Study Notes

Joshua 1:1-18

Tonight, we continue our study through the Old Testament by entering into the book of Joshua. This book includes some of the great Bible stories including Rahab and the spies, crossing the Jordan, the walls of Jericho falling down, and the sun standing still in the sky. But much more than history, the New Testament tells us,

Rom. 15:4 For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

1Cor. 10:11 Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction

As we read the book of Joshua, there is a picture being painted for us, an example of instruction being given to us.

The slavery in Egypt was a picture of our slavery to sin in the world. But then God caused the Israelites to pass through the Red Sea into the wilderness. As Paul wrote,

1Cor. 10:1-2 For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea;

The wilderness wandering was a picture of having been spiritually saved. God's desire was to give them the Word on Mt. Sinai, and then to immediately usher them into the Promised Land.

This does not mean that God's desire is to give us the Word and then to die. You see, the old hymn writers loved to use the illustration of crossing the Jordan River into the Promised Land as representing our death and entrance into heaven. For example,

On Jordan's Stormy Banks, by Samuel Stenett says,

"On Jordan's stormy banks I stand and cast a wishful eye

To Canaan's fair and happy land where my possessions lie

I am bound for the promised land, I am bound for the promised land.

When shall I reach that happy place and be forever blest?

When shall I see my Father's face and in His bosom rest?

I am bound for the promised land, I am bound for the promised land."

But the promised land does not represent heaven. Remember, there was work to do, giants to kill, battles to fight, conflicts to overcome. That doesn't sound much like heaven to me! The writer of Hebrews confirms this, saying,

Hebr. 4:8-10 For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that. There remains therefore a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His.

The entrance into the promised land didn't represent death and entrance into heaven. The wilderness represents salvation, but a salvation of wandering and dryness. There was another baptism to undergo, a baptism through the Jordan, to enter into a land flowing with milk and honey, a land of claimed promises, and a land of victory. As we go through the book of Joshua, we will see that it illustrates what I call "the victorious Christian life," the life we have when we are baptized in the Holy Spirit, when we lay hold of the promises of God, when we walk in victory and provision, rather than in defeat and dryness. Joshua will reveal to us how to have that victorious Christian life.

1:1 The Death Of Moses

Although Moses had faithfully served God for nearly 40 years, there was an incident that prevented him from entering into the promised land.

The wilderness was dry and the people were thirsty. They complained against Moses. The Lord told Moses, "Mo, remember when I had you strike the rock to bring forth water? Well, this time just speak to the rock, and water will come forth."

Num. 20:9-11 So Moses took the rod from before the LORD, just as He had commanded him; and Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly before the rock. And he said to them, "Listen now, you rebels; shall we bring forth water for you out of this rock?" Then Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came forth abundantly, and the congregation and their beasts drank.

He had abused the people, calling them rebels. The victorious Christian has leadership that obeys Paul's command to young pastor Timothy:

2Tim. 4:2 preach the word; be ready in season {and} out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.

Moses also took the credit, saying, "shall WE bring forth water?" One who would lead victorious Christians must always give God the full credit for all miracles.

Thirdly, he deviated from the Word of God. He was told to speak to the rock. Instead, he struck the rock twice. The victorious Christian will be led by a man who obeys the command of God:

Deut. 12:32 "Whatever I command you, you shall be careful to do; you shall not add to nor take away from it.

He had abused the people, taken the credit, and deviated from the Word. So God said,

Num. 20:12 ..."Because you have not believed Me, to treat Me as holy in the sight of the sons of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them."

Moses was only allowed to see the promised land, but not lead the people into it. How true that is for all leaders in the church who fail to treat God as holy in the eyes of the people. They lead the children of God to the border, they can see the promised land, but cannot lead them into it.

The book of Deuteronomy tells us,

Deut. 34:4-8 Then the LORD said to him, "This is the land which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, 'I will give it to your descendants'; I have let you see {it} with your eyes, but you shall not go over there." So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD. And He buried him in the valley in the land of Moab, opposite Beth-peor; but no man knows his burial place to this day. Although Moses was one hundred and twenty years old when he died, his eye was not dim, nor his vigor abated. So the sons of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days; then the days of weeping {and} mourning for Moses came to an end.

We don't know why God personally buried Moses, but we do know that there was a spiritual battle taking place over his body. Jude writes,

Jude 9 But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, "The Lord rebuke you."

Why did satan want the body of Moses? The two theories that I believe are feasible are:

1) The devil desired to make Moses' body an idol that the Jews would worship.

2) That Moses will be one of the two witnesses in Revelation 11, and that the devil was trying to prevent this future ministry of Moses.

1:2 Cross This Jordan

After Moses' death, God told Joshua to take the people across the Jordan. Joshua has faithfully served God and Moses all this time. He's a warrior, leading the fight against the Amalekites in Exodus 17. He's patient, having waited for Moses on Mt. Sinai for 40 days in Exodus 24. He never sought his own glory, staying in the tent while Moses would speak to the people after hearing from God in Exodus 33. He was loyal to his leader desiring Moses to be respected and in control in Numbers 11, and he was faithful, being one of the twelve spies sent into the land of Canaan in Numbers 13, and returning with faith rather than fear. This is the kind of leader that can take Christians into the promised land of victorious, spirit-filled living.

