Joshua 7-8: The Body of Christ

Joshua 7

1But the people of Israel broke faith in regard to the devoted things, for(AM) Achan the son of Carmi, son of Zabdi, son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of the devoted things. And the anger of the LORD burned against the people of Israel.

Achan is the subject of scrutiny in chapter 7: his name, meaning troubler or troublesome, in indicative of his contribution to Israel. Though he is the son of Carmi (“giving/my vineyard”), who is son of Zabdi (“giving/endowment”), who is son of Zerah (“rising”), who is from the tribe of Judah, he ironically forgets what it means to give; what it means to be endowed; what it means to garden God’s land, to be His steward. Instead, he horded and coveted the things which should have been devoted to the LORD, indicative of the state of his heart. It is his action which led to the LORD being angry (v.1). With this looming pretext to the rest of the chapter, we have a contrast between the end of the last chapter with the Commander of the LORD standing by their side, against this Achan who seemed to compromise the position of Israel despite the Commander’s role.

The focus then moves to v.2-3, with the omen looming closer – Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai (“heap of ruins”), which is near Beth-aven (“house of vanity”), east of Bethel (“house of God”) and said to them to spy the land. Although it seemed that the men of Ai were few (v.3-4), which seemed to justify the low number of men in attacking Ai, they still fled (v.4).

There is however something disturbing in the statistics shown in v.5 – that Israel with 36 dead and 2964 alive should flee when the majority of the army is still alive and well. In chapters 1-6 where Jericho (amongst the other nations of Canaan) is seen as a military might compared to Israel’s weak army, one would imagine that the events of chapter 6 taught us how the LORD would secure a victory without the lifting of Israel’s finger or self-confidence. However, Achan’s sin – being part of the body of Christ – has harmed the rest of Christ’s body. The LORD is clearly not with Israel during this particular conquest, because Israel is not moving together in faith. Without the underlying trust in God, the breaking of the covenant disables them from achieving the land; and Israel as a nation, being a type of the church, cannot enter the Promised Land if they do not stick to their head, the true Joshua.

2Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is near(AN) Beth-aven, east of Bethel, and said to them, “Go up and spy out the land.” And the men went up and spied out Ai. 3And they returned to Joshua and said to him, “Do not have all the people go up, but let about two or three thousand men go up and attack Ai. Do not make the whole people toil up there, for they are few.” 4So about 3,000 men went up there from the people. And(AO) they fled before the men of Ai, 5and the men of Ai killed about thirty-six of their men and chased them before the gate as far as Shebarim and struck them at the descent. And the hearts of the people(AP) melted and became as water.

The disappointment of Joshua is displayed in v.6, the dust on their heads representing destruction as a result of sin and ruin (Deuteronomy 32:24; 1 Samuel 2:8; 1 Kings 16:2). This nation of Ai, near Beth-aven, has symbolically brought the Israelites the type of disaster and disappointment as the narrator contrasted the House of God (Bethel, which was once called Luz, “almond tree”) where Jacob rested and Ai the House of Ruin. Who is the cause of this ruin? Achan and his coveting. Thus, although Israel is a light to the nations, she can also become a proverb of taboo (Deuteronomy 28:37), a parable of one who does not stand by Christ as intimated in v.8-9.

6Then Joshua(AQ) tore his clothes and(AR) fell to the earth on his face before the ark of the LORD until the evening, he and the elders of Israel. And they put(AS) dust on their heads. 7And Joshua said, “Alas, O Lord GOD,(AT) why have you brought this people over the Jordan at all, to give us into the hands of the Amorites, to destroy us? Would that we had been content to dwell beyond the Jordan! 8O Lord, what can I say, when Israel has turned their backs before their enemies! 9For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land will hear of it and will surround us and(AU) cut off our name from the earth. And what will you do for your great name?”

There are several obvious reasons why Israel received such punishment and discipline as to lead to the death of 36, along with striking fear into the hearts of the people:

  1. The possessions, firstfruit or not, are essentially His. We are only stewards (Matthew 25 – parable of the talents; Titus 1:7), temporarily holding on to His possessions though He is generous and merciful enough to allow us to partake and own it (by the firstfruit of Christ and the Spirit) and to share in it in New Creation (Luke 3:11; Romans 11:17; 2 Corinthians 1:5; Colossians 1:12; Hebrews 12:10; Revelation 22:19).
  2. He will give us infinitely more; for Achan to literally steal from God is committing the sin of theft (against God – Exodus 20:15; Deuteronomy 5:31-33) because of the root problem – a lack of belief or faith that God will provide. A lack of trust in the Christ who will perform these statutes perfectly, so to enable us to ‘live long in the land’. Even more so, a lack of trust in oneself to love and adore these statutes, and instead trust no-one, leaving the only choice of disobedience which Achan committed. Moses lived in tents because he longed for the greater things, rather than live as a prince of Egypt; but Achan satiated the lust of his eyes, despite already possessing all of the non-devoted things. This is akin to Adam and Eve’s great sin of eating the fruit from the tree of good and evil, despite being given everything else in the Garden of Eden. Furthermore, Israel has already been allotted much land and possessions as in Numbers 33-36; Achan’s sin runs deep as he seeks to covet and covet, but unwittingly does not realise that this is all that he will ever receive.

10The LORD said to Joshua, “Get up! Why have you fallen on your face? 11Israel has sinned; they have(AV) transgressed my covenant that I commanded them; they have taken some of the(AW) devoted things; they have stolen and lied and put them among their own belongings. 12(AX) Therefore the people of Israel cannot stand before their enemies. They(AY) turn their backs before their enemies, because they have become(AZ) devoted for destruction.[e] I will be with you no more, unless you destroy(BA) the devoted things from among you. 13Get up! Consecrate the people and say,(BB) ‘Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow; for thus says the LORD, God of Israel, “There are devoted things in your midst, O Israel. You cannot stand before your enemies until you take away the devoted things from among you.” 14In the morning therefore you shall be brought near(BC) by your tribes. And the tribe that the LORD takes by lot shall come near by clans. And the clan that the LORD takes shall come near by households. And the household that the LORD takes shall come near man by man. 15(BD) And he who is taken with the devoted things shall be burned with fire, he and all that he has, because he has(BE) transgressed the covenant of the LORD, and because he has done(BF) an outrageous thing in Israel.'”

What is interesting is how this episode of discipline, and the ‘vengeance’ of God is played out so quickly after Achan’s sin – however, the symbolic representation of the message in chapter 7 is its wider context. Joshua is a book about first-fruit fulfilment of the promises and the law made in the Pentateuch. Achan’s sin is a type of the dying parts of the church affecting the Body of Christ as a whole (Matthew 5:30 in relation to the corporate Body of Christ) Israel, representing the church, will suffer and fail as a result of unaccounted and unrepented sins because of the hidden persistence in disobedience, an inevitability which creates the physical and spiritual church divide.

However, it is in this event that we see the spiritual church being affected by the physical church (Achan); as such, the event of Israel’s failure to conquer Ai is but a type of event which were to happen to the global New Testament Church when evangelism fails; when the Spirit is not depended on; when God does not bless our works. Why? Because the Church Body is harbouring sin and is caring only for one’s individual spiritual health, but not learning to discern and exhort others to holiness.

