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RESTING AFTER WRESTLING,
AND NEVER WRESTING THE WONDER OF HIS WAYS
whether by convenient compromise, deceased 'faith' or deadly synthesis
Grace saves; work witnesses
JOSHUA IN THE LIFE I
LIVING BY COVENANTAL FAITH I
FIRST AND LAST
From the first, Joshua was an example, being one of those spies sent in to survey the Promised Land, who instead of fainting in fear, like many who fail to enter that other promised land, the kingdom of heaven through the freely given access in the Lord Jesus Christ, exhorted the people to proceed and enter.
For this faithfulness to their commitment to God and His to them, he and his ally in faithfulness, Caleb were nearly stoned (Numbers 14). Yet how earnest were their neglected pleas to the people: Enter, does not the Lord have power and presence, enter!
For that failure, the refusniks were to lose forty years, and despite a flurry of rushing activity later, they were given no further access to that land; yet their children entered. It is most unwise to flirt with faith, play taste and touch with the Lord (Hebrews 6 and 10, Matthew 13:1-9, Jeremiah 8:12ff., 6:10ff.).
Jeremiah 8:7ff. gives a report from a day later than that of Joshua, but with crucial elements in common, for just as a disease may take many forms, so the dissolution of faith can have many dynamics for dismemberment.
"Even the stork in the heavens
Knows her appointed times;
And the turtledove, the swift, and the swallow
Observe the time of their coming.
But My people do not know the judgment of the Lord.
"How can you say, ‘We are wise,
And the law of the Lord is with us’?
Look, the false pen of the scribe certainly works falsehood.
The wise men are ashamed,
They are dismayed and taken.
Behold, they have rejected the word of the Lord;
So what wisdom do they have?
"Therefore I will give their wives to others,
And their fields to those who will inherit them;
Because from the least even to the greatest
Everyone is given to covetousness;
From the prophet even to the priest
Everyone deals falsely.
For they have healed the hurt of the daughter of My people slightly,
Saying, ‘Peace, peace!’
When there is no peace."
Life is not made for lust, nor is our spirit provided for dissolution, dispirited sorties into oddities of desire: it is all disciplined by and for the design of God, and to neglect this is like using the stomach for stone crushing. It lasts a little while... Indeed, whether or not deferential in church mode or attendance here or there, many make a muddled mixture of faith and desire, never swallow the bread of life, never come to terms, never receive His gracious provisions and remain without God in life.
Alas for those who refused to entered the Promised Land, whose desert wanderings were sustained, but dry. One can grieve for that generation of refusniks who wandered, though supported, for forty years in the desert, an apt testimony to their refusal; but that itself was a negative product coming anomalously after years in which they were surrounded by miracles.
They had all seen, in the Exodus, the miraculous evacuation from the turbulent power of an irascible Pharaoh in what then may well have been earth's mightiest and most culturally evocative nation, that Egypt filled with religious worships of naturalistic mysteries*1, null dignities in which they placed a spurious trust. These ? they were laughable as God made clear as he used them in plagues, to show that to trust in what other things God has made, with or without mythical additives, is as vain as trusting in your own right arm, for which you can select neither the kind nor the time of arrival or departure. Flies, frogs, Nile were but examples of natural things turned on the forge of the imagination into deities to be worshipped. How pleasant to be crushed by their mythical gods*2A, as flies and Nile, with frogs in close support, became a stench, a burden or a blight in the plagues resulting from Egypt's covetous and crushing misuse of Israel as slaves, slaves they would not release!
What delicious divine irony to ANNOUNCE that Israel like a son must be released to worship his God, who cared for him; and then, with the repetitive agreements and refusals of a vacillating Pharaoh, meeting now with the God who CONTROLS because He MADE natural things, so that he could not control this God or His power, until fretful in fury, he pursued the fleeing Israelites, their God with them, only to have his army perish in the very Sea which was made a pathway for Israel. Where, you may ask, is the irony in that ? It is that not merely did the 'gods' of Egypt have no comparable power with the God who CREATED all nature, but He used their symbols of power through nature, their natural gods, as blights to humble their pretensions and awake them to the necessity of mercy from God, rather than having mere imagination as a nurse-maid to the psyche!
It is in the same category to trust in nations, their institutions, or even in religions which are based on man, his culture and his thought, instead of resting on the God who made mind, matter and spirit, and linked them into a fascinating design*2 triad in man.
When however, by contrast, such faith is present in the objective God (cf. TMR Ch. 5), action comes in His design for history, at His discretion, large or small, by impact in mind, spirit or matter, through the deft interweaving of natural processes and providential pursuits in man, or actual miracle. In the day of Moses and Joshua, as in that of Elijah and Elisha, and paramountly in that of Jesus Christ, the miraculous focus was vast. This was, within a created norm, a matter of focus on Creator's impact, as when one first at the mental level, studies calculus, or algebra, or solid geometry. It opens a door to the unexpected, a light glows from the unknown, wonder arises and depth develops; but here, it is not in facets of function, but by faith in the Father of thought.
Especially (but not only) in these great periods of history, matters of moment from the transcendental, were formed and forged into the incidental; and the preliminary disjunction from the gods of naturalism, the redemptive focus of the insurgent Creator, the arrest on decline as with Elijah, and the provision of payment for redemption through the Lord God as Man, Jesus Christ: these things successively became crucial, and their provisions were performed in history once and for all. The structure of salvation became complete, just as envisaged; and the way of life was consummated for man, in the appearance of God as man, not merely to SHOW man life, but to GAIN eternal life for man, by distinguishing between him and his surrounds, his sin and his salvation.
In the day of Joshua, that immediately in sequence from that of Moses, there was a completion of the Exodus lessons, with its symbols of redemption, as with its intimations, foci and miracles as the Promised Land at last, was entered.
Accordingly, as with all the rest just noted, above all, Christ the criterion as definitive exhibition of deity (Hebrews 1), so with Joshua in his prelude of power there came the precise presence and abiding faithfulness of the God of creation. There were features of great advantage from which to learn. These were great lesson days. Miraculous phases are not always so vast as in such aspcts and times as these, for then the natural order of organisation and test might be compromised; nor are they never found, for then the meaning and basis of life might be vague, or while the divine power might be obvious not so the plan. Accordingly, they occur like axes of development, with the biblical depiction in this way brought from the first to the consummation in Christ.
Let us then learn from the day and phase of the dynamic of divine revelation in the day of Joshua.
This comes in four episodes. We are now launched into the FIRST of these. It starts at the end of Joshua's life, in an overview which will release our thoughts more readily to the beginnings.
I THE BACKGROUND
Joshua was undaunted by his task - to bring a recalcitrant people into the promised land; for he had himself been willing to enter from the first, had urged the others to do so, but instead in fear they had shrunk from the cost, withered in faith. Therefore, the whole nation had waited till that generation died, and waited mind you, in the desert, until the next one, the children grown, were ready. Had not God Himself appeared to Joshua as the COMMANDER of the host, giving to him the assurance; and had not Joshua, first seeing Him armed, been willing to fight Him, before realising it was no enemy but the Lord, their Protector (Joshua 5:13ff.)!
He had seen the power of God in the Exodus, that He can scatter any enemy, and enemies were not to the point for him: it was the Lord who was to the point, the task which needing doing, for they were sent NOT because of their virtue or goodness, but because of the wickedness of the inhabitants of the land. For these, God had waited some 400 years as their evil grew, before using His prepared plan to bring judgment on them through another people. It was not to force faith, a contradiction in terms; it was not to make second class citizens of them: it was to bring judgment on them, and remove them as by a storm from the earth. It was a special procedure, just as the Flood had been.
In different ways God has instituted judgment, but never without indisputable grounds. In this case the Call to Moses to the task of delivering his own Hebrew people led to the Exodus and all the miraculous power which made a small people dominate over their slave drivers and humiliate Egypt, the greatest power on earth in that day! Nor was this Call one to lord it over peoples to whose land they were sent, but rather to SHOW the ways of the Lord in mercy and judgment (Isaiah 43:21, 42:6, 49:6, Psalm 67, cf. Exodus 11:9.12-13,12:48,14:18, 15:11) and so give a light to that world which had escaped extinction in the flood. This time the Call, one to Moses so long after Noah, would lead to more exposure of vast plan and panorama of salvation then to come, as promised in the protevangelion , the first intimation of the Gospel in Genesis 3:15.
