Joshua 4 Sermon, Commentary, Summary, Bible, KJV

Now, remember those 12 men we mentioned earlier? The ones that Joshua told Israel to select?

Joshua 4:1-3

In 4:1-3 we finally we what they’re supposed to do.

[4:1 And it came to pass, when all the people were clean passed over Jordan, that the Lord spake unto Joshua, saying, 2 Take you twelve men out of the people, out of every tribe a man, 3 And command ye them, saying, Take you hence out of the midst of Jordan, out of the place where the priests’ feet stood firm, twelve stones, and ye shall carry them over with you, and leave them in the lodging place, where ye shall lodge this night.]

So, the Lord speaks to Joshua and commands him and all the people (plural “you”) to take the 12 men out of Israel. Joshua already commanded the people to do this in chapter 3. But now finally the 12 men are given their assignment. We’ve been wondering what they’re supposed to be doing. Here it is. The priests are still in the Jordan and the water has yet to return. So while that is the case, the 12 men were supposed to take stones out of the Jordan and put them in the place they would lodge that night. But why the stones? Why would God want them to spend their precious time picking up stones?

Joshua 4:4-7

Verses 4 through 7 give us an answer.

[4 Then Joshua called the twelve men, whom he had prepared of the children of Israel, out of every tribe a man: 5 And Joshua said unto them, Pass over before the ark of the Lord your God into the midst of Jordan, and take you up every man of you a stone upon his shoulder, according unto the number of the tribes of the children of Israel: 6 That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones? 7 Then ye shall answer them, That the waters of Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it passed over Jordan, the waters of Jordan were cut off: and these stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel for ever.]

So these stones were supposed to be an enduring reminder to Israel. And for that reason, I think we’re not talking about tiny pebbles here. Have you ever watched those World’s Strongest Man competitions? You know, the show where men with names like Nigel and Magnus lift incredibly heavy objects and carry them all over the place? It seems like the heaviest object most of these folks can carry is somewhere around 500 pounds. And I’m not sure how built these ancient Israelites were. So with all that in mind, I’m guessing the stones were at least 100 pounds. They had to be big enough that there was a good chance that they’d stay there for a long time and not be moved. So, any way, Joshua commanded these 12 men to take one stone each from the Jordan.

But why? What was the purpose? The purpose was to provide a reminder of God’s miraculous deeds on behalf of his people. Who was to be reminded? The text says that fathers were supposed to tell their children about these stones when they asked. Let me ask our fathers here, how do you apply this in the modern-day? Would it involve you being spiritual enough to be able to explain the spiritual significance of things to your children? Have you done something like this? Have you told your kids how God saved you? Have you told them how he led you to their mother? That’s always a fun story. Have you told them of how he provides for your family? Make it a point to do these things.

Joshua 4:8

Well, what do you suppose happens next? God commands Joshua. Joshua commands the 12. And now, verse 8.

[8 And the children of Israel did so as Joshua commanded, and took up twelve stones out of the midst of Jordan, as the Lord spake unto Joshua, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, and carried them over with them unto the place where they lodged, and laid them down there.]

Joshua 4:9

Then beyond that, Joshua sees fit to set up 12 stones not in the lodging place, but in the dried-up Jordan. Verse 9.

[9 And Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests which bare the ark of the covenant stood: and they are there unto this day.]

Joshua 4:10-11

Now the next two verses, 10 and 11 seem to be a simple repetition of what we’ve already heard. But let’s read them to see if there’s any new information here…

[10 For the priests which bare the ark stood in the midst of Jordan, until everything was finished that the Lord commanded Joshua to speak unto the people, according to all that Moses commanded Joshua: and the people hasted and passed over. 11 And it came to pass, when all the people were clean passed over, that the ark of the Lord passed over, and the priests, in the presence of the people.]

The priests stood in the Jordan and when the people finished crossing the priests came out. But did you notice that this all happened according to all that Moses commanded Joshua? What did Moses command Joshua? At least this – that Joshua needed to lead the people into the land God promised them.

Joshua 4:12-13

And there’s another mention of Moses in verses 12 and 13.

[12 And the children of Reuben, and the children of Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh, passed over armed before the children of Israel, as Moses spake unto them: 13 About forty thousand prepared for war passed over before the Lord unto battle, to the plains of Jericho.]

So we didn’t forget these 2 ½ tribes. They passed over just like Moses commanded them.

Joshua 4:14

And let’s read the last mention of Moses in verse 14.

[14 On that day the Lord magnified Joshua in the sight of all Israel; and they feared him, as they feared Moses, all the days of his life.]

Remember that promise that God made to Joshua near the beginning of this lesson? The Lord promised to magnify Joshua in the peoples’ sight. And that’s just what we see happening here. God magnified Joshua. How did he do this? Throughout this section we’ve seen the Lord use Joshua as his mouthpiece, just like he used Moses. From the peoples’ vantage point, Joshua commanded something and it happened. You can imagine the esteem in which the people held this man – this man who was getting revelation straight from God. And God’s not done revealing things through Joshua.

Joshua 4:15-16

Let’s read verses 15 and 16 to see what next command God has for Joshua.

[15 And the Lord spake unto Joshua, saying, 16 Command the priests that bear the ark of the testimony, that they come up out of Jordan.]

Can you guess what happens next?

Joshua 4:17

Verse 17 says…

[17 Joshua therefore commanded the priests, saying, Come ye up out of Jordan.]

Now, we’d been told what was going to happen when the priests entered the Jordan River. But what can we expect to happen when they leave it?

Joshua 4:18

Let’s read verse 18.

[18 And it came to pass, when the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord were come up out of the midst of Jordan, and the soles of the priests’ feet were lifted up unto the dry land, that the waters of Jordan returned unto their place, and flowed over all his banks, as they did before.]

The water simply returned to where it was before. And that’s the end of the people crossing the Jordan. But there’s still this matter of what to do with these stones that they took out of the Jordan.

Joshua 4:19-24

Let’s just go ahead and read the rest of chapter 4, verses 19 through 24.

[19 And the people came up out of Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and encamped in Gilgal, in the east border of Jericho.

20 And those twelve stones, which they took out of Jordan, did Joshua pitch in Gilgal.

21 And he spake unto the children of Israel, saying, When your children shall ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean these stones? 22 Then ye shall let your children know, saying, Israel came over this Jordan on dry land. 23 For the Lord your God dried up the waters of Jordan from before you, until ye were passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red sea, which he dried up from before us, until we were gone over: 24 That all the people of the earth might know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty: that ye might fear the Lord your God for ever.]

I think it’s really interesting that Joshua ties together the Jordan River miracle with the Red Sea miracle. It’s the same nation in both cases. They have the same great God who can work miracles. This same great God has kept his covenant with this same nation. Right? That’s why the priests are carrying the ark of the, what? The ark of the covenant. It’s got the covenant in it that God made over 40 years earlier with this same nation. That’s why Moses is mentioned several times. He’s the one who received that covenant from God.

