Joshua 1:1-6; 11:16-23
Before us are the very words which God spoke to Joshua following the death of Moses. Joshua was in the presence of Moses on Mount Sinai when God spoke to Moses forty years earlier, but there is no record that God directed any instruction to Joshua at that time.
God chose Joshua as the successor of Moses long before Moses died (Deut. 1:38), but God did not speak to Joshua until after Moses died (v. 1).
In the text before us, God instructs Joshua to step up and lead the children of Israel into the promised land. God directs Joshua to arise and go over the Jordan River into the land which He has promised them (v. 2). God states that every place that the sole of his (Joshua’s) foot shall tread shall be given to him (v. 3). This is the same promise given to Moses (See Deut. 11:24).
God specifies the boundaries of the land which is given (v. 4). The wilderness sets the desert areas as bounds to the south and to the east of Canaan. The northern and northeastern borders are set by Lebanon and the Euphrates River. The Great Sea (Mediterranean) shall be the western border. Again, this is the same promise given to Moses. And, it is the same promise given to Abraham (Gen. 15:18). The promise of the land was first given to Abraham, then to Isaac (Gen. 26:3), then to Jacob (Gen. 28:13), then to Moses, and, now, to Joshua. God’s promises do not go away. They remain forever and shall be fulfilled according to His schedule.
The task that God has placed before Joshua was overwhelming. The same giants which caused Israel to refuse to go into the land almost forty years earlier were still in the land. In verse 5, Joshua hears comforting words. God tells him that no one will be able to stand before him. God states that He will be with him as He was with Moses. Joshua witnessed the closeness of God to Moses as had no other man. Joshua, and Joshua alone, was present when God gave Moses the law upon Sinai. The task before Joshua is great, but God’s reassurance is greater. God gives His personal promise: “I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” God charges Joshua to be strong and to be of good courage because he (Joshua) shall administer the giving of the land to the people. Joshua is to be the agent responsible for fulfilling God’s promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
All New Testament believers have been given a like assurance. Jesus said, “Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it to you” (Jn. 16:23). We have the personal promise of the Son.
God gave Joshua a mission. It is not a mission which God intended Joshua to achieve independent of Him. God expected Joshua to rely upon Him. God made it possible for Joshua to succeed. God makes it possible for all believers to do His will.
Joshua’s conquest of Canaan ends with the defeat of the king of Hazor and his allies (11:1-13). The closing verses of chapter 16 summarize the conquests which gave the children of Israel unchallenged control of the land that God had promised to the seed of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Verse 18 states that Joshua made war with these kings a long time. What is a long time? Caleb was 85 years old when he asked that Hebron be made part of his inheritance. Caleb was 40 years old when he went to spy out the promised land (one year into the 40 years in the wilderness), making him 79 when the children of Israel crossed over the Jordan. It would appear that six years (85-79) was the long time of Joshua’s conquest.
We note that all cities with the exception of Gibeon and Gaza, Gath and Ashdod (v. 19, 22) were destroyed. God caused all to come up against Israel in battle such that Joshua would destroy them and their land given to the seed of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
God moved the enemies of Israel to act in a manner that resulted in the keeping of His promise. The scriptures that God has given us contain unfulfilled prophecies (promises that God shall keep). The promise of Christ’s return and the judgment that shall fall upon all the world will be hastened by the actions of the enemies of the present nation of Israel. Bible believing Christians have knowledge of the future — we have the written record of God’s promises. God has given us knowledge and the instruction: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” Let us do as Joshua did. For He is with us even unto the end.