The Life of Joshua

Joshua was an iconic leader in the Old Testament of the Bible. As a successor to Moses, he was both a humble servant of God and a strong warrior. God called Him to lead the nation of Israel to take possession of Canaan, the Promised Land—a task he took on with faith and courage.

Sounds like an inspiring individual, doesn’t he?

There’s a lot we can learn from his life.

Here are some questions we’ll answer about him:

Let’s jump in.

Who is Joshua?

While the Israelites were on their long journey from Egypt to Canaan, Joshua became their second leader after Moses died (Deuteronomy 31:3; Joshua 1:2). He was the son of Nun from the tribe of Ephraim (Numbers 13:8).

He was originally known as Hoshea—which means “saves”—but later on Moses called him Joshua or Jehoshua, meaning “God saves” (Numbers 13:16).

All through his life, Joshua lived out the meaning of his name: He trusted God to save him and the people of Israel from their enemies.

The interesting thing about Joshua is that he had a dual role. Unlike Moses, he was both a military leader and a spiritual leader.

Let’s unpack that.

Joshua the warrior

From early on in Joshua’s life, the Bible distinguishes him as a valiant warrior. One of the first mentions of Joshua is in Exodus 17:8–13, soon after the Israelites crossed the Red Sea from Egypt. There, he led a counter-attack on the Amalekites.

Because of faithfulness in his duty, the Lord gave him the victory. Later, He entrusted Joshua with leading the Israelites in conquest of the Promised Land. Through these stories, we catch a glimpse of his skillfulness and strategy in war (Joshua 8, 10, and 11).

Joshua the servant-leader

Joshua was Moses’ successor for the leadership of the Israelites. But before being a leader, he learned to be a servant.

While Moses was alive, Joshua—though only a young man at the time—worked very closely with him as his assistant (Exodus 24:13). He even had the opportunity to go up on Mount Sinai with Moses, an experience which no doubt impressed upon him the reality and power of God.

Through serving Moses and being mentored by him, Joshua learned faithfulness in small things (Exodus 33:11; 17:8). He also followed Moses’ example of closeness with God. We see throughout Joshua’s life how he called out to God in every situation and obeyed Him(Joshua 5:14–15; 7:6–8).

What was Joshua’s role in the key events of Israel’s history?

Before and after becoming Israel’s leader, Joshua played an important part in key events of Israel’s history:

Let’s go on a quick journey through this history.

Spying out the Land of Canaan

When the people of Israel came to the borders of Canaan for the first time, the Lord instructed Moses to send out spies into the land (Numbers 13:2–20). Joshua was among those men.

Expectations must have been high in the camp when the spies returned after being gone for 40 days.

Giant Grapes the spies and Joshua brought back in their report to Moses.But soon, discouragement flooded in as ten of the spies gave a negative report. The cities were fortified, and the people were giants (verses 26–29, 31–33). How could the Israelites overcome them?

As morale fell, the people became angry and questioned God for bringing them there. Some suggested going back to Egypt.

That’s when Caleb and Joshua spoke up. They pled:

“If the LORD delights in us, He will bring us into this land and give it to us.… Only do not rebel against the LORD” (Numbers 14:8–9, ESV).

Everyone around him was succumbing to fear, forgetting to have faith in God being able to lead them. But Joshua was willing to take an unpopular stand for what he believed in, even though the people were ready to stone him (verse 10).

Because of the Israelites’ disobedience, God did not permit them to enter the Promised Land. Only the next generation would be able to—that is, except Caleb and Joshua. They had held firmly to their faith in God (verse 30).

Assuming leadership of Israel

Not long before his death, Moses appointed Joshua as the new leader of Israel (Numbers 27:18–23). He charged Joshua with these words from God:

“Be strong and courageous, for you shall bring the people of Israel into the land that I swore to give them. I will be with you” (Deuteronomy 31:23, ESV).

After Moses died, God’s blessing came upon Joshua just as it had been on Moses:

“And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him. So the people of Israel obeyed him” (Deuteronomy 34:9, ESV; see also Joshua 1:5).

Entering Canaan

The first task before Joshua was to lead Israel into the Promised Land. This involved crossing the vast Jordan River (Joshua 1:10–11).

But even there, God was blessing Joshua.

Joshua 3 records the way in which God parted the waters so that the people could cross over.

As a memorial of the miracle, Joshua instructed the people to place special stones of remembrance on the river bank to show their descendants (Joshua 4:1–9).

Through this event, God was fulfilling the promise to exalt Joshua before Israel just as he had done for Moses (verse 14).

Conquering Jericho

One of the most iconic victories in the Bible is the Battle of Jericho, led by Joshua himself (Joshua 6).

Ancient ruins of buildings like what might still exist of of Jericho that Joshua led victory over.Jericho (which still exists in the modern-day Jordan Valley, east of Jerusalem) was one of the first cities that the Israelites encountered in Canaan. God appeared to Joshua, promising that Jericho was already theirs (verse 2).

