Summary: Message one in our exposition of Joshua. This is an introductory message and background the the conquest of Canaan.
Joshua Series #1
Journey to the Promised Rest
“The Long Road to Rest”
The book of Joshua begins with this historical account.
Now it came about after the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, that the LORD spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses' servant, saying, "Moses My servant is dead; now therefore arise, cross this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them, to the sons of Israel. Joshua 1:1-2
Ok! Let’s say we just picked up the Bible for the first time and knew nothing about the story but decided to start with this book. What would we need to know before we could make any sense of this book? Who is Moses? Who is Joshua? Who are the people to whom the LORD refers? Who is this God? What land is He talking about? Why is He giving it to them? What does it all have to do with me? Is there any value beyond the historical and geographical information?
In order to answer those questions we first must go all the way back to Genesis 12. An interesting reference to Joshua in Hebrews stimulates us to explore a deeper symbolism.
Today will be mostly background and a brief overview of the book so that we may get our bearings before we zero in on the specific details. It is like an orienting map that helps make more sense of the details. Joshua is about to lead the people of Israel into a land God promised Abraham, their forefather, hundreds of years before. The account of the founding of the nation of Israel began with one man God chose to bless.
Because Abraham believed God’s promise of land, seed and blessing, God made a covenant with Him and promised that he would become the father, actually not just of Israel but of many nations. The story of his calling and encounter with God is recorded beginning in Genesis 12. Genesis ends with the fourth generation from Abraham. Abraham fathered Ishmael by a handmaiden before the promised miracle son Isaac. We are still dealing with the conflict between those two today. (Muslims consider Ishmael the promised child.) Isaac gave birth to Jacob and Esau (more family conflict still around today). Jacob whose name God changed to Israel, gave birth to 12 sons who became the 12 tribes of Israel.
Joseph was one of those sons who was sold into slavery by his other brothers and ended up in Egypt. God used the situation to protect this fledgling little nation from annihilation in the famine. Joseph became second in command of Egypt during the famine because “God was with him. The Hebrews flourished during that time both materially and numerically.
Many years had passed since Joseph and the Egyptian rulers forgot how he had saved them from the famine. Now they were concerned with the rapid growth of the Hebrews and feared they would align with some foreign power and attack them. They began to put tighter restrictions and eventually practiced male infanticide to eliminate any more threat to their nation. This increasingly grew more torturous as time when on and the people cried out for deliverance. It had been nearly 400 years of slavery under the Egyptians. That is where Genesis ends and Exodus begins.
Now it came about in the course of those many days that the king of Egypt died. And the sons of Israel sighed because of the bondage, and they cried out; and their cry for help because of their bondage rose up to God. So God heard their groaning; and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God saw the sons of Israel, and God took notice of them. Exodus 2:23-25
Exodus is the account of Israel’s exodus from Egypt and journey to the land promised by Abraham. God prepared and called Moses to lead the people out of Egypt to the Promised Land. Exodus records the key events from the supernatural deliverance through 10 specialized demon-defying plagues ending with the death angel killing the firstborn of all who did not put the sacrificial blood on their door posts (Passover). The Egyptians were glad to see them go and even showered them with gifts as the left hoping to remove the curse from the land.
Note this was payment for the service rendered over the past 400 years. The hard labor at the end prepared the people for the long journey ahead of them. There was not a weak one among them. The deliverance ended with a grand elimination of the entire Egyptian army who pursued them after God hardened Pharaoh’s heart to deny their exodus. They were all swallowed up when God closed the Red Sea on them after the Jews had gone through on dry land.