We learn the need of limited methods in the Lord’s work, how to identify ‘Hazors’ or pivotal issues in the defence of faith, the necessity of total obedience to God’s plan, and the certain fall of Anakim giants that triggered Israel’s unbelief and disobedience.
The role of faith in spiritual work and endeavour. That’s really the theme of the book of Joshua. It is a literal history with many, many lessons or parallels with church life throughout the gospel age. These lessons are for us.
Joshua begins in the year 1405 BC, covering up to three decades following that date. It is possibly written by Joshua himself, although nowhere in the book is it explicitly stated that Joshua was the author (certainly the author was an eyewitness of the events) – but as with all Scripture it is inspired directly by God.
It is a book of history. Chapters 1 to 5 cover the crossing of Jordan, chapters 6 to 12 cover the conquest of the land of Canaan, 13 to 22 are all about the dividing of the land among the tribes, and 23 to 25 describe the end of Joshua’s life.
But although it is clearly a book of history, it is a book absolutely full of spiritual lessons, with pastoral parallels for our spiritual lives today. These include Joshua’s momentous call, the certain promise of instrumentality, the effort needed, the necessity of a focus for faith and many other principles – often neglected today yet so vital.
One example is that Joshua describes himself as God’s servant. He was not an innovator in the slightest. He was obviously a man of immense intelligence, and although he was 84 years of age, he seems to have had incredible energy. He was the driving force behind the entry into the land and the conquest. But he saw his calling as putting into effect what God had commanded. No more, no less. He was one who carried out to the letter everything that God designated.
That is something that’s slipping away today, that the people of God – all of them, all of us – are servants of the Lord. Today you get celebrity pastors setting up their own associations and societies. But such things are not found anywhere in the Bible. It isn’t enough for an able person to be a pastor of a local church, placed in God’s setting, under God’s jurisdiction, working with the limitations that God puts upon him, doing the things that God dictates. No, he has to form the such-and-such ministry, society, association, company – which he will personally direct, and seek direct subscriptions to, and promote himself, and do things in his own way.
But we are servants of the Lord God! Those who must fit into the format and blueprint that God has determined for the church, and one who simply serves, preaches and carries out the tasks before him. And whatever setbacks occur, whatever criticism we come under, and whatever pressures are against us, we can always – like Joshua – go to the throne of grace, confident and assured we are in God’s way and are obeying Him.
After twenty years of historical silence, Joshua’s last convocation of Israel is recorded, with his remarkable speech presenting sixteen distinctive exhortations or ‘resolutions’ for the lives of God’s children. There is nothing quite so searching and comprehensive in all the Bible.