But the war strategy was unusual:

The armed men and seven priests were to march around the city every day for six days. But on the seventh day, they were to march seven times, and then the priests were to blow their trumpets. The whole army would shout a loud war cry.

As they followed these instructions, the walls of Jericho collapsed, and Israel took the city.

Leading the conquest of Canaan

Jericho was Joshua’s first conquest in Canaan. But many more would follow.

The next city was Ai. While trusting in the Lord, Joshua also used a wise strategy in his ambush (Joshua 8).

And then, another iconic battle.

Silhouette of Joshua praying for the sun and moon to stand still.Joshua and his army went to fight against five kingdoms. Always a man of prayer, Joshua turned to God when he realized that the sun was setting and they would not have enough time to gain the victory that day.

He prayed for the sun and moon to stand still, and God answered him (Joshua 10:12–13)!

God continued to guide Joshua in conquering the rest of Canaan, including the giants that the Israelites had so feared (Joshua 11:21–22).

When finished, Joshua divided the land among the 12 tribes (Joshua 11:23). As a true servant-leader, he waited until everyone else had received their allotted portion before taking his (Joshua 19:49).

Giving his final charge and renewing the covenant

As Joshua neared the end of his life, he gathered all the leaders of Israel one last time for a final charge and renewal of their covenant with God (Joshua 23:2; 24:1–28).

He reminded them of how God came through for them in all their battles against their enemies. He urged them to cling to God and warned them of the consequences if they did not do so.

Person standing at cross roads having to make a choice.Then, he spoke these well-known words:

“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, ESV).

Joshua died at 110 years of age (Joshua 24:29–30). He was buried in the land of his inheritance, Timnath Serah (which was located in what we know today as modern-day Israel).

But through the Bible, Joshua’s life of courage and commitment continues to speak to us.

What lessons can we learn from Joshua?

Here are some key lessons from Joshua’s life:

  • A true leader is first a servant
  • Having a good mentor can shape you for your destiny
  • True faith means obeying God even when His instructions don’t seem to make sense in human eyes
  • Integrity enables us to stand for the truth, even when faced with severe opposition
  • Consistency and a connection with God are key elements of true bravery
  • God wants us to cooperate with Him, using our skills, talents, and strategies as we rely on Him

Living the life of Joshua

After God brought the Israelites out of Egypt, Joshua was just the person He needed for the conquest of Canaan. His skill in the art of war and his close walk with God gave him the qualifications to accomplish this formidable task.

Though we may not be fighting physical battles or conquering land, we still need the kind of faith, integrity, and courage that characterized Joshua’s life.

And good news: We can still have those qualities today by depending on the Lord as Joshua did.

The God who saved in Joshua’s time is still the God who saves today.

Questions about Adventists? Ask here!

Find answers to your questions about Seventh-day Adventists

More Answers

Ellen White’s Writings and the Adventist Health Message

Ellen White’s Writings and the Adventist Health Message

How Ellen White Influenced the Adventist Health MessageSeventh-day Adventists are known for their emphasis on healthy living. And Ellen G. White was a significant influence in the development of this priority and practice among Adventists. She taught that caring for...

Health Clinics

Health Clinics

Ellen White and Adventist Healthcare—Ahead of Their Time Medical care in the mid-1800s was primitive, to say the least. Basic concepts we take for granted—such as proper handwashing or recognizing the dangers of bloodletting—were nonexistent. And doctors often had...

What Did Ellen White Teach about Vegetarianism?

What Did Ellen White Teach about Vegetarianism?

What Did Ellen White Teach about Vegetarianism?One thing you might have heard about Seventh-day Adventists is their emphasis on a vegetarian lifestyle. If you’re wondering why that is, it goes back to our church’s humble beginnings: As Adventists studied the Bible,...

How Ellen White’s Teachings Can Improve Your Health

How Ellen White’s Teachings Can Improve Your Health

 How Ellen White’s Teachings Can Improve Your Health Healthcare in the nineteenth century was said to leave “more disease than it took away” with its use of bloodletting and “medicines” like mercury and arsenic.1 As people questioned these methods, new approaches...

Change Your Perspective on Life with These 5 Mindsets

Change Your Perspective on Life with These 5 Mindsets

5 Biblical Mindsets to Change Your Life for the Better Sometimes, life is just plain hard. There’s no way around it. So would thinking about things differently really change anything? Our perspective on life, and everything it throws at us, affects more than we’re...

Bible Promises for When You’re Worried or Fearful

Bible Promises for When You’re Worried or Fearful

Bible Promises for When You’re Worried or Fearful The Bible is full of beautiful promises that can comfort us in a variety of situations. They can give us hope when we are hopeless, make us feel grateful for God’s love, and comfort us when we’re grieving or suffering....

