Joshua’s name, whose New Testament equivalent is Jesus, signifies deliverer, or savior. Joshua was born in Egypt during the time that Israel was in slavery, and was from one of the leading families of the tribe of Ephraim. His grandfather, Elishama, had been a captain of the army of the Ephraimites, 40,500 in number, when the Israelites became organized soon after the Exodus.
Joshua received training under Moses, as the latter’s general assistant, private secretary, etc., which made him familiar with the Divine plans and methods. He was entrusted with the command of the people during their first battle, which was with the Amalekites (Exodus 17: 8-13).
Joshua went with Moses into Mount Sinai when Moses received the Law (Exodus 32: 17).
He also led one of the twelve companies of spies whom Moses sent to investigate Canaan (Numbers 13: 8). Joshua brought back a good report and courageously stood with Moses in advising that the people have faith in God and proceed to conquer and possess the promised land. Caleb was the only other one who brought back a good report, and as a result, they were the only two of the entire nation above the age of twenty, at the exodus, who were allowed to live long enough to enter into Caanan (Numbers 14: 28-30, 38).
Joshua Succeeds Moses
Following the death of Israel’s great leader, Moses, the people spent thirty days in mourning, yet with one accord they accepted Joshua as their new leader – by Divine appointment through Moses. When Joshua took Moses’ place he was in his eighty-third year, yet full of vigor, and was evidently the best qualified man for the position.
The Lord’s command to Joshua was, “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. . . . There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. . . . Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest” (Joshua 1: 1-9).
Joshua proceeded to lead the people through the Jordan River into Caanan and directed the conquering of city after city. He also divided the land among the tribes and governed the people with great acceptance.
Except for a faithful few, Israel had a constant tendency toward idolatry. Remembering the command of Moses to remind the people of their covenant obligations, shortly before his death Joshua led the people to renew their Covenant with the Lord (Joshua 24: 14-25). His counsel was reverently received and the Covenant was renewed. The nation purged itself from idolatry, and as a result, was prospered and blessed.
Joshua was the leader of Israel for twenty-seven years and died at the age of one hundred and ten. Though humble, meek and peaceable, he was also a man of large faith and courage, and was faithful to God and the people.
Joshua a Picture of Jesus
Although Moses led the people to the border of the land of promise, it was Joshua who led them over the Jordan into the promised land. This pictures that mankind will enter into the promised land of restitution blessing in Christ’s Kingdom, not by the Law (typed by Moses), but by a Savior, Christ and His Church (typed by Joshua).
Additionally, the expulsion and destruction by Israel of the sinful nations that possessed Canaan pictures how the people of God today are to take possession of their human bodies. We are, as consecrated Christians, to conquer and destroy the sinful tendencies of the fallen flesh that would enslave us. This warfare of Israel against their enemies seems to also picture conditions during the Millennium, when the world, under the guidance of Christ and the Church, will be brought into a condition which will fit them to obtain possession of the whole earth for the Ages of glory.