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Lessons from the
Book of Joshua

By Ken Raggio


Moses' protege', Joshua, is one of the squeekiest-clean characters in the Bible. His testimony was virtually flawless - great faith, courageous, loyal to God and leader. It is no surprise that God handed the reigns to him when Moses died. Here is a great lesson for all would-be men and women of God. God rewards obedient faithfulness.

Joshua 1:5 - "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."

Play the Role

A character actor loses his own identity in his role. He disappears into the script. Whether it is Agamemnon at Troy in the Greek tragedy, or Cleopatra in Shakespeare's classic, the actor must not fail the role. God scripts our lives. From the moment we learn His will, we must follow it. Our behavior, speech, dress, hair, our entire countenance -- our whole lives are clearly defined in His script [scripture].

Joshua 1:8 - "This... shall not depart out of thy mouth...that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein."

Be Strong and Courageous

Joshua made an inspiring "pep talk" to Israel before crossing Jordan. "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 1:9). Do you think they would have conquered Canaan if they had been weak and afraid? Of course not! Every person faces weakness and fear eventually, but it has to be overcome. God commands it! Toss out all the self-doubts right now, and move forward

Joshua 1:18 - "...only be strong and of a good courage."

Rahab the Harlot

Joshua sent two spies into Jericho before crossing Jordan. They met Rahab, who revealed that the people were terrified of Israel, because they knew that God was with them since leaving Egypt. Rahab hid the spies from Jericho's king, for their promise that she and her family would be saved alive whenever Israel invaded Jericho. Afterward, one of Judah's descendants, Salmon, married Rahab. They begat Boaz, who married Ruth. They were grandparents to King David, and ultimately, Jesus Christ.

Joshua 2:9 - "And she said unto the men, I know that the LORD hath given you the land."

The Wood of the Tabernacle

The Ark of the Covenant, Table of Shewbread, Altar of Incense, and everything wooden in the Tabernacle was made of Shittim wood (Acacia Seyal). The last place Israel camped before entering the promised land was at a town named Abel-Shittim, which means "Meadow of the Acacias." I think there is some typology there. Wood, hay and stubble represent the temporal, mortal world. We will leave it all behind when we enter our Promised Land - the eternal kingdom of Jesus Christ.

Joshua 3:1 - "And Joshua rose early in the morning; and they removed from Shittim, and came to Jordan."

Step Out By Faith

Jordan was overflowing its banks, but Joshua told the Priests, bearing the Ark of the Covenant, to step into the waters. As a sign that God was still among them, and would drive out their enemies before them, the waters of Jordan immediately rolled back. If you want the promise, step out by faith and take it.

Joshua 3:17 - "And the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the midst of Jordan, and all the Israelites passed over on dry ground, until all the people were passed clean over Jordan."

Twelve Stones out of Jordan

As the priests carried the Ark of the Covenant into the river Jordan, the waters were immediately cut off. They stood on dry ground in the midst of the river while Israel crossed. Joshua instructed twelve men to haul twelve large stones from the river bottom to build a monument. Then he commanded the priests to come ashore. Immediately, the river overflowed its banks again. Keep a souvenir from your miracle to show your family and friends what God has done.

Joshua 4:20 - "And those twelve stones, which they took out of Jordan, did Joshua pitch in Gilgal."

Rolling Away The Reproach

Israel miraculously crossed the Jordan River on dry ground. News of what the Lord had done spread fear throughout the cities of Canaan. At Gilgal, God told Joshua to circumcise all males who were not circumcised in the wilderness. Then Joshua announced that God had rolled away the reproach of Egypt from Israel. The next day, the manna ceased falling and they ate the fruit of Canaan land from that day forward. Faithfulness to God will banish your reproaches.

Joshua 5:9 - "...the LORD said unto Joshua, This day have I rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off you."

Shout Unto God

Israel's first conquest inside the Promised Land was at Jericho. They marched around the city wall daily for a week, then seven times on the seventh day. When the trumpets sounded, the people shouted. The wall fell down. That victorious, one-syllable shout was as effective as a 1,000-word prayer. Shout unto God with a voice of triumph.

Joshua 6:16,20 - "...Joshua said unto the people, Shout; for the LORD hath given you the city. ...and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, ...and they took the city."

Prayer Exposes Sin

After a miraculous victory at Jericho, the Israelites were humiliated at war with the men of Ai. Thirty-six Israelites died. Joshua panicked, and fell on his face in prayer. God revealed the sins of Achan, who had unlawfully taken precious spoils at Jericho, instead of delivering them to the priests and the tabernacle. Achan and his family were executed, and God was appeased. Be careful. Your sins can cause much more tragedy than you ever expected.

