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The State of Faith
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Old Testament Survey


Key Verses

1:8, 9
24:14, 15

Key Chapters

Chapters 1-4
Chapter 24

Key Concepts

Conquest, Victory
Dividing the land

Thoughts for Reading

How much did you fight for your victory in God?

Joshua 24:15
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.

With Joshua we move into the historical books of the Old Testament. The historical books are really a continuation of the narrative portions of the books of Moses. They deal with the occupation of Palestine by Israel and continue through the return of the people from their Babylonian exile. The works are designed to demonstrate the failure of the people in following God, to show the faithfulness of God to His promise, and to set the stage for the coming of Christ.

A simple outline of Joshua is:


This book is named after its main character, Joshua. Tradition holds that Joshua is probably the author of most, if not all of this book, although the end must have been added by someone else as the death of Joshua is recorded (24:29-32).

The book covers three campaigns to conquer the land and then the division of the land. The rest of the Old Testament is about Israel attempting to stay in the land.

It is important to remember that the historical books – Joshua through Esther – provide the framework within which the balance of the Old Testament occurs. The Psalms are written by persons living during these days, as are Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon. The prophets all live in the era following the breakup of the nation of Israel into the Northern and Southern kingdoms. By properly locating the prophets in the historical narrative, their messages become more meaningful and the historical significance may be more easily understood.

Date and Theological Emphasis

It is 1406 B.C. and you, a young Israelite, watch as the great leader Moses disappears in the mist of the mountain top, never to return again. At the ancient leader’s side is Joshua, his second in command. How will the younger man fare as leader of this great nation? Can he fill the shoes of Moses? Will God walk with him?

These are the questions the nation was surely asking at the end of Deuteronomy. The book of Joshua sets forth to answer such questions – and to show the faithfulness of God as Joshua does, indeed, lead the Israelites into the promised land of Canaan, under the careful and precise directions of God.

Israel&s history is viewed in terms of her loyalty to the covenant--especially Deuteronomy 27-30. Remember the blessings and curses of the rehearsal of the law. Obedience to the Mosaic Law and faith in God brings blessings and prosperity. Disobedience brings curses. Just as the nation murmured and failed to trust God during the wilderness wanderings, the book of Joshua sets the pattern for the balance of the Old Testament. Even as Joshua is a book of conquest and victory in faith, it is sprinkled with signs and examples of disobedience. God remains faithful and does not destroy the nation because of the Abrahamic covenant (Gen 12:1-3). Judges picks up on the opposite end of the spectrum, with complete disobedience. These two books form the theological bookends of the Old Testament.

Date of The Conquest

Who is Joshua


Joshua closes with the land being given by lots to the tribes. Not all of the enemies inhabiting the land have been driven out, but enough has been conquered that the people should understand God has been with them and will continue to be with them through the campaign. God will continue to complete the formation of the nation as an elect people who are governed by God under His law and who occupy a land given to them by God. The theme and purpose of this book is to show and confirm that the Lord fulfills His promises as the nation responds in faith. It is, then, a story about victory in faith.

1 John 5:4
For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.

Notice there is in Joshua a wonderful comparison to the New Testament book of Ephesians. In Joshua, the nation enters and possesses the land promised to them by God through the Abrahamic covenant. In Ephesians, the church enters into and possesses its heavenly inheritance given to the church by Christ.

Joshua shows us that God has given Israel all of the land, rest, and delivered the nations enemies into its hands. All Israel needs to do is to continue to rely upon God for a continuation of these blessings.