So again Israel is admonished that the fathers need to impress upon their children the special relationship that God had with them. Those 12 stones set up in Gilgal were supposed to prompt those fathers to engage in this sort of discussion with their children. But did you catch what else those stones were supposed to do? These stones and the reality they were silently proclaiming wasn’t just for the Hebrew children. They were for the sake of the nations. The nations were supposed to know the reality of the Isralites crossing over the Jordan and the Red Sea and they were supposed to take note that God’s hand is mighty.

So those stones and the realities they portrayed were for the children. They were for the nations. And lastly they were for the Israelites themselves. Remembering these things – God’s deliverance and miraculous works – were supposed to help the Israelites fear the Lord their God from generation to generation – forever.

So here’s Israel. They’ve finally entered the land that God had promised to their forefather Abraham so long ago. They’re actually there! They made it. They were experiencing Success through Obedience. And now really nothing stops them from advancing to Jericho. If it’s like Rahab said in chapter 2 – that the people were quaking because of the Red Sea miracle that happened decades ago – then how are they feeling now that they saw with their own eyes, the Jordan River stop flowing and Israel coming across? We’ll see next time, Lord-willing.

Joshua 3 Sermon, KJV, Summary, Bible, Commentary, Study

So we’re in the book of Joshua. And what we’re seeing in this book is that God keeps his promises. Last week God encouraged Joshua to believe those promises. God encouraged Joshua with his own divine words, through the words of his fellow Israelites – which actually included some of God’s words, just repeated –, and with the reaction of the Gentiles – fear in all, faith in one – Rahab.

Now this week we’re going to study Joshua chapters 3 and 4. In these chapters we’re going to see Success through Obedience. Well, wait a minute! I thought we were talking about God keeping his promises in this book. How does the idea that Israel would be successful through obedience come in to the picture? How does that message relate to the rest of the book of Joshua?

Think about it. Remember our 1-lesson study in Deuternomy? God made a few promises in that book, didn’t he? But one of the most unavoidable promises in that book was this – if you (Israel) obey me, I will bless you. That’s what God wanted to do. He wanted to bless them. He wanted to make them successful. But he couldn’t do it if they were disobedient to him. So Israel needed to love and obey God. And as a result they would be blessed.

And that’s exactly what we see here in this section. God is keeping his promise to Israel. When they obey they are blessed. Israel and Joshua their leader find Success through Obedience.

Now, there is something noticeably absent from this section. I just need to warn you about it. One of the things that makes for an interesting, engaging story is conflict. Conflict between man and God or between man and other men or between man and nature. I’ll tell you now that there really is none of this in this section. There’s certainly no conflict with God. Joshua obeys him and is rewarded with success. At this point in the story there isn’t even conflict between man and other men. That’ll come in our next lesson — during the conquest of Jericho. You might think that crossing the Jordan might point to a conflict between man and nature. Well, if Joshua is pictured here as if he’s in some conflict between himself and the Jordan, the Jordan really doesn’t put up much of a fight. The river doesn’t fight back at all. It just stops flowing when the priests’ feet enter the river. And then it comes back when the priests leave the river. So, there isn’t even conflict between man and nature in this section.

Why do I mention this? I mention it because you might be tempted to think this section is a little boring. Be honest, you want to hear about the action. You want to hear about Jericho and how “the walls come tumblin’ down”! You want to hear about Achan and his sin and how Israel stoned him. You want to hear about Bethel and Ai and the ambush that Joshua set for them. You want to hear about the non-stop action that we see from chapter 5 through chapter 11. Victory after victory for Joshua and Israel. And you’re not alone. I want to hear about those victories and that action, too. But we need to get there first. And the way to chapter 5 is through chapters 3 and 4.

And it’s really so sad that these chapters can seem so uninteresting. I’m going to give you a second reason why you might not be as interested in these two chapters as you are in the rest of the first 11 chapters of this book. What was the first reason these chapters might seem uninteresting? There’s no conflict. The second reason I’ve become convinced of as we’ve been studying through this book. We’ve jumped in to the book of Joshua. Yes, we took one lesson to cover Deuteronomy. So we got a little background. But really what we’ve done in going straight to the book of Joshua and bypassing the Pentateuch – Genesis through Deuteronomy – is that we’ve really come in on the climax of the promises made throughout the Bible up to this point. If you start with Genesis and then come to the book of Joshua you’d be on the edge of your seat. You would have been hearing constantly about this promised land that Israel was going to get. You would have experienced the dissapointment of the people not entering the land and having to wander for 40 years. So then entering the land wouldn’t induce a yawn. It would call for attention and excitement.

So, keep these things in mind as we study this section today. There’s no conflict to naturaly stimulate interest in you. And we’re just kind of walking right in to the climax of what’s been building for 5 whole books before this.

With all that in mind, let’s witness the Success through Obedience that Joshua experiences in this book. We’ll just walk through the text and see what the Lord teaches us from his word.

Alright, so let’s just very quickly get us to where we are in this book. Chapter 1 has the Lord encouraging Joshua to enter the land. Then Joshua turns around and encourages Israel to enter the land. Chaper 2 sees Joshua sending spies to Jericho. They enter the city and are discovered. Rahab hides them and confesses her faith in their God. She asks for mercy and deliverance from Judgement and the spies grant it. She sends the spies away in peace and they return to the camp and tell Joshua all that they’d experienced.

Joshua 3:1

And now, 3:1.

[3:1 And Joshua rose early in the morning; and they removed from Shittim, and came to Jordan, he and all the children of Israel, and lodged there before they passed over.]

Remember, Shittim is where Israel was camping on the east side of the Jordan in the first 2 chapters of this book. it was right across the Jordan from Jericho – probably even visible from Jericho. And so the children of Israel lodge there a few days.

Joshua 3:2-4

Let’s read verses 2-4.

[2 And it came to pass after three days, that the officers went through the host; 3 And they commanded the people, saying, When ye see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the priests the Levites bearing it, then ye shall remove from your place, and go after it. 4 Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure: come not near unto it, that ye may know the way by which ye must go: for ye have not passed this way heretofore.]

God’s presence – symbolized by the ark of the covenant – was to go before Israel. But they weren’t to follow it too closely. They needed to leave about 2,000 cubits between it and them. That’s about 8 football fields long. Why did they need to keep this distance? The officers tell the people that they need to watch where the ark goes. The people don’t know this area. They haven’t been here before. They need God’s guidance. No one was to run before the Lord as if to guide him. They all needed to follow the Lord. So the officers have their say.

Joshua 3:5

Joshua also wants to say something to the people. Verse 5.

[5 And Joshua said unto the people, Sanctify yourselves: for to morrow the Lord will do wonders among you.]