The persecution of Achan when eschatologically displayed is indicative of how Achan will be sought out by God, no matter where he hides the stolen possessions, no matter how he hides his sin. He will come before the LORD and confess all, but by then it is too late. When we do not look at this episode eschatologically, we run a danger of relating God’s punishment to every particular sin immediately; however, God’s true punishment of second death comes after the confession and revelation of the non-Christians’ sins when He seeks them out on the Resurrection Day of sinner and saint alike. Only in this teleological context can we realise why Achan’s confession is made too late; and it also teaches us that it is God’s will to (eventually) destroy the physical church so to ensure that only the spiritual church is victorious and unhindered by dying parts of the Body. However, in these times of wilderness and in these last days it is not our duty to sift the wheat from the chaff; it is our duty to rebuke, reproof, exhort and even excommunicate, but only God Himself can eternally eradicate all opposition within and outside of the Bride. Thus, v.16-21 is extensive in representing a truth repeated in detail in the book of Revelation – that the Father will use His Angel and angels to seek out by His providence those who have sinned against Him:

16So Joshua rose early in the morning and brought Israel near tribe by tribe, and the tribe of Judah was taken. 17And he brought near the clans of Judah, and the clan of the(BG) Zerahites was taken. And he brought near the clan of the Zerahites man by man, and Zabdi was taken. 18And he brought near his household man by man, and Achan the son of Carmi, son of Zabdi, son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, was taken. 19Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son,(BH) give glory to the LORD God of Israel and(BI) give praise[f] to him. And(BJ) tell me now what you have done; do not hide it from me.” 20And Achan answered Joshua, “Truly(BK) I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, and this is what I did: 21when I saw among the spoil a beautiful cloak from Shinar, and 200 shekels of silver, and a bar of gold weighing 50 shekels,[g] then I coveted them and took them. And see, they are hidden in the earth inside my tent, with the silver underneath.”

This divine providence is represented in the form of the “lot” as in Proverbs 16:33, but this providence is not philosophical but is Christological, fitting to the story of Joshua confronting Achan. In the words of Athanasius in his “On the Incarnation”:

“…But suppose they confess that there is a Word of God, that He is the Governor of all things, that in Elim the Father wrought the creation, that by His providence the whole receives light and life and being, and that He is King over all, so that He is known by means of the works of His providence, and through Him the Father. Suppose they confess all this, what then? Are they not unknowingly turning the ridicule against themselves? The Greek philosophers say that the universe is a great body, and they say truly, for we perceive the universe and its parts with our senses. But if the Word of God is in the universe, which is a body, and has entered into it in its every part, what is there surprising or unfitting in our saying that He has entered also into human nature? If it were unfitting for Him to have embodied Himself at all, then it would be unfitting for Him to have entered into the universe, and to be giving light and movement by His providence to all things in it, because the universe, as we have seen, is itself a body. But if it is right and fitting for Him to enter into the universe and to reveal Himself through it, then, because humanity is part of the universe along with the rest, it is no less fitting for Him to appear in a human body, and to enlighten and to work through that. And surely if it were wrong for a part of the universe to have been used to reveal His Divinity to men, it would be much more wrong that He should be so revealed by the whole! In accordance with God the Father, represented by the ark, fulfilling His will through Joshua the type of Jesus, we can see how this ‘random’ picking of the tribe and individual needed to be done through Joshua to underline the symbology of this event on a Trinitarian basis. It is through Christ that the Father’s will is continuously carried out; Joshua’s temporary typological role as head of Israel is never confused with his role being different from the role of the Three Persons because we know Joshua is a man; but the Father and His Angel are basically what the Ark and Joshua are respectively representing.”

22So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran to the tent; and behold, it was hidden in his tent with the silver underneath. 23And they took them out of the tent and brought them to Joshua and to all the people of Israel. And they laid them down before the LORD. 24And Joshua and all Israel with him took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver and the cloak and the bar of gold, and his sons and daughters and his oxen and donkeys and sheep and his tent and all that he had. And they brought them up to the(BL) Valley of Achor. 25And Joshua said, “Why did you(BM) bring trouble on us? The LORD brings trouble on you today.” And all Israel(BN) stoned him with stones.(BO) They burned them with fire and stoned them with stones. 26And they raised over him(BP) a great heap of stones that remains to this day. Then(BQ) the LORD turned from his burning anger. Therefore, to this day the name of that place is called the Valley of Achor.[h]

It is especially interesting how this incident is alluded to in one of the Angel’s parables in Matthew 25 – the parable of the talents – which refers to the devoted things that Achan stole:

  1. The cloak from Shinar, a beautiful cloak
  2. 200 shekels of silver
  3. A bar of gold weighing 50 shekels

Adam Clarke looks at the etymology of the ‘cloak from Shinar’ which the KJV describes as the “Babylonish garment”:

“A goodly Babylonish garmentאדרת שנער addereth shinar, a splendid or costly robe of Shinar; but as Babylon or Babel was built in the plain of Shinar, the word has in general been translated Babylon in this place. It is very probable that this was the robe of the king of Jericho, for the same word is used, Jon_3:6, to express the royal robe, of the king of Nineveh which he laid aside in order to humble himself before God. Bochart and Calmet have shown at large that Babylonish robes were very splendid, and in high reputation. “They are,” says Calmet, “generally allowed to have been of various colors, though some suppose they were woven thus; others, that they were embroidered with the needle; and others, that they were painted.”

Although Clarke describes the physical beauty of the garment, he did not dive into the depth of what is represented by the coveting of such garment. If his description is accurate, that this phrase is equally a description of the royal robe, then Achan’s sin is representative of coveting the robe of the Head of the enemy. Instead of, by faith, remaining in the robe of righteousness of Christ, Achan has submitted himself to the cloak from Babylon, the silver and gold of the enemy which was supposed to be devoted to the LORD. The physical splendour has satiated Achan’s lusts for possessions but he does not realize that his sin has led him to covet a pagan treasure.

These verses in particular seem to find inspiration from this story of Achan:

Mat 25:24-30 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, (25) so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ (26) But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? (27) Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. (28) So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. (29) For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. (30) And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

We learn that Achan’s shame, like the servant, is brought to the open, and in this chapter we see Achan’s sin brought to the open in v.23 before three groups: Yeshua, Israel, and the LORD. Achan hid the treasures in the soil (v.21-22), a constant refrain, just as the servant of the parable did. Where Jesus stated that this servant is to be cast into the outer darkness, it is not because the servant truly saved the treasure for Him; rather, the servant did not have faith in handling the money for Christ, and dealt with the possessions as he wished. He presumed too much (v.24-25).

Similarly, it is no coincidence that throughout the whole Bible, these three groups stand as witnesses against the sinner, just as it would occur on the Day of Resurrection, the glorified and sheltered re-born Bride of Christ, by the power of the Spirit, with Christ, and the Father, standing as witnesses against the resurrected sinners who will experience their second death. The punishment of the servant into the outer darkness is the same punishment before the three witnesses on the Day of Resurrection: and Achan has served as a type of this servant before the Commander of the LORD, a type of Christ in the office of Judge and Destroyer.

