Studies in Joshua, chapters 1-3


Each book of the Bible has a prominent and dominant theme.

Whatever that leading subject may be, we should endeavor by all means to familiarize ourselves with it.

For example, Genesis is the book of beginnings.

Every major doctrine of the NT is found in embryo form in Genesis.

Exodus is the book of redemption, deliverance.

Departure of the Hebrews from Egypt.

Redemption is first of all by blood (Passover).

Secondly by power shown in God’s amazing power in deliverance and preservation in the wilderness.

Leviticus is the book of worship.

God gives instruction relative to fellowship and worship. In type the book is full of Christ, especially His sacrifice and High Priesthood.

Numbers depicts the walk and wanderings of the Jews in the Wilderness.

Typical of the believers walk today.

Deuteronomy is the book in which Moses reviewed the past and gave instructions for the future.

The old generation had died in the wilderness. Moses is now acquainting the new generation with the law and the claims of God upon them. The word “remember” occurs 14 times, “hear” over 30, and “do” over 100 times.

Obedience to God is the theme.

To arrive at the aforementioned conclusions entails extensive reading and research and prayerful consideration.

To know our subject we must be thoroughly acquainted with it.

So then I suggest that you read the Book of Joshua in a prayerful and expectant manner.

Joshua has a unique place in the annum of Scripture.

The Pentateuch would be incomplete without it. Genesis foretold that Israel would occupy the Promised Land.

The other four books of the Pentateuch give their history preparatory to their occupation of the land.

Joshua records the entering—the conquest and apportionment of the land, thus culminating the prophecies and journeying recorded in the Pentateuch.

Then Joshua is unique in its setting for what follows, as well as being the capstone for all past history, it is the foundation for all future history.

The five books of the Pentateuch lead Israel up to Canaan.

Joshua complements these by leading Israel into Canaan.

The following twelve books cover Israel’s history inside Canaan.

The Man Called Joshua

Joshua was born in Egypt.

He was given the name Hoshea meaning “Salvation.” Moses changed his name to Jehoshua, taking part of the original name and part of Jehovah’s name, making it to mean Jehovah Salvation. Later Jehoshua was reduced to Joshua.

Joshua is the Hebrew form of the Greek and Jesus. In many ways Joshua is a type of Christ.

With the exception of Caleb, Joshua was the only adult Israelite who left Egypt, survived the wilderness and entered Canaan.

We are abruptly introduced to him in Exodus 17:9. Moses entrusted Joshua to command the forces of Israel at Rephidin, in the battle with Amelek.

Joshua remains in this warrior-like character until the day of his death. He lived 110 years.

The two main things worthy of note in Joshua’s life:

1. The sending in of the spies.

2. His ordination as the future leader of Israel. During his life he “wholly following the Lord.”

General Survey of Joshua

The book readily falls into three divisions:

1. Entering the land—chapters 1-6.

2. Overcoming the land—chapters 6-12.

3. Occupying the land—chapters 13-24.

The above analysis also contains the “key thought.”


The central message is “the victory of faith”. In this respect Joshua stands in sharp contrast to Numbers. Numbers is full of unbelief and failure; failure to enter the land (14:2-4), failure to overcome (14:44-45), failure to occupy (14:28-34).

Spiritually interpreted, the fightings and experiences of Israel in the land, under Joshua, proclaim the NT truth “this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.”—John 5:4.

Joshua 1

v.1—God’s call. Jehovah spoke to Joshua.

v.2—God’s commission. “Arise go over this Jordan.”

v.3-4—God’s promise. “Every place”, etc.

v.5—“Every promise. I never failed Moses. I will not fail thee.”

v.6-7—This task was not going to be an easy one. Three times Joshua is exhorted to “be strong and very courageous.”

The Law of God was to be their guide:

1. Turn not from it.

2. Let it not depart out of your mouth.

3. Meditate upon it day and night.

4. Do all that is written therein.

The promise—good success and prosperity.

v.9—The final exhortation.

1. Be strong.

2. Be of good courage.

3. Be not afraid.

4. Be not dismayed.

“I will be with you wherever you go.”

Humanly speaking, what God asked Joshua to do was impossible.

Let us look at the inhabitants of the land.