Wonders?! This sounds exciting! And how were the people to prepare themselves for the Lord to do these wonders? They needed to sanctify themselves. Set themselves apart. Get ready for this awesome event!

Joshua 3:6

And then Joshua gives the word in verse 6.

[6 And Joshua spake unto the priests, saying, Take up the ark of the covenant, and pass over before the people. And they took up the ark of the covenant, and went before the people.]

You’ll see this kind of thing happening a lot in this section. Someone – the Lord or Joshua or the officers – tell someone else – Joshua or the people – to do something. Then right after that command, the people do whatever is commanded. There’s this very precise attention to the details of the obedience that was evident in these 2 chapters.

Joshua 3:7-8

So the priests take up the ark of the covenant. And then it’s as if the Lord pulls Joshua aside and gives him these encouraging words in verses 7 and 8.

[7 And the Lord said unto Joshua, This day will I begin to magnify thee in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee. 8 And thou shalt command the priests that bear the ark of the covenant, saying, When ye are come to the brink of the water of Jordan, ye shall stand still in Jordan.]

So the Lord again promises Joshua that he will be with him just as he was with Moses. And now here’s this promise to magnify Josua in the sight of all Israel. How gracious the Lord is being to Joshua, a man just like you and me.

Joshua 3:9-13

And then the Lord tells Joshua to command the priests to stop when they get to the Jordan River and to stand in it. Then Joshua gives Israel an amazing message from God in verses 9 through 13.

[9 And Joshua said unto the children of Israel, Come hither, and hear the words of the Lord your God. 10 And Joshua said, Hereby ye shall know that the living God is among you, and that he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Hivites, and the Perizzites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Jebusites. 11 Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth passeth over before you into Jordan. 12 Now therefore take you twelve men out of the tribes of Israel, out of every tribe a man. 13 And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests that bear the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of Jordan, that the waters of Jordan shall be cut off from the waters that come down from above; and they shall stand upon an heap.]

God will drive out the 7 nations in the land of Canaan. Want proof? he says to Israel. God is going to stop the waters of the Jordan river from flowing. When the priests reach the Jordan, the waters north of it will just stand in a heap. And the waters south of that point will just stop and dry up. And I imagine this process was pretty sudden and complete. But here’s a curious statement in verse 12. Joshua tells them to pick 12 men from among them – one man from each tribe. And… he doesn’t say anything else about that matter. Well, what are those guys supposed to be doing? We’ll find out later. But not until 4:2.

Joshua 3:14-16

OK, what happens next? Just what Joshua promised would happen – the Jordan stop flowing. Let’s read verses 14 through 16.

[14 And it came to pass, when the people removed from their tents, to pass over Jordan, and the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people; 15 And as they that bare the ark were come unto Jordan, and the feet of the priests that bare the ark were dipped in the brim of the water, (for Jordan overfloweth all his banks all the time of harvest,) 16 That the waters which came down from above stood and rose up upon an heap very far from the city Adam, that is beside Zaretan: and those that came down toward the sea of the plain, even the salt sea, failed, and were cut off: and the people passed over right against Jericho.]

Just what God told Joshua and that Joshua told the people came to pass. The priests got to the Jordan, dipped their feet in the water and immediately the water stopped flowing. The Bible at this point mentions a name of a city where the water piled up in a heap. It says Zarethan, which is about 20 miles north of Jericho.

Joshua 3:17

And because the water stopped, the action of verse 17 could happen, to end chapter 3.

[17 And the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the midst of Jordan, and all the Israelites passed over on dry ground, until all the people were passed clean over Jordan.]

So, that’s a pretty quick statement of what happened. The priests stood in the midst of the Jordan and all the people passed through the Jordan.

 

Joshua 2 Sermon, Bible, Commentary, Lesson, Summary, Explanation

So Joshua is getting encouragement directly from the Lord himself and also from God’s people, repeating God’s word to him. Excellent. What else could encourage Joshua to believe God‘s promises? We’ll see a few more encouragements in chapter 2.

Joshua 2:1

Let’s read the first verse of chapter 2 to find out what’s going on…

[2:1 ¶ And Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim two men to spy secretly, saying, Go view the land, even Jericho. And they went, and came into an harlot’s house, named Rahab, and lodged there.]

So the people are all in the place called Shittim, which is across the Jordan from Jericho. And Joshua sends out two spies. Now, you recall that I’ve wondered out loud a few times whether sending spies was alright. I mean, God commanded them to take the land. Did they really need spies? After a little more study, I still can’t say that it was bad that they sent spies. In fact, at Kadesh-barnea God himself told Moses to send the 12 spies – I just read that this week! Now, Moses also says in Deuteronomy that the people approached him and asked to send spies. So how do those two realities work together? Maybe the people came and asked for spies and God OK’ed their request, even though that wasn’t his first choice. Maybe God commanded Moses to send the spies. And before Moses could send them, the people came and asked as well. I don’t know. But God approved of sending the spies. At the very least he consented to send them. So we can’t definitively state that sending the spies was wrong. It’s an action that God allowed.

So, Joshua sends spies. And how many? 2. Not 12. 12 didn’t really work out before. Plus, they just need to spy out Jericho primarily. You probably don’t want 12 Jewish guys walking into the same walled city on the same day. Might be a little suspcious. So Joshua sends only 2 spies this time. And I’ll tell you what’s a little suspicious to me. That these guys ended up in the home of a prostitute. It’s very possible that this kind of establishment was sort of the only place that would allow the privacy these spies needed. Or it could be that these two young men – that’s what this book calls them later on – these two young men are in a place they shouldn’t be. Again, the whole issue of sending spies comes to mind. If Joshua had just went into the land without sending spies then we wouldn’t have this kind of issue. And let’s draw our attention to the danger that these spies face.

Joshua 2:2-7

Let’s read verses 2 through 7.

[2:2 And it was told the king of Jericho, saying, Behold, there came men in hither to night of the children of Israel to search out the country. 3 And the king of Jericho sent unto Rahab, saying, Bring forth the men that are come to thee, which are entered into thine house: for they be come to search out all the country. 4 And the woman took the two men, and hid them, and said thus, There came men unto me, but I wist not whence they were: 5 And it came to pass about the time of shutting of the gate, when it was dark, that the men went out: whither the men went I wot not: pursue after them quickly; for ye shall overtake them. 6 But she had brought them up to the roof of the house, and hid them with the stalks of flax, which she had laid in order upon the roof. 7 And the men pursued after them the way to Jordan unto the fords: and as soon as they which pursued after them were gone out, they shut the gate.]

So the king of Jericho hears somehow that these spies are there. I mean, after all, this is a walled city. I imagine that most everyone knew everyone else there. They would have noticed 2 new folks coming in. Especially since they could see the Israelite camp across the river and the whole city was on Red Alert. So, the lives of these two men hang loosely in the hands of a woman whose living is made from immorality. She would normally have no scruples about turning these men in. She could have told the king and they certainly would have been executed or held for ransom.

