Christ in All the Scriptures
by A.M. Hodgkin
- III. Christ in the Historical Books
1. Joshua --
- We now come to a new Leader and a new command to arise and go in to possess a new land. Moses was not able to bring the Children of Israel into the Land of Promise. Moses was the embodiment of the Law. The Law cannot bring us into the fulness of the blessing of the Gospel of Christ. That, Jesus Christ alone can do, and [throughout] this book, Joshua is a type of Him. The very name has the same meaning. Joshua means ''Jehovah is Salvation.'' ''And thou shalt call His name Jesus -- Saviour -- for He shall save His people from their sins'' [Mat 1:21].
God gave His people a threefold encouragement to go forward and possess the land:
- First-- The Gift of the land. ''Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you.'' [Josh 1:3]
- Second-- The Command. ''Arise and go... Have not I commanded thee?'' [v.2,9]
- Third-- The Promise of His presence. ''As I was with Moses, so will I be with thee.'' [v.5]
- And the Lord commanded them to observe to do according to all [that] the Law [of] Moses commanded, and to meditate therein day and night. [v.7,8]
- The Land.
- The entrance of the Children of Israel into the Land of Canaan is full of teaching for the Christian. It is true that in one sense it is a picture of the Better Country to which we look forward as our eternal Home [Heb 11:15,16]. But in many respects, it is far more truly a picture of our present inheritance in Christ Jesus, a good land we are called upon to enter in this life.
- It is a land of Rest from the wanderings of the wilderness life. A land with ''great and goodly cities, which thou buildest not, and houses full of all good things, which thou filledst not'' (Deu 6:10,11).
- It is a land of Plenty. ''A land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig-trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil-olive and honey; a land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack anything in it; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills thou mayest dig brass'' (Deu 8:8,9).
- It is a land of Living Water. ''A land of brooks of water, of fountains, and depths that spring out of valleys and hills'' (Deu 8:7).
- It is a land of Promised Victory. ''There shall no man be able to stand before you'' (Deu 11:25).
Surely this is a picture of our present inheritance in Christ Jesus;
- It is He who can give such rest to our souls that we are able to say, ''We which have believed do enter into rest'' [Heb 4:3].
- He who did not spare His own Son has promised with Him to ''freely give us all things'' [Rom 8:32].
- Christ has promised to give the Living Water, the Holy Spirit, to those who come to Him and drink [John 7:38,39].
- And He has promised continual victory to those who commit themselves to His leadership. A victorious life, full of the Holy Ghost and of power, is God's purpose for every Christian, and is experienced through continual abiding in Christ. He promises us-- not absence of tribulation, but in Him peace [Joh 16:33]; not freedom from temptation and conflict, but through Him victory [1Joh 5:4,5]; not immunity from toil, but in Him rest [Mat 11:28-30]. ''Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into His rest, any of you should seem to come short of it'' (Heb 4:1).
- In the purpose of God, those who have been redeemed by the precious blood of Christ are already, not only ''accepted in the Beloved'' [Eph 1:6], but also ''complete in Him'' [Col 2:10]; but it is necessary for us by faith to enter into possession of what is already ours in Christ.
- The Epistle to the Ephesians is the New Testament counterpart of the Book of Joshua. It tells of the Christian's inheritance in Christ, the good land, the ''heavenly places,'' to which He has already raised up, by His grace, those who trust in Him. It is the epistle most full of deep spiritual experience, yet nowhere have we a fuller description of the armor [that] the Christian needs. It is the highest kind of warfare, ''against principalities, against powers,... against spiritual wickedness in heavenly places'' (Eph 6:12, margin).
