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Commentaries
Introduction to Joshua

Introduction to Joshua

The following is the introduction and outline for a book that is soon to be published–Joshua: Footsteps of Faith, volume 6 in the Old Testament Growing and Changing Commentary series.

The book of Joshua is not merely an interesting historical record of the conquest of the Promised Land by the children of Israel through the amazing power of God. It is that, but it is so much more than that. It is a historical narrative that points the New Testament Christian to his or her inheritance.

Date

There are so many fascinating questions surrounding the book of Joshua. The first question is one of dates. The traditional date for the start of the conquest of Canaan is 1406 B.C. The conquest of Canaan took about seven years, and Joshua’s final address and subsequent death came almost twenty years later. The book begins with the nation of Israel poised at the banks of the Jordan River, across from Jericho. It records the details of numerous military campaigns that defeated the inhabitants of the land. The book ends with Joshua’s regathering of the nation for his final exhortation.

Author

Scholars believe that Joshua himself or a scribe under his direction penned most of the book. Early chapters include firsthand experiences (the ESV uses the pronouns “we” and “us” in Joshua 5:1, 6, for example) and military details worthy of being known and recorded by a general. Joshua 24:26 refers to Joshua writing a portion of the book himself. After Joshua’s death, the high priests Eleazar or Phinehas may have supplemented some material in this book that alludes to events after the conquest (15:13–19; 19:47; 24:29–33).

Message

The message of Joshua is one of victory and warning. Joshua recounted a story of contradictions. On the one hand, God gave the land that he had promised to the nation. On the other hand, the people failed to possess the land completely, allowing some inhabitants to remain. God fulfilled his side of the bargain, but the Israelites did not finish the job. The Canaanite peoples became a damaging influence on Israel as years went by.

Joshua’s message is intended not only for the Old Testament saint, but also, and even more so for the New Testament Christian. The message of the apostles is weaved with the theme of Joshua: that we are to fully take hold of our inheritance, and as believers today, we know that the inheritance of the land of Israel was merely a black and white photo of the real thing. The true inheritance of every believer is God himself. Christ gives us the down payment of our full inheritance by the promised Spirit of God (Eph 1:13-14). The New Testament is filled with inheritance language.

The push of Joshua for the Christian is that we should never live with the enemy dominating our life. “Sin will have no dominion over you…” (Rom 6:14). Christ has finally and forever defeated every enemy, just as the Lord did for Israel in the Old Testament. The similarity we have with God’s ancient people is that our victory in sanctification is only secure as we walk by faith. Today we do not have physical Canaanites, but we do have enemies that war against our soul: sin, Satan, and the world. The Christian is promised victory in the measure that he walks by faith.

The book of Joshua takes forward Deuteronomy’s theme of Israel as a single people worshipping Yahweh in the land God has given them. This flows out of God’s covenant with Abraham (Gen 12, 15, 17) and continues to us today and into the new heavens and the new earth. We hear God’s promise to Abraham to give him a land and a people that will be more than the stars of heaven and the sands of the sea, though his wife Sarah is barren. We see God, through the promised son Isaac giving the ultimate Promised Seed, Jesus, and instead of getting the Promised Land, saints of the Old and New Testament are promised to be heir of the entire cosmos (Rom 4:13). So believers of all time are “heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ” (Rom 8:17).

Israel was promised Abraham’s inheritance, and they obtained it, at least in part. But listen to the Christian’s promise in Galatians: “And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise” (Gal 3:29). So, we see that the book of Joshua has everything to do with the Christian life.

Testimony

I would like to close this introduction on a unique note of personal testimony. Normally, I would not take this space to testify in any way, but I feel compelled to the give witness to the life transforming power this book had over my life while I preached it during the dark and discouraging year of 2020, when the entire globe was taken over by a pandemic of sorts. While I write, it is Christmas Eve, and the year has almost come to an end. Yet this has been one of the most spiritually formative years of my life because of the messages given in the volume before us. It is in the message of the book of Joshua that I have found one main truth that has given me a “fullness of joy”, and it is this: the Christian never has to live in defeat. I have personally learned how to live in total victory. By that I do not mean without temptation or even temporary failure in sin. What I do mean is that the normal Christian life, and the life that God intends for all Christians, young or old, to live is one of constant power and victory. This life is available to all who call upon his name, indeed it is part of the victory and inheritance that Christ gives to every one of his people when they become born again.

My challenge as you read this commentary is that you will not be satisfied until you are daily living in “all the fullness of God” with the “peace that passes understanding” and the “joy unspeakable and full of glory.” This our merciful God intends for every child of God, and nothing less. Be blessed with the full happiness and Shalom that God would have you to live in. Your inheritance is the fullness of his presence. We dare not live for anything less. Indeed, I testify with the Psalmist: “In your presence is fullness of joy, and at your right hand there are pleasures forevermore” (Psa 16:11).