So Achan is the first to be subjected to the funeral by the great heap of stones, again repeated in chapter 8v.29 – and this type of burial is symbolic of the Rock of Ages standing on all who oppose Him. Indeed, trouble is on Achan and his family because he is the first type of the physical church to be destroyed if they do not stand under Christ’s banner, but under their own. His lack of persistence in faith, his self-reliance, his coveting of treasure representing Babylon are the same images in the book of Revelation – the whore of Babylon and the people’s ‘treasures’ being revealed for what they are under His fiery punishment. So this valley of Achor, this valley of trouble is simultaneous a sign of inevitable destruction for those outside of the Church as well as a symbol of hope:

A new name was given to the place; it was called theValley of Achor, or trouble. This was a perpetual brand of infamy upon Achan’s name, and a perpetual warning to all people not to invade God’s property. By this severity against Achan, the honour of Joshua’s government, now in the infancy of it, was maintained, and Israel, at their entrance upon the promised Canaan, were reminded to observe, at their peril, the provisos and limitations of the grant by which they held it. The Valley of Achor is said to be given for a door of hope, because when we put away the accursed thing then there begins to be hope in Israel, Hos_2:15; Ezr_10:2. (Matthew Henry)

Joshua 8

1And the LORD said to Joshua,(BR) “Do not fear and do not be dismayed. Take all the fighting men with you, and arise, go up to Ai. See,(BS) I have given into your hand the king of Ai, and his people, his city, and his land. 2And you shall do to Ai and its king as you did(BT) to Jericho and its king. Only(BU) its spoil and its livestock you shall take as plunder for yourselves. Lay an ambush against the city, behind it.”

Our intimate God continually sympathises with us despite the situation – v.1: “do not fear and do not be dismayed”. How easy it is to be dismayed when one cannot even keep track of one congregant’s coveting! However, the LORD soothes Joshua’s heart, and by faith, they must conquer Ai without compromise. This is directly related to the third verse, where there seems to be a vast contrast in both number of men and attitude towards the war against Ai. Matthew Henry looks at this attitude and number change from bringing 30,000 instead of the mere 3000 men (chapter 7v.4) to do His bidding:

“The camp of Israel suffering for the same: The anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel; he saw the offence, though they did not, and takes a course to make them see it; for one way or other, sooner or later, secret sins will be brought to light; and, if men enquire not after them, God will, and with his enquiries will awaken theirs. man a community is under guilt and wrath and is not aware of it till the fire breaks out: here it broke out quickly. 1. Joshua sends a detachment to seize upon the next city that was in their way, and that was Ai. Only 3000 men were sent, advice being brought him by his spies that the place was inconsiderable, and needed no greater force for the reduction of it, Jos_7:2, Jos_7:3. Now perhaps it was a culpable assurance, or security rather that led them to send so small a party on this expedition; it might also be an indulgence of the people in the love of ease, for they will not have all the people to labour thither. Perhaps the people were the less forward to go upon this expedition because they were denied the plunder of Jericho; and these spies were willing they should be gratified. Whereas when the town was to be taken, though God by his own power would throw down the walls, yet they must all labour thither and labour there too, in walking round it. It did not bode well at all that God’s Israel began to think much of their labour, and contrived how to spare their pains. It is required that we work out our salvation, though it is God that works in us. It has likewise often proved of bad consequence to make too light of an enemy. They are but few (say the spies), but, as few as they were, they were too many for them. It will awaken our care and diligence in our Christian warfare to consider that we wrestle with principalities and powers.

Thus, Matthew Henry so responds to the cunning plan of decoy from v.4-9. This tactic is considerably different from their approach to Jericho. Jericho was symbolically the first city to be conquered; but Ai is the second of the list of cities which the LORD is hoping to devote to destruction through Israel. Joshua’s plan displays the type of thinking which his spies did not in chapter 7 – and this place of ambush between Bethel (House of God) and Ai (Heap of Ruins) is significant for already being established in Genesis 12:8 and 13:3. This place is where Abraham built an altar worshipping Yahweh in response to His covenant with him, and the ambush at this location is a precursor to the victory of the Israelites as God promised in v.1.

3So Joshua and all the fighting men arose to go up to Ai. And Joshua chose 30,000 mighty men of valor and sent them out by night. 4And he commanded them, “Behold,(BV) you shall lie in ambush against the city, behind it. Do not go very far from the city, but all of you remain ready. 5And I and all the people who are with me will approach the city. And when they come out against us(BW) just as before, we shall flee before them. 6And they will come out after us, until we have(BX) drawn them away from the city. For they will say, ‘They are fleeing from us, just as before.’ So we will flee before them. 7Then you shall rise up from the ambush and seize the city, for the LORD your God will give it into your hand. 8And as soon as you have taken the city, you shall set the city on fire. You shall do according to the word of the LORD.(BY) See, I have commanded you.” 9So Joshua sent them out. And they went to the place of ambush and lay between Bethel and Ai, to the west of Ai, but Joshua spent that night among the people.

V.9-10 tend to be overlooked, but we must not forget that Joshua, like Yeshua, dwelled with us in His cosmic victory over the Satan, and the most important thing we look forward to is to fully and eternally taste the intimacy of the temporary incarnation of Christ. Joshua spending the night with the troops displays Christ’s willing intimacy and communion with us. V.10-17 then chronicles the ambush in the form of the main encampment on the north of Ai, and the rear guard at the west of Ai.

10Joshua arose early in the morning and mustered the people and went up, he and the elders of Israel, before the people to Ai. 11And(BZ) all the fighting men who were with him went up and drew near before the city and encamped on the north side of Ai, with a ravine between them and Ai. 12He took about 5,000 men and set them in ambush between Bethel and Ai, to the west of the city. 13So they stationed the forces, the main encampment that was north of the city and its rear guard west of the city. But Joshua spent that night in the valley. 14And as soon as the king of Ai saw this, he and all his people, the men of the city, hurried and went out early to the appointed place[i] toward(CA) the Arabah to meet Israel in battle.(CB) But he did not know that there was an ambush against him behind the city. 15And Joshua and all Israel(CC) pretended to be beaten before them and fled in the direction of the wilderness. 16So all the people who were in the city were called together to pursue them, and as they pursued Joshua they(CD) were drawn away from the city. 17Not a man was left in Ai or Bethel who did not go out after Israel. They left the city open and pursued Israel.

This deception of Joshua’s (v.15) is to be directly contrasted to the deception of the Gibeonites in chapter 9. Unlike the deception of the Gibeonites, Joshua’s actions of the ambush and such are borne from the wisdom of God, and the javelin in Joshua’s hand is symbolic of the warring victory of Joshua (1 Samuel 17:6, 45; Job 39:23; Jeremiah 6:23) until v.26 where he had kept the javelin out. The javelin itself, like Moses’ staff, is merely allegorical to God’s true strength, akin to the outstretched arms of Moses in Exodus 17:11-12. In all the action described, the inevitable destruction of Ai is seen in v.20 – the “smoke into heaven” (c.f. Genesis 19:28; Exodus 19:18; Deuteronomy 29:20; Psalm 66:15; Revelation 8:4; Revelation 9:2). This smoke, simultaneously like a sacrificial offering, as well as indicative of the smoke from a burning furnace – both describing the destruction of Ai and the establishment of “Ai” as part of the true Bethel, House of God.

