CovenantA covenant is a promise or agreement. In the Bible the promises made between God and God’s people are known as covenants; they state or imply a relationship of commitment and obedience. More loyalty
The book of Joshua calls the Israelites, and later readers of the book, to covenant loyalty. The most powerful articulation of that call comes at the end of the book, in Joshua 24:15, “Choose this day whom you will serve….But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD”–though, a careful reading of the text makes clear that such choice takes effect only if Israel refuses to serve the Lord, who has already chosen them. Covenant loyalty entails the rejection of all other gods except the Lord (22:10-29; 23:1-16; 24:1-28).
The first verse of JoshuaThe successor of Moses, Joshua led the Israelites into Canaan More notes the death of MosesProphet who led Israel out of Egypt to the Promised Land and received the law at Sinai More, the great leader of Israel. The people are not left bereft, however. God raises up a new leader, Joshua, who is a second Moses–faithful, strong, courageous, proclaiming the word of God to the people, and leading them to fulfill their covenant obligations (1:1-9, 16-18; 3:7; 5:1-15; 8:30-35; 23; 24).
After forty years of wandering in the wilderness, after the death of the first generation of Israelites to be freed from slavery in Egypt, the people of Israel finally enter Canaan, the land promised to them by God since the time of AbrahamGod promised that Abraham would become the father of a great nation, receive a land, and bring blessing to all nations. More (Genesis 12:1-9). God fulfills God’s promises. This is one of the central claims of the book of Joshua (Joshua 1:3-6; 21:43-45; 23:14).
The Israelites are successful in their battles because God is with them and fights for them (10:14). The ark of the covenantThe ark of the covenant was a box or chest that God commanded the Israelites to make from wood richly adorned with gold. The ark was built to contain the tablets of the covenant (the Ten Commandments). The ark served as a mobile shrine to… More is a sign of the divine presence (3:10-11; 6:6; 8:33). At the very beginning of the book, God promises to be with Joshua just as God was with Moses (1:5, 9; 3:7); in the rest of the book, God keeps that promise.
God calls for obedience on the part of the people. They are told to march around Jericho in a manner no military commander would have devised; but when they obey, they are rewarded with victory (Joshua 6). On the other hand, when they disobey the Lord’s commands (as does Achan in chapter 7), God punishes them. Obedience brings blessingBlessing is the asking for or the giving of God’s favor. Isaac was tricked into blessing Jacob instead of his firstborn Esau. At the Last Supper Jesus offered a blessing over bread and wine. To be blessed is to be favored by God. More, and disobedience brings punishment (23:14-16).
Passing on the faith
Joshua, like Deuteronomy before it, emphasizes the need to pass on the faith to the next generation (see Deuteronomy 4:9-10; 6:4-9). The stones at Gilgal are to serve as a teaching tool for telling generations to come about the parting of the Jordan’s waters (4:5-7, 19-24; see also 8:35; 22:24-29).
Deuteronomy states that God chose Israel as the Lord’s people not because they were more numerous than any other people, but because God loved them (Deuteronomy 7:7-8). Joshua continues that theme. God promises to give the people the land in fulfillment of God’s promises to their ancestors, and not because of anything they have done themselves (Joshua 1:3; 24:13).