Joshua the son of Nun stands out as one of the great leaders in the history of the nation of Israel. He had big shoes to fill after the death of Moses, but by faith he stepped into the role of leading God’s people across the Jordan River into the land that God had promised them. At the beginning of the historical narrative found in the book of Joshua, the nation of Israel is preparing to enter Canaan. God comes to Joshua to give him instructions and assurance for the task he was about to undertake. Not only was Joshua now in charge of leading the entire nation of Israel, but the land that they were about to enter already had people living in it—people Israel would need to conquer before they could take possession of the land. Yet God tells Joshua (and therefore all the people of Israel) repeatedly in chapter 1 to be strong and courageous.
How could anyone be strong and courageous in the face of such a daunting task? Joshua’s hope was not in his own ability to lead or how powerful Israel was as a nation, but in the power of their God. Their God had sworn that he would give them this land for an inheritance (1:6), and he is a God who is unable to speak anything but the truth. Their God promised to always be with them (1:9), and he is a God who is faithful to keep his promises. This powerful, faithful God is also your God! The assurance found in the book of Joshua is yours as you put on the armor of God (Eph. 6:10–18) and fight the battle against Satan and all his evil forces.
The first 22 chapters of Joshua detail how God worked powerfully, and often miraculously, to defeat Israel’s enemies as they took over the land of Canaan. Then chapters 23–25 cover Joshua’s farewell to the nation as he nears the end of his life. But even in these last three chapters we see the command to be strong and courageous is repeated again. Now that Israel’s enemies had been mostly defeated and they had settled in the land of Canaan, why did they still need to be strong and courageous? The battle was over. Wasn’t it time to rest and enjoy their new home?
God’s people are called to persevere not just in times of battle but also in times of ease. It is when our lives seem to be going well that temptation can catch us off guard. There are many examples in the Bible of saints who fell into sin not in the heat of battle, but afterward. After the flood, Noah was overtaken by the sin of self-indulgence. After he won many great battles, David fell into the sin of adultery. After Elijah courageously faced the false prophets on Mount Carmel, he was overcome by doubt and fear. It takes just as much strength and courage to fight against your own sin as it does to fight against a physical enemy.
God had been continually faithful to his covenant people throughout their history. He had brought them out of the land of Egypt and given them great victories over their enemies in the land of Canaan. Joshua reminds them of this past faithfulness as he renews the covenant before his death. He also reminds them of their calling to fear God and to serve him alone. Remembering what God has done for you should always result in thankful obedience to his commands.
Joshua’s challenge to the nation of Israel also comes to you as a Christian young person today: “Choose you this day whom ye will serve” (24:15). Just as Israel could not serve both Jehovah and the gods of the other nations, you cannot serve both God and your own ambitions, pleasure, or comfort. Be conscious of your inner battle and who you are choosing to serve. Do not get complacent because your natural tendency is going to be to serve yourself. It takes strength and courage to make the daily choice to live a life of service to God instead of self.
Do you have what it takes to fight this battle? By the grace of God, yes! “Be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee withersoever thou goest” (1:9). As a New Testament believer, you have the Holy Spirit working powerfully in your heart. Philippians 1:6 promises that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. And you may also hope in the promised inheritance of which Canaan was only a dim picture. You have a place of perfect peace and rest awaiting you in heaven, where you will be finally free from the battle against sin for eternity (Rev. 21:1–7).
Abby is a wife and mother in the home. She worships at Trinity Protestant Reformed Church with her family.
|July 8||Joshua 1:1–9||Why do you think God repeats the command to be strong and courageous three times in his instruction to Joshua?||126|
|July 9||Joshua 1:10–18||How does Joshua demonstrate obedience to God’s commands as he takes over leadership of Israel?||56|
|July 10||Joshua 2||How was Rahab’s faith evident from her actions?||174|
|July 11||Joshua 3||What was the great significance of Israel crossing the Jordan River?||214|
|July 12||Joshua 4:1–10||What was the purpose of the memorial that was set up at the site of the Jordan River crossing?||206|
|July 13||Joshua 4:11–24||What does it mean for you to “fear the Lord your God” (v. 24)?||155|
|July 14||Joshua 5:1–12||Why do circumcision and the Passover belong together just as baptism and the Lord’s supper do today?||365|
|July 15||Joshua 5:13–6:5||What assurance does Joshua receive from God as he faces the battle of Jericho?||391|
|July 16||Joshua 6:6–27||What does the way in which Jericho was destroyed teach you about the way that God works?||375|
|July 17||Joshua 7||What was the sin of Achan? How could you fall into this same sin?||141|
|July 18||Joshua 8:1–29||How does the contrast between the first and second battles of Ai emphasize the blessing of obeying God’s commands?||1|
|July 19||Joshua 8:30–35; Deut. 27:1–8||What place should the word of God have in both your personal life and the life of the church?||322|
|July 20||Joshua 9||How are the dangers of self-reliance and pride shown in the events of this chapter?||403|
|July 21||Joshua 10:1–14||How does Joshua foreshadow Jesus during the battle against the five kings?||244|
|July 22||Joshua 10:15–43||How is Israel’s conquest of the southern kingdoms a picture of the final judgment day?||2|
|July 23||Joshua 11||How is God’s sovereignty over the thoughts and actions of all men displayed in Israel’s conquest of the northern kingdoms?||3|
|July 24||Joshua 12||How does this chapter demonstrate God’s fulfillment of his promise in Genesis 12:7?||402|
|July 25||Joshua 13||How is the distribution of the land to each tribe a picture of the promise to all believers in 1 Peter 1:3–4?||27|
|July 26||Joshua 14||What can you learn about being strong and courageous from the godly example of Caleb?||23|
|July 27||Joshua 15||What do the specific details of Judah’s land allotment remind you about the inheritance that you will receive in heaven?||28|
|July 28||Joshua 16:1–17:18||What do the consequences of Israel’s failure to completely drive out the Canaanites teach you about how to deal with sin in your own life?||31|
|July 29||Joshua 18:1–19:51||Why was the hesitancy of the remaining seven tribes to take possession of the land an act of unbelief?||30|
|July 30||Joshua 20||What does the establishment of cities of refuge show about the sanctity of human life in God’s sight?||38|
|July 31||Joshua 21||Why didn’t the Levites inherit land like the other tribes? What can you learn from this?||107|
|August 1||Joshua 22:1–9||What does a life of faithfulness and obedience to God’s word look like according to verse 5? (See also Deut. 10:12–13.)||111|
|August 2||Joshua 22:10–34||What can you learn about how to resolve conflict with fellow believers from this incident in Israel’s history?||370|
|August 3||Joshua 23:1–6||Now that God had conquered Israel’s enemies for them, what was their calling in response to this deliverance?||14|
|August 4||Joshua 23:7–16||What clear consequences are given here for Israel if they turn to other gods?||123|
|August 5||Joshua 24:1–13||Why does Joshua take the time to remind Israel of their history before renewing the covenant?||210|
|August 6||Joshua 24:14–28||Why is it impossible to serve both the one, true God and other gods?||215|
|August 7||Joshua 24:29–33||What do the locations of Joshua, Joseph, and Eleazar’s graves indicate about the hope that they had even in death?||347|
Originally published Vol 82, No 7 / July 2023