The Book Of Joshua
Pr Edi Giudetti
Courage; is a characteristic that is developed and not inherent.
No person is said to have been born brave. Courage stems from a firm conviction that that which you believe is true and absolute. Forms of courage can be witnessed even in the world today, some demonstrate it by their conviction to ideology, some have it encouraged by the confidence given them by those who share the same conviction, some show it via that safety in numbers. Some people are considered courageous in their willingness to place themselves in harms way. Others by simply going against the majority position.
Some courageous endeavors are well founded, and some are not. Courage itself is not a virtue that identifies the truth of a matter, it is simply a willingness to act on ones conviction at higher costs than some are willing to pay.
This week was witnessed an example of a level of Courage in the willingness of a company to demonstrate its presumed leaning against the market driven effort by a group of people who desire to legitimize their sexual proclivities. They used a video created by a Christian organization, they were hounded unto submission and threats of boycott for their product; as a result they recanted and apologized to the extortionists.
This is a level of courage that has a price tag that can be argued is low.
Azzam was bringing Bibles to Christians in Somalia, this could not be done by post, nor can it be done by any normal means, Azzam was smuggling Bibles into Somalia, in a coffin under the body of a dead man. He traveled by boat and by truck until the destination was reached. Many died of suffocation doing this very thing, but as no Muslim would dare be defiled by the open coffin of a dead man, it was sure to be successful…if the smuggler survived.
This level of courage has no price tag too great.
The Courage of Joshua is demonstrated in his willingness to accept God at his word to the exclusion of everything else.
MANY ARE THE TYPES that have been considered for the book of Joshua. Some speak of the crossing of the Jordan as a type of death, and the entrance into the land of Canaan as entrance to heaven. But we know that when the people crossed over Jordan they had to fight their way into Canaan, this is not how we gain access to heaven.
Some say that Crossing over Jordan is a picture of the New Birth and that the entrance into Canaan and the battles fought on entering is a picture of the Christian walk as he wrestles against sin and spiritual wickedness in high places. Certainly this represents the former a little more accurately but we also understood the crossing of the Red Sea to be that baptism of death that lead to life when they crossed over, it was the coming out of Egypt and crossing the Red sea that originally pictured the New Birth.
So this afternoon we will deal only with the realities of that which occurred in the Book of Joshua and allow the applications in our lives to play their own role. What can certainly be said however is this;
God keeps his promises and seeks courageous people to work through.
Courage to Trust in the Lord
From our key text this morning we can certainly see that all that the Lord had promised aforetime to the nation, even to Abraham and to Moses, he will bring to pass. Some people were a part of that work, others were not, nevertheless that counsel of the Lord, that shall stand.
In verse 5 the Lord said to Joshua,
“ There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.
Joshua was one of only two men who left Egypt and came ready to cross over Jordan. He and Caleb were two only of the twelve men who went to spy out the land, who returned rejoicing that the Lord would give them such a land and that their nation was well able to overcome the strong nations that populated the Land for the Lord was with them. But it must be also known that the Lord had patience enough with the evil people who inhabited the land.
So Joshua, the faithful minister of Moses was charged by the Lord to bring the people over Jordan and into Canaan. But God had given instruction both as to the means and to the method.
The Means were by courage through faith.
The Method was by obedience.
Lets consider his first campaign.
Now, just as the Lord worked through Moses, so will he work through Joshua, just as he dried up the Red sea forty years earlier, so too he dries up the Jordon. Unlike the Red Sea, the wall of water was set up on heaps to one side of them only and not a wall of water on both sides, for he stopped the flow of water until they had clean crossed over.
(Cleary this is God lifting up his own laws of Physics to allow this event. If we have a problem with God being in control over his own creation then we have a problem with our understanding of the God of the Bible).
They kept the Passover in Gilgal in Chapter 5:10.
The corn from heaven, known as Manna, ceased on the following day, now they were to be sustained from the fruit of their land (v12).
And as Joshua stood to behold Jericho, considering perhaps how the Lord will fight in this day of battle,
…. there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries? 14 And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the Lord am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my lord unto his servant? 15 And the captain of the Lord’s host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so.
Moses had seen a burning bush and heard the voice of the ‘I AM’ telling him to “put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.” (Exo 3:5). But here Joshua sees a Theophany, a pre-incarnation of whom scripture gives strong impression is The Lord Jesus Christ.
