Joshua 1 “Be Strong”
The name Joshua comes from the Hebrew Yehoshuah or Yeshua, meaning “God is deliverance” or “God is salvation.” It corresponds to the Aramaic name Yeshua, from which we derive the name Jesus (Jesus likely spoke Aramaic as His native language).
The events in the book of Joshua took place in about the 13th century BC, as Joshua succeeds Moses as leader of the Israelites. His role is particularly significant, as he directs them into the land of Canaan and into battle with the various Canaanite nations. Read the things the Lord told Joshua in verses 1-9, looking particularly for the encouragement and the promises the Lord gave Joshua in verses 5-9. Which of these statements of the Lord might you apply to your life and your “battles”? How does meditation (pondering, reflection, deep thought; verse 8) aid your scripture study?
Read verses 10-11, 16-18 to see what Joshua said to the Israelite people, and how they replied to him.
Joshua 2-6 The Israelites Conquer Jericho
They begin the entry into the promised land and the battles with the Canaanites. Read the following:
- Joshua 2:1-15. Note the testimony about Jehovah, as expressed by Rahab in verses 9-11.
- Joshua 3:5-17. The evidences of the Lord’s power continue—note that the priests first had to exercise faith and step into the water before the miracle occurred (verses 13, 15-16). What helps you know that the Lord is with our Prophet today?
- Joshua 4:5-7, 18-24. They built a memorial to the Lord. What “memorials” exist in your mind and heart that help you remember the good things the Lord has done for you and your loved ones? What things do you or your family do to commemorate important events?
- Joshua 5:1, 10-15. After over 14,000 times eating manna from heaven, the children of Israel now eat food “of the land” (verses 11-12). What did Joshua see in verses 13-15? (The Lord is with us!)
- Joshua 6:1-5, 16-27. The ark of the covenant is a physical symbol of God’s presence and help, and the success of the children of Israel is a testament to Joshua’s role as their prophet-leader and the Lord’s mighty hand (verse 27). Rahab and her family were saved alive, and we learn that “she dwelleth in Israel even unto this day,” having become a follower of the true God. She also becomes an ancestor of Jesus Christ (see Matthew 1:5). Read Hebrews 11:30-31 and consider the faith that led to a new life for Rahab.
An insight shared previously bears repeating: Some see things commanded or done by the Lord in the Old Testament—such as stoning, conquering, smiting, and destroying—as being out of character for the loving God portrayed by the Savior Jesus Christ in the New Testament. But let us keep in mind 2 Nephi 26:24: “He [the Lord] doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world; for he loveth the world….” Anything and everything the Lord does is to bless and benefit His children, for His entire work and glory is to bring to pass their immortality and eternal life (Moses 1:39). Whether it is destroying the earth and its inhabitants through the Flood, calling for the stoning of adulterers, or enabling the Israelites to conquer cities and nations, we can trust that in God’s omniscience, wisdom, and love, He knows how to turn all things to His own purposes. Indeed, it can be considered an act of love to remove some of His children from mortality and place them into the spirit world, thus cutting short their wicked behavior, bringing them into a more fit environment where He can work with them, and protecting those they might have influenced on earth. (Also, consider 1 Nephi 17:23-42.)
Joshua 7-8 … But Taking Ai is a Different Story
After the success in Jericho, what came next? Read the following:
- Joshua 7:1-12, 19-26. Achor and his family directly disobeyed a specific instruction from the Lord. Their covetousness led to failure by all of Israel. Our sins affect ourselves and others; even one person’s actions can greatly affect many others. Our efforts should include complete obedience.
- Joshua 8:1-3, 10-21, 30-35. Like Joshua, let us seek the Lord’s guidance and involvement in all we do.
Joshua 23 Joshua’s Farewell Message
Joshua realizes that his life will soon come to an end, and he gathers the Israelites to encourage them to complete the command to conquer the Canaanites (verses 2-4). He promises them that “the Lord your God, he shall expel them from before you, and drive them from out of your sight, and ye shall possess their land” (verse 5). Find in verses 6-13, 16 the additional words of counsel, promises, and warnings given by Joshua. Which of these verses can you take to heart for your life today? Are there things that you have yet to “drive out” from your life? What can you do to gain the Lord’s help so that you may “conquer” weakness?
Joshua 24 “Choose You This Day”
Joshua declares, “thus saith the Lord God of Israel” (verse 2) and then recounts some of the many blessings the Lord had given His people, beginning with the days of their father Abraham and continuing all the way down to their entry into and (partial) conquering of the promised land (verses 1-13; look for the many occurrences of the word I, indicating the Lord’s reminders to the people of what He had done for them).
Look for the following in the back-and-forth between the people and their departing prophet:
- Joshua’s additional counsel to the people (verses 14-15), and their response to him (verses 16-18).
- Joshua’s final warning (verse 20) and the reply of the people (verse 21).
- A third reminder by Joshua (verses 22-23), followed again by the people’s promise (verse 24).
- Joshua’s formalization of their commitment (verses 25-27).
What “great stones” have you set up, declaring your determination to serve and obey “the Lord God of Israel”? How do you remind yourself of your covenants and commitments?
Joshua 9-10; 14 Other Significant Passages
In addition to the designated Come, Follow Me chapters, other interesting references include:
- 9:3-24—the people of Gibeon “tricked” the Israelites, thus saving themselves from destruction; this was a violation of the Lord’s instructions to destroy all Canaanites; verse 14 points out that the men of Israel failed to “ask counsel” of the Lord. Let us remember to pray and listen before making important decisions.
- 10:8-14, 40-42—it is impossible to fail when the Lord is on your side!
- 14:6-14—the amazing faith and diligence of Caleb, who even at age 85 commits his all to help finish the task of conquering the land of Canaan, saying: “Give me this mountain” (verse 12).
In the October 1979 general conference, President Spencer W. Kimball, who had been serving as President of the Church for almost six years and would soon turn 85 years old, said the following:
“Shortly after Moses led Israel out of bondage from Egypt, he sent twelve men to search out the promised land and to bring back word about living conditions there…. The majority of the search party gave a very discouraging report…. Caleb, however, saw things a little differently…. He said, ‘Let us go up at once, and possess [their land]; for we are well able to overcome it’ (Numbers 13:30). [But] the Lord decreed that before Israel could enter the land of Canaan, all of the faithless generation who had been freed from bondage must pass away … except Joshua and Caleb. For their faith, they were promised that they and their children would live to inhabit the promised land.
“Forty-five years after the twelve men returned from their exploration of the land of promise, when the new generation of Israel, under the leadership of Joshua, was completing its conquest of Canaan, Caleb spoke to Joshua … with a request and a challenge with which my heart finds full sympathy. The Anakims, the giants, were still inhabiting the promised land, and they had to be overcome. Said Caleb, now at 85 years, ‘Give me this mountain’ (Joshua 14:12).”
President Kimball continued, “This is my feeling for the work at this moment. There are great challenges ahead of us, giant opportunities to be met. I welcome that exciting prospect and feel to say to the Lord, humbly, ‘Give me this mountain,’ give me these challenges. Humbly, I give this pledge to the Lord and to you, my beloved brothers and sisters, fellow workers in this sacred cause of Christ: I will go forward, with faith in the God of Israel, knowing that he will guide and direct us, and lead us, finally, to the accomplishment of his purposes and to our promised land and our promised blessings…. I will ‘wholly follow the Lord my God’ to the fullest extent of my energy and my ability. Earnestly and fervently I urge that each of you make this same pledge and effort.”