Israel's enemies are a type of ours. Egypt was a type of the world. In the Amalekites in the wilderness-- those descendants of Esau who sold his birthright for a mess of pottage, a people near of kin to Israel-- we have a picture of the flesh, or self. But in the Canaanites, we have a picture of a still more deadly foe. From contemporary records, as well as from Scripture, these nations seem to have been the very personification of evil. Highly civilized, versed in arts and full of intellectual culture, they were nevertheless hopelessly corrupt. In God's command to Israel, to destroy them utterly (Deu 20:16-18), we recognize at once His plan of dealing in judgment with nations after having given them full time to repent (see Gen 15:16), and we have also His care for the moral well-being of His people. ''God has a right to choose, without being questioned, the best method of chastening a guilty people, whether by flood, fire, brimstone, earthquake, famine, pestilence, or war. Study carefully these 'Acts of God' in the Bible and in our own time'' (H.S. Richardson).
- The Wiles of the Devil.
- Israel's warfare with the Canaanites is a picture of our conflict with Satan. ''Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the Devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood'' [Eph 6:11,12]. The word ''wrestle'' implies hand-to-hand conflict, and it is just this that the Church is experiencing in our own time. From all lands today, we hear the same testimony-- those who know most of the power of the Holy Spirit are experiencing most of personal conflict with the Devil. It would seem that he knows that ''his time is short,'' and that he is therefore putting forth all his power, and they alone can overcome who have learned the threefold secret of Rev 12:11:
- ''They overcame him (the Devil)
- (1) by the blood of the Lamb,
- (2) by the word of their testimony,
- (3) by not loving their lives unto the death,'' ie., by taking their place on the Cross as crucified with Christ.
- The verse before us speaks of ''the wiles of the Devil.'' He comes not only as a roaring lion [1Pet 5:8], but as a serpent, as an angel of light [2Cor 11:13,14], and the climax of his wiliness is the invention of the lie of his non-existence. He is willing to deny even his own personality, if by so doing, he can blind men and women to his power.
- The Red Sea and the Jordan. [Joshua 3]
- In ''the Faith Chapter''-- Hebrews 11-- there is a gap of forty years between the crossing of the Red Sea and the taking of Jericho. The interval is filled with unbelief and disobedience, and even the act of faith-- the Crossing of Jordan-- which brought the Children of Israel into the land is omitted; for had there been no wandering, there had been no Jordan: they would have marched straight up from Kadesh-Barnea without having to cross the river.
The two crossings are coupled together in Psalm 114:5: ''What aileth thee, O thou sea, that thou fleddest? thou Jordan, that thou wast driven back?'' There is a close connection between them. Going down, into the bed of the sea and into the bed of the river, alike, signified death. Both show our participation in the death of Christ. The Red Sea crossing includes it all, in God's purpose, though not always so in our experience. There are some Christians, who, like Paul, enter into the deep meaning of Christ's death and receive the baptism of the Spirit almost immediately after their conversion. It was Israel's wandering that made the second crossing necessary.
And so it often is with Christians now. Through want of clear teaching, it may be, about God's purposes of blessing, or through personal unfaithfulness, how many wander in a wilderness experience for years after their conversion, and need some definite act, like the crossing of Jordan, to bring them into ''the Lord's delightsome land'' of peace and rest and victory! They have seen Christ crucified for them as the ground of their salvation, but they need to see themselves crucified with Christ. The history of the Israelites crossing Jordan makes this so beautifully simple that it cannot fail to be a help to any soul seeking to know the fuller meaning of Christ's death.
The channel of the river has several sets of banks, cut out by the stream in its varying fulness, and at this time it was overflowing all its banks [Josh 3:15]. For a great multitude-- including women and children and cattle-- to have crossed it, at such a time, was an absolute impossibility. But as soon as the feet of the Priests, bearing the Ark of the Covenant, touched the brimming flood, the waters divided, and the priests stood firm on dry ground in the midst of Jordan until all the people were clean passed over. And Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of Jordan, where the feet of the priests stood, and he commanded a man from each tribe to take a stone out of the midst of Jordan, twelve stones, and he set them up in Gilgal on the other side of Jordan as a memorial, ''that all the people of the earth might know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty; that ye might fear the Lord our God for ever'' (Josh 4:24).
