Book of Joshua

Joshua 1:1 in the Aleppo Codex A medieval bound manuscript of the Hebrew Bible. The codex was written in the 10th century C.E., and was endorsed for its accuracy by Maimonides

Jonathan Swift, author of Gulliver’s Travels, once quipped, “Promises and pie-crust are made to be broken.”

We’ve all heard enough political promises in our lives to share his cynicism. But the theme of Joshua tells us that God is utterly faithful to His promises, for His Word cannot be broken.

As Joshua himself said late in life:

“There failed not ought of any good thing which the Lord had spoken unto the house of Israel; all came to pass” (Josh 21:45).

Joshua was born and raised in Egypt. He was a young man when he watched the contest between Moses and Pharaoh and the parting of the Red Sea.

Moses later appointed Joshua head of the Hebrew army; and after the death of Moses, Joshua assumed leadership of Israel.

The book of Joshua is the story of how he led God’s people to possess the Promised Land.

Jericho is found low down in the Jordan Valley, about 16 miels (27km) East of Jerusalem and 6 miles (10km) North west of the Dead Sea. The town lies some 250 miles (402km) below sea level, which makes it the lowest on earth. Although Jericho is surrounded by the scorching hot desert it is well watered by freshwater springs.

Joshua’s book tells this story in four phases:

  • Chapters 1-5: Entering the land.
  • Chapters 6-12: Conquering the land.
  • Chapters 13-21: Dividing the land.
  • Chapters 22 -24: Beginning life as one nation under God.

The theme through it all is: Yahweh is a promise-keeping God, therefore we’re to live courageously.

I don’t know about you, but I’m strengthened whenever I read the opening chapter of this book, as the Lord tells us:

“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” (Josh 1:5).

This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt

meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. 

Frank Turek stands at a small section of the northern wall of Jericho that didn’t collapse during the conquest.

Most sections of the wall fell outward as the Bible says allowing the Israelites to walk up and into the city.

Frank Turek stands at a small section of the northern wall of Jericho that didn’t collapse during the conquest. Most sections of the wall fell outward as the Bible says allowing the Israelites to walk up and into the city.

Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” (Josh 1:8-9).

Key Thought:

Yaweh is a promise-keeping God who leads His children through warfare to victory, just as He gave the Israelites the land promised to Abraham and his descendants.

Key Verse:

“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 withersoever thou goest” (Josh 1:7).

Key Action:

“And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Josh 24:15).

Book of Deuteronomy

Many of us are alarmed at reports showing steep declines of faith among our young people. It’s increasingly hard to raise godly children in a godless world.

Mount Sinai Location of God giving the Law to Moses

Moses was no less concerned for the young people of his day. Near the end of his life, he delivered a series of sermons to teach the new generation – those about to enter Canaan – about the covenant of the Lord.

Except for Joshua and Caleb, the older generation had perished in the wilderness. Those who had been children during the Kxodus were now ready to follow Joshua across the Jordan; but before Moses passed the reigns of leadership, he had a final opportunity to explain the Word of God to the Israelites.

The word “Deuteronomy” means the retelling or second giving of the Law. The first 26 chapters of this book contain the introduction, background, and requirements of the covenant.

  • Chapters 27 through 30 give the curses and blessings of the covenant.

    Mount Sinai Location of God giving the Law to Moses
  • The final four chapters relate the transfer of leadership from Moses to Joshua.
  • It’s summary up in chapter 6, when Moses gives timeless instruction about instilling faith within our children:

“And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.”

And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up” (Deut 6:5-7.

Key Thought:

Every new generation needs to learn the lessons of the Lord and develop a heritage of faith and obedience.

Key Verses:

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord:And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might” (Deut 6:4-5).

Key Action:

Share the truth of God with your children, with your grandchildren, and with the generation to come.

 

Book of Numbers

A tragic story recently unfolded in Maine. Two hikers, rescued after getting lost in a state park, got in their car and drove away.

Archaeological ruins in the Negev Dessert.

But in the foggy darkness they took a wrong turn, drove down a boat ramp, and plunged into the ocean. By the time rescuers arrived it was too late.

There’s nothing worse than taking a wrong turn, and that’s a key message in the book of Numbers.

Somehow on the way to the Promised Land, the Israelites took a wrong turn, and a one-month journey became a forty-year trek.

