By now, you probably know the drill. If you are new to this, this series, as you may have deciphered, is an outline of the entire Bible, book by good ol’ book. Here are the previous sections: Part 1 | Genesis, Part 2 | Exodus, Part 3 | Leviticus, Part 4.1 | Numbers 1-8, Part 4.2 | Numbers 9-19, Part 4.3 | Numbers 20-27, Part 4.4 | Numbers 28-36
Part 5.1 | Deuteronomy 1-11 – In the beginning section of Deuteronomy, the journey from Mt. Sinai is recounted in a way that describes in detail the Lord’s purpose for all that the Israelites had been through. Through all the struggles and trials that the Israelites endured, the Lord revealed to them that He alone is God and that He alone deserves all of their love and heart and soul and might!
Part 5.2 | Deuteronomy 12-20 – As Deuteronomy continues, the importance of serving the Lord according to the law is emphasized. We learned of two constantly repeated phrases in these chapters: “at the place that the Lord will choose” and “so you shall purge the evil from your midst.” As the chapters ran through many laws and rules, these phrases continued to pop up and remind us that it important to meet the Lord on His terms, and it is important to purge evil from our lives.
Part 5.3 | Deuteronomy 21-34 – Moses continues to stress the importance of completely obeying the law to the Israelites. The law that was given to one generation on Mount Sinai was reiterated to the next in the land of Moab, east of the Jordan. Through the many laws recited by Moses, it becomes clear in the final chapters of Deuteronomy that the choice is simple. Either there is obedience that leads to life or disobedience that leads to death, and that very choice is revealed to the entire world today through Jesus Christ and His death on the cross. Eternal Life or eternal death!
JOSHUA – Before Moses’ death at the end of Deuteronomy, Joshua is identified as his successor. The book of Joshua simply chronicles the appointed leadership of Joshua over the Israelites. At the beginning of this book, we see Joshua finally take on the mantle of leader and we follow his journey as he leads the Israelites in conquering the land promised to them by the Lord. The long, eventful, and sometimes radical conquest takes place through the book of Joshua. After it’s all said and done, we see the promised land allotted to the tribes of Israel. The book of Joshua celebrates the fulfillment of the Lord’s promises while also portraying the severity of His righteous judgement that comes to pass by His unquestionable power. The Israelites could not have conquered the land without the clear and unwavering strength of the Lord.
- Joshua 1 | Joshua is called to lead, and he answers the call: The Lord clearly calls Joshua to lead the Israelites over the Jordan river into the land that He had promised them. In this calling, we read some all too familiar verses and encouragement from the Lord himself:
“Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This 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 good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” | Joshua 1:7-9
It is upon these verses that Joshua leads the Israelites in complete dependence and faith to the Lord as they conquer the promised land. Joshua listens to the Word of the Lord and he immediately commands the Israelites to action. He takes the place of Moses and begins the next stage of the holy nation’s journey.
- Joshua 2 | The story of Rahab, the prostitute and hero of faith: First of all, it is extremely important to note that in Hebrews 11, Rahab is listed as a great character of faith along with notable savior archetypes such as Noah, Abraham, and Moses. In Joshua 2 we find that Rahab’s faith and fear of the Lord led to the respect she had for His people. Joshua sends two spies into the land, “especially Jericho,” and these spies lodge in Rahab, the prostitute’s, house. Rahab protects them as men come searching to seize the Israelite spies. Because of her faith and respect, the Lord promised to protect her and her family as the Israelites conquered the city of Jericho.
- Joshua 3 – 4 | The Israelites cross over Jordan into the the promised land: In chapters 3 and 4 we finally see the Israelites move westward from across the Jordan into the land of Canaan, the land of promise. As they begin their journey into the promised land, the Lord immediately displays his might in a similar fashion as what was seen at the parting of the Red Sea. The Israelites are called to follow behind the priests as they carry the ark of the covenant. The moment the priests stepped into the waters of the Jordan, the river was completely cut off. One side was stopped and piled up in “a heap” and the other side was completely dry! This new generation of Israelites witnessed first hand a glimpse of the power of the Lord, and a shadow of what He did for their ancestors at the Red Sea as they fled from the Egyptians. 40,000 ready for war passed over the Jordan on completely dry land, and one man from each tribe took a stone from the Jordan as a sign for the generations of the Lord’s might on that day.
- Joshua 5 | The Israelites demonstrate their commitment to the commandments of the Lord through circumcision and the passover, and the commander of the army of the Lord is revealed: In chapter 5 the Israelites demonstrate their commitment to serving the Lord by obeying two important commandments. First, Joshua is called to circumcise the new generation of Israelites as a sign of their covenant with God and their status as a holy nation that was set apart. It is good to see the new generation following the command of the Lord through His servant, Joshua, just as their ancestors followed the Lord through Moses. Additionally, they continue to display their obedience by following the feast of the passover. However, this time, there was a subtle transition in provision. The children of Israel had relied the Lord to send manna from heaven for sustenance since their departure from Egypt, but their arrival in the promised land marked the end of manna and the beginning of the Lord’s provision from the land. As the chapter comes to a close, Joshua sees a man who turns out to be the “commander of the army of the Lord.” Just as when Moses came before the Lord in the burning bush, Joshua is also asked to remove his sandals for the place that he stood was holy. It seems as though this commander was God himself!
