By: Fredrick Anderson
One of the greatest success stories of all time is the conquest of Canaan by God’s people Israel. This account of God’s faithfulness, power, and personal leading has been a source of comfort and inspiration for believers for many centuries.
Historically, Canaan has been the name of a narrow strip of land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. It is the promised land of Abraham. Spiritually, Canaan represents Christian
maturity. It is symbolic of a life free from worldiness and carnality and separated for the service of God.
Moses, the great leader was dead, the Word of God has this to say about Moses:
Deu 34:10-12 10 And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face, 11 In all the signs and the wonders, which the LORD sent him to do in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh, and to all his servants, and to all his land, 12 And in all that mighty hand, and in all the great
terror which Moses shewed in the sight of all Israel. (KJV)
Moses was a great man and leader but the book of Joshua starts out, “”Now after the death of Moses””. No servant of God – even the great leader Moses – is irreplaceable. God’s servants die, his service never does.
After commissioning Joshua, God immediately gave him the command to possess the land of Canaan. To make the command real, God promised:
Jos 1:3 Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto
God commanded Joshua to put feet to his desires and claim the entire land of Canaan for the Lord. A president of a Bible College said, “”I counsel young preachers, when God has laid a town on your heart, to kneel by the city limits sign of that town and claim it in prayer for the Lord””. D.L. Moody actually walked around an area of downtown Chicago claiming every place the sole of his foot touched for a Bible school to train young people in the Word. Today Moody Bible School stands on that site. We need to
step out in faith and claim our rightful inheritance given to us in Christ. Take territory with God — a bit every day.
God gave Joshua this promise:
Jos 1:5 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. (KJV)
Joshua needed this encouragement from the Lord. If he was to be successful he needed to know the source of his strength, !!! GOD !!!. We as believer today have a similar promise:
Matt 28:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am
with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (KJV)
The fact of the matter was, if Joshua was going to conquer the land of Canaan and be victorious he was GOING TO NEED GOD, and if we are going to conquer our flesh and live a victorious we are GOING
TO NEED GOD.
God added to his promise a command:
Jos 1:6 Be strong and of a good courage:
This command was repeated in verses 7 and 9. Being strong in the Lord, in courage, and in confidence of success arise out of our study of the Word of God. If we want to be successful we must learn the truth of our text — JOSHUA 1:8. God’s Word reveals to us in unmistakable terms what his will and wishes are, the responsibility for reading his instructions lies with us. The carrying out of his commands are also our
responsibility. It is God who provides the power, the courage, and the ability to conquer. Paul said it so well,
!!!! EPHESIANS 3:16-21 !!!!
Two spies were sent out to view the land. These two spies were the first to set foot within enemy territory, they were the first to tread on the walls of Jericho’s ramparts and every place the
sole of their foot trod upon was ground guaranteed to them by God. They were not
on a fact finding mission, they were simply having a preview of victory.
Joshua, by sending the spies into the land was demonstrating the delicate balance between trusting the Lord and moving ahead to discern the Lords will. To have moved ahead without the Lords blessings would have been wrong — dead wrong, but to have sat tight when that blessing has been promised would have been equally wrong. To have done so would have been like praying to be a soul winner but
never witnessing to anybody. Joshua realized that God would never do for him what he COULD and SHOULD do for himself.
Upon entering Jericho the spies immediately went to the house of Rahab, probably because such a house may also have been an inn with a cafe downstairs. Here the spies could quickly learn the goings on in Jericho and the strength of the kings army. However, danger also lurked there, the appearance of the Israelites and the accent of their speech marked them as strangers.
The king sent for the spies but when the king’s men arrived at Rahabs house they did not find the spies. Rahab had taken the spies to the roof of the inn and hidden them among stalks of flax and told the king’s men:
Jos 2:4-5 4 And the woman took the two men, and hid them, and said thus, There came men unto me,
but I wist not whence they were: 5 And it came to pass about the time of shutting of the gate, when it was dark, that the men went out: whither the men went I wot not: pursue after them quickly; for ye shall overtake them. (KJV)
Rahab came to the spies and confessed to them her belief in what was going to happen:
Jos 2:8-9 8 And before they were laid down, she came up unto them upon the roof; 9 And she said unto the men, I know that the LORD hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and
that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you. (KJV)
The stories of the miraculous moving of God on behalf of the Israelites had preceded their arrival. Everyone in Jericho knew about the parting of the Red Sea and the mighty defeats of the two
Amorite kings Sihon and Og. Rahab could not help but confess that Jehovah was indeed God:
Jos 2:11 And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath. (KJV)
Rahab was a realist, she knew that the fall of Jericho and eventually all of Canaan was inevitable. After reminding the spies that she had saved their lives, she begged for the safe passage of her father,
mother, brothers, and sisters from the doomed city of Jericho. The spies agreed.
