|Topical Bible Study||August 1955|
The People of the Bible
Article VIII—The Book of Joshua
Joshua, a Leader of God’s People
THE name Joshua means “savior,” the same as its Greek equivalent, “Jesus.” The name Jesus is used twice in the New Testament with reference to Joshua, who was so prominent in the affairs of the Hebrew people during their wilderness journeys and later. (Heb. 4:8; Acts 7:45) Joshua was nearly forty years old at the time of the Exodus and is first mentioned in Exodus 17:9, where we are informed that Moses appointed him to lead an army of Israelites against Amalek in Rephidim. This choice by Moses and Joshua’s later victories over Israel’s enemies indicate that he had considerable knowledge of warfare as then conducted.
Later Joshua is mentioned as one of the twelve chiefs of the nation who were sent across Jordan to spy out the Promised Land. They spent forty days in this undertaking. When they returned, the twelve were unanimous in their appraisal of the vast riches and great advantages of the country; but all except Joshua and Caleb insisted that the Israelites would not be able to conquer the people of the land, many of whom, they reported, were giants.
But Joshua and Caleb, in their minority report, gave evidence of great faith in the ability of the God of Israel to help them conquer the land, and they recommended that the Israelites cross over Jordan, trusting the Lord to make good his promises to them. But the Israelites preferred to heed the majority report. Indeed, “all the congregation bade stone them with stones.”—Num. 14:1-10
The Lord was greatly displeased with this lack of faith on the part of his people, especially since they indicated that the Lord had led them into the land merely to let them die there by the sword and allow their wives and children to be a prey to the Canaanites. So he said to Moses, “How long will this people provoke me? and how long will it be ere they believe me, for all the signs which I have showed among them?”—Num. 14:11
The Lord then said to Moses, “I will smite them with the pestilence, and disinherit them, and will make of thee a greater nation and mightier than they.” (vs. 12) Then Moses prayed to the Lord not to do this because it would give the surrounding nations the opportunity to say that Israel’s God was not able to bring his people into the land which he promised to give them, “therefore he hath slain them in the wilderness.”—vs. 16
The Lord replied to Moses, saying, “I have pardoned according to thy word.” (vs. 20) So he modified the punishment for the faithlessness and rebellion of the people by decreeing that all the males who were twenty years old or more when they left Egypt would die in the wilderness and therefore would not be permitted to enter into the Promised Land. That this might come about in a less precipitous manner than his first plan to destroy all the people by plagues, the Lord decreed that they would be compelled to wander in the wilderness for forty years, a year for each day that the twelve chiefs of the tribes were spying out the land.
In this way the ones most responsible for the spirit of rebellion would be punished, and at the same time God’s ability to care for his people would be more than ever demonstrated, because it would be the women, the young, and the children—the helpless of the nation—that would be kept alive and finally enter into the Promised Land and possess it. There were to be only two exceptions to this sentence upon the males over twenty years of age, these being Joshua and Caleb, the two spies who brought back the favorable report.
Thus these two are presented to us as men of faith in the Lord, courageously confident of his ability to make good all his gracious promises to his people. The Bible gives little additional information concerning Caleb except to confirm the fact that he did enter the Promised Land, was given his portion of it, and fought valiantly to wrest it from the hands of Israel’s enemies. (Josh. 14:6-15) Moses gave a wonderful testimony concerning Caleb, saying that he had “wholly followed the Lord.”—Josh. 14:9; Deut. 1:36
Caleb was faithful to the Lord, and although apparently adopted into the tribe of Judah, he loved the God of Israel, and was happy to be considered an Israelite. Possibly he did not possess outstanding talents as a leader and statesman, so was not used widely by the Lord along these lines.
Joshua, on the other hand, likewise faithful to the Lord, possessed natural talents which could be used in the service of his people; so the Lord commissioned Moses to appoint Joshua to be his successor as leader of the nation. The record of this is found in Numbers 27:18-20, and reads: “The Lord said unto Moses, Take thee Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit, and lay thine hand upon him; and set him before Eleazar the priest, and before all the congregation; and give him a charge in their sight. And thou shalt put some of thine honor upon him, that all the congregation of the children of Israel may be obedient.”
