Intro to the Book of Joshua – It is the Jewish record from the death of Moses to the conquest of Canaan and the death of Joshua. The date is around 1240 BC.


The Jews taking over Canaan is not about them selfishly taking good land from innocent people. The Jews did NOT arrive at Canaan by their own conniving and lust for power or land, in fact many wanted to return to Egypt. Even ancient writings from Egypt tell the stories of the plagues and of the sea splitting in order that the Jews could escape captivity. This history lends more credibility to their quest than Muslims or Crusaders forcing their religion and power onto others. Other religions have justified killing and taking land for those reasons. The Crusades were wrong. You do not make converts by threat of sword or you do not kill people because they believe in a different religion. Muslim invasions are wrong. The true God was NOT endorsing such self-righteous actions. There is no supernatural history backing those invasions (I don’t equate Constantine’s supposed vision to the parting of the Red Sea). The Jewish conquest was also different in purpose. Yes, God did tell them that Canaan was their land, but what critics of the Bible do NOT ask is WHY did God want those people to live there? The answer is to wipe out evil practices and establish righteous practices and behaviors in order to bless people, and eventually bless those heathen nations that would surround a righteous country of Israel. These Canaan-occupying pagans would burn their babies to gods for self-protection and prosperity!

Critics also do not ask why kids were killed by the invading Jews. Did God rejoice at their deaths? No. He tells us never to rejoice at the downfall of our enemies, lest He become angry with us. Did God do this as a last resort? I think so. I also think children were sometimes included because if they lived they would have continued pagan practices and perhaps would have more hatred toward Israel as well as increase perversion. I think animals were included (only sometimes) so that the Israelis would not covet worldly things and gain financially. Perhaps more importantly, God wanted the pagan nations to know that certain attacks were not motivated by Jewish desire for riches (animals were very valuable) like other nations. Horribly evil and depraved minds were being judged by God, and a total erasure of the culture makes the action taken appear to be a statement by the Creator rather than the Jews. Anytime the Jews disobeyed this type of command, God was angry and there was always some sort of penalty for it. Therefore, we can trust that God had good reasons for the command. Keep in mind through all of this that God is trying to reveal Himself to sinners without destroying all of them as well as protecting the Messianic lineage – a difficult tightrope to walk. Also keep in mind that if God appeared “in person, face-to-face” onlookers would die.

The issue of God ordering Jews to kill pagans from time to time is sort of like what doctors must do to save a person with cancer. They must kill all cancer cells before those quickly growing cells kill the person. Cancer cells are former normal cells that kill healthy cells by rapidly reproducing and crowding around them thus depriving them of oxygen and nutrients. In other words, the wrongness in cancer cells will spread and eventually destroy all healthy cells. The wrongness of heathens would always spread to the Jews and they would start acting like them. God had to preserve the Messianic lineage and some degree of righteousness in the world until it all could come to pass at the right time. Unfortunately, there would be casualties, but total death and destruction never could happen because of God’s consistent and faithful interventions (surgeries) throughout history.

Unfortunately, the Jews often failed at being the righteous people that God intended them to be, but at least they lasted long enough to bring about the Promised Messiah that has the power to make all things right and make possible eternal life for sinful and fully corrupt mortals. This is the big picture that critics refuse to perceive.

Perhaps behind all this horribly imperfect human history is a Creator that wanted to destroy all evil forever and to prepare a Bride for Himself. When He “marries” all His people from all of history, He will wipe away every tear and there will be no more evil forever. No more angels that will rebel like Lucifer and his followers. With all evil abolished and justice served via the Cross, God can move “humanity” into His next planned age…whatever that is. I trust that it is beyond our concept of wonderful.

Joshua 1:

1-9: God passes the anointing from Moses to Joshua. Here is a brief summary of what God said to Joshua:

  1. No man will stand before you all your days (I think this means he would not die in battle, and that no man will be able to successfully oppose him).
  2. God would not fail or forsake him.
  3. God demands him to be strong and courageous, and to obey the Laws handed down by Moses.
  4. If he does not turn away from the Laws, he will have success wherever he goes.
  5. Direct quote from God to Joshua: “The Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.”
  6. Joshua is not to be afraid or be dismayed for God will always be with him.

