Joshua 1-3: PICTURES OF SALVATION
Israel's history gives pictures of our salvation through Christ (1Corinthians 10:1-13) They were saved from the hand of Pharoh (satan) in the EXODUS by trusting in the substitionary sacrifice of the PASSOVER LAMB. They were delivered out of bondage in the kingdom of darkness. By faith they followed Moses (a picture of Christ) baptised into him, identified with him. God opened up the Red Sea and they went through death and resurrection, in which satan's power was forever broken. They entered God's Kingdom through a covenant with God at Sinai, just as we entered a new-covenant. Thus they are now a picture of God's people saved by grace. God's plan was not just to bring them out of the land of curse but to bring them into the Promised Land of every blessing, and to establish His Kingdom (dominion) on earth through them. This land,promised to Abraham is often wrongly taken as a picture of heaven. But heaven has no giants, no battles and no danger of expulsion! It's actually a picture of our PRESENT INHERITANCE IN CHRIST of the Kingdom of God, the good land of God's will for us, which weíre called to enter in this life,and which involves a fight (of faith).
They first faced a WILDERNESS EXPERIENCE, having to go through the wilderness en-route to the land, where, in the face of lack and problems they were to learn to trust God as their Provider. Again and again they saw God work for them, but stubbornly refused to trust Him in difficulty. Thus when time came for them to enter the land, they refused through unbelief, believing the giants to be bigger than God. Even with God's Presence and Promise, they saw themselves as grasshoppers and backed down from the fight. They should have admitted the impossibility of doing it in their own strength (this is humility), but also seeing they are not alone and that with God all things are possible, for greater is He that is in and with us than any force that's against us. (This is faith, which declares 'God gives me the victory, He is my Helper, whom shall I fear?') Due to their unbelief they entered the WILDERNESS WANDERINGS for 38 years, and most died in the wilderness. This is many christians today (saved but in the wilderness; God providing but never entering into God's best, His plan for their life.)
The BOOK of JOSHUA tells how God's people entered and possessed the land under JOSHUA'S leadership. It is given as an example for us, revealing the key insights we need to enter our promised land, defeat our enemies and possess our possessions.
This Land is a place of REST and STABILITY from wanderings,
of ENJOYING God's blessings (Deut 6:10,11),
a land of LIVING WATER (Deut 8:7),
of ABUNDANCE (8:8,9),
and VICTORY (11:25)
Hebrews 3:16-4:1 confirms this is a picture of the Christian life and urges us to not be like those who through unbelief did not obey, but to believe, obey and possess our land. Joshua reveals the kind of faith required to possess the land of good things. Entering the land is not automatic, it takes an ACTIVE FAITH, a faith that works, that steps out believing God's word is true and that God will back it up as we obey it.
2 ditches (errors) to avoid:
(1) FAITH IN SELF - depending on your ability or goodness, trusting in your works will never get you into the land. Whenever they got overconfident and moved independently of God they failed. This was the 1st lesson to learn. Again and again they faced opposition or problems too great for them. It's good to come to the end of ourselves, to realise 'I can't'. But this revelation alone just takes us half-way.
(2) PASSIVE FAITH, faith without works is ineffective. It says: 'I can't do it, so I'll wait for God to do it. If God wants me to have it, He'll just give it to me.'
Joshua1:1-4,11 shows God had already given it to them (positionally) but only the place where they put their foot did they possess experientially. Like inheriting the title-deed to a house full of squatters, in order to enjoy it, they had to stake their claim and evict them. (Luke 10:19) It only becomes ours in practice when we act on the promise. So, God has given us all things (Eph 1:3) but we must actively put our feet on them. The Land is possessed by FAITH + WORKS = OBEDIENCE (Hearing and Acting on the Word) It takes courage to do this because there are enemies. It's easier to wander in the wilderness, hiding from opposition.
This faith says: 'I can't do it by myself, but I'm not alone, God is with me. I have His Word and Power, so I can and will do it in Him.
As I do His Word His power will come through. He is with me, He'll put me over. As I step out in faith, His power is released.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
He's given me His Promise and Command, His Presence and Power,
so trusting Him, I'llact on His Word and the impossible will become possible. As I do my part (the possible) God will do His part (the impossible)'
Joshua 1:5-9 gives us encouragements for taking our land. He puts courage in us through His Word.