In Deuteronomy 31:23 the Lord, through Moses, gives Joshua these comforting words: “Be strong and of a good courage: for thou shalt bring the children of Israel into the land which I sware unto them: and I will be with thee.” Joshua did not succeed Moses as lawgiver, or as a mediator between God and the nation of Israel, but merely as leader. His task was to lead the people into the Promised Land, direct them in the conquering of their enemies then dwelling in the land, and supervise the division of the land among the twelve tribes.
Soon after the death of Moses, this threefold task was undertaken by Joshua, and the account of his successes, and at times temporary failures, is recorded in the Book of Joshua. In the opening chapter we read God’s commission to him, saying, “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. Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses. 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 [the Mediterranean] toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast. 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. 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. 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.”—Josh. 1:2-7
With a background of promise such as this, Joshua had every reason to be courageous in the undertaking assigned to him by the Lord, and he was. Knowing that the Lord’s time had come for the nation to cross over Jordan and possess the Land of Promise, he did not delay. He summoned “the officers of the people” and instructed them to “pass through the host, and command the people, saying, Prepare you victuals; for within three days ye shall pass over this Jordan, to go in to possess the land, which the Lord your God giveth you to possess it.”—ch. 1:10,11
The tribe of Reuben, the tribe of Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh—the son of Joseph—had previously requested that they be permitted to remain on the east of Jordan in a strip of land favorable to the raising of cattle. Moses had agreed to this request, but only on the condition that the warriors of these tribes cross over Jordan with the remainder of the Israelites and assist in conquering the Canaanites, and this they agreed to do.
Joshua knew of this arrangement and said to these tribes that they were to remember the words of Moses concerning them. This portion of the Israelites were already at rest in their inheritance and enjoying prosperity, so Joshua reminded them of their pledge to assist the others, and they readily agreed to keep it. The eligible fighting men of these tribes said to Joshua, “All that thou commandest us we will do, and whithersoever thou sendest us, we will go. According as we hearkened unto Moses in all things, so will we hearken unto thee: only the Lord thy God be with thee, as he was with Moses.”—ch. 1:16,17
These are noble sentiments. The men of these two and one-half tribes promised to obey Joshua, not merely because they esteemed him as a great leader, but because they believed that the Lord was with him, as he had previously been with Moses. This is a sound principle for the guidance of the Lord’s people in every age. To the extent that we lend our cooperation to others, it should always be on the basis of recognizing that the Lord is blessing their undertakings.
Rahab and the Spies
Joshua was not unaware of the difficulties that confronted the Israelites in crossing the Jordan and entering Canaan. Forty years before this he had served as a spy himself and had noted how potentially strong their enemies were; but he believed then, and still believed, that the Lord would give his people victories over their enemies. He knew, nevertheless, that the Lord expected him to use all the wisdom and skill he possessed and that the Lord would help his people only when they had done all they could to help themselves.
Possessing considerable knowledge of military strategy, Joshua felt that it was essential first of all to secure what information he could concerning the current strength of their enemies, that he might have some knowledge of what to expect after they crossed the Jordan. Consequently, he sent two spies to “go view the land, even Jericho.” Joshua knew that almost immediately after crossing Jordan they would be confronted with the walled city of Jericho, and he was anxious to discover, if possible, the size of the army within that city and other information that might be helpful in planning an attack.
Entering the city, these two spies “came into an harlot’s house, named Rahab, and lodged there.” (ch. 2:1) It was reported to the king of Jericho that these two Israelites had entered the city and were now in the house of Rahab. It was correctly assumed that they were spies, but when Rahab was requested to bring them forth, she admitted that she had seen the two men but said she did not know where they were. Actually she had taken them to the roof of her house and concealed them under stalks of flax.
Rahab reported further that the men had left about dark. “Whither the men went I wot not,” she said. Then she told those seeking the spies, “Pursue after them quickly; for ye shall overtake them.” The searchers took her advice, leaving the spies on the roof of Rahab’s house. Later she let them down over the wall of the city with a rope, this being possible because her house was on the wall. Following her instructions, they hid in the forest of the mountain until they could safely recross Jordan and report to Joshua.
