The Historical Books
As previously mentioned, the Old Testament can be divided into four basic sections with each providing a specific focus with regard to the person to Christ. With Joshua through Esther, we come to the second group of twelve books that deals with the history of the nation of Israel. These books cover the life of the nation from their possession of the land down to the two deportations and loss of the land because of unbelief and disobedience. Covering about 800 years of Israel’s history, these twelve books tell about the conquering and possession of Canaan, the reigns of the judges, the establishment of kings, the division of Israel into the northern and Southern Kingdoms, the fall of the Northern Kingdom to Assyria, the
exile of the Southern Kingdom into Babylon, and the return to Jerusalem under the leadership of men like Nehemiah and Ezra. As these books prepare us for the coming of Christ, the Messiah, they can be seen as follows:
The Preparation for Christ
Joshua the possession of the land by the nation
These books cover the period when Israel was ruled by God
Judges-Ruth the oppression of the nations (1405-1043 B.C.).
1 Samuel the stabilization of the nation
2 Samuel the expansion of the nation
These books trace the history of Israel’s monarchy from its
establishment to it's destruction in 586 B.C.
1 Kings 1-10 the glorification of the nation 1 Kings 11-22 the division of the nation
2 Kings 1-17 the deterioration of the Northern Kingdom 2 Chronicles the destruction of the Temple Ezra the restoration of the Temple
2 Kings 18-25 the deportation of the Southern Kingdom
1 Chronicles the preparation of the Temple
These books describe the return of a remnant to the land after
the reconstruction of the city
Nehemiah the reconstruction of the city 70 years of captivity (605-536 B.C.).
Esther the protection of the nation’s people
(Possession and Conquest)
Date: 1400-1370 B.C.
Title of the Book
Unlike the first five books of the Old Testament, this book appropriately takes its name from the chief human personality of the book, Joshua, the son of Nun, Moses’ servant. Joshua’s original name was Hoshea (Num. 13:8; Deut. 32:44) which means “salvation.” But during the wilderness wanderings Moses changed his name to Yehoshua, meaning “Yahweh is salvation” or “Save, Yahweh” (Num. 13:16). Joshua is a contracted form of Yehoshua. This amounted to a prophetic anticipation and reminder to Joshua, to the spies, and the people that victory over the enemies and possession of the land would be by the power of the Lord rather than by human skill or wisdom or power. This book is given the name Joshua because, though Joshua was one of the world’s greatest military strategist of history, his wisdom and military achievements came from the Lord who alone is our Salvation. It was the Lord Himself who brought about victory for Israel
and vanquished Israel’s enemies giving them possession of the land.
Theme and Purpose
Possessing, conquering, and dividing of the promised land is the theme and purpose of Joshua. The book of Joshua is designed to show God’s faithfulness to His promises, doing for Israel exactly as He had promised (cf. Gen. 15:18 with Josh. 1:2-6 and 21:43-45). The events recorded in Joshua are selective to set forth God’s special intervention on behalf of His people against all kinds of tremendous odds. The fulfillment of God’s promises, as so evident in the birth of Isaac to Abraham and Sarah and in possessing the land with its fortified cities, is the work of God and that which man could never do no matter how hard he might try (see Rom. 4).
Possession, conquest, victory, dividing the land.
1:3 Every place on which the sole of your foot treads, I have given it to you, just as I
spoke to Moses. [In this regard, Joshua compares to Ephesians 1:3 in the New Testament, “… blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies.”]
1:8-9 This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it
day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for
then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. 9 Have I not
commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the
LORD your God is with you wherever you go.
11:23 So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the LORD had spoken to Mos-
es, and Joshua gave it for an inheritance to Israel according to their divisions by their tribes. Thus the land had rest from war.
24:14-15 Now, therefore, fear the LORD and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put
away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the
LORD. 15 And if it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves
today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were
beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me
and my house, we will serve the LORD.
Changes in leadership are always critical times for any nation. For that reason, the following chapters are key chapters in Joshua.
Chapters 1-4 record the change of leadership from Moses to Joshua and God’s personal promises and words of encouragement to Joshua in his new commission from the Lord, the crossing of the Jordan by the power of God, the commemoration of the crossing followed by the statement, “On that day the Lord exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel; so that they revered him, just as they had revered Moses all the days of his life.”
Chapter 24: In keeping with the crucial nature of changes in leadership, chapter 24 is likewise an important chapter. Here Joshua reminds the people of God’s faithfulness from the time of Abraham through their deliverance out of Egypt, the crossing of the Jordan and victory over the Canaanites. Then he calls on them to remember the necessity of their faithfulness or they would be consumed by the Lord.
Joshua, Rahab, Caleb.
Christ as Seen in Joshua
Though there are no direct Messianic prophecies of Christ, there are a number of types which pointbto the Savior. Joshua is a type of Christ in two very important ways. First, his name, Yeshua, a contracted form of Yehoshua, meaning, “Yahweh is salvation,” is the Greek equivalent of the name Jesus. Joshua is actually called by the name Jesus in Acts 7:45.
Second, Joshua is seen as a type of Christ in his work of leading Israel triumphantly into the rest of their promised possession, the land of Canaan (cf. Heb. 4:8). This is but a foretaste of the rest we enter by faith in Christ. He surely foreshadows the Savior who leads “many sons to glory” (Heb. 2:9-10). Further, Joshua was met by the Commander of the Lord’s army in 5:13-15. This is undoubtedly a Christophany, a pre-incarnate appearance of Christ who was there to teach
Joshua that He had come not to take sides, but to take over as commander. Finally, Rahab’s scarlet cord (2:21) portrays salvation through the blood and death of Christ (cf. Heb. 9:19-22). This Gentile prostitute heard of the mighty works of God, believed, hid the spies, was delivered when Jericho was destroyed, and is found in the genealogy of Christ (Matt. 1:5).
I. The Invasion of Canaan (1:1-5:12)
A. The Commissioning of Joshua (1:1-9)
B. The Command of Joshua to the People and Their Response (1:10-18)
C. The Canvassing of Jericho (chap. 2)
D. The Crossing of the Jordan (chap. 3)
E. The Commemoration of the Crossing (chap. 4)
F. The Consecration of the People (chap. 5:-12)
II. The Conquest of Canaan (5:13-12:24)
A. Conditioned for Victory: The Divine Commander (5:13-15)
B. The Campaign in the Central Portion (chaps. 6-8)
C. The Campaign in the South (chaps. 9-10)
D. The Campaign in the North (11:1-15)
E. The Review of the Victories (11:16-12:24)
III. The Division of Canaan (chaps. 13-21)
A. The Inheritance for the Two and One-Half Tribes (chap. 13)
B. The Inheritance for Caleb (chap. 14)
C. The Inheritance for the Nine and One-Half Tribes (15:1-19:48)
D. The Inheritance for Joshua (19:49-51)
E. The Cities of Refuge (20:1-9)
F. The Cities for the Levites (21:1-45)
IV. Conclusion (chaps. 22-24)
A. The Dispute About the Altar (chap. 22)
B. The Discourse of Joshua (23:1-24:28)
C. The Death of Joshua (24:29-33)