“Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
In the books prior, God had delivered the Israelites out of Egypt and slavery, disciplined them in the wilderness, and brought them to the land He promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. But here in Joshua, the story begins thus: Moses just died at the door step of the promised land and Joshua has been tasked with leading the people into the land. For so far the people had been brought to the land but never entered it for fear of its inhabitants (Deuteronomy 1:28). After the Israelites react with fear, not trusting God’s deliverance, God promises that they would never see it, at least the current generation (Deuteronomy 1:35).
Now 500 years after God’s covenant with Abraham, his descendants finally settle into the land and make it theirs. The book begins with God calling Joshua to be strong, courageous and most importantly obedient. The book ends with Joshua’s death and the Israelites happily serving God in the land He gave them. One of the end scenes is captured in Joshua 24:21, during a covenant renewal ceremony.
To give a high level overview of the book, we can break all 24 chapters down into two parts:
Joshua 1-12, Joshua and Israel conquer the land
Joshua 13-24, Joshua divides up the land between the tribes.
Pretty straightforward this book marks the end of an age for Israel. With both Moses and Joshua dead, there is no commissioned leader of Israel. After this Israel will move into the age of Judges, where God periodically will raise national leaders to deliver Israel from her enemies. But that’s a post for another time.