12 Practical Ways to Overcome Worry

12 Practical Ways to Overcome Worry

12 Practical Ways to Overcome Worry DISCLAIMER: This content is for informational purposes only. It does not constitute any professional medical advice and is not intended as a substitute for professional mental health therapy. It’s easy to get stuck in a cycle of...

How the Bible Talks About Worry, Fear, and Anxiety

How the Bible Talks About Worry, Fear, and Anxiety

How the Bible Talks About Worry, Fear, and Anxiety Worry and fear are the ingredients of anxiety. It’s easy to see how the world isn’t perfect—and the anticipation of a bad event or experience (that may or may not even happen) can end up draining the peace and...

How to Calm Anxious Thoughts, Using the Bible

How to Calm Anxious Thoughts, Using the Bible

How to Calm Anxious Thoughts, Using the Bible You were expecting a phone call from your daughter half an hour ago, and she still hasn’t called. She’s also not answering your calls. You feel your heart thumping as your thoughts race: What if she’s been in a car...

What You Should Know About the Adventist Health Studies

What You Should Know About the Adventist Health Studies

What You Should Know About the Adventist Health StudiesYou may have heard that Seventh-day Adventists care about health. But what you may not know is that Adventists have been the subjects of long-term research into lifestyle and health. Since 1958, researchers from...

Benefits of Sunlight

Yes, There Are Health Benefits of SunlightDespite the bad reputation it’s gotten, sunlight is generally associated with positivity, as shown by songs like “You Are My Sunshine,” or phrases that refer to delightful people as having a “sunny disposition.” There’s a...

Why Your Body Needs Rest for Optimal Health

Why Your Body Needs Rest for Optimal HealthStruggling to think straight? Wondering why you can’t remember that important tidbit you heard earlier today? Feeling like your emotions are about to explode? These are just some of the symptoms that can reveal your need for...

The Seventh-day Adventist Diet: One of Our Key Longevity Secrets

The Seventh-day Adventist Diet: One of Our Key Longevity SecretsOats, avocados, lentils, tofu—probably not what you first think of in a standard American diet. But if you show up at the home of an Adventist, chances are you may be served one of these staples. Out of a...

Why You Need Fresh Air

Why You Need Fresh Air“When you can’t breathe, nothing else matters,” the American Lung Association tells us. We couldn’t agree more! Breathing in clean air is an essential part of caring for our bodies, which God has given us. Together with other health principles,...

Sabbath Meal

Everything You Need to Know About Sabbath MealsFor Seventh-day Adventists, sharing a Sabbath meal with friends and family is one of the most special and memorable parts of the Sabbath. That’s why we want to share with you all about Sabbath meals and why they’re such a...

Adventists and Healthy Living

Adventists and Healthy LivingWhat’s the Adventist “Health Message” All About? One thing Seventh-day Adventists are known for is their emphasis on living healthy lives. Since our bodies are living temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19, 20), we strive to stay...

Water’s Importance—Physical Benefits and Spiritual Applications

Water’s Importance—Physical Benefits and Spiritual Applications We all know that water is a substance we can’t live without.   Not only does it quench our thirst and keep us hydrated from the inside, but it’s necessary for hygiene and cleansing on the outside as well....

How Important is a “Day of Rest?”

How Important is a “Day of Rest?”

How Important is a “Day of Rest?”  Why God Created a Day for Downtime by Martin Casper Do you ever experience the feeling of complete overload? Do you feel like the only way you can get ahead is by slamming it 24/7? I hear these types of comments more and more...

7 Reasons Why a Day of Rest is Important

7 Reasons Why a Day of Rest is Important

7 Reasons Why a Day of Rest is ImportantWe live in a fast-paced world. It seems as if success is measured in how much you can do in a short amount of time. (Extra points for the service or product that is available 24/7). The idea that we will be more successful if we...

How do Adventists choose what to eat?

How do Adventists choose what to eat?

How do Adventists choose what to eat?Every day, parents go through the ritual of getting their kids to eat what is healthy and good while trying to steer them away from what can hinder the growth of their developing bodies. Nutritionists work with their clients to...

How do Adventists make movie and music choices?

How do Adventists make movie and music choices?

How do Adventists make movie and music choices?Cinema has come a long way since the first clips of motion pictures came to light in 1878. As the decades rolled on, film and music producers have created rivers of movies and albums for the masses. Today, watching movies...

Why are many Adventists Vegetarian?

Why are many Adventists Vegetarian?

Why are many Adventists Vegetarian?The diet intended for man is outlined in Genesis 1:29, “And God said, ‘See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food.’”...

Didn’t find your answer? Ask us!

We understand your concern of having questions but not knowing who to ask—we’ve felt it ourselves. When you’re ready to learn more about Adventists, send us a question! We know a thing or two about Adventists.

Contact Us