(1) 'No man will be able to stand before you.'(v5a)
We can say: 'If God be for us, who can be against us.?' (Rom 8:31)
(2) 'I am with you. I will never leave or forsake you.'(v5b,9) 'I will never leave nor forsake you, so we may boldly say: 'The Lord is my Helper. I will not fear. What can man do to me?' (Heb 13:5)
(3) 'Be strong andvery courageous for I've given this land to you.'(v6; 1Cor 16:13; Ps 31:24; Eph 6:10-13)
(4) 'If you're courageous to put the Word into practice, I will give success and victory.' (v7)
(5) 'You must continually MEDITATE (speak to yourself) the WORD so that it controls your thoughts to the point where you act on it. Then you'll make your way prosperous and have good success'(v8)
There's no shortcut to spiritual growth, to possessing our land. It is by hearing and doing the Word. We must possess the land of spiritual blessings in heavenly places, fighting off satan's lies. We must meditate God's Word to know the truth of what belongs to us and to give us the faith and courage to act on the Word and possess the land. As we do this, keeping our eyes on our leader - Jeshua, God will give it to us to enjoy.
The Land can't be possessed by ourselves. God entrusted it to a representative-JOSHUA. He had to lead them into the land. Only by following his leadership could they possess the land.
JOSHUA is a picture of JESUS. In fact these 2 names are identical- meaning: 'The Lord is our Saviour, our Helper.' This NAME summarises the message and theme of the Book: It's only by trusting the Lord Jesus and following him as his disciple that we enter into our full salvation. He helps us possess it. He leads us and we follow him to victory. He is the CAPTAIN OF OUR SALVATION.
'It was fitting, in bringing many sons to glory (inheritance) to make the CAPTAIN of their salvation perfect.' (Heb 2:10)
'Thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ' (2Cor 2:14)
'We are more than conquerors through Christ.' (Rom 8:37)
'Thanks be to God, Who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.' (1Cor 15:57)
MOSES was a picture of CHRIST who died before they entered the land.
JOSHUA, arising in his place is a picture of JESUS, RISEN FROM THE DEAD leading us into his inheritance. The inheritance (the Kingdom) was entrusted to Joshua who then divided it up among the people. Likewise Jesus, our Joshua, gives us our portion in the Kingdom. We can only possess our land by following Jesus, our CAPTAIN. He leads us to Victory.
JOSHUA like JESUS was courageous in battle, obedient to God not backing down until he had completed his mission, dedicated to God and to meditating His Word. He was an aggressive general often taking the enemy by surprise. He was humble, giving the glory to God. He showed a great spirit of faith in God, even when facing the impossible. He was faithful and God gave him success.
Joshua 2 tells the story of Rahab, the one believer in Jericho.
She showed her faith by her actions that saved the life of the spies (Heb 11:31) She risked her life to welcome and protect God's people. Thus through her active faith she saved her life, possessed her land and gained an honoured position in the Kingdom of God as an ancestor of King David and King Jesus.(Matt 1:5). Hers is a wonderful picture of salvation.
When all around her were judged she was delivered from judgement by the Blood of the Lamb. It was Passover time, and all Israel put the Lamb's blood on their doors as a sign of faith in the Lamb of God who delivers them from judgement. Rahab was told instead to hang a SCARLET rope out of her window, as her sign of faith. This represented her faith in the BLOOD. Thus when God destroyed Jericho only her house stood! When judgement falls only those who trust in the Blood of the Lamb will be spared.
Joshua 3 tells the story of the Crossing of the Jordan (Ps 114).
It was flood season and the river that flowed from Adam seemed an impossible barrier to their progress. Likewise our old-life flowing from Adam seems a barrier to spiritual progress and success in entering God's plan, purpose and blessing. But they were to learn that what's impossible to us is possible to God if we trust and obey. The Presence of God in the Ark (a picture of Jesus) went before them. They were to keep their eyes on it and follow it. The Priests had to step in the water and only then did the waters part (an act of faith releasing God's power) Then all Israel passed over as God's power from the Ark overcame the waters. While governed by the old life (characterised by trusting in self) weíre cut off from the Land. We must see that by his death (descending into the Jordan) Jesus (our Ark) has overcome the power of the old life so that by faith we can enter into a new resurrection life. Now as we walk in the Spirit, looking to the Lord, the waters of the old-life are held back and we can walk into the blessings of the new-life, crossing into a new dimension of life.(See Rom 6; Gal 5:16) Thus the Jordan Crossing represents the point when a christian dies to the old-life of trusting self (walking in the flesh) and rises to a new-life of walking in the Spirit. It is a point of dedication to God, to walk in the Spirit,obeying Him and pressing into His will and blessings by faith. This believer puts himself under the control of the Spirit and now says: 'the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death.' (Romans 8:2).