Section Three: Joshua, Truth Leads to the Way which Does Work
As we move on in our survey of the Scriptures, it is right and good for us to acknowledge our particular bias as we look at the Scriptures. Everyone has bias (or theological/interpretive tint) when looking at the Bible. Your culture influences you. Your economics influence you. Your education level influences you as you read. Denominational teachings within Christianity also tint how you read some passages.
This survey has an overall specific lens, which is our focus when we come to each and every passage. Jesus Christ says in John 14:6 “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (NIV 1984). Therefore, we are looking and reading and meditating on the Scriptures with WAY, TRUTH, and LIFE ringing in our ears and coloring each and every verse we read. Adding this lens changes how one reads the Bible. Adding this lens should help us see all of the types and foreshadowing of God’s Word as it relates to Jesus of Nazareth’s teachings from the Old Testament in the New Testament.
Joshua Chapter 1, Truth Leads to the Way Which Does Work
Now with Jesus as our lens (the Way, the Truth, and the Life) and in our minds, let us keep going through the Old Testament. Joshua Chapter 1 is a beautiful passage beginning the post-Mosaic era for the Israelites. The people of God have the benefit of having the torch passed from trusted Moses to trusted Joshua son of Nun, who had been Moses’ aid. He was known to the people. He was a faithful man. He was a leader chosen to lead the people of God into the Promised Land.
Joshua Chapter 1 opens with divinely encouraging words for Joshua centering on TRUTH which leads to the WAY: “No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. 6 ‘Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. 7 Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go’” (1:5-9, NIV 1984).
God the Father explains to newly-minted-in-charge Joshua the WAY that life is going to work as the people lay hold of the land that was already promised to them. God explains He will give victory (verse 5). God explains He will constantly be with Joshua (verses 5, 9). God promises prosperity and success (verse 8).
What will lead Joshua along this WAY?
Folded into this passage in answering this question is an explanation of TRUTH. Joshua son of Nun, heir of the mantle of leadership from Moses, must move forward in faith and take hold of the promises of God as they are given. Moving forward in faith means:
#1 Obey the Law (verse 7)
#2 Meditate on the Law (verse 8)
Joshua must move forward and follow every Word that God has set down. In doing so, he will win. Joshua must move forward and accept God’s WAY of life as the only way. In doing so, Joshua will find himself on the correct path in life. In obeying what God says, we have what God gives. It is important to note that Joshua is without excuse as his life moves forward. There are no excuses because God has made it clear in a command and Joshua knows exactly what to do and how to behave and where to put his trust. Joshua is promised prosperity and success.
What prosperity will Joshua find as he follows the WAY?
“Prosperity” is defined by God in different ways depending on the context. Prosperity could mean a deep desire for God in a spiritual sense. Prosperity could mean a great sense of peace about one’s purpose or place in life. Prosperity could also mean physical/actual blessings. For Joshua, we can imagine that prosperity means he will divide the land properly among the people, govern well, and see a physical blessing from the land itself once settled. More than anything, by following every Word from God, Joshua will be a prosperous leader.
What success will Joshua find as he follows the WAY?
“Success” is also defined by God in different ways depending on the context. Specifically for Joshua in his context, we can imagine that success means he will have victory in battle as he marches across the fruited plain of Canaan. Following God’s ways is done by following God’s Words. Success is defined in the passage as faithfulness to the Word of God (the Law) and obedience. Joshua had already been successful in God’s eyes when he reported, along with Caleb son of Jephunneh, that they should rely on God and go in and take possession of the land (Numbers 13). That success (also called faithfulness) was rewarded by surviving the next 40 years of wandering and getting to conquer the Promised Land. God wants to add to Joshua’s success.
Keeping this in mind, Jesus talks about success in Matthew 6:33 when He commands, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (NIV 1984). Jesus tells us that success is following after God faithfully and God will reward us. In obeying what God says, we have what God gives. God the Father’s Words to Joshua in 1:5-9 is the same as Jesus the Son in Matthew 6:33. We must first seek God and He will provide the rest.
It is important for us to notice Caleb son of Jephunneh in the Book of Joshua. He is unique along with Joshua. Caleb followed after God with his whole heart and was rewarded. Caleb travelled the narrow path (to use New Testament terms) and was rewarded by seeing, conquering, and inheriting land in Palestine. Caleb “got it” when it came to trusting in God and receiving LIFE. He trusted and obeyed. Caleb is an example in the Book of Joshua (we will see more examples in a moment) of someone trusting in God’s Word and not turning away to the right or left, but steadfastly trusting in God in obedience.
