THE BOOK OF JOSHUA is about God leading Israel into the “Promised Land,” a land “flowing with milk and honey.” But as Paul later states (1 Cor. 10) these stories are written for our understanding and benefit. God has engaged in human history, particularly Israel’s history, so that in his stories he might reveal to us who he is, what he wants, and what his plan is for us. And his plan, even from the garden of Eden, is for his image bearers to live with him forever in a paradise on earth, a “Promised Land,” or as the New Testament describes it “a new heaven and a new earth” (2 Pet. 3:13; Rev. 21:1). God wants to give us our heart’s longing for paradise, for peace and joy. It is with this broader understanding we must approach the details of the Joshua story and learn its lessons.
It is not irrelevant to our lives, then, that as Israel prepares to enter the Promised Land God tells Joshua, “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips (that is, read it); meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful” (Jos. 1:8). Over and over he promises success if they will courageously and carefully follow their “Bibles.” Now, this would appear to be strange advice. After all, they were facing real armies with real swords and chariots. It seems that what they needed was tactical advice. But the point God was making is that he gives the Promised Land to those who give careful attention to his Word. Tactics are secondary and they always will be. It was true then and it is true now. If you want to begin taking the Promised Land, if you want to dwell with God on the earth, you must be careful to read the Bible constantly, reflect on it deeply, and follow it carefully. There is simply no other way.
When our hearts are restless, when we have longings that are not being met, the answer is not tactics. It is not earning more money, getting new things and having new experiences. The answer is going back to the Bible and reading it, reflecting deeply on what it says to us and living by what it says. God promises to begin giving us our Promised Land experience even in this life. “Then you will be prosperous and then you will have success.”