“Be Strong and of a Good Courage”
The Lord calls Joshua.
The Israelites cross the Jordan River on dry ground; through their faith,
Jericho is destroyed.
Joshua and his people covenant to serve the Lord.
A study of this lesson will encourage us to be strong and courageous in
living the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Scripture references for study: Joshua 1–6;
Note: Underlined scripture references have been hyperlinked
to the LDS Scriptures at LDS.org and will open in a new window.
Lesson 18 Handout (PDF
Moses To Joshua
DEUTERONOMY 34:1-6. Moses leaves the people
and is buried by the Lord.
DEUTERONOMY 34:9. Joshua assumes the prophetic calling
and leads Israel.
"And when Alma had done this
he departed out of the land of Zarahemla, as if to go into the land of
Melek. And it came to pass that he was never heard of more; as to his death
or burial we know not of. Behold, this we know,
that he was a righteous man; and the saying went abroad in the church that
he was taken up by the Spirit, or buried by the hand of the Lord, even
as Moses. But behold, the scriptures saith the Lord took Moses unto himself;
and we suppose that he has also received Alma in the spirit, unto himself;
therefore, for this cause we know nothing concerning his death and burial."
President Joseph Fielding Smith wrote the following regarding Moses' translation: "The priesthood
is everlasting. The Savior, Moses, and Elias (Elijah) gave the keys to
Peter, James, and John, on the Mount when they were transfigured before
"From that we understand
why Elijah and Moses were preserved from death: because they had a mission
to perform, and it had to be performed before the crucifixion of the Son
of God, and it could not be done in the spirit. They had to have tangible
bodies. Christ is the first fruits of the resurrection; therefore if any
former prophets had a work to perform preparatory to the mission of the
Son of God, or to the dispensation of the meridian of times, it was essential
that they be preserved to fulfill that mission in the flesh."
(Doctrines of Salvation, 2:107, 110-111)
"And the children of Israel wept for Moses in
the plains of Moab thirty days." (Deuteronomy 34:8)
WHAT CHALLENGES DID JOSHUA FACE WHEN THE LORD CALLED HIM TO SUCCEED MOSES
IN LEADING THE ISRAELITES?
WHO WAS THIS JOSHUA?
The son of Nun, of the tribe of Ephraim.
First called Oshea or Hoshea.
Moses changed his name into Yehoshua or Joshua.
Meaning = he shall save or the salvation of Jehovah.
In the original Hebrew both Joshua and Jesus were the same name.
Served faithfully with Moses.
Went up onto the mount and waited for Moses forty days.
Among the twelve men sent to spy out the land of Canaan. Only he
and Caleb brought back a favorable report.
Joshua and Caleb were the only ones of the generation over twenty years old
to survive the forty years in the wilderness because "they
wholly followed the Lord" (Numbers 32:11-12).
Modern day comparison: Brigham Young has been called a modern day
Moses, but he really was more like Joshua. Joseph Smith was the lawgiver
(Moses) and Brigham Young was the leader (Joshua) who led the people into
the promised land.
JOSHUA 1:1-2, 5, 7-9. The Lord instructs
Joshua to continue in the path of Moses.
Moses was a great leader and prophet, revered by the people. How
does one begin to fill Moses' shoes?
He had to assume the role of a military general in order to lead Israel
in the conquest and settlement of Canaan.
WHAT WERE THE SIGNIFICANT POINTS OF THE LORD'S MESSAGE TO JOSHUA?
The Lord will be with Joshua as he was with Moses (v5).
Be strong and courageous (v7).
Do not turn to the right or left of the law and you will prosper (v7).
Meditate upon the law day and night in order to observe it (v8).
This is a formula that is as valid for us today as it was in Joshua's day
more than three thousand years ago:
The Lord will be with us.
When the Lord calls us to do a work, he will support us in that effort.
"...the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children
of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the
thing which he commandeth them" (1 Nephi 3:7).
Elder Neal A. Maxwell: "When we are humble
enough to have basic faith, we can, like Nephi, trust the Lord when he
gives us an errand, for he will also give us the necessary spiritual and
logistical support." (Wherefore Ye Must Press Forward, p48)
Be strong and courageous.
"The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the
righteous are bold as a lion." (Proverbs 28:1)
WHAT ARE SOME EXAMPLES OF STRENGTH AND COURAGE?
