It appears to me, that this Old Testament book of Joshua is an important part of God’s plan for His people. It was written to give us an account of the LORD fulfilling His promise to the Patriarchs; by giving the land of Canaan to Israel in a “holy war”, which meant it would be a conflict with religious overtones rather than a political motivation. It was what He had promised.(read Joshua 1:2-6 & 21:43)
God’s perfect plan was to conquer Canaan (which He considered a lost world), with His Abraham Covenant in order to reach that lost world through the seed of Abraham! The covenant God made with Abraham promised unconditionally to give a land, a posterity, and a spiritual blessing to the Patriarch and his descendants. (Gen.12:2-3) Then God said He was giving the land to Israel forever! (Gen. 13:15) It’s important to note and keep in mind, that God gave the boundaries of that land to Abraham (Gen.15:18-21); and later He reaffirmed it to Isaac (Gen. 17:19-21). So the book of Joshua records the fulfillment of that covenant to Israel as her faithful God had promised centuries before. That the land was later lost and taken from them doesn’t reflect on God’s character, but on the failings of the people to keep His laws.
Losing the land would be as punishment from God as was warned in Deut. 28:15-68). “But Israel must possess the land forever according to the promise, something that awaits the return of the Messiah and the redemption of Israel. (read Isaiah 49:8)” [The Bible Knowledge Commentary page 326]
God had just brought the Israelites through four events: 1) the crossing of the Jordon, 2) the ceremony of circumcision, 3) celebration of the Passover after many years, 4) eating the food produced in Canaan.
Joshua had not received any divine message or instructions even though it seemed the next step would be to capture Jericho. So he set out to evaluate the situation. I wonder how he felt when he first saw the large fortified walls that were “up to the sky”. (Deut. 1:28) Jericho was a city ready to fight. And Israel wasn’t equipped with what they would need like battering rams or catapults. All they had was slings, arrows and spears.
Joshua knew the battle had to be won, because there was no where to retreat. They had just crossed the Jordan. Futhermore, they could not bypass the city because that would leave their camp with women, children, goods and cattle exposed!
While pondering these heavy thoughts, Joshua was startled when he saw a Soldier bearing a sword. He immediately asked, “Who goes there–friend or foe?”(5:13) “The response was startling and revealing. Something occurred that convinced Joshua this was no mortal soldier. As with Abraham under the oak at Mamre, Jacob at Peniel, and Moses at the burning bush, Joshua knew he was in the presence of God!
“The Commander of the army of the LORD” stood with a drawn sword, indicating that He would fight with and for Israel. Immediately, Joshua fell on his face and worshiped, saying, “What does my LORD want to say to His servant?” The reply of the LORD was brief but urgent. “Remove your sandles, for the place you are standing is holy.”
Now Joshua had thought this battle was going to be between two armies and he was to be the general-in-charge! But, the LORD had other plans!, This battle was going to be the Lord’s battle.
I can’t wait to find out what happens next!