JOSHUA - THE BOOK OF CONQUEST
The book of Joshua continues where Deuteronomy ends. With Moses now dead, Israel needed a new leader for the people. It required a man of great leadership and a man of courage. Joshua possessed both of these qualities. God had confidence in Moses at the burning bush to lead his people out of Egypt, and now He has confidence in Joshua to bring his people into the land of promise. Joshua had been a slave in Egypt and saw the glorious redemption from the "house of bondage". He sat at the feet of Moses and led the armies of Israel. Upon Joshua's shoulders the mantle of Moses fell. He was now the leader of Israel and his was the task of bringing the people of God into the promised rest of Canaan. God had declared to Joshua that "Moses My servant is dead." (Ch. 1:1,2). God spoke personally to Joshua and encouraged him (Ch. 1:6,7). It would have been quite understandable that a sense of inadequacy must have swept over Joshua when he was left alone to bear the burden Moses had carried for 40 years. Israel was camped on the east of Jordan. Canaan with its giants and walled cities lay before them. Joshua's attention had been directed to the book of the Law, that God would be with him, and the certainty of the divine promise.
The book may be outlined thusly:
The history of the conquest of Canaan is a series of miracles. The passage into the Promised Land, as well as that out of Egypt, was through water, but on dry ground. Jericho was taken, not by might, but by the falling down of the walls when the priests sounded the trumpets. In the war in the defense of Gibeon the day was prolonged to afford time for the completion of the victory.
After God had dried up the waters of Jordan enabling Israel to cross over into Canaan, worship to God was made at Gilgal. At this time, after so many years, manna ceased to be their daily bread for they ate of the corn of the land.
The most important event in the book is the conquering of Jericho by Israel by the power of God. This is recorded in the sixth chapter. The Israelites were guaranteed the victory because God had promised it and had assured it. This was their greatest victory, produced by faith. Ai was their worst defeat, produced by sin. The victory was designed to produce trust in God; the defeat was designed to teach obedience to God. The story of Achan shows what a vital relationship exists between believers and how the sin of one can hold up victory for the entire nation of God's people.
Most of the book (Chapters 13-21) is concerned with the dividing and settling of the land. In Chapter 22 the tabernacle is set up.
Joshua died at the age of 110; coincidentally Joseph also died at the age of 110. Israel at this time fulfilled the admonition of Joseph (about 175-180 years before) to carry his bones out of Egypt when they left Egypt. They buried his bones at Shechem.
Joshua makes a final, solemn address to Israel (Ch. 24). He gives the people a choice: serve God, or serve idols. His was a warning against idolatry. Joshua's last words are filled with significance in view of the failures that followed, as recorded in the book of Judges.