Those of our youth who stand up to those who would have them break the law
of chastity or the Word of Wisdom.
Those who quietly defend the Church when accused of not being
Do not turn to the right or left of the law and you will prosper.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
"...strait is the gate, and narrow is the way,
which leadeth unto life." (Matthew 7:14)
"There is a law, irrevocably
decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all
blessings are predicated--And when we obtain any blessing from God, it
is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated." (D&C
President George Albert Smith: "If the people
who dwell on this earth were obedient to the loving advice of our Heavenly
Father, that has been given through his servants down through the ages...we
would have peace, prosperity and happiness. There is no way for us to enjoy
the blessings of our Heavenly Father but by obedience to his counsel."
(Sharing the Gospel With Others, p203)
The Lord has given us commandments to observe. We cannot keep the
some of the time and prosper spiritually. We cannot deviate and partially
keep the commandments. We must follow the law, as laid down by the
Lord, to achieve our ultimate destiny.
Meditate upon the law day and night in order to observe it.
HOW IMPORTANT IS THIS?
Joshua had a great and noble undertaking. He was called by God to
lead Israel into the promised land and to establish a nation. How
could he possibly succeed without knowing the mind and will of the Lord.
How can we possibly succeed in our eternal goals without knowing God's
will. Joseph Smith: "Happiness
is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof,
if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness,
faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God. But we
cannot keep all the commandments without first knowing them."
The Lord, in speaking to Joshua, indicated that he should "meditate"
upon the law. In order to better comply with the law, we need to
ponder the commandments and consider how we might better keep them. We can only do this as we seek for the Spirit and consult with the Lord
in prayer. For instance, we have been counseled to seek out someone
or some family with which to share the gospel. How can we possibly
comply with this commandment without meditating and pondering the possibilities? How can we possibly succeed without consulting with the Lord?
Like Joshua, we are in the the process of seeking to carry out the will
of the Lord. The counsel given to Joshua is valid counsel for us
Crossing The Jordan & The Conquest of Jericho
WHERE IS THE LAND OF CANAAN?
WHO WERE THE CANAANITES?
The country west of the Jordan and the Dead Sea, and between those waters
and the Mediterranean.
Instructions to Israel.
Refers to all those living in the land of Canaan.
Not a cohesive nation, but a loose confederation of city states.
At this time it appears that they were in a state of considerable decline. The cities were in a state of decay.
Canaan had been torn by feuding.
Canaan was a land ripe for conquest.
Spies Sent to Jericho - Joshua 2.
"But of the cities of these people, which the
LORD thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing
that breatheth: But thou shalt utterly destroy them; namely, the Hittites,
and the Amorites, the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, the Hivites, and
the Jebusites; as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee: That they teach
you not to do after all their abominations, which they have done unto their
gods; so should ye sin against the LORD your God." (Deuteronomy
Israel crosses the Jordan - Joshua 3 & 4.
Two spies were sent to Jericho.
They were received into the home of Rahab, an harlot.
The King of Jericho had his own intelligence service.
He had discovered that two spies from Israel had come into the land and gone
to the home of Rahab.
The king requested Rahab to bring the spies.
Evidently the stories of the miraculous exodus had proceeded Israel to
Rahab hid the spies and concocted a story about their having left the
Rahab asked the spies to preserve her household when Israel comes to conquer
The spies said that her household would be preserved if they did not reveal
them and their business.
She was to bind a scarlet thread in her window. Any that remained
in that house would be preserved.
The spies returned to the camp of Israel and reported to Joshua.
"Truly the Lord hath delivered into our hands
all the land; for even all the inhabitants of the country do faint because
of us." (Joshua 2:24)
WHAT LESSON MIGHT WE LEARN FROM THIS ENCOUNTER BETWEEN RAHAB AND THE SPIES?
Accept the servants of the Lord (priesthood, home teachers, missionaries).
Recall: Amulek was blessed for accepting Alma into his home.
"And it came to pass that the man received him
into his house; and the man was called Amulek; and he brought forth bread
and meat and set before Alma. And it came to pass that Alma ate bread and
was filled; and he blessed Amulek and his house, and he gave thanks unto
God." (Alma 8:21-22)
JOSHUA 4:14. Joshua magnified before the
people. Feared as Moses.
Israel moves from Shittim to the east bank of the Jordan.
