THE AUSTRALIAN PRESBYTERIAN BIBLE CHURCH - July 9th., 2006
JOSHUA IN THE LIFE I
LIVING BY COVENANTAL FAITH …
from Joshua 5 -22
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 we saw last week, 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.