The Herald of Jehovah's Kingdom
The Herald of Jehovah's Kingdom
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth.
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Bible Study

    With the composition of this book Jehovah brought into service his second amanuensis or writer. Moses had been used to write the first five books, but now Moses was dead. Millions of Israelites and stranger companions were poised on Jordan's eastern bank awaiting the crossing signal. The entry into the Promised Land, anticipated during forty years of wilderness wandering, was at hand. Heathen trespassers were to be ousted; battles were to be fought. In short, momentous happenings impended - happenings made more momentous by the prophetic significance they were to hold. (1 Corinthians 10: 6,11) They must be recorded for posterity, even to extend to the limits of the "last days", of the twentieth century of Christ. The one whose name designates this sixth book of the Bible Jehovah used as his second recorder: "And Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God." (24: 26) The last verses (24: 29-33) were obviously added under Jehovah's direction later.

    Some contest Joshua's writership, but the following verse proves the account was written by someone contemporaneous with the times: "Joshua saved Rahab the harlot alive, and her father's household, and all that she had; and she dwelleth in Israel even unto this day [the day of writing of this record]." (6:25) Joshua was the logical one. Trained under the tutelage of his predecessor Moses, he had in that man of God a good example of recording events. Jewish tradition credits Joshua with its writership, and the Scripture Record supports and clinches the belief. When was it completed? About the year 1454 B.C., the probable year of Joshua's death. The book covers the history of Israel spanning the twenty years from approximately 1474 B.C. to 1454 B.C. Its name "Joshua", a contraction of the Hebrew "Jehoshua", means "Jah saves". The Grecianized form is "Jesus". (See Acts 7: 45 and Hebrews 4: 8, and marginal readings.)

    Shortly after Moses' death Jehovah sounds the keynote for Joshua's success: "Be thou strong and very courageous, . . . the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success." (1:1-9) The reason for Joshua's success was no secret; and the formula is just as true today for God's servants. A summary of the contents of this book shows unqualified success in service.

    After receiving his charge, Joshua acted quickly. Spies were dispatched to reconnoiter the first Canaanite city, Jericho. The people prepared victuals, for in three days they would cross Jordan. The spies returned with a good report, aided in their scouting mission by righteously disposed Rahab. Despite flood stage, the Israelites crossed Jordan on schedule. By Jehovah's power the raging torrent was stopped and heaped up and backed back; and the Israelites passed over on dry ground. Suitable memorial stones were erected to remind of the miracle. (2:1-4:24) Their first encampment in Canaan was at Gilgal, and here it was that Jehovah's law of circumcision was carried out, the passover kept, the manna ceased to fall, and the Israelites began eating of the fruit of Canaan land. Here it was, too, that an event of importance relating to the fight ahead occurred. Joshua spied a man standing with drawn sword, and asked, "Art thou for us, or for our adversaries?" The thrilling answer came, "Nay; but as captain of the host of the LORD am I now come." (5:13-15) This mighty Leader of Jehovah's invisible hosts was undoubtedly the Word, God's only-begotten Son, and his presence at the outset of the strenuous warfare ahead assured victory.

    And the subsequent battles did constitute a victory march, and clearly indicated the powerful hand of the "captain of the host of the LORD". First came the smashing defeat of the strongly fortified Jericho. On the seventh day of tramping around the heathen stronghold Jehovah flattened its walls and opened the way to victory. Next Ai fell in a second assault employing the stratagem of ambush. The power of the Canaanite kings in the south was broken by the next series of gements, and particularly so at Gibeon. The Gibeonites had come to Joshua at Gilgal, and by a ruse effected a league between themselves and the Israelites. This provoked a confederacy of five kings, headed by the one at Jerusalem, who moved against the Gibeonites. In a forced march Joshua and his armies rushed to the aid of the besieged ones, and Jehovah magnified His power by administering a stunning blow upon the confederated kings of Canaan.

    It was on this occasion that Jehovah cast down from heaven upon the fleeing foe great hailstones, killing more than did the Israelites with the sword. Then, an even greater miracle! Joshua cried out, "Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon." The Lord hearkened, and the sun extended the time of its shining about the space of a whole day. (10:11-14) Higher critics, who do not believe the Bible, try to explain away God's miracle of halting the sun in its course, or at least minimize and "water it down", by saying it was an optical illusion or a mistake in the time of day, or some other insipid substitution. Jehovah's Word gives the true account, trusted in by men of faith, and it is not necessary to superimpose on the Bible record human theory and vain speculation. The Armageddon fight, foreshadowed by this battle at Gibeon, will witness acts of Jehovah on a far grander scale, which will convince, at the cost of their lives, those that scoff at Jehovah's power to work miracles.

    Joshua's fame spread. In the north the Canaanitish chiefs banded together and assembled a multitudinous host, fully equipped for battle, at the waters of Merom. Joshua swung his hosts northward and fell suddenly upon the combined enemy at Merom. They were scattered and Joshua swept through the northern part of Canaan in a victorious drive that swelled the roll of his conquests to thirty-one kings, listed at Joshua chapter 12. The enemy was not extirpated by the campaign; such was not Jehovah's purpose at that time. (Deuteronomy 7:22; Judges 2:20-23) Their power and organized resistance, however, were broken. - 11:23; 21:43-45. Six years of almost constant warfare had elapsed since the memorable crossing of the swollen Jordan. Now came the division of the land among the tribes for an inheritance. Also, it was during this time of land division that the tabernacle of the congregation was set up at Shiloh, the forty-eight cities assigned to the Levites, and six of them designated as cities of refuge. (20:1-9; Numbers 35:6, 7) Then, after an undisclosed period of time, Joshua assembled the nation and in a valedictory address offered wise counsel, charging them to be valiant in fight and warning of the snares of demon religion. Subsequently he reviewed the Lord's mighty works in behalf of His people, exhorted them to serve Jehovah rather than heathen gods, and put the issue squarely before them in these words: "Choose you this day whom ye will serve; ... as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."-—24:14, 15.

    Thus the book of Joshua records the history of the conquest of Canaan in Jehovah's strength, the division of the Promised Land among the twelve tribes, the establishment of the tabernacle at Shiloh, the settlement of the Levites, and the two stirring, closing exhortations of Joshua. It well foreshadows how the Greater Joshua, Christ Jesus, as Jehovah's executioner, will rid the earth of all enemies of God at Armageddon. Jah saves!