1:3-4 The Land Which I Am Giving To Them

The promised land was to be claimed. Back in Genesis 13, God had told Abraham,

Gen. 13:14-17 ..."Now lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward; for all the land which you see, I will give it to you and to your descendants forever. And I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if anyone can number the dust of the earth, then your descendants can also be numbered. Arise, walk about the land through its length and breadth; for I will give it to you."

Abraham walked in it. The Israelites are now to walk in it. Whatever they set their foot on would be theirs. So many of God's promises are like this. Take, for example, Philippians 4:6-7...

Phil. 4:6-7 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

That is an absolute promise for you, if you would just set your foot on it. If you pray and petition with thanksgiving, God promises to give His peace to you.

Another example that comes to mind is Malachi 3:10...

Mal. 3:10 "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this," says the LORD of hosts, "if I will not open for you the windows of heaven, and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows."

Another absolute promise, saying that if you are faithful with your tithes, God will see to it that you are repaid super-abundantly. There are so many hundreds of promises that God has given to you, promises that you simply need to stand on to claim.

But alas, the Israelites, like so many of us, only inherited a small portion of the promised land. But even at the height of their possession, they only set foot on a tenth of what was available to them. The borders of Israel would have extended west to envelope Jordan and half of Iraq, northward covering Lebanon and 2/3 of Syria, and southward into Egypt, claiming the Sinai peninsula.

I wonder how many promises of God we have laid claim to? How many of His promises have we set our feet down on? Have we even possessed the tenth that the Israelites did?

1:5-9 I Will Be With You

God gives Joshua the formula for success in the promised land: "If you don't deviate from the law, you will have success wherever you go. If you don't depart from the law, then you will be successful and prosperous."

This should bring to your mind Psalm 1,

Ps. 1:1-3 HOW blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night. And he will be like a tree {firmly} planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season, And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.

The word "meditate" in Psalm 1 and Joshua 1 is "daw-GAW," which means "to moan, growl, or utter." This is not hearing the Word and going, "Huh. Interesting." It is to chew on, to wrestle with, to completely devote your thoughts to, study deeply, to think on intensely. Are you someone who meditates deeply on the Word of God? Do you take a bite of it in the morning and chew on it all day? Do you earnestly seek all that God wants to say to you in your devotions? If you do, you will be successful and prosperous.

Strong And Courageous

Three times in these few verses, God tells Joshua, "be strong and courageous." Moses had told him that twice back in Deuteronomy 31. Courage is an interesting thing. You can find courage and you can lose courage. You can take courage, stir up courage, gather up courage, and keep your courage. In other words, courage is up to you to have. We choose to be fearful, and we choose to be courageous, it's as simple as that.

Phil. 4:13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

Be strong and courageous.

1:10-11 Prepare Provisions

When they left Egypt, we read,

Exod. 12:39 And they baked the dough which they had brought out of Egypt into cakes of unleavened bread. For it had not become leavened, since they were driven out of Egypt and could not delay, nor had they prepared any provisions for themselves.

Their salvation was so spontaneous, came upon them so quickly, there were no provisions prepared. But entering into the victorious life, the promised land, they are told to prepare. The same is true for us. You cannot prepare to be saved, but you must make preparation to enter into all that God has for you. Know the Word, resist sin, ask for the Holy Spirit.

1:12-15 Remember Your Promises

We are reminded of the tragedy in Numbers 32, when the Reubenites, Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh had requested to stay on the east side of the Jordan. They were content on the edge of the wilderness, not to enter into what God had prepared for them.

The Lord promised to give the Israelites the land flowing with milk and honey. Moses had given these 2 1/2 tribes the land they requested. God has so much for you, and yet if you choose, you will find a semi-comfortable place in the wilderness that the lawgiver will give to you. How many Christians have come to this place, they're content with the inheritance that the Law has for them, rather than the abundant grace and riches that are to be found in the spirit-filled, victorious life of promise? And the sad thing is, they don't even realize what they're giving up.

They willingly had volunteered to help fight the battles, to gain the victory in the promised land, and then return to their places of choice on the east side of the Jordan.

There is also a danger when we lay our foundations in the dryness of the wilderness.

1Chr. 5:25-26 But they acted treacherously against the God of their fathers, and played the harlot after the gods of the peoples of the land, whom God had destroyed before them. So the God of Israel stirred up the spirit of Pul, king of Assyria, even the spirit of Tilgath-pilneser king of Assyria, and he carried them away into exile, namely the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh...

When the enemy attacked, these tribes were the first to be picked off.

1:16-18 We Will Obey You

People who choose to live in the wilderness often talk the talk. They appear to walk the walk. But they are missing out. They have the obedience, they have their inheritance that legalism has gained them, but they don't have the victorious joy, that spiritual life flowing, those torrents of living water pouring out from them. Remember the apostle Paul in Acts 19...

Acts 19:1-6 And it came about that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper country came to Ephesus, and found some disciples, and he said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" And they {said} to him, "No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit." And he said, "Into what then were you baptized?" And they said, "Into John's baptism." And Paul said, "John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus." And when they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they {began} speaking with tongues and prophesying.

These guys were saved, they were disciples. But they had camped out in the dryness of the wilderness. There was something missing, they hadn't entered into the fullness of the land that flowed with milk and honey. This was evident to Paul, even though they were talking the talk and walking the walk. He knew they were missing the baptism of the Holy Spirit. And when they received the filling of the Spirit, they entered into that abundant life. Have you received the Holy Spirit in this way yet?

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