The account is exceedingly brief, and there is nothing to indicate how much they learned except what had been reported to them by Rahab. The information she gave them was that the people were terrified at the thought of the Israelites entering the land. “Your terror is fallen upon us,” she said, and “all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you.”—ch. 2:9
Her own testimony was, “I know that the Lord hath given you the land.” They had heard of the miraculous crossing of the Red Sea forty years prior to this, and they also knew, as Rahab said, “What ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed.”—ch. 2:10
Then Rahab, revealing further the great fear of the people, confessed her faith in the God of Israel, saying, “As soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the Lord your God, he is God is heaven above, and in earth beneath.” (vs. 11) Rahab then asked that the spies arrange for the protection of her family when the city was captured, and they agreed to this.
Regardless of Rahab’s past, this eloquent confession of her faith in the true God indicates a genuine desire to be in harmony with him, and the Lord honored her faith. In Hebrews 11:31 she is referred to as one of the Ancient Worthies. In James 2:25 her “work” in concealing the spies and sending “them out another way” is mentioned as evidence of her justifying faith. Later she married Salmon, and became one of the outstanding mothers in Israel.—Matt. 1:5
The spies reported to Joshua what they had learned, emphasizing the great fear of the people, which meant that they could easily be conquered. Evidently Joshua reached the same conclusion, for he at once began to move the people into position for the momentous crossing of the river, bringing them from Shittim close to the banks of the Jordan.—ch. 3:1
The marching orders were set forth in chapter 3. They were to follow the ark of the covenant and were told that when the feet of the priests touched the water, “the waters of Jordan shall be cut off from the waters that come down from above; and they shall stand upon an heap.” (vs. 13) Verse 16 explains that this backing up of the waters took place “very far from the city Adam, that is beside Zaretan.” This indicates the water did not pile up as a perpendicular wall near the place where the priests touched it with their feet, but that the stoppage occurred at a point considerably upstream. The Hebrew word translated “heap” literally means “a piling up.” Today we would say the water backed up, which is what would have to occur to allow the water below to drain from the river bed. What caused the stoppage just at the right time the Bible does not say. To us it was a miracle, and faith accepts it without further explanation.
By this miracle Joshua’s faith was rewarded, and the people’s faith and confidence in him as the Lord’s representative in their midst must have been greatly increased. The priests carrying the ark, when reaching the center of the river bed, stood there until all the Israelites had crossed over. They were instructed by the Lord to take twelve stones from where they stood and leave them where they lodged the first night in the Promised Land. These were to be an evidence to later generations of Israelites of the miraculous manner in which the nation was brought over Jordan. Joshua also took twelve stones and placed them in the river bed where the priests stood, “and they are there unto this day.”—ch. 4:9
First Days in the Land
The Israelites crossed over Jordan on the tenth day of the first month. (ch. 4:19) During their forty years of wandering in the wilderness, circumcision had not been practiced, so the Lord instructed Joshua to have all the males born in the wilderness circumcised. (ch. 5:2-8) Then on the fourteenth day of the month they observed the passover. (ch. 5:10) Forthwith the manna ceased to fall, and the people began to “eat of the fruit of the land of Canaan.”—ch. 5:12
They crossed Jordan “in the east border of Jericho.” (ch. 4:19) The Israelites pitched their tents at Gilgal, but Joshua knew they were not to remain here, for they had before them the task of conquering the land which they had now entered. Apparently making his own investigation, we find that “Joshua was by Jericho” when “he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries?”—ch. 5:13
Under the circumstances, we can well understand why Joshua was cautious. He was in enemy territory, and it was wise to make sure with whom he was speaking. The “man” quickly identified himself, saying, “As captain of the host of the Lord am I now come.” (vs. 14) The Lord’s “host” mentioned here by their “captain” evidently referred to the angelic forces so often employed by the Lord for the accomplishment of his purposes. Their commander had appeared to Joshua in human form to instruct him in the proper procedure for capturing Jericho.
