Have you ever noticed how honest the Bible is? Almost all of the great heroes have some major blemish on their performance record. It’s as if God wants us to remember that He uses us as we are. When we let everyone down, and sin, he’s ready to forgive and let us move on as soon as we are ready.
But Joshua’s life is pretty much a non-stop shining example. Joshua was a great leader to emulate. He was a young man when Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt. In fact, he was one of the twelve spies sent into Canaan to scout out the possibility of taking the land that God had promised them. Along with Caleb, they were the only two who believed that they could conquer the strong people they saw. As a result of the timidity of the Israelites, they were forced to wander for 40 years in the desert. Even Moses did not get to enter the Promised Land, but Joshua and Caleb did. That’s a pretty impressive resume, right there!
When Moses received the Ten Commandments, Joshua was the only one allowed to go part way up the mountain with him. He was already in training for the primary role of his life. After Moses’ death, Joshua became the next leader of the entire nation, to bring the Israelites into the land. God himself endorsed this choice.
Thanks to the popular song, “Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho,” most people probably remember the story of the Israelites victory over this walled city by unusual means. After marching around the city for six days, according to some specific instructions from the Lord, and taking no military action, on the seventh day they marched again, blew horns and shouted. When the city walls fell down the conquered people could have no doubt about the power of Jehovah God. The entire account is an amazing lesson on trusting in God rather than in our own strength.
Through military actions, Joshua’s army did take control of much of the land of Canaan. He passed several tests of his leadership. He identified disobedience and sin in the ranks, and dealt with it swiftly. He made it clear to all that he was following God rather than his own plans. Joshua and God were so in tune that God gave him extra daylight in order to win a battle. Think about that– it means that the earth was disturbed in its turning. (More about that some time.) The campaign against Jericho is mentioned in Hebrews 11 as one of the shining examples of great faith.
His biggest failure that is recorded was that he was tricked into making a treaty with one tribe of people that he should have been fighting against. Why was it held against him for being tricked? Because he didn’t ask the Lord what he should do when faced with the choice of whether to believe the deceptive messengers or not. Nevertheless, he honored the treaty, knowing that he could not break his oath.
Joshua’s farewell speech, at the age of 110, is one of the best remembered in history, as he challenged the people to forsake idols, and said, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
the book of Joshua