The Life of Joshua

Joshua was an iconic leader in the Old Testament of the Bible. As a successor to Moses, he was both a humble servant of God and a strong warrior. God called Him to lead the nation of Israel to take possession of Canaan, the Promised Land—a task he took on with faith and courage.

Sounds like an inspiring individual, doesn’t he?

There’s a lot we can learn from his life.

Here are some questions we’ll answer about him:

Let’s jump in.

Who is Joshua?

While the Israelites were on their long journey from Egypt to Canaan, Joshua became their second leader after Moses died (Deuteronomy 31:3; Joshua 1:2). He was the son of Nun from the tribe of Ephraim (Numbers 13:8).

He was originally known as Hoshea—which means “saves”—but later on Moses called him Joshua or Jehoshua, meaning “God saves” (Numbers 13:16).

All through his life, Joshua lived out the meaning of his name: He trusted God to save him and the people of Israel from their enemies.

The interesting thing about Joshua is that he had a dual role. Unlike Moses, he was both a military leader and a spiritual leader.

Let’s unpack that.

Joshua the warrior

From early on in Joshua’s life, the Bible distinguishes him as a valiant warrior. One of the first mentions of Joshua is in Exodus 17:8–13, soon after the Israelites crossed the Red Sea from Egypt. There, he led a counter-attack on the Amalekites.

Because of faithfulness in his duty, the Lord gave him the victory. Later, He entrusted Joshua with leading the Israelites in conquest of the Promised Land. Through these stories, we catch a glimpse of his skillfulness and strategy in war (Joshua 8, 10, and 11).

Joshua the servant-leader

Joshua was Moses’ successor for the leadership of the Israelites. But before being a leader, he learned to be a servant.

While Moses was alive, Joshua—though only a young man at the time—worked very closely with him as his assistant (Exodus 24:13). He even had the opportunity to go up on Mount Sinai with Moses, an experience which no doubt impressed upon him the reality and power of God.

Through serving Moses and being mentored by him, Joshua learned faithfulness in small things (Exodus 33:11; 17:8). He also followed Moses’ example of closeness with God. We see throughout Joshua’s life how he called out to God in every situation and obeyed Him (Joshua 5:14–15; 7:6–8).

What was Joshua’s role in the key events of Israel’s history?

Before and after becoming Israel’s leader, Joshua played an important part in key events of Israel’s history:

Let’s go on a quick journey through this history.

Spying out the Land of Canaan

When the people of Israel came to the borders of Canaan for the first time, the Lord instructed Moses to send out spies into the land (Numbers 13:2–20). Joshua was among those men.

Expectations must have been high in the camp when the spies returned after being gone for 40 days.

Giant Grapes the spies and Joshua brought back in their report to Moses.But soon, discouragement flooded in as ten of the spies gave a negative report. The cities were fortified, and the people were giants (verses 26–29, 31–33). How could the Israelites overcome them?

As morale fell, the people became angry and questioned God for bringing them there. Some suggested going back to Egypt.

That’s when Caleb and Joshua spoke up. They pled:

“If the LORD delights in us, He will bring us into this land and give it to us.… Only do not rebel against the LORD” (Numbers 14:8–9, ESV).

Everyone around him was succumbing to fear, forgetting to have faith in God being able to lead them. But Joshua was willing to take an unpopular stand for what he believed in, even though the people were ready to stone him (verse 10).

Because of the Israelites’ disobedience, God did not permit them to enter the Promised Land. Only the next generation would be able to—that is, except Caleb and Joshua. They had held firmly to their faith in God (verse 30).

Assuming leadership of Israel

Not long before his death, Moses appointed Joshua as the new leader of Israel (Numbers 27:18–23). He charged Joshua with these words from God:

“Be strong and courageous, for you shall bring the people of Israel into the land that I swore to give them. I will be with you” (Deuteronomy 31:23, ESV).

After Moses died, God’s blessing came upon Joshua just as it had been on Moses:

“And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him. So the people of Israel obeyed him” (Deuteronomy 34:9, ESV; see also Joshua 1:5).

Entering Canaan

The first task before Joshua was to lead Israel into the Promised Land. This involved crossing the vast Jordan River (Joshua 1:10–11).

But even there, God was blessing Joshua.

Joshua 3 records the way in which God parted the waters so that the people could cross over.

