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Joshua is the star of the show. Really. His name's the title, guys. He's the Beowulf, the General Patton, and the Beatles in Sergeant Pepper. Without Joshua, all we would have to read about is a bunch of Israelites walking places. And guess what, we already read that. In Exodus and Deuteronomy. Sorry Moses, but you know it's true.
In case you forgot, Joshua's first appearance isn't in his own book. Nah man, he's cooler than that. He shows up way back in Exodus as Moses's apprentice. We first learn of his existence in Exodus when the Israelites face the Amalekites—Joshua even gets to go up part of Mount Sinai when that whole Ten Commandments thing goes down. It's like that time that Hawkeye had a cameo in Thor before the Avengers came out. Yep, Joshua's that cool.
In Numbers 16:13-32, Joshua is one of the twelve spies sent into Canaan to scout the land, and only he and Caleb claim they can take the Promised Land.
And then, after Moses dies (moment of silence), Joshua steps up to take his place. That's kind of like when JFK was killed (moment of silence) and Vice President Lyndon Johnson became President. Heavy stuff. Imagine replacing someone so immensely popular that you have to exceed the expectations not only of your own merits, but your predecessor's, too. We'll give you a moment for your imagination to wrestle with that one.
So Joshua has become the new Moses. Part of Moses's shtick as a prophet of God was to show his awesome power. By awesome, we mean it in the truest sense of the word—we're talking real awe here, people. After Moses, it became Joshua's job to be awe-inspiring.
The marks of a good leader are as follows:
Joshua knows he must do this not just through his amazing speeches (1:1-16), but also with his literally God-given superpowers. His first super-powered act? Bending the waters of the Jordan River just like Moses did at the Red Sea (3).
It must get pretty old always being compared to the person who came before you (we wouldn't know—being unrivaled is kind of our thing… so modest). So how does Joshua get out of Moses's shadow you ask? Enter: Jericho.
Fortunately for Joshua, the battle of Jericho is a rousing success. This battle is so successful, in fact, that Israel spontaneously bursts into song glorifying him. This just might be the original flash mob, and it's definitely a turning point in Joshua's leadership career.
Even the failed attack on Ai couldn't break his stride, particularly since it wasn't really his fault. Silly Achan, not following the rules.
Like all central figures in the Bible, a relationship with God is a necessity. But what kind of relationship does Joshua have with God?
Let's call it a mentorship. Joshua is a man struggling to find the right way to lead his people. His job is to keep his subjects safe while at the same time putting them in harm's way—this is what we fondly refer to as an oxymoron.
On the flip side, God's job is to guide Joshua. He grants him courage, compassion, and strength, and lets Joshua know that wisdom and strategy are the keys to success. Because of this, the Israelites' conquests in the Book of Joshua are successful.