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As the Lord Commanded—Joshua 1:1–6, 11:15–23

Monday, May 30, 2011, 6:01
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As the Lord Commanded

June 5, 2011

Lesson: Joshua 1:1–6, 11:15–23

Key Verse: Joshua 11:15



The Book of Joshua is the first of the twelve historical books, following the five books of Moses. Matthew Henry introduces Joshua, reminding us of the establishment of the people of God as a nation: “In the five books of Moses we had a very full account of the rise, advance, and constitution of the Old Testament church. We also learned about the family out of which it was raised, the promise, that great charter by which it was incorporated, the miracles by which it was built up, and the laws and ordinances by which it was to be governed. From all of this, one would conceive an expectation of its character and state that were very different from what we find in this history. A nation that had statutes and judgments so righteous, one would think, should have been very holy; and a nation that had promises so rich should have been very happy.” Adam’s transgression pervades the Church even today. However, as in the Old Testament, by the grace of God, redemption comes to His people. Paul understood this: “Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression. Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of all” (Rom. 4:15–16) His words to Corinth sum it up: “For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:21–22).


John Calvin’s words draw us to God’s grace as he reminds us of this need in times of trouble and sorrow: “But when God allures us so gently and kindly by his promises, and again pursues us with the thunders of his curse, it is partly to render us inexcusable, and partly to shut us up deprived of all confidence in our own righteousness, so that we may learn to embrace his covenant of grace, and flee to Christ, who is THE END OF THE LAW. This is the intention of the promises, in which he declares that he will be merciful, since there is forgiveness ready for the sinner, and when he offers the spirit of Regeneration. … (to the) blessing of Adoption, and to that increasing flow of fatherly love which God extends to his people. For all the expiations have no other meaning than that God will be always merciful, as often as the sinner shall flee to the refuge of his pardon.”


I will be with Thee—Joshua 1:1–6

Joshua’s service to God begins with these words, “Now after the death of Moses.” The death of Moses is a significant climax in his life, which reveals the grace of God and the continuing hope of His promises. Moses would not be allowed to enter the promised land (for he had not led his people to glorify God, Num. 20:12–13); thus hearing these words of condemnation from the Lord: “Because ye trespassed against me among the children of Israel at the waters of Meribah-Kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin, because ye sanctified me not in the midst of the children of Israel. Yet thou shalt see the land before; but thou shalt not go thither unto the land which I give the children of God” (Deut. 32:51–52). The love of God toward his chosen servant is revealed as Moses stood on the mountain of Nebo: “And the Lord showed him all the land of Gilead” (Deut. 34:1ff); “And the Lord said unto him, This is the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, saying, I will give it unto thy seed: I have caused thee to see it with thine eyes, but thou shalt not go over thither. So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord” at the age of one hundred and twenty years.


The Lord would not leave His people without a shepherd: “And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom; for Moses had laid his hands upon him, and the children of Israel hearkened unto him, and did as the Lord had commanded Moses” (Deut. 34:9). The Lord spoke unto Joshua, saying, “Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel.” From generation to generation, the Lord blesses His people with leaders, with under-shepherds, elders to lead His people, to feed them along the way in His Word. Elders ought to remember that they are to follow those servants that were before them, building upon the same foundation of the promises of God, resting upon the teaching of the Holy Spirit as they faithfully teach and preach His Word.


The Lord encourages His people to be faithful with this promise: “Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given you, as I said unto Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast.” Calvin sees these words as an encouragement to the people: “while ordering them to pass the Jordan, to give them peaceable possession of the whole country, and of every spot of it on which they should plant their foot. For as nothing tends more than distrust to make us sluggish and useless, so when God holds forth a happy issue, c.”


It is the Lord’s work; the Lord’s providential care of His people that assure the people victory. The Lord is neither a foreign God, nor a distant God. He is always with His people; especially with His servant 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.” The Apostle Peter was asked by Christ, “whom say ye that I am? Peter answered, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Christ Jesus then spoke about how Peter came to that truth, with promise of victory for His Church: “Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock (Peter’s testimony of who Christ is) I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:15–17).


Therefore, knowing that God is with us, as He was with Joshua, we are being made strong in our life in Christ: “Be strong and of good courage for unto this people shall thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I swore unto their fathers to give them.” We are called to have courage in this life for we have an eternal inheritance kept by the divine hand of our Savior, “in whom also we have obtained an inheritance being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: that we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in who also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise” (Eph. 1:11–13).


Discussion: How does the presence of God encourage us to stand firm in our faith?


Faithful Obedience—Joshua 11:15–23


“As the Lord commanded”—this is the banner held high by Joshua as he led God’s people into that Promised Land. Victory comes to the Christian, not by our will but by the command of God. We look at the nations today and see the turmoil of wars, not for the purpose of righteousness, but for the purpose of power; not for the purpose of peace, but for the purpose of destruction. Into this mirage of hope enters the Christian congregations in obedience to the commandment of Christ the King: “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matt. 28:18–20). The banner we carry into every nation is the same as that of Joshua: “As the Lord commanded!” By the power or authority of the King of kings, Christ Jesus, we enter into the fray, not with our strength but with our Lord’s: “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us” (2 Cor. 4:6–7). In a world that seeks every way to hinder the Gospel of our Savior, we must be most faithful in our obedience to His Word. Let Christ lead us, and even the gates of hell will tumble and lives will be brought into His Kingdom.


Joshua fought the battle well because he kept his eyes upon the Lord and his commands: “As the Lord commanded Moses his servant, so did Moses command Joshua, and so did Joshua; he left nothing undone of all that the Lord commanded Moses. So Joshua took all the land.” He patiently obeyed God: “Joshua made war a long time with all those kings.” The Lord is our victory, even when we see discouragement. We must patiently obey His Word; time is in His hands, as are those who deny Him and serve their gods: “For it was of the Lord to harden their hearts, that they should come against Israel in battle, that he might destroy them utterly, and that they might have no favor, but that he might destroy them, as the Lord commanded Moses.”


Joshua was in faithful obedience to his Lord: “So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the Lord said unto Moses; and Joshua gave it for an inheritance unto Israel according to their divisions by their tribes. And the land rested from war.” The conquest and the victory was of the Lord, according to His promise: “Understand therefore this day, that the Lord thy God is he which goeth over before thee; as a consuming fire he shall destroy them, and he shall bring them down before thy face: so shalt thou drive them out, and destroy them quickly, as the Lord hath said unto thee” (Deut. 9:3). So shall the idols of this world be destroyed as we follow Christ in obedience to His great commission. Matthew Henry encourages us: “And now it was done. There failed not one word of the promise. Our successes and enjoyments are then doubly sweet and comfortable to us when we see them flowing to us from the promise (this is according to what the Lord said), as our obedience is then acceptable to God when it has an eye to the precept. And, if we make conscience of our duty, we need not question the performance of the promise.”


Discussion: What is our strength and hope as we desire to be obedient to the Word of God?


Lessons are based on the International Sunday School Lessons for Christian Teaching, copyright © 2011 by the Committee on the Uniform Series.

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