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In the Book of Genesis Israel was born. In the Book of Exodus Israel was chosen. In the Book of Numbers the nation was proven. In the Book of Leviticus it was brought nigh by the blood. In Deuteronomy it was instructed. Now in the Book of Joshua it faces conflict and conquest.
The Book of Joshua completes the redemption of Israel that was begun in Exodus. Exodus is the book of redemption out of Egypt; Joshua is the book of redemption into the Promised Land.
The key word in the Book of Joshua is possession. God had given the children of Israel their land in an unconditional covenant. To Abraham He had said, “And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God” (Gen. 17:8). However, Israel’s possession of the land was conditional. There was conflict and there was conquest. They had to fight battles and lay hold of their possessions. And, as Joshua reminded them in his final message before his death, their obedience to the Word of God would determine their continued possession of the land.
The Talmud says that Joshua wrote all but the concluding five verses, which were written by Phinehas. Joshua was the successor to Moses. He was a great general. Born a slave in Egypt, he was forty years old at the time of the Exodus out of Egypt. He was eighty years old when he received his commission as Moses’ successor and one hundred ten years old at his death. Joshua had already gained prominence during the wilderness wanderings. When they were attacked by the army of Amalek, it was Joshua who organized the men into an army that fought off Amalek. Joshua served as a minister or servant to Moses. References to him in that connection reveal his loyalty to Moses and his devotion to God. At Kadesh–barnea he was one of the twelve men who went to spy out the land of Canaan. He is one of the two spies that returned with a favorable report in full confidence that God would give them the land.
Joshua’s name means “Jehovah saves.” The same word in the New Testament is Jesus. Joshua was a man of courage, dependence upon God, faith, leadership, enthusiasm, and fidelity. He is a type of Christ in his name and in his work. As another has said, “Joshua shows that a man of average ability may become a leader in the church. Joshua received his call not in flaming letters written across the sky, but from an older man who knew God and knew Joshua, and saw that he was fitted by God to be a leader.”
The Book of Joshua has a very practical application to the believer today. The Promised Land cannot be a type of heaven since heaven is not a place of conflict and conquest. Heaven is received as a gift of the grace of God. Rather, the Promised Land represents the place to which believers are brought right here in this world today. The Book of Joshua corresponds to the Epistle to the Ephesians in the New Testament where we see that the believer is blessed with all spiritual blessings. The practical possession and experience of them depends upon conflict and conquest. These are never attained through the energy of the flesh, but through the power of the Holy Spirit in the yielded life of the believer. The Book of Joshua is the pattern, and it illustrates the method by which the believer can possess what God has given to him.
(McGee, J. Vernon. Thru the Bible Commentary, Vol. 10: Joshua & Judges. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1991.)