Nor was it a reward for their own righteousness: for said Moses (Deuteronomy 9), they were a stiff-necked people; yet they were sent as an agency to reward by the invasion, the wickedness of those who had for so long asked for judgment, this being the way God chose, as He brought His plan of salvation first to one people, Israel, and then through them to the world. Now the time had come, and in the book of Joshua you see the new phase of miraculous interventions of the Lord, disciplines and directions, as the promised land was possessed. We turn now to the end of Joshua's life, as he speaks to the people, before he departs (Joshua 24). This is what led up to that event.
II THE CHALLENGE – Joshua 24
In his terminal speech, swiftly, starting with direct statement from the Lord, and with many applications, as the Lord inspired him, swiftly, Joshua took them over the background from Abraham to Egypt, where they had suffered bondage, to the Exodus with its multiple attestations of divine power and grace, and the entrance to the promised land by divine oversight and provision. He noted the spiritual attack which they had suffered (almost the most dangerous, like radioactive nuclear bombs, with vast power to unleash, small by comparison with this). It was made by Balaam, the false prophet, who though knowing something of God, was willing to be tempted to look for reward while still making reverent type noises (Numbers 24). Had they entered the Promised Land when directed to do so, almost certainly this tragic befouling through Moab would never have happened! Fail God in a positive step, and you may have to suffer a negative one!
Nevertheless, God would not LET Balaam curse them, as Balak King of Moab had desired. In fact, using spiritual weapons to stop the will of God is rather naive, but it can be costly where disobedience enters in, as in so many once sound churches today. So, hired to curse Israel, Balaam ended by blessing them (24:9-10). In fact, one might add, Balaam delivered one of the great prophecies concerning the Messiah, showing how God can use whom and what He will (Numbers 24:17), predicting a Star would arise from Jacob and a Sceptre from Israel. The Lord, Joshua continued, then has taken them over the Jordan River, and "sent a hornet before you which drove out" many peoples (Joshua 24:12), and brought them to a prepared land for their own. FEAR (that is have reverential and realistic trust in) the Lord! he counselled (24:14).
Indeed, if this seems bad, then choose THIS DAY, WHOM you WILL serve, the gods of your fathers (remember the golden calf episode! and what followed), those of the Amorites to whose land you have come, or the Lord. Thus Joshua challenged them to be decisive. For his own part, he added this: but as for ME and MY HOUSE, WE will serve the LORD. There is an example!
You may notice the way in which the people responded to this challenge. "God forbid that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods." HE had brought them out of Egypt's enslavement with marvels and wonders of power and protection, and brought them into their now occupied land. It was, you see, an occupation right enough, but the one authorising it was the MAKER OF ALL LAND! There is perhaps a certain lack of personal passion in their answer to Joshua; it tends to sound formal, and the history of the Judges which followed, may reflect this, for it was a pantomime of errors and evils. Yet, in the immediate future, with the elders of Joshua when Joshua himself passed on, things went much better. Later came the decline. Remember that faith does not merely note facts; it has a fashion of courage and conviction which baulks at nothing!
III THE MANNER OF IT, REASON FOR IT AND THE RESULT OF IT
Joshua proceeded to press his challenge. He was not satisfied with mere mouthings, for he had seen the ways of the people, and their trends to synthesise and combine with the follies of other peoples, wavering and wandering. YOU CANNOT SERVE THE LORD, he announced, because He is a holy God, zealous in zest for purity, like a husband with his wife. The thrust: If you forsake Him, serve foreign, alien gods, then the light of glory which was protective, could consume you. It would remind them of Mount Sinai and the fire and awe that was there when the word of God came to Moses. If you know God, His power is great; but if you turn away, it is awesome and fearful.
The people replied (a most important historical fact, showing their freedom and commitment as a nation): "No, but we will serve the LORD." SERVING the Lord is part of believing in Him, since He is Lord. "WHY," asked Jesus, "do you call Me Lord, Lord and not do the things I say" (Luke 6:46).
Very well, Joshua indicated, "You are witnesses against yourselves, that you have chosen to serve Him." They agreed: "We are witnesses!" If you marry, you are not forced to do so, and there are results. There are results if you play the fool: it is special, not like just knowing someone. Thus Joshua then brought in this result: He made a COVENANT with the people (24:25), and wrote it. He made a stone of witness.
Similarly, individuals, churches and nations may assert this or that religiously, and wander; and when they even begin to SAY the wrong things, then the impudent arrogance is truly tempestuous. Imagine if the people had told Joshua, NO, we will keep those parts of the covenant we really like, such as those parts which speak of blessings, and ignore the condemned parts! What would it resemble now ? insistence on driving on any side of the road, or using rockets to space if we please, at will! Later, they were just as provocative as that (Jeremiah 23), and indeed in Numbers 14, had been so!
Bad enough was hypocrisy, but as for rebellion as a sauce, that is a tart one indeed, to make one screw up the face! You must follow on to KNOW the Lord (Hosea 6:1ff.), not hesitating as they did at the promised land, not straying as they did with calves of idolatry, not setting limits to the Lord as they did, when they feared the strength of the opposition they foresaw. God has given us these things as examples (cf. I Corinthians 10), and what sort of student ignores examples!
Let us then be realistic and fear the Lord, rejoice with trembling as Psalm 2 puts it: for in His favour is blessing in the midst of glory, and in folly is remorse, guilt and a clugging of the wheels, making trouble for the spiritual differential! Avoid making God an extra; one's own desires are an extra, to be put confidently to the Lord who will perform the good, and may warn of the evil; for living in spirit is not less definite than in the body. Stress it and you ask for trouble; be patient and loving, and there is no limit to the wonders the Lord is able to perform. Again the message is this: ABIDE in Him, for the Lord is good, and we need the good He does to keep us functioning, just as flowers need water and soil nutrition.
FEED on Him, WAIT on the Lord, DRAW NEAR to God. He is not bunch of flowers for the spiritual table; HE is the house and the room in it. It is YOU who live in Him. Then you find the house is not empty: you are FILLED with the Spirit as you walk in the Spirit. It is hypocrisy which Joshua condemned (Joshua 24:19-20), emptiness, thoughtlessness, formalism, tradition without the commanding passion for truth. It is JESUS who is the better than Joshua, and the work of Joshua was in some ways a geographical example of coming to Christ. The STRESS ? Don't dabble, do it.
This is the first lesson from Joshua, placed as he was at one of the primary axes of divine action in the formulation of the plan of salvation to man. We must now turn to the start of his mission of invasion, now to topical, and find further perspective on this crucial phase.
JOSHUA IN THE LIFE II
COVENANTAL FAITH II
THE ACTUAL INVASION SCENE, SCENARIO AND SIGNIFICANCE
The time had now come when Joshua must act. Willing forty years before, but left and nearly stoned by a recalcitrant people, not willing to take what was divinely guaranteed by the God of miracle and redemption as seen in the Exodus from the mighty imperial power of Egypt, Joshua's hours, at long last, had come. Instructed by Moses and arrested by God, endowed with guarantee and grace, taught to meditate continually in the law of God, and to walk uprightly in His ways, Joshua stood ready, and the Lord who had tested his patience, and now used this tempered steel forged into this man's nature and character, now helped him at the first obstacle to entry on this task, noted from the day of Abraham (Genesis 15), but delayed until the Amorites in Canaan had become so immoral and corrupt, that the Lord saw fit to make an example of them. At the same time, He was proceeding to bring into human history the Jewish Promised Land, not only in concept as guaranteed to Abraham*3, but in action, as wrought with Joshua.
I JORDAN Joshua 3-5
The Jordan was held back, while Israel passed to the promised land.
Thus this barrier to rest was broken by divine breach, in the presence of the covenantal criterion: that Law conveyed in the Ark of the Covenant, which in itself and heart, held the coming of the Cross of redemption. Since it had been years since they left Egypt, under Joshua it led to the restoration of circumcision, that prelude to baptism: the necessary intimation that it is not just man who seeks God, but God whom man receives according to His own decree. This is as deep as life, and set on each new generation at the outset, depicting union with God, allegiance to Him and a transformation by sacrifice.
The stamp, whether circumcision with sacrifice, or baptism with water, since the ONLY necessary death for sin is now FINISHED: this did not perform the salvation! (cf. Leviticus 10:1ff., Numbers 16:21ff., Jeremiah 9:25-26). It did however show it on authorised grounds, in symbol till it might be fulfilled in faith (as in Jeremiah 9:23ff., I Peter 3:21ff.).
It is not the cleaning of flesh but the witness of a good conscience before God through the resurrection of Jesus Christ which matters, said Peter! If only he had been heeded! Far from delicensing covenantal symbols, however, God keeps their signals for the entire household as at the first.
