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Joshua in the Bible

Numbers 13:1-30

Joshua in the Bible

The people traveled many months in the wilderness. One day God said to Moses, “Send spies into Canaan, the country I am giving you. Tell them to see what sort of land it is. Find out what the people are like who live there.”

Moses did as God asked. He choice one man from each of the twelve tribes of Israel. Moses raised his hand and blessed the twelve men as they left camp.

After many, many days the men returned. One was Caleb and another was Joshua, the general. Caleb and

Joshua told Moses, “Oh yes! You should see the land. It’s so beautiful,with strong trees, and gentle hills. Flowers bloom everywhere and the crops are rich and plentiful. It really is as God promised, a land of milk and honey.”

There was only one problem. The people who lived on the land were all very good fighters. Joshua and Caleb knew that with God’s help, they could drive those people out of the land.Not everybody agreed with Joshua and Caleb, though. Some of the other spies were troublemakers. In the end,they spoiled the trip for everyone that day.

The other spies disagreed with Joshua and Caleb. They did not trust God to help them win their battles. They thought the tribes in Canaan were too dangerous to fight.

The Israelites believed these other men instead of believing God’s promises. “Oh Moses!” they cried.”What have you done?”

Moses groaned. The people were complaining again! “Moses, we want to go back to Egypt!”

“Moses, it was your idea to leave Egypt in the first place. We should never have listened to you. Look, now we will die and for what?”

Moses and Aaron fell to their knees.They begged the people to trust God.Joshua and Caleb ripped their clothes.They swore God’s promised land was a good place to live. But the people would not listen. They were very stubborn. They liked feeling sorry for themselves.

Once again God forgave the people.But they had to pay for being so stubborn. Too often they had not believed God or trusted Him. Because Of this God said they would never reach the promised land.

“These people must wander in the wilderness,” He said. “They will all spend the rest of their lives in the desert, all of them except Caleb and Joshua, who believed Me. I could have brought them to the promised land within a year. Instead, the people will wander in the desert for forty years.They will die in the desert. Their Children will be the ones to finally settle in the land of milk and honey.This is their punishment.”

When the people heard this, they cried out loud. It was too late, though.God had made up His mind.

Despite God’s punishment, the people decided since the land was so close, they should go and fight the tribes anyway. They had forgotten that God had just said they would not be the ones to drive the tribes away. Their children would do that.

The people went off to battle, but they lost. Many men died in a battle which God had not helped them win.For the next forty years the people of Israel would wander from place to place. The Lord did not stop leading them, but He did not lead them straight to the promised land. Their punishment was real. They had to spend the rest of their lives walking in circles, so close to Canaan, but never able to enter it.


Bible Study Numbers

Author: Moses
Date: c. 1400 B.C. or c. 1200 B.C.

The Book of Numbers narrates Israel’s wide-ranging experiences in the wilderness. Jewish scholars from ancient times until today have referred to it by the title “In the Wilderness,” which is the first word in the Hebrew text. Others refer to it as “Numbers” because the numbering of the people plays a prominent part in the book.

Numbers is a difficult book to outline because it consists of a collection of material that covers numerous events in Israel’s wilderness life. There are problems, travels, judgments, rules, admonitions, complaints, battles, and conflicts. All of these are designed to show that human life is a series of difficulties that need to be dealt with by the grace of God. With such an approach, they can be turned into blessing.

The most significant events that stand out in the history of Israel in the wilderness are: the departure from Sinai; the sending of spies into Canaan, the Promised Land; the rebellion of the people in refusing to enter the land; the judgment of God, condemning the people to 40 years of wandering; the failure of Moses; and the final victories of the people at the end of the 40 years.

Theological Themes in the Book of Numbers

Certain things stand out theologically in the Book of Numbers. First is the fact that the tabernacle is central. It points to the centrality of God in the lives of the Israelite people. Tragically, Israel’s worship later degenerated into outward formality–a lesson to all of us.

Second, God is in control of the whole situation. At no time is there any doubt as to who is running things. This is a comfort and a warning: a comfort, in that we can rest in God’s power and sovereignty; a warning, in that rebellion is futile.

Third, it is clear that God demands obedience. We cannot simply ask God to do everything. He expects, and demands, that we fight battles, face enemies, and overcome obstacles–all with his help.

Fourth, life is seen as a pilgrimage. This theme is found in the New Testament’s use of the Book of Numbers, Paul, in I Corinthians 10:10-11, says that all of these things were written for our admonition and learning.

Finally, it is clear that sin is a problem that needs to be faced among the people of God. It is sad to read that even Moses was not without fault before God, but the way he handled his problem is a lesson for us all. Earth is not heaven. That is certainly no news, but all too often we expect our lives to be without difficulty or temptation. Numbers shows us that such an expectation is wrong. We must always be on guard, lest we too “fall in the wilderness.” The Book of Hebrews in the New Testament makes a big point of this, pointing to the “rest remaining” for the people of God and the struggles we must face here below (Hebrews 4:1-16).

Outline for the Book of Numbers

  1. Organization of the people of Israel Numbers 1:1-8:26
  2. The memorial Passover ceremony Numbers 9:1-10:10
  3. Wandering in the wilderness; various judgments and regulations Numbers 10:11-21:35
  4. Further wandering (in Transjordan); more judgments and regulations Numbers 22:1-36:13