The Book of Joshua

Shadowing Forth the Fulness of Christian Blessing in Christ.
by H. Forbes Witherby.

Introductory Remarks (this file)

The Conquest of the Land

Chapter 1. The Leader.
Chapter 2. The Exhortation to Arise and Possess.
Chapter 3. The Command to Tarry Three Days.
Chapter 4. Who is on the Lord's Side?
Chapter 5. The Coming Kingdom.
Chapter 6. Entrance into the Promised Possession.
Chapter 7. A Digression: Deliverance from Wrath.
Chapter 8. The Digression Continued.
Chapter 9. The Way into Canaan.
Chapter 10. The First Act in Canaan.
Chapter 11. The Leader's Memorial and his Glory.
Chapter 12. Separation to God.
Chapter 13. The Place of Power.
Chapter 14. Keeping the Feast.
Chapter 15. The Food of the Land.
Chapter 16. The Manna.
Chapter 17. The Captain of the Host of the Lord.
Chapter 18. The Mode of Warfare.
Chapter 19. Lessons in Defeat.
Chapter 20. Lessons in Victory.
Chapter 21. The Word of Jehovah Established in Canaan.
Chapter 22. Alliance with Enemies.
Chapter 23. The Might of the Lord.
Chapter 24. Final Victory.

The Distribution of the Land

Chapter 25. The Call from Jehovah to Incite Israel to Possess.
Chapter 26. The Most Sacred Inheritance.
Chapter 27. A Noble Sample of the True Inheritor.
Chapter 28. How the Mass of the People Inherited.
Chapter 29. Peace and Worship.
Chapter 30. The Last Call to Possess.
Chapter 31. The Cities of Refuge.
Chapter 32. The Cities of the Levites.
Chapter 33. Rest.
Chapter 34. The Return of the Forty Thousand Warriors.
Chapter 35. Joshua's Last Words.
Chapter 36. Jehovah's Final Words by Joshua.

Introductory Remarks.

The Book of Joshua consists of two sections. The first (Joshua 1 — 12) records the conquest of the land; the second (Joshua 13 — 24) records the distribution of the land by lot among the tribes.

The first section may be divided broadly into two parts: the one beginning with the entrance into Canaan, and ending with the victory of Israel at the fall of Jericho (Joshua 1 — 6); the other, beginning with the sin of Israel and their defeat at Ai, and ending with the enumeration of the conquered kings (Joshua 7 — 12).

From the time of the entrance into Canaan to the fall of the city of Jericho, which is emphatically a type of the overthrow of the organized evil of this world, all went on in the power of God with Israel; the course of the divine purpose was carried out uninterruptedly by the nation, and closing the book of Joshua at the overthrow of that city, there stands before us a brilliant type of God's ways in bringing in His coming kingdom.

From the fall of Jericho to the enumeration of the vanquished kings (end of Joshua 12) there are seen the ways of God, and also the failure of His people.

In the latter part of the first section of the book (Joshua 8:30-35) the noble scene of the assembly of all Israel at Ebal and Gerizim occurs, where the nation established in the power of Jehovah's word, as His people in the promised laud, formally places itself under obedience to that word. In a somewhat similar way to the victory of Jericho changing to the defeat at Ai, so in this scene Israel falls from strength to weakness. Instead of obedience to the word of God, they listened to flatterers (Joshua 9) and entered into alliance with enemies, the sure prelude to ruin.

The remainder of the first section of the book is taken up with the combination of the powers of Canaan and the conquest of Israel, concluding with the numbering up of victories.

The second section (Joshua 13 — 24) begins with the warning words of the Lord, "There remaineth yet very much land to be possessed." The general weakness and inertness of the people are described, though brilliant exceptions to the prevailing spirit are noted. The land rests from war, and the worship of Jehovah in Shiloh and His laws of righteousness in the Cities of Refuge are established. Thus circumstances promise well for Israel, upon whom lies the responsibility to gain what they had not yet subdued, as well as to maintain that which they had gained, and with what results their subsequent history declares!