Colossians 2:11-12 places the two modes, Old and New Testament, circumcision and baptism - in parallel, with the point of the latter specifically incorporating that of the former. It would be inconceivable that the symbol of salvation for the entire household should be changed from its chief participants, children, without notice of the change. On the contrary, the same language is used as in Acts 16, that of the household! In Acts 2, the promise is to them and their children.
What do we learn from this ? ALL of one's heart and household is to be brought to the Lord, on HIS terms; you do not negotiate with Him who grants pardon and peace - just as you do not prescribe for cancer - but receive gladly His liberal gift. He for His part comes to the heart of faith, to lead one in the land of rest, the Jordan that symbolises the barrier to godliness and victory, being as surely crossed as was the Red Sea, which symbolises the path of redemption.
This crossing of Jordan complete, the Ark of the Covenant in their midst, and the covenantal symbol now planted in the flesh of all, the Commander of the Host appeared to Joshua, as seen in , with sword drawn. Mercifully, this was not to attack but to lead in the battle, as it is written, If God be for us, who shall be against us! and what is the battle now ? It is to occupy the redeemed life in the will and ways of God, moving from strength to strength (Psalm 84, Romans 8:29-39).
II JERICHO Joshua 6
Thus the ensuing battles in the performance of that judgment, the long delayed task of Israel, become a military symbol for us. As Joshua moved to each part of his task, so must we journey in holy trust and accomplishment in a world facing judgment, but not at our hand. This we need to do, so that each phase of life is to be occupied, sought out and lived according to God's wholly purpose, principles and word.
Then is it as Jesus declared, recorded in Luke 11:34-36:
"The lamp of the body is the eye; when your eye is clear, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body also is full of darkness. Then watch out that the light in you , may not be darkness. If therefore your whole body is full of light, with no dark part in it, it shall be wholly illumined as when the lamp illumines you with its rays." (NASB)
Soon Jericho loomed. That city becomes the site of two battles for us to consider today. Firstly, having met the Commander of the Host (5:13ff.), the Lord who assumed the leadership role in his campaign, Joshua was now able to seek Him for wisdom. He was instructed to march around the city for six days, at work seven priests with trumpets of rams' horns before the ark, once more in their midst. As the covenant of Moses then was, so the New Covenant in Christ by which we know Him now is: always in view.
Indeed, Paul declared: "God forbid that I should glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world as been crucified to me and I to the world" - Galatians 6:14.
On the seventh day, the march would have be for seven itinerations, after which there would be one long trumpet blast (6:5), accompanied by a shout of the people. At this, the wall would fall down, so exempting them from the perilous program of seeking to move up it or through it, in full view. Then, for six days the march proceeded, the trumpets blowing; and on the seventh, it proceeded exactly as Joshua had been told when the Lord said, "See I have given Jericho into your hand..."
How relentless is His testimony to those who wait on Him! The city was judgmentally destroyed except for the house of Rahab, from which she and her possessions were removed before the devastation by fire. Even from the worst of terrors, in truth God is able to deliver us, whoever we are. The ways of God do not change (cf. Habakkuk 3:6, Malachi 3:6, Micah 5:1-3): He will by no means acquit the wicked, but those who receive Christ are spared.
The other lesson from Jericho, the other battle, then ? It is that of pregnant unbelief, seeking to give birth to the child of desire. In the 1930s, Professor John Garstung of Oxford University performed a monumental work of discovery on the ancient site of this city, reporting it destroyed as in the Bible, and showed the date around 1400 B.C. Then Kathleen Kenyon sought to show otherwise: by this time, however, vast amounts of data having been removed by Garstung, some 150,000 items, and through whatever other elements were in force, the site was not as it had been. .
It was in the 1990s that the renowned Dr Bryant Wood showed by pottery, with Egyptian scarabs in the associated cemetery, and radioactive carbon dating of soot on the site, that the 1400 B.C. dating was correct, so that the battle for the city archeologically came back to stage 1, a simple confirmation of the Biblical record. For the evil one, you must say this, he tries, but it must be trying to be always wrong! Still, that is the plight, as the people of Canaan found, when you confront God! Now we return to the reason why Rabab, and her household, alone in Jericho, were spared.
III RAHAB Joshua 2
Joshua, being commissioned (1:1-9), and told that in three days they would cross Jordan and enter (1:10ff.), had sent out spies into the land to be occupied. They were detected though not found; for the king of Jericho hearing of it, commissioned a search. Quickly the men hid in the lodging house, which was that of Rahab, the harlot. Her place was investigated, but she had hidden them in the roof, amid stalks of flax, which she had laid down. When asked by the searchers, she told them the men had come but had gone when the city gate was being shut. Go quickly and overtake them! she advised.
Rahab was assured that the Lord had given the land to the invading Israel, and said so to the spies of Israel, before she sent them safely on their way. The people are all fainthearted because of you, she declared, for we know what the Lord did to the kings you have already overcome, and how the Lord dried up the Red Sea waters for your escape. She asked them to SWEAR to her, following her kindness in their escape, that they would spare her family. If, was the reply, nothing is said of our coming here, then our lives for yours: this will be honoured.
As her house was on the wall, she let them down by a rope, advising them to get fast to the mountain, and to hide there for three days, until the searchers were back.
Once again, it was the now increasingly well-known three days, for it was three days that Joshua had announced from the Lord, that would pass before they would cross Jordan, so being miraculously led through the barrier to rest, into rest, in victory, through the work of the Lord. This period is emphasised in the text. Now, again, the spies hid for 3 days, to ensure the report leading to victory, got through.
Again, this as in Leviticus 23, where the Passover is followed by a rest day and then the wave-offering, on the third day. In this, along with sacrifice, a sheaf is waved before the Lord, showing that despite death, sacrificial death, life would still in force through the power of God, and that death would be redeemed by life, on the third day, the mourning turning into gladness.
Thus, this was already symbolised by Moses, as crucial to the covenant. It was the same in Hosea 6, where just as the dead would be raised, the body of the Lord (Isaiah 26:19), so would there be salvation for Israel, the third day (Hosea 6). It was this same third day which Christ foretold as a criterion of His own sovereignly made sacrifice.
They would HANDLE and KILL Him, but after three days He would rise again, according to the scriptures. So accordingly, the spies also hid for three days, before being delivered from death and opening the door for Israel to enter the Promised land. Symbols co-ordinate with telling effect in the biblical depiction.
On Israel’s victory, the citizens of Jericho were slain, except of course for Rahab and her people. In this way, the covenant with her was entirely honoured. There had been a condition which the spies had laid down. She had to bind a scarlet cord in the window of her wall-house, so being identifiable in the battle as to location. Only then would she be saved. This is turn resembles the blood on the door of the houses in Egypt (Exodus 12), to signify FAITH in the Lord, when the time came for the slaying of the eldest son in the houses of Egypt, a decisive testimony before God led forth Israel, like a son to Him!
There it was blood actually from the Passover sacrifice, a most potent illustration that the Lamb of God by His own blood has us delivered from damnation: a salvation now available direct to the Gentiles (foretold in Isaiah 49:6, 42:6).
Thus, with Rahab, there was a pictorial illustration, the scarlet cord in her window, made visible to all, a clear testimony to be acknowledged. So is it written, in Romans 10:9:
"... if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in
that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes to righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made to salvation.
For the Scripture says, 'Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.' "
The principles of the Lord are always the same, since He is always the same, and to man fallen from His image into sin, the need is always the same, now brought to the culmination in Christ.
This deliverance for Rahab, now received into their national midst, appears to be one basis for the strong word of Christ to chief priests and elders who had confronted Him on His teaching, on the occasion of Palm Sunday and Christ's clearing of the Temple. Christ had indicated they were making it a den of thieves rather than a house of prayer. This was being done with their abundant commercial penetrations, not to mention the sale of the high priest's office, very like the sale of archbishoprics by Romanism, in Rome's heyday. Religion became demeaned, scheming.
What was that word of Christ to those who then challenged Him ? It was one which showed that the greatest immorality is not to receive Christ by faith. The words were these (Matthew 21:31-32):
"Assuredly, I tell you that tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him;
but tax collectors and harlots believed him; and when you saw it,
you did not afterward relent and believe him."
Faith in Christ Jesus is the condition of conversion, sanctification and salvation, and ANYTHING you do is useless without it; and only in it, is there the way, the life and the truth brought home to YOU, for it is faith which appropriates Christ. Religiosity does nothing; Christ does all.