Joshua 2:8-13

But Rahab, this immoral woman, actually lies to her king and hides the spies. What! These spies represent the enemy! Why would she help them? Let’s let her tell us in verses 8 through 13. Here’s what happens…

[2:8 ¶ And before they were laid down, she came up unto them upon the roof; 9 And she said unto the men, I know that the LORD hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you. 10 For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed. 11 And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath. 12 Now therefore, I pray you, swear unto me by the LORD, since I have shewed you kindness, that ye will also shew kindness unto my father’s house, and give me a true token: 13 And that ye will save alive my father, and my mother, and my brethren, and my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death.]

Rahab is a prostitute. She sells her body for a living. Throughout her life she had been disobeying God, engaging in acts that were unlawful and not in keeping with God’s holy character. But now she saw God’s mighty deeds on behalf of his people. She saw the reaction of her fellow countrymen. And — by faith as Hebrews 11 says — Rahab makes this confession that will change her eternal destiny – “The Lord your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.” This is apparently all she knows about this God of theirs. And it’s all she needs to know for now to respond in faith. To borrow again from Hebrews 11, he that comes to God must believe that he is. That’s what she’s confessing here. But not only that he is – that he exists. But she also needs to believe that he rewards those who seek him. Do we see Rahab doing that? Well, what does she ask? She asks for terms of peace with God’s people and really God himself. She asks for delivery from death. She has enough faith to know that this God is real and is the only true and living God. But she also somehow senses that this God can be entreated – that he rewards those who seek him. He’s not some unmerciful unfeeling being. He’s gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding is lovingkindness. Rahab counts on this being the case and throws herself on the mercy of this God.

The spies swear to her, which wasn’t according to the Law, right? Israel had one law for the 7 nations to the west of the Jordan – kill them all. And yet the spies enter into a covenant with Rahab and her family. You might wonder if that’s OK. Well, listen. One of the huge purposes of God commanding his people to destroy the 7 nations was so that they won’t lead his people into idolatry. But here’s the thing. If Rahab is confessing an exclusive faith in Yahweh, where’s the threat of idolatry? There is none. So in this case, it seems that the spies did right. They extended mercy to Rahab… And really, they didn’t have much of a choice, did they? She was kind of their only help at this point. The gate was locked once those pursuers went out.

Now, the rest of the chapter shows Rahab letting the spies down through a window, since she lived in a house that was actually on the wall. We’ll talk in a few lessons about what perhaps happened to that house when the wall came down. But she lets them down through the window. They give stipulations to her — Her family needs to stay in her house and she needs to tie a scarlet thread to her window. She also needs to tell no one about this plan. She agrees and gives them directions back to Shittim and they leave in peace.

Eventually the two spies make it back to camp. And remember, we’re talking about encouragements to believe God’s promises. Listen to the encouragement the spies give Joshua in 2:24 – “…Truly the LORD hath delivered into our hands all the land; for even all the inhabitants of the country do faint because of us.” How much more encouraging can it get for Joshua? The spies whom he sent out – unlike the 12 Moses sent out 40-some years ago – bring back a comletely positive report. The land is their’s. God is going to keep his promise. And the text doesn’t say explicitly, but when the spies mention the inhabitants fainting, they would have surely mentioned Rahab — this once-immoral Gentile woman who believed the only true and living God.

So how did we see God encouarging Joshua that he would keep his promises? God gave direct verbal statements. He let his people repeat those encouraging commands to Joshua. And finally, God drew a godless Gentile to himself in faith through God’s people doing God’s will. These were all encouragements to believe God’s promises.

Joshua 1, Commentary, Analysis, KJV, Bible

Let’s turn to the first chapter in the book of Joshua. We discovered last week that a big theme in the book of Joshua is that God keep his promises. And we see him doing this throughout the book of Joshua. For instance, we’ll see God delivering the enemies of Israel into their hands. He’ll lead them to cross the Jordan and enter the land in chapters 3 and 4. He’ll have Israel take Jericho and Ai and Bethel and really all the land of Canaan in chapters 5 through 11 of this book. God will split the land up between the various tribes in the last half of this book. All the while, God will be with Israel and Joshua, just as he promised.

But what about before these promises start coming to pass? What were the Israelites to do before God started working out his promises to them? That’s what we see in these first two chapters today. In these first two chapters, we see Encouragements to Believe God’s Promises. In this introduction to the book we won’t see fulfillment of God’s promises so much. But we will see the encouragements he gives to Joshua that those promises will come to pass. And we’re not necessarily going to see a lot of action today. But these chapters do prepare us for the action that’s in store for us.

So let’s start by examining the first scene. It takes up verses 1 through 9. And here we’ll start to see how God encourages Joshua to believe his promises.

Joshua 1:1-2

Let’s look at the first two verses…

1:1 ¶ Now after the death of Moses the servant of the LORD it came to pass, that the LORD spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ minister, saying, 2 Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel.

Let’s just remind ourselves of who this man Joshua is. First, he’s a man of war. In Exodus 17 he fought against Amalek as Moses stood on the hill holding up the rod. Joshua was also an assistant to a godly man. The text reminds us that he was the servant of Moses. Joshua furthermore was a spiritual man. Remember? When Moses would leave the tent after meeting with the Lord, Joshua, a young man at the time, would often stay behind. In addition, Joshua was loyal. When two men started prophesying in the camp, it seems like Joshua was concerned that they were trying to take Moses’ place. That particular passage makes a point of saying that Joshua had been Moses’ servant from his youth. This lifelong servant of Moses was loyal to and jealous for his father in the faith. So, Joshua is a loyal, servant-minded, godly, man of war… You know what that tells me? God perfectly prepared this man for this time in his life. Israel needed a leader who could fight. They needed one who as their leader would still be their servant in a right way. And Israel needed a loyal godly leader to shepherd them to do God’s will. And now, with all that preparation taken care of, Joshua was ready for the work God called him to do.

Now, in the 1st chapter of this book, God tells Joshua to arise and cross the Jordan with all the people. Do you remember where the people were? They were on the plains of Moab to the east of the Jordan River. And they’re ready to enter the land God promised to them. They will soon take possession of it.

Joshua 1:3-4

But wait. What land had God actually promised to the Israelites? Do you know off the top of your head? If not, that’s OK. Because God tells us in verses 3-4. He says…

3 Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses. 4 From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast.

Whoa! Did you catch that? The Euphrates? Israel’s border was supposed to extend all the way to the Euphrates River? Do you remember reading that promise before?… Yeah, it’s actually what God promised to Israel. You might say, “well, did they ever occupy all that land?” The answer: Not in the book of Joshua. And not in the time of the Judges. Israel actually had to wait until the time of their first king — Saul — to ever get close to ruling over all that land. Then in the days of David, Israel seemed to capture a good deal of the land from the Mediteraenean Sea to the Euphrates. And then finally in the reign of Solomon, Israel reigned over all of that land.