Joshua 7:10-12 - "...the LORD said unto Joshua, ...Israel hath sinned, ...Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies."

Overcoming Defeat

After a great victory at Jericho, Israel suffered humiliating defeat at Ai because God found a grievous sin in the camp. Once the sins of Achan and his family were dealt with, God told Joshua that he could now go to war against Ai and win. Defeat must never be the end of a story. We all make mistakes, but we should correct them as best we can and fight on.

Joshua 8:1 - "...the LORD said unto Joshua, ... arise, go up to Ai: see, I have given into thy hand the king of Ai, and his people, and his city."

The Gibeonites

Gibeonites came to Joshua with old shoes, old garments, old sacks, old moldy bread, and old wine bottles. They pretended to come from AFAR, to trick Israel into making a league with them. Long ago, God said, "...I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand; and thou shalt drive them out before thee. Thou shalt make no covenant with them." (Exodus 23:31-32). Do not make peace with the devil. Prefer trouble with enemies over trouble with God.

Joshua 9:16 - "...after they had made a league with them ...they heard that they were their neighbours."

The Day the Sun Stood Still

Five hostile kings went to war against Gibeon, who called for Joshua to bring Israel to their defense. Joshua assembled his army, and they travelled all night to the battleground. The day wore on, and Joshua asked God for more time. "Stop the SUN!" God did! God can answer bold prayers.

Joshua 10:12,13 - "Then spake Joshua to the LORD... and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon. And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies."

When God Obeyed A Man

It does not matter how God made the sun and moon stand still for Joshua, nor that some scientists refute that it ever happened. This epic event is eclipsed by the fact that God obeyed the voice of a man. The CEV version says, "Never before and never since has the LORD done anything like that for someone who prayed." Your problems are no problem for God. Pray on.

Joshua 10:14 - "And there was no day like that before it or after it, that the LORD hearkened unto [obeyed] the voice of a man: for the LORD fought for Israel."

Divine Prerogative

God did not send Israel to kill good and godly people. God chose their enemies by His criteria. God sovereignly chooses heathen who have incriminated themselves before giving their place to the righteous. God knows the future of saints and sinners, and as Creator, has divine prerogative to take away from one and give to another.

Joshua 11:20 - " was of the LORD to harden their hearts, that they should come against Israel in battle, that he might destroy them utterly, and that they might have no favour, but that he might destroy them, as the LORD commanded Moses."

The Divine Premise of Possessing The Land

The premise upon which the nation of Israel is founded is God's jealousy over the world He created, and His sore displeasure with the sins of heathen nations. God is not arbitrarily prejudiced against any nation, but He certainly hates their worship of false gods, their idolatries, their moral depravities, and more. God does not owe anyone apologies for saying to Joshua and Israel, in effect, "Take this land." It is His land.

Joshua 12:7,24 - "...these are the kings of the country which Joshua and the children of Israel smote... all the kings thirty and one."

Distributing the Inheritance

Even though Moses was not allowed to enter the Promised Land, he had a pretty good understanding of how the land would be divided, and put it in the record before he died. When Joshua took over, God gave him more specific boundaries for dividing the land. We should never discount the divine component of this conquest. It was all written in the mind of God long before it happened. So is OUR inheritance.

Joshua 13:32 - "These are the countries which Moses did distribute for inheritance in the plains of Moab, on the other side Jordan, by Jericho, eastward."

Give Me This Mountain!

Joshua and Caleb had been the only two men among 600,000 who really believed they could take the Promised Land. "Moses sware on that day, saying, Surely the land whereon thy feet have trodden shall be thine inheritance, and thy children's for ever, because thou hast wholly followed the LORD my God," (Joshua 14:9). At 85 years old, Caleb boasted that God had kept him strong, and he was still ready to take the land. He and his descendants inherited Hebron.

Joshua 14:12 - "Now therefore give me this mountain, whereof the LORD spake in that day."

Caleb's Son-In-Law

Joshua 15 contains a tedious description of the land God assigned to the tribe of Judah. Caleb received a portion including a place called Kirjathsepher, and offered his daughter as wife for any man who would conquer it. Othniel volunteered, took the city, and won Caleb's daughter, Achsah. Caleb's new son-in-law became a great hero - the first judge in Israel after Joshua and Caleb died. Heroes tend to inspire other heroes.

Joshua 15:17 - "...Othniel the son of Kenaz, the brother of Caleb, took it: and he gave him Achsah his daughter to wife."

