Bible Survey Lesson 7: Joshua

Bible Survey Lesson 7: Joshua

Entering the Promised Land

Content: The book of Joshua covers about thirty years of Israel’s history, emphasizing a five-year period of Joshua’s military campaigns. 1 The book picks up right where Deuteronomy left off: Israel is camped by the Jordan River on the threshold of entering the Promised Land. Joshua tells the story of Israel’s conquest of the land and of their settlement in it.

God assigned Joshua the task of destroying the Canaanite kingdoms and moving the Israelites into their land. Chapters 7 and 20 indicate that the Israelites were to totally destroy the Canaanites living within the boundaries of the Promised Land. Joshua destroyed thirty-one key cities or kingdoms in all (12:24). After that, each tribe was responsible to enter its designated territory and destroy all the Canaanites left there. Unfortunately, many of the tribes did not or could not root out the Canaanites. This failure would prove to trouble the Israelites for many years to come.


Joshua contains many well-known Bible stories: Rahab’s hiding of the spies, the parting of the Jordan River, the fall of the walls of Jericho, the disobedience and destruction of Achan, and Caleb’s determination.

Authorship: Although there is no stated author of the book, Jewish tradition assigns it to Joshua. It’s clear that he did write some of it at least (24:25-26). The author was obviously an eyewitness of the events described in the book. The date of authorship is about 1390 BC. The conquest probably occurred around 1406 BC.

Title: The Hebrew text bears the superscription Yehoshua. The word “Joshua” means “Yahweh saves” or “Yahweh is salvation.” The title therefore suitably describes what God used Joshua to do, namely, to save his people by conquering Canaan and partitioning it to Israel as their promised homeland. 2 Note that “Jesus” is the Greek form of “Joshua.”

Purpose: to record the conquest of the land of Canaan by Israel and therefore show the faithfulness of God in keeping his promise to bless Abraham’s family line. 3 Part of the Abrahamic covenant (Gen. 12:2-3; cf. 15:12-21) includes an unconditional promise that God would give Abraham a specific land and many descendants. The book of Joshua shows that God fulfilled his promises.

Key Characters: Joshua, Caleb, Rahab

Key Words: inheritance, possess

An Outline of Joshua

I. The invasion and conquest of the land (1-12)

A. Entering Canaan (1-5)

B. Conquering Canaan (6-12)

1. Central conquest

2. Southern conquest

3. Northern conquest

II. Dividing the Land (13-24)

A. The distribution of the land to the tribes (13-22)

B. The last messages of Joshua (23-24)

Jenuine Jems from Joshua

I. God keeps His promises

God made the promises of the Abrahamic covenant centuries prior to their fulfillment. Even though so much time had passed, God was working things out to fulfill His promises.

Application: God has made NT believers many promises, one of the most noteworthy being the Second Coming of Christ. Although much time has passed since the promise was made, we can rest assured that God will keep his promises to us. God is faithful and trustworthy.

II. What seems impossible is possible with God.

According to ten of the twelve spies, conquering Canaan was utterly impossible. Yet that is exactly what Israel did. God repeatedly gave the Israelites the power to do what they could never have done by themselves.

[Israel was not exactly a military power. They were former slaves with virtually no military experience. So for them to conquer the land was impossible. ]

Application: We may be called upon to do the seemingly impossible in the service of God. Yet God will provide the necessary strength to accomplish great things in His service. We must be strong and courageous as we serve God (Josh 1:9)

III. God judges sin.

A. God judges sinful nations. God used Israel to destroy the idolatrous and wicked Canaanite civilization. The Canaanites’ measure of sin was now “full,” i.e., ready to be judged (Gen 15:16).

B. God judges sin in the lives of his own people. Achan lusted after some of the spoils of war and took some for himself. His sin caused the death of many soldiers because there was “sin in the camp.” When his sin was discovered, both he and his family were destroyed.

Application: The wicked can still expect the judgment of God. Those who are saved should expect chastisement. Further, your sin affects others. Achan’s whole family suffered the consequences of Achan’s sin.

IV. God is gracious.

Rahab the harlot became a member of the Israelite nation. Although she was a sinful person (a prostitute) living in the midst of a sinful nation, she responded to God in faith. She’s even mentioned in Hebrews 11:31 as one who lived by faith. Interestingly, she became an ancestor of Kind David, and hence, Jesus (Matt 1:5).

Application: God can take the worst sinner and make him into a saint (cf. Titus 3:3-5). No one is beyond the saving grace God offers. E.g., “Unshackled” radio program.

Conclusion:

Joshua tells of Israel’s conquest and settlement in the Promised Land. God is continuing to show his faithfulness to his promise to Abraham to make of his family a great nation in the land of Canaan.

Discussion:

1. Summarize the book of Joshua. The conquest and division of the Promised Land.

2. How was Israel able to conquer the land? Thru God’s help. They were not a great military force by themselves.

3. What are some timeless principles that we learn from Joshua? That God keeps his promises; that all things are possible with God; to be strong and courageous; that God judges sin; that God is gracious

  1. Benware, p. 78.
  2. Donald K. Campbell, “Joshua” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary, vol. 1, p. 325
  3. Benware, p. 77.

Comments

  1. Pastor martins says:

    This text and exposition are very useful to my study group in the church.

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