- Joshua 6 | The fall of Jericho: Jericho is a city in Canaan that was completely walled off. As the Lord guides the Israelites to conquer this city, He again displays his power by crumbling all the walls around Jericho through the shout of the Israelites. The Israelites are called to circle the city once in complete silence as the priests blow 7 trumpets each day for 6 days. On the 7th day, Joshua leads them to circle the city 7 times. At the end of this they all shouted “a great shout,” and the walls fell flat. It is important to note that the walls did not just crumble, but they fell completely flat! The Israelites were able to immediately enter the city and conquer it. The Lord called them to completely devote the city to destruction except for the gold, silver, bronze, and iron, which would be given to the Lord. Everything else was to be destroyed. As the Israelites “utterly destroy” everything, the two spies sent by Joshua fulfill the promise of protection to Rahab and her family.
- Joshua 7 – 8 | Israel defeated because of their sin, the sin is cut off, and Israel returns to victory and the covenant is renewed: After this great conquest, the Israelites are again tasked with conquering a nearby city called Ai. However, the army of three thousand men sent by the Israelites was defeated and forced to flee from the men of Ai. We learn in this chapter that despite the faithfulness and clearly displayed might of the Lord, a man named Achan of the tribe of Judah, sinned against the Lord in Jericho. This man, it turns out, kept some of what was to be devoted completely to the Lord for himself and because of his unfaithfulness, the Israelites suffered the anger of the Lord who gave them up to the men of Ai. Achan was sentenced to death by stoning, and the gold and silver he stole, along with every possession he had, was burned and buried. After this punishment was enacted, the Lord’s anger subsided, and the Israelites again found their might in the Lord. Israel faced the men of Ai again with complete ingenuity and might from the Lord, and they quickly conquered the city and burned it completely to the ground. Joshua builds an altar displaying their covenant with the Lord, and he reads the entirety of the law before all of the Israelites once again. This story is so important to us because the Lord wishes to bless us immensely, but some of those blessings are to be used completely for Him. We tend to run into trouble when we covet the blessings devoted to the Lord, and we are foolish to think that we could get away with taking them for ourselves!
- Joshua 9 | The Israelites are duped by the Gibeonites: As the Israelites continue to display their prowess in the land of Canaan by the power of the Lord, the inhabitants of Gibeon take notice. These people wear tattered clothes and pretend to have journeyed far and long in order to serve the Israelites. They claim that they too were guided by the Lord, and they seek to make a covenant of peace and service with the Israelites. The Israelites foolishly agree not realizing that the Gibeonites were neighbors simply trying to avoid being utterly destroyed by the holy nation. Joshua and the Israelites held to their promise although the deception was revealed. This passage seems to relate to situations in which others recognize the Lord working in our lives. They wish to partake of the blessings and avoid their impending suffering, but they have no regard for the Lord. Although the Gibeonites avoided destruction, I wonder if they were only prolonging the inevitable.
- Joshua 10 – 11 | The Israelites continue to conquer the nations in the land: Despite all that the Lord had displayed, the hearts of kings in Canaan were still hardened. In chapters 10 and 11, we see nations arm themselves against the Israelites. Now many kings gather together and attempt to team up against the holy nation. They are easily defeated, just as the Lord had defeated all the other nations. Ironically we come across this verse:
For it was the Lord’s doing to harden their hearts that they should come against Israel in battle, in order that they should be devoted to destruction and should receive no mercy but be destroyed, just as the Lord commanded Moses. | Joshua 11:20
The nations that seem to be working against Israel, were in fact working to fulfill the ultimate purpose of the Lord. What a testament to our lives today! The very things that we think are working against us may be in fact working for our good! (See Romans 8:28)
- Joshua 12 | The kings conquered by the Lord through Moses and Joshua are documented: Finally, the conquest of the Israelites from Egypt to Canaan is documented in a single chapter by listing the people who were defeated. The chapter divides all the kings and nations conquered into two categories: those the Lord delivered into the hand of the Israelites while under Moses, and those delivered while under Joshua. The list is extensive and is a testament to the Lord that He keeps His promises!
In the first half of Joshua, we clearly see the might, faithfulness, and judgement of the Lord displayed. He, through the nation of Israel, conquers nation after nation with ease. Despite their unfaithfulness at times, the Lord continues to deliver kings into the Israelite’s hands. The Israelites have conquered many nations, and the inheritance is almost theirs. As we continue to read the book of Joshua, we will see the promise finally fulfilled and we will learn of the allotment of the long awaited land to the respective tribes of Israel after a long and arduous journey.