18Then the LORD said to Joshua,(CE) “Stretch out the javelin that is in your hand toward Ai, for I will give it into your hand.” And Joshua stretched out the javelin that was in his hand toward the city. 19And the men in the ambush rose quickly out of their place, and as soon as he had stretched out his hand, they ran and entered the city and captured it. And they hurried to set the city on fire. 20So when the men of Ai looked back, behold, the smoke of the city went up to heaven, and they had no power to flee this way or that, for the people who fled to the wilderness turned back against the pursuers. 21And when Joshua and all Israel saw that the ambush had captured the city, and that the smoke of the city went up, then they turned back and struck down the men of Ai. 22And the others came out from the city against them, so they were in the midst of Israel, some on this side, and some on that side. And Israel struck them down, until there was(CF) left none that survived or escaped. 23But the king of Ai they took alive, and brought him near to Joshua.

With the noting of 12,000 in Ai, one wonders how it was possible for the spies to be so neglectful in chapter 7, so complacent, to expect their 3000 to conquer 12,000. Joshua’s shrewdness and cunning borne from the Spirit anointed upon him furthermore leads him to hang the King of Ai on a tree (v.28-29) as a sign to the neighbouring nations.

One question should be asked: why did they not stone him like they stoned Achan? Why hang first, then raise a great heap of stones? This stipulation of hanging on the tree is explicitly described in Deuteronomy 21:22-23, and Clarke interestingly notes the Septuagint interpretation of the Hebrew:

As soon as the sun was down – It was not lawful to let the bodies remain all night upon the tree. See the note on Deu_21:23. The Septuagint say the king of Ai was hanged επι ξυλον διδυμον, upon a double tree, which probably means a forked tree, or something in the form of a cross. The tree on which criminals were hanged among the Romans was called arbor infelix, and lignum infelix, the unfortunate, ill-fated, or accursed tree.”

Indeed, when Christ was on the cross, he is indeed cursed. The full wrath of God was placed onto his own Son – what happened to Ai and what will happen to the later kings are exactly the depth and weight of what happened to the Son as to cause Him to exclaim “Why have You forsaken me?” (Psalm 22:1). The contemporary conception of ‘cosmic child abuse’ is misconceived, because Christ really did feel the judgment wrath on the church’s behalf: but what happened to Ai, as one of the heads of the enemy nations, is what would happen to all non-Christians should they not stand in the Bride in Jesus.

24When Israel had finished killing all the inhabitants of Ai in the open wilderness where they pursued them, and all of them to the very last had fallen by the edge of the sword, all Israel returned to Ai and struck it down with the edge of the sword. 25And all who fell that day, both men and women, were 12,000, all the people of Ai. 26But Joshua did not draw back his hand with which he(CG) stretched out the javelin until he had devoted all the inhabitants of Ai to destruction.[j] 27Only the livestock and the spoil of that city Israel took as their plunder, according to the word of the LORD that he(CH) commanded Joshua. 28So Joshua burned Ai and made it forever a(CI) heap of ruins, as it is to this day. 29(CJ) And he hanged the king of Ai on a tree until evening.(CK) And at sunset Joshua commanded, and they took his body down from the tree and threw it at the entrance of the gate of the city and(CL) raised over it a great heap of stones, which stands there to this day.

So chapter 8 ends suitably with v.30-36 where we see Yeshua building an altar to the LORD on Mt. Ebal, the stone/bare mountain, the mountain of curses fulfilling what is said in Deuteronomy 27:6 – the altar of uncut stones.

30At that time Joshua built an altar to the LORD, the God of Israel,(CM) on Mount Ebal, 31just as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded the people of Israel, as it is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, “an altar of uncut stones, upon which no man has wielded an iron tool.” And they offered on it burnt offerings to the LORD and sacrificed peace offerings. 32And there, in the presence of the people of Israel, he wrote on(CN) the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he had written. 33And all Israel,(CO) sojourner as well as native born, with their elders and officers and their judges, stood on opposite sides of the ark before the Levitical priests(CP) who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD, half of them in front of Mount Gerizim and half of them in front of Mount Ebal,(CQ) just as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded at the first, to bless the people of Israel. 34And afterward(CR) he read all the words of the law,(CS) the blessing and the curse, according to all that is written in the Book of the Law. 35There was not a word of all that Moses commanded that Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel,(CT) and the women, and the little ones, and(CU) the sojourners who lived[k] among them.

These uncut stones are Christ, the untempered Stone on Whom we stand, the Stone under Whom the enemy of God remains. In the words of Matthew Henry:

“They built an altar, and offered sacrifice to God (Jos_8:30, Jos_8:31), in token of their dedication of themselves to God, as living sacrifices to his honour, in and by a Mediator, who is the altar that sanctifies this gift. This altar was erected on Mount Ebal, the mount on which the curse was put (Deu_11:29), to signify that there, where by the law we had reason to expect a curse, by Christ’s sacrifice of himself for us and his mediation we have peace with God; he has redeemed us from the curse of the law by being made a curse for us, Gal_3:13. Even where it was said, by the curse, You are not my people, there it is said, through Christ the altar, You are the children of the living God, Hos_1:10. The curses pronounced on Mount Ebal would immediately have been executed if atonement had not been made by sacrifice. By the sacrifices offered on this altar they did likewise give God the glory of the victories they had already obtained, as Exo_17:15. Now that they had had the comfort of them, in the spoils of Ai, it was fit that God should have the praise of them. And they also implored his favour for their future success; for supplications as well as thanksgivings were intended in their peace-offerings. The way to prosper in all that we put our hand to is to take God along with us, and in all our ways to acknowledge him by prayer, praise, and dependence. The altar they built was of rough unhewn stone, according to the law (Exo_20:25), for that which is most plain and natural, and least artful and affected, in the worship of God, he is best pleased with. Man’s device can add no beauty to God’s institutions.”

What is especially noteworthy is how a copy of the law was written on the stones: a pronouncement of the judgment of Christ, which in turn justifies how these stones typify the global judgment on the Day of Resurrection. It is the law which condemns the King of Ai; it is the law which hung him on the tree; and it is the law which holds the promise of Christ:

“Accordingly, apart from the Mediator, God never showed favor toward the ancient people, nor ever gave hope of grace to them. I pass over the sacrifices of the law, which plainly and openly taught believers to seek salvation nowhere else than in the atonement that Christ alone carries out. I am only saying that the blessed and happy state of the church always had its foundation in the person of Christ. For even if God included all of Abraham’s offspring in his covenant [cf. Genesis 17:4], Paul nevertheless wisely reasons that Christ was properly that seed in whom all the nations were to be blessed [Galatians 3:14], since we know that not all who sprang from Abraham according to the flesh were reckoned among his offspring [Galatians 3:16]. For, to say nothing of Ishmael and others, how did it come about that of the two sons of Isaac, the twin brothers Esau and Jacob, while they were yet in their mother’s womb, one was chosen, the other rejected [Romans 9:11]? Indeed, how did it happen that the firstborn was set aside while the younger alone kept his status? How, also, did it come about that the majority was disinherited? It is therefore clear that Abraham’s seed is to be accounted chiefly in one Head, and that the promised salvation was not realized until Christ appeared, whose task is to gather up what has been scattered. So, then, the original adoption of the chosen people depended upon the Mediator’s grace. Even if in Moses’ writings this was not yet expressed in clear words, still it sufficiently appears that it was commonly known to all the godly. For before a king had been established over the people, Hannah, the mother of Samuel, describing the happiness of the godly, already says in her song: “God will give strength to his king and exalt the horn of his Messiah” [1 Samuel 2:10]. By these words she means that God will bless his church. To this corresponds the prophecy that is added a little later: “The priest whom I shall raise up… will walk in the presence of my Christ” [1 Samuel 2:35, cf. Vg.].” – John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion in chapter “Fallen Man Ought to Seek Redemption in Christ”.