JOSHUA IN THE LIFE III
COVENANTAL FAITH III
Defeat Come and Triumph to
FIVE ASPECTS OF THE CONFRONTATION WITH AI,
FOR YOU AND ME!
A The Sin of Achan and Defeat - Joshua 7
In the midst of one of the greatest divinely led military movement of all time (cf. Exodus 15), first out of Egypt, where the Lord was the warrior! and then into Canaan, in the role of divinely appointed and historic judgment, with victories over Jericho and kings mounting, from the day of Moses: it happened. There was change! Suddenly there came defeat. In confidence, Israel sent only a few thousand men to take Ai, but they were routed. Why ?
B The Pall on Joshua – Joshua 7:6ff.
"Alas, Lord God," prayed Joshua, "why have You brought this people over Jordan at all, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us ?" Again, he pleaded, "O Lord, What shall I say when Israel turns its back before its enemies ?" Further, he implored the Lord: in that case, "what will You do for Your great name ?"
If one sees the Jordan as a symbol of the crossing into Christ in conversion, where the life of God moves in the uplands of the soul, and one is living to obey, then how is this solemn farce, intruding into godly life, to be accounted for ? Defeat! How atrocious! It is as in Romans 7, where Paul paramountly in retrospect of the powerlessness of life before conversion, and in complete contrast to the norm of Romans 8, deplores the situation,
"O wretched man that I am, who will deliver me from the body of this death!"
"I find then a law, that evil is present in me, the one who wills to do good,"
and indeed, "the good I will to do, I do not do, and the evil I will not to do, I am doing!"
That was the very situation from which salvation had delivered him.
The answer is always the same. Sin has sailed like an enemy ship into the harbour of life and jauntily or jadedly shown its face.
"As many as are led by the Spirit of God," says Paul in Romans 8,
"these are the children of God."
In fact, he makes a total division:
"... you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God
dwells in you.
Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.
C The Lord to Joshua - Joshua 7:10ff.
Joshua had fallen on his face, toward the earth, until the evening. You will note that he did not indulge in depression, but in examination and protestation, in enquiry and in entreaty with the Lord.
The divine reply then came. "Get up!" Why lie like this on your face! the Lord challenges.
"Israel has sinned." He proceeded:
"They have also transgressed My covenant which I commanded them.
For they have even taken some of the accursed things and have both stolen and deceived..."
Get up! the Lord directed and sanctify the people, and thus they would investigate on the next day. The Lord directed him on that day, tribe by tribe, family by family until that of Achan of Judah was selected. He confessed and his family was put to death, while all his goods burned, including the materials taken by him from some of the spoils of war, money and clothes. In the broadest sense, this is good medicine for sin, to get rid of it, playing with it about as much as one plays with a taipan or boa constrictor, for these are less dangerous!
D The Act of Achan at Ai, and the Nature of Judgment … Joshua 7:21ff.
Yet was this contrary, in the MANNER of it, to Deuteronomy 24:16 ? Each dies for his own sin, not for that of another, and the principle was later greatly emphasised in Jeremiah 31:23-30. How then were all the family slain ?
Firstly, it is not said that any were children, and it seems that by this time Achan was not young. Secondly, it is entirely possible that all the household were aware of the action. Thirdly, all the army was jeopardised, and already no less than 36 men had been killed in the battle as a result of the evil of Achan, before the presence of the Lord. Further, the name of the Lord had been injured, and the entire invasion had suffered a serious affront which could destabilise it except for divine aid. Indeed, one remembers what the spies found in Jericho, how their reputation had left little courage in the inhabitants. What then now ?
We assume therefore that the law was kept, since Joshua was in great zeal (Joshua 1:8), and could hardly believe the set back; and thus this becomes not an ethical quagmire but a testimony to the zeal with which one must sever from what is wrong, repent if caught or trapped, and be diligent, and not wander. In this case, it is worthy of interest that in the Uniting Church a development has occurred concerning their willingness to have practising homosexuals in the pulpit.
One group, which has formed into a body, the Assembly of Confessing Congregations, we learn, has had enough. They are seeking a measure of separation - after YEARS OF NOT ACTING under this iniquity.
SOME MEASURE ? Did Joshua impart some measure of affliction to Achan ? Did Christ consider Judas had some measure of being a devil ? Is breaking of stated and crucial commandment in some measure wrong ? By report in The Advertiser, July 16, 2006, a leader in the Uniting Church expressed horror, it seems, at the very idea that they were at all straying from apostolic Christianity, and hoped no such thought would enter anyone's mind! Mere flat contradiction of commandments which is entailed, for those who follow this line, EXCLUSION from the kingdom, this is catholic, universal Christianity ?
What a horrible defilement of the word of God is this, and who is this that can as if God, dismiss the foundation and sitting in air, announce a new way in His very name! Yet such is the way nowadays of many churches, revisionists who forget the message of Matthew 5:17ff., Ephesians 1:10, and I Corinthians 2:9-13, 14:37.
You have two foundations perhaps for twin towers, but no other foundation can any man lay but Jesus Christ, not a word, but a person, not for imagination and cultural accretion (Mark 7:7ff., I Corinthians 3:11, II Corinthians 11), but for trust and obedience to Him as Lord (John 14:21ff.). Christ created the church; it does not run Him. He is its LORD!
Thus in I Corinthians 6:9, we learn that those practising such things endorsed by this united body, DO NOT ENTER THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN. Imagine being told by someone who could not get up a mountain, how to climb! Or does Paul suggest some attenuation of contact with sin ? Do you want to join members of Christ to a harlot ? he asks in this some arena (I Cor. 6:15ff.). Don't you realise that you are the body of Christ! What then of a pastor, united to a harlot, or in a homosexual parallel! Paul places both in the same exclusion zone as ways of life in I Cor. 5-6, and as precisely in the area for which law is designed in I Timothy 1:10, namely for the 'lawless' the 'disobedient' the 'ungodly', examples of which, including this, follow.
Those who call themselves brethren and practise such things ? with these you should not even keep company (I Cor. 5:11, Ephesians 5:11, Romans 16:17, I Timothy 6:3-5), should withdraw, rather rebuking! (see Separation). It is apostolically, yes biblically necessary NOT to retain ANY degree of fellowship in such cases, and thus that Uniting Church body which wants only partly to separate, remains wholly in shame, until it does. What is written counts. Holy sounds do not make holy walk, and disobedience is not the way to walk with the Lord. Ask Achan! Watch Joshua! Consider his vast anguish at the defeat...
E The Fall of Ai and the Arising in the Covenantal Faith – Joshua 8
Joshua, appalled, enabled, restoring righteousness, had ACTED! He did not lie in the dust as those might who continue to be defiled by the forbidden thing. He did not form an Assembly of Confessing Tribes, for those interested to draw a little apart. He purged the evil and proceeded with the right.
Then it happened.
Purged and repentant, directed by the Lord this time to take ALL the people of war to the task, Israel was led to ambush the city, with men in hiding, rushing in when the people came out to meet the main body of Israel. Looking behind them as they sallied forth, they saw the smoke of the burning city, and fled. The danger of contamination was thus overcome. Sacrifice was made to the Lord, and the law of Moses written on stone before all the people. Is this the way of modern churchianity ?
The law seems to be written on water for many church bodies, which fulfil the prediction of II Peter 2. Let the people of the Lord however continue in their spiritual mission, in their divinely led crusade in this world, not this time in a military manner, but meek, yet for all that engaged in a spiritual warfare, with boldness proclaiming the Gospel and watching in prayer (Ephesians 6).
Remember the tremendous scope of that prayer - Ephesians 6:18, and its efficacy, and consider the depth of the entreaties of Joshua when the failure came, and the power to prevail which is covenanted to the people of God for the purposes of His will (Mark 11:23ff., Ephesians 1:19ff.).
Before proceeding with the next phase in the life of Joshua and its messages to us, we present next a brief reminder of the wonder of the GIFT, which just as was the case with the Promised Land, one lying open because of antecedent miracles of the Lord, is available to man, freed from penalty payments because One has paid these already, the greater than Joshua, the Lord, for whom not land for a season, but destiny for eternity is the gift. For us now, the greater gift and the more magnificent promise is not land, but the Lord Himself; and the antecedent miracles are not those of the Exodus from Egypt, but the Cross of Christ's exit from this world, committing His Spirit into His Father's hands, till the resurrection vindicated His wisdom, so enabling free entry into His kingdom.