The book closes with Joshua's charge, and his exhortation to the people not to ally themselves with the heathen; with Jehovah's word to them recalling His ways of mercy, followed by Joshua's appeal to them to forsake their idols; its last words recount Joshua's death, and refer to what resulted from Joseph's faith.

The first part of the book of Joshua, as a whole, is vigorous with divine energy. It is, generally speaking, strength in the Lord and in the power of His might. The second, as a whole, is inaction, and inaction in the face of the enemy is failure.

Inaction, following upon zeal, expresses in a few words the history of every era, in which responsibility to maintain a divine position has been entrusted to God's people. And may it not be added, inaction following upon zeal, expresses briefly the story of the various religious movements which have occurred amongst Christians — those revivals to truth and to Christ, wrought by the Spirit of God, which have so frequently occurred since Pentecost?

These movements begin with faith in God, and faith's consequences — spiritual energy, zeal, self-denial, and the spirit of victory. Then, as time passes on, the middle age of the movement develops subsidence into acquired privileges, spiritual sloth, and dependence upon leaders rather than on God. After the middle age, arrives the end of what was once a movement for God; adhesion to the traditions of elders, instead of obedience to His word; holding on to some special creed, instead of to God Himself. The spirit of the soldier contending for God's truth on the earth is lost; direct dealing with God departs from the soul, worldliness ensues; and, as Israel mingled with the nations around them, so does the rearward of what was once a divine movement, become a camp-following which soon is absorbed in the world. In the latter stages of such a history, a state of indifference and a spirit of self-confidence prevail. God not being depended on, the Scripture not being the only rule, the leadings of God's Spirit are neglected, and human complacency abounds. The memories of the past are substituted for the living energy of the present, the feather-bed of religious custom for the hardships of spiritual welfare. Laxity and pretension are near neighbours in the soul. Luke-warmness to the things God loves in His people, and the assertion, "We have need of nothing" (Rev. 3:16-17), are the two-fold signs of a degenerate spirit.

Recovery from this low state is obtained through the discipline of God's hand, often severe, always solemn. How the anguish of Israel, recorded in the Book of Judges, evidences this truth! And it should not be forgotten that that anguish was but the reaping of the fruits sown, as recorded in the latter part of the Book of Joshua. God will not permit the inflation, the boast, the unreal state that pride begets, to continue amongst His people. His severe hand of government, inflicting suffering, leads, through His grace, to self-judgment in His people; to humiliation, and its invariable accompaniment, prayer. And then it is, sins and shame being honestly mourned over and confessed, and the sins truly forsaken, God once more becomes the present help of His own, revives their hearts, recovers their strength, and renews their victories. For God is God, and He changes not.

The healthful instructions of the Book of Joshua, its vigorous action, and its solemn warnings, are particularly suited to our own times. On the one hand, there are numbers of Christians just learning from God what Christianity really is. These are coming to the front rank as good soldiers of Jesus Christ. They are, practically speaking, in the spirit of the early chapters of the book. If the contemplation of the figures and ensamples of the Book of Joshua, as opened in our pages, shall stimulate the zeal, heighten the courage, or aid the spirit of such believers, to God be the praise. On the other hand, there are Christians, who have learned much of what Christianity is, but who are lying asleep among the dead, as Paul warned the Ephesians in his epistle. These Christians, practically speaking, are in the laxity of the latter half of the Book of Joshua. The girdle of truth is slack about their loins, the shield of faith covers not their whole man, the sword of the Spirit, if held, is uplifted by nerveless arms: their lives are lives of spiritual inaction, their existence for God on this earth a prolonged failure. To such, the warnings of the latter part of the Book of Joshua have a peculiar significance; they seem to cry aloud, "Repent! do the first works;" "Awake, thou that sleepest, and rise up from among the dead, and Christ shall shine upon thee."