The book of Joshua is, among other things, the historical record of a military campaign. It is the account of one long triumph, one which took seven years to complete, during which only one major battle was lost. As Bible teacher Irving Jensen has shown, the relation of Joshua to the two books preceding it is simple:
Numbers: Journey to Canaan
Deuteronomy: Preparation to enter Canaan
Joshua: Conquest of Canaan.
If the conquest of Canaan was completed circa 1400 B.C. as most Old Testament scholars hold, the book of Joshua was probably written soon thereafter. The history contained in this book includes a detailed account of the seven years of conquest as well as a less detailed one of the ensuing seventeen years, during which the land was divided among the twelve tribes of Israel and the administrative affairs of the infant nations were set in order.
We were reminded last week that the book of Joshua is more than a history text.
"Joshua is known as one of the former prophets, and this particular section of the Bible is recognized as part of the historical books. Like the rest of Scripture, the book of Joshua sets forth the gospel of the grace of God. It does so in an entirely different way from that of the Gospel of John, for example.
But in Joshua no less than in John, we see that God works out the salvation of men. In a body the hand does not have the same function as the eye, but both are members of a living body and work together, each with a separate and yet distinct responsibility. So it is with these books. Each part of the Scripture contributes to our total biblical portrait of the Lord Jesus Christ." ( Paul E. Toms: This Land is Your Land )
Yet there are important historical lessons to learn in this book: the continuing history of God's relationship with mankind in a time-space continuum. Contained within its pages is an "official" and authoritative account of a vital part of this historical relationship. The flow of Biblical history moves smoothly from the last verses of Deuteronomy (the fifth of the five books which make up the Pentateuch) to the opening passage of Joshua. This is not the work of a clever editor or the product of happenstance. The events recorded in the book of Joshua demonstrate the Law of God in praxis. The great doctrines established and delineated in Deuteronomy spring to life as God moves directly in the affairs of His chosen nation. This is history as "H __ __ S __ __ __ __." Among its great themes are:
1. the covenant f __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ of God
2. the h __ __ __ __ __ __ __ of God
3. the c __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ of sin arising from God's inescapeable j __ __ __ __ __ __ __ of it
4. the p __ __ __ __ of God, and the utter failure of human effort apart from His divine directive
5. the vital importance of the w __ __ __ __ __ __ Word of God
We will spend the remainder of Part 2 of our series in consideration of the last two of these "history lessons."
The son of Nun was not originally named "Joshua." He was born "Hoshea," a name which is the Hebrew word for "s __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __." Moses took it upon himself to change his name to "Joshua," which means "J __ __ __ __ __ __ brings salvation." ( Numbers 13:8, 16 ) The specific reason for this name change is not provided in Scripture, but it may well have been the result of the young warrior's victory over the Amalekites, as recorded in Exodus 17:8-16.
As you may recall, that battle produced a great victory for the homeless nation of Israel -- but not without God's direct intervention. Who could forget the verbal picture of Moses standing on a high hill, overlooking the battlefield, his arms outstreched toward heaven, the "rod of God" held high? As long as he maintained that posture, the armies of Joshua prevailed in the fight. But, as the battle raged, the great old man's arms grew heavy, and he no longer had the strength to hold them high. As they fell to his side, the Amalekites gained the upper hand.
But Moses' hands became heavy; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it. And Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. So Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword. ( Exodus 17:12-13, NKJV )