As we have noted, Joshua himself had had considerable experience as a military general, but he bowed worshipfully before this mighty one from the spirit world, and in the spirit of true soldierly obedience asked, “What saith my Lord unto his servant?” (vs. 14) “The captain of the Lord’s host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy.” His true spirit of obedience to the Lord is eloquently displayed in the four words, “And Joshua did so.” (vs. 15) Happy are all the Lord’s people who, when they hear his command, hesitate not to obey, but “do so. „
Joshua’s responsibility was great, but the Lord reassured him. Even before instructing him on the plan of action for capturing Jericho, the Lord said, “See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valor.” The people of the city were fearful, and when they realized that the Israelites had crossed Jordan, they closed the doors in the walls so that “none went out, and none came in.”—ch. 6:2,1
Joshua’s faith must have been tested somewhat when he learned from the “captain” of the “Lord’s host” the method to be used for capturing this heavily walled city. As a military man he would naturally think in terms of heavy and continuous assaults upon the walls, coupled with attempts to scale the walls and thus get as many soldiers within as possible. But nothing like this was to be done. No usual military strategy was to be employed.
All of Israel’s military men were to “go round about the city once” each day for six days. Seven priests preceding the ark were to accompany them, blowing upon rams’ horns. On the seventh day there were to be seven encirclements of the city. At the conclusion of the seventh round of the city the priests were to blow their trumpets, when commanded by Joshua, and the people were to “shout with a great shout.”—ch. 6:3-5
The assurance was given to Joshua that with this shout the walls of the city would crumble, and the Israelites were to march right in, every man from whence he was located. The walls did crumble, as the Lord had promised. The “Lord’s host,” under the leadership of their “captain,” saw to that. The same powerful forces that caused the convulsions of nature at Mt. Sinai would have no difficulty in destroying the walls of Jericho.
The part played by Joshua and the Israelites, nevertheless, was important. For forty years, according to Rahab, or from the time they first heard of the miraculous crossing of the Red Sea, the Canaanites had been fearful. Now that this much-feared people were encamped just outside of Jericho’s walls, their hearts must surely have “melted” with fear. To know that an army, accompanied by priests blowing on trumpets, was encircling their city each day, but not striking a blow, would add to their confusion. Then, with that mighty shout, to see and hear the supposedly impregnable walls of their city crumble and fall, they would be well-nigh paralyzed with fear, making it comparatively easy for the Israelites to march into the city and take possession. Had the people within the city been composed and alert, they might have held off the Israelites for a long time, even with their walls destroyed.
But the Lord knew how to gain this signal victory for them. It was just as Joshua had said, “The Lord hath given you the city.” (ch. 6:16) The city was “accursed.” Doubtless the wickedness of the people was great, and their presence among the Israelites as captives would have been detrimental; so the orders were that all should be destroyed “both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass.”—vs. 21
In keeping with the promise of the two spies, Rahab and her family were saved and continued to dwell with the Israelites. The silver and the gold found in the city was put into “the treasury of the Lord,” but the Israelites were strictly commanded not to save anything for their private use.
A Defeat Follows
Following the victory over Jericho, we read that “the Lord was with Joshua; and his fame was noised throughout all the country.” (ch. 6:17) However, disappointment awaited him. The next fortified stronghold of the enemy to be taken was the small city of Ai. Following his usual custom, Joshua sent men to “go up and view the country. And the men went up and viewed Ai.”—ch. 7:2
Unintentionally, they brought back a deceptive report to Joshua. Having conquered the mighty and heavily walled city of Jericho, the little city of Ai seemed insignificant; so the spies said to Joshua, “Let not all the people go up; but let about two or three thousand men go up and smite Ai; and make not all the people to labor thither; for they are but few.”—vs. 3
Joshua took this advice, but the small army he sent against Ai suffered a humiliating defeat. As a consequence, “the hearts of the people melted, and became as water.” (vs. 5) How quickly they forgot the miracle of Jordan and of the crumbling walls of Jericho! Even Joshua, to whom the Lord had said, “I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee,” felt that the Lord had deserted him and the people.
Verses 6 and 7 read, “Joshua rent his clothes, and fell to the earth upon his face before the ark of the Lord until the eventide, he and the elders of Israel, and put dust upon their heads. And Joshua said, Alas, O Lord God, wherefore hast thou at all brought this people over Jordan, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? Would to God we had been content, and dwelt on the other side Jordan!”