Caleb’s God-given adventure in the Promised Land came because of his absolute faith in God. He trusted God and did something with that trust. God did something with that trust as well. He rewarded him with a long vigorous life in which he not only conquered land for he and his family in the Promised Land, but it was choice land full of giants (Anakites). Joshua 14:11-15 tells us from Caleb’s perspective, “‘I am still as strong today as I was in the day that Moses sent me; my strength now is as my strength was then, for war and for going and coming. 12 So now give me this hill country of which the LORD spoke on that day, for you heard on that day how the Anakim were there, with great fortified cities. It may be that the LORD will be with me, and I shall drive them out just as the LORD said.’ 13 Then Joshua blessed him, and he gave Hebron to Caleb the son of Jephunneh for an inheritance. 14 Therefore Hebron became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite to this day, because he wholly followed the LORD, the God of Israel. 15 Now the name of Hebron formerly was Kiriath-arba. (Arba was the greatest man among the Anakim.) And the land had rest from war.” Caleb trusted God and was able to take the hardest part of the Promised Land for him and his family…but only because of his absolute trust in God Almighty.
Joshua Chapter 1 is the springboard for the rest of the book. The rest of the book is a fleshing out and playing out of the WAY based on the TRUTH. Sometimes this goes well for those who follow the truth. Sometimes it does not for those who do not follow the truth. The book of Joshua explains to us TRUTH leads to the WAY that works because God has laid it down for us and God keeps His promises flawlessly.
Three Passages Centering on TRUTH
One of the first significant passages that fully illustrate “TRUTH leads to the WAY which does work” is found in Joshua 2:11, which records for us one of the first confessions of faith in the Scriptures. Rahab, innkeeper and colloquially the provider of “all things to all men,” says in 2:11: “When we heard of it, our hearts melted and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below” (NIV 1984). She says very specifically, “for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath” (KJV). Rahab confesses TRUTH. She confesses that the God of the Israelites (YHWH) is the only God and holds a position of authority over all other gods she might have formerly believed.
This confession of truth is quite shocking to us based on several factors. First, Rahab of Jericho is not an Israelite. We do not expect a confession from such a person. Second, Rahab, based on her profession, would be someone that we would identify as having loose morals. We do not expect a confession from such a person. Third, Rahab’s confession comes after hearing about (not personally seeing) the miracles of God Almighty among the people of Israel. We do not expect a confession from such a person.
This confession of Rahab is a fleshing out of TRUTH leading to the WAY. Rahab encountered the news about God Almighty and His awesome works and deeds among the Israelites and chose to follow Him instead of false gods. She threw in her destiny with the Israelites. She cast off her old life in Jericho for a new life with the People of God. She found the WAY.
A second significant passage that fully illustrates “TRUTH leads to the WAY which does work” is found in Joshua Chapter 7, which records for us the story of Achan son of Carmi of the tribe of Judah. Through a series of unfortunate life choices, Achan chooses to try and deceive God and His people (please read Joshua 6:20-7:26 for the complete narrative). We find that Achan loved the “things” of the world and put them above his obedience and love for God. He chose to love that which was devoted to God completely (ḥerem). He chose to love the devoted things of God rather than God.
Achan chose to hide what he did. Hiding is always bad. Let us not forget Adam and Eve hiding from God in Genesis 3:10. Moses killed an Egyptian and hid him in the sand (Exodus 2:12) and ran away and hid in Midian for forty years (Exodus 2-3). Gehazi servant of Elisha tried to hide his greed in 2 Kings 5:21-27. In all of these cases, hiding did no good and was indeed discovered and laid bare. Numbers 32:23 reminds us simply “…your sin will find you out” (NIV 1984). Achan’s sin was evident to God and the rest of the camp of Israel suffered (Joshua 7:4). You see, without God, we are dead.