As a memorial of the miracle, Joshua instructed the people to place special stones of remembrance on the river bank to show their descendants (Joshua 4:1–9).

Through this event, God was fulfilling the promise to exalt Joshua before Israel just as he had done for Moses (verse 14).

Conquering Jericho

One of the most iconic victories in the Bible is the Battle of Jericho, led by Joshua himself (Joshua 6).

Ancient ruins of buildings like what might still exist of of Jericho that Joshua led victory over.Jericho (which still exists in the modern-day Jordan Valley, east of Jerusalem) was one of the first cities that the Israelites encountered in Canaan. God appeared to Joshua, promising that Jericho was already theirs (verse 2).

But the war strategy was unusual:

The armed men and seven priests were to march around the city every day for six days. But on the seventh day, they were to march seven times, and then the priests were to blow their trumpets. The whole army would shout a loud war cry.

As they followed these instructions, the walls of Jericho collapsed, and Israel took the city.

Leading the conquest of Canaan

Jericho was Joshua’s first conquest in Canaan. But many more would follow.

The next city was Ai. While trusting in the Lord, Joshua also used a wise strategy in his ambush (Joshua 8).

And then, another iconic battle.

Silhouette of Joshua praying for the sun and moon to stand still.Joshua and his army went to fight against five kingdoms. Always a man of prayer, Joshua turned to God when he realized that the sun was setting and they would not have enough time to gain the victory that day.

He prayed for the sun and moon to stand still, and God answered him (Joshua 10:12–13)!

God continued to guide Joshua in conquering the rest of Canaan, including the giants that the Israelites had so feared (Joshua 11:21–22).

When finished, Joshua divided the land among the 12 tribes (Joshua 11:23). As a true servant-leader, he waited until everyone else had received their allotted portion before taking his (Joshua 19:49).

Giving his final charge and renewing the covenant

As Joshua neared the end of his life, he gathered all the leaders of Israel one last time for a final charge and renewal of their covenant with God (Joshua 23:2; 24:1–28).

He reminded them of how God came through for them in all their battles against their enemies. He urged them to cling to God and warned them of the consequences if they did not do so.

Person standing at cross roads having to make a choice.Then, he spoke these well-known words:

“Choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15, ESV).

Joshua died at 110 years of age (Joshua 24:29–30). He was buried in the land of his inheritance, Timnath Serah (which was located in what we know today as modern-day Israel).

But through the Bible, Joshua’s life of courage and commitment continues to speak to us.

What lessons can we learn from Joshua?

Here are some key lessons from Joshua’s life:

  • A true leader is first a servant
  • Having a good mentor can shape you for your destiny
  • True faith means obeying God even when His instructions don’t seem to make sense in human eyes
  • Integrity enables us to stand for the truth, even when faced with severe opposition
  • Consistency and a connection with God are key elements of true bravery
  • God wants us to cooperate with Him, using our skills, talents, and strategies as we rely on Him

Living the life of Joshua

After God brought the Israelites out of Egypt, Joshua was just the person He needed for the conquest of Canaan. His skill in the art of war and his close walk with God gave him the qualifications to accomplish this formidable task.

Though we may not be fighting physical battles or conquering land, we still need the kind of faith, integrity, and courage that characterized Joshua’s life.

And good news: We can still have those qualities today by depending on the Lord as Joshua did.

The God who saved in Joshua’s time is still the God who saves today.

Related Articles

Questions about Adventists? Ask here!

Find answers to your questions about Seventh-day Adventists

More Answers

King David: How Was He a Man After God’s Own Heart?

King David: How Was He a Man After God’s Own Heart?

King David: How Was He a Man After God’s Own Heart?War, bloodshed, murder, adultery—all of these crimes overshadowed the life of a biblical Old Testament man named David. Yet he was called a man after God’s own heart, not to mention one of Israel’s greatest heroes and...

What Does the Bible Say About the End Times?

What Does the Bible Say About the End Times?

What Does the Bible Say About the End Times?First of all, when we say “end times,” this refers to the period of time that precedes the second coming of Jesus—and the end of this sinful world before it’s recreated into the new earth. And several passages of Scripture...

