In Genesis, God promised Abraham that the land in Canaan was going to be his. Because God is the Creator of the heavens and the earth, He can make promises like that. All the land belongs to Him in the first place. So by the time Joshua is the leader of Israel, it is now time to take over this promised land.
Joshua is a hard book to get a grasp on. The hang-up for people comes in when they see that Joshua and the Israelites are told to kill the people living on the land. At the root, God doesn’t want those people to die. He wants them to worship Him. However, if the people refuse to do that, then the punishment is death.
There are two core stories in Joshua that I want to look at a little closer so we can see God’s heart in this. The first one is Rahab. Rahab was an outsider, one of the people already living in the land of Canaan. She had heard about their God and decided she wanted to follow Him. God welcomed her and her family with outstretched arms and protected them during the fall of Jericho. Through this, we can see that God is after the hearts of the people, and He welcomes outsiders in.
The next story is about a guy less well known named Achan. Achan was an Israelite who sinned by taking some of the plunder that was set apart for the Lord. His sin is found out, and he is punished by death for the crime.
From these two stories, we see that God has the same standards for outsiders and insiders alike. These standards are still in place, and we cannot live up to them.
As you continue through the Bible, you will see that there was no way anyone could live up to them. That is why God sent Jesus to be a perfect sacrifice for our sins. Through Jesus, we are made right with God. In fact, as we become believers in Jesus, the Bible says that when God looks at us, He sees Jesus. We don’t have to bear that punishment anymore.
The book of Joshua is a story of God fulfilling His promises to the family of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God is proving that He is faithful to His Word. Keep reading through the rest of the Old Testament to see if the Israelites remain faithful to God.