So we’ve been discussing the East and West boundaries of Israel’s land. What about their north and south borders? God gave Israel the land from as far north as Lebanon to as far south as the wilderness – or the dessert to the south of Israel. This was the expansive territory God wanted Israel to have.

So, it took until the days of Solomon for Israel to rule over all this land that God promised them. They took it hundreds of years after they were promised it. Why? Well, I don’t want to give away too much about the latter chapters of Joshua, but what we end up seeing in this book is that the people are actually pretty slow to inherit their land – and that’s just the land of Canaan. Then of course in the times of the Judges the people aren’t even thinking about land. They’re too busy doing what’s right in their own eyes. So, the promise of the land remained really unclaimed until the days of the kings.

Let me just apply this a little. What promise has God given to you in the Scriptures that you have yet to claim? No, he’s not promising land these days to his NT people. He’s not promising victory over Amorites or Canaanites. But he does promise victory over your sin nature. He does promise that he’ll provide for you. He promises to never, ever leave you. Do you feel forsaken by God? Well, that’s all it is – a feeling. It’s not the truth. He promises to never forsake his own. Are you claiming his promise to keep your heart and mind in Christ Jesus as you refuse to be anxious for anything? Are you claiming his promise to add all the things the Gentiles seek if you just seek first his kingdom and righteousness? If not, why not? Start today!

Now, this was a pretty big area that God promised to Israel. In modern-day terms, this space would probably occupy all of modern-day Israel and Jordan, and some, most, or all of Egypt to the south-west, Saudi Arabia to the south-east, Iraq to the east, Syria to the north-east, and Lebanon to the north. This sounds like a daunting task. This doesn’t sound like an encouragement. It sounds like a discouragement.

Joshua 1:5

And that’s why God encourages Joshua to believe his promises in verse 5. There, God says…

[5 There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.]

So, even if this area that God promised had 100 million valiant warriors to defend it, not a one of them would be able to stand before Joshua. That’s God’s encouragement. And just as God had been with Moses, so he would be with Joshua. Now, in what way was God with Moses? Certainly in numerous ways. But one thing comes to mind. At the end of Moses’ life, was there any doubt as to whose side God was on, so-to-speak? For example, was God on Miriam’s side and Aaron’s side when they rebelled against Moses? No. God was on Moses’ side. Was God on the side of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram when they confronted Moses and questioned his authority? No. God was for Moses. And just like God was for Moses, so he would be for Joshua. There’d be no question as to whom God supported to lead Israel. And it seems like Israel learned their lesson during Moses’ time. And really none of them put up any resistance to Joshua at all.

And in all of this and over all of this, God promises to not fail or forsake Joshua. Joshua could count on that. You know, one very wonderful consequence of being the sovereign creator and ruler of everything and everyone is that it is really impossible for God to ultimately fail at anything. When we make plans and intend to do things, we need to keep in mind that these things will happen only – as James says – if the Lord is willing for it to happen. But brethren, there is no “Lord-willing” for our God. If he makes a promise or intends to do something, he will bring it to pass.

Joshua 1:6

Now, let me introduce you to a phrase that Joshua hears a few times in this short passage. It’s found in verse 6 where God says…

[ 6 Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them.]

Here’s the first time we hear this phrase, “be strong and of a good courage.” Or is it? Well, it’s the first time we hear it in the book of Joshua. But actually, if you had read through the book of Deuteronomy before, you would have heard it there, too. This phrase is made up of two Hebrew verbs – chazaq and amatz. These two words occur in Deu 3:28 first. That’s where God first tells Moses to “encourage” and “strengthen” Joshua. Then in Deu 31:6 Moses actually commands all Israel to “be strong and of a good courage.” In the next verse – Deut 31:7 – Moses charges Joshua with these exact same words. Moses gives the same charge one more time before the book of Deuteronomy is over in 31:23. So, actually we see either God or Moses making this charge 4 times in the book that immediately preceds the book of Joshua – Deuteronomy.

So, what have we seen so far? We’ve seen God verbally encouraging Joshua. Isn’t it interesting how words can wield quite a bit of power? They’re just simple words. Good job! Keep it up! I’m praying for you! And yet, what an effect they can have on us. God, of course, understands this power and takes this opportunity to verbaly encourage Joshua.

Joshua 1:7-8

And he doesn’t just say this phrase once! God says it to Joshua again in verses 7 and 8. He says…

[7 Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest. 8 This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.]

So God again uses this encouraging command for Joshua to be strong and — not just merely courageous — but very courageous! And in this strength and courage, God reminds Joshua, that he needs to do according to the Law. If he keeps God’s commands, Joshua will prosper wherever he goes. God advises Joshua to continually meditate on God’s commands. This will make it more likely that these commands would be in his mind. And if they’re in his mind he’s going to have an easier time obeying them. And in all of this, God is wanting the success of his people. Did you catch the words he uses? Prosper. Propserous. Good success. God doesn’t want Joshua to fail. He wants the best for him and his nation.

Joshua 1:9

And God finishes his verbal encouragements to Joshua with verse 9. He says…

[9 Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.]

God is really stressing Joshua’s need to be strong and courageous, isn’t he? Three times in this first scene he’s already been told to be strong and courageous. Why? Was this man just naturally timid or cowardly? Well, we know he was a military leader in the days of Moses. He’s seen battle. And he proved himself. I think we do catch him in a weak moment later in the book. When God appears to have abandoned Israel as they fought Ai, Joshua ends up despairing. But that’s really the only hint of weakness I can really gather from this book. Joshua is a valiant warrior. He’s a man who loves God. He trusts God’s promises. And yet God sees fit to command him three times to be strong and courageous. What does that tell us about Joshua? He’s a fallen human capable of weakness and discouragement. Do any of us know what that’s like? And at the same time, do any of us, like Joshua of old, have any commands from God to be strong and courageous? Jesus – God in the flesh – tells us to not let our hearts be troubled. He’s preparing a place for us. And he is coming again to take us unto himself. We’re encouraged by the apostle John that the one who is in us – God – is greater than the one who is in the world – our adversary, the devil. Peter encourages us to be sober and vigilant because that adversary of ours walks around like a roaring lion – oh, only we can’t see or hear him. But he’s just as deadly. We need to resist him by being firm in the faith… In verse 9 here in Joshua 1, Joshua had the promise of the Lord’s presence. We have that promise, too. Jesus said, Lo I am with you always even unto the end of the world – as we’re serving him and making disciples.

Alright, so we just saw a number of encouragements God gave to Joshua to help him believe God’s promises.