Time and again the Israelites had complained to Moses in much this same vein. They asked why they had been brought out of Egypt to die in the wilderness. But Moses never expressed such sentiments. Joshua did not measure up to Moses’ stature in faith and courage. Here, when in difficulty for the first time after taking over the leadership of God’s people, we find him asking the Lord, “Wherefore hast thou at all brought this people over Jordan, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us?”
“What shall I say,” Joshua asked the Lord, “when Israel turneth their backs before their enemies? for the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land shall hear of it, and shall environ us round, and cut off our name from the earth: and what wilt thou do with thy great name?” (vss. 8,9) Because two or three thousand of Israel’s soldiers had been defeated Joshua imagined the worst, visualizing all Israel destroyed by the Canaanites, with even the national name perishing.
But he was concerned over something even more important. In such an event, what would happen to the Lord’s great name? The glory which had accrued to God through the deliverance of his people from Egypt, their miraculous crossing of the Red Sea, their being sustained by manna in the wilderness, their passage over Jordan and the defeat of Jericho would be lost, if now the Israelites were to be destroyed by the Canaanites.
Joshua’s reasoning was correct but was based upon a wrong premise, resulting from his lack of faith. God had no intention of allowing his people to be destroyed by the Canaanites. But there was a lesson he wanted them to learn—a lesson of obedience. He told Joshua that the Israelites had sinned and that a curse was upon them. In the capture of Jericho they had been instructed not to take any of the spoils for themselves. The silver and gold found in the city was to be put into the treasury of the Lord, but everything else was to be destroyed, and without exception.
But one of the Israelites had disobeyed this order. It was Achan, of the tribe of Judah. He coveted and stole a “goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight.” (ch. 7:20,21) He had hidden this loot under his tent, supposing that no one knew about it. But the Lord knew and, because of it, allowed the defeat at Ai, in order to bring the matter to the attention of Joshua and the people in a manner to impress them with the great importance of obeying instructions if they expected him to continue fighting their battles for them.
With this situation cleared up and Achan himself destroyed as an object lesson to the people, Joshua again undertook the capture of Ai and was successful. This time he acted under direction from the Lord, who said to him, “Fear not, neither be thou dismayed: take all the people of war with thee, and arise, and go up to Ai: see, I have given into thy hand the king of Ai, and his people, and his city, and his land.”—ch. 8:1
The victory was complete. And now Joshua paused long enough from further conquest to build an altar to the Lord according to instructions given by Moses. “And he wrote there upon the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he wrote in the presence of the children of Israel.” (vs. 32) Then the law was read to all the people. It served to remind the people of their covenant with God, and of the necessity of obedience to that covenant in order to continue receiving his blessings.
The news of Jericho and Ai spread throughout the land, and all the various kings among the Canaanites “gathered themselves together to fight with Joshua and with Israel, with one accord.” (ch. 9:1,2) But the inhabitants of Gibeon decided upon another course. By a ruse they made Joshua believe that they had come from a far country and were without food and clothing and offered to become the servants of the Israelites, “and Joshua made peace with them, and made a league with them, to let them live.”—ch. 9:3-27
This led to another crisis. Adonizedek, king of Jerusalem, an Amorite, heard that the people of Gibeon had made peace with Joshua, so he formed a league with four other kings—Hoham, Piram, Japhia, and Debir—also Amorites, to fight against the men of Gibeon. These, in turn, called upon Joshua and the Israelites to assist them, with the result that the Amorites were defeated. But again the intervention of the Lord played an important part in this victory for the Israelites, for “he cast down great [hail] stones from heaven upon them.”—ch. 10:11
It was at the time of this battle that Joshua called upon the sun to “stand still,” or, as the margin states, to “be silent.” Prof. Strong defines the Hebrew words used here as “to be dumb,” also “to perish.” Faith does not require an explanation of miracles, but it is important to discover as accurately as possible the nature of any miracle which the Bible relates. It is so in this case.
