Summary: God prepares Joshua to lead israel into Canaan
This evening we begin a new series of studies as we turn our thoughts to the book of Joshua. Why the book of Joshua? – you might ask. And that would be a legitimate question. After all it is an ancient book that gives a grim account of war, slaughter and conquest which took place long ago in a land and culture so far removed from the world of our day that it couldn’t possibly have anything relevant to say to believers today at the commencement of this 21st Century. In answering such a question I would say two things. First of all Joshua is a book of the Bible, as fully inspired as the other 65 books and as such is, as Paul reminds us in 2 Tim 3/16 “profitable for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” In other words God intended this book to be useful to us in our Christian lives. There are doctrines, and principles and practical lessons relating to various aspects of our faith which are set forth in this particular book in a way in which they are not set forth in any of the other books. If This historical record of Israel’s conquest of the land of Canaan were of no doctrinal or practical use to the Church then God would not have preserved the record nor incorporated it within the inspired volume of scripture. But He did and thus we should study it. The other thing I would say is this, the book of Joshua is in fact much more relevant to us as Christians living at the beginning of the 21st Century than perhaps we at first realise especially whenever one considers the fact that the Christian life is often depicted by the N.T. writers, Paul especially in terms of the life of a soldier, in terms of being in a battle, in terms of engaging and overcoming enemy forces, in terms of laying hold of our inheritance in Christ by faith and as well as that there is the whole area of principles of leadership and ‘followership’ which are very prominent in this book and which are of course relevant for God’s people in every age of the Church. So I would say to you that we are studying Joshua because I believe that the particular lessons we learn from this book will be potentially at least, of tremendous help and benefit to us in our Christian lives. Whether the potential benefit becomes an actual, real benefit to you personally, depends of course upon how you respond to the truths and lessons which will be brought before you.
The book of Joshua cannot of course be considered in Isolation from the books that precede it. The fact of the matter is that the theological roots of Joshua are sunk firmly in the soil of the first five books of scripture and were you to trace the tap root of this book you would find that it goes all the way back to Genesis 12. And it is with a view to tracing this tap root and so setting the book in its general context and discovering the dominant theme of the book that I want you to consider with me in the first place this evening -
1) The Fulfilment of God’s Promise:
The story of Joshua must be traced back to Genesis 12 where God called Abram from Ur of the Chaldees and entered into a Covenant with him READ Gen:12 1-3, 7. God here promises to Abram, that first of all he would give him a seed, that is make a great nation out of him, and tracing the theme of the seed back to Genesis 3 we see that what God was doing in Gen 12 was establishing the human family line from which the seed of the woman who would bruise the head of the serpent (i.e. the Messiah) would eventually come. God also promises that through Abram, all the families of the earth would be blessed, something that would be ultimately fulfilled in the coming of Christ who was of course of Abraham’s lineage. But as well as these promises, and this is what I want to particularly bring to your attention from Genesis 12, God also promised to give Abram a land. He himself would not possess it but his children would 12v7 – “to your offspring I will give this land” The promise is repeated in Chapter 13v14,15. READ He is later told that his descendants would be enslaved for four hundred years in a foreign country, but that after four hundred years they would be freed, would be brought out and would take possession of the land of Canaan. 15v15,16,18. And of course what you have in the book of Genesis and Exodus is the record of the historical fulfilment of God’s word in relation to the growth of Abraham’s descendants into a great nation while in Egypt , their subsequent mal-treatment by their hosts turned captors and their eventual deliverance from their captivity by the power of God under the leadership of Moses. However the promise of entering into and taking possession of the land of Canaan was not fulfilled in the immediate aftermath of Israel’s deliverance. It ought to have been but, standing on the brink of entering into the full enjoyment of that which God had promised to give them, the people were filled with fear and unbelief and lacked the faith and trust in God that was necessary in order to actually take possession of the inheritance that was before them. As a consequence God swore that that generation would not set foot in the land of promise, that that generation would not experience the blessings and joys of their inheritance and so for forty years they wandered in the wilderness until every person over twenty years of age, Joshua and Caleb being the only exceptions, had died. And that is where we pick up the story when we come to the book of Joshua. This is Canaan re-visited. The people of God are once again standing on the border of the promised land. They are once again looking at their promised inheritance. The blessings of that land with its rich pastures, with its abundant fruit and so on are before them and are there for the taking and this time, under the leadership of Joshua and stepping out in faith and obedience they will go in and possess the land and enter into these covenant blessings that God had promised to give them and that He wants them to enjoy. So in the book of Joshua we find the historical fulfilment of God’s covenant promise made many years earlier to Abraham.