The book of Joshua is packed with God’s promises and principles we can take away from studying it. A truth we often hear today, even in secular circles, says, “For every choice we make there’s a consequence.” We see that one happening throughout Scripture. Good consequences for obedience and bad consequences for disobedience. For example, God’s people were obedient to follow God’s instructions for destroying Jericho. Then He blessed them with silver, gold, bronze and iron for the temple treasury. Joshua had the city burned and they destroyed every person in it. Then he put a ban on the people and warned them to take only what the Lord had given them.
“But the sons of Israel acted unfaithfully in regard to the things under the ban, therefore the Lord’s anger burned against the sons of Israel” 7:1. As a result of their disobedience, they lost the battle at Ai and suffered the loss of many men.
We can take away seven distinct principles from reading and studying the book of Joshua. Then we can apply each of these principles to our personal lives.
1. God prepares us for our assignments — Joshua tells us, “be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” It is essential that we be strong and courageous today. We are under an all-on assault from a decaying, sinful world. Should we run away from the challenge? No. We are still under the great commission to go into all the world and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19). That command compels us to move about in the culture and make a difference. Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:16 to, “let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Making a difference in the world is our assignment, and God has prepared each of us with His Word, His Holy Spirit and Christ living in us to accomplish His assignment. He promises us that He will be with us always and everywhere we go.
2. God can use anyone to accomplish His purpose — No excuses. No matter what our situation, our experience, our past life, our financial status, our health, or our state of mind, God will equip us and use us to accomplish His purpose with His plan for our lives. When He chooses to use us and we answer His call with trust and obedience, He will bless us beyond what we can think or imagine. The harlot Rahab was using her body as a means of survival. She finally realized that lifestyle was not getting her anywhere. She hid two Israelite spies in her home when they came to scope out the land God was giving them. For her bravery and her obedience she and all the members of her family were the only lives spared from the total destruction of Jericho. Not only was she spared, but we read in Matthew that Rahab became a member of King David’s royal family line.
3. Consecrating ourselves will prepare us for serving God — There’s no substitute for consecration. Consecration is a personal and deliberate choice. It means separating ourselves from anything that would keep us from doing what God wants us do in His service. Consecration enables us to be perceptive and make wise choices when temptations might lure us away from God’s will for us. Consecration also helps us prepare for our future. In order to have a future we have to seal our past away. All the baggage we carry comes from our past. And the baggage fees will break us.
When God’s people consecrate themselves they do like the Israelites did when they crossed the Jordan. They set aside everything that was in their past. They put themselves in a “no-turning-back” mode and looked towards their future in the future beyond the Jordan River. Much like the Pilgrims did when they landed in America. They burned their ships and severed all ties with their past. That is consecration.
4. Our own life “markers” will help the next generation understand what God can do — After the Israelites crossed the Jordan the Lord told Joshua to take 12 men, one from each tribe, and pick 12 stones from the Jordan River bed. He instructed them to carry them to the place where they would camp that night. “Let this be a sign among you so that when your children ask later saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ Then you shall say to them, ‘Because the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord, when it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off.’ So these stones shall become a memorial to the sons of Israel forever.’ ” 4:6-7: We must live with such a vibrant faith that the next generation will see that God is the answer, and that they will know the power of God.
God calls us to establish our own “markers” for the times God has worked in our lives. Then we are commanded to share those memorial “markers” with our children so they will know God is who He says He is and that God will do what He says He will do.
5. God will knock down any wall in our way — Let’s not let walls define our lives. We all have them, some are financial, some are emotional, some are spiritual. All of them prevent us from handling the assignments God gives us. Neither Joshua nor the Jews knocked down the walls of Jericho. Blowing ram’s horns and shouting can’t bring down a fortress. God was using the horns and the shouting to convince the Jews to trust Him. Whatever stands in the way of your completing God’s assignment, don’t let our walls take us down. If we trust God, He will crumble the walls before us and clear out the path to victory.
6. Defeat is inevitable without seeking God’s instructions — We get dependent on ourselves. We sometimes think we can use our own gifts and abilities to accomplish a task or reach a goal on our own. That happened to the Jews who decided Ai was an easy target. The men Joshua sent to scope it out returned and told Joshua taking Ai would be a piece of cake. So Joshua didn’t send a large contingent of soldiers. The result: God’s people were defeated. We will be defeated as well if we don’t seek instructions and guidance from God. God is always with us and willing to instruct us in His ways. “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’ ” Isaiah 30:21.
7. God’s protective hand is always there — Joshua told God’s people, “I am still as strong today as I was in the day Moses sent me; as my strength was then, so my strength is now.” God had been faithful to Joshua, as He will be with us when we accept our assignment and trust Him to complete it. He is always with us. He promised He would be.
Three overriding principles we can take away when we study the book of Joshua:
- We can accomplish what we trust God to do
- Never forget the source of our personal worth. Our value and worth does not come from the world. Our value comes from God.
- God’s commands are validated with His promises.
This blog was inspired by a message delivered November 27, 2011, by Gearl Spicer, Senior Pastor at One Heart Church in Duluth, Georgia.