After the exodus from Egypt and the period of the wilderness wanderings, the nation of Israel entered Canaan to take the land God had promised His people. Joshua led the conquest that established Israel’s presence in the Promised Land, and he is a key figure who is looked to throughout the canon of Scripture as a model for the believer. Over the next week we will look more closely at the life and career of Joshua with the help of Dr. R.C. Sproul’s teaching series The Book of Joshua.
Joshua could be ranked alongside any of the greatest military generals in world history, but it should be noted that his career began well before he was appointed the leader of Israel after the death of Moses (Josh. 1:1–2). He was one of Moses’ top assistants (Ex. 24:13), and one of the only two Israelite spies who were convinced that God would be with the nation to conquer Canaan (Num. 14:5–10).
According to the Lord’s will, Moses appointed Joshua to succeed him in Deuteronomy 31:1–8, and the Almighty came to Joshua after Moses’ death to confirm this selection and urge him to go forth to take the land (Josh. 1:1–9). In commissioning Joshua to possess Canaan, God was simply calling upon him to actualize in history what He had determined before Joshua was born. Since the Lord swore to give Canaan to His people (v. 6; see Gen. 15), Joshua could be sure that he would be victorious in his quest. After all, our Creator can do naught but keep His promises, and He promised to be with Joshua and strengthen him wherever he would go (Josh. 1:5, 9).
This pledge of covenant presence is one of the greatest blessings God gives to His people and is a repetition of one of the patriarchal promises (Gen. 28:10–15). Moreover, it is a promise given to us today through Christ (Heb. 13:5). Still, we should see that it is a promise to be with us and not a promise to keep our lives free from harm, calamity, or suffering. Indeed, we are guaranteed to walk through the valley of the shadow of death, but it is likewise certain that our great Shepherd will go through it with us; He will not leave us alone (Ps. 23:4).
Yet God does not promise that we will always feel His presence. Thankfully, our feelings do not determine the truthfulness of His Word, and the Lord is with us whether or not we can feel His presence.