Application for Today: We can learn much from this list. In a way, God wants us all to be a Joshua type. We all need to marry His word to our hearts and think about it every day and night. When we bed down for the night, meditate on some aspect of what God has said. Picture in our minds how much He loves us and looks forward to greeting us in His Kingdom. We must have courage to face people and situations in our world today, knowing all the while that He is with us. If we do these things, we will always have adequate food, shelter, and clothing. Also, realize that there is always enough time in a day to do these things. Time spent on things reflects priorities.

10-18: Joshua speaks to the people and tells them directions for crossing the Jordan into the Promised Land. They all affirm Joshua’s leadership and are willing to give a death sentence to anyone who does not obey him. The troops are to go first and when they have secured a portion of land, families and livestock can then come in.

Joshua 2 – Joshua sent two spies into the Land and they lodged in the home of Rahab, a prostitute. She feared the true God because she heard and believed all that God had done to free the Jews from Egypt, including the parting of the sea. She also therefore knew that the Land would belong to the Jews soon, so she made a deal with them. She hid the spies from the king of Jericho and told them how to escape, and promised never to tell on them. In return, her and her entire family of relatives would be spared from death during the attack on the city. I thought it to be quite remarkable that out of all the places these two spies could have lodged, they went to perhaps the only person within Jericho that had faith to support their cause.

It may also surprise some people that Rahab not only was spared, but also became part of the genealogical tree to David and eventually to Jesus Christ. She is mentioned in Matthew Chapter One as was the great-great grandmother of King David. I say “surprise” because she was a harlot, and harlots have a stigma that says “worse sinner than the norm.” However, including Rahab in Christ’s line demonstrates how faith fully redeems people. By Rahab’s faith, her sins (all of them past present, and future) were gone forever.

Application for Today: Many people feel that they are not good enough to please God and do His bidding. The truth is that His forgiveness is complete, and as long as we maintain faith in Him, He can use anyone in small and great ways. He is just looking for REAL faith that makes people want to serve Him from their heart.

Joshua 3 – Young Israel has encamped just east of the Jordan River and will crossover on Joshua’s command. God again affirms Joshua and will convince the people that He is working through Joshua by helping them all cross the Jordan in a similar way in which they crossed the Red Sea. This was harvest season and the Jordan had lots of flow to it, but when the priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant set their feet in the water, the water started to dam upstream near the city of Adam so that there was a wall of water being held back by something like an invisible wall. The Jordan kept flowing to the Dead Sea so soon there was dry land so they could cross easily. The people were warned to keep about a half mile distance away from the Ark. Comment: It’s funny, this episode has received little or no attention over the years. I guess the Red Sea crossing trumped it.

Joshua 4 – They all crossed the river in fine shape. Twelve stones were piled up as a reminder to generations concerning what just had happened. Now about 40,000 were equipped for war and they marched toward the city of Jericho where the Canaanites lived. God exalted Joshua before all the people so they would revere him as they did Moses. The Jordan River returned to overflowing its banks as usual.

Joshua 5 – Now just west of the Jordan, all the kings of the Amorites and the Canaanites heard about the miracles and were afraid of the Jewish people. Before the Jewish soldiers could fight, they had to be circumcised. Remember, all their fathers who left Egypt were circumcised, but not their offspring who were alive now and formed the Israeli army. Days later they were healed and observed Passover. Joshua met a mysterious man who claimed to be the captain of the host of the Lord. Joshua bowed face to the ground. He then told Joshua to remove his sandals for he was standing on holy ground.  Again this is similar to what Moses experienced. Nothing else is revealed as to what was said or why, but now the Israelis were about to embark on Jericho. I believe God visited Joshua in a form that would be tolerable for a sinner (the sinner would not perish).

Application for Today: God bent over backwards to show the people that Joshua had the anointing to be their leader. God knew that their allegiance to leadership was going to be critical. Church leadership today is similar. Congregations need to trust that God is at work through their leaders for the direction and the betterment of the flock. This is why it is important to pray for pastors and elders (or bishops) because they can be under severe attacks from the enemy. Leaders are always targeted, whether in worldly affairs or the spiritual realm. If a church leader falls from grace, the cause is usually money, power, or sexual immorality, along with the corrupt desires that we all have inside us (James 1:14). We all need to pray for one another as well. Christians are targeted more by demonic powers than non-believers, but we must never forsake praying for the leaders.