JOSHUA 3:7-8. The Lord gives instructions to
The were people instructed and those bearing the Ark led forth.
JOSHUA 3:15-17. The people cross the Jordan on
WHAT ACT OF FAITH DID THE PRIESTS WHO CARRIED THE ARK HAVE TO PERFORM BEFORE
THE WATERS OF JORDAN WERE STOPPED?
They had to step into the flowing water of the Jordan as instructed by
the Lord through his prophet Joshua.
HOW DOES THE LORD SOMETIMES ASK SIMILAR THINGS OF US?
Elder Boyd K. Packer: "Shortly after I was
called as a General Authority, I went to Elder Harold B. Lee for counsel.
He listened very carefully to my problem and suggested that I see President
David O. McKay. President McKay counseled me as to the direction I should
go. I was very willing to be obedient but saw no way possible for me to
do as he counseled me to do.
"I returned to Elder Lee and told him that I saw no
way to move in the direction I was counseled to go. He said, 'the trouble
is you want to see the end from the beginning.' I replied that I would
like to see at least a step or two ahead. Then came the lesson of a lifetime:
'You must learn to walk to the edge of the light, and then a few steps
into the darkness; then the light will appear and show the way before you'."
(“The Edge of the Light,” BYU Today, Mar 1991, pp22-23)
I am reminded of moving to the "edge of the light" in a graphic way in
my own life. Back in 1984 I got a strange notion in my head that
I wanted to bicycle from Seattle (where we were living at the time) to
my folks home in Orem, Utah. After struggling throughout the spring of 1984
to get in sufficient shape to make such a ride, in late June I embarked on my
After spending a night in Twin Falls, Idaho, I
began my ninth day of riding. I remained away from the freeway and
traveled east through southern Idaho to Burley and continued on the old
road until it turned south toward the small, rural town of Malta, Idaho. I arrived in Malta late in the afternoon and determined that I would continue
on to the southeast and on into Utah. I stopped near the Utah-Idaho
border and fixed dinner before resuming my ride. Darkness fell shortly
after I continued my ride. I was on a isolated road with virtually
no traffic and no street or city lights. Yet I was still several
miles from Snowville, Utah, the nearest town. I carried a bike light in case of such a situation. Unfortunately, it was a poor light and did little to illuminate the road. I was literally riding to the "edge of the light." But as I slowly
ventured into the darkness, the light moved ahead giving me just enough
illumination so that I could make my way. Late that night, well after
midnight, I arrived in Snowville. I was tired, thirsty, and sore,
but I made it to the safety of that small northern Utah town.
So it is with our callings and the things the Lord has asked us to do. It may be tedious and difficult at times, as was my late night ride through
northern Utah. If we continue to move forward, in faith, the Lord
guides us and gives us enough light to assist us in accomplishing that
which he has asked of us. I found this to be true on my mission. I recall times when my companion and I were out tracting, with the
day wearing on, and no success. We were tired and frustrated. There were times when we wondered if it was worth it. Those were
the times when we were moving to the edge of the light. When we were
diligent and pushed on a little bit further, in spite of frustration, fatigue,
or poor weather, we often found doors opening, golden contacts, and persons
truly interested in learning about the truth.
Consider the magnitude of the miracle at the Jordan River. This may
not have been the Red Sea, but was it any less of a miracle to stop the
flow of water?
The priests bearing the Ark remained in the Jordan until all had passed
over. When they lifted their feet to "the dry land" the Jordan
continued to flow as before.
Preparation For War & The Conquest of Jericho - Joshua 5 & 6.
What a challenge Joshua faced in filling the shoes of Moses. Moses
miraculously led the children of Israel out of Egypt. He delivered
the Law. He led the people for forty years. He was the only
prophet the Israelites knew. Would they accept Joshua as the new
prophet and successor to Moses? Those who had the faith to keep the commandments
and follow Joshua to the Jordan beheld a great miracle.
HOW DOES THE LORD SHOW US THAT HE DIRECTS AND INSPIRES THE LIVING PROPHET
AS HE DID PAST PROPHETS?
Most of us have experienced the death of a prophet and watched the senior
member of the Quorum of the Twelve become prophet and president of the
Church. I grew up during the administration of President David O.
