“And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom; for Moses had laid his hands upon him: and the children of Israel hearkened unto him, and did as Jehovah commanded Moses” (Deuteronomy 34:9).
When Moses died the people mourned. But now it was time for the fulfillment of what Israel had long yearned for, entry into the Promised Land. The newly appointed leader, Joshua, was up to the job.
In the book of Joshua, chapter one, Jehovah speaks to Joshua, commanding him to go into the land of promise. God pledges His presence and help in the military endeavors ahead. But He also reminds Joshua to be faithful and obedient to the Law given to Israel. A guarantee from God is a powerful thing to have! “Be strong and of good courage; be not affrighted, neither be thou dismayed: for Jehovah thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest” (Joshua 1:9).
In preparation for the crossing of the Jordan, Joshua gathered the officers of the people and told them that the advance into the land would occur in three days.
At this point Joshua addressed the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh. He repeated what Moses had told them of their responsibility to the rest of the nation. Though these tribes now had their inheritance, they had to assist the other tribes in conquering their portions of the land. The 2½ tribes again repeated their vow to perform what they promised to Moses.
Spying Out Jericho
Jericho was the first city they would have to conquer after crossing the Jordan. As a prudent general, Joshua sent two spies out to that city to assess their defenses. The account says the two were sent out “secretly.” Spies are, by definition, secret infiltrators in enemy land. It appears that they were sent out “secretly” in the sense of being sent without the knowledge of the rest of Israel.
The narrative recounts how two spies came to the house of Rahab, the harlot. The King of Jericho heard of their coming and immediately instituted a search. However, Rahab hid them and covered for them.
Interestingly, these Canaanites seemed to have a rather complete knowledge of Israel’s experiences up to that time. Notice what Rahab confesses that she, and others, knew. “She said unto the men, I know that Jehovah hath given you the land, and that the fear of you is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you. For we have heard how Jehovah dried up the water of the Red Sea before you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were beyond the Jordan, unto Sihon and to Og, whom ye utterly destroyed. And as soon as we had heard it, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more spirit in any man, because of you: for Jehovah your God, he is God in heaven above, and on earth beneath” (Joshua 2:9-11).
No wonder the Canaanites were overcome with fear. They felt threatened by something they did not totally understand. And this fear seemed irresistible. There are many lessons connected with Rahab. Here, we follow the return of the spies through three days in the mountains and their return to Joshua to give him a positive report. “And they said unto Joshua, Truly Jehovah hath delivered into our hands all the land; and moreover all the inhabitants of the land do melt away before us” (Joshua 2:24).
Crossing the Jordan River
In Joshua chapter three we see the account of the final crossing over of the Jordan River into the Promised Land. The miracle associated with this is the abating of the water flow when the feet of the priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant touched the waters of the river Jordan. This miracle permitted the nation of Israel to cross over into the land.
This reminds us of the miraculous deliverance of Israel when the waters of the Red Sea parted allowing them to escape Pharaoh and his armies. In crossing the Jordan River, the priests with the Ark remained in the midst of the river until all of Israel passed over.
The Ark of the Covenant preceded the multitudes of Israelites by 2,000 cubits (Joshua 3:4). This distance between the priests with the Ark and the people may suggest some prophetic lessons as to the length of the Gospel Age.
The date for this emergence from the Jordan River is the 10th day of the first month (Joshua 4:19). The nation encamped in Gilgal where Jehovah commanded that all the nation’s males born in the wilderness would be circumcised. It is noteworthy that, evidently, circumcision was not continued during the wilderness wandering.
The 10th of Nisan is when the Passover lambs were selected, here suggesting when Israel will recognize Jesus. The intervening days were occupied with circumcision, as Israel will need to be circumcised in heart after recognizing Messiah. Thereafter, on the 14th day they entered fully into the Passover, as Israel will enter fully by faith into Messiah.
The last report of the end of the 40 years of wandering is given in Joshua 5:10-12. “And the children of Israel encamped in Gilgal; and they kept the passover on the fourteenth day of the month at even in the plains of Jericho. And they did eat of the produce of the land on the morrow after the passover, unleavened cakes and parched grain, in the selfsame day. And the manna ceased on the morrow, after they had eaten of the produce of the land; neither had the children of Israel manna any more; but they did eat of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year.”
And so it was that on the 15th of Nisan, precisely 40 years after the nation left Egypt, the miraculous manna ended. The 40 years had been the punishment for their unbelief. But the punishment ended on the exact day they began to partake of the fruit of the land. They entered the Promised Land exactly on prophetic schedule!
Joshua pictures Jesus in the Kingdom Age. At that time, he will be Head of the glorified Church and the Mediator for all mankind. It is significant to note that Joshua in Hebrew is the same name as Jesus in Greek. Many today refer to Jesus as Yeshua, which is an anglicized version of Joshua. Both mean “Jehovah is Salvation.” So, the connection between the two is compelling.
Just as Joshua now led the people in the acquisition of the land of promise, so Jesus will lead the world of mankind in the acquisition of a renewed relationship with Jehovah.