Overview of Joshua
Have you ever wondered what it takes to be a good spiritual leader? Do you desire to lead with humility, passion, and a God-centered way so you can impact those in your sphere of influence? Then this episode is just for you! Pastor Harrell takes us through the book of Joshua and highlights truths that can help in our daily lives.
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The Full Transcript
Have you ever wondered what it takes to be a good spiritual leader? Do you desire to lead with humility and passion in a God-centered way so that you can impact those in your sphere of influence?
Well, if you answered yes to any of these questions, then this episode of The Bible for Life Podcast is just for you, as senior pastor, Ken Harrell takes us through the Book of Joshua and highlights truths for us that can help us do just that in our daily lives.
We are so glad you’ve chosen to join us today. Let’s jump right in. Here’s Pastor Harrell.
What does it mean to be a spiritual leader, to have spiritual influence over someone or some ones? Do you have to have your life altogether? A bunch of charisma? Maybe a really sharp personality? Do you have to have the ability to speak to large groups of people? I mean, do you have to have it all together emotionally and spiritually?
None of those things. But I’ll tell you something that is definitely required if you’re going to have a spiritual influence over other people, and that is, there will be a direct relationship between you and the Word of God. There’ll be a passion for scriptures, and you’ll be known as you impact people in your sphere of influence. People will discover your love for God’s Word. You see, there’s no way to separate a spiritual leader from intake of the Word of God.
Well, we’ve come through the first five books in the Old Testament, the Law, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, and in this episode, we’re dealing with the Book of Joshua.
Joshua is a book of victory. I mean, they had been wandering in the wilderness for 40 years, and they moved from the heels of defeat to great victory. The people of God enter a new land, and they settle in enemy territory.
Let me give you some introductory matters, as we get into the Book. First of all, Joshua is the main character. He’s commissioned in chapter one, and he dies in chapter 24. The book was written around 1400 BC, and it was written by Joshua himself. It reads like a journal, not a diary, but a journal. You see, there’s a difference between a diary and a journal. A diary is a record of what you do. A journal is a record of what God is doing in your life, or through you.
Let’s deal a little bit with the background to Joshua’s life first. In chapter one, verse one, the book opens and says, “After the death of Moses, the servant of the Lord, it came to pass that the Lord spoke to Joshua, the son of Nun, Moses’s assistant, saying, ‘Moses, my servant is dead. Now, therefore, rise and go over this Jordan, you and all of this people to the land, which I am giving to them, the children of Israel.'”
Now, why would God address Joshua so directly as it related to Moses? Well, that’s because, as you study the background of Joshua, you find out that there is a direct link with him and Moses. Back in the Book of Exodus 24, the Bible says in verse 12, “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Come up to me on the mountain and be there, and I will give you tablets of stone and the law and the commandments, which I have written, that you may teach them.'”
Now notice verse 13. “So Moses arose with his assistant, Joshua, and Moses went up to the mountain of God.” Do you notice that? That Joshua was Moses’s assistant or servant. In other words, he was trained at the feet of Moses, under his wing. I mean, the man that spoke face-to-face with God trained Joshua. In Exodus 33, you see where Joshua stayed near Moses, even in crisis times. In Exodus 33:11, “so the Lord spoke to Moses face-to-face as a man speaks to his friend.” I mean, face-to-face. I mean, Moses’s face glowed with the shekhinah glory of God. And the rest of that verse says, “And he would return to the camp, but his servant, Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, did not depart from the tabernacle.” I mean, Joshua said, “I’m staying here, Moses. I mean, anyone that talks face-to-face with God, count me in. I’m going to attach myself to him,” and, you know, that’s one of the reasons that Joshua was used greatly.
Let me just pause here and apply it to our life. I want to encourage you to spend time and be close with people, people that you greatly respect. People that have a walk with God, people that are close to God, not by what they say, but what they say and how they live. There’s a direct connect, there’s not a contradiction, and glean from them. You know, that’s the way that they used to train men for ministry. They would gather men, and they would be like instruments in the making.
Well, that’s how Joshua was trained. Well, when you get to the last, if you get to Deuteronomy 31, it’s the end of Moses’s life, and who’s going to be the replacement? In chapter 31, verse 14, “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Moses, behold, the days approach when you must die. Call Joshua and present yourselves in the tabernacle of meeting that I may inaugurate him. So Moses and Joshua went and presented themselves in the tabernacle of meeting.”