- Buried and Risen with Christ.
- The Ark was a type of Christ: He has gone down into death for us. ''Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up form the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life'' [Rom 6:3,4]. The twelve stones, buried for ever under the waters of death, show us our place as crucified with Christ. The twelve stones, set up on the other side, show us our place as risen with Him. ''Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord'' (Rom 6:11). God's word to us is: ''Ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God'' [Col 3:3]. To believe this is as great an impossibility as for Israel to cross Jordan; but as we take Him at His word, and reckon the self-life to be dead with Christ, He makes it true in our experience, and enables us to live the risen life in Christ Jesus.
This is only the beginning of a new life of victory, the acceptance of our position, as risen with Christ, which makes victory possible. It is what Paul meant when he said: ''I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me'' (Gal 2:20).
The next step for the Children of Israel was the renewing, at Gilgal, of the Covenant with God, by the neglected rite of circumcision, separating themselves unto the Lord [Josh 5]. God's separated people were then immediately called to keep the neglected Feast of the Passover [v.10]. And they ate of the old corn of the land, the manna ceasing from that time [v.11,12]. In the slain Lamb and the Bread of Life, we have another picture of Christ.
- The Captain of the Lord's Host.
- Not only, in type, do we see Christ in the Book of Joshua. There came a day when the Lord Himself shone through in all His glory. ''And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him, with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua said, Art Thou for us, or for our adversaries?'' He queried whether his mysterious Guest had come as an ally or as an enemy; but the Lord said: ''Nay, but as Captain of the Host of the Lord am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto Him, What saith my Lord unto His servant? And the Captain of the Lord's Host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so... And the Lord said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thy hand Jericho'' [Josh 5:13- 6:2].
The Burning Bush was a picture of the Incarnation, but how much more vivid was this foreshadowing in the form of a man. God says, ''I have given Him for a Leader and Commander to the people'' [Isa 55:4]. Oft times today some servant of the Lord is hard pressed with responsibility at the thought of some great undertaking, when if he would but lift up his eyes and look, he would see One mighty to save, who has come to take entire control.
- Victory. [Joshua 6]
- ''By faith the walls of Jericho fell down'' [Heb 11:30]. That is the simple record in the New Testament of the taking of the city. ''The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds'' [2Cor 10:4]. Those who are living in the Spirit have ceased to fight with the carnal weapons; they have learned to wield the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God, and quench the fiery darts of the wicked by the shield of faith. The saint wins his victories beforehand on the knees, and then stands still and sees the salvation of the Lord [Eph 6:16-18]. ''Shout; for the Lord hath given you the city'' [Josh 6:16]. This book [ie., Joshua] may also be compared to the Book of Acts, where, through the Spirit, Christ leads His Church to victory, and the heathen strongholds yield to the preaching of the Gospel and to prayer.
''By faith Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies in peace'' [Heb 11:31]. The token for her salvation was the scarlet cord, with which she had let down the spies, tied in her window [Josh 2:18; 6:21-25]. It was like the token of the blood on the door-posts in the Passover. In former days, in the [British] Royal Navy every rope and cord was marked with a scarlet thread running right through its entire length, so that wherever you cut the rope, you found the scarlet cord. The scarlet line of redemption, through the precious blood of Christ, runs through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation.
- Independent Evidence.