Map of Israel in the Land

The False Gods of the Land

The False Gods of the Land Given to Israel
Baal Canaan Young storm god, father god, fertility 1 Kings 16:31
Ashtoreth Canaan Mother-goddess, love, fertility Judges 2:13; 10:6
Chemosh Moab National god of war Num 21:29
Molech Ammon National god Zeph 1:5; 1 Kings 11:5
Dagon Philistia National god Judge 16:23; 1 Sam 5:2-7
Queen of heaven Canaan Another name for Ashtoreth Jer 7:18
Marduk Babylon Chief god, storm god Jer 50:2
Bel Babylon Another name for Marduk Isa 46:1
Nebo or Nabu Babylon Son of Marduk Isa 46:1
Tammuz Sumerian Young storm god Ezek 8:14

Jesus in Joshua

Jesus is found in this book mostly in the form of types. We have already seen the relationship in the meanings of Joshua’s name. Likewise, we have mentioned the rest God provided His people (Heb 2:9, 10; 4:8).

Joshua meets the Commander of the Lord’s army (5:13-15). This is the pre-incarnate Christ appearing to Joshua.

The scarlet cord of Rahab, the harlot (2:21), portrays salvation by the blood of Christ (Heb 9:19-22). Rahab was a Gentile who accepted God on faith. She acted upon that faith by saving the Hebrew spies. For this God blessed her and she is part of the genealogy of Christ (Matt 1:5).

Mercy at Work

The wonderful pictures of the Bible are frequently lost, being covered by the words of the story. Joshua and the nation enter the promised land in the same fashion they left Egypt. At the Exodus, God parted the Red Sea. At the entrance, God parts the Jordan. At the Exodus, the people are led by the pillar of cloud and fire. At the entrance, the people are led by the Ark of the Covenant. At both events God remains in command and in control. And His mercy is seen not only in His faithfulness to the nation, but in His provisions for the people.

The avenger of blood who would pursue the killer was a relative, a kinsman avenger who would upheld the family honor. Mentioned as early as Gen 9:5, the Mosaic penal code authorized the avenger to execute the murderer but no-one else (Deut 24:16; 2 Kings 14:6; 2 Chron 25:4) 2.

After the division of the land and before the allocation of cities for the Levites, God makes provision for the innocent taking of life. Chapter 20 discusses the establishing of six cities of refuge. An Israelite who accidently kills someone may flee to one of these cities. After proving his case to the congregation, he may reside in the city safely until the death of the high priest. After that, he may return home without fear. Christ is our High Priest. Regardless of our “crime,” we may seek refuge in Him and be safe as long as the High Priest lives. Since Jesus lives forever, without beginning or end, we are safe in His arms forever.

Is the Old Testament God a different God than He is in the New Testament?

Deuteronomy 20:17
But thou shalt utterly destroy them; namely, the Hittites, and the Amorites, the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee:

Joshua follows this command right from the start of the invasion of the promised land. Of the people of Jericho, Scripture records:

Joshua 6:21
And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword.

Jesus, Paul, and the other New Testament writers speak of loving one’s enemies. Yet, here, God commands the Israelites to utterly destroy the inhabitants of the land. Is this the same God?

The answer must be an emphatic YES. God is a God of both mercy and judgment. The inhabitants of the land have had many years, going back to Noah and Abraham, in which to learn to follow the true God. They have chosen, instead, to follow the pagan rituals and practices devised by man. They were guilty of gross sin (Lev 18).

Moses records the reasoning behind God’s instructions.

Deuteronomy 18:9
When thou art come into the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations.

Remember Balaam? This is what he advised the Moabites to do to conquer Israel. Mix and match, create new religions, get the people to stop being 100% faithful to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Viewed as a historical example for the generations to come, the inhabitants of the land are a cancer which can instantly spread through God’s people corrupting them. God fought this disease by not leaving the cancer in the area of His people. Only, the Israelites lost faith in their doctor and failed to follow His instructions. The cancer spread and God was lost in the process.

Yes, Jesus and Paul preached a Gospel of love. But, there is judgment and justice involved as well. And, while we are not told to kill the cancer around us, we are directed to avoid it.

2 Corinthians 6:14-17
14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? 15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? 16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.

How do you see God?

2. The New Bible Dictionary, (Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.) 1962.




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