History has many illustrations to offer, and Joshua is a prime example of these; but it has only one payment for man to record, that of Christ at Calgary, with all the preceding purity and power to resist and overcome temptation, and display the very power of God in humbled circumstances on earth, with man face to face. That is also to be the nearness in judgment, when God speaks what truth requires for those who forsake this mercy in sublimely foolish self-trust; but for His people, they live by mercy, He paid for the privilege, so that mercy and truth are friends, man the beneficiary. It is not required. Its absence will however be required of one, as of a heart (cf. Matthew 22:1-12, Romans 3:23ff.).
It was this Lamb of God (John 1:29), who was to fulfil all the Passover and sin offerings, trespass offerings, peace offerings of Exodus and Leviticus, for as Psalm 49 puts it, it is GOD who will redeem the soul that cannot redeem itself, and as Abraham was made to see so clearly, it was a Lamb that GOD would supply, not one to be inaugurated by oneself! (Genesis 22:9-14).
A BLESSED INTERVAL BEFORE JOSHUA IV
The Triumph of Grace, Face to Face
WONDER OF RIGHTEOUSNESS GRANT
AS IN REVELATION 19, ZECHARIAH 3, ISAIAH 61:10 AND ROMANS 5 -
and the Sparkling Waters and Splendid Yachts of Divine Favour
Now that we have seen the flouting of grace, the rubbishing of mercy and the attenuation of triumph in the conspiracies of sin, which seek to seduce the soul, secure the spirit and inundate with the murk of ages, the life of man, and seen something of the thoroughness of Joshua's purge in that calamitous category, and subsequent victory, let us reflect. It is NOT the purge which produces power, but rather it is this which removes its obstruction. Power belongs to God (Psalm 62:11).
"God has spoken once, twice have I heard this, that power belongs to God."
In Psalm 71:15-16, we find a parallel:
"My mouth shall tell of Your righteousness and Your salvation all the day,
For I do not know the number of them.
I will go in the strength of the Lord GOD;
I will make mention of Your righteousness, of Yours only."
Thus, the divine righteousness cannot be circumscribed or circumnavigated or limited; for it is beyond measure, incalculable, infinite (cf. Psalm 145:3 - His greatness is unsearchable).
But immediately notice this: it is also the ONLY one to be mentioned. HIS is the righteousness which sanctifies, which justifies and which is the standard, His alone. Any one who seeks to be and live in His presence must have just the same righteousness as that. This is sublimely illustrated in the case of Joshua the high priest in Zechariah's day, and seen in the depiction of Ch. 3 of that book. Here Joshua is found dressed, most strangely for a high priest, not in robes of (personal, individual and innate) splendour, but in dirty ones - dirty ? FILTHY.
These are (naturally, in the presence of God) commanded to be REMOVED.
Equally new robes are ordered, resplendent and noble. These are a GIFT from outside to cover the person who, from his own productions, in the sight of God, was not merely inadequate but wholly unholy. WE may tend to extenuate; truth does not. Mercy covers, but nothing alters truth. If we are proud of our attainments which we have DONE, then this is one of the greatest of the filths (cf. Matthew 23 and Luke 14 with the tax-collector and the sinner). ALL have sinned, and if we say we have no sin, we merely deceive ourselves (I John 1, Romans 6:23). Indeed, we ALL are children of wrath (Ephesians 2) in our own right, and 'alienated from the life of God' as far as our own efforts to reach Him or anything holy are concerned. Take it or leave it; God's standards do not bend (cf. Amos 7:1-9). Founded on Christ's words (and hence works) are we as humans, or else we are sandy substitutes for spiritual strength (Matthew 7:24ff.).
Again, in Isaiah 61:10, we see someone rejoicing in God his Saviour. WHY does he rejoice ? It is because "He has clothed me in the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness." In other words, a gift has been made, and this covers the soul just as the atoning blood symbolises a covering in the expiatory sacrifice of Leviticus 4 or Leviticus 17. It is for a covering, an atonement. Just so is the Lord a covering (Isaiah 32) from storm and tempest.
In what way is this covering gained in Isaiah 61, in Zechariah 3. It is a gift from God, who in the former book, is seen as the One who does the clothing, and HE does it to us as a bridegroom might seek, or a bride, to have ornaments of splendour. In HIS love, He provides what HE uses to adorn us with that saving strength and liberal generosity of love. WHAT HE PROVIDES is then our sole cover.
Again, in Romans 5:17, we find this that there is a gift of death and desolation from Adam, but a gift of righteousness from God, and that it is the latter which is the ground both of constituting us in His sight as filled with righteousness, in status and in that lively cover of activated grace, as if the very garments vitalised us (Romans 8:11), so that He then proceeds to "give life to your mortal bodies" and "the Spirit is life because of righteousness" (Romans 8:10). It is (Romans 5:19), the case that one, the first man brought on death as a penal 'gift', but the other, the 'second man from heaven' brought on a living status as born of God, righteous in His gracious sight, as a child of a righteous Father who assigns righteousness first, imbues with it second, and gives a profound and lasting relish for it, third, as a resultant of the new condition of regeneration into life in Him.
Thus in Revelation 19, you see the saints dressed in righteousness, in linen fine and clean. What then is this dressing ? Is it a product of their own faulty works, and imperfect natures ? Only if you write a new Bible. Their "righteousnesses" as shown in detail in On Translations of the Bible No. 51 , are found in the same term as Paul uses in Romans 5:16 for 'justification'. It is a term implying the reality of righteousness, whether for judgment or attribution, criterion and focus.
It is NOT here for judgment because it is PROVIDED (they did not have a dry cleaning and import the linen to heaven) as always, and is just like the clothing of Joshua the High Priest, a covering of covenantal cleanliness, and as in Romans, a cover from the tempestuous fury of judgment by the action of Christ, and is only as a GIFT allowable. Any other cover is of the devil, in THIS SITUATION. Thus in Matthew 22, the man NOT in the proper wedding garment is loathed, lost and desolate!
What then do we find in Revelation 19:8 but an array of saints, vast in number, "a vast multitude" declaring that the Lord God omnipotent reigns. Here then is this multiplicity in unity, the body of Christ, for the marriage to the Lamb, in that figure so often used in the Bible (as in Ephesians 5). She (that is this multitude personified) is clothed in linen, clean and bright. This, it is the 'righteousnesses of the saints.' You see them like yachts in Sydney Harbour before the great annual race to Hobart in Tasmania. There they are, bobbing, this one in this dress, the other in some other delectable 'suit' of nautical clothing.
So here are the saints in the heavenly harbour of the holiness of God, wrested from earth where they have been faithful, alive in heaven, ready for this consummation of grace. The linen is now seen distributively as the righteousnesses of the (plural) saints. Here in the marital palace are the myriads of bobbing souls, on the waters of faith, dressed each one in a suit of clean linen, and the spectacle is astounding, brilliant, wonderful, without blemish, and so without sin, since all sin is COVERED by the gift of Christ's atoning sacrifice (as in Romans 3:23-27), ex-works. Man's own efforts are here irrelevant, irrationally construed as to the point.
Conceivably some reference might be made to justifying righteousness, sanctifying righteousness and so on, in some medley, but the depiction which reverts to the plural in this very verse, the 'saints', suggests something broader.
There it is then, this relish for righteousness such as Joshua so rigorously displayed in his intent and intense endeavours to bring forth righteousness in faith and in fruitage (Matthew 7:17ff.), gained by gift, utilised in grace.
How must the Christian long - Come quickly, Lord Jesus! (cf. Revelation 22:20), and for this he and she, young and old, child and adult, must long (as in Hebrews 9:28) - "for those who eagerly wiat for Him He will appear a second time, apart form sin, for salvation." What bride who is sincere, looks uneagerlly for her husband to be!
We may now return to Joshua, and see, in terms of these considerations of grace and victory, eagerness for service and for sanctity, for obedience and watchfulness before the Lord, the sheer weight of wonder of what may be performed as we wait thus on the Lord, unestranged by preoccupations with our own imagined righteousness, but making reference to "Your righteousness ... Yours only" as in the Psalm 71, as in Romans 3, as in Ephesians 2, 4:17ff., Revelation 7:14, Isaiah 61:10, Zechariah 4 and so on.
