Theme: Holy War; Key Verses: Joshua 1:9; Joshua 24:15

Joshua Theme: Holy War

The Lord, using Joshua as his leader, is fulfilling his land promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob by settling Israel in her promised land through Holy War. But, Israel would only gain complete possession, blessing, and rest in the land through believing God and obeying God (Joshua 1.1-4, 13; 2.9; 7.1-12; 23.1; 21.44; 24.11-14; Hebrews 4.8).

Joshua Key Verses

  • Joshua 1:9 “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.”
  • Joshua 24:15 “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.”

Joshua: Background to events

  • The Angelic Conflict in which Satan rebelled against God and attempted to take God’s authority and position.
  • Creation, fall of man, and God’s Redemption Plan through the seed of Eve to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
  • God made his unconditional covenant with Abraham to make him into a great nation and to bless the world through Abraham’s seed—specifically Jesus Christ.
  • God formed the Hebrews into a nation in Egypt and later at Sinai God made them his priest nation.
  • God’s redemption plan, through Israel, was on schedule, even though Satan repeatedly tried to stop God’s plan.

When Did All This Happen?

  • The events begin in 1405 BC. Moses has died and Joshua has become the Lord’s new leader of Israel.
  • The Israelis are camped just east of the Jordan River and are about to cross into Canaan.
  • Caleb (Joshua 14.7-10) stated that 45 years had passed since the Kadesh reconnaissance (Numbers 14). Israel had wandered 38 years (Deuteronomy 2.14) after the reconnaissance before they entered the land. The battles of Joshua (1-14) took 7 years.

Key Words Used

  • Rest, 1.13, 15; 4.15; 21.44; 22.4; 23.1
  • Obey, 1.17, 18; 24.24.
  • Obeyed, 1.17
  • Observe, 22.5
  • Careful to do, 1.7, 8
  • Be strong and courageous, 1.6, 7, 9, 18; 10.25
  • Law (of Moses or God), 1.7, 8; 8.31, 32, 34; 22.5; 23.6; 24.26
  • Commanded 36 times (of Lord, Moses, Joshua) 1.7, 9, 10, 13, 16; 4.8, 10; 6.10, and others.
  • Inheritance (of land) 57 times 11.23; 13.7, and others

Main People

  • Joshua took Moses place of authority and leadership; he lived 110 years (Joshua 24.29). Joshua wrote at least portions of the book (Joshua 24.26).
  • Caleb, along with Joshua, had wanted to conquer the land after the Kadesh reconnaissance. God rewarded Caleb for his faith and spiritual courage by giving him Hebron (Joshua 14.7-15).
  • Achan, disobeyed God’s ban on taking spoil from Jericho. As a result, Ai defeated Israel (Joshua 7).


  • Joshua is the record of the Lord’s holy wars and the division of this conquered land to the tribes. The Lord gave his orders to Joshua and Joshua ordered his commanders (1). Jericho and Ai were defeated and burned (2-8). At this point Joshua built an altar at Mount Ebal; there he sacrificed, copied the law, read it, and challeged the nation. Then the Gibeonites deceived Israel into a peace treaty (9). Next, the Amorite kings were defeated (10), followed by the defeat and burning of Hazor (11).
  • After these initial victories, which took 7 years, Joshua divided the newly conquered land among the tribes (13-24). Before Joshua died, he called a meeting at Shechem and challenged the nation to choose whom they will serve. They chose to serve the Lord, so there at Shechem Joshua made a covenant with the people to serve the Lord (24).

Joshua Overview

  • Israel Crosses into Canaan, 1-5
  • Military Conquest in the Central, South, and North, 6-12
  • Joshua distributes the land, 12-22
  • Joshua challenges Israel, 23-24

Joshua Chapter Titles

  • Chapter 1: Prepare to cross the Jordan
  • Chapter 2: Two spies and Rahab
  • Chapter 3: The ark, priests, and Jordan
  • Chapter 4: Crossing and two 12-stone memorials
  • Chapter 5: Circumcision, manna stops, captain of Lord’s host
  • Chapter 6: Jericho falls
  • Chapter 7: Failure at Ai
  • Chapter 8: Victory at Ai
  • Chapter 9: Gibeonites plot for survival
  • Chapter 10: Sun stood still and victory over 5 kings
  • Chapter 11: Victory over Hazor and the rest
  • Chapter 12: Victory recap
  • Chapter 13: East of Jordan—Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh East
  • Chapter 14: West of Jordan—Hebron for Caleb
  • Chapter 15: West—Judah and Caleb
  • Chapter 16: West—Ephraim
  • Chapter 17: West—Manasseh West
  • Chapter 18: West—Benjamin
  • Chapter 19: West—Simeon, Zebulum, Issachar, Asher, Naphtali, Dan; Timnath Serah for Joshua
  • Chapter 20: Cities of Refuge
  • Chapter 21: Levite’s cities and lands
  • Chapter 22: East tribes’ altar—a witness
  • Chapter 23: Joshua challenges and warns Israel
  • Chapter 24: Choose to serve the Lord—Shechem Covenant

Key Doctrines

  • Holy War (Joshua 2.10-12; 3.9-10; 10)
  • National faith-rest (Joshua 1.13; 21.44-45; 22.4-5)
  • Leadership (Joshua 1.5-9; 4.1-7; 10.22-27; 23-24)
  • Miracles (Joshua 3.14-17, Jordan River; 6.1-23, Jericho; 10.10-14, the long day)
  • Faith Obedience-Application of God’s Word (Joshua 22.4-5; 23)
  • Volition or free will (Joshua 1.16-17; 24.15)

Leadership – Overview

  • Leadership requires authority orientation, humility, knowledge, faith, moral courage, spiritual courage, organization, sacrifice, and loyalty to God (Joshua 1, Philippians 2.17-30; 2 Timothy 2.1-10).
  • Examples of leaders: Moses, Joshua, Jesus, Paul.