A casual reading of this passage suggests that the sun and the moon actually stood still for a whole day. But, judging from the literal meaning of the Hebrew word used and the fact that it was a stormy day, apparently what actually happened in answer to Joshua’s prayer was that the sun and moon remained hidden behind clouds. They were “dumb,” failing to speak in terms of light; their usual effect “perished.” This played into the hands of Joshua and the Israelites. The Amorites were sun worshipers, and for the sun to fail to shine upon them, and for even the moon to remain hidden would cause them to believe that their god had forsaken them. Thus their morale was weakened, and, panic-stricken, they gave up the fight and fled, many of them being destroyed by the hailstones while in flight.
Joshua’s Continued Victories
In the remainder of chapter 10 of the Book of Joshua, through chapters 11 and 12 are related the further victories of Joshua which the Lord gave him over the Canaanites, the latter part of chapter 12 listing the many kings destroyed. But all the land had not been conquered. In fact, as the Lord said to Joshua, “there remaineth yet very much land to be possessed.” (ch. 13:1) Verses 2 to 6 of this chapter list the remaining places to be conquered.
But, as the Lord said to Joshua, “Thou art old and stricken in years,” so he did not look to him to serve any longer as the general of Israel’s armies. Instead, he directed him to go on with the task of dividing the land among the various tribes, with the expectation that each tribe, when receiving the outline of its portion in the land would undertake the task of wresting it from the Canaanites.
But this was never fully accomplished, as indicated in Hebrews 4:8, where the name Joshua is translated “Jesus.” The text states that Joshua did not give the people rest in the land. Many enemies yet remained, and these continued to plague the Israelites from time to time. God’s blessings upon his typical people, even as with us, were upon the basis of their faith. Because of their unbelief they failed to enter into the full rest and blessings which might have been theirs.
Chapter 23:1 reads, “It came to pass a long time after that the Lord had given rest unto Israel from all their enemies round about, that Joshua waxed old and stricken in age.” While this speaks of Israel having rest from their enemies, it was based in some instances upon the fact that they made peace with the inhabitants of the land, and this later led to much trouble for them. (ch. 23:11-13) Caleb “wholly followed the Lord,” and the record is that he intended to drive out enemies from his portion of the land.—ch. 14:12-14
Joshua, somewhat on the order of Moses, made a farewell speech to the Israelites (see chapters 23 and 24). He reminded the people of the wonderful manner in which God had dealt with and blessed Abraham and Isaac and Jacob; of how he had brought the whole nation out of the land of Egypt, through the Red Sea, and kept them alive in the wilderness. He recounted their miraculous crossing of Jordan, and the victories the Lord had given them since entering the Land of Promise.
With this faith-strengthening background of divine providences as an inspiration to obedience, he warned them against worshiping false gods and called upon them to continue serving the true God. “Choose ye this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served, … or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”—ch. 24:15
The people renewed their covenant to serve the Lord, and again Joshua warned, “If ye forsake the Lord, and serve strange gods, then he will turn and do you hurt, and consume you, after that he hath done you good.” (vs. 20) Again the people affirmed their determination to serve Jehovah, the true God, saying, “The Lord our God will we serve, and his voice will we obey.”—vs. 24
Joshua was a faithful servant of the Lord, and a strong leader of God’s people. He “died, being an hundred and ten years old.” (vs. 29) Verse 31 informs us that “Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that overlived Joshua, and which had known all the works of the Lord, that he had done for Israel.” What a wonderful tribute to the faithful example of this man of God!
Unlike the experiences of Moses while leading the people of Israel in the wilderness, many of which are mentioned in the New Testament as types, we have only the two references to Joshua, one of which relates to the failure of the Israelites to enter into rest under his leadership. (Heb. 4:8) His conquering of so much of the Land of Promise cannot, therefore, be considered as being specifically typical, although many helpful lessons may properly be drawn from his experiences.
As Christian soldiers, fighting the “good fight of faith,” we have many “Canaanites” to fight, and it is only by faith in the Lord and the obedient following of his instructions, making use of all the means of grace which he has provided, that we can hope to be victorious.
If we “wholly follow the Lord” as did Caleb, and are “strong” and of “good courage,” as the Lord encouraged Joshua to be, exercising faith that the Lord will always be with us to help in our every time of need, we will enjoy that wonderful rest of faith now, and at the end of the way enter into the rest that remaineth for the people of God.—Heb. 4:9