The Legacy of Moses: What His Life Teaches Us

The Legacy of Moses: What His Life Teaches Us

The Legacy of Moses: What His Life Teaches Us A baby on death row, an outcast prince, a humble shepherd, and an unlikely deliverer. All these titles describe the individual that led Israel out of slavery in Egypt to the borders of the Promised Land. This was Moses—a...

Meet Israel’s 42 Kings (and 1 Queen) in the Bible

Meet Israel’s 42 Kings (and 1 Queen) in the Bible

Meet Israel’s 42 Kings (and 1 Queen) in the Bible Conspiracies, royal scandals, dictatorships—history is full of them. And Bible history is no different when we stop to look at the kings of ancient Israel in the Old Testament. The rulers of Israel include 42 kings and...

The Creation of the World: What the Bible Really Says

The Creation of the World: What the Bible Really Says

The Creation of the World—What the Bible Really Says When we think about the biblical Creation story, we think of just that: the world being created by the Creator. And while God’s creation of the world is marvelous and miraculous in its own right, it’s about far more...

What’s the History of the Bible?

What’s the History of the Bible?

What’s the History of the Bible? The Bible is the number one bestseller in the world of all time.1 It’s translated into thousands of languages, read by people of all ages and backgrounds. Its popularity is incredible. But what’s the history of the Bible? That’s...

Israelites

Israelites

Who Were the Israelites in the Bible? The Israelites in the Bible, also known as the children of Israel or ancient Israel, were a nation God called to represent Him to the world. As recorded in the book of Exodus, He delivered them from slavery in Egypt under Moses’s...

Why is Abraham Important in the Bible?

Why is Abraham Important in the Bible?

Why is Abraham Important in the Bible? Religious or not, you’ve probably heard of Abraham. And maybe you’ve wondered… What’s so important about him? Abraham is significant to three world religions: Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. He’s a core character in the Hebrew...

Judges of Israel

Judges of Israel

Judges of Israel and lessons we can learn from them Times of crisis call for men and women of action. The Israelites, newly settled in the Promised Land, found themselves in those times. As enemy nations attacked and oppressed the tribes, they cried out to God for...

Everything You Need to Know about the New Testament

Everything You Need to Know about the New Testament

Everything You Need to Know about the New Testament The New Testament may very well be the most life-changing compilation you could ever read. The New Testament is the second section of the Bible, describing Jesus and how He came to this world to reveal the love of...

Healing in the Bible

Healing in the Bible

Healing Stories in the Bible And What They Mean For YouHave you ever felt like healing seemed so far away? Like it wouldn’t be possible for you? What you most want is a glimmer of hope or a bit of encouragement. The Bible provides countless examples of God healing...

All about the prophets in the Bible

All about the prophets in the Bible

All About the Prophets in the Bible Bible prophets and the prophetic books make up a huge part of the Bible. It can make us wonder who these people were, and why God chose them to be prophets. Here, we’ll look at who these prophets were and how God used them. You’ll...

Life Lessons from Joseph in the Bible

Life Lessons from Joseph in the Bible

Lessons from the Life of Joseph in the Bible Joseph is one of the more well-known people from the Bible’s Old Testament. He showed remarkable strength, faith, and patience—even while facing great difficulty and injustice. All because he let God lead. There’s a lot we...

Understanding Prophecy in the Bible

Understanding Prophecy in the Bible

Understanding Bible ProphecySeventh-day Adventists have emphasized Bible prophecy from the beginning. We have our roots in the study of God’s Word, especially the prophecies that have to do with the future. So why does prophecy matter so much to us? Prophecy is one...

How Do You Tell a False Prophet From a True Prophet?

How Do You Tell a False Prophet From a True Prophet?

6 Ways to Tell if Someone is a True Prophet Have you ever wondered how people in Bible times were able to tell if their prophets were actually from God? Have you ever wondered if prophets still exist today...and how to tell if they are the real thing or a false...

All About the Old Testament

All About the Old Testament

What the Old Testament Is About [An Intro Guide]The Old Testament is the first section of the Bible and makes up about three-quarters of its material. It lays out the story of Creation, humanity’s fall into sin, and God’s promise to rescue us from sin. While it...

Didn’t find your answer? Ask us!

We understand your concern of having questions but not knowing who to ask—we’ve felt it ourselves. When you’re ready to learn more about Adventists, send us a question! We know a thing or two about Adventists.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This