Canaan was packed full of powerful enemies. The land was inhabited by races of giants, men who were famous for stature and strength.

The people were fierce and warlike—they had chariots of iron.—17:16.

The cities as described by the spies were “great and walled up to Heaven”—Deuteronomy 1:28.

Then there was a food problem. In the wilderness they had been fed daily by the manna, but that was to stop on entering the land.

Who was going to feed the great multitude? These obstacles were enough to terrify the stoutest heart.

But that is not all.

Think of the forces that Joshua had, humanly speaking. A bunch of unpromising people—the descendants of rebels—for 40 years they lacked faith in God. Could Joshua rely on their loyalty and cooperation?

Then look at his army—they were not soldiers, they had been slaves—they were wanderers in a waste howling wilderness.

Apart from being untrained, they were poorly armed and lacked training.

This then was the situation and this was the task which Joshua was given.

What would you have done in the same circumstances?

Jordan is not an illustration of death, neither is Canaan of heaven.

Canaan was a place of warfare and full of enemies. Heaven will not be like that. If that is what it is not, then what is it?

Hebrews 3 and 4 teach us that the land of Canaan was a place of rest and victory. Typical of the spiritual rest and victory which can be enjoyed by every spiritual believer.

The Ephesian epistle talks of the “heavenly places”, this is not “heaven”, but is a spiritual sphere upon earth in which a spiritual believer can live in rest and victory in our Risen Lord.

Canaan was the goal to which God was leading His people. His promised Moses at the burning bush not only the deliver from the bondage of Egypt, but also to bring them into a land flowing with milk and honey. They could only live in one of two places.

The Wilderness or Canaan

It was God’s will that they live in Canaan. Many chose to live and die in the wilderness, thus falling short of God’s ideal for them.

The Personal Application.

If we are born again we are in one of two places. “The Wilderness” or “The Heavenly Places.”

1. The wilderness—is a place of defeat, spiritual stagnation, it is almost joyless, fruitless and unproductive. There is little progress and there is much wandering and floundering and disappointment. Many Christians live and die in this condition, never having realized God’s ideal.

2. The heavenly places: (Ephesians)

      A. We are blessed with all spiritual blessings in Christ (1:3).

      B. It is a place of power “at God’s right hand” (1:20).

      C. It is a place of fellowship, sitting together with Christ (2:6).

      D. It is a place of testimony. We are manifesting the wisdom of God to principalities and powers (3:10).

      E. It is a place of warfare and victory. We are wrestling against the rulers of the darkness, but with victory assured (6:12).

Look now at verse 3.

God had given the whole land to the Israelites, but they could only possess the portion which they conquered and claimed. It is so with the believer—we must claim our possessions in Christ.

The first thing that we have to do is “cross over Jordan”. This speaks of our death with Christ. When He died, He died to the world, flesh and the devil. We in turn have to crucify the world, flesh, and devil if we ever hope to enjoy the fullness of blessing and victory.

Galatians 2:20—“I am crucified with Christ.” This is not easy—there were seven nations in Canaan.

Ephesians 6:12 reminds us of our enemies then displays for our use the armor of God which assures spiritual victory.

v.2—“Go over this Jordan.”

As we hasten to obey this Divine command, we see the formidable enemies who will contest every inch of the way…our courage fails.

    “Be strong” is God’s exhortation.

      “Be not afraid”—1:9.

        “I will be with you”—v.9.

          “I will not fail you nor forsake you”—v.5.

Joshua went on the strength of these promises and conquered. Should we do less?

Notice how the people that God can use:

1. Joshua was a “faithful man”—he “wholly followed the Lord.”

2. The second qualification for leadership is a distinct and definite call—v.1.

3. His source of power and strength was the power of the indwelling Word of God—see v.9.

      A. Turn not from it.

      B. Let it not depart out of your mouth.

      C. Meditate upon it day and night.

      D. Do all that is written therein…the promise. Good success and prosperity.

Days of Preparation
Joshua 1:10-11; 2

Prepare food…wait for three days.

Waiting is one of the hardest things to do. God has a purpose for any hold up in progress or activity. We should find out what that purpose is.

Psalm 46:6—“Be still and know that I am God.” “Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.” “Tarry at Jerusalem—wait for the promise of the Father.”