Joshua 1:10-11

Now, let’s take a look at what Joshua himself does with those encouragements. First of all, in verses 10 and 11 Joshua addresses all Israel through their officers. Let’s read what he says…

[1:10 ¶ Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people, saying, 11 Pass through the host, and command the people, saying, Prepare you victuals; for within three days ye shall pass over this Jordan, to go in to possess the land, which the LORD your God giveth you to possess it.]

The people are going to enter the land in three days. After so long, it was finally happening! And everyone would pass over the Jordan and enter the land. Well, almost everyone. There were a few that would stay behind East of the Jordan River.

Joshua 1:12-15

We can read about them in verses 12 through 15. The narrator says…

[12 ¶ And to the Reubenites, and to the Gadites, and to half the tribe of Manasseh, spake Joshua, saying, 13 Remember the word which Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, saying, The LORD your God hath given you rest, and hath given you this land. 14 Your wives, your little ones, and your cattle, shall remain in the land which Moses gave you on this side Jordan; but ye shall pass before your brethren armed, all the mighty men of valour, and help them; 15 Until the LORD have given your brethren rest, as he hath given you, and they also have possessed the land which the LORD your God giveth them: then ye shall return unto the land of your possession, and enjoy it, which Moses the LORD’S servant gave you on this side Jordan toward the sunrising.]

So the women, children, and cattle of the Reubenites, Gadites, and ½ tribe of Manasseh would stay in the land that Israel captured from Sihon and Og. Everyone else would cross the Jordan and help the 9 ½ tribes get their inheritance. That’s the deal. That was what Moses had arranged. Would the 2 ½ tribes still agree to it?

Joshua 1:16-18

Let’s read their reaction in verses 16 through 18…

[16 And they answered Joshua, saying, All that thou commandest us we will do, and whithersoever thou sendest us, we will go. 17 According as we hearkened unto Moses in all things, so will we hearken unto thee: only the LORD thy God be with thee, as he was with Moses. 18 Whosoever he be that doth rebel against thy commandment, and will not hearken unto thy words in all that thou commandest him, he shall be put to death: only be strong and of a good courage.]

The 2 ½ tribes offer to be just as obedient to Joshua as they were to Moses. At first, that strikes fear into my heart. But really, as we go through the rest of the book I think we see these tribes really being very obedient. We don’t see any of the rebellion they displayed toward Moses. And so they are serious when they threaten anyone who disobeys Joshua with death. All they desire is that God would be with Joshua as he was with Moses. And then did you see what they say at the end? They repeat God’s comforting command to Joshua – be strong and of a good courage.

 

Book of Joshua Commentary, KJV, Summary, Analysis, Bible Study

Book of Joshua Commentary 300x300

Book of Joshua Commentary: So after our whirlwind of a lesson last week through Deuteronomy we’ll do another kind of overview lesson. This time we’ll get a broad birds-eye view of the book of Joshua. We’ll start in chapter 1.

Now, I might change my mind after we study through the whole book chapter-by-chapter. But for now I’m going to give this as the great truth that we see about God in this book – God Keeps His Promises.

Let’s read about his promise in 1:1-2.

Book of Joshua Commentary: Joshua 1:1-9

1:1 ¶ Now after the death of Moses the servant of the LORD it came to pass, that the LORD spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ minister, saying, 2 Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel.

Here’s the main promise God gave to Joshua and all Israel which he intends to keep – to give them the land. The land of Canaan. Moses is dead. Joshua is now the man. And so in verses 1-9 we see God encouraging Joshua to be strong and courageoues and to enter the land and to apportion it to the tribes of Israel.

Book of Joshua Commentary: Joshua 1:10-18

So Joshua turns around in verses 10-18 and gives some instruction of his own. He tells the officers in verses 10-11 to get ready — because in 3 days they would cross the Jordan. Joshua then in verses 12-15 reminds the 2 ½ tribes (Reuben, Gad, and ½ Manasseh) of the promise they made to Moses. Remember? These tribes already got their land East of the Jordan River. And Moses said they could have that land. But they had to come over into the land of Canaan and help their brothers take their land. So Joshua reminds these 2 ½ tribes of this promise they made. Then those tribes respond in verses 16-18 and say something like “just like we obeyed Moses, we’ll obey you!” I’m not sure if that’s supposed to be comforting to Joshua. Remember the track record of rebellion among the sons of Israel toward Moses. But anyway, that’s how they responded to him.

Book of Joshua Commentary: Joshua 2

We again see Israel sending out spies starting in 2:1. Now again, I’m not sure why they feel the need to do this. But I think it’s interesting that Joshua didn’t send out 12 spies like Moses did at Kadesh-barnea. Look at 2:1. How many spies did he send? Two. I wonder if that had anything to do with the fact that that there were only 2 spies of the 12 that Moses sent out that brought back a good report of Canaan. At any rate, the 2 spies – we learn they’re “young men” later on in the book – but these 2 spies enter the house of a prostitute in Jericho, of all places. And the prostitute’s name is Rahab. So we see this episode throughout chapter 2 in which Rahab and the spies take center stage. It turns out that these two young men make a covenant with Rahab to not destroy her and her family when they attack Jericho later on. Now, immediately my curiosity is arroused. Were the Israelites supposed to make any covenants with the people in the land? No, not according to Deuteronomy. They could make covenants with other nations outside of Canaan. But not with those in the land. What were the Israelites supposed to do to the Canaanites? Kill every person – man, woman, and child. Period. That’s the Law. No mercy. But here we have these two young men making a covenant with some of the people of the land. Very interesting! And what’s even more interesting is that God doesn’t nullify this covenant. He honors it. So, you can tell there’s a lot to explore here and we won’t do it in this message. We’ll save it for later.

Book of Joshua Commentary: Joshua 3-4

Now, we get to 3:1 and the spies are back from their time in Jericho. And Israel is ready to cross the Jordan River. And it takes them to the end of chapter 4 to cross it. Our Pastor has recently mentioned how Jordan really isn’t a mighty river these days. And that’s true, especially the farther south it goes. But that wasn’t the case in Joshua’s day. Look at 3:15. What does the Jordan do during harvest season? It overflowed its banks. This was once a mighty river. And it’s going to be quite a feat to cross this thing. Well, God had it planned out. When the priests carry the ark of the covenant into the Jordan, all its waters will pile up far up north and the Israelites will again cross a body of water on dry ground. And that’s just what happens. The Jordan’s water piles up somewhere up north and Israel crosses. The priests come up out of the river bed and back come the waters, overflowing its banks.

Now, the Jordan I believe is visible from Jericho. It’s about 5 miles from the city and average visibility is over 18 miles. What does that mean? Well, the people of Jericho very possibly would have been watching this scene unfold. The water stopping completely. The people crossing the river. The water coming back and spilling over its banks. And what was their reaction? Fear. Read 5:1.