JOSHUA IN THE LIFE IV
LIVING BY COVENANTAL FAITH IV
The VICTORIES Unvitiated by Vice
CONSTANT for the CALLED, and
TO COME for the whole REALM of
the Kingdom, not of Man, but of God
I GIBEON - THE REWARDS OF DECEIT Joshua 9
The victories, triumphs, sometimes enormous in scope, reflected in the victories noted in the Tel el Amarna correspondence, have a close relationship to the invasion of Joshua's day. Such is the case according to Professor Gleason Archer, presented with diligent and sound reasoning. Set around 1400 and on, these letters speak at times of an overwhelming invasion force of Habiru, a name relating closely to Hebrew, though one which may have been shared by others. What now follows likewise ILLUSTRATES just how famous was the insurgency of Israel in its own day.
The sheer terror and consternation of those asking Egypt for help against these invaders reminds one of the feeling of those stranded in Beirut! It is precisely this sort of thing that Achan's error could have compromised; and he paid dearly for his breach of covenant.
It was in view of this insurgent power that the people of Gibeon became subtle. Since Joshua was cleaning up the peoples and kings, and evidently was planning to bring judgment on the locale, they decided to 'work craftily' and pretend, and sent some with old clothes and possessions as if coming from a far country, seeking a covenant as ambassadors. Perhaps you are to be of this location ? asked Joshua. Oh no, said they, we have come as those who have heard of the wonders the Lord did for you in Egypt, and all He did since; and we come to make peace with you. Joshua, too impetuous, agreed, with the elders.
Hearing in THREE days of the deception, they HONOURED the covenant (9:18), and so deputed this people to be woodcutters and water carriers for all the (enormous) congregation - a position of virtual slavery. Well, they said, since God clearly commanded you to take all this land, so be it, we are in your hands, your servants. They served the congregation and the supply needs of the altar. So does sin seek to gain entrance into one's life, with formal religion, sacramentalism or pseudo-faith, to find a place to rest, to secure acceptance; but it brings only curse in its craftiness, and servitude to the soul that seeks to entertain it. Jesus declared FREEDOM to be the result of knowing Him; and entertaining strangers in the life of the soul, however attractive, outside the faith and word of God, because they seem suitable and serviceable and praise God with lip, is like honouring adders about the neck.
The work of Jesus Christ is the greatest of all invasion forces, and we make peace with NONE in covenantal arrangements of deceptive alliance, whether it be some almost right theological -ism, or clearly false radical religious disaster error, imported into the faith. What it takes, let us do! and add NOTHING to His word (Mark 7:7ff.).
II THE SUN NOT DONE - The Plan of Man and the Answer of God Joshua 10:1-15
Then five kings allied themselves to deal with the invasion of Israel, just as many theological and religious forces today seek syncretism, as in alliance of Pentecostal and Roman tongues galas. Seizing local forces, they decide to confront Joshua, who not for one moment will allow such local cultural forces to intimidate, nor will he do other than fight. First there was a test of simple reliability. Would Joshua forsake the covenant with Gibeonites, because of their evil, and hone down his hindrances ? Far from it: for he had spoken and now he had to pay. Mercifully, he first delivered them according to covenant and then confronted the enemy - Joshua 10:4-11. Note his all night march FOLLOWED by a skirmish and major victory, as a word to us of ENDURANCE and tireless labour for Christ (10:7ff.). Such courage amazed and succeeded in being eloquent in victory!
Such was the victory indeed that Joshua asked the sun not to hasten in its going down, and to quiesce. For 'the space of a whole day' it did not 'hasten' in its setting, while the victory became triumph, and the alliance of 5 kings became a testimony, some being shut in a cave, and on their necks did some of Israel place their feet. That was one evidence of victory; and history has supplied much the same in another light concerning that amazing day.
As with the flood*4, there appears extensive, varied and integrable evidence from many ancient sources which relate to such an incident, which may of course have resulted from alteration of the diffraction of light for any cause, direct or indirect, or from gravitational or magnetic forces, orbital impacts or other dynamics, not least the guiding power of the all-controlling Lord.
Thus, many results flowed, and one in the field of verification is this.
Henry Morris in his Science and the Bible, cites a book by T. W. Doane, Bible Myths (New York: Truth Seeker, 1882, p.91) describing accounts of a long day or long night in the Orphic hymns and in the legends of the Hindus, the Buddhists, the Chinese, the ancient Mexicans, and others, and then notes how that author strangely argues that that fact proves the biblical record to be merely a myth! On the contrary, it is simply a broadsheet of verification.
Morris further cites a 1945 report to the Smithsonian Institution, where M. W. Stirling notes that many American Indian tribes have a legend about the theft of the sun for a day. We learn that a similar legend is found among the Polynesians. The Greek legend of Phaeton, who disrupted the sun’s course for a day, could readily have been derived from this event. The Greek historian Herodotus states that the priests of Egypt showed him records of such a day. The sheer persistence of the testimony, the variety of forms forged, is one of the clearest phases of the attestation of the event.
The specialist here is Dr Velikovsky of vast fame, a personal friend of Einstein and man of immense learning of challenging if sometimes too rationalistic writings. He has collected an amazing array of accounts across the world, involving in myth or other account, this strange delay in the sun's rule that day; and has shown that in terms of LOCATION ON the surface of the earth, so is the TIMING, day or night, which is reported, for this event. It is, in natural terms, consistent, the time and the place of the extension: a feature which forms one of the foci of any verification.
Of course this is not to fiddle with a divine miracle, but it deals with possible means and attestations worldwide, which in fact are astonishingly numerous and consistent.
Thus NEVER doubt the power of God beyond ALL thought (as in Ephesians 3:20), to answer prayer, to deliver and to direct.
III MIRACLES MAKE FOR MORE VICTORY,
NOT CESSATION OF LABOUR Joshua 10:16-43
Following this miracle, Joshua made the most of the event in exposing to public awareness, the kings who sought by combination to conquer him: in the Lord, the enemy was most certainly beatable! He then embarked on such a travel of triumph over numerous foes as makes amazing reading in Joshua 10:28ff., as he conquered from Kadesh Barnea (the site of the original fear to enter the 'rest' of the Lord, prepared and provided), to Gaza!
So do we seek in New Testament time, always to ABOUND in the work of the Lord, in warfare spiritual, in battles personal, in triumphs of grace and in the peace of perseverance, knowing our labour is not in vain in the Lord (I Corinthians 15:58).
As for us, we look not merely to a vast exhibition of divine judgment on one region of the earth, one at last unleashed as in Joshua: a thing awaited from Abraham's day (Genesis 15). We look to a vast salvation, salvage from a world's wickedness, wrought by judgment on Christ, the just for the unjust to being us to God. This forsaken, then not a 2 millenia removal of Israel's sovereignty ensues, but destruction, and that of the entire earth (II Peter 3), following the final burst of testimony in the Lord's advent with His saints (I Thessalonians 3:13, Zechariah 14:5, Revelation 19, Isaiah 11).
The stakes are more than life and death: salvation and damnation are on offer, and not Joshua but Jesus is the deliverer, not in time alone, but for eternity.
THIS OTHER JOSHUA,
THIS BETTER ISRAEL AND
THIS BETTER DESTINY THAN JUDGMENT
The entry into the promised land was no mere simplicity: but it was sure, guaranteed. The vicissitudes of national life are in many ways not unlike those for individuals, and it is the latter which are so beautifully depicted by Bunyan in most of the Pilgrims' Progress.
The criteria of the geographical entry and settlement are seen in these historical axes especially clearly, as with Moses and Joshua. These examples are focussed by Paul in I Corinthians 10, and are excellent exercises for learning for us in our contemporary phase, so near to the end of the Age (cf. Answers to Questions Ch. 5, SMR Ch. 8). Having seen in earlier chapters the nature of the reality, we find then here in Corinthians, its explication, application, in vital living experience, enlarged on the vast public screen from these beginnings of the Jewish people's national occupancy of what many now seek to remove from them.
Indeed, all has happened precisely as God declared millenia ago, in Moses' day, for the Jewish people. It happened in the same exact and in this case exacting manner in the day of Jesus Christ, the foretold Messiah. Duly dying at the date foretold (Highway of Holiness Ch. 4), after living in the most magnificent manner, exhibiting lowliness wedded to love, peace to power and purity to purging, as He paid, He provided the work of One for all who receiving Him and His work, are thus redeemed (cf. Christ, the Wisdom ... Ch. 8). This precision of pronouncement in prohecy and performance in history, it is always the same with the Lord. It is happening now with that similar, simple conformity of formulation to fact, prediction to performance (SMR loc. cit.). It is nearly over.
The promised land is simply ONE of the foci God has made as He alerts man to His presence, grace, power, love and peace; and as man makes mockery of God, so the Promised Land becomes just that unbearable burden to man which Zechariah predicted in Ch. 12, before the equally predicted overwhelming repentance yet to come, on the part of the restored nation of Israel: restored as equally predicted (cf. SMR Ch. 9).
