9: JOSHUA; The Conquest of the Promised Land


Joshua – The Conquest of the Promised Land

Key Verses; 1:11, 24:15

Pass through the host, and command the people, saying, Prepare you victuals; for within three days ye shall pass over this Jordan, to go in to possess the land, which the LORD your God giveth you to possess it. 

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. 



Joshua describes the conquest of Canaan after the journey through the wilderness. As such it follows on logically from the Pentateuch. Indeed the Books of Moses are incomplete without Joshua.


While large parts of the Book of Joshua consist of Joshua’s words, it is highly unlikely that he himself was the author. John Calvin speculated that the author may have been Eleazar the High Priest, because it was the function of Levities “to furnish posterity with a record of the goodness of God.” Calvin was also quick to the judge that we are “unable to determine the author…the knowledge of which is not necessary…”. What according to him was important was that “the doctrine herein contained was dictated by the Holy Spirit for our use..”. It is generally thought that Joshua was not the author because the events of Joshua 15:16-19 (compare with Judges 1) took place after the death of Joshua. Unlike the Pentateuch the Scripture nowhere affirms that Joshua actually wrote the book which bears his name.


The events of Joshua are confirmed in both the Old and Testaments affirming their authenticity ( 1 Kings 16:34, Psalm 68:12-14, 78:54-55, 114:4-5, Habakkuk 3:11, Acts 7:45, Hebrews 4:8, 11:30-31, 13:5, James 2:25).


As one of the two spies who were faithful at Kadesh Barnea and as the assistant of Moses, Joshua was the divinely appointed leader. John Calvin wrote:

“…when God takes away those whom he has adorned with special gifts, he has others in readiness to supply their place, and that though he is pleased for a time to give excellent gifts to some, his mighty power is not tied down to them, but he is able…to raise up from the very stones persons qualified to perform illustrious deeds.”


Christ is manifested in this Book through Joshua, whose name is the Hebrew version of Jesus or Saviour (Hebrews 4:8). At the end of Joshua’s life there was a sense that the conquest was not complete and that the hearts of the people were not right with God (24:23). He reminded them of the covenant with Abraham (Joshua 24:2-3) which ultimately was fulfilled in Christ. The failure of Israel throughout the Old Testament pointed to the great King, the Messiah in whom the promises would be fulfilled. The Psalms especially shows us that the Abrahamic Covenant would be fulfilled in him. (Psalm 72:17, Psalm 89:31-36).


The battles of Joshua have much to teach us about the life of sanctification. Our rest is in Christ, yet we must conquer the world the flesh and the devil:

“…eternal life is both the gift of God (Romans 6:23) and a crown which has to be won by faithfulness (Revelation 2:10)…the Christian inheritance is not only purchased by the blood of the Lamb but is also the reward of those who serve the Lord Christ (Colossians 3:24)”, Arthur W. Pink.


1: Preparation Before Conquest

Chapters 1-5

A The Lord’s Counsel 1:1-9

There is a strong similarity between this section and Psalm 1.

B The Leader’s Counsel 1:10-18

A reminder to Reuben, Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh.

C Rahab and God’s Grace 2

A remarkable Old Testament picture of grace (Matt. 1:5).

D Crossing Jordan 3-4

Picture of regeneration, leaving the wilderness of sin behind and following the Ark of the Covenant, representing Christ, into the Jordan of death to embrace new life.

E Rededication at Gilgal 5

The circumcision of the men represents our consecration. Joshua’s sees Christ on the eve of the first battle. This was his burning bush experience coming after consecration.

2: Program of Conquest

Chapters 6-12

A Jericho’s Walls 7

This was the first sign to the Canaanites that God would fight for his people in a remarkable sense.

B Achan’s Sin 7

The deceitfulness and greed of human nature is exposed by the God who sees all things.

C Ai Conquered 8:1-29

D Law Reaffirmed 8:30-35

The importance of the law highlighted in a solemn gathering on the Mounts Ebal and Gerizim.

E Gibeon’s Deceit 9

F The South Taken 10

One of the great miracles as the sun shone for 24 hours to allow Joshua to defeat Adoni-Bezek and his confederates. From a natural perspective the sun stood still but scientifically the earth paused spinning on her axis.

G The Northern Alliance 11

This was the greatest challenges to date with an army that was likened to the sand upon the sea shore. The land which Israel occupied was densely populated with many peoples, but these people

were cursed by God and land was given to Israel.

H A Summary of Conquests 12

3: Partition after Conquest

Chapters 13-21

A East of Jordan 13

B Caleb’s Faith 14

The faith of Caleb, Joshua’s fellow spy, will ever remain inspirational. Are we prepared to pray for and wait for the blessings that we are promised in Christ for this life.

C Judah’s Inheritance 15

D The Sons of Joseph 16-17

E The Land Surveyed 18:1-10

F The Seven Lots 18:11-19

G The Cities of Refuge 19

H The Levites’ Cities 21

I The Eastern Altar 22

The building of an altar by the two and a half tribes, almost caused a civil war for fear that it would incur the wrath of God.. It was built, however, not for sacrifice but as a witness, a reminder of the one faith that all Israel shared.

4: Challenge in Conquest

Chapters 23-24

A Joshua’s Final Message 23-24:28

Joshua in old age was clearly burdened concerning the spiritual condition of the nation, which promoted his great declaration of faith, 24:15.

B Joshua’s Death 24:29-33

His significance is revealed in the fact that all those who outlived him remained faithful to God. It was the new generation who never experienced Joshua who would lead the people into apostasy.

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