Now comes the instruction for the battle to take Jericho.
The walls of Jericho were unlike the walls of other cities, they were set on a hill with a large angled footing a few meters high, on top was the first section of the wall. Behind was another wall and then the city. Of ancient walls, Jericho was one of the most fortified in their construction.
Here, Joshua was given instruction;
Now Jericho was straitly shut up because of the children of Israel: none went out, and none came in. 2 And the Lord said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valour. 3 And ye shall compass the city, all ye men of war, and go round about the city once. Thus shalt thou do six days. 4 And seven priests shall bear before the ark seven trumpets of rams’ horns: and the seventh day ye shall compass the city seven times, and the priests shall blow with the trumpets. 5 And it shall come to pass, that when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall ascend up every man straight before him.
Certainly one of the most famous accounts of action in the Old Testament. An instruction that is not the most common tactical form of ancient warfare. An instruction for which the ‘battle hardened’ Joshua was to courageously follow. Our first lesson to consider is this;
Gods ways are not our ways. Take courage to trust his words.
Conventional warfare is not the way the Lord chose to deal in this battle.
There will be times you will need to trust in the Lord even if how he deals with things is not the way you might think. Nevertheless his word will stand sure and he will do all his pleasure. To know his word is to know his will.
Joshua had courage to follow and obey the Lord, trusting his words alone. If you don’t trust in Gods words, then you do not have a source for your trust. If you don’t have a rock in which to set your anchor you will remain adrift. Trust the Lord as he is revealed through his word.
Courage to Deny Yourself
16 And it came to pass at the seventh time, when the priests blew with the trumpets, Joshua said unto the people, Shout; for the Lord hath given you the city. 17 And the city shall be accursed, even it, and all that are therein, to the Lord: only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all that are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent. 18 And ye, in any wise keep yourselves from the accursed thing, lest ye make yourselves accursed, when ye take of the accursed thing, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it.
The city walls fell. Archeological history shows that there was an inner and an outer city wall with about six acers of land in between where other houses were. The outer wall includes a retaining wall for the land within; that climbs initially to four or five meters, then a 2m thick brick wall that stretches another six to eight meters high. So from the ground where the Israelites marched they would have looked at an outer wall whose total height was between 10 to 13 meters high (About 5 story’s).
German excavations between 1907-1909 also shows that both the inner and outer walls literally seem to have tumbled down, no sign of forced entry. The interesting consideration is that one small section of wall on the Northern side remained intact to a height of two meters. This wall had at least one or more houses attached to it in a way that the outer defensive wall formed the back wall of the house/s.
The Bible says that Rahab (who concealed the spies in her house in chapter 2), Rahabs house was on the wall and that she would be protected when they come because she did not reveal them or their business.
God however gave Joshua a command which Joshua repeated to the people saying;
18 And ye, in any wise keep yourselves from the accursed thing, lest ye make yourselves accursed, when ye take of the accursed thing, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it.
The spoils of war are a tremendous temptation and, though the spoils are a just reward for war, in this case God gave a strict instruction to be obeyed concerning the ‘accursed thing’. Without reading on I would not have a clue what the “accursed thing” is but it can be well assumed the people understood the clear instruction.
After the destruction of the City by fire (Also discovered to be true in the excavations of the city), the battle moved on to the next city called AI. The Israelites however were forced to turn and flee from their enemies and this was a great burden to Joshua who prayed;
8 O Lord, what shall I say, when Israel turneth their backs before their enemies! 9 For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land shall hear of it, and shall environ us round, and cut off our name from the earth: and what wilt thou do unto thy great name? 10 And the Lord said unto Joshua, Get thee up; wherefore liest thou thus upon thy face? 11 Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant which I commanded them: for they have even taken of the accursed thing, and have also stolen, and dissembled also, and they have put it even among their own stuff. 12 Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, but turned their backs before their enemies, because they were accursed: neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed from among you.
Well it was discovered that Achan took of the accursed thing; lets read the account, turn to Josh 7:19-21
19 And Joshua said unto Achan, My son, give, I pray thee, glory to the Lord God of Israel, and make confession unto him; and tell me now what thou hast done; hide it not from me. 20 And Achan answered Joshua, and said, Indeed I have sinned against the Lord God of Israel, and thus and thus have I done: 21 When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted them, and took them; and, behold, they are hid in the earth in the midst of my tent, and the silver under it.