Joshua 6 – Know What the Bible Actually Says!

The people of Jericho saw that the Israelis had approached their city. Because they feared what God had done for the Jews in the past, they shut up the city – no one came in or out. God gave Joshua a specific battle plan to take the city. It was a plan that no intelligent general would implement at any time in our history. Soldiers and priests were to march around the city once each day for six days. The priests were to blow their trumpets along the way. On the 7th day, they were to march around 7 times with the priests blowing their rams’ horns before the Ark of the Covenant. Finally, they were to blow a long blast through the horns and the Jewish people were to shout loudly at that time.

Can you imagine the terror and stress on those Canaanites in Jericho waiting to be attacked, not knowing what and why the Jews were doing what they were doing? Each day the Canaanites must have thought that the attack was starting, then it didn’t. This had to be torment for them. Well, when the final blast and shout came, the walls fell flat and the Jews destroyed all the heathens and livestock, but saved the gold, iron, bronze, and silver for the Lord’s treasury. Joshua warned his people not to take the valuables for themselves. If anyone did, the spirit of covetousness would invade the camp and curse the group.

True to His word, Joshua gave orders to spare Rahab and her entire family and she lived with the Jews the rest of the time. Then they burned the city. Joshua pronounced a curse on anyone who would try to rebuild it. They would lose their first-born if they laid the foundation and would lose their youngest if they set up gates. We find in 1 Kings 16:34 that a man named Hiel the Bethelite rebuilt Jericho during evil King Ahab’s rule. He lost both his first-born and youngest.

Joshua 7 – Unfortunately, some banned loot was stolen and hid by Achan the son of Carmi. As a result, Israel was routed by their enemies when they attacked the city of Ai. God commanded Joshua to execute the guilty one and his family and goods, and it was done. Again, this seems so harsh, but we must be ever mindful of what God needed to accomplish during this time in history for the sake of millions of people who would live in the future. Also, to be disobedient to such an anointed environment and show of God’s presence is quite evil. It is much worse than a person who has had no encounters with God stealing $2,000 today. Achan saw God, through Joshua, divide the River Jordan similar to how God, through Moses, split the Red Sea. The spirit of covetousness had to be extremely strong in this man, and God had to nip it in the bud before it spread to others. Again, it all goes back to my malignant cancer analogy.

Application for Today. Sin, especially hidden sin, will hinder us from accomplishing good things in our lifetime. I do not mean that we would not accomplish anything, just less.

Joshua 8 – This time God sent them again to the city of Ai and they were successful. God gave Joshua a different battle plan that made a lot more sense than the one given for Jericho. Everyone was killed and the king was hanged. This time all the Jews obeyed God’s “plundering rules,” so I guess the execution of Achan and his family had a positive effect. After all was accomplished, Joshua read all the laws that Moses gave the people. In attendance were all the men, women, children, and even strangers who lived in that area. So here we have an example of how God’s truth began to be known among non-Jewish people. I believe that is what God wanted because He does love all people, not just the Jews.

Joshua 9 – By this time word had spread throughout the unconquered land that the Jewish people had a strong god that destroys all inhabitants of the land to which they come. So the kings of all those nations gathered and agreed to fight Israel with one accord. But the people of Gibeon (not Gideon) were afraid and came to Joshua in a deceitful manner. They dressed in worn out clothes and convinced him they came from a far away land. The implication was they did not inhabit any portion of the Promised Land. They explained that they feared for their lives and were willing to work as slaves for Israel. Without seeking counsel from the Lord, the men of Israel agreed to spare their lives. After 3 days, Joshua learned that these people lived close and were indeed part of the Promised Land. He rebuked their deception and cursed them to be their slaves forever, and so it was so.

Application for Today: Always seek the Lord for wisdom in decision-making.

Joshua 10 – The Sun Stands Still?

God told Joshua that He would cause victory in every battle against every nation. Joshua was to leave no people alive. At one point, God confounded the enemies and threw down large stones that killed more enemies than Israeli swords. One day there was so much work to accomplish that Joshua was running out of daylight. He asked the Lord to make the sun stand still so the Israelis could complete the slaughter of their enemies. God did it. With all the kings executed and armies and people killed, no one else uttered any words against Israel.

