to give words of exhortation to comfort and challenge the soldiers. On the eve of June 6, 1944 General Dwight D. Eisenhower visited the Allied troops. With soldiers surrounding him Eisenhower gave them words of courage.
“Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Forces: You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.
Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle-hardened. He will fight savagely. But this is the year 1944! Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man-to-man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our Home Fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to Victory!
I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full victory!
Good Luck! And let us all beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.”
On the eve of the great conquest of Canaan God came to Joshua to comfort his heart.
The Lord gave to Joshua words of reality Joshua 1:2.
The Lord gave to Joshua words of promise Joshua 1:3-6
The Lord gave to Joshua words of encouragement Joshua 1:7
The Lord gave to Joshua words of regulation Joshua 1:8
The Lord gave to Joshua words of remembrance Joshua 1:9
The words of reality are found in verse two. “Moses my servant is dead.” When the people of Israel learned that Moses was dead the Bible says the nation mourned for 30 days (Deut. 34:8). There was appropriate weeping and mourning for such is the nature of love and respect—but then life moves on. A great lesson is learned. A nation is not to be dependent upon any one person for its survival. God wants His people to be dependent upon Him.
At about 4 AM on the 6th of March 1953 broadcasting on the Soviet State radio was interrupted by a roll of drums. The message was that Joseph Stalin had died. Many ordinary citizens could hardly believe their ears. They could not imagine life without Stalin. He had dominated the country, in peace and war, for twenty-six years. A whole generation had grown up knowing no other leader. At school, on the radio and in the work place he had consistently been built up into a god-like figure. It did not seem possible that he was mortal.
All over the country the people mourned, even in the labour camps, and they queued to see Stalin’s body as it lay in state in Red Square. Hundreds of people were crushed to death when the crowd got out of control. Even when dead, it seemed, the Man of Steel still had the power to kill his people. His body was embalmed and placed beside that of Lenin in the specially constructed mausoleum outside the Kremlin.
“Moses, my servant is dead,” said the Lord. “Now it is time for you to act. Joshua, here is my promise to you. ‘Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses. 4 From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast. 5 There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. 6 Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them’”.
When Joshua heard these words of the Lord faith welled up inside his heart. He believed God, and He believed in the promises of God. When the presence of the Lord was withdrawn, Joshua could still move forward, for the Lord gave to Joshua and thus the people of Israel abiding words to regulate their behavior. Now and forever, they would have the Law to study and meditate upon.
“And Joshua,” said the Lord, “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.”
The noblest purpose in studying God’s Word is to lead the believer to a life of gospel obedience.
The Bible is not to be studied to try and figure out how to control God according to presupposed fixed principles or spiritual laws.
The Bible is not to be studied to find temporary comfort for a guilty conscience, though the words of Scripture do bring healing to hurting hearts.
The Bible is not to be studied to find out how to grow rich and powerful. In fact there are strong warnings against such a pursuit for Christians.
“Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom” (Prov. 23:4).
“But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. 11 But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness” (1 Tim. 6:9-11).
The Bible is to be studied so that it might lead to a life of obedience. Only then will there be true spiritual prosperity and success.
Because he was encouraged by the Word of God, and was committed to doing the will of the Lord, Joshua began to prepare the people for battle. Canaan would be taken according to promise, but how God would give the land to His people was through military victory.
Using force God would drive out the many national tribes that inhabited Palestine but did not honor Him. Divine judgment had come to Palestine.
Using force God, would secure for Israel a land.
Using force, God would secure for people the freedom to live and study and worship in a theocracy.
Why God uses the military to accomplish His purposes in the affairs of men is part of the mysterious providence of the Lord. Perhaps one day this part of the story will be revealed. Certainly there were, and are, other methods God could use to accomplish His will among the nations on earth. But the military is certainly one divinely ordained instrument in His arsenal.
In gospel obedience to the known will of the Lord Joshua prepared the nation for warfare. There was a land to conquer. There was a truth to remember: Freedom comes through military victory.
The country we live in today, the privileges we have in this nation, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly are ours to enjoy, because so many good men and women have given their lives to secure these precious treasures for us. Freedom is not free. Freedom comes with a price.
Spiritually the same is true. The privileges you and I enjoy as believers is because Jesus Christ went to the cross and paid the ultimate price for us. He died for our sins according to the Scriptures.
He entered the enemy’s territory and He was victorious.
We salute those who serve in the military. And then we remember that we are citizen soldiers in the army of God. Our Commander in Chief, our Joshua has told us to prepare for battle. And so we do. We put on the whole armor of God. We remember the promises of the Lord. We go forth to conquer the world, the flesh, and the devil.
“Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before.
Christ, the royal Master, leads against the foe;
Forward into battle see His banners go!
Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before.
At the sign of triumph Satan’s host doth flee;
On then, Christian soldiers, on to victory!
Hell’s foundations quiver at the shout of praise;
Brothers lift your voices, loud your anthems raise.
Like a mighty army moves the church of God;
Brothers, we are treading where the saints have trod.
We are not divided, all one body we,
One in hope and doctrine, one in charity.
What the saints established that I hold for true.
What the saints believèd, that I believe too.
Long as earth endureth, men the faith will hold,
Kingdoms, nations, empires, in destruction rolled.
Crowns and thrones may perish, kingdoms rise and wane,
But the church of Jesus constant will remain.
Gates of hell can never gainst that church prevail;
We have Christ’s own promise, and that cannot fail.
Onward then, ye people, join our happy throng,
Blend with ours your voices in the triumph song.
Glory, laud and honor unto Christ the King,
This through countless ages men and angels sing.”