Leadership – Joshua

  • Joshua led the Israelites into Canaan, in the conquest of the land, and in the organization of the land (Joshua 1; 4; 23-24).
  • Joshua lived under God’s authority and leadership.
  • Joshua lived under the direction of God’s word.
  • Joshua was spiritually courageous; he trusted God in order to carry out his duties, even though he had to take human risks.
  • He disciplined wrong doers when necessary.
  • He communicated God’s will to the people.
  • He challenged those under his leadership to think and do God’s will.

Leadership – Paul in Philippians 2.17-30

  • He sacrificed and served in order to strengthen the faith of the people (17-18).
  • He kept informed about the spiritual health of the people (19, 27-28).
  • He delegated authority to trusted helpers (20-23, 25).
  • He planned ahead (24).
  • He did Christ’s work (17, 21, 30).

Leadership – Paul in 2 Timothy 2.1-10

  • Strong in grace (1).
  • Teaches others (2).
  • Soldier: undergoes hardship, focuses on his job, please his commander (3-4, 10).
  • Athlete: prepares the right way and according to the rules—God’s word (5).
  • Farmer: works hard, shares in the rewards of his service (6).
  • Teachable (7).
  • Follows Christ (8).

Leadership – Leaders must have right relationship to…

  • God
  • Bible
  • Authority
  • Purpose
  • Others
  • Self

Miracles, Henry Morris

  • Henry M. Morris said that a miracle is “an event outside the scope of either the fundamental laws of nature [thermodynamics 1, mass-energy must be conserved; thermodynamics 2, all things tend to decay] or of the normal operation of natural processes [the processes on space, time, energy that are ruled by the two fundamental laws].” (Biblical Naturalism and Modern Science, Part III, Issue 449 of Bibliothecasacra).
  • Creative miracles are those in which God sets aside the two fundamental laws of nature, restoration of life to one who had died, the provision of manna for Israel, changing water into wine, giving sight to the one born blind, Jesus walking on water, and others.
  • Providential miracles are those in which God changes the time, space, or the energy of natural processes: the drought and rain during Elijah’s time (James 5.17-18), the earthquake at Philippi (Acts 16.26), Daniel protected from the lions (Daniel 6.22), Peter being delivered from prison, and others.

Miracles, C. S. Lewis

  • C.S. Lewis wrote “I use the word Miracle to mean an interference with Nature by supernatural power” (Miracles, C.S. Lewis, page 5).


  • God performs miracles to authenticate and demonstrate his word, his authority, his nature, and his plan so that man will believe him, obey him, and honor him (Exodus 4.1-5; Joshua 2.10-11; Luke 4.14-44).
  • Exodus 4, staff, hand, Nile water; Joshua 10, Joshua’s long day; John 11, Lazarus; Acts 12, Peter freed from prison.

Miracles – Stopped the Jordan during high water, Joshua 3.14-17

  • God Stopped the Jordan River at high water season and demonstrated that he can interrupt the natural processes of space, energy, and time—and do it with ease.
  • This miracle provided a visual and lasting memorial to God’s power and blessing.

Miracles – Jericho, Joshua 6

  • God demonstrated that Israel’s conquest of Canaan was completely by his power. Israel could not conquer the land and the cities; God had to give them victory. God was complete master over Israel’s enemies.

Miracles– Joshua’s long day, Joshua 10.12-14

  • God demonstrated that he can interrupt the natural processes of space and time—and do it with ease.
  • More noteworthy than the miracle is the fact that God answered a man’s prayer request (Joshua 10.14).

Lessons For Us Today

  • Faith in God and his Word produces spiritual rest (Hebrews 4.1-11; Philippians 4.6-7).
  • Spiritual courage is thinking and acting God’s way because of what we believe—faith in action (John 16.33; Acts 23.11; 2 Corinthians 5.8).
  • Leadership requires authority orientation, humility, knowledge, faith, moral courage, spiritual courage, organization, sacrifice, and loyalty to God (Joshua 1, Philippians 2.17-30; 2 Timothy 2.1-10).
  • Military service is honorable, and Holy War (War and God) is sometimes needed to gain or protect what is right (Acts 23.11-35; Romans 13.3-4; 1 Corinthians 9.7 2 Timothy 2.4).
  • Mankind and especially believers are privileged and responsible to make right freewill choices (Genesis 2.16-17; Joshua 24.15; Isaiah 1.16-20; Acts 17.30; Romans 14.5-6).
  • Jesus Christ ought, in practice, to be each believer’s Lord or captain—Lordship Christian Life (1 Peter 3.15).