Book of Joshua Commentary: Joshua 5:1-12

5:1 ¶ And it came to pass, when all the kings of the Amorites, which were on the side of Jordan westward, and all the kings of the Canaanites, which were by the sea, heard that the LORD had dried up the waters of Jordan from before the children of Israel, until we were passed over, that their heart melted, neither was there spirit in them any more, because of the children of Israel.

So, not only had the people of Jericho heard of this amazing event. All the kings everywhere across the river did. And the text says their heart melted. They were terrified.

Now, before Israel attacks anyone they need to tend to some important details. First of all, in verses 2-9 they need to be circumcized. They weren’t doing this in the wilderness. So all the men needed to have this procedure done. And secondly, verses 10-12, they need to celebrate the Passover. It was the 14th day of the 1st month and that’s when Passover was to be celebrated according to the Law. So that’s what they did.

Book of Joshua Commentary: Jericho

Alright, now with those things taken care of, the Israelites can strike! In 5:13 – 6:27 we see the conquest of Jericho.

There are several parts to this conquest. First in 5:13-15 we have this mysterious encounter between Joshua and this man that we come to find out is the captain of the Lord’s army. Joshua bows to him and takes off his sandals at the man’s command. Joshua actually falls on his face in response to encountering this man and understanding who he is. We’ll probably say more about him when we get to this part of the book.

After this, the Israelites circle the city of Jericho for 6 days, once per day, blowing trumpets. Then the 7th day the people circle the city 7 times and then they blow trumpets and shout. And the walls come down! Israel enters the city, spares Rahab, and utterly destroys everyone else.

You can think of some songs that represent Israel crossing the Jordan as somehow corresponding to the Christian going to heaven. Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t plan on having to fight or struggle anymore when I’m in heaven with the Lord. This observation isn’t original to me, but I think if Israel’s crossing of Jordan represents anything, it’s not our death experience but our salvation experience. Yes, we’ve entered into God’s promise of eternal life. But there’s still quite a bit of fighting to do – fighting not against flesh and blood, of course. But fighting nonetheless.

OK, back to the story. In 6:26 Joshua issues a curse upon whomever will rebuild Jericho. And in verse 27 the author ends this story pointing out that Joshua’s fame started spreading that day – just like the Lord promised earlier in this book.

Book of Joshua Commentary: Achan and Defeat at Ai

And that’s the end of Jericho! Or is it? It should have been. But let’s read 7:1 to figure out what’s going on.

7:1 ¶ But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the accursed thing: for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed thing: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against the children of Israel.

God put some things under the ban – or he made them “accursed thing”s. He didn’t want anyone taking them. But one of the Israelites, Achan, took some of that stuff. And because of that, God was angry at all Israel. God keeps his promises. He kept his promise to Israel that when they obeyed and loved him, they would be blessed. But when they sin and disobey, he kees his promise even then. In the case of disobedience, God promised to curse Israel and basically let their enemies defeat them.

And that’s just what we see in verses 2-5. Ai – a tiny city to the west of Jericho beats back Israel. This came as a total surprise to Joshua. He apparently didn’t know about Achan’s sin. And so he falls before the Lord in verses 6-9. Now, at first I wanted to say that he sought the Lord as to why he allowed Israel to be defeated. And he very well may have asked the Lord why this happened. But that’s not what we have recorded for us. We see this undoubtedly godly man basically despairing before God. He begins doubting God’s promise to give the Israelites the land of Canaan. I can identify. Joshua thinks God is just for no reason abandoning them after he had clearly promised them victory.

And God is very merciful. In verses 10-15 God tells Joshua there’s a sin issue in the camp that’s preventing God from blessing their military efforts. Verses 16-18 show us Joshua finding out that Achan is the one who sinned. Joshua urges Achan to confess his sin. And when Achan does so, the Isralites run to his tent and verify his report. They find the stuff. They take Achan and all his family. They are then stoned and burned with fire. WHAT! All for just taking some stuff? Yes, for taking some stuff that God told him not to. HIS FAMILY SUFFERED WITH HIM? Yes. Maybe I’ll have more to say about it later. But the fact is that this man’s family was destroyed because of his sin. WOW, GOD IS SEVERE. That’s what Paul says in Romans. Behold the kindness – he’s also kind – the kindness and severity of God. He is not a God to be trifled with. He means what he says. And he keeps his promises.

So with Achan’s sin taken care of, the Israelites take the city of Ai as well as the nearby city of Bethel. Here’s how it happens. Israel sets an ambush behind the city. The rest of Israel comes to Ai and pretends to run away from the men of the city like they did before. Only this time, the men in ambush sneak into the city and burn it, leaving the men of Ai in between two companies of Israelite fighters. Ai is quickly destroyed. The Israelites experience God’s good promises.

Book of Joshua Commentary: Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal

Then in 8:30-35 the Israelites finally come to Shechem where Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal are. And they uttered the blessings and curses of God’s promises – just like Moses commanded them before they entered Canaan.

Book of Joshua Commentary: Gibeonites

Then in chapter 9 we see something interesting. There are some Hivites that live in Gibeon. They’ve heard about the mighty acts of Israel’s God. And they want peace with Israel. But apparently they know that Israel would destroy them if Israel knew that they lived in the land of Canaan. So the Gibeonites bring moldy dry bread and old patched sandals and pretend like they’re from far away. The Israelites were a little suspicious, but Joshua made a covenant with the Gibeonites after a question or two. Worst of all, Joshua didn’t seek God about this decision.

And so after a few days Israel finds out that these folks they just made a covenant with are living in the land of Canaan! Israel broke God’s command to not make a covenant with any of the nations in Canaan. And Israel is not happy at their leaders for doing this. But Joshua and the leaders gave their word to the Gibeonites. And so Israel is now bound to them forever.

Well, that bond is tested in chapter 10. The kings of five pagan cities gang up on Gibeon. Those kings were angry at Gibeon for joining hands with Israel. And so these kings start attacking Gibeon. And Gibeon calls on Israel for help. I guess at this point if I didn’t know better I would think Joshua might let Gibeon perish. But that’s not what he did. Joshua kept his word and defended the Gibeonites from these five kings. And after Israel defended their new friends in Gibeon they struck the cities of those five kings and conquered them. And actually Israel went on and defeated a number of other places in the south of Canaan.

Then in chapter 11 we see Israel take the northern part of Canaan. And that brings us to this. Let’s read 11:23.

Book of Joshua Commentary: Conquering Northern Canaan

11:23 So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the LORD said unto Moses; and Joshua gave it for an inheritance unto Israel according to their divisions by their tribes. And the land rested from war.

So there it is. Joshua took the whole land. He gave it to Israel. The land rested from war. But… doesn’t that make you wonder why we have 13 more chapters after this? Here’s what I think is happening. We’ve seen a summary of Joshua taking the land. And in chapter 12 we see a summary of all the kings whom the Israelites destroyed. In verses 1-6 we see the two kings to the east of the Jordan mentioned. And verses 7-24 summarize the kings to the west of the Jordan who were defeated by Israel.