What a burden it is, Jerusalem, what an harassment to a secular world is that place where Christ according to the predicted plan of God, died for the predicted reason with the predicted result (cf. SMR Ch. 9). It is part of that predicted result that it should BE such a burden to mankind, while the unbelieving nations rage about it, with thrust and counter-thrust, seeking to dispose now this way, now that, of that land from which God removed Israel for its sins (as Moses predicted long before, in Deuteronomy 32-33, Leviticus 26), and to which He restored them (as in Ezekiel 36-37), towards the end of the Age (as in Romans 11:25, Luke 21:24), giving them back Jerusalem as there indicated!
What would you expect ? If man chooses to crucify the King of peace, and Lord of glory there, it is not a common place! It has been taken over and an idolatrous Mosque set up there (cf. SMR Ch. 9 at these places), ignoring the true God and instituting, without verificatory ground, and contrary to the validated and verified Bible, another god. That is one of the grievances of Israel; and it is divine irony, as if to say:
If you refuse to recognise the Messiah who in ONE sacrifice for ALL time, covers ALL the sin of ALL those who EVER come to Him as Saviour and Lord, and so refuse to see that the temple is FULFILLED: then let us have a fraudulent temple to show you. GOD DOES NOT NEED the temple any more, and the issue is thus irrelevant. Face the Mosque and live with this reminder of your refusal of the Messiah!
Thus indeed, biblically, we already have an 'abomination of desolation' sitting there, not at this present time in, but AS a temple. It develops.
God is the Author of all, but in the form of the Incarnate One (Philippians 2), He has definitively provided through that selective door (John 10:9), the One who is the Salvation of man. While man rejects Him (no nation is under Him as such), the issue of what God has done remains paramount over all history; for without it, man is not only lost, but up for a well-deserved judgment. The mercy of God delays it (II Peter 3:9), and has done so for millenia as Peter implies there, would be the case.
This new Joshua, this consummation of revelation, this definitive manifestation of God, this Christ has come, and will return (Acts 1:7ff., 3:21ff.); and as shown above, that day is drawing near (cf. Luke 21:24). Its attestations are precise, prolific, patterned and unique; and they are likewise being fulfilled with a divinely detailed diligence. That result in the present, in terms of words from afar, in their own terms, is the case in terms of normal verification of a model, by scientific method as shown in Answers to Questions Ch. 5. It is only enhanced by the vast time ahead, given for the result.
Man has had long to this day, just as the Amorites had long in theirs - in fact, as noted to Abraham by the Lord (Genesis 15:13), some 400 years in that case - before judgment.
In that earlier day, it came in the form of the invasion by Israel with divine help, through Joshua, as an illustration of what judgment means, while simultaneously bringing to be a nation to be used to bring both the Scripture (by writing) and the Lord (through incarnation) to man (Romans 9:1-4). Though as a nation, they failed, as they did to enter the promised land (Numbers 14), at the first, to enter into His rest, yet they were deployed and employed in those two basic manners, and as foretold, when following the Lord, with great blessings, when failing Him, with great distress (Deuteronomy 28-33).
In our day, it has come in the advent of Jesus Christ in the full harness of verificatory, prophetic splendour, not a beat lost, all in order, nothing out of place, in nothing failing, though the credentials foretold were those which are God's alone (cf. Isaiah 11, 52-53, 35, Psalm 2), so that only God could meet them: an excellent identikit supplied by prophecy and fulfilled by Christ.
In HIM man was to trust (Isaiah 11, Psalm 2); yet to trust in any but God is accursed (Jeremiah 17:7ff.).
In Him man has been given the mode of salvation, for He is the Saviour; but in God only is man to find Saviour, for there is no other (Isaiah 43:10-11).
He is the Creator amid His creation (Colossians 1:15-16, John 1:3ff.), but GOD ONLY is the Creator (Isaiah 43:14-45:18). This Christ is both Lord and God (John 20:27-29).
Thus is His power and place, that of God who sent Him (Isaiah 48:16 showing just that).
He has come. The Promised Land lies open. For two millenia the Gentile world has been - apart from some glorious episodes and millions of individuals, a small percentage of the whole - as remiss as was Israel with Moses. It has stood at the door of Promise, often afraid, unwilling, but rather willing to stone the ambassadors of Christ, many of whom have been slaughtered, whether in Sudan, China, Russia, or in the Inquisition in Europe earlier; and the numbers who suffered are horrifying. Marshall's book, The Blood Cries Out, gives some testimony to these things, as does Foxe's Book of Martyrs, and the records of the imperial antics in the days of the earlier Roman Empire.
Man has had a long time; even modern man has had a long time. His world is tilted, slanted, it wobbles (cf. Isaiah 24:16-21). It does not leave man to dream; it is time to wake up! The Canaanites in Joshua's day did not. Rahab however lowly her position, did! Many do. Most do not. The day does not delay, but with what magnificent patience God has waited and waits, until every single prediction is fulfilled (cf. Revelation 6:9-11); and then the time comes.
Like an examination, it is the time of truth. Some may seek to buy their way out; but here truth is inveterate, infallible; and only mercy excludes from condemnation. It is found only in the way the offended Lord has provided. That way could not be better. It is free (cf. SMR pp. 582ff.), final, decisive, as accessible as a door (cf. John 10:9), as restorative as being found when lost and it leads to an eternal redemption which none can harass, none delete (I Peter 1:5ff., John 10:27-28, Romans 8:29ff., II Timothy 1:9ff., I Thessalonians 5:9ff.).
Entry, as for Israel in Joshua's day, is open. The people have come to the right place. Non-entry means wandering first, and judgment second. What then ? does one who has been offended by sin leading to the murder of Christ, have to pardon on demand! or shall He not decide on what basis the pardon comes! (John 8:24). Such rejection is ultimately and necessarily irreparable. If man rejects Christ, he merely joins those who killed Him, killing His mission by rejection, and hence his own mercy!
Joshua has much to teach us; the Lord has more. Joshua has shown the beauty of being sincere, and acting; and Jesus has done and declared what suffices for all, in personal profundity and the power of deity breaking even death*5, since it is the product of sin and the attestation of judgment.
Man is very ready to distort the simplicity of the way. Even in the Bible, that infallible word of God, some seek to take as refuge instead of the Lord, the Author of it; and this they may do, as Christ pointed out, by IGNORING what you have to do, in repenting and receiving Christ by faith as Saviour and Lord, Himself beyond all, resurrected and to return, and imagining it suffices to say nice things about it. Great is the word of God, but it is no substitute for following its prescriptions. However great the physician, to ignore the operation he requires does not help!
These times of judgment, of resurrection, they are near, as attested above. The key is provided, but not even this, alas, is substitute for using it to enter!
Christ declared this (John 5:37ff.):
"And the Father Himself, who sent Me, has testified of Me.
"You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form.
But you do not have His word abiding in you, because whom He sent,
Him you do not believe.
"You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.
"I do not receive honor from men.
But I know you, that you do not have the love of God in you.
I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me;
if another comes in his own name, him you will receive.
"How can you believe, who receive honor from one another, and do not seek the honor that comes from the only God?"
On this, see
News Items 1 with News
The Grating Grandeur and Aggrandisement of Man Ch. 4,
and Ch. 3, from which an excerpt is taken below.
When Israel was called through Moses to leave their resort, the land of Egypt, to which famine had brought them, and which for its own part as well as for Israel's, had escaped the earlier shortages in their major impact, some centuries after they came, what was then the plight of that people ? It was this. They were severely oppressed.
What was the Lord's action as Pharaoh resisted the divinely directed call for the liberation of the Jews, indeed, rather their EVACUATION ?
In the midst of their oppression by the ongoing Egyptians, there was a display of divine dynamic which mocked Egypt's gods. There is an article in Creation magazine, Vol. 27, No 1, December 2004-Feb. 2005 on pp. 34ff., which itemises the correlation between the plagues which God gave an Egypt reluctant to surrender their Jewish slaves, and the Egyptian naturalistic 'gods, just as there was a similar work by Dr Harry Rimmer in his Frost series of volumes on science and religion, Christian Apologetics. There is a beautiful exposure of the worship of what are in fact elements of the natural system which God made, so that they become a source of affliction, whether flies or the Nile, or whatever other plague arrived. The very thing called sacred, became a plague!
