Summary: God gives Joshua a promise, His presence, and a proclamation of victory over the enemy. God does the same for us as we prepare to lead the victorious Christian life.
Joshua is a book about leading a victorious new life in God. On the surface it is about God bringing about His promise of a new land for His people, the Children of Israel. But there are tremendous parallels throughout the book to God bringing us, His children, into a promised new life in Jesus Christ.
So as we learn about Israel’s struggles to obtain the land God gave them, we will study the struggles of the Christian to enter into the victory over sin, temptation, the flesh, and the enemy.
Hebrews chapters 3 and 4 talk about how the Children of Israel rebelled against Moses and did not have faith that God was giving them the land. They were like those who refuse to believe that God has given us new life but only by faith in Jesus Christ. It was only after that generation died that God was able to bring them in, and not with Moses, but Joshua. So too, we will die outside of God’s victorious life if we refuse to believe.
In a way, Moses and Joshua represent the two aspects of the Messiah, or Anointed One that God sent. Moses could represent the suffering savior. He had to put up with a rebellious people and yet still gave his all to rescue them from a tyrant, then laid down his life in the effort. Jesus Christ came to a rebellious and stubborn people and never the less rescued them from a tyrant (the Devil) by laying down His life on the cross.
Then Joshua represents the conquering king who leads his peple into a victorious life over the enemy, helping them to overcome their own weaknesses, just as the Holy Spirit does in the life of the believer.
In this first chapter, God lays down some principals for victory that are still true for us today.
Verses 1 - 4
God has a land that He has given to us to inherit. It is the result of a promise
Verses 5 - 6
There are three things we need from God in order to have a successful Christian life: the promise of God, the presence of God (vs 5) and the pronouncement, or Word of God (vs 8).
There are two things God brings about in us for the victory: strength and courage. If you have strength but not courage you will do nothing, if you have courage without strength you can do nothing.
We face a powerful enemy, even as the Children of Israel faced powerful enemies. It is not easy to live the Christian life. Satan tries at every turn to tempt us and trip us up. He is described as a roaring lion (1 Peter 5:8), a liar (John 8:44), an accuser (Revelation 12:10) among other things. Though enemies may appear to try to keep you from the land, if you believe and trust in God, none can stand in your way. That’s because God was always with them. Did you catch the words God spoke? "I will not leave you or forsake you" (vs 5). Ever heard those words before? Jesus said the same thing in Matthew 28:20 "Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
Verses 7 - 9
It will take strength and courage (3 times he says this). This isn’t an easy task, but one that will take all your effort. To be successful we must learn and follow God’s Word. God commanded them to be strong and courageous, just as we should "command" all joy in the midst of our trials (James 1). Victory comes from courage (step out) and total dependence on God. We’ll see that after the initial victory over the mighty Jericho, Joshua doesn’t seek God and they get trounced at the tiny town of Ai.
Finally he says "do not be frightened or dismayed." There will be things that seek to frighten and cow us from moving forward in our relationship with God. If they enemy can frighten us into ineffectiveness then he has won. But perfect love drives out fear (1 John 4:18).
Verses 10 - 11
Notice the three days? I wonder if that is significant in that it was three days that Jesus was in the grave, then came out with new resurrected life. So the Israelites were three days after Moses died then commanded to enter into the Promised land.
Verses 12 - 15
In Numbers 32 the leaders of these tribes came to Moses and asked for permission to settle on the eastern side of the Jordan River. Israel captured this portion of modern day Jordan prior to this-now Joshua tells them to keep to their promise of helping the rest of Israel conquer their portions of the land before they went home and settled the land known as Transjordan.