When we look more closely at Joshua chapter 1, we find that our author’s positive portrait introduced five themes that appear time and again throughout his book.
In the first place, in his account of preparations for victory in chapter 1, he stressed the divine authority behind Israel’s preparations. In the second place, Joshua’s preparations for victory also highlighted the importance of God’s covenant. In the third place, the author made it clear that observing the standard of Moses’ law was necessary for every generation of Israel to have victory in warfare and to possess the Promised Land. In the fourth place, Joshua’s preparations for victory point out that God’s supernatural power made the conquest of Canaan possible. In the fifth place, the opening chapter of Joshua introduces the importance of the participation of all Israel.
In Joshua 1:5, God promises through Joshua that he would be with Israel as they went in to conquer the land. And, of course, the obvious thing is God’s presence is meaningful no matter in what form or manner; it’s always a good thing to have God with you. But there’s more going on there because this is the language of holy war and the divine warrior. In Exodus 3 and Exodus 6 the name “Yahweh” is actually a shorthand for “Yahweh who is the Lord of Hosts.” So, this very name Yahweh, this Old Testament name for God, connotes his character as the God who fights for his people. And so, “Emmanuel” is picking up on that motif that God is not just present to help them or encourage them, but God is present with them as the God who will lead the armies of heaven, so that all Joshua and Israel will need to do is to follow in God’s lead, and he will fight for them, which is a prominent theme, again, throughout the book of Joshua. So, in essence, it’s a promise, not just that God will be with them, but that God will fight for them. [Rev. Mike Glodo]
What are some ways that the theme of victorious conquest in Joshua applies to present-day Christians?
At the time of Joshua, the church and the nation, the state, were together in the people of Israel. What we see in the New Testament when Jesus commissions his witnesses to go out among all the nations is that now God's people are distributed among every nation. Now, Paul tells us in Ephesians 6 that we're engaged in this spiritual battle against principalities and powers and rulers and authorities, and that to engage this battle, we'll need to put on Christ, put on the full armor of God. But he reminds us in 2 Corinthians 10 that our weapons are not fleshly, they're not carnal, but they're spiritual; they're mighty through God. And so, just as God's people in the Old Testament were engaging spiritual powers that were behind these nations, God's people still engage spiritual powers, but the weapons of our warfare are the means of grace, the Word of God, and walking in the Spirit as we evangelize and tell the story of the good news to all the nations. [Dr. Greg Perry]