Rahabs house was built on the inside of the city wall giving her direct access to the wall itself. When darkness had fallen and the strong city gates were closed she let the spies down to the ground outside
the wall with a scarlet cord suspended from her window. Quickly the spies made their way westward to the moutain range, hiding until the soliders had given up the search for them.
The spies had made an oath with Rahab:
Jos 2:17-18 17 And the men said unto her, We will be blameless of this thine oath which thou hast
made us swear. 18 Behold, when we come into the land, thou shalt bind this line of scarlet thread in the
window which thou didst let us down by: and thou shalt bring thy father, and thy mother,
and thy brethren, and all thy father’s household, home unto thee. (KJV)
The oath was not without conditions, the family of Rahab was to stay in her house, should they wander from her house their death would be their responsibility. Our safety and shelter are provided only as
long as we dwell under the shadow of the Almighty:
Psa 91:1 He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the
Rahab could not utter a word of the business of the spies, if she did then the deal was off.
The two spies returned to their camp and brought their report to Joshua:
Jos 2:24 And they said unto Joshua, Truly the LORD hath delivered into our hands all the land; for even all the inhabitants of the country do faint because of us. (KJV)
!!!! CROSSING OVER !!!!
!!!! JOSHUA 3:5 !!!!
With the promised land of Canaan thoroughly investigated and the Israelites convinced of God’s presence and blessing, they were now ready to go and possess the land that was promised them. The crossing of Jordan was a high point in the life of Israel. In the life of the believer, the crossing of Jordan symbolizes !!VICTORY!! — victory over carnality and habitual sin and entrance into a place of maturity.
The key element in the crossing of the Jordan was the ark of the covenant, which was the meeting place between God and man. The ark was carried on the shoulders of the priests drawn from the tribe of Levi.
The Israelites were to follow over one-half mile behind. When the ark moved, Israel moved. It must be the same today, we must be prepared to move when God moves.
Joshua told them to “”SANCTIFY”” themselves. To sanctify means to “”set apart””. In the Old Testament it referred to the ceremonial washings in which a person was purified from the world and prepared to stand before God. Sanctification always implied a positive and a negative: being set apart from that
which is sinful and to that which is holy. Before Israel could enter into the promised land, she had to put away all the influences of her wilderness journey. In the same manner, a child of God cannot hope to enter spiritual maturity with the smell of the leeks and onions of Egypt on his breath. To be spiritually mature and responsive to the will of God we must be SANCTIFIED — set apart from the past and
from the world —- set apart for God.
2Tim 2:20-21 20 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. 21 If a man therefore purge himself from
these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work. (KJV)
On the third day of camping on the banks of the river, the priests bearing the ark of the covenant were told to move out. At the very brink of the water their faith and courage would be tested. God had planned
for the waters of the Jordan to part allowing free and easy access to the promised land, but he purposely designed that the separation of the waters would not occur until the soles of the priest’s feet touched the water. They were commanded to march directly into the waters of the swollen Jordan. Obedience
would take absolute trust in the promises of God. As children of God we must seek his will, be sanctified for the task, but there must come a day when we are willing to get our feet wet. Before we can have
miraculous spiritual victory we must be willing to trust God and march directly into the face of the impossible. The priests of Israel confidently set foot in the water and a great miracle of God
The facts of this great miracle are:
. Ordinarily a small, meandering river, at the spring or early harvest, the Jordan rises to 15 feet or more above flood stage and is a raging torrent
. This yearly flooding of the Jordan is an established Biblical fact. The “”swelling of the Jordan”” is mentioned in scripture. [Jer 12:5, 49:19, 50:44].
. The northern waters flowing south were stopped “”upon an heap””.[Jos 3:16]
. Even the tributaries that feed into the Jordan River were cut off, making the
crossing possible on dry ground.
At the direct command of God, Joshua instructed the people to construct a memorial of this miraculous event. Twelve men — one from each tribe — were to take a huge stone from the bed of Jordan and for a memorial that was to be built in Gilgal. The purpose of this stone memorial was:
Joshua 4:21-24 21 He said to the Israelites, “In the future when your descendants ask their fathers, `What do these stones mean?’ 22 tell them, `Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ 23 For
the LORD your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The LORD your God did to the Jordan just what he had done to the Red Sea when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. 24 He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the LORD is powerful and so that you might always fear the LORD your God.” (NIV)
Each victory of Joshua and the Israelites encouraged them to greater victories but it also compounded the fear of the Canaanites. The two spies found that when the people of Jericho had heard what the Lord had done on behalf of Israel, their hearts melted from fear. When they heard of the miraculous crossing
of the Jordan the residents of Canaan lost spirit in retaining the land before the Israelites:
Jos 5:1 Now when all the Amorite kings west of the Jordan and all the Canaanite kings along the coast heard how the LORD had dried up the Jordan before the Israelites until we had crossed over,
their hearts melted and they no longer had the courage to face the Israelites. (NIV)
Within weeks of the exodus from Egypt God had begun providing a daily portion of food for the Israelites. It was called MANNA. For forty years it appeared on the ground each morning without fail. Upon the entrance to Canaan the manna ceased. God never takes away anything from his people
that he does not replace with something better. In the place of manna they ate the grain of the productive Jordan Valley. The fruit of the land of Canaan was to be their portion all the days of their lives. The graduation from manna to fruit is like the Christians graduation from milk to the strong meat of the Word of God.