It was only when Joshua confronted Achan about his sin did anything heal or resolve. Joshua 7:19-20, “Then Joshua said to Achan, ‘My son, give glory to the LORD, the God of Israel, and give him the praise. Tell me what you have done; do not hide it from me.’ 20 Achan replied, ‘It is true! I have sinned against the LORD, the God of Israel.’” The truth would come out in this situation. Joshua was inviting Achan to come clean and wipe away the sin stain that was upon the people. God’s way is found (as is LIFE) when we commit ourselves to the truth and live it out. Joshua was committed to finding the truth. Achan committed himself to telling it.
This life situation of Achan is a fleshing out of TRUTH leading to the WAY. Truth is at the center of God’s desires for His people. There was sin in the camp of Israel buried under the tent of Achan and it prevented the blessings of God from flowing onto His people. Achan’s sin was a dam to the flow of victories God had promised to Joshua in Chapter 1. Sin in the camp means no victory. Glory in God and to God is found in the truth and living it out.
The third and final passage which illustrates “TRUTH leads to the WAY which does work” is found in Joshua 9:1-27 which records for us a deception on the part of the Gibeonites. The Israelites were sternly warned not to make treaties with the folks they would be displacing at God’s command. The people of Gibeon skillfully duped Joshua and the Israelites into a treaty. We must note Joshua 9:14-15 which tells us, “The men of Israel sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the LORD. 15 Then Joshua made a treaty of peace with them to let them live, and the leaders of the assembly ratified it by oath.” The people of God ignored the way God had instructed them to live and it caused them consequences. Had the Israelites consulted God He surely would have exposed the deception. Joshua and the people of God failed to consult God to know the truth and they got off of the path God had for them.
This life situation of the interaction of the Israelites and Gibeonites in Joshua 9 is a fleshing out of TRUTH leading to the WAY. If the people of God had consulted God, the truth would have led them away from a deceptive scheme and would have allowed them to remain faithful to the command of God.
Obstacles of the TRUTH leading us to the WAY
Our obstacles in allowing the TRUTH to lead us to the WAY (which is LIFE in God) are the same obstacles that Joshua and the Israelites faced. This following section is a list of interrelated issues that can be obstacles for us in having authentic LIFE in God.
Trust Ourselves and Not God
We all have trust issues when it comes to God…don’t we? When we fail to have absolute trust in God and in His Word (and His WAY), we feel entitled to go our own way. We end up down a path that leads to sin and a path away from God. Heading in our own direction in our lives has a basis in not trusting God. What we need is absolute trust and lifestyle like Rahab that is rooted in a God who always keeps His promises. Her faith noticed that God’s way always overcomes.
Not Consulting God in Decisions
Joshua learned this lesson well…didn’t he? A common practice that gets us into trouble in our covenant relationship with God is that we take it upon ourselves to “call the shots.” A popular false Christian bumper sticker days, “Jesus is my co-pilot.” Inherent in this theologically incorrect bumper sticker is that “we” or “you” are a pilot at all and should exert power when making decisions in our lives. The bumper sticker should read, “Jesus is my pilot and I’m in the tail section praying.” Jesus Christ does not just give us direction, but He gives us the command to overcome. The Israelites were to overcome the land. We are to overcome our lives.
Fear is a paralyzing agent whenever it hits us in our lives. Fear keeps us from trusting and we look inward. Fear keeps us from letting go. Fear keeps us from acting in faith and moving forward. Not to be simplistic, but the opposite of fear is faith. It was for Caleb and Joshua. It was for Rahab. It was for Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Most people seem to run from fear or find a way to cope. In the Book of Joshua, God told us to overcome by trusting in His faithful Word. We need not fear. In His Word, we should also take note of examples of those that did not trust God!
Sin in the Camp
Achan taught Joshua this lesson. It is possible that we fail in one righteous area of our life because we are sinful in another. Our lives are not compartmentalized as much as we would like to think. A person is holistically physical, emotional, and spiritual and these areas are interconnected because God hath made us this way. Obstacles grow and shove us back because we are not 100% right before God. We cannot fool God.
Choice and Freewill
Sometimes obstacles that prevent us from experiencing the LIFE God has designed for us are not external to us, but are inside of us. Our choices can lead to obstacles. Our need to exercise our free will can be an insurmountable barricade for the life giving properties of God’s Word and His Way of life. There are times when, because of how God has chosen to interact with us, that our choices and freewill limit what He will do in us and for us.
 ḥerem is a specific Hebrew word that means the items in Jericho were directly commanded by God to be purified and given to Him as an offering and would be preserved for His use only.