Sunday, September 30, 2012

LXV - The Book of Joshua

The Book of Joshua

Human Author:  Unknown (Perhaps Joshua himself)
Place:                 Canaan
Main Topic:       Conquests and Division of the Land

We have concluded the five books of the Pentetauch (Law).  The Book of Joshua is the first of twelve Bible Books that we categorize as History.  There is so much to be learned by studying these twelve books.  Unfortunately there is much to be learned about what NOT to do as a society or nation.  I pray that I will be able to expound on these books in a meaningful and respectful fashion.  Studying these will alter your outlook on a few things, and yet strengthen your faith in God.

Moses died and was buried in an unmarked tomb in the land of Moab, just east of the Jordan River.  Joshua has been selected by God as the new leader of Israel.  God has prepared Joshua for this very difficult task of actually entering the Promised Land and driving out its current residents, after which he will assign the tribes their respective allotments of land on which they can begin settlement.  As I've read the Bible several times, I have noticed that God has encouraged Joshua more than He has any other individual mentioned in the entire Bible.  The phrase "Be strong and of good courage" (KJV) appears constantly throughout the telling of Joshua's reign as Israel's leader.  I do not see Joshua as weak in spirit, needing constant encouragement, but rather his assigned task was so demanding.  Remember the characteristics of the Israelite people as a group.  Also, remember that the nations occupying Canaan were well organized militarily.  Also keep in mind the Palistinians having been driven out of their land in 1948 and how hard a people will fight to keep their land.  Joshua's burden is great.  But he is equal to the task, not only because of his outstanding character, but also because of his experience.  Joshua led Israel in battle against the Amalekites at Rhephidim.  He was one of the faithful spies sent into Canaan from Kadesh-barnea.  He and Caleb were the only two men twenty years old and older who survived Israel's wandering n the wilderness.  And he had undergone years of training as Moses's understudy and servant.  Joshua wasn't Moses, but he was God's man, and that alone made him qualified.

In the first two verses of the book of Joshua, we see that the death of the great Moses triggers the "go ahead" to enter the Promised Land (after the 30 days of mourning).  In verse 4 the boundries are given.  {Obtaining a map of the Promised Land and the tribal allotments will help during the next month or two.  Easy to find.  Usually in the back of larger Bibles.  Thompson chain is a good one.}  Look at verse 5 closely.  It's a sermon in itself.  God tells Joshua that there will be noone able to stand against you all the days of your life.  That's a promise from God.  {I've said to myself during difficult times in my life "If God is for me, who can stand against me?"  Saying that to myself has comforted me sooo many times.  Try this some time, my dear children.  It helps.  I promise.  As in my life, there will be those situations in your life when "the deck is stacked against you".  Those are the times when saying this to yourself will indeed be of comfort.}  God makes three promises to Joshua (and God ALWAYS keeps His promises).  1) I will be with you  2) I will never leave you  3) I will never forsake you.  Verse 6 states the second part of Joshua's assignement.  After the land is conquered, then the tribal allotments will be established.  This task was given to Joshua.  In verse 7 God made one more demand on Joshua.  He must be faithful to God and obedient to His laws.  If Joshua was to be successful, he had to be a Godly leader.  As water never rises higher than its source, God's people will never rise above their leadership.  (This goes for secular people and their leaders also.)

Vs 10-11  -  Joshua commands the tribal leaders to instruct their people to prepare to cross the Jordan in three days.  In vss 12-16, Joshua turned to Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh to make sure they were going to honor their commitment to send their men over the Jordan to help the other tribes obtain their land.  They all pledged their support.  {This was good because Joshua didn't need to have to deal with them going back on their promise.  That would have disrupted the whole plan.}
Chapter 2  -  This chapter begins with Joshua dispatching two spies from their camp to assess Jericho and its ability to defend itself against invasion.  This is an interesting story.  The telling of this story is very abbreviated, but assumptions can be made safely.  We have to assume that the two spies were seen and the king in Jericho was told about them.  We are also to assume that Rahab the harlot drew them into her house to protect them, knowing she needed to make a deal for her safety and the safety of her family.  But she also told them something very important:  Fear of Israel's God had spread
throughout all of Canaan.  This was the most important piece of information they could bring back to Joshua.  In verse 2 she was approached by the king and lied to him about the two spies, all the while hiding them on the roof.  In verses 8-11, Rahab tells the spies about how she was aware of the specific miracles God had performed for the Israelites, and she was a believer in God's power and His care for Israel.  But her protection was conditional:  They must promise that Rahab and her family would be spared when Israel attacked Jericho.  The men agreed and instructed her to hang a red rope down from her house and it would not be bothered by the Israelites.  We are to assume that Rahab's house was part of the wall around Jericho, because when she lowerd the men down to make their escape, they were outside the gate and the wall.

At the end of this second chapter, the spies reported all good news to Joshua, especially the part about the Canaanites "melting with fear" of Israel.  Rahab's words had greatly strengthened the faith of the spies and they jubilantly reported, "The Lord has given the whole land into our hands."  They gave that report almost word-for-word as Rahab had told them.  A most remarkable expression of faith for a Canaanite prostitute, wouldn't you say?  Small wonder she became an ancestor of Jesus (Matthew 1:5), and is mentioned in the Hebrew "hall of fame" in Hebrews 11:31 and James 2:25.  God can use each of us if we are willing.

Next post  -  Israel enters the Promised Land

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