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Dr. J. Vernon McGee :: Comments for Joshua

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COMMENT: There are several incidents in the Book of Joshua which need separate comments. We shall consider them briefly and in order.

Chapter 1 — God encourages Joshua and introduces and initiates the nation into a new way of life. The wilderness journey is over. They are no longer nomads of the desert, but dwellers in the land. Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh have possessions on the wrong side of Jordan (compare Colossians 3:1-4).

Chapter 2 — Spies are sent in, not to see if they could enter the land, but to explore the best way. The report of these spies is in verse 24. God turns aside to save the harlot Rahab. She believed God (vv. 10-13; cf. Hebrews 11:31). The mayor of Jericho could have been saved had he, too, believed God. None needed to have perished.

Chapters 3, 4 — (See author’s message, “Have You Crossed Over Jordan?”) The ark — not the rod of Moses — goes before and divides the Jordan River. The ark goes before, carried by priests. Likewise, Christ goes before us through death, but goes with us through this life. Jordan is typical of Christ’s death, not ours.

Chapter 5 — Circumcision was neglected in the wilderness. God was teaching them that the old nature is no good and the new nature has no power (Romans 7:18).
The manna ceases and the children of Israel eat the old corn in the new land. Manna is for babes in Christ and represents the days of His flesh. We feed on the living Christ today (2 Corinthians 5:16, 17).
Jesus is the captain of our salvation (vv. 13-15; Hebrews 2:10; 12:1, 2).

Chapter 6 — There may be some disagreement between John Garstang and Kathleen Kenyon about the walls in the tell at ancient Jericho, but the faith of the believer does not rest upon the shovel of the archaeologist (Hebrews 11:30). Jericho represents the world to the believer. It is strong and formidable and foreboding — the conquest depends upon faith (1 John 5:4).
Hebrews 11 reveals how faith worked in all ages in the lives of God’s choicest servants as they met the world head-on and overcame by faith.

Chapters 7, 8 — (See author’s message, “Ai and I.”) Defeat and victory at Ai represent the flesh in the believer. The sin of Achan was sin in the camp.
Steps in sins of the flesh (Jos 7:21):
I saw — physical
I coveted — mental
I took — volitional.
No deliverance is experienced until sin is dealt with in the life of a believer (Ephesians 4:17-32; 1 John 1:9).

Chapter 9 — This begins the campaign in the south. Having driven a wedge into the heart of the land and divided it, now Joshua can go against each section piecemeal. Joshua has been compared to Alexander the Great and Hannibal as a great general. Divide and conquer was the strategy used by Joshua.
He was deceived by the Gibeonites into making a treaty with them that was contrary to the express command of God (Deuteronomy 7:1, 2). The Gibeonites represent the devil with all his cunning and cleverness. We are no match for him (Ephesians 6:11, 16; Revelation 12:9).

Chapter 10 — Joshua conquers 5 kings of the Amorites (v. 5) as he continues the campaign in the south. He completes the campaign in the south by the destruction of Makkedah, Lachish, Libnah, Eglon, Hebron and Debir (vv. 29-40).
This chapter contains the account of the long day of Joshua. “Did Joshua make the sun stand still?” is a question that is asked by skeptic and saint alike. Following are some proposed explanations of the long day of Joshua:

(1) It is the practice of some to avoid giving any interpretation. They ignore it entirely as if it were not worthy of comment.

(2) Some treat the language as poetic (v. 12). This is to adopt a non-literal interpretation that dismisses the miraculous from the incident entirely. Those who hold to this view generally refer to Judges 5:20 “…the stars in their courses fought against Sisera.” We refuse to dismiss this as poetic. We do not have enough information to state dogmatically that these are poetic statements and not matters of fact. It reminds us of the old bromide that poetic language is sometimes prosaic lying.

(3) Some call this a miracle of refraction. The emphasis is placed on verse 13.

(4) Some adopt the position that God stopped the entire solar system (v. 12). They make Joshua’s day 23 hours and 20 minutes. The other 40 minutes are found in 2 Kings 20:8-11.

(5) Some adopt the position that God blacked out the sun rather than continued its shining. The Berkeley Version translates it, “O sun, wait in Gibeon,” the ASV, “be silent.” Maunder in the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia takes this position. Joshua had made a forced march all night (about 40 miles), attacked the enemy from the rear — came suddenly upon them. It was July — about 105? to 120? in the shade, and there was no shade. Joshua did not want more sun — he wanted less sun.

(6) The best explanation, it seems, is a combination of Numbers 4 and 5. Joshua needed more light and less heat. God covered the sun with a storm of hailstones (v. 11). God slowed down the earth (v. 12). “Upon Gibeon” indicates that the sun was directly over — bisecting Gibeon — and the moon was going down “in the valley of Aijalon.” This is a miracle!

Chapter 11 — This contains the campaign in the north and the conclusion of Joshua’s leadership in war (v. 23).

Chapter 12 — Log of Joshua’s campaigns.

Chapter 13 — Not all the land was occupied and possessed (v. l).

Chapter 14 — Hebron given to Caleb, born a slave, companion of Joshua. These two men were the only spies who brought back a favorable report (Numbers 14:6-9).
Caleb found the fountain of youth (v. 11). He had:

(1) Faith to forget the past

(2) Faith to face facts

(3) Faith to face the future

Chapter 15 — Judah’s land in the Promised Land.

Chapter 16 — Ephraim’s land in the Promised Land.

Chapter 17 — Manasseh’s land in the Promised Land.

Chapters 18, 19 — Tabernacle located at Shiloh. Other tribes’ lands in the Promised Land.

Chapter 20 — Cities of Refuge.

Chapter 21 — Cities for Levites.

Chapter 22 — Joshua dismisses the 2 1/2 tribes, and they return to the east side of Jordan.
They build an altar “to see” (v. 10). The altar was condemned, as there was only one altar, and it was for sacrifice.

Chapter 23 — Last message of Joshua to the leaders of the nation.

Chapter 24 — Last message of Joshua to all the tribes of Israel at Shechem (note v. 15). Verses 29-31 record the death of Joshua.

Cities of Refuge

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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