The Christ in Joshua

The following is an excerpt from the upcoming Bible study The Messiah: Revealing Jesus in the Old Testament. This study works through each book of the Old Testament and highlights the prophesy and presence of Christ in each. 

Opening Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, today we see how You brought Your people into the Promised Land and kept reaching out to them every time they strayed. Forgive us the times we stray from You, and guide us by Your Spirit that we may praise You for Your faithfulness and salvation. Amen.


Today we will begin exploring a group of books that trace the history of God’s nation, Israel. They are the first of the Old Testament’s Historical Books. These books show us how God preserved the line that would lead to the birth of His Son, our Savior. At the same time, He also preserved the transmission of His faith-creating promise to His people and expanded it with further details. We continue with Joshua, who was Moses’ aide and who commanded Israel’s army when it went into battle. He was the leader God chose to succeed Moses and lead Israel into the Promised Land.


It is likely that Joshua wrote most of the book that carries his name. His book explains how God brought His people Israel into the Promised Land, where the Savior of the world would be born. Joshua describes how the Lord led him to defeat thirty-one kings and their heavily fortified cities.

Before reading a single verse of this book, we have encountered Jesus. We see Him in the name Joshua. Joshua is the English rendering of the Hebrew name that means “the Lord saves.” Other Old Testament forms of the name include Hosea and Isaiah. The Greek form of the name is rendered in English as Jesus.

Besides having the same name in common, both leaders conquered God’s enemies. Joshua conquered thirty-one Canaanite kings. Jesus conquered the devil, sin, death, and hell by His death and resurrection. In addition, both brought God’s people safely into the Promised Land—Joshua led Israel into Canaan, and Christ Jesus leads all believers into God’s presence in the new heavens and the new earth.

But even beyond this, the book contains several references to Christ and an appearance by the preincarnate Christ Himself.

Rahab the Prostitute

At the beginning of the book, Israel is camped along the east bank of the Jordan River, with the Promised Land lying across the river to the west.

In chapter 2, we read that Joshua sent two spies to view the land along the river, especially Jericho, the strongly fortified city that secured the Canaanite frontier to the west of the Jordan. Any invasion of the Promised Land had to begin with Jericho.

The spies snuck into Jericho and stayed with a woman of the city who was named Rahab. Not only was she a Gentile, but she was also a prostitute, whose house was built into Jericho’s city wall. When the leaders of Jericho got word that two spies were in Rahab’s house, they told her to bring them out. Rahab said they had been there but had left Jericho to return to Israel. While the guards went searching outside the city walls, she hid the spies on her roof, protecting them and revealing her faith in Israel’s God.

Read Joshua 2

It is astounding that the people in Jericho were still talking about the ten great plagues in Egypt and the way the God of the Israelites had brought His people through the Red Sea and drowned the Egyptians who rode in after them. Those events had occurred forty years before, yet they filled the hearts of the people of Jericho with great fear. But God used these same mighty acts to create faith in the heart of this Canaanite, this Gentile prostitute.

Before we go any further with Rahab’s story, you may wonder, what in the world does a Canaanite prostitute have to do with Jesus? In addition to believing in God and protecting Israel’s spies, her biggest contribution is found in the list of Jesus’ ancestors, which we read in Matthew 1:

Salmon [was] the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king. (Matthew 1:5–6, emphasis added)

Why is Rahab’s presence in the line of Jesus so important?

The fact that God included a Gentile prostitute in Christ’s family tree indicates the universal scope of the salvation Jesus won. He offers salvation to all who believe, no matter who they are, where they come from, or what they have done.

Blog post adapted from The Messiah: Revealing Jesus in the Old Testament copyright © 2022 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Scripture: ESV®.

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