Regarding the sun standing still – Several years ago, there was a report from Harold Hill in his 1974 book called, “How to Live as a King’s Kid.” He claimed to have worked for NASA’s space program, and computers somehow figured out that there was a day missing in time in history. He actually embellished an older tale on this matter. Mr. Hill said that he was present at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center when the above event allegedly took place. Computers do not have the ability to make such a discovery. NASA denies that this ever occurred, and Hill, the former president of the Curtis Engine Company of Baltimore, was involved in diesel engine operations at Goddard and had no involvement with any computer operations. The story predates Hill’s NASA version, and goes back to Charles A. L. Totten’s Joshua’s Long Day and the Dial of Ahaz: A Scientific Vindication (1890).

Unfortunately, this story sounded so good to Christians that they (myself included) told many others. While many great facts support what the Bible says, we need to be ever careful to check out all our facts before repeating anything.

Critics insist that such an event such as the sun standing still is impossible, and thereby impugns the veracity of the Scriptures. Four solutions to this alleged problem have been proposed:

1) The text is figurative, and that the event did not involve a miracle. Hence, it is suggested that the Lord helped Israel win the battle in such an incredibly short time that they felt as though the day had been lengthened, when in fact it was not. Argument Against = a basic rule of interpretation is to assume a passage is literal unless proven figurative. This text reads as an historical narration, therefore should not be considered to be an allegory or using figurative language. The Genesis creation account would be in this same category.

2) The text is figurative, and the event is naturalistic. Donald Patten and his colleagues believe that the planet Mars passed by Earth in an unusually close orbit that caused the Earth to tilt on its axis. Viewed from the right geographical location, the sun actually would hang in the sky longer than normal. Argument Against = lack of evidence, too hypothetical.

3) It was a local miracle. Hence, the sun’s rays may have been refracted miraculously so that they gave every appearance of daylight-illumination in Palestine, when in reality the sun had slipped below the horizon. Argument Against = skeptics would argue that miracles are impossible. Also, if text is literal, the sun would not stop, but the earth would have to have stopped since it is the one that orbits the sun, and if the earth stopped, there would be a domino effect from other destructive consequences globally.

4) The language is literal and the sun was halted miraculously. Henry Morris, the late great “Father of Biblical Creationism,” explains that even more may have been involved: “Since the account says that the moon also stood still (v13), it may be that the entire solar system stopped in its tracks for about a day, with all relative positions and motions simply suspended. Argument Against = miracles are impossible.

In Summation – I think it was a miracle. Joshua prayed for divine assistance, and he got it. God could have helped in any way He chose. If we do not believe this, then we are on a slippery slope of disbelief of all the Bible’s miraculous claims. If God cannot do miracles, then He cannot speak the entire Universe into existence (Psalm 33:9), or raise Jesus’ body from the dead, or make a person who is born blind to see instantly. Who is man to say that the God of the Universe does not have the power to stop the Earth, Moon, and Sun, and still maintain every other semblance of order? By definition, God is beyond the scope of such criticism…and while scientists in general hate this notion, at some point in our logical and scientific inquiry, we must all realize that it is true. Our scope and knowledge limits us. This does not mean we stop all inquiry and investigations. Science is one of the greatest fields of study, especially when it remains humbly open-minded, which is becoming rare as we gain more knowledge.

Joshua 11 – Because Joshua totally obeyed the Lord commands, the Israelis eventually defeated and eliminated all of the evil kings and people remaining in the Land of Canaan. They left no one alive except for the Hivites from Gibeon who surrendered early and agreed to be slaves for Israel. Joshua even destroyed the Anakim who were in Canaan. The only Anakim left were in the Philistine cities of Gaza, Gath, and Ashdod. Anakim were sons of Anak and were giants and fierce. Goliath came from Gath, so he was most likely one of the surviving Anakim. After this, they were not mentioned in history. Finally, the newly situated Israel had rest from war, although not all of the Promised Land was conquered yet.

Joshua 12 – Over 30 conquered kings listed along with their former areas of rule. The Scriptures are rooted in history, not fairy tales.