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Joshua 7-8: The Body of Christ

Joshua 5-6: The First Steps to Fulfilling the Promises of the Sacraments

Joshua 5

Jos 5:1-15 As soon as all the kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan to the west, and all the kings of the Canaanites who were by the sea, heard that the LORD had dried up the waters of the Jordan for the people of Israel until they had crossed over, their hearts melted and there was no longer any spirit in them because of the people of Israel. (2) At that time the LORD said to Joshua, “Make flint knives and circumcise the sons of Israel a second time.” (3) So Joshua made flint knives and circumcised the sons of Israel at Gibeath-haaraloth. (4) And this is the reason why Joshua circumcised them: all the males of the people who came out of Egypt, all the men of war, had died in the wilderness on the way after they had come out of Egypt. (5) Though all the people who came out had been circumcised, yet all the people who were born on the way in the wilderness after they had come out of Egypt had not been circumcised. (6) For the people of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, until all the nation, the men of war who came out of Egypt, perished, because they did not obey the voice of the LORD; the LORD swore to them that he would not let them see the land that the LORD had sworn to their fathers to give to us, a land flowing with milk and honey. (7) So it was their children, whom he raised up in their place, that Joshua circumcised. For they were uncircumcised, because they had not been circumcised on the way.

Joshua 5 opens with the comparison between the melting of the hearts of the enemy and the rebellion of the previous generation – a sad contrast, because the latter need not disobey if only they realized what work God was doing in their enemies’ hearts. How many times the LORD had stated to Israel that He shall give them the land, as if this did not include the defeat of her enemies (Exodus 23:22, 23:27)! However, Israel’s lack of faith means that she did not enter the race to begin with; those who rebelled were those who did not trust in the things which the LORD promised, but only in what they can see before themselves.

For this reason, the repeat of the circumcision is but another sacrament, mystery, sign of the gospel added to the list of indications of the Good News (the baptism of the parting of the river Jordan – c.f. 1 Peter 3:21) from chapters 1 to 4. The circumcision inherently looks toward the time when the Seed of the Father is cut on our behalf on the 8th day (c.f. Genesis 17), the third day after the Friday when Christ was crucified, to symbolize the finished work on the cross when he resurrects on the morning after the Sabbath day. The whole rites of passage in v.5-7 identifies the entire nation, the new breed, the new generation, under the banner of Christ – helping the Israelites identify themselves by the symbolic shedding of the foreskin of their hearts (Deuteronomy 10:16), their holiness shining into the darkness of their Godless enemies. This circumcision happens for all who enters into the land of Canaan, as it represents the type of person who enters into New Creation as having to go through Christ alone (John 14:6), and not to walk into the Promised Land without bearing the mark of the mediator’s suffering on our behalf.

(8) When the circumcising of the whole nation was finished, they remained in their places in the camp until they were healed. (9) And the LORD said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” And so the name of that place is called Gilgal to this day. (10) While the people of Israel were encamped at Gilgal, they kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month in the evening on the plains of Jericho. (11) And the day after the Passover, on that very day, they ate of the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain. (12) And the manna ceased the day after they ate of the produce of the land. And there was no longer manna for the people of Israel, but they ate of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year. (13) When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” (14) And he said, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the LORD. Now I have come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, “What does my lord say to his servant?” (15) And the commander of the LORD’s army said to Joshua, “Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.

v.8-15 have three interesting details we ought to note:

  1. The first mentioning and eventual emphasis on “Gilgal” (v.8-9)
  2. The ceasing of manna (v.11-12)
  3. The commander of the LORD’s army (V.13-15)

The resting place at Gilgal is not without it’s symbolism. It’s literal Hebrew meaning is “a wheel, rolling” from “ גל gal which signifies to roll; and the doubling of the root, גלגל galgal or gilgal, which signifies rolling round and round, or rolling off or away, because, in circumcising the children that had been born in the wilderness, Joshua rolled away, rolled off completely, the reproach of the people. From this time Gilgal became a place of considerable eminence in the sacred history.” (Adam Clarke)

The Israelites themselves looked at Gilgal symbolically as well; Joshua insisted on returning to Gilgal consistently throughout his conquests in the next few chapters, and Samuel in 1 Samuel 11:14 sought to renew the kingdom of Israel by Saul’s kingship at Gilgal. Micah himself saw the contrast in the transportation of Israel from Shittim to Gilgal (Micah 6:5), where Israel whored with the daughters of Moab (Numbers 25:1) and were circumcised here at this spot to which they will continuously return to as a reminder of their gospel-driven circumcision.

Secondly, the ceasing of the manna is a sign of the shadows coming to an end; the shadows of both the Old and New Testament, from the night shadows of the Old to the dawn shadows of the New, to the bright noon of New Creation when the sun shall shine so bright that all shadows, types, sacraments will be eradicated. The ceasing of manna tells us how what we experience now is just a firstfruit, a taste of heaven (as manna – ‘what is this’ – is a mysterious food which bears the literal taste of heaven as a honey wafer) because manna is a temporary ration in the wilderness until the time when we eat directly from the pastures of New Creation. Similarly why should we, the post-resurrection, post-ascension bride of Christ continue by means of physical circumcision and the Passover when the last days have come to be infant baptized and to take communion? Finally, we should even rid ourselves of those two common sacraments when Christ returns, because it would be counted as foolish to eat and live in the temporary ways of the wilderness when the wilderness will inevitably cease!

Finally, we are taken back to the actual Christ in Joshua 5:15 – a reference to Exodus 3:5 for the ground Joshua stands is holy ground. This Commander, this Angel, is the visible of the invisible Him – the Son of God who now stands as a type of his incarnation, as well as continue in his mediatory role between man and Father. This appearance of the Commander is the perfect and most appropriate pretext before Joshua 6, because from the next chapter onwards it would be mistaken to assume it is Joshua’s leadership which led Israel to victory, but it is moreso the company of the Commander Angel, the true Yeshua, and His Father by the power of the Spirit who hardened their enemies hearts which delivered Israel the true success.

Joshua 6

1Now Jericho was shut up inside and outside because of the people of Israel. None went out, and none came in. 2And the LORD said to Joshua, “See,(S) I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and mighty men of valor. 3You shall march around the city, all the men of war going around the city once. Thus shall you do for six days. 4Seven priests shall bear seven(T) trumpets of(U) rams’ horns before the ark. On the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and(V) the priests shall blow the trumpets. 5And when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, when you hear the sound of the trumpet, then all the people shall shout with a great shout, and the wall of the city will fall down flat,[c] and the people shall go up, everyone straight before him.” 6So Joshua the son of Nun called the priests and said to them, “Take up the ark of the covenant and let seven priests bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the LORD.” 7And he said to the people, “Go forward. March around the city and let(W) the armed men pass on before the ark of the LORD.”