Book of Joshua Commentary: Land Apportioned

Then for 9 chapters – from 13 to the end of 21 – we see the land apportioned between the tribes of Israel with a few other land matters taken care of. So let’s survey these chapters. Let’s read 13:1.

13:1 ¶ Now Joshua was old and stricken in years; and the LORD said unto him, Thou art old and stricken in years, and there remaineth yet very much land to be possessed.

Then the Lord lists the rest of the land that the Israelites still need to take.

By the way, I think it’s interesting that Joshua spent over half of the book that’s named after him as being old and striken in years? Well, that’s the fact. Joshua is old and stricken in years and he needs to divide the land among the tribes of Israel. They’ve conquered the land. But they have yet to possess it by tribes. And so Joshua apportions the land. But before that happens, we need to be reminded of a few things. First – verse 14 – Levi doesn’t get an inheritance of land. That’s because they get the Lord’s service as their inheritance. Next, verses 15-23 – what tribe are we talking about? Reuben. They got land not in Canaan, but on the east of the Jordan. And then, verses 24-28 – who are we talking about now? Gad. They also got their land east of the Jordan. And the last group to mention is in verses 29-31. Who is mentioned as getting their land here? Manasseh. But not all of Manasseh. Just the half tribe. We’ll talk about the other half in a little bit.

So, what did we see in those verses we just mentioned? These were the 2 ½ tribes that had their inheritance east of the Jordan as well as Levi, who didn’t have a land inheritance. Now, what do we see in 14:1-2? Let’s read that.

Book of Joshua Commentary: West of Jordan

14:1 ¶ And these are the countries which the children of Israel inherited in the land of Canaan, which Eleazar the priest, and Joshua the son of Nun, and the heads of the fathers of the tribes of the children of Israel, distributed for inheritance to them. 2 By lot was their inheritance, as the LORD commanded by the hand of Moses, for the nine tribes, and for the half tribe.

So now we’re going to talk about the places that Israel inherited – not east of the Jordan, but west of it – in the land of Canaan. So, which tribe starts the process? Look at 14:6. Who are we talking about? Judah. And do you know what? Judah’s under discussion from 14:6 to 15:63. And do you remember Caleb? He was one of the 2 faithful spies, Joshua being the second of them. Well, Caleb is of the tribe of Judah and so we see him getting his special allotment in this section as well.

Book of Joshua Commentary: Ephraim

Now, turn ahead to 16:1. Which tribe are we talking about now? Joseph. But actually, Joseph’s inheritance was split up among two of his sons. You see one of them in verse 5. Who is it? Ephraim. And that leaves – 17:1 –whom? Manasseh. Well, again, not all of Manasseh. Just the other ½ tribe of Manasseh. The first ½ got their land east of Jordan.

Now, there seems to be something of a problem. Only these two tribes – Judah and Joseph – have taken their inheritance. What about the other 7 tribes? Well, they haven’t done anything. Let’s read 18:1-3 for some details.

Book of Joshua Commentary: 7 Tribes Left

18:1 ¶ And the whole congregation of the children of Israel assembled together at Shiloh, and set up the tabernacle of the congregation there. And the land was subdued before them. 2 ¶ And there remained among the children of Israel seven tribes, which had not yet received their inheritance. 3 And Joshua said unto the children of Israel, How long are ye slack to go to possess the land, which the LORD God of your fathers hath given you?

So Israel goes from wherever they were – I think Gilgal or perhaps Shechem – to Shiloh. The land was subdued before them but 7 whole tribes didn’t enter their land yet! And you can sense a hint of frustration on Joshua’s part. “Why have you not gone in to possess the land yet?!”

So Joshua has each tribe send 3 men to look at the land and catalog it. Then Joshua would use their data to separate the land and give it to each tribe, using lots. The 21 men return and give Joshua the data. Then Joshua assigns land to each tribe. Which tribe do we see first? 18:11? Benjamin. Look at 19:1. What’s the next tribe? Simeon. 3rd tribe in 19:10? Zebulun. 19:17 has the 4th tribe. It’s Issachar. What’s the 5th tribe in 19:24? Asher. 6th in 19:32? Naphtali. And who is left in 19:40? Dan.

Book of Joshua Commentary: Joshua’s Inheritance

Then finally in 19:49-50 Joshua receives his inheritance among his brethren the Ephraimites. 19:51 wraps-up the land division, stating that all the land was divided.

Book of Joshua Commentary: Cities of Refuge

But there are 2 more issues regarding the land that need to be resolved. 20:1-9 deal with designating cities of refuge in the land — where a manslayer can flee if he kills someone unintentionally. They make 6 cities into cities of refuge – 3 east of the Jordan and 3 west of it.

Book of Joshua Commentary: Levitical Pasture Lands

Then all of chapter 21 deals with giving pasure lands to the Levites. No, they weren’t given a contiguous area of land as a tribe. But they were given individual cities where they could raise livestock and live… And that’s the end of dealing with the land in this book.

Book of Joshua Commentary: Near Civil War

Finally, chapters 22 through 24 conclude the book. The entire 22nd chapter tells us how the 2 ½ tribes were sent back home east of the Jordan. They kept their promise. They fought alongside of and helped their brothers to get their land. And now they could go back to their own land. But something really weird happens. They go back and make a humongous altar. So all Israel sends men of war to them, planning to attack them for disobeying God and offering sacrifices in a place he had not designated. When the men of war come, though, they discover that the 2 ½ tribes didn’t intend to offer sacrifices on this altar. Their stated intention in errecting that altar was to remind the rest of Israel that they worshipped the same God as those tribes west of the Jordan did. This explanation pleased the men of war and they went back home. But I must admit this is a rather puzzling situation. I look forward to studying it more when we get to it later on.

Book of Joshua Commentary: Joshua’s Last Words

In chapter 23 and most of chapter 24, Joshua charges the people and their leaders to love God and be blessed – that sounds familiar! He tells them to worship God alone. He reminds them of God’s faithfulness. God keeps his promises. Joshua says in 23:14 – “…ye know in all your hearts and in all your souls, that not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the LORD your God spake concerning you; all are come to pass unto you, and not one thing hath failed thereof.” Joshua also gives this rather ominous warning that they won’t be able to serve God because he is jealous and holy and he won’t simply wink at their sin. And when they fail God and turn from him, God will keep his promise to punish them.

Book of Joshua Commentary: Joshua Dies

And lastly, the end of the book records the death and burial of Joshua, the burial of Joseph’s bones finally, and the death and burial of Eleazar, the son of Aaron and father of Phinehas.

God is a promise-keeping God. He will do what he’s said. He did it to Israel. And he’ll do it for us, too. God keeps his promises.