As you study Numbers, you can divide the book by its two numberings or censuses – one census of the Exodus generation and the other of the generation about to enter Canaan.

Rahat Largest Bedoin City in the Negev Today

Between these two events, an incredible story unfolds around several great themes:

  • The covenant with its regulations;
  • The land promised to Abraham and his descendants; and
  • The promises of God, which are never invalidated by human failure.

The greatest lesson in Numbers involves the crisis of faith that occurred when the Israelites believed the ten faithless spies instead of listening to Joshua and Caleb.

The nation panicked in the dessert, and their unbelieving hearts represented nothing less than rebellion against God.

Amarna Letters References to Canaanites are also found throughout the Amarna letter of Pharaoh Akenaton circa 1350 B.C.

Numbers warns us against taking the wrong turn of unbelief. We should listen to the Joshuas and Calebs in our lives and trust God’s Word even when challenges loom.

His promises are as sure as His power, and His peace is as near as His presence.

Key Thought:

There’s nothing worse than taking a wrong turn into the land of unbelief, for God wants to lead us forward by faith.

Key Verses:

“The Lord bless thee, and keep thee:

The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:

The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace” (Num 6:24-26).

Key Action

Trust God’s Word even when challenges loom, for His promises are as secure as His power.

Book of Leviticus

Many who try to read through the Bible hit a roadblock at Leviticus. Most preachers and teachers avoid the book too, making Leviticus one of the most under appreciated books in the Bible. That is, until you get to know it better and to value its resplendent theme of holiness.

It’s helpful to know the background of this book. In the sunbaked wilderness of Sinai, Moses wanted to tell the children of Israel why they were there and how they should live.

His explanation began in Exodus and continued into Leviticus, where the heart of the matter was revealed.

God had chosen Israel as a distinct people to bless the nations, but they were required to be holy.

Leviticus concerns the responsibilities and duties of the Levites in their role as intermediaries between the people and God.

The necessary instructions on how to worship – ceremonies, rituals, sacrifices, washings, offerings, and festivals – are all here, all of them symbols, items, occasions, and events portraying aspects of God’s holiness, of human holiness, and of the Holy One to com – the Lord Jesus.

I wasn’t easy to teach the Israelites about God’s holiness, nor do we learn those lessons quickly. Even though we have God’s Spirit within us, we must often be reminded of His nearness.

We need to cultivate a sense of His presence and cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

That’s the theme of Leviticus, and it’s a message well worth studying.

Key Thought:

God expects His people to reflect His holiness, not just in rituals but in reality.

Key Verse:

“For I am the Lord your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy: neither shall ye defile yourselves with any manner of creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.” (Lev 11:44).

Key Actions:

Whenever sin occurs in life, we should confess it promptly, consecrate ourselves anew, and remain committed to personal holiness.

Book of Exodus

If you’ve ever booked a tour while traveling, you know everything depends on the skill of the guide. With a good guide, the trip is a pleasure.

Inferior guides babble all day and may even get us lost. The book of Exodus tells us we have a Guide who provides authoritative commentary on life and goes before us every step of the way.

As the book of Genesis ends, Jacob and his family of about seventy souls are living in Egypt, where they found safety and relief from famine in the days of Joseph.

But Exodus fast-forwards the story, and in the intervening years, the Israelites multiply into a mighty nation and are enslaved by the Egyptians.

Exodus is the story of how God, using His servant Moses, delivered His people, crossed the Red Sea, traveled to Mount Sinai for further instructions, and built the tabernacle as a dwelling for God’s guiding presence among them.

Exodus portrays the doctrine of redemption, even as the Passover Lamb is a type of Christ. That elaborate tent, the tabernacle, also wonderfully foreshadows Jesus, the One who tabernacles among His people, leading us unfailingly.

Knowing that God goes ahead of us removes the fear that comes from dramatic changes in life.

Our Redeemer has promised to guide our steps and give us the wisdom we need, but we must first set aside anxiety, quiet our hearts, and set our minds on seeking His will and His timing.

He knows the way through the wilderness.

Key Thought:

God provides the redemption, provision, and guidance His people need.

Key Verse:

“And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will shew to you today: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen today, ye shall see them again no more forever” (Ex 14:13).

Key Action:

We must be still in God’s presence, then go forward in God’s power.