Chapter 6 starts with the men of Jericho being fearful (v.1) – the city is shut up inside out. Instead of stepping in synchornisation with Israel, this light of nations, instead they retreated to the darkness in their hearts. Whether they retreat or whether they submit, the fact of the matter is that the LORD is faithful in fulfilling His promise that this nation will be displaced by Israel one way or another.

v.3 lays out the plan of the six days surrounding the city once per day, and seven times on the seventh day. When the world was created in six days and the glory of the Sabbath instituted on the seventh, we see this pattern in the first chapter of Genesis:

  • Day 1-3: Formation of God’s creation
  • Day 4-6: Filling of God’s creation
  • Day 7: Sabbath

One can see that there is a type of progression, proceeding from day one to day seven. Just as the world is coming to its fruition as it nears Day 7, so also the conquering of Jericho will come to fruition on day 7. The initial six days embody their systematic and symbolic march surrounding Jericho, the nation of God’s enemy – but the seventh day is inevitable, and in Day 4-6 of creation where we see the formation of God’s creation being filled with living creatures, we equally see how God’s New Creation is coming nearer in the last days since Christ’s first coming (the last days as described by Acts 2:17). The people of Israel know that the last few marches around Jericho would eventually and inevitably lead to the seventh day where they will definitely inherit Jericho amongst other cities in the land of Canaan, and yet they will continue to march and stay steadfast in their marching until the last of all days, just as we look forward to the final seventh day of Christ’s second return.

From v.4 onwards, we see the type of detail that occurs on the seventh day. The Israelites shall march around Jericho seven times, along with seven priests bearing seven trumpets, symbolising the ultimate victory announced by the trumpet blasts (Exodus 20:18; Leviticus 25:9).

We should not overlook the choice of the ram’s horn either. The horn is a musical instrument commonly used in a victory parade of sorts (1 Chronicles 15:28), but also symbolic of ‘salvation’ (2 Samuel 22:3, Psalm 18:2) as a horn can also mean the horn of the altar of the LORD (in Christ’s weakness on the cross as he bore the sins of the world is He the strongest in his obedience to His Father’s will), figuratively also meaning the strength of God (just as the horn is the strength of an animal). Thus, the choice of the ram’s horn takes us back to Genesis 22 when a ram was sacrificed instead of the lamb who has yet to be sacrificed in Moriah.

This victory is achieved by the LORD alone; the very fact of Israel’s inability to conquer Jericho is emphasised by the victory cry on the seventh day, all fulfilled by the will of Yahweh. Not a single arrow, let alone sword, has even touched the great walls of this enemy nation and the walls simply collapse. This event should humble every Israelite to praise Him who pulls down walls when one stands in Christ in faith (Matthew 17:20).

Furthermore, the destruction of the walls in verse 5 tells us of the vulnerability of the non-Christians; in the book of Revelation we see how many will hide in caves and in their own shelters (Revelation 6:15) when the irony is that these walls are nothing compared to the beautiful and sturdy walls of New Jerusalem built by His hands. This theme has already been explored when the Tower of Bablyon was built in Genesis 11 and summarily destroyed in the same chapter, foiling the pride and arrogance of man in creating their own reputation and shelter.

8And just as Joshua had commanded the people, the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the LORD went forward, blowing the trumpets, with the ark of the covenant of the LORD following them. 9The armed men were walking before the priests who were blowing the trumpets, and the(X) rear guard was walking after the ark, while the trumpets blew continually. 10But Joshua commanded the people, “You shall not shout or make your voice heard, neither shall any word go out of your mouth, until the day I tell you to shout. Then you shall shout.” 11So he caused the ark of the LORD to circle the city, going about it once. And they came into the camp and spent the night in the camp.

It is interesting to look at v.10 and reason why Joshua should command them not to shout unless told otherwise. By following the typology of Yeshua in these passages, Joshua’s mandate to the Israelites is akin to the unspoken mandate throughout Scripture which we expressly see carried out on the Day of Resurrection: the time when the angels stand before the ark (symbolic of the Unseen Father revealing Himself) and begin the rooting out of the chaff against the wheat, giving true shelter to the Christian and throwing the non-Christian, along with the Satan, into the lake of fire. This specific time, as symbolised by Joshua’s statement in v.10, tells us of God’s impending coming being neither delayed, nor made early – but it happens exactly as He wills and intends (2 Peter 3:9).

With that in mind, one should begin to realise that chapter 6 is more explicitly a blueprint of the last days to the Day of Resurrection – the theme explored again in the book of Acts after the narrative in the gospels (and equally here, after the narrative of the Pentateuch). V.11 shows the impending threat and reality of His holiness surrounding the non-Christians, of Him reaching out to us but non-Christians ironically hiding from His presence and pronouncing His non-existence, not acknowledging that there is impending judgment because they are hiding in the walls of their stony heart, refusing to realise His intimacy with His creation being outside these walls built upon the Rock and vine of Sodom and Gomorrah (c.f. Deuteronomy 32:32; Hebrews 13:13).

12Then Joshua rose early in the morning, and(Y) the priests took up the ark of the LORD. 13And the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the LORD walked on, and they blew the trumpets continually. And the armed men were walking before them, and the rear guard was walking after the ark of the LORD, while the trumpets blew continually. 14And the second day they marched around the city once, and returned into the camp. So they did for six days.

Similar to the command concerning the tribes of Israel surrounding the mobile tabernacle and ark (laid out in Numbers chapter 1 to 4), so this is also repeated in v.13 as the armed men and rear guard walk respectively before and after the ark of the LORD during the continual blowing of the trumpets (each day, and seven times on the seventh day). The holiness of the ark, as displayed within the tabernacle shielded by the veil of cherubim and flames is also represented by the men surrounding the ark during this victory march. The ark in the middle symbolises the centrality of God the Father, who created the world through the son (Colossians 1:16-20), just as the Ark of Covenant and Yeshua, son of Nun, are working together by the anointing and power of the Spirit to begin a list of victories over these ungodly nations. The true focus has always been on the ark, which people are careful to protect and be protected by; and just as Jesus chose to become the submissive tool of the Father’s will in having His Son die on the cross, so we also see how Joshua’s leadership is but a choice to submit to the true holiness embodied by the Ark of the Covenant – however, it is through Joshua’s leadership and commands that the Israelites come to cherish and know the power and symbolism of this ark of the LORD.

15On the seventh day they rose early, at the dawn of day, and marched around the city in the same manner seven times. It was only on that day that they marched around the city seven times. 16And at the seventh time, when the priests had blown the trumpets, Joshua said to the people, “Shout, for the LORD has given you the city. 17And the city and all that is within it shall be(Z) devoted to the LORD for destruction.[d] Only Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in her house shall live, because she(AA) hid the messengers whom we sent. 18But you, keep yourselves from the things devoted to destruction, lest when you have devoted them you take any of the devoted things and make the camp of Israel(AB) a thing for destruction and(AC) bring trouble upon it. 19But all silver and gold, and every vessel of bronze and iron, are holy to the LORD; they shall go into the treasury of the LORD.” 20So the people shouted, and the trumpets were blown. As soon as the people heard the sound of the trumpet, the people shouted a great shout, and(AD) the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they captured the city. 21Then they(AE) devoted all in the city to destruction, both men and women, young and old, oxen, sheep, and donkeys, with the edge of the sword.

