JOSHUA - Introduction
“Arise, cross this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them... Every place on which the sole of your foot treads, I have given to you...” Joshua 1:3-4
Joshua was promised an extensive physical land with geographical boundaries, “a land flowing with milk and honey.” In this special place, God’s people would live in peace and harmony, reigning with God over every enemy that might threaten their security from within or without. How could they lose when the almighty creator God, sovereign Ruler of the universe lived in their midst?
The book of Joshua presents a glorious picture of the inheritance promised to every believer then and now. A land of peace, righteousness and spiritual riches is ours for the taking. Our God is extending His amazing gift of heavenly citizenship to all; and for those who believe, this book is God’s step-by-step instruction manual for occupying and enjoying the land. No provision for entrance or possession is withheld from those who will read and follow God’s blueprint. The promised land beckons and waits with all its incredible treasures, and those who search for it will find “a pearl of great price”. For if you “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, all these things will be added to you.” Best of all, you will find and enter into an intimate personal love-relationship with the King of Kings, the Lord of all, our Friend and Bridegroom for all eternity.
God’s people are about to cross the Jordan river to enter and possess the rich, fertile land God had promised them. Here they would begin an entirely new kind of life—a life of rest and freedom under the loving care and protection of the all powerful Lord of heaven and earth. This sovereign King of the universe had chosen and called His people into an eternal love-relationship with Himself.
In their new land, God would dwell among His people. He would provide for them as a the kindest father would nurture his beloved children, as the most gentle shepherd would watch over his sheep, and as the most loving bridegroom would give himself to his beloved bride. He had welcomed them into a covenant-relationship with Himself, through which He had promised to make all of Himself and His resources available to Israel, His precious people, if only they would trust and follow Him.
Forty years earlier God had demonstrated His power to His people through their dramatic rescue from bondage and servitude to the merciless Egyptians. Yet the years of slavery had not been wasted. God had used the hardships and cultural rejection to separate to Himself a people that recognized their unique identity and eternal purpose. (See Hebrews 11)
Through the years of darkness and hard labor, many remembered that they were God's chosen people, heirs to all God's wonderful promises and destined for a glorious land -- an earthly as well as an eternal home. (Heb 11) Others despaired, having forgotten their divine destiny and God-given vision. Naturally, the people's response to the leadership of Moses and God miraculous deliverance varied. But in the end, all followed Moses and left slavery behind.
Not long after the mass exodus, God gave His people an opportunity to enter their promised land and enjoy its riches. Through 10 assigned scouts, they were given a glimpse of its beauty and fruitfulness, but the people failed the test. For despite the recent demonstration of God's victorious power, the people feared the giants in the land more than they trusted their covenant-making God.
Hearing their doubts and complaints, God shut the door to the land. Instead of victory and riches, Israel spent forty years in the wilderness learning to trust God and follow His ways. As we open the book of Joshua, these long decades of travel, teaching and testing have come to an end. The leadership has been transferred from Moses to his faithful servant Joshua, and God’s chosen people are camped near Jordan, almost ready to enter the land.
JOSHUA - Lesson 1: The Promised Land