Joseph's Inheritance

From his childhood, Joseph seemed to be under the powerful influence of prophetic destiny, due to his favor with God's chosen man, Jacob. Once inside the Promised Land, Joseph's inheritance included some famous places: Bethel - where Abraham and Jacob met the Lord; Jericho - first city taken; and many other cities. This land of Ephraim and Manasseh stretched from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, lush and well-watered; the choicest of properties.

Joshua 16:1,3 - "And the lot of the children of Joseph fell from Jordan... and the goings out thereof are at the sea."

Robbing Bees and Milking Cows

The land given to Ephraim and Manasseh was the choicest of all the lands, but they complained of the Canaanites with their chariots of iron, and of the mountains with their heavy woods. Joshua simply told them, "You're a great people. Go and take it!" In this land which flowed with milk and honey, they were about to learn that you have to rob the bees and milk the cows.

Joshua 17:17-18 - "And Joshua spake, ...saying, Thou art a great people, and hast great power... thou shalt cut it down, ...and thou shalt drive out the Canaanites."

Casting Lots

To find the will of God, several Bible characters resorted to the equivalent of a "coin toss." Joshua cast lots to decide which tribes inherited which lands. Aaron cast lots between the scapegoat and the goat for atonement. Casting lots saved Jonathan from his father's rash fury. Priests, teachers, musicians and porters cast lots in King David's courts to establish chains of authority. Nehemiah did a similar thing while rebuilding Jerusalem. Jonah's sin was revealed by casting lots.

Joshua 18:10 - "And Joshua cast lots for them in Shiloh before the LORD: and there Joshua divided the land."

How Each Tribe Received The Land

Three tribes, Reuben, Gad and half of Manasseh, settled east of the Jordan River. Inside the Promised Land, God defined borders for every division. Joshua cast lots to give each tribe (except Levi) one division. God guided the lottery. The first lot went to Judah (15:1). Ephraim and Manasseh each received one lot (17:17). Each tribe gave individual cities by lot to Levi.

Joshua 19:1-40 - "...the second lot came forth to Simeon, ...the third lot..., ...Zebulun, ...the fourth lot..., ...Issachar, ...the fifth lot..., ...Asher, ...The sixth lot.. Naphtali, ...the seventh lot..., ...Dan." "...the lot of ... Benjamin," (Joshua 18:11).

A Fair Trial

In Numbers 35, Moses introduced the plan for cities of refuge, where accused murderers could flee until they could receive a fair trial. When Joshua apportioned the land to each tribe, he also appointed the cities of refuge. This is one of many evidences of God's justice and mercy.

Joshua 20:9 - "These were the cities appointed for all the children of Israel, and for the stranger that sojourneth among them, that whosoever killeth any person at unawares might flee thither, and not die by the hand of the avenger of blood, until he stood before the congregation."

Receiving The Promises

After forty years of wandering, Israel finally possessed what God promised to them. God will do all He promised for you, too. Just persevere!

Joshua 21:43-45 - "And the LORD gave unto Israel all the land which he sware to give unto their fathers; and they possessed it, and dwelt therein. And the LORD gave them rest round about, according to all that he sware unto their fathers: ...the LORD delivered all their enemies into their hand. There failed not ought of any good thing which the LORD had spoken unto the house of Israel; all came to pass."

What About Your Altar?

The tribes of Reuben, Gad and Manasseh lived east of Jordan, so they built their own altar unto the Lord. All Israel panicked for fear that it was a pagan altar. Phinehas, the Priest, and ten princes of the tribes went to investigate. The three tribes insisted that the altar was unto the true God. Phinehas was appeased. Such matters deserve to be confirmed.

Joshua 22:29 - "God forbid that we should rebel against the LORD, and turn this day from following the LORD, to build an altar..., beside the altar of the LORD our God that is before his tabernacle."

Joshua Prophesies

Modern Israel should read Joshua's prophecies again. His message as he was dying was essentially this: Remember the mighty things God has done for you. He will always defend you if you faithfully obey and serve Him. But if you compromise yourself with heathen nations, becoming like them, the LORD will stop defending you. They will become snares, traps, scourges and thorns to you, and you will perish off the land.

Joshua 23:15 - " all good things are come upon you, which the LORD your God promised you; so shall the LORD bring upon you all evil things."

When They Cried Unto The Lord

Before Joshua died, he admonished Israel to be faithful to God and warned them against forsaking the Lord. "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." He and Caleb were the only believers left from the previous generation. Joshua testified about how Israel cried to God forty years earlier when the Egyptians were pursuing them. We might never backslide if we would faithfully testify how often God has heard our prayers.

Joshua 24:7 - "And when they cried unto the LORD, he put darkness between you and the Egyptians, and brought the sea upon them."

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