McKay. Like the children of Israel and Moses, President McKay was
the only prophet I had known from my earliest memories until his passing
during my senior year of high school. I wondered how any man could
possibly fill the position he had filled. And then I recall watching
as Joseph Fielding Smith took the reigns of the Church and observed him
preside over his first General Conference. I was almost surprised
when I heard his voice in General Conference and felt the spirit witness
to me that this was indeed the Lord's anointed.
When our beloved prophet, Spencer W. Kimball passed away, we watched as
Ezra Taft Benson stood before us and testified of the importance of studying
and utilizing the Book of Mormon. Again, the spirit bore witness
that this was God's prophet and that he was delivering the message the
Lord wanted us to hear.
And when President Hinckley stood before the priesthood of the Church during
the October 1997 Conference, and testified of the importance of reclaiming
our brothers and sisters who had strayed, we were touched and felt the
witness of the Holy Spirit thrust into our hearts saying, "You are hearing
a prophet of God and he is delivering the message Lord wants you to hear."
Who can doubt that these men speak for the Lord, as did Moses and Joshua? And yet, I have heard it said that with the death of each prophet, there
are many testimonies that also die. Our testimony is not in the prophet,
but in the Lord and his gospel. When our testimony has a proper foundation,
we will know that the man who stands as president of the Church, also stands
as the prophet of God.
JOSHUA 4:4-9. The people construct a memorial
commemorating their miraculous crossing of the Jordan.
Biblical people were fond of symbolic acts commemorating great events.
WHAT A GREAT IDEA! IN WHAT WAYS MIGHT WE CREATE MEMORIALS TO REMIND
US OF GREAT SPIRITUAL EVENTS?
Pictures of important events such as missions and temple marriages.
What about planting a tree to honor an important life.
Conquering the City of Ai - Joshua 7 & 8
Canaanites afraid and already spiritually defeated.
In modern terms, the Israelites did excellent pre-game posturing.
Circumcision (a physical token of the covenant) was reinstituted by Joshua. It had not been practiced during the years in the wilderness.
"At that time the Lord said unto Joshua, Make
thee sharp knives, and circumcise again the children of Israel the second
time." (Joshua 5:2).
This was a renewal of the covenant prior to heading off in conquest of
In a similar manner, the early Latter-day Saints after having arrived in Utah
were rebaptized as a renewal of their covenant.
Israel kept the Passover on the plains of Jericho.
They ate the old corn of the land and the following day the manna did cease.
This was a major turning point for the people. They had been eating the manna
for forty years.
JOSHUA 5:13-15. The Lord appears to Joshua.
This was Jehovah, the pre mortal Christ (see Mormon Doctrine, p111).
He did nothing to stop Joshua when Joshua fell on his face and worshiped
Him. In angelic visitations, the visitors have prohibited their worship.
"Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest
is holy" (v15). Compare this to Moses' experience.
JOSHUA 6:1-5. Instructions for conquest given.
The instructions were followed.
Joshua commanded that only Rahab and those in her house were to live (Joshua
All wealth was to go into the treasury of the Lord (Joshua
JOSHUA 6:20-21. Jericho destroyed.
The two spies sent to Rahab to bring her out to the camp of Israel.
The city was burned (Joshua 6:24).
WHY WAS IT NECESSARY THAT JERICHO AND ALL ITS INHABITANTS BE COMPLETELY
It was imperative that all idolatrous nations in Canaan be destroyed.
Later Joshua warned Israel of three things in the event that some heathen
nations, including those that surrounded them, were allowed to remain (see
Beware of social intercourse with the heathen nations (v7).
Refrain from worshipping their false gods (v7-11).
Avoid intermarriages with them (v12).
If these were not heeded "snares and traps," "scourges," and "thorns" awaited
The people of Jericho hid behind the false security of the walls of their
WHAT HAPPENED TO THE PEOPLE OF JERICHO, WHO TRUSTED IN THE SAFETY OF THEIR
DO WE EVER TRUST IN SUCH "WALLS" OF FALSE SECURITY?
Positions of power and influence.
WHAT MUST WE DO? HOW DO WE BUILD TRUE SECURITY?
First attempt on Ai.
Joshua sent spies and found that the city was weak.
About 3,000 men were sent up to Ai to conquer the city.
The army of Ai repelled and pursued the army of Israel. Thirty-six men
Joshua went to the Lord and asked why they were defeated when a promise
had been given that they would conquer the land.