Then in verse 23, “Then He inaugurated Joshua, the son of Nun, and said, ‘Be strong and of good courage, for you shall bring the children of Israel into the land of which I swore to them, and I will be with you.” I mean, can you grab how Joshua must have felt?
Now when you get to Joshua 1, here’s the setting. Moses has died, they’ve mourned over his death for 30 days, and God says to Joshua, “Man, get back on your feet. The mourning’s over. Let’s move on. Let’s move the people into Canaan.” In fact, verse two simply says, “Moses, my servant is dead.” I can imagine Josh is thinking, “Well, where’s my spiritual leadership? I mean, to whom do I turn? Who am I going to turn to when things get rough?” What God is communicating to Joshua is that, “You can’t live in Moses’s shadow. I’ve removed him. Now you look to me and to no one else.”
Notice the promise in verse number three, “Every place that the sole of your feet will tread, Joshua, I have given you. As I said to Moses,” and then He describes the parameters of the land in area in verse number four. Then as Joshua’s knees begin to knock, God said, “Don’t be intimidated, Joshua.” Verse five, “No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. And as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you, or I will not fail you, nor forsake you. It’s yours, Joshua. Claim it by faith.”
I like what A. W. Tozer said in that small book, The Divine Conquest. In the first chapter, Tozer said, and I quote, “We cannot think rightly of God, until we begin to think of Him as always being there and there first.” You see, to Joshua, Moses and the God of Moses had become blended in his thinking. But listen to me, carefully, folks. Nothing of God dies when a man of God dies. Being human, we’re prone to get our eyes on humans, and when they let us down or when they’re taken from us, even in death, it’s like something of God is lost if we don’t watch it. God says, “Joshua, don’t let that happen. Moses is dead. Now go. I have put you in the place of leadership. Now go.”
I remember the day that my dad died. It was a dark day for me. I mean, my father was the closest man in my life and had more of an impact on my life than any other man ever. I was now faced with the reality that he’s gone, and for a little bit, it was like something of God was gone. But God began to communicate to me, “As I was with him, I’ll be with you, Ken. I will not fail you. I will not forsake you,” and I was reminded that nothing of God dies when a person of God dies.
Now God says to Joshua in verse six and He uses the word inheritance and that word and it’s found over a couple dozen times. In verse number six, the Lord said, “Joshua, be strong and of good courage for, to this people, you see shall divide, as an inheritance, the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous that you may observe to do according to all of the law which Moses, my servant, commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left.” Verse eight, “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then, you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”
You see, spiritual influence, folks, doesn’t happen without a time in the Word of God, and when the Lord said, “for then,” when was He talking about? When you have done what? When you have done all that is written in it. You see, obedience is a key in spiritual influence. And He says, “Then I’ll make your way prosperous, and you’ll have good success.” What does that mean? Does that mean you’ll be rich? Does that mean that if you have a business, that you’ll have a prosperous business? No. What it means is that you’ll be in the nucleus of His will. You’ll have a God confidence. I mean, you’ll take a challenge that comes to you whatever is thrown at you.
Then a final reminder from God in verse number nine. He says, “Have I not commanded you, be strong and of good courage?” And if you read in the first chapter, you’ll notice that in verse six, seven and nine, that same phrase, “Be strong and courageous.” Why is that? Because if you’re going to be a spiritual leader, if you’re going to have… Listen, you’re going to have critics. You’re going to have enemies. I mean, they will find fault, and they will communicate that fault in you and to you, and you need to be reminded. Don’t be afraid. Don’t tremble. Don’t be dismayed.
I think of Jeremiah. He was a young man when he was called to be a prophet, and I’m telling you in Jeremiah’s day, that was the least desirable job of his day to be a prophet. God tells Jeremiah, says, “Jeremiah, I’ve formed you in the womb. You are my spokesman.” In Jeremiah 1:8, He said, “Do not be afraid of them. Do not be afraid of their faces.” You see, people reveal back to you through their faces, and God told Jeremiah, he said, “Jeremiah, if you’re going to lead, you’re going to get faces, but just keep moving on.”
Well, in chapter six of the Book of Joshua, the battle begins. You know, I can imagine some of the people, they probably thought, “Moses would never have left us like this.” I got to tell you, as you read through chapter six, it’s almost like this strategy, you find it in the fiction section of a library. But what I want to ask you to do, folks, is this, listen to this like you’ve never heard it before, okay? Here’s the setting. Joshua and the children of Israel, they’ve crossed the Jordan River, they’ve invaded the land, and they come to the strategic city of Jericho. Their plan is to go in, and then go to the south, and then back to the north. In Joshua 6:1, now Jericho was securely shut up because of the children of Israel. None went out and none came in. I mean, they, they knew the children of Israel were there and the people just locked themself in that fortified city of Jericho because they were afraid of the children of Israel.
