Thursday, September 15, 2016

Fight the Good Fight of the Faith: Joshua and Jesus

This Sunday the sermon I post will look at Joshua 3-4, and since we do not have time to look at everything this passage could tell us, there are some things I will have to skip in the sermon. One of those is v. 3:7: "Today I [God] will begin to exalt you [Joshua] in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with you."

We might look at that and wonder, "Why would God want to exalt Joshua in the eyes of the people? Shouldn't Joshua exalt God?" And, certainly, Joshua should and does exalt God and glorify Him before the people, but God still wants to exalt Joshua. Why? Well, there are actually two reasons: one from Joshua's life and one that points us to Jesus.

First, way back in the book of Numbers, shortly after the people had been redeemed from Egypt by God, Moses sent twelve men to spy out the land of Canaan. When those twelve men came back, ten of them said the land was great but the people too powerful, so there's no way they could conquer it. But, Joshua and Caleb (the other two spies) told the people that they could do it because God was on their side. The people, however, chose not to trust God and to listen to the ten (which is why they ended up wandering in the wilderness for forty years), and in Numbers 14, it tells us that they sought to humiliate and kill Joshua and Caleb. Well, there were some present on that fateful day (those under the age of twenty) who were standing at the Jordan in Joshua 3 and who would have remembered that how the nation did not believe Joshua and Caleb and tried to humiliate and kill them. They would see that God waited forty years, but He is reversing that here. God is vindicating Joshua and showing the people that he was right all along, so they would know that they can trust him as their leader.

Second, and this goes deeper, here we are pointed to Jesus. In fact, in Joshua, we can see Jesus. Joshua is a kind of "working model" of Jesus called an Old Testament (OT) "type." A "type" is another way to see Jesus in OT stories, but it is more than just a singular event or one-time object that points us to Jesus. A type is a real person, place, or object that God ordained to act as a visible pattern of Jesus' person (who He is) and/or work (what He does), and the type gives us that visible pattern not just for an episode of a story (e.g. the scarlet cord or Rahab) but for most, if not all the time the person, place, or object is talked about in the Bible. A type spans over many stories and perhaps even many books. And, Joshua is that for us. We do not see Jesus in just one or two episodes about Joshua but in Joshua himself throughout the whole time he is in the Bible.

We will talk more about this when we get to later episodes, like Joshua 6 where Joshua encounters the commander of the LORD's armies (i.e. the Son of God Himself), but Joshua is a type of Christ throughout this whole book and, indeed, really during all the time he is a character in the biblical story:
  • Joshua is first mentioned in Numbers 13, but at first, his name is Hoshea, which means "salvation" in Hebrew. But, in Numbers 13:16, Moses changes his name to Yeshua in Hebrew (Joshua in English), which means "YHWH saves!" Did you know that is Jesus' name in Hebrew? "Jesus" is the English, but in Hebrew, His name is "Yeshua"--YHWH saves! Moses gave Hoshea the same name that the angel Gabriel would tell Joseph to name his and Mary's son, 1500 years later: Yeshua, Jesus. Moses probably did not know it, but changing Hoshea's name to Yeshua (Joshua) had far-greater significance than simply a change of calling on his life: In Joshua, God is going to demonstrate to His people a pattern of salvation that He would bring to its culmination in His one and only Son, Jesus.
  • One of the patterns that Joshua shows us in this book is his place in the story itself. Remember, this book shows us God's redeemed people heading towards God's Promised Land, having to learn to live and fight their battles by faith. And, who leads them the whole way? Joshua. Well, we too are God's redeemed people heading towards the true Promised Land, and who leads us the whole way? Jesus, but Jesus goes beyond Joshua, for He not only leads us but has already secured the victory and the blessings of the Promised Land for us! Jesus is the greater Joshua, and as we see the Israelites following Joshua in these stories, we can read that as a mirror (spiritually, not physically) of us following Jesus through this life.
  • Another pattern that we can see in Joshua 3 is Joshua's humiliation and then exaltation by God. Like Joshua was humiliated by his people and they sought to kill him back in Numbers 14, Jesus became one of us and was humiliated by His people as they killed Him. But, like Joshua's humiliation eventually led to God's exaltation of him as the leader the people should follow, Jesus' humiliation eventually led to God "highly exalting Him and bestowing on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Joshua's move from humiliated status to exalted status is the pattern that Jesus' life would follow, 1500 years later.
There are many more instances of this pattern to be seen in this book, and we will hopefully see most as we go through it. For now, remember, as you read this book, Joshua's life and call as the leader of God's people is a type, pattern of Jesus Himself. It is not just in one or two stories but in his whole life. Look for those patterns, and then look to Christ as your Yeshua--the true, ultimate Yeshua.

By His Grace,

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