The Lord's response:
Joshua seeks out the transgressor.
Achan confesses to retaining silver and gold found in Jericho which he
hid in the ground near his tent.
Achan was stoned to death.
Second attempt on Ai.
After Achan was destroyed the Lord commands Joshua to take the city.
30,000 men sent out to hide in ambush.
Camp of Israel moved to the north side of Ai.
All in Ai came out in pursuit of Israel. Israel was fleeing.
When the city was empty, the men in ambush took the city and set it on
The people of Ai were then surrounded and destroyed.
WHAT WAS THE DIFFERENCE IN THE TWO ATTEMPTS TO TAKE AI?
CAN OUR SINS AFFECT THE PROGRESS OF OTHERS AS WELL AS OURSELVES?
Joshua's Final Exhortation to Israel - Joshua 23 &
Joshua warned the people of the things that would pollute Israel (Joshua 23:7-12).
JOSHUA 24:14-15. Choose ye this day.
Commentary on Joshua's discourse:
Elder Marvin J. Ashton: "Joshua reminds us of
the importance of making decisions promptly: 'Choose you this day whom
ye will serve;...but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord'. Not
tomorrow, not when we get ready, not when it is convenient--but 'this day,'
straightway, choose whom you will serve. He who invites us to follow will
always be out in front of us with His Spirit and influence setting the
pace. He has charted and marked the course, opened the gates, and shown
the way. He has invited us to come unto Him, and the best time to enjoy
his companionship is straightway. We can best get on the course and stay
on the course by doing as Jesus did--make a total commitment to do the
will of His Father." (Ensign, May 1983, pp30-31)
JOSHUA 24:28-30. Joshua dies.
"Such messages should be considered very significant,
for what a prophet says as he approaches death seems to be an effort on
his part to rid his garments of the blood of the people by placing the
full responsibility for their conduct squarely upon their shoulders."
(Old Testament Student Manual, p242)
President Ezra Taft Benson: "Now during
this critical period, and it is a critical period that we are passing through,
I hope that we will keep ever burning in our hearts the spirit of this
great work which we represent. If we do so, we'll have no anxiety; we'll
have no fear; we'll not worry about the future because the Lord has given
us the assurance that if we live righteously, if we keep his commandments,
if we humble ourselves before him, all will be well. I turn to two passages
of scripture today which I'd like to read:
"'. . . Be strong
and of good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord
thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.' (Joshua 1:9.)
"This was the Lord's admonition
to his son, Joshua, encouraging him to trust in God. Joshua answered that
admonition in counsel to his people these words:
"'. . . choose you this
day whom ye will serve; . . . but as for me and my house, we will serve
the Lord.' (Ibid., 24:15.)
"Embodied in these two
passages of scripture are the two principal essentials for security and
peace: first, trust in God; and second, a determination to keep the commandments,
to serve the Lord, to do that which is right. Latter-day Saints who live
according to these two admonitions - trust in God and keep the commandments
- have nothing to fear.
"The Lord has made it very
clear in the revelations that even though times become perilous, even though
we be surrounded by temptation and sin, even though there be a feeling
of insecurity, even though men's hearts may fail them and anxiety fill
their souls, if we only trust in God and keep his commandments we need
have no fear." (CR, Oct 1950, pp145-46)
Gospel Doctrine Notebook
- Ancient Israel was required to fight to gain their inheritance. They were
successful because they followed the prophet Joshua and obeyed the commandments
of the Lord, even when the commandments seemed unbelievable, as with Jericho. We, too, are in a battle, but ours is a battle for an eternal inheritance. We can be successful, as was ancient Israel, if we heed the words of the
Lord to his servants and make a choice to "serve the Lord."
- Record your thoughts on Joshua and the entrance of Israel into the
promised land. What challenges did they face? How did they fail and how were
the successful? What are your thoughts on Joshua's final counsel to his
Resources Used In This Lesson
BYU Today, March 1991.
Conference Reports (CR).
Doctrines of Salvation by Joseph Fielding Smith, edited by Bruce R. McConkie.
Mormon Doctrine by Bruce R. McConkie.
Old Testament Student Manual - Religion 301.
Sharing the Gospel With Others by George Albert Smith.
Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith selected and arranged by Joseph Fielding
Wherefore, Ye Must Press Forward by Neal A. Maxwell.
Gospel Doctrine Class
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