Summary of the book of Joshua (Part 1)
Dear BPCWA worshipper, I will summarize the recent book of the Bible that we have finished preaching from on Sundays, namely the book of Joshua. Summaries are important because we should not lose key thoughts and lessons God gave us in our studies, “Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth” (2 Pet 1:12). We have learned many lessons over the past years, but at the conclusion of the book, it is useful to take a step back and understand how each of these lessons contributes to the overall theme of the book. I hope and pray that you will read and recall meditatively so that God will bless your efforts with spiritual blessings.
What is the key theme of Joshua? The book begins with the mention of Moses’ death. It was not the great leader Moses that mattered, but God! This book emphasises God’s faithfulness in fulfilling His covenantal promise to bring His people into Canaan to possess the Promised Land for the Saviour to come into, and for them to be His faithful witnesses to other nations. We saw 3 key major phases, (1) The conquest of the territories east of the Jordan (2) the division of the land, and (3) Joshua leading the people to renew the Covenant with God in his farewell instructions. Our life is a sojourn on earth and God has planned the phases. As each phase unfolds, as individuals and as a church, we must not lose our focus on living in covenant with God to be His witnesses to those around us. The reason why He leads us, guides us, gives us grace, enables us to overcome, provides anything for us, is all to do His will and purposes, not ours. This generation of Israel did well in this respect and they experienced much success from God. We saw many victories and successes, and they were all to enable Israel to fulfill God’s covenant, not to give them land to enjoy life for themselves.
Lessons on not fearing but being strong in the LORD. God repeatedly encouraged Joshua to “be strong and of a good courage” right from the start. God links courage to obedience to His Word. “Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law” (Josh 1:7). We must realise our real fear is actually the fear of obeying God’s Word because it has costs and consequences. When we fear situations and people, it is but just a symptom of the underlying problem that we are not willing to obey God. We are not willing to pay the cost of obedience, because an obedient life brings upon ourselves troubles, offend others, and cost us dearly even. We fear the difficulties that may come with obedience. Instead, the only fear we need to have in life is fearing that we fail to obey God in all things. Israel’s success is contingent upon their obedience because of blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience. We need not fear but instead we should be strong in our obedience because God is with us. It is when God chastises by not being with us that we need to be most fearful. We can be living in riches and health temporarily and think that we’re fine, but the looming Hand of God’s chastisement could be soon on the horizon, and when it comes, you may find that God is not there to help you.
The key to increasing faith. How can we have the faith of Joshua in our journey on earth? God gives the secret, “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success” (Josh 1:8). Being constantly in God’s Word is the key. Spiritual conversations keep our minds on heavenly things. Be a catalyst, not a distractor who continually chats mindlessly about earthly things. God makes it clear it is not merely about a cursory and half-hearted study of His Word. It is to meditate day and night ie, making it a point to be occupied in our thoughts on His Word means actively keeping your daily Bible reading, being serious about family worship, attending Bible studies, and taking FEBC courses. This is the reason why we emphasise and strongly encourage you to make studying His Word through all God’s given opportunities as your priority. Put aside anything that keeps you from it today. The Word keeps you away from sin, and sin keeps you away from the Word.
The great consequences of sin. Do we take sin lightly? Israel could never lose any battle at all because the infinitely powerful omnipotent God is with them. When they were doing God’s work, even the giants of the land were like grasshoppers to them. Yet, they were miserably beaten in Ai by an insignificant group of people. God was not with Israel. But did not God promise He would be with them? Blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience is the covenantal principle here. Achan’s secret keeping of some of the treasures of Jericho for himself meant a refusal to acknowledge that all came from God and that everything belongs to God and is to be used for His covenantal purpose. Jericho, the first city to be conquered, was to be set apart totally for God to impress the lesson that the land all therein belongs to God. Whatever He gives them is to be used for helping them fulfill His work. Achan sinned in secret, but God exposed him. His entire family was stoned to death and cremated as a sign of God’s judgement. This meant that Achan must have influenced his family to sin and they too were complicit thereafter, else God would not have judged them as well. Only then was God’s wrath turned away. God hates sin. Sin has grave consequences. We can also lead others, including our family members into sin. Achan disobeyed God’s known will and direct command. He also ignored the lesson that all comes from God and must be used for Him. Is that our secret sin too? Have you influenced those around you too?
Why do you ask anything of God? What are the reasons why you want God to help you overcome the challenges in life, provide for you and your loved ones, help you fulfill the duties of life? It must be because you are concerned about the current and future work of God on earth. Most lose sight of this point. Asking help from God then becomes merely about our earthly and secular life instead. For example, we just want to have better health and not be bothered by aches and pains, but it is not so that we can use our lives to obey God. We must learn from Caleb, Othniel, and Achsah. They sought God to help and provide because they were concerned for the future of Israel, God’s land, God’s purpose to be fulfilled. Caleb and Othniel fought for God’s purposes. What do we spend our energies on in life? What masteries do we strive for? Are our goals spiritual or carnal? Achsah did not ask for more gold and jewellery from her father Caleb when she left home with her new husband, but that which will provide for the land’s continuance. Why do you want to be married?
God willing, we shall continue to look at other key lessons from the book of Joshua. I pray that these few key highlights will jog our memory, and help us to fulfill God’s purpose of saving us and leading us through this life on earth. Let us use this recap to help us to remember the spiritual lessons and help us to examine our lives afresh.
Yours in our Lord’s service,