I can imagine when Joshua saw that, he’s probably thinking of the strategy. “Well, let’s see, what weapons am I going to need? I’m going to need ladder. I’m going to need rope if we’re going to get over those walls.” And the Lord says to Joshua, “Joshua, I’ve got a plan, and here’s the plan.” Verse two of chapter six, “And the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I’ve given Jericho into your hand, its kings and the mighty men of valor. You shall march around the city, all you men of war. You shall go all around the city once. This you should do for six days and seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of ram’s horns for the Ark. But the seventh day, you shall march around the city seven times and the priests shall blow the trumpets. And it shall come to pass when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet that all the people shall shout with a great shout. Then the wall of the city will fall down, and the people shall go up every man straight before him.”
I can just imagine Joshua thinking, “Wait, I think you’ve left something out, God. I mean, what about spears? What about ladders? What about ropes? What about weapons?” I’ve got to tell you, folks, I absolutely love this passage because it is so anti-human thinking. You see, if you want victory in your life, folks, you got to demonstrate faith. I love that old song, Faith is the victory. Oh, glorious victory. Well, you see what God was doing with Joshua and the people is He wants to make once again that indelible impression on his mind that He is omnipotent and that He wants all the glory. He wants to remind them that He separated the Red Sea, where they could walk across on dry land. Just like He fed them with manna and quail, as they wandered in the wilderness, just as He miraculously allowed them to cross the Jordan River, God says, “I want all of the glory.”
That’s why the Apostle Paul said to you and me in Romans 15, “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we, through the patience and comfort of the scriptures, might have hope.” You see, God wants to remind us there is nothing that He can’t do, and that He wants all the glory.
Chapter six, verse six says, “Then Joshua, the son of Nun, called the priest and said to them, ‘Take up the Ark of the covenant and let seven priests bear seven trumpets of ram’s horns before the Ark of the Lord.’ And he said to the people, ‘Proceed and march around the city and let him who is armed advance before the Ark of the Lord.'” Then look at what happens, as you slip down to verse number 20. So the people shouted when the priest blew the trumpets and it happened, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet that the people shouted with a great shout, and the wall fell down flat. Then the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city. I wonder what Joshua is thinking.
You know, let me just pause here and say that the most awesome moment in the life of the Christian is to be right in the middle of an answered prayer. I mean, right when it happens. That wall fell down flat. How? It had to be pushed down, and God’s the one that made it happen. I mean, what an incredible experience. But you know what? They didn’t learn the lesson because when you get to chapter 7, there’s a defeat. They move into a little suburb called Ai, and they just sent a few troops, and they failed. You know why? Because they weren’t walking by faith. Because one of them took a Babylonian garment and God said, “You don’t touch any of that stuff, that silver and gold.” And God says, “That goes to my treasury.” But Achan took that stuff.
Let me just pause here and say never presume on the victory because, folks, God’s promises, I mean, it requires obedience every step of the way. Well, when you get to chapter 11, you come to the climax of the book. Chapter 11, verse 23, “So Joshua took the whole land according to all that the Lord had said to Moses, and Joshua gave it as an inheritance to Israel, according to their divisions by their tribes. Then the land rested from war.”
I want you to see something that Joshua lived with and you will, too. When God begins to use you in a special way and in people’s lives, you got to be aware of this. Back in chapter 27, there’s a direct link between Joshua 6:27 and 11:23. The Bible says in Joshua 6, “So the Lord was with Joshua and his fame spread throughout all the country.” Not the Lord’s fame, but Joshua’s fame. You see, people have a tendency to link victory with another person. It should have been the Lord’s fame spread throughout all the land, and you’ve got to deal with that as a spiritual leader or someone that has influence over someone else spiritually. You can’t listen, folks, you can’t become enamored of your own stuff.
Well, Joshua, never did. In chapter 11, verse 23, “So Joshua took the whole land according to all that the Lord had said to Moses, and Joshua gave it as an inheritance to Israel, according to their divisions by their tribes. Then the land rested from war.”
You know what you never read? You never read where Joshua gave himself a particular spot or any favored treatment. You see, Joshua is one of the few men in scripture where there’s no sin mentioned about him.
