In an earlier message (Rahab, A Testimony to God’s Saving Grace, # 89 on our website), I told about the conquest of Jerico and the story of the salvation of Rahab and her household. It’s a beautiful story of God’s grace to undeserving sinners. It attests to the fact that no matter how bad your life has been, God still loves you and wants to save you from hell and make you His child for eternity.
The “ scarlet cord” runs all the way through the Old Testament. The “scarlet cord” refers to the fact that the blood of Christ would be shed for sinners and it’s pictured throughout the Old Testament in ways that are almost too numerous to count. It simply points to the fact that God would send His Son to this earth in the form of man to shed His sinless blood as a sacrifice to God for the sins of all the world.
John 3:16-17. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17: For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved.”
Many of the pictures of the coming Messiah of Israel (Jesus Christ, the Only Son of God) are right here in the first chapter of Joshua and I want to point out a few of them.
In Joshua chapter one, the Children of Israel, some two to three million strong, are poised on the East bank of the Jordan River, ready to possess the Promised Land. These folks have been living out of a suitcase and carrying everything they owned on their back for 40 years and are ready to enter the Promised Land and get some rest. All the “old timers” who left Egypt forty years earlier died in the wilderness including the “Big Three"--Aaron, Miriam, and Moses, and were buried there. The bones of their first leader as a nation, Joseph, who had died several hundred years earlier in Egypt, were carried throughout the journey and were buried near Shechem in the Promised Land. Of the sixty year old class, only Caleb and Joshua are left. God had spared them because of their faithful performance as spies at Kadesh-Barnea thirty eight years earlier. At that time, all those who were twenty years old or older had refused to enter the land for lack of faith. They all died in the wilderness and a new generation would inherit the Promised Land. Let’s read what happened next.
Joshua 1:1-9. “Now after the death of Moses the servant of the LORD it came to pass, that the LORD spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses' minister, saying,
2: Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel.
3: Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses.
4: From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast.
5: There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.
6: Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them.
7: Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest.
8: This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.
9: Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.”
Their leader of forty years had died, but the journey would go on. God had chosen Joshua as Moses' successor.
In the passage in Joshua 1, there are several pictures of the Christ that is to come. However, no one man is a total picture of all that Christ would do.
Moses led the people out of bondage in Egypt and up to the promised inheritance. He prefigures Christ in the aspect of His death and burial, delivering His people from the bondage of sin and to the promise of an inheritance. Paul wrote this in 1 Corinthians 10:1-4. “Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; 2: And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 3: And did all eat the same spiritual meat; 4: And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.”
Joshua pictures Christ in His resurrection and ascension, leading His people into their actual inheritance.
Under Moses the people obtained the position of a redeemed people when they were rescued from bondage in Egypt. Under Joshua they experienced that position when they entered the land flowing with milk and honey. That’s an illustration of the believer’s present heavenly position where we are considered by God to already be united with our resurrected Savior. Colossions 3:1-4: “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. 3: For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 4: When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.”
Verse 6, God told Joshua to be strong and of good courage to carry on His work. He was to apportion the land promised to Abraham’s posterity centuries before. God encourages the believer today to be strong in carrying out His work.
Ephesians 6:10. “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might."
Philippians 4:13. “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
Verse 7. God promised the Israelites prosperity for strict obedience and for doing all that He had commanded them through Moses. Deuteronomy 5:32. “Ye shall observe to do therefore as the LORD your God hath commanded you: ye shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left.”
Strict observance of the law also brings out one of the major differences between law and grace. Under the Old Testament covenant of the law, God promised material prosperity for those who kept His commandments. Obedience would insure prosperity and success and assure them of God's presence and help.
Under the new covenant of grace, the believer isn’t promised material blessings, we’re promised something far better, spiritual blessings. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:” (Ephesians 1:3).
Just to illustrate how important obedience to God is, in verse 8, God again stressed adherence to the law and again promised prosperity if they obeyed His commandments. When the Children of Israel had conquered the land, the leaders and the people were to keep God’s commandments in their minds day and night. Deuteronomy 17:18-20. “And it shall be when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests and the Levites: 19: And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them: 20: That his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left: to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he, and his children, in the midst of Israel.”
When they took up residence in houses in the Promised Land they were to write them on the doorpost as a reminder whenever they went out or went in. (Deuteronomy 6:9)
This is good advice for today. If Christ fills our mind, He is already there for us in time of trouble. But we often wait until we are in trouble before we call on Him.
Joshua 1:10-11. “Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people, saying, 11: Pass through the host, and command the people, saying, Prepare you victuals; for within three days ye shall pass over this Jordan, to go in to possess the land, which the LORD your God giveth you to possess it.”
Joshua was a military man in Egypt and he assumed command of the Children of Israel. He must have had a well disciplined army ready to undertake the LORD'S battles. The officers passed Joshua's orders to the people to prepare three days provisions and since other food was now available they didn’t have to depend on manna any longer. God would soon cause the manna to cease. Joshua 5:12. “And the manna ceased on the morrow after they had eaten of the old corn of the land; neither had the children of Israel manna any more; but they did eat of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year.”
Here is another picture of Christ. Manna speaks of Christ in the flesh before His death and burial and it’s connected with the career of Moses who typifies our Lord's earthly life while Joshua’s assumption of the leadership pictures the resurrected and ascended Christ, Who, through the Spirit, continues "to do and teach" what He, prefigured by Moses, merely began in His earthly career (Acts 1:1).
There is more typology here. The words “for within three days” (that’s the number of days Christ was in the grave before the resurrection) “ye shall pass over this Jordan ... to possess the land.” That is a picture of our experiencing our heavenly position as it’s identified with the risen Christ. Colossians 3:1-4. “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 2: Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. 3: For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 4: When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.”
Now we come to the faithfulness of the two and a half tribes who settled East of the Jordan.
Joshua 1:12-18. “And to the Reubenites, and to the Gadites, and to half the tribe of Manasseh, spake Joshua, saying,
13: Remember the word which Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, saying, The LORD your God hath given you rest, and hath given you this land.
14: Your wives, your little ones, and your cattle, shall remain in the land which Moses gave you on this side Jordan; but ye shall pass before your brethren armed, all the mighty men of valour, and help them;
15: Until the LORD have given your brethren rest, as he hath given you, and they also have possessed the land which the LORD your God giveth them: then ye shall return unto the land of your possession, and enjoy it, which Moses the LORD's servant gave you on this side Jordan toward the sunrising.
16: And they answered Joshua, saying, All that thou commandest us we will do, and whithersoever thou sendest us, we will go.
17: According as we hearkened unto Moses in all things, so will we hearken unto thee: only the LORD thy God be with thee, as he was with Moses.
18: Whosoever he be that doth rebel against thy commandment, and will not hearken unto thy words in all that thou commandest him, he shall be put to death: only be strong and of a good courage."
These tribes had asked for a land allotment east of the Jordan River and had received it. Part of the concession made by those tribes was to assist the other tribes in the conquest of the land west of the Jordan. These had been given security in possession of the land but they weren’t given rest from warfare. They were to realize that God's people don’t enter their inheritance without conflict. Even though they already had their portion, they were to share in the military conquest of Canaan and to lead in the fighting. “Ye shall pass before your brethren armed.” Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh did this in full battle array and in complete faith and obedience to God.
The believer today is in a constant state of warfare against the power of darkness who is Satan. If you are going to serve the Lord, He wants you to be completely identified with the greater Joshua, God’s Son, Jesus Christ, and to draw your strength to serve Him from "the power of his might."
Ephesians 6:10-12. “ Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
11: Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
12: For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
Proverbs 3:5-6. “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6: In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”