THE PROMISED LAND
Suggested Readings: Joshua 1:1-9; Joshua 5:13-6:21; Joshua 23; Judges 4-8; Judges 13-16; Ruth 1-4
After the death of Moses, God called Joshua to lead His people across the River Jordan into the Promised Land (Joshua 1:1-9). The Book of Joshua tells the story of the conquest of Palestine by the Israelites and the division of the land among the twelve tribes of Israel. The most famous story of the conquest is the fall of the city of Jericho, where Joshua instructed the people to march around the city for seven days, then blow their trumpets and watch the walls of the city collapse (Joshua 6:1-21). God made it clear to Joshua that He is the One Who led the army (Joshua 5:13-15), and it was by His power that the Israelites were able to defeat their foes and take the land (Joshua 10:42). In his farewell to the people of Israel before he died, Joshua reminded the people that God had kept His promises and called them to remain faithful to the Lord and His covenant (Joshua 23).
Now that the Israelites had a hold on the land God had promised, they settled into tribal life under the leadership of the judges. The Book of Judges records the stories of the twelve judges, or warlords, who led Israel from around 1250 to 1050 BC. This was a time of turmoil for God’s people. They often fell into sin by worshipping false gods. They suffered God’s punishment as a result, were called back to God, and saved from their sinful ways by the strength and courage of a judge that God sent them. They would then live in peace for some time under the leadership of that judge. Even still, the period of the judges was largely marked by Israel’s unwillingness to follow the covenant. The Book of Judges ends with war between the tribes of Israel and this final, ominous word, “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what he thought best” (Judges 21:25).
The most famous judges are Gideon, whom God called to defeat the Midianites, and the long-haired Samson, whose great strength helped destroy the Philistines. To free the Israelites from the oppression of the Midianites, Gideon gathered an army of 32,000. God told him he had gathered too many. God wanted to make sure all knew that the victory would be His. By testing the army, the number of men was reduced to only three hundred. With this small force, the Midianites were crushed. When the Israelites asked Gideon to be their king, he refused, insisting that God was the only king of Israel (Judges 6-8).
Samson lost his great strength when Delilah, his mistress, cut his hair. Weakened, he became a prisoner of the Philistines. Samson killed the Philistine leaders and himself by pulling down their temple upon them and himself after his hair grew back in prison and his strength was renewed (Judges 13-16). Deborah, the only woman judge, is famous for dispensing wisdom while sitting under a palm tree, until God told her to send Barak against the Canaanites. Barak agreed to go into battle only if Deborah joined him. Together, they defeated the Canaanites and their song of victory is recorded in Judges, chapter 5.
The Book of Ruth is a delightful love story of a Moabite woman named Ruth and an Israelite man named Boaz. The story takes place during the time of the judges, and speaks to the virtue of piety, even from one who is not of God’s chosen people. Ruth’s loyalty to her Israelite mother-in-law Naomi, and to her husband Boaz, was rewarded by God in the most glorious way: she became the mother to Obed, the father of Jesse and grandfather of King David.
WHAT TRUTHS DO THE BOOKS OF JOSHUA and JUDGES REVEAL ABOUT GOD?
- God keeps His promises.
- God demands that we worship only Him and not turn to false gods.
- When the people are faithful, God blesses them. When the people are not faithful, God punishes them.
- God is quick to forgive when we repent from sin.
Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.