Finding Jesus in the Book of Joshua: Faith & Victory

Throughout the Book of Joshua, we see the promised Messiah revealed to us in many different ways. Interestingly, the name “Joshua” means the Lord saves and corresponds with the New Testament name “Jesus.” There are many similarities between Joshua and Jesus which point us to Christ and illuminate God’s plan of salvation.


The Book of Joshua records Israel’s history from Moses’s death to the time of the Judges. It is the first of twelve historical books of the Old Testament. In Numbers, we saw the Israelites fail because of unbelief. In contrast, in Joshua, the Israelites see victory due to their faith.

Ralph F. Wilson, ‘Joshua’ (2016), after Tissot, ‘Othniel’, transparent watercolor on paper, 14×18 in.

Joshua succeeded in leading the Israelites into the Promised Land aided by a miracle-working God. God dammed the Jordan River so the Israelites could cross on dry land. So, as the Exodus had begun with a miracle, it also ended with a miracle (Joshua 3:14-17). In contrast, where Moses failed to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land due to their unbelief, Joshua succeeded because of their faith.

The Israelites, led by Joshua, overcame their enemies and occupied the Promised Land. God, throughout the book of Joshua, shows the Israelites their victory before they receive it (Joshua 6:2, Joshua 8:1, Joshua 10:8). When they believed and obeyed God, they defeated their enemies. But when they didn’t believe and obey God, they suffered defeat. Their faith and obedience determined their victory. The relationship between faith and obedience and unbelief and disobedience is illustrated at Jericho and then again in Ai.

Jericho and Ai

Israel was obedient to God’s commands at Jericho. Their faith, followed by obedience, won them the victory, and the walls fell. Contrast this with their defeat at Ai. God commanded the Israelites not to take things during their conquests that are sacred to the Lord, or Israel would be subject to destruction and disaster (Joshua 6:18-19). Achan, an Israelite didn’t believe God and disobeyed Him by taking these sacred things for himself (Joshua 7:10-12). As a result, when the Israelites fought at Ai, they were defeated. Their disobedience led directly to their defeat.


The Angel Appearing to Joshua Joshua 5:13-14

Joshua was successful because of his uncommon faith and obedience. As Jesus appeared to Abraham, he appeared to Joshua, in what theologians call a Christophany or a pre-incarnate appearance of Christ. Perhaps, it was because of Joshua’s faithfulness and obedience that Jesus chose to appear to Him?

Before Joshua and the Israelites took Jericho, Joshua raised his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing opposite him with his sword drawn in his hand, and Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us or for our enemies?” He said, “No; rather I have come now as captain of the army of the Lord.” And Joshua fell on his face to the ground, bowed down, and said to him, “What has my lord to say to his servant?” And the captain of the Lord’s army said to Joshua, “Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so (Joshua 5:13-15).

This captain of the Lord’s army was Jesus. Just as Jesus gave Joshua the victory at Jericho, He provides us with the victory when we put our faith in His name.

Not only did Jesus appear in Joshua literally, but He also appeared figuratively. There are many similarities between Joshua and Jesus, which point us to Christ and illuminate God’s plan of salvation He first hinted at in Genesis 3:15. Here, we will talk about five similarities.


  1. Joshua and Jesus’ names both mean “The Lord Saves.” Jesus’ name is a shortened form of Joshua in Greek. Jesus is the better Joshua in that He is the LORD, and He saves us for eternity.
  2. Joshua gave Israelites rest through military victories. “And the Lord gave them rest on every side, in accordance with everything that He had sworn to their fathers, and no one of all their enemies stood before them; the Lord handed all their enemies over to them” (Joshua 21:44). This rest, however, was only temporary. The author of Hebrews elaborates, “For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that. Consequently, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God” (Hebrews 4:8-9). Jesus was able to do what Joshua could not; He gave us Sabbath rest, permanent spiritual rest through his finished work on the cross  (Hebrews, 4:8-9).
  3. Joshua gives Israel what Moses couldn’t, the Promised Land.  Jesus gives us what the Law couldn’t, God’s salvation (Romans 8:2-4) (Gal 3:23-25).
  4. In times of conflict,  Joshua intercedes for his people (Joshua 7:6-9). Jesus continually intercedes for His people (Luke 22:32, Hebrews 7:25)
  5. Joshua leads God’s people into the Promised Land (Joshua 1:2-3) and into their rest (Joshua 21:44). Jesus leads His people into God’s promised inheritance (Matt. 25:34), and into rest in the new creation (Heb. 4:10)

Joshua and the Israelites were able to enter the Promised Land because of their faith and obedience. “Not one of the good promises which the Lord had made to the house of Israel failed; everything came to pass” (Joshua 21:45). Likewise, when we trust and obey God, not one of the good promises God has made to us through His Word will fail because of what Jesus did for us on the cross. Jesus is a better Joshua, leading us into our promised inheritance!



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