Just the gist (for small children and others with tiny attention spans):
A man named Joshua led the Israelites across the Jordan River and into the Promised Land where they destroyed the walls of Jericho and took the city. They conquered all of the Promised Land and divided it up amongst the tribes of Israel.
For those that can handle just a bit more:
Moses passed away before Israel entered the Promised Land so, God commissioned Joshua, Moses’s protege, to finish the job. Joshua and another guy named Caleb were the only two scouts that Moses had sent into the Promised Land with the first generation that came back and, with much faith in God, said, “We can take them!” Everyone else didn’t even want to try. So, as you’ll remember from Day 9, they had to wander around in the desert for 40 years until they all died (excepting Joshua and Caleb) and were replaced by a generation that grew up with a more “can-do” attitude when it came to winning when they had God on their side, despite the odds against them. In addition to heroic faith, Joshua also had the same name in Hebrew as our Day 25 birthday boy.
“Be strong and of good courage; be not frightened, neither be dismayed; for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go,” God said to Joshua in a pep talk that would have made even the French excited to fight (Joshua 1:9)
First up to conquer was the city of Jericho. Joshua sent scouts ahead of them to check out what Israel was up against. Those scouts must not have been staying current on their Tom Clancy reading because they made a rookie spy mistake. They let their cover get blown. The king found out they were there spooking for Israel and sent some men to capture them. The scouts were saved by a local woman named Rahab who hid them and told the king’s men they had already left. “Pursue them quickly, for you will overtake them,” she said, sending the king’s men running off towards Boris and Natasha’s Pub, a known spy hangout near the Jordan River.
Rahab joined the- now out of imminent danger- Israelite scouts on the roof, where she had them hidden and said, “I have dealt kindly with you, now deal kindly with me. Please save me and my family from death.”
“Our life for yours!” the rescued men said which was Bible talk for an ancient oath in which they would curse themselves with death if Rahab or anyone in her family died in the coming battle. It was a precursor to “cross my heart and hope to die”. (Joshua 2:14) They promised to repay her for her protection by saving her and her loved ones. She was to gather her kin into her house and tie a scarlet cord in her window. The scarlet cord would provide her residence protection from death in a similar manner that the painted lamb’s blood had provided the Hebrews protection during the Passover. Rahab did as told and not only was she and everyone in her family saved by the grateful scouts, but she eventually found herself in the genealogy of the coming savior. (Joshua 2: 1-21, 6:22-25)
Following the debriefing of the scouts in which he found out the people of Jericho were terrified of Israel on account of the Red Sea victory over Pharoah and his army, Joshua led Israel across the Jordan River. He had the priests take the Ark of the Covenant (God’s home) into the river and the water stopped up on each side so that the Israelites could cross through it on dry land, reminiscent of his predecessor’s parting of the Red Sea. Once everyone had crossed, the priests brought up the rear with the Ark and the river resumed its flow. As one could imagine, this had a further dispiriting effect on Israel’s enemies. The Israelites, however, were pretty pumped. After hundreds of years of being away, they had finally crossed over into their ancestral land promised to Abraham way back on Day 5.
For six days, Joshua and his army marched around Jericho’s wall of protection with the Ark of the Covenant and blew trumpets. On the seventh day, they did their march and when the trumpets blew, the people shouted. This brought the walls of Jericho tumbling down flat and the Israelites went in and conquered the city (Joshua 6: 1-27).
Israel continued fighting the pagan tribes of the area and kept their trust in God who, at one point, even made the sun stand still for them so they could vanquish their enemies. “The sun stayed in the midst of heaven, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day. For the Lord fought for Israel.” (Joshua 10:13-14) #truestory. Much of the conquest was a wee bit on the violent side and, so, isn’t really Christmas talk. (At least, not until the debate over whether or not Die Hard is a Christmas movie is decided in that the body count in the Book of Joshua is akin to that of an 80s-era action movie.)
With God’s help, they eventually subdued the enemy kingdoms of their promised land, giving Israel rest, which is Bible talk for peace. Joshua divvied up the land amongst all the tribes and gave his final, very famous speech.
“Choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15)
Joshua died at 110 years old and “Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua.” (Joshua 24: 31).
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