(1:1—5:15) DIVISION OVERVIEW— Pilgrims— Sojourners— Israel, Inheritance of: at last, the Israelites were to cross the Jordan River and enter the promised land of God. For generations—in fact, since their birth as a people (through Abraham)—the Israelites had been either slaves or pilgrims wandering about the face of the earth. They had no permanent home, no place to call their own. They had been slaves in Egypt for about 400 years; but other than the centuries of slavery, they had been mere pilgrims, sojourners—as foreigners moving about from place to place. They never owned land upon which they could build permanent homes, establish settled families and businesses, grow crops, and carry on commerce—not in a permanent, settled environment. They never knew rest. They were always having to break camp, move on, and then set up camp—over and over, again and again. They were never able to settle down and experience rest from wandering about.

But despite this—in the face of their being mere pilgrims and sojourners upon earth—the Israelites had one great asset: hope. They had the hope of the promised land. God had promised to give His dear people a great inheritance, the inheritance of a permanent home, the promised land itself.

And now, that glorious day of inheritance was rapidly approaching. Their glorious hope was about to be fulfilled. It had been forty years since Moses had delivered the Israelites from Egyptian slavery, forty long, hard years of wandering about in the desert wilderness. And Moses had just died. This was seen at the close of the great book of Deuteronomy (Deut. 34:1-12). Joshua, the brilliant military commander and strategist, was now to take up the mantle of leadership. It was he who was to lead God's people into the promised land, to lay claim to their inheritance. All this had already been predetermined by God and announced to the people by Moses. (See outline— Deut. 31:1-23 and notes— Deut. 31:1-23 for more discussion.)

As is stated in the Introduction, Joshua is "A Great Book of Transition" (see Special Features, #18.) It is the bridge from the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible, to the Historical Books. Joshua is the bridge that crosses the Jordan River, the bridge that carries God's people...

•    from the promises given to Abraham to the fulfillment of the promises (cp. Genesis 12:1-3)

•    from the wilderness wanderings to the inheritance of the promised land

•    from the old life to the new life

"Let My people go" had been the command of God to Pharaoh, a message delivered by Moses. Now God's command was directed to Joshua and the Israelites.


"Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel" (Joshua 1:2).


Keep in mind that Moses had led God's people through the Red Sea, delivering them from a life of bondage. Joshua was now to lead God's people through the Jordan River, giving them a new beginning and a new life. Moses had led God's people through the wilderness wanderings, giving them the great hope of the promised land. Joshua was now to lead God's people throughout the promised land, laying claim to their inheritance and giving them victory over enemy after enemy.


Norman L. Geisler says this:


Moses led Israel out of bondage, but it was Joshua who took them into blessing. Moses brought them through the Red Sea, but Joshua took them over Jordan. Moses is the symbol of deliverance and Joshua the emblem of victory. It is one thing to be redeemed from Egypt (the world) but quite another thing to be victorious over the world. Joshua teaches us the lesson that faith is "the victory that overcomes the world" (1 John 5:4).


Warren W. Wiersbe says this:


The Book of Joshua is the book of new beginnings for the people of God, and many believers today need a new beginning. After forty years of wandering in the wilderness, Israel claimed their inheritance and enjoyed the blessings of the land that God had prepared for them, "as the days of heaven upon the earth" (Deut. 11:21). That's the kind of life God wants us to experience today. Jesus Christ, our Joshua, wants to lead us in conquest now and share with us all the treasures of His wonderful inheritance. He has "blessed us with all spiritual blessings" (Ephes. 1:3), but too often we live like defeated paupers.


God has promised the most wonderful inheritance to the believer, an inheritance that is beyond human imagination. But before any inheritance can be received, certain preparations have to be made in order to qualify for the inheritance. This was true with the Israelites, and it is true with us. This is the important subject of the first division of Joshua.



A.    The Mobilization to Enter the Promised Land, 1:1-18

B.    The Reconnaissance Mission: The Two Spies and Rahab—a Prostitute Is Saved, 2:1-24

C.    The Long-awaited Crossing of the Jordan River: A Picture of Faith and of God's Great Power to Lead His People into the Promised Land (Spiritual Conquest and Rest), 3:1-4:24

D.    The Necessary Spiritual Preparation: Five Essentials for Living the Victorious Life, 5:1-15