So v.15 begins with the early dawn of the day, the allegorical time when Christ returns also in His full power and light at the high noon – and so this dawn is but the beginning of the last days and latter times when the sun begins to rise but not yet reaching its highest spot in the heavens. It is in the dawn of the latter days that Joshua and Israel’s actions here are symbolically fulfilled, as the conquering of nations does not begin with terrifying destruction and fire, but with the humble conversion of Rahab for pronouncing and uttering systematically the doctrine and wonders of this God of Israel. The significance of this event is multiplied by the factors that Rahab is a Canaanite; she is a prostitute; and no doubt, simply because she is a she. However, she has access to the true gospel behind the law of Moses; she has followed in the steps of Abraham to become his spiritual descendant – and for a brief moment we understand how all the Canaanites could have escaped their predicament if only they were as humble and meek as Rahab the Canaanite, the prostitute, the woman – the lowest rung of the non-Christian nation, but the highest princess of New Jerusalem.

v.17-21 therefore describes the complete destruction and capture, the complete and graphic displacement of Jericho. The entering of the ark into Jericho is akin to the revelation of the Father and the Son’s true glory to the whole world when the Son returns as Judge and King – all symbolised by the entering of both the ark and Joshua into this soon-to-be Israelite land.

22But to the two men who had spied out the land, Joshua said, “Go into the prostitute’s house and bring out from there the woman and all who belong to her,(AF) as you swore to her.” 23So the young men who had been spies went in and brought out Rahab and(AG) her father and mother and brothers and all who belonged to her. And they brought all her relatives and put them outside the camp of Israel. 24And they burned the city with fire, and everything in it.(AH) Only the silver and gold, and the vessels of bronze and of iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the LORD. 25But Rahab the prostitute and her father’s household and all who belonged to her, Joshua saved alive. And(AI) she has lived in Israel to this day, because she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.

The fire of v.24 is therefore in accordance with the repetitive and important imagery of the fire of the Resurrection Day, when all the works of man are tested and presented before Him (1 Corinthians 3:13). This verse also speaks of the firstfruits given to the LORD, a theme explored consistently in the Pentateuch – and these firstfuirts are the best portion of what they have looted from Jericho, as seen by all the silver, gold, bronze and iron; but these rewards given back to the LORD is but a foretaste of the true joy, such foretaste which pales in comparison to Rahab, who is a type of Gentile to be saved en masse (just as her family was) after the Pentecost, one of many rewards of the salvation of all people in the world. No longer will Rahab be simply called a Canaanite, but her citizenship is now with Israel, her blessings coming from God and not from her hard-earned self-reliance which began by her act of faith to hide the messengers at the real threat of her life.

26Joshua laid an oath on them at that time, saying,(AJ) “Cursed before the LORD be the man who rises up and rebuilds this city, Jericho.

“At the cost of his firstborn shall he
lay its foundation,
and at the cost of his youngest son
shall he set up its gates.”

27(AK) So the LORD was with Joshua, and(AL) his fame was in all the land.

Joshua’s poetic curse chronicled in v.26-27 expresses how there is no descendant in the land, nor any name nor tribe proclaimed. The end of Canaanites literally extends to their descendants, because the rebuilding of Jericho is no different from rebuilding the foundations of adultery and idolatry. V.24 speaks of this as an oath – this coupled with v.27 describes how Joshua’s fame is but a type of the true fame of Christ, in Whom everything is yes (2 Corinthians 1:19-20) in Whom every oath and promises are fulfilled, in Whom God-glorifying fame is proclaimed in all the land and in all the world.

Joshua 5-6: The First Steps to Fulfilling the Promises of the Sacraments

Joshua 3-4: From death to Life

Jos 3:1-17 Then Joshua rose early in the morning and they set out from Shittim. And they came to the Jordan, he and all the people of Israel, and lodged there before they passed over. (2) At the end of three days the officers went through the camp (3) and commanded the people, “As soon as you see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God being carried by the Levitical priests, then you shall set out from your place and follow it. (4) Yet there shall be a distance between you and it, about 2,000 cubits in length. Do not come near it, in order that you may know the way you shall go, for you have not passed this way before.” (5) Then Joshua said to the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you.” (6) And Joshua said to the priests, “Take up the ark of the covenant and pass on before the people.” So they took up the ark of the covenant and went before the people. (7) The LORD said to Joshua, “Today I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with you.

The focus of Joshua 3 is twofold: primarily on the ark of the covenant, representative of the Holy Father (the table of the bread of Presence representing Christ; and the golden lampstand representing the Holy Spirit – see Exodus 25 commentary); and Yeshua. We are taken immediately back to the theme of the three days (they waited until the three days were over before they approached the valley of Jordan (v.2)) and meanwhile kept their distance from the ark, understanding the reality (rather than mere symbology) of its holiness as the only item to be hidden behind the veil of the tabernacle (c.f. Uzzah’s death in 2 Samuel 6). Yet, the focus of the ark of the covenant is immediately related to the exaltation of Joshua in v.6-7 – which teaches us the nature of how Christ is at the bosom of the Father. The exaltation of the Father simultaneously exalts the Son (John 8:54; Hebrews 5:5); the exaltation of the Son also directly exalts the Father (John 12:28 – the glory of the Father comes through the obedience and work of Christ; John 13:31-32). The intermingling of honour to both the ark, the LORD and Yeshua is to show how God testifies to His multi-Personality, a strong indication of the unity in the Trinity.

(8) And as for you, command the priests who bear the ark of the covenant, ‘When you come to the brink of the waters of the Jordan, you shall stand still in the Jordan.'” (9) And Joshua said to the people of Israel, “Come here and listen to the words of the LORD your God.” (10) And Joshua said, “Here is how you shall know that the living God is among you and that he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Hivites, the Perizzites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, and the Jebusites. (11) Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is passing over before you into the Jordan. (12) Now therefore take twelve men from the tribes of Israel, from each tribe a man. (13) And when the soles of the feet of the priests bearing the ark of the LORD, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off from flowing, and the waters coming down from above shall stand in one heap.”

Thus v.10-13 continues to focus on the ark of the covenant of the LORD of all the earth, not merely the God of Israel or the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as He had been commonly referred to throughout the Pentateuch. This fits naturally into the book of Joshua which is about conquering neighbouring nations in two ways: eschatological destruction of the non-Christians for remaining in the sin of Adam, or the eventual persuasion to submission of those who match the faith of Rahab as in Joshua 2.

More importantly is how the theme of water and land is explored in these verses: how the soles of the feet of the priests bearing the ark of the LORD touching the bottom of the valley immediately leads to the river being cut off from its flow; the LORD had expressed this distinction of the water and dry land in His comparison of day two of creation (in which the events were not declared as “good”) as opposed to day three where new life is enabled when the water subsides. Again, this truth is fleshed out in the Noahic flood; and once more in the Passover. By now, the Israelites have been steeped in their knowledge of the symbolism of them passing over the dry valley of Jordan – it is a declaration of victory, of salvation, from the waters of punishment representative of sin and shame (Jude 1:13).