Outline

1 | JOSHUA 1:1-9 OVERCOMERS
Listen to God (1:1-2)
Believe God (1:3-4)
Experience God (1:5-9)

2 | JOSHUA 1:10-18 MOVING FORWARD
To Move Forward You Need Preparation (1:10-11)
To Move Forward You Need A Plan (1:12-15)
To Move Forward You Need Leadership (1:16-18)

3 | JOSHUA 2 THE SCARLET CORD
The Providence that Connected Rahab (2:1-7)
The Evidence that Convicted Rahab (2:8-11)
The Confidence that Converted Rahab (2:14-24)

4 | JOSHUA 3 CROSSING THE JORDAN
The Possibility of Miracles (3:1-4)
The Purpose of Miracles (3:5-13)
The Power of Miracles (3:14-17)

5 | JOSHUA 4 MEMORIAL STONES
The Monument’s Purpose (4:1-10a)
The Monument’s People (4:10b-14)
The Monument’s Picture (4:15-24)

6 | JOSHUA 5 THE CAPTAIN OF ANGEL ARMIES
A Tender Heart (5:1-9)
Eyes on Christ (5:10-12)
Feet to Obey (5:13-15)

7 | JOSHUA 6 TAKING DOWN STRONGHOLDS
Our Champion (5:13-15; 6:1-5)
Our Strategy (6:6-19)
Our Victory (6:20-27)

8 | JOSHUA 7 SIN IN THE CAMP
The Lesson of Sin’s Hook (7:1-15)
The Lesson of Sin’s Birth (7:16-21)
The Lesson of the Stones (7:22-26)

9 | JOSHUA 8 LEAVING FAILURE BEHIND
Momentum is Regained (8:1-9)
Waiting is Rewarded (8:10-23)
Failure is Repurposed (8:24-35)

10 | JOSHUA 9 DOUBLE CROSSED
The Power of the Enemy (9:3-13)
The Power of Prayer (9:14-16)
The Power of Redemption (9:17-27)

11 | JOSHUA 10 SUN STAND STILL
The Mess (10:1-5)
The Mission (10:6-11)
The Miracle (10:12-15)

12 | JOSHUA 11:1-9 SOME TRUST IN CHARIOTS
The Enemy May be Great (11:1-5)
God is Greater than the Enemy (11:6-9)

13 | JOSHUA 11-12 LIVING BY FAITH IN THE LAND
A Victorious Faith (11:10-15)
A Persevering Faith (11:16-20)
A Magnificent Faith (11:21-23)
A Celebratory Faith (12:1-23)

14 | JOSHUA 13 OUR GLORIOUS INHERITANCE
Our Inheritance is Inexhaustible (13:1-7)
Our Inheritance is Attainable (13:8-13)
Our Inheritance is Personal (13:14-33)

15 | JOSHUA 14 GIVE ME THIS MOUNTAIN
Godly Character (14:1-9, 14)
Confidence in God’s Word (14:6-12)
Courage against the Enemy (14:7-12)
Courage to Overcome Grasshoppers
Courage to Overcome Giants
Courage to Overcome Grey Hairs
Enjoyment of Conquest (14:12-15; 15:14)

16 | JOSHUA 15-19 MAXIMUM LIVING
A Worldly Heart (15-19)
The Godly Heart (19:49-51)

17 | JOSHUA 20 CHRIST OUR REFUGE
The Saving Nature of These Cities (20:1-6)
The Significant Names of These Cities (20:7-8)
Kedesh: My Holy Place
Shechem: My Helpful Place
Hebron: My Harmonious Place
Bezer: My Hiding Place
Ramoth: My High Place
Golan: My Happy Place
The Strategic Nearness of These Cities (20:9)

18 | JOSHUA 21 PROMISE KEEPER
48 Cities of Priests (21:1-42)
God is Generous (21:1-43a)
God is Powerful (21:43b-44)
God is Faithful (21:45)

19 | JOSHUA 22 THE DANGER AND DELIGHT OF GOD
Our God is a Dangerous God (22:1-20)
Our God is a Delightful God (22:21-34)

20 | JOSHUA 23-24 LOOKING FOR A GREATER JOSHUA
A Legacy that Points to Jesus (23:1-13)
A Testimony that Points to Jesus (23:14-24:13)
A Faithful Testimony (23:14-24)
A Personal Testimony (24:1-13)
A Worship that Points to Jesus (24:14-33)

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