In this way, the mistaken and misshapen worship became focussed as a place of bane, not blessing, and Israel escaped a wrathful and vacillatory Pharaoh, whose temper and unreliability to keep his word, both seemed of almost cancerous enlargement. Plagues successively bent the Egyptian desire to exploit, to manage, to control, the pride of attainment and the swagger of having its own will.
It was so keen to have such gain, perquisites and advantage, that even when the eldest children of Egypt were slain overnight, when the blood on the door, from sacrifice, demarcated those of the Jewish faith, who escaped, and they let the people go, more followed. In fact, the army of Pharaoh followed, but what did not follow was this: that they got their man, or in this case, their race. The sea opened as God used Moses, and closed on the pursuing Egyptians who lost interest in mortality, in their invidious pursuit. Death closed the door.
In the events of the Exodus of Israel from Egypt, the exposure of naturalistic fallacies is delicious, devastating and equipped with results correlative to the corruption of attributing divine powers to created objects. Dr Harry Rimmer for example, details some of the aspects in this case in his work, "Dead Men Tell Tales".
Thus the turning of the waters of the Nile to pollution and corruption was to taunt the misuse of this River as an object of worship, for was it not now one of horror! In the Hymn to the Nile, we read, "Thou are the Lord of the poor and needy", but now it was their blight. The highly reverenced Osiris was imagined to have the Nile as his blood-stream, not a source of stench! Thus this very divine being became a symbol of the reward of spiritual stupidity (cf. Romans 1:17ff.). Supposedly source of life, this 'god' became a distemper of death.
The frog plague was a plague on the worship of Heqt, alleged wife of Khnum, whose theophany was ... a frog. Fertility and resurrection now became not symbols to be attributed to the idea of this god, but lively rapacity in the form of a plague of the things. The lice could feed on the devastation, while the flies met to the point in this, that one of them, the ichneumon fly, was a symbol of Uatchit.
The plague of murrain on the cattle covered with dung the cow-goddess, Hathor, the 'mother' principle of the gods. Neither gods of resurrection nor life nor mothering could protect the people in the presence of the Lord. The littleness of creation in its delicate systems was mere rubbish in the contest with the God, the Creator, who made it. On the other hand, the preservation of the cattle of the people of Israel (Exodus 9:6) held a clear message: natural things have phases and troubles, blessings and blight; but as to that, the God of all creation can harass or help at will, providentially or miraculously or through both in concert.
The plague of boils compromised, in the presence of the blighting and offended God of Israel, of heaven and earth, the Egyptian god Imhotep, the god of medicine and patron of healing sciences.
The locust plague, added to the hail devastation of crops, acted as a further sweeper of fertility and good. Providence gods were affronted, for it was shown that before the face of the God of Israel, of heaven and earth, they could control nothing for good.
The supernatural darkness came as a plague near the end; while the children of Israel for their part had that light those of Egypt lacked: that light highly symbolic as the illumination with which to see the meaning of things. With plagues like that, the meaning did not look good! The land did not look good; it culture did not achieve attraction. It was corrupt and its gods were incapable.
Such 'gods' as Thoth were affronted. This imagined being supposedly had worked out star placement, putting sun and moon to the appointed areas. Where was the light-giver now! Was not the sun-god Ra, with Horus, the 'eye of Ra', the god of the noontime sun, confounded ? Darkness spoke; and it was a plague for resisting the God of Israel in His call to release His people, enslaved, abused, the Lord who could penetrate any power, any protection, and protect His people before any enemy or enterprise of the mind, the spirit or the flesh of man or what he conceived!
Thus confusion, affront, the exposure of the cover-up of truth in a mass of merely naturalistically conceived beings, powerless and imaginary: these became a whip. Its use ? it could both repay the enslaving Egyptian empire, a deluded detachment of mankind, persecutor of Israel; and by its sustained and predicted pangs, given when, how and to whom it was announced, distinguish from all else, the divine power of the living God to deal beneficially with men on His own terms: as attested in Israel, free from the plagues. Here was a teaching platform par excellence! God used it for the benefit of man, to shatter illusion and focus truth.
For the last plague, Ra also was confounded. God of the first born, to the point that he was held to walk the earth in the form of the first born of cow - if that were a bull - with all first-born sacred to him, he made the ideal object of affront, mockery and for degradation. Why was that ?It was because God's 'child' Israel was being held hostage. If it were a matter of a nature-god with a first-born emphasis, then let it have what nature gives without God: death. So it was, first born in Egypt would die, but ... let God's people live; and so it was. If Pharaoh would take it to the limit, was it not the children of Israel who were being snatched, abused, exploited, robbed ? Very well, if they were to be forced to abide in a land of religious death, God having other plans, would make it a land of death actual for those who taunted the Jew and his God!
The skies themselves were used, and life manoeuvred as Egypt in convulsion found what it is to hinder the handiwork of God. The direct confrontation which resulted enabled a sublime, divine operation, like the experiment of a Lecturer demonstrated before the students. Each step was announced, then taken. Each 'god' was affronted, then convulsed in ruin. Egypt herself as such, was at last shown the significance of aborting life, through death in its own parlours.
Its magnificence was shown a front, its religious culture a fraud, its military might irrelevant before God. Freedom is a gift of God; its abuse is a defilement of that gift. While God gives a prodigious scope to this liberty to man and nation, yet He has in His hand the means of humbling, teaching or scorning, extending in patience the day of judgment as He has so often done on things astray, but eventually, like an angler, calling the fish in.
See: SMR Ch. 1, Chs. 1 and 2 above, Gratitude ... Ch. 4.
See Galloping Events Ch. 4.
Here, in the flood, the dramatic, continual, staggering geological evidence is fortified by the equally insistent, persistent and world-wide attestations in various forms. Hypnotised by uniformity, as many of the rich become by their wealth, man started in the exuberance of increasing scientific knowledge, to try to make it all a machine, later a box of dice; but neither is true. It has all the order of wisdom, the stringencies of multiplied systems, minute and majestic alike, the strength of discipline, the urgency of assault, the kindness of deliverance, depending on how you are relating to the Almighty; and the evidences of catastrophes have mounted as noted by such as Nilsson and Cuvier, Velikovsky, to the point that the old-fashioned impudence of making a nice little world for our silly thoughts is disappearing with new and fearful pre-occupations with the precise opposite, as in the pendulum of a clock, agitated by the floor shaking.
The Bible shows many examples of controlled catastrophe or deliverance, the same event sometimes achieving both categories, one for one party, the other for the challengers.
Suffering is certainly not excluded from the people of the Lord, but the might of God repeatedly is predictively harnessed in His eventual actions (cf. The Pitter-Patter... Ch. 4, SMR p. 713), whether with Moses as in Exodus and Numbers, Joshua, Elijah, Elisha as in I and II Kings, whether in Babylon, Tyre, Nineveh, Sidon, in Alexander the Great (The Glow of Predestinative Power Ch. 8 , Highway of Holiness Ch. 10), or in Sennacherib (Isaiah 36-37, II Kings 18-19).
News 1 ,45, SMR Ch.2 , pp. 160-170, 234-248, 714-715,
Cascade of Truth... Ch. 11,
Red Alert ... Ch. 14,
The Pitter-Patter of Prophetic Feet Ch. 6, esp. *3,
Red Heart ... Ch. 4, Impossible to Men, Open to God Ch. 1.
See also SMR index.
Great Execrations, Great Enervations, Greater Faith Ch. 7;
Barbs ... Appendix 3, Biblical Blessings Ch. 15, Extended Endnote 2,
Acme Alpha and Omega Ch. 11,
With Heart and Soul, Mind and Strength Ch. 3,
The Magnificence of the Messiah, Endnote 1,
Dastardly Dynamics Ch. 11,
SMR Ch. 6 and Index,
The Kingdom of Heaven Ch. 9, Section 14,
Joyful Jottings 25, A Spiritual Potpourri Chs. 15, 16,
Stepping Out for Christ Ch. 5, Things Old and New Ch. 2, Excursion 2A;
Light of Dawn Ch. 3,
Beyond the Crypt ... Ch. 2;
Dizzy Dashes, Heady Clashes
and the Brilliant Harmony of Inevitable Truth Ch. 2;
Spiritual Refreshings ... Chs. 5, 6,
Ancient Words, Modern Deeds Ch. 8 -
on resurrection and Lazarus, yes and both with Jerusalem;
contrasting Greek bodily terms - Let God be God Ch. 2 ,
and New Zealand Dizzy Dashes Ch. 6,
The Frantic Millenium and the Peace of Faith Ch. 4