Paul’s impatience—See Acts 16:6, 7 and 9:10.

Paul waited three years in the Arabian desert before God commissioned him to go forth with the Gospel. 8-9 years in Tarsus.

Prepare food supplies.

What they prepared was to be their sustenance during the period between the stopping of the manna and the eating of the old corn of the land.

The three stages in Spiritual victory:

1. Preparation

2. Progress

3. Possession

Spiritual application.

For each spiritual conquest there must be a period of preparation or waiting. Our Lord’s prayer in Luke 7. Experience is gained in the streams of life. Strength of character is formed in the presence of God. The spending of time in God’s presence makes spiritual progress and victory a reality. Take Jacob’s case as an example. After spending a night with God—God changed his name from Jacob to Israel…a prince with God. Moses, David. As the Jews were preparing themselves for God’s work. God was already at work.

The story of the spies…His servants were preparing the way. Soon the first prize and possession in Canaan would be theirs.

The city of Jericho. They did not know this, but God’s way is the best way.

There were at least three important things about this waiting period:

1. A soul must be saved.

2. Separation must be confirmed.

3. Sanctification must be completed.

A Soul Must Be Saved

Describe Jericho—rich, strong, godless. Rahab was there—she had heard of the God of the Israelites…she had heard of His great works and she believed that this God was the real God. One could not describe Rahab’s faith as an intelligent faith, it was rather a blind faith or a total faith.

Her faith was of such quality that it is mentioned in God’s Hall of Fame—Hebrews 11:31.

James also remarks that unlike some people’s faith, Rahab’s faith was seen by her works. She identified herself with God’s people by putting out the scarlet cord from her windows.

Her faith was rewarded:

1. She became a sharer in all the blessings of the land.

2. She became part of the line of ancestry of our Lord Jesus.

Consider further.

During these three days of waiting and preparation, God’s judgment was held back until Rahab was saved. Same thing in Lot’s case.

Oh the grace of our God.

How did Rahab get her faith?

There was a combination of two things:

1. She heard of the greatness of God—v.10.

2. She saw evidences of it in God’s people—v.9.

These things convinced Rahab and led to her conversion.

Might I challenge each of you believers with the question. What evidences of the work and power of God do people see in you?

It is not the correctness of our creed, but the chastity of our character that counts. It is not so much what we believe, but it is how we behave.

Separation Must Be Confirmed

Read Joshua’s address to the tribes in 1:12-18. These tribes wanted to stay in the wilderness—Numbers 32. They did not want to live in Canaan. Moses agreed with their decision with reservations. Now Joshua wants to “confirm their separation”. They had promised Moses that they would go into the land and help their brethren. Joshua then is asking them: What are you going to do? Their reply is found in verse 16. These men were committed men—separated men—valiant men. Joshua gave them the key position of leading the nation into the land—v.14.

There is a tragic note in the history of these tribes. These people though brave and strong, valiant and rich, were the first to be defeated by the Assyrians. They wee carried away as captives and never returned.

Spiritual Application.

They lived with one foot in the world, so when they were captured by the world they just stayed there.

Sanctification Must Be Completed

Joshua 3:5—Sanctify yourselves, etc.

The manifestation of the power of God depends on the sanctification of His people. During those three days of waiting they were to set themselves entirely apart for the Lord.

The days would be filled with:

1. They were a separated people.

2. They were a sanctified people.

3. They were a powerful people.

The sanctified life has two aspects:

1. Godward—positive.

2. Manward—negative.

      A. When God sanctifies us it is a once for all time experience. Complete—perfect.

      B. Then our daily sanctification is accomplished by the indwelling and infilling of the Holy Spirit. Who when allowed to lead, expresses the life of the Lord Jesus in us, and through us.


We sanctify ourselves as we put away the flesh, cast out sin, and pride. “This is the will of God even your sanctification.”

Before God can use any of us for His ultimate glory:

1. Our separation must be confirmed.

2. Our sanctification must be completed.

Three days speaks of resurrection, or a new beginning.

As we stand on the borders of the Promised Land, or the “Heavenlies”, let us:

1. Prepare our food—Joshua 1:11.

2. Sanctify ourselves—Joshua 3:5.