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Joshua 1-5


A Devotional Journey
     led by Dr. Gene Pearson                                                                                                             
Thru the Bible in a Year
March 1                                                                               Joshua 1-5
Joshua contains the story of Israel's initial conquest of the Promised Land of Canaan.  The story begins immediately after the events recorded in Deuteronomy.  In fact, the People of Israel are still camped on the east side of the Jordan River.  Originally referred to as Hoshea (Numbers 13:8, 16), a name which means salvation, Moses changed his name to Joshua, the LORD saves (or the LORD gives victory).
This is the first book of a section in the Bible known as the former prophets which includes Judges, Samuel and Kings.  The focus of these books is not only history, but the realization of God's covenant promises in Israel and how He relates to His people in spite of their unfaithfulness.
At the time of Joshua (sometime around 1250 B.C.), neither Egypt nor Babylon was strong enough to occupy the land, the Hittites had faded away, and the Assyrians would not become dominant for several hundred years.  In other words, there would be no outside interference during the time of conquest (although the Philistines would later emerge and will be discussed in the books of Samuel and Kings).
God's encouragement to Joshua and the rest of His people in chapter one is both powerful and challenging.   The people's response to Joshua reflects the inspiration and commitment of the moment:  "Whatever you have commanded us we will do.  There is an ironically ominous aspect to the next phrase:  just as we fully obeyed Moses. . ."
The first task of any invading army in that region would be to conquer Jericho, and that is what the people set out to do.  Spies were sent and led by God to a prostitute named Rahab, who would later appear in the genealogy of Jesus (Matthew 1:5) and be mentioned as an example of faith both Hebrews (11:31) and James (2:25).
To conquer the city the Israelites need to cross the Jordan, something made possible by the miraculous intervention of God.  The people prepare themselves overnight in prayer and after worship they experience God's power as the water stops flowing and they cross on dry ground!  Representatives of the 12 tribes create a monument to commemorate the event.
In preparation for the conquest, all the sign of the covenant, circumcision, is reinstituted, the Israelites celebrate Passover, and Joshua meets the angel in charge of the armies of God.
Reread chapter one and ask yourself:  "Do I really trust God?  Am I willing to follow Him forward believing that He will provide?"  Think of something you fear, in the present or future.  Ask God to give you the same courage and strength He gave Joshua, then take a step towards overcoming your fear.  God still works miracles, but He still wants us to prepare our hearts in advance, and use every occasion of His grace to grow in our faith and faithfulness.
A. Eugene Pearson 2012