Covetousness is that which motivated Achan. Lust is what drove him. The promises of God meant nothing, the commandment of God meant nothing, the well being of his people meant nothing if it meant he could not have that which he laid his eyes upon. The end for this troubler of Israel was death for himself as well as his sons, daughters and his cattle and all he possessed. These it seems where also implicit in the trespass against the Lord.
- It takes courage to deny yourself.
- It takes courage to do so particularly when you are encouraged by others to fulfill your lusts.
- And it takes courage to deny yourself in the face of those who take of their own accursed thing regularly, and then to advertise you are doing so in honor of the Lord who commanded your abstinence.
The easiest thing for any person to do is to say;
- Yes to those who encourage you to lie;
- Yes to those who want to buy your vote;
- Yes to those who want you to run with them to shed blood;
- To drink till drunk
- To revel till dawn
- To steal
- To hurt
- To condemn
- To agree with the majority
- To go with the flow.
But it takes courage to deny yourself; It takes courage to stand alone when others are against you. It takes courage to honour the Lord publically, to stand on the Bible publically, to trust in his promises when all others agree and say
“Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” (2 Pet 3:4)
It takes courage to confront error, to speak the truth in love, to bless what others curse and to deny what others embrace. It takes courage to stand alone! Sadly I think fewer that one man in a thousand would be willing to stand alone with the Lord at all costs today.
Fewer still deny their own selves when Gods words oppose their desires.
Achan may have acted alone, but as his sons and daughters were stoned with him, and as God makes clear that each person is to bear the iniquity of their own sin, then we are confident the trespass was a united effort.
Courage to accept responsibility
Gods wrath against Israel was propitiated at the Valley of Achor (so named for the trespass of Achan), and the people fought and won the battle against AI. And so “the Hittite, and the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite, … gathered themselves together, to fight with Joshua and with Israel (9:1-2) But the Gibeonites thought better of it and worked to deceive Israel.
Lets take up the account at verse 9:3;
3 And when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done unto Jericho and to Ai, 4 They did work wilily, and went and made as if they had been ambassadors, and took old sacks upon their asses, and wine bottles, old, and rent, and bound up; 5 And old shoes and clouted upon their feet, and old garments upon them; and all the bread of their provision was dry and mouldy. 6 And they went to Joshua unto the camp at Gilgal, and said unto him, and to the men of Israel, We be come from a far country: now therefore make ye a league with us. 7 And the men of Israel said unto the Hivites, Peradventure ye dwell among us; and how shall we make a league with you? 8 And they said unto Joshua, We are thy servants. And Joshua said unto them, Who are ye? and from whence come ye? 9 And they said unto him, From a very far country thy servants are come because of the name of the Lord thy God: for we have heard the fame of him, and all that he did in Egypt, 10 And all that he did to the two kings of the Amorites, that were beyond Jordan, to Sihon king of Heshbon, and to Og king of Bashan, which was at Ashtaroth. 11 Wherefore our elders and all the inhabitants of our country spake to us, saying, Take victuals with you for the journey, and go to meet them, and say unto them, We are your servants: therefore now make ye a league with us. 12 This our bread we took hot for our provision out of our houses on the day we came forth to go unto you; but now, behold, it is dry, and it is mouldy: 13 And these bottles of wine, which we filled, were new; and, behold, they be rent: and these our garments and our shoes are become old by reason of the very long journey. 14 And the men took of their victuals, and asked not counsel at the mouth of the Lord. 15 And Joshua made peace with them, and made a league with them, to let them live: and the princes of the congregation sware unto them.
The key phrase is midway through verse 14…, and asked not counsel at the mouth of the Lord. The Gibeonites were to be dealt with as per all the other nations, but they dealt “wilily” the Bible says.
But then the discovery of the error was recognized; (v16)
16 And it came to pass at the end of three days after they had made a league with them, that they heard that they were their neighbours, and that they dwelt among them. 17 And the children of Israel journeyed, and came unto their cities on the third day. Now their cities were Gibeon, and Chephirah, and Beeroth, and Kirjath-jearim. 18 And the children of Israel smote them not, because the princes of the congregation had sworn unto them by the Lord God of Israel. And all the congregation murmured against the princes.
So once they had discovered their cities they also discovered that they lied to them. Notice that the congregation was not pleased with their leaders and “murmered against the princes” The princes acknowledged their error but immediately tried to quench the anger of the people by showing them the benefits (Typical politicians)
But Joshua their leader went directly to the Gibeonites to confront them.