Of more curiosity is the naming of the city of Adam beside Zarethan (“their distress”) in v.14-17, the river completely cut off from flowing down toward the Sea of Arabah (“wilderness/desert”), the sea of salt. The verb used in the verse, karath כּרת , is the same word used for the cutting of a covenant (c.f. 1 Kings 8:9 literal Hebrew translation is “the LORD karath a covenant with the children of Israel”), and its peculiar use here is not without its Christological significance. In these two chapters (later on in chapter 4 as well) which steep themselves in the theme and imagery of Genesis 1, of Exodus (concerning the ark), of Leviticus (the priests with the ark), of Numbers (sea of Arabah), of Deuteronomy (the repetition of the law – as is the repetition of these themes in these opening chapters of Joshua) – we can only read this verse as the LORD keeping the waters of punishment at Adam, the first man, keeping the waters of shame at the point of the initial distress of mankind. The Sea of Arabah, the sea of salt, no longer has water feeding it thus essentially leaving it as dry land and no more salt invading this area as the salt in water represents punishment (Ezekiel 47:9). The symbolic entrance of Israel into Canaan through this passage has them allegorically walking away from Adam, from their initial distress, towards a clean land of freshness and no salt, walking past the wilderness under the banner of Yeshua and the ark representing the Father, by the power of the Spirit who split the sea (as He did in Exodus 14) in the early sunrise of the day. This is achieved by the cutting off of the waters; the same cutting of the covenant which has achieved so much for the glory of the Trinity and New Creation.

(14) So when the people set out from their tents to pass over the Jordan with the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people, (15) and as soon as those bearing the ark had come as far as the Jordan, and the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the brink of the water (now the Jordan overflows all its banks throughout the time of harvest), (16) the waters coming down from above stood and rose up in a heap very far away, at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan, and those flowing down toward the Sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, were completely cut off. And the people passed over opposite Jericho. (17) Now the priests bearing the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firmly on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan, and all Israel was passing over on dry ground until all the nation finished passing over the Jordan.

Jos 4:1-24 When all the nation had finished passing over the Jordan, the LORD said to Joshua, (2) “Take twelve men from the people, from each tribe a man, (3) and command them, saying, ‘Take twelve stones from here out of the midst of the Jordan, from the very place where the priests’ feet stood firmly, and bring them over with you and lay them down in the place where you lodge tonight.'” (4) Then Joshua called the twelve men from the people of Israel, whom he had appointed, a man from each tribe. (5) And Joshua said to them, “Pass on before the ark of the LORD your God into the midst of the Jordan, and take up each of you a stone upon his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the people of Israel, (6) that this may be a sign among you. When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ (7) then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD. When it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever.”

As if the collation of imagery of the 5 books of Moses is not prevalent enough in chapter 3, chapter 4 immediately opens with the 12 men chosen from each tribe (v.2) contrasted with the 12 stones (v.3) as a sign (v.6) to the children of the following generations of this forevermore memorial. There is a chiastic structure to this chapter which we should not ignore:

  • Joshua 4:1-9 – The 12 stones and the memorial to future generations
    • Joshua 4:10-13 – Priests and People
      • Joshua 4:14 – exaltation of Joshua
    • Joshua 4:15-19 – Priests and People
  • Joshua 4:20-24 – The 12 stones and the memorial to future generations

Because of this chiastic structure, the focus is on the exaltation of Joshua, built upon the foundation of the priests and the Israelites, furthermore founded on the cornerstone of what the 12 stones represent. This forevermore memorial stands for the same truth of Christianity from day one of creation until today – the 12 tribes of Israel the same as the 12 apostles of the four gospels; the ark of the covenant going before the priests when they crossed the valley, representing the High Priest Melchizedek walking with us, treading the ground for both the 12 tribes and the 12 apostles – the government of the eschatological church built upon the layers and histories of Adam, to Noah, to Abraham, to Isaac, to Israel, to the rest of the world.

(8) And the people of Israel did just as Joshua commanded and took up twelve stones out of the midst of the Jordan, according to the number of the tribes of the people of Israel, just as the LORD told Joshua. And they carried them over with them to the place where they lodged and laid them down there. (9) And Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of the Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests bearing the ark of the covenant had stood; and they are there to this day. (10) For the priests bearing the ark stood in the midst of the Jordan until everything was finished that the LORD commanded Joshua to tell the people, according to all that Moses had commanded Joshua. The people passed over in haste. (11) And when all the people had finished passing over, the ark of the LORD and the priests passed over before the people. (12) The sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh passed over armed before the people of Israel, as Moses had told them. (13) About 40,000 ready for war passed over before the LORD for battle, to the plains of Jericho. (14) On that day the LORD exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel, and they stood in awe of him just as they had stood in awe of Moses, all the days of his life.

When we therefore reach the centrifugal force of the chapter, hinging on v.14, we see the importance of the name of the LORD in Yeshua (Exodus 23:21). Yeshua is seen as the one who sets up the stones and our foundation to this day (v.9); he is the one who gives meaning to the memorial as symbolic of the red sea (Exodus 14:21). Yet, what did Joshua, the type, actually do himself? Did He actually have the inherent power to create the miracle which amazed the Israelites (many of whom did not actually witness the Passover besides Joshua and Caleb, because the rest of the previous generation of Israelites have already died in the wilderness) so much that they had to pass through in haste?

The irony of the focus on v.14 is that the Israelites did not obey Moses; many died because of their rebellion, even though they experienced the exodus through the Red Sea in Exodus 14. However, the role and the truth of which Moses and Joshua were merely shadows of was the real object of faith; they stood in awe of Moses and Joshua not because the LORD wanted to create a heart of idolatry in them, as if He endorsed men to worship other men! Rather, he endorsed what these men represented: Moses and Joshua were imperfect leaders, but under the banner of Christ even these shadows of Christ invoked enough faith to bring the Israelites to Canaan. However, most of the Israelites involved in the rebellions had only the Spirit of God with them; but many did not have the Spirit of God in them (a point which Christ re-iterated in John) like Moses and Joshua. They witnessed the amazing truths, but they did not have circumcised hearts; they looked on at times in awe, but did not live their lives persistently in awe.

(15) And the LORD said to Joshua, (16) “Command the priests bearing the ark of the testimony to come up out of the Jordan.” (17) So Joshua commanded the priests, “Come up out of the Jordan.” (18) And when the priests bearing the ark of the covenant of the LORD came up from the midst of the Jordan, and the soles of the priests’ feet were lifted up on dry ground, the waters of the Jordan returned to their place and overflowed all its banks, as before. (19) The people came up out of the Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and they encamped at Gilgal on the east border of Jericho. (20) And those twelve stones, which they took out of the Jordan, Joshua set up at Gilgal. (21) And he said to the people of Israel, “When your children ask their fathers in times to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’ (22) then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground.’ (23) For the LORD your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, as the LORD your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we passed over, (24) so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the LORD is mighty, that you may