Heb 5:13-14 13 For every one that useth milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. 14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. (KJV)
The crossing of Jordan depicts God’s desire to make champions and victors out of each of us. We must trust God and allow him to lead us into a place of maturity and wholeness in him.
!!! REMEMBER !!! God brought the Israelites out of Egypt to take them into the promised land and he brought us out of this world into the church to take us to a place of maturity and victory in him.
1Pet 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:
The great crossing into the land had been accomplished, but the great conquest of the land lay before them. Jericho had already been spied out, but it had to be taken. The night before the conquest of
Jericho began, and a week before it was completed, the Lord told Joshua:
Jos 6:2 And the LORD said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valour. (KJV)
The Lord treated the forthcoming victory at Jericho as an accomplished fact. The Word of God declares that he knows the end from the beginning, to him the future is already history.
William Cowper, the English poet, once remarked, “”God moves in mysterious ways, his wonders to perform.”” One of the most mysterious movements of God was the manner in which the city of Jericho was captured. Joshua was an experienced military commander, he had led the victorious Israelite armies against the Amalekites in Rephidim, he had the intelligence report of the spies and probably knew the best military strategy for taking the fortress-city.
God’s plan for taking the city involved some pretty mysterious ways. Joshua was to have the people circle Jericho once a day or six days. The Israelites were to bear the ark of the covenant as they moved
around the city, and seven priests were to carry seven rams horns before the ark. On the seventh day Israel was to circle the city seven times, and on the seventh pass the priests would blow the rams horns, the people would shout with a great shout, and the walls of the city would fall down f lat. Joshua never sneered at or questioned God’s plan at all, he trusted completely the mysterious methods of God.
Joshua never flinched when God gave the mysterious method for capturing the city. But that was the night before in the physical presence of the Captain of the host of the Lord, on holy ground. Now it
was the following morning, it was time to pursue the plan of attack, the enemy was only yards away, now was the time Joshua could change the plan to one in accord with his own “”better judgement””, but
listen to this:
Jos 6:8 And it came to pass, when Joshua had spoken unto the people, that the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams’ horns passed on before the LORD, and blew with the trumpets: and the ark of the covenant of the LORD followed them. (KJV)
Joshua followed the commands of God completely and exactly as it was given. The first day Israel encircled the city as planned, Israel followed their leader as he followed God. They were following God’s
methods, it was not their responsibility to change or improve God’s methods, it was their responsibility to follow them exactly.
It has been said that you cannot determine a man’s greatness by his wealth and ability, but rather by what it takes to discourage him. The Isrealites would not be discouraged, they absolutely refused to quit, day after day they marched, anticipating that final day when God promised that victory would be
Jos 6:14 And the second day they compassed the city once, and returned into the camp:
so they did six days. (KJV)
Excitement was running high by the seventh day. Again, Joshua, the priest, the ark bearers, and the people arose about the dawning of the day, they compassed the city 7 times this day and on the 7th time the Word of God says:
Jos 6:16 And it came to pass at the seventh time, when the priests blew with the trumpets, Joshua said unto the people, Shout; for the LORD hath given you the city. Jos 6:20 So the people shouted when
the priests blew with the trumpets: and it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up
into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city. (KJV)
Joshua continued to destroy the city after the walls cam tumbling down, all that remained was burned, a fact confirmed by 20th century archaeology. God’s method’s were accomplished entirely.
Throughout the destruction of Jericho only one family was spared, God honored the word of the spies and saved alive Rahab and her family. She was saved because she followed the instructions of
the spies and displayed the scarlet thread in her window. That act of faith brought her salvation and eventually a place in the ancestry line of Christ:
Matt 1:5 And Salmon begat Boaz of Rachab; and Boaz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed
begat Jesse; (KJV)
She is also included in the “”Hall of Fame”” in Hebrews 11:
Heb 11:31 By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace. (KJV)
The reason why the walls of Jericho fell down flat was because they followed the Lord’s commands completely. When God moves through unconventional methods to achieve his purposes we must remember that God’s methods are to be trusted explicitly, followed exactly, employed enthusiastically, and continued expectantly to accomplish his ultimate purpose.
Heb 11:30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days. (KJV)