If you could only have 3 or 4 books of the Old Testament to read, which ones do you think would be the most important? Many preachers agree that the Book of Joshua would certainly be one of those books. Chuck Swindoll says that “If you want to use a book in the Bible to teach about leadership or the victorious life or a life of obedience that is honored with victory, Joshua is the book.” Ray Stedman called this book “’A Guidebook to Victory’. It is a book packed with practical lessons – challenging concepts to help one grasp the principles of a Spirit-led life.”
The story of the nation of Israel, as it is recorded for us in the first 5 books of the Old Testament (the Pentateuch) and in Joshua, gives us a vivid word picture or metaphor for our Christian life. The years of bondage and slavery in Egypt picture for us the situation which all human beings are in – bond slaves to their sinful and selfish nature. “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” – Romans 3: 23. Redemption and freedom came to the Israelites when they crossed over the Red Sea – a clear illustration of the transformation that happens when we come to Christ by faith and by His Spirit we are “set free from the law of sin and death” – Romans 8:2.
Just as the Israelites had the opportunity to go immediately to the Promised Land, we, too, as new creatures in Christ Jesus, can begin to be transformed by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit who indwells us. But, often, we are distracted by various fears and concerns, by our independence and pride, and by our old habits and ways of thinking, and we “wander in the wilderness”, wondering why failure and discouragement are our companions rather than victory and joy. In those weeks or months or years, God continues to provide for our needs, to show us His love, and to patiently wait for the day when we will humbly come to Him, yielding ourselves up to His will and His way. Crossing over our own “Jordan River” and into the Land of Promise, means for us, just as it did for those Israelites, a surrendering of our plans, our strategies, our SELF-confidence. It means that as we face various enemies, we will seek Him for our strategy, count on Him for our strength and believe that every promise that He has made to us will be true. Over and over again in the amazing stories which are recorded for us in this book of Joshua, we are reminded that as we listen to the Word of God and obey, He will always fill our lives with His deep joy, victory, and peace.
Why study the book of Joshua? Because all of us need to be reminded over and over again that it is the Almighty God who invites us to come to Him in our weakness and with a sense of dependence, willingly ready to admit that He is God and that we are not. Willingly eager to live by faith in the Son of God, believing that the Spirit of God is greater than every enemy that we might face.