Spiritual Victory is the great theme of the Book of Joshua as God fulfills His covenant promise to lead Abraham’s descendants into possession of the promised land of Canaan despite tremendous obstacles and powerful enemies. The people under Joshua’s leadership needed to engage the enemy by trusting fully in the Lord and turning away from sin. The distribution of the conquered land reminds us of the spiritual rest that comes to God’s people as they enjoy the blessings of victory. This account stands in contrast to the Book of Numbers which highlighted the failure and the wandering in the wilderness of a people who did not inherit the blessing because of unbelief. Consecration is the essential preparation for spiritual conflict. Victory gained must still be maintained by an ongoing commitment of faith and obedience.
Claiming God’s promises for spiritual victory requires engaging and conquering the enemy by grace through faith.
Joshua 11:23 “So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the Lord had spoken to Moses, and Joshua gave it for an inheritance to Israel according to their divisions by their tribes. Thus the land had rest from war.”
Joshua 21:43-45 “So the Lord gave Israel all the land which He had sworn to give to their fathers, and they possessed it and lived in it. And the Lord gave them rest on every side, according to all that He had sworn to their fathers, and not one of all their enemies stood before them; the Lord gave all their enemies into their hand. Not one of the good promises which the Lord had made to the house of Israel failed; all came to pass.”
I. (1:1 – 5:15) ENGAGING THE ENEMY — ENTERING THE PROMISED LAND
A. (1:1-18) Commission to Go to War – Transition from Moses to Joshua
B. (2:1-24) Avoiding the Grasshopper Mentality – The Mission of the Two Spies
C. (3:1-17) Avoiding the Victim Mentality – Crossing the Jordan
D. (4:1-24) Avoiding the Bigshot Mentality – Commemorating Spiritual Milestones
E. (5:1-15) First Things First – Stepping Out in Faith Requires Submission to the Sign of the Covenant
II. (6:1 – 12:24) ELIMINATING THE ENEMY – TAKING POSSESSION OF THE PROMISED LAND
A. (6:1-27) Faith Celebrates Victory Before the Walls Even Fall
B. (7:1-26) Sin Snatches Defeat From the Jaws of Victory
C. (8:1-35) Regaining Lost Ground – the Spirit Succeeds Where the Flesh Failed
D. (9:1-27) Rash Commitments – Deception Takes Advantage of Our Limited Perception
Spiritual Victory is Compromised When We Make Rash Commitments Apart from Seeking the Guidance of the Lord
E. (10:1-27) Unlimited Divine Weapons and Resources –
We Can Rout Our Enemies By Relying on the Lord’s Unlimited Weapons and Resources
F. (11:1-15) Victory in Obedience to the Lord’s Commands
God Provides the Victory When We Obey His Commands by Taking Courage and Taking Action in Faith
G. (11:16 – 12:24) Summary of the Victorious Campaigns
III. (13:1 – 22:34) EARMARKING THE PROMISED LAND FOR ITS DIVINELY INTENDED PURPOSE – DISTRIBUTING IT AMONG THE VAROUS TRIBES
A. (13:1-7) Joshua’s Final Clean-Up Instructions From the Lord – Specific Areas of Canaan Still Needed to be Conquered and Possessed
B. (13:8-33) Earmarking Land for the Eastern Tribes (Reubenites and Gadites) — Transjordan
C. (14:1 – 19:51) Earmarking Land for the Western Tribes
D. (20:1-9) Designation of the 6 Cities of Refuge
E. (21:1-45) Designation of the 48 Levitical Cities
F. (22:1-34) Dismissal of Eastern Tribes Back to Their Homes
IV. (23:1 – 24:33) EXHORTING THE NATION OF ISREAL ONE FINAL TIME TO CONTINUED COVENANT OBEDIENCE
A. (23:1-16) Farewell Charge from Joshua – Call to Covenant Obedience
B. (24:1-28) Final Review of Covenant History at Shechem
(24:29-33) Epilogue – Association of Joshua’s Burial with those of Joseph and Eleazar –
All in the Promised Land as a Testimony to the Faithfulness of God
WHY STUDY THIS BOOK?
• To understand the intensity of the spiritual warfare of the believer (both as an individual and corporately as a local church) and what faith steps we need to take to successfully engage the enemy and overcome all obstacles
• To consecrate our hearts and then develop a commitment to courage and obedience in following the Lord’s battle plan
• To appreciate that God gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ as we step out in faith and trust Him rather than in our own resources
• To learn lessons about spiritual leadership
• To grow in our confidence that God is faithful to keep His promises
• To take our sin seriously in the light of the holiness of God who cannot compromise with sin
• To acknowledge God’s sovereignty over all the nations and over all the forces that would oppose His kingdom agenda
• To expect God to accomplish great things
Dale Ralph Davis: The Book of Joshua contains at least four important theological themes which have practical values for today. First, the book is a lesson on the covenant faithfulness of Jehovah. The power of God was not only declared in covenant agreement, but also demonstrated. Secondly, the book demonstrates the importance of the written word of God (Josh. 1:8; 8:32-35; 23:6-16; 24:26-27). There was an authoritative body of written Scripture in the days of Joshua and this consisted of the books of Moses. There is no appeal to contemporary customs or oral tradition. Thirdly, the book points out the utter failure of human effort apart from divine directives. When Joshua and the children of Israel were faithful to God’s word and His will, there was victory. When they abandoned His will in favor of their own genius, there was failure and frustration. Finally, the book is a commentary of God’s holiness and His judgment of sin. The destruction of the cities of Canaan with their inhabitants was not merely to give Israel military control of the area, but it was, in effect, a judgment of God upon the wickedness of that land (cf. Gen. 15:16; Deut. 7:5-6).
John MacArthur: A keynote feature is God’s faithfulness to fulfill His promise of giving the Land to Abraham’s descendants (Ge 12:7; 15:18-21; 17:8). By His leading (cf. 5:14-6:2), they inhabited the territories E and W of the Jordan, and so the word “possess” appears nearly 20 times. . .
God wanted His people to possess the Land:
1) to keep His promise (Ge 12:7);
2) to set the stage for later developments in His kingdom plan (cf. Ge 17:8; 49:8-12), e.g., positioning Israel for events in the periods of the kings and prophets;
3) to punish peoples that were an affront to Him because of extreme sinfulness (Lv 18:25); and
4) to be a testimony to other peoples (Jos 2:9-11), as God’s covenant heart reached out to all nations (Ge 12:1-3).
John Rea: The very name “Joshua,” the Hebrew form of Jesus, means “Jehovah is salvation.” Thus the redemptive history of Israel’s entering and possessing Canaan illustrates the Christian’s spiritual experience of conflict, victory, and blessing in heavenly spheres through the mighty power of God. In Hebrews 4 the rest in Canaan from vain wilderness strivings is set forth as typical of our present spiritual rest in the finished work of Christ and in his continual intercession to enable us to conquer self and Satan.
Warren Wiersbe: The leading person in the Book of Joshua is not Joshua but the Lord Jehovah, the God of Joshua and of Israel. In all that Joshua did by faith, he desired to glorify the Lord. When the Jews crossed the Jordan River, Joshua reminded them that the living God was among them and would overcome their enemies (Josh. 3:10). Through Israel’s obedience, Joshua wanted all the people of the earth to know the Lord and fear Him (4:23-24). In his “farewell addresses” to the leaders (chap. 23) and to the nation (chap. 24), Joshua gave God all the glory for what Israel had accomplished under his leadership.