Monday, August 20, 2007

Seeing Jesus from Joshua

The more I read the Old Testament, the more I love it. I've been reading through the book of Joshua the past several days, and I’ve been seeing more of what Jesus means when he says that the whole of the Law and Prophets testify about him. (I know many people are opposed to typological interpretation, but isn't it more than a coincidence that Jesus' Hebrew name is Joshua, "Yahweh saves"?)

The supremacy of Jesus over Moses.

At the end of Deuteronomy we see that Moses, despite all that he did in leading Israel out of bondage from the soul-oppressing sin-society of Egypt, was ultimately unable to lead his people across the Jordan River and into the Promised Land. Instead, he died atop Mount Nebo.* It takes his successor Joshua to lead his people into the rest-land promised on oath to Abraham.

Throughout the Bible Moses is synonymous with the Law, the contract of stipulations for how Israel was to live in Canaan, that is, the typological kingdom of God. (A type is an element that foreshadows a future corresponding element, the antitype.) God demanded that every part of the Law be kept, or else horrific curses and expulsion would result. Despite all their God did for them in his great Passover deliverance and his blessings in the desert, Israel was still unfaithful to him. They bucked the Law and were subsequently forced into famine, slaughter, and exile far from the rest and peace of blessed fellowship with God. But Israel's story is our story, too. The Mosaic Law wrote in words on stone the moral image of God that has always been written on our consciences. When Adam transgressed in Eden (which Genesis records as being located within the borders of Israel's Promised Land), his fellowship with God was severed, and death and curse entered his life--and the life of all who bear the name "human" (Hebrew adam; see Rom. 5:12-21).

But a new Joshua was given to us who was both morally pure in our stead and who broke the power of the Old Adam within us, putting him to death upon the Cross. Through Jesus Christ's perfect fulfillment of the Law (Matt. 5:17; 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 4:15) and by grafting us into his death and resurrection-life by pouring out his Holy Spirit, he became our archegos and secures the way into the true rest promised to us by God (Heb. 4), “bringing many sons to glory” (Heb. 2:10).

"Yahweh is a man of war."**
Chapters 6-12 of Joshua chronicle the battles won when "the LORD fought for Israel" (10:14, 42). Joshua led a voluntary band of Israelites to win stunning victories never before seen by the world. Yet I'm discovering that when we read the Old Testament not as an anthology of moral examples, but as the record of God's persistent plan to bless his people with the wholeness of life lived in his presence and under his grace--"the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world" (Matt. 25:34)--then all the stories are threaded together. Joshua is a bloody book. But it's bloody because the Jebusites, Hittites, and the like opposed Yahweh's reign and the blessing he promised to give to his people.

The second Joshua likewise rides on in victory, robed in blood (Rev. 19). Neither the law's accusations (Col. 2:14), nor Satan’s “deep guile and great might” (Heb. 2:14), nor the empires of this world (Rev. 18), nor sin (Rom. 8:1-4), nor death (2 Tim. 1:10) have been or will be able to stand against the Lord's Anointed when he fights for those who hope in him. As Joshua and his leaders put their feet upon the necks of the defeated kings, releasing them only to stab and impale them, so too has God exalted his King and put all things under his feet (Josh. 10:22-27; Ps. 110; 1 Cor. 15:24-28; Eph. 1:20-23). He will fight for us and secure his promised blessing!

“So the LORD gave Israel all the land which He had sworn to give to their fathers, and they possessed it and lived in it. And the LORD gave them rest on every side, according to all that He had sworn to their fathers, and no one of all their enemies stood before them; the LORD gave all their enemies into their hand. Not one of the good promises which the LORD had made to the house of Israel failed; all came to pass” (Josh. 21:43-45).

And so it will be for us through the Lord Jesus, the Christus Victor.

*He may have died in bittersweet longing, but God’s goodness wasn’t held back forever. In Luke 9:28-36, when Jesus is transfigured in radiant splendor atop Mt. Hermon, standing alongside none other than Moses himself—within the Promised Land he missed all these years. (Philip Yancey notes this The Bible Jesus Read.)
**Exodus 15:3.

1 comment:

Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

Glad to see that you're still finding some time to post. Especially glad for this post as I have just finished reading Genesis thru Numbers and every time through, I feel quite sorry for Moses. It has always been a source of discouragement and condemnation for me too.

He, by my way of thinking, really did very well and still didn't make it into the promised land. It doesn't seem to leave much hope for someone, who by comparison, has done so poorly as I. I'd never thought about it in the way that you have written - both as the failure of the law and his appearance with Jesus personally in the New Testiment. That was an encouragement indeed, so thanks!

I'm looking forward to being home in a few days - you'd think that two weeks in Mexico would be an enjoyable thing, but being away from O and being stuck in the middle of a hurricane, as well as some other issues, have made this a difficult trip indeed. I've had limited email access and no phone access to home for quite a while but have finally made it back up out of the Yucatan and back to Cancun so at least have wireless internet now. Hope you are enjoying your new home and are rapidly getting settled into your new life.