- Each step in the record of the conquest of Canaan is the vivid story of an eye-witness, if only there were space to dwell upon all the details. The points of vantage, the configuration of the land, the fertility dependent on laborious cultivation, the picture given of a densely populated country, with walled and garrisoned cities and chariots of iron, of its occupation by various independent nations, --all is exactly the Canaan of Joshua's day as given in the contemporaneous records of the Egyptian hieroglyphics and the Tel-el-Amarna tablets, and therefore proves that the Book of Joshua is-- as it claims to be [cp. Josh 6:25] --a contemporary document and not of late date. ''No mark of late date is discoverable in the names of the cities'' (Col. Conder). Jerusalem is mentioned in this book, and it has been objected that this city was not called Jerusalem until the reign of David. ''But letters were found at Tel-el-Amarna in Egypt, from the king of Jerusalem, which were written about the very time when Joshua was invading Canaan. In these letters the name Jerusalem appears as it does in the Scripture'' (Urquhart). These tablets also constantly refer to the Habiri, who have been identified with the Hebrews. There are frequent appeals from all parts of Canaan to Egypt for help against this powerful foe. One letter says, ''The hostility of the Hebrews waxes mighty against the land, and against the gods''; proving their monotheism.
- [ Defeat. ]
- The victory at Jericho was followed by the defeat before Ai [Joshua 7]. The way to Ai led up a steep rocky defile, so it was natural that the spies who were sent to view the country said, ''Let about two or three thousand men go up and smite Ai; make not all the people to labor thither, for they are but few.'' The result of this attack was defeat and ignominious retreat. The thought of God's honor was uppermost in Joshua's mind. ''What wilt Thou do unto Thy great Name? And the Lord said, Get thee up; wherefore liest thou thus upon they face? Israel hath sinned... therefore they could not stand before their enemies'' [7:8-12]. All the spoil of Jericho was to be devoted to the Lord (Josh 6:19; Deu 7:25,26), but someone had taken of the ''devoted thing'' (R.V.). Early in the morning all Israel had to appear before the Lord, tribe by tribe, and family by family, and man by man, till the guilt was brought home to Achan, and he confessed his sin. ''I have sinned... I saw... I coveted... I took... I hid...'' [7:21] And the stolen treasure was found, and judgment was executed on Achan and all his house.
The defeat before Ai was caused by hidden sin. There is a very solemn lesson here-- that sin always means defeat. All may look right outwardly, but God is not deceived. Absolute obedience is the condition of victory in the land. ''If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God'' [Col 3:1,2]. After the sin of Achan had been judged, the Lord said, ''Fear not; take all the people of war with thee, and arise, go up to Ai'' [Joshua 8]. After sin has been confessed and put away, God gives victory. We may have had some great victory, like Jericho, and then fail in some little ''Ai'' of daily life. He will give victory in the very place where we have been shamefully defeated. But we need all the power of God for every battle, and our position is one of absolute dependence on Him.
- Ebal and Gerizim. [Joshua 8:30-35]
- Next, we have the carrying out of God's command, through Moses, that the tribes should stand on Ebal and Gerizim, six on one mount and six on the other, and pronounce the blessings and the curses of the Law [Deu 27:12,13]. It has been objected that people could not hear each other at such a distance; but the acoustic properties of the valley are remarkable, and Canon Tristram tested it on the spot, two of his party stationing themselves on opposite sides of the valley and reciting the Ten Commandments in turn with perfect ease. Ebal is to the north of the valley, Gerizim to the south. The priests standing with the Ark would no doubt be facing the east. The Ark [was so oriented] wherever the Tabernacle was pitched. Thus Mount Ebal would be on the left hand northwards, Gerizim on the right hand southwards-- the same position as regards blessing and cursing in the parable of the Sheep and the Goats [Mat 25:31-46]. In the Tabernacle, the sacrifices were slain ''on the north side of the altar before the Lord'' [2Kin 16:14]. The altar of sacrifice was likewise on Mount Ebal to the north, the atonement was made in the place over which the cloud of Divine wrath was resting. We cannot but see Divine plan in the perfect harmony of all these details.
Then follows the stratagem of the Gibeonites, who with their moldy loaves and ragged garments led the Children of Israel to believe they had come from a far country, and therefore entered into a covenant with them [Joshua 9]. It was because Israel asked not counsel of the Lord, but took of their victuals, that they fell into the snare. Here again, we are taught the need of absolute dependence upon the Lord in the life of faith. He is willing to guide us in every detail of our lives, but we must seek to know His will, and not judge by the sight of our eyes, or lean upon our own understanding [Prov 3:5,6].
