Apostle Paul: Passionate Discipleship
Beginning the Journey (for new Christians).
1, 2, and 3 John
1 & 2 Thessalonians
1 & 2 Timothy
2 Peter, Jude
7 Last Words of Christ
Christ Powered Life (Rom 5-8)
David, Life of
Glorious Kingdom, The
Holy Spirit, Disciple's Guide
Jesus and the Kingdom
Lamb of God
Listening for God's Voice
Names of God
Names of Jesus
Rebuild & Renew: Post-Exilic Books
Sermon on the Mount
James J. Tissot, 'Moses Blesses Joshua before the High Priest' (1896-1902), gouache on board, Jewish Museum, New York.
The Book of Joshua isn't politically correct.
First, it indicates that God favors one people -- Israel -- over all others. That seems to run contrary to our sense of universal tolerance of all races and peoples. What's more, God has promised land to them -- land that at the beginning of the book is occupied by others -- the Promised Land.
Second, the book is blatantly war-like. It assumes a God-given mandate to conquer the Promised Land by force of arms. Joshua himself is a warrior, a military leader as well as political leader. To modern-day pacifists, a warlike attack is an anathema. They prefer the "meek and mild" Jesus (whose name, by the way, was derived from "Joshua").
Third, the book of Joshua takes literally God's command to wipe out the pagan Canaanites who dwell in the Promised Land. We discuss this at length in Appendix 6.
Fourth, the book assumes a God who is all-powerful, the King of the Universe, who demands our complete allegiance. That's troubling to a self-absorbed, democratic mindset that wants its own way. We would rather construct a designer God in our own image, rather than let Him be as the Bible portrays Him.
Nevertheless, the Book of Joshua is firmly a part of the Old Testament canon of Scripture. It is the natural successor to the Book of Deuteronomy, explaining how Israel worked out God's commands to enter the Promised Land.
If you can get past your culture shock with the Bronze Age in which the book is set, Joshua has much to teach us. Lessons include:
- Submission to God as Leader, rather than seeing first if he's on our side or our enemy's.
- God's faithfulness to fulfill his promises.
- Obedience to God's commands, and the lasting consequences of disobedience.
- Listening for God's direction, rather than doing what seems right in our own eyes.
- God's power to accomplish his will, seen in stopping the Jordan River at flood stage, breaking the walls of Jericho at his people's shout.
- God's provision for his people -- the manna continues until the Israelites are able to eat of the produce of their new land.
- How sin can affect not only an individual but a covenant people.
- A call to reject allegiances to gods and values foreign to God.
- Faith in God and courage to follow him.
and much more....
It is the faith of people like Joshua, Rahab, and Caleb that we want to understand and emulate. At age eighty-five, Caleb, one of the original 12 spies of Canaan, asked for the hill country around the walled city of Hebron to be his inheritance and Joshua granted it to him. "Give me this mountain," he says, and proceeds to take it from the giants who live therein, giants who had caused the Israelites to fear forty-five years previously. I want that kind of bold faith. Joshua is faith-food for believers.
The Book concludes with Joshua's final challenge.
"Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD." (24:15)
Lessons in book formats are available.
That challenge given to God's people three millennia ago is fresh and vital to us in the twenty-first century:
"Throw away the foreign gods that are among you and yield your hearts to the LORD, the God of Israel." (24:23)
May God bless you as you study this great book and internalize its discipleship lessons of faith, courage, and obedience.
Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
June 1, 2016
In-depth Bible study books
You can purchase one of Dr. Wilson's complete Bible studies in PDF, Kindle, or paperback format.
- Apostle Paul: Passionate Discipleship
- Disciple's Guide to the Holy Spirit
- 1, 2, and 3 John
- 1 Peter
- 2 Peter & Jude
- 1 & 2 Thessalonians
- 1 & 2 Timothy
- 1 Corinthians
- 2 Corinthians
- Abraham, Faith of
- Christ Powered Life (Romans 5-8)
- Christmas Incarnation
- Colossians and Philemon
- David, Life of
- Glorious Kingdom, The
- Great Prayers of the Bible
- Jacob, Life of
- Jesus and the Kingdom of God
- JesusWalk: Beginning the Journey
- John's Gospel
- Lamb of God
- Listening for God's Voice
- Lord's Supper
- Luke's Gospel
- Moses the Reluctant Leader
- Names and Titles of God
- Names and Titles of Jesus
- Rebuild & Renew: Post-Exilic Books
- Resurrection and Easter Faith
- Sermon on the Mount
- Seven Last Words of Christ