Well, let me break down the book. Chapters one to five, the land is invaded, okay? They invade the land. Chapter six to 12, there’s the subjection of the land. There’s the central campaign first, where they came over and took Jericho and the central area. Then they went on the southern campaign, and then they move up into the northern campaign, and that had lesser intensity. In chapter 12, there’s finally a summary of the defeated kings, and when you get to chapter 13, Joshua begins distributing the land to the 12 tribes. That’s basically, folks, the balance of the Book of Joshua.
But what I want to do, before this episode of our podcast ends, is that want to pull out a little vignette from the distribution of the land. I want to center our attention on one man, and his name is Caleb. Let me give you a background to Caleb.
Caleb was one of the two spies that Moses sent out on the promised land that came back with a faithful report. Ten of them said no, and that’s why they wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. But Caleb, along with Joshua, he was one of the two spies that brought back that good faithful report. And when it came time to pick a replacement for Moses, the Lord didn’t pick Caleb. He picked Joshua. How would you have felt? Would you have felt overlooked?
Caleb wasn’t bothered by that. In Joshua 14:6, just listen as I read this. “Then the children of Judah came to Joshua and Gilgal and Caleb, the son of Jephunneh, the Kenizzite, said to him, ‘You know the Word of the Lord, which the Lord spoke to Moses, the man of God, concerning you and me and Kadesh Barnea? I was 40 years old when Moses, the servant of the Lord, sent me from Kadesh Barnea to spy out the land, and I brought back word to him as it was in my heart. Nevertheless, my brother, who went up with me, made the heart of the people melt, but I wholly followed the Lord, my God.'”
“So Moses swore on that day, saying, ‘Surely the land where your foot has trodden shall be your inheritance and your children’s forever because you have wholly followed the Lord, my God. And now behold,’ now don’t miss this, ‘and now,’ verse 10, ‘behold, the Lord has kept me alive as he said these 45 years ever since the Lord spoke this word to Moses, while Israel wandered in the wilderness. And now here I am this day, 85 years old, and yet I’m as strong this day as I was the day Moses sent me. Just as my strength was then, so now my strength for war, both for going out and for coming in.'”
‘Now,’ and here’s where Caleb makes his special request in verse 12, ‘Now, therefore, give me this mountain on which the Lord spoke in that day. For you heard in that day how the Anakim were there and that the cities were great and fortified. It may be that the Lord will be with me, and I shall be able to drive them out as the Lord said.'”
What Caleb was saying is that the Anakim, they were the giants, and there were fortified cities. I mean, Caleb didn’t care. Do you notice there’s a total absence of jealousy with Caleb? His total focus was on the Lord.
Let me say to those who are listening that are up later in years of life, though it’s good for even those who are not up in the latter years of life, listen to what J. Oswald Sanders said as he talked about Caleb. I quote, “As we near old age, do we lose the spirit of aggression? Do we become hesitant to risk a step of faith for God? Do we shrink from the rigors of battle? Perhaps we should remove our slippers and attack some menacing mountain in which the enemies of God are entrenched.” What J. Oswald Sander was saying is that, “You know, don’t retire from the spiritual life.”
Longfellow wrote, “It is too late. Ah, nothing is too late. Cato studied Greek at 80. Sophocles wrote the Grand Oedipus when he was more than 80 years of age. Chaucer wrote to Canterbury Tales in his 60s.” Well, Joshua at an old age dies and in Joshua 24:14, Joshua said, “Now, therefore, fear of the Lord. Serve Him in sincerity and truth and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the river and in Egypt. Serve the Lord.” I mean, Joshua is an old man, and he’s challenging young men. In verse number 15, Joshua says, “And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourself this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the river or the god of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
I’m reminded of someone over 200 years ago in our country. He was in Richmond, Virginia, and I believe he drew his thoughts from verse 15 when Patrick Henry said, “Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, all mighty God. I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.”
Folks, that’s the Book of Joshua. But as I close, let me make two applications. The first one is this, don’t ever forget what God promises, God accomplishes. That may not be in your time or my time. That’s why the Book of Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, “He’s made everything beautiful in His time.” If He says it, He will do it. He will do it. The second thing I want to say is this, His abundant provisions do not diminish the importance of obedience. All the way through the Book of Joshua they had to obey. And let me say in closing, all the way through your life and my life, it is imperative that we obey, trust and obey. For there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.
I look forward to our next episode, as we deal with the Book of Judges. See you then.
Thank you so much for joining us on this episode of The Bible for Life Podcast. Tell all your friends about it so that we can join together with you and pursue God’s Word together.
Until next time, for the issues of life for the rest of your life, it’s the Bible for Life.