22 And Joshua called for them, and he spake unto them, saying, Wherefore have ye beguiled us, saying, We are very far from you; when ye dwell among us? 23 Now therefore ye are cursed, and there shall none of you be freed from being bondmen, and hewers of wood and drawers of water for the house of my God. 24 And they answered Joshua, and said, Because it was certainly told thy servants, how that the Lord thy God commanded his servant Moses to give you all the land, and to destroy all the inhabitants of the land from before you, therefore we were sore afraid of our lives because of you, and have done this thing. 25 And now, behold, we are in thine hand: as it seemeth good and right unto thee to do unto us, do. 26 And so did he unto them, and delivered them out of the hand of the children of Israel, that they slew them not.
Notice the manner in which Joshua took responsibility. He could easily have reasoned that the pledge to “make a league with them” is disannulled by their deception. But Joshua also knew that he should have gone directly the Lord who’s original command gave a reprieve for NO ONE in the land of Canaan, to at least gain wisdom in the questioning of their claim to discern the lie.
It takes Courage to acknowledge responsibility for your errors!
Joshua knew that taking responsibility for his error had consequences, but so be it. He did not make the same mistake again! If we do not have the courage to admit even to ourselves that we were wrong in a decision, then we are cursed to repeat our error.
Our unwillingness to admit our errors are IDENTIFIED BY EXCUSES FROM THE OUTSET! Excuses cannot be the first thought in our minds, certainly true that there is a reason for making bad decisions, but first the bad decision must be acknowledged, then consideration of how the outcome could have been different.
EXCUSES BENEFIT NO ONE, but guarantees the same outcome! I have been in business since I was 24 years of age and have heard more excuses than I can ever hope to remember. My answer to one individual who left me with a bad quality job was simply this;
“So what you are in fact telling me is that if the same set of circumstances present themselves, I can expect the same result?”
Excuses Guarantee the same error in a different form. But taking courage to admit our faults come close to guaranteeing it will be unlikely we repeat them. Friends this is also the first step in dealing with habitual addictions. We must first acknowledge our error in detail before we can begin to deal with it. IT TAKES COURAGE.
Joshua demonstrated the true characteristics of leadership when he took responsibility. A characteristic very few ‘leaders’ today willingly demonstrate.
Courage to Stand Upon Conviction
Turn to Joshua 24:14-15
14 Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the Lord. 15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
This statement could be given for many today, what Joshua stated not only applies to the world but also applies to those who call themselves Christians. Christians today generally do not serve the Lord, they do not follow him in action nor in heart, but they do with their mouths. Jesus recognized this flaw when he quoted even from the Old testament saying;
6 …. Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. (Mrk 7:6)
But Joshua called them out on it, DON’T BE A HYPOCRITE, stop saying your are following the Lord when your actions clearly demonstrate your heart. “choose you this day whom ye will serve”. Little wonder the Lord said of the last Church, the Laodicean Church, so evident today, a Church who’s focus is not on the Gospel but on its own fame and worldly prosperity,
- not “he must increase but I must decrease” (Jhn 3:30) but “For me to increase he must decrease”.
- They won’t ever say “Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, But unto thy name give glory, For thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake.” (Ps 115:1), but rather “not for your purpose, nor for their salvation, but for my temporal glory and value do I not tell the truth”
And this is the reason the Lord would spew them out of his mouth;
And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: Only let us be called by thy name, To take away our reproach.
How many are the Nominal Christians today who are Called so only by name but will eat their own bread, and wear their own apparel: who think that if they honour the Lord with their lips only, it will take away their reproach.
Joshua made clear he intended to completely separate from the ways of those who desired to serve other gods. You will notice he did not compel them to serve the Living God, or abide in his words, but he CALLED THEM out to decide to serve either the one or the other. Yet he himself stood by his convictions to serve and obey the living God.
It takes courage to say “but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
We will not serve the gods of the world, nor the desires of our own lusts, nor the blindness of irresponsibility and nor the ways which might seem right unto a man.
“but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
Many are the accounts today of men and women who have paid the ultimate price in making that statement. On the board out in the Hall you can see for yourself the actual accounts of some people, whether you take a copy of The Voice of the Martyrs magazine or Barnabus Fund, there you will see the accounts of courage of those people who sided with Joshua and said;
“but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
They died for that statement, will you even live for it?