Joshua 13 – Joshua was getting old now and more land still needed to be conquered. God once again promised Joshua to drive out his enemies. Then the Lord told Joshua where the sons of Israel would settle in the land. So all the apportions were decided by the Lord. Only the tribe of Levi (priests unto the Lord) received no land for the Lord Himself was to be their inheritance.

Joshua 14 – More territories handed out. Caleb was now 85 years old and received the land he wanted (the greatest of the Anakim used to be there; his name was Arba).

Joshua 15 – More land handed out. Caleb and his men drove out three sons of Anak, the son of Arba from the city of Hebron. All missions were accomplished except the sons of Judah could not drive out the Jebusites from Jerusalem so they co-existed.

Joshua 16 – More land divided out.

Joshua 17 – More territory assigned, but the sons of Manasseh could not take possession of their cities because the Canaanites persisted in living there. When the sons of Israel became stronger, they forced the Canaanites into labor, but they did not drive them out completely. The house of Joseph was afraid of the Canaanites in their land because they were strong and had chariots of iron, but Joshua proclaimed that they would drive them out. Canaanites had a reputation of being very pagan and evil.

Joshua 18 – More sections of land assigned to more Israeli tribes.

Joshua 19 – This ended all the dividing of the Promised Land to the Israeli tribes.

There were tons of people, so assigning land fairly was a huge undertaking. There were many names of people, relatives, rulers, and towns indicating that this was an historical narrative. No one could or would make all this up. Again, Old Testament Scripture is not a fairy tale, but rooted in literal history.

Joshua 20 – God told Joshua to appoint some cities to be man slayer refuges. If a Jew or sojourner accidentally killed someone, they could flee to these cities and eventually plead their case before the people, and if an avenger was after him, the man slayer would be protected. This rule apparently would prevent vengeance and blood-feuds from breaking out. God has perfect anticipation.

Joshua 21 – Since the Levites (priests) had no land inheritance, God gave them 48 cities to live in and take care of livestock. This would ensure that leaders of faith and worship would be dispersed among the Jewish tribes. Our God knows our needs and weaknesses. All of the promises by God to the Jews were fulfilled, not one failed.

Joshua 22 – Three tribes fulfilled their obligation to help the Jews conquer land, but now they get permission to return home to their portion located on the west of the Jordan River. Because the river divided their lands, these tribes feared losing unity with the other tribes on the east side of the river. So they built an altar as a witness to their solidarity. But the other tribes to the west thought it was an altar to a false god, so they were ready to go to war against them. When they found out the truth, they backed off and were pleased by the motive for building the altar. During their arguments with each other, memories of past rebellions along with specific names of men who rebelled were cited. So it seems to me that any hint of similar rebellion could easily kindle a huge fight. This concern about idolatry has disappeared from our culture!

Joshua 23 – Joshua is getting old and will die soon. He speaks to all the leaders and tells them to cling to the real God and not to associate with the heathen nations nor intermarry with them. If they do, then they will lose their faith in the true God and He will cease from driving away their enemies. They will also lose their land. He appoints no single successor. Throughout the future years, the Jews did not cling to God as they promised to do here. Unfortunately, this has been the history of the Jews. They forgot their God and they were killed or displaced from their land many times. They rarely set the good example for other nations. If there was no God of the Bible, then the nation of Israel would have been totally obliterated years ago. The fact that they still exist, and have taken over Jerusalem and the boundaries of old Canaan, speaks volumes to the existence and great faithfulness of the God of the Holy Scriptures.

Joshua 24 – Joshua gathers all the tribes to make his final discourse. He reviews much history about God orchestrating a faithful deliverance from Egypt. He says there are other gods to follow from the other nations, but as for him and his house, they will serve the Lord. Before Joshua died at age 110, he solidified all the tribes to serve God. He was buried in the territory of his inheritance. The Israelis also had carried the bones of Joseph from Egypt as they promised and buried them in the land which Jacob bought for his family to be buried. Aaron’s son, Eleazar the priest, also died and was buried in Ephraim where his son Phinehas lived. Later, we will discover that this Phinehas did not turn out so good.

Application for Today: One of the greatest mottoes I’ve seen came from Joshua: “As me me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Having the same spirit that was in Joshua will guarantee that God will do great things through us.