Introduction to the Book of Joshua

I never enjoy teaching a class without expounding a specific text of Scripture. And so let’s close this introduction to the book of Joshua with a brief exploration of its first two verses: “After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: ‘Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites.”

Moses was the foundational and formative leader of the nation. He was her first prophet and guide, leading her people from four centuries of Egyptian slavery to the edge of their Promised Land. Israel had seen God do remarkable miracles through Moses: bringing plagues upon the entire Egyptian nation, parting the Red Sea and destroying the mightiest army the world had ever seen, and receiving the very words and Commandments of God by his divine hand. Truly, “No one has ever shown the mighty power or performed the awesome deeds that Moses did in the sight of all Israel” (Deuteronomy 34:12), until the Lord himself descended in his Son.

Now Moses is gone. If colonial America lost George Washington their military hero, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams their political leaders, and Benjamin Franklin their man of wisdom, all in one moment, they would be in no greater peril than Israel when the book of Joshua opens. The very future of the nation rests humanly with him.

But Joshua has the very resource which empowered his mentor and hero: the word and will of the Lord God Almighty. God makes clear that the nation is his, their future is secure in his hands, and their destiny is sure. He will give them their land and their dreams. He will keep his promises and make them his own.

This same Lord now stands ready to guide and empower all who follow him by faith. What purpose has he assigned your life and work? What enemies are you to defeat in his power? What land are you to possess for his glory? What does he intend you to do next to fulfill his will for your life?

If your dreams are large enough to be accomplished without fear or faith, they are not large enough. God intends to do through us that which is beyond our ability. He will not share his glory. And so his call is always to that which will bring him honor, as he demonstrates his power and grace through our lives and work.

As you know, our church has been working toward a capital project of historic significance. “Continuing the Vision” has been motivated by a statement I first heard from my friend John Haggai: “Let us attempt something so great it is doomed to fail unless God be in it.” I am convinced that is God’s intent for our church, and for each of our personal lives and ministries.

At the beginning of the book which bears his name, Joshua faced a life purpose he could not accomplish without God. Let’s join him, for that is the very best place to be.