Having entered into league with the Gibeonites, Israel was bound to respond to their appeal for help when five other nations rose up against them [Joshua 10]. God overruled this circumstance to deliver the five kings into the hands of His people. As these nations worshipped the sun and moon, there was a special reason for the miracle which God wrought on that day in showing them His power in controlling the hosts of heaven. We do not know how that miracle was wrought, it is enough for us to believe that He who made the universe could control its action. The ancient annals of Greece, Egypt, and China each confirm the record of a certain ''long day'' such as God's Book tells us of.
- The first half of Joshua is mainly occupied with the Key-note of Victory, the second half with the Key-note of Possession. Though ''all things are ours'' in Christ, it remains for us to take possession of them experimentally by faith. The promise was that every place that the sole of their foot should tread should be theirs. And in the thirteenth chapter of this book, the Lord said unto Joshua, ''There remaineth yet very much land to be possessed.'' There was a slackness on the part of Israel to possess the land which the Lord had given them (18:3).
Then follows an account of the division of the land [Joshua 13-21]. The inheritance of the two-and-a-half tribes beyond Jordan, and the inheritance of Caleb [Joshua 14:6-15]. That old warrior claimed the mountain of the Anakims, with its cities great and fenced, which God had promised him forty years before. He said: ''As my strength was then, even so is my strength now, for war... if so be that the Lord will be with me, then I shall be able to drive them out, as the Lord said.'' Caleb promised his daughter Achsah to whomsoever would take the city of Kirjath-sepher. Othniel his nephew took it and won the prize. Achsah said to her father, ''Give me a blessing: for thou hast given me a South land; give me also springs of water. And he gave her the upper springs and the nether springs.'' Our Heavenly Father waits to bless us in like manner, and ''to give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him'' [Luke 11:13].
- Next we read of the inheritance of Judah [Joshua 15], and then of Ephraim and Manasseh [ch. 16,17].
- We read that the children of Manasseh could not drive out the Canaanites,
but put them under tribute and let them dwell in the land (Josh 17:12,13; see also 13:13 and 15:63).
When we come to study the Book of Judges, we shall see what trouble came through Israel not obeying God's [command to drive] out the Canaanites. The process of degeneration had begun even in the time of Joshua. Though the children of Joseph failed, they were also ambitious, and came to Joshua with the plea that they were a great people and their lot was not enough for them. Then Joshua [instructed them to] go up into the wood country and take the land of the giants. But the children of Joseph feared to go because the inhabitants had chariots of iron. Joshua's answer was a wise one: he [encouraged them to] prove their greatness by driving out the Canaanites, which they were well able to do ''though they have iron chariots, and though they be strong.''
Then we read of the Tabernacle being set up at Shiloh, and the congregation of Israel was assembled there, as the central place of sacrifice [18:1]. Then the seven remaining tribes received their portion, and Joshua his own special portion, and the six Cities of Refuge were fixed [ie., established]. The Levites held their cities upon a different tenure from the other tribes, for the Lord Himself was the portion of their inheritance [ch. 18-21].
- The book closes with Joshua's exhortation to the people [ch. 23,24]. He reminds them that it is God who has fought for them. He exhorts them to keep all that is written in the Law of Moses, and to serve the Lord with all their heart. He invites them to choose this day whom they will serve, but adds his own resolution, ''As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.'' Joshua's last act was to write these words in the book of the Law of God, and to set up a great stone as a witness to the renewal of the Covenant. He died at the age of a hundred and ten years, leaving a character without blemish. After the account of his death we have the ominous words: ''And Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua, and which had known all the works of the Lord, that He had done for Israel.''
Our Joshua never dies. It is He who brings us into the good land, and it is only as we abide under His leadership that we shall possess it and overcome all our enemies.