What if there was only one book from the Holy Bible, as our sole source of divine Scriptures? What would this one book teach us? What Gospel would we find there?
In this way, we not only find out that all the books in the Bible are useful for edifying and equipping, but we also see the consistent story that is found throughout all Scripture. We see that the Bible is a coherent story of God’s love for us, throughout the different eras, different authors, and different genres of writings.
When you pick up the Bible, as a whole, Joshua is the first book after the Books of Moses. Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy are all accredited to the man that led Israel out of Egypt, and now it is time for the book about the man who led Israel into the Promised Land.
But if this book was totally disconnected from the aforementioned five books, what would we learn? Not just about Israel’s history and their settling into the land of Canaan, but what would we learn about the God that talks to Joshua? What ideas and doctrines might we make based on what we find in these pages of war and conquest?
While there may be plenty to glean from a gospel according to Joshua, here are three things that we can all agree on.
1. A Life Serving God Isn’t Going To Be Easy
If we pretend that Joshua was a book all by itself, what information we gather is still quite extensive. We learn that Joshua is replacing a beloved leader named Moses. We learn that before him, Joshua has a monstrous task. We learn that Joshua is without his mentor, and without a point of reference for what he is about to do.
This is the place many people find themselves in. Life is happening and it is a wild ride. Loved ones pass away. Bills fill the mailbox
. People call and text, demanding your time and energy. There is no pause button, no mute, no way to make it all slow down or stop.
Life keeps happening, whether you like it or not.
This is still true for those who serve the LORD God. For Joshua, he has all the new responsibilities. He alone is supposed to lead an entire nation, potentially
millions of people into enemy territory, and take the land as their new home. He has no one to ask for pointers, no reference books on war. He is the leader of a weak, small nation, barging into the enemies’ camp.
There was no stopping it. It was happening, whether Joshua liked it or not.
Life serving God, obeying his command to lead Israel, was not easy for Joshua. Nor is it easy for anyone. But that is what makes God’s reminder to Joshua so potent and powerful today.
“Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.” – Joshua 1:6
Life serving God isn’t easy, but that doesn’t mean that we are alone. Nor does it mean that we can’t do it.
God reminds Joshua over and over again to gather his strength, to stock the fire of his courage (Joshua 1:7,9,18; 23:6). He had a job to do, and with God’s help, Joshua could do it.
We may not be asked to march a nation into the enemies’ camp, but whatever life does through at us, we are able to conquer with the LORD by our side.
2. Sin Has Dire, If Not Immediate, Consequences
What if the nation of Israel didn’t do what God said? What would happen? I mean, how powerful can a God be that no one can see, taste, or feel? What can He do if you or I, or the nation of Israel completely ignored what He said? A lot. God can do a lot to those that are deliberately disobedient. The defiant end up being the dead.
In Joshua, there is a story of a man named Achan who stole from a plundered city, after God specifically said to destroy everything. Achan took some plunder and hid it under his tent. While no one else knew, God knew what Achan had done.
And Achan was punished for it. His nation’s army suffered a crushing defeat. They were humiliated. Families lost loved ones. And then God brought judgment. Achan’s sin was found out. He suffered for it, as did his family. They were stoned to death.
(You can read the whole story in Joshua 7.)
The cost of rejecting God’s word was tremendous. What Achan thought he was doing was akin to a little white lie. Surely it wasn’t going to hurt anyone, expect it devastated a nation.
Sin has a devastating effect on people, the individual, and the group. To disobey and disregard what God has said would be a grave (pun intended) error.
3. A Decision Needs To Be Made, And Made With Conviction
God repeats himself sometimes. Not because he is forgetful and wants to keep what he said fresh in his mind; God repeats himself for us. So that we remember so that we keep what he said fresh in our minds and hearts. So that we recognize the seriousness of what he is saying.
Numerous times, God tells the Israels to refrain from relationships with the Canaanites, the native population of the Promise Land. God warned them over and over that the idols and false gods that the Canaanites worshipped would distract and be destruction to the people of Israel.
It was a warning for their own good. No relationships with Canaanites, no destruction. But God had to keep reminding Israel because they continually are tempted to chase after these other gods. They keep flirting with disaster, and God makes it clear that flirting with disaster will bring disaster.
Not once, not twice, but all through the book of Joshua.
Joshua himself says the same thing in his final address to Israel,
“Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” – Joshua 24:14-15
There is a clear choice to be made: God or other gods. The God that had saved, redeemed, provided for the nation of Israel for years, or the gods that Israel did not know.
While Joshua’s call that day was clearly for the present company, it is a decision that we must wrestle with now. We have a choice between the God that Joshua served or the other gods that brought destruction upon the nation of Israel.
Let us hold fast to the gospel by intentionally recalling all God has done for us to redeem us for himself. Let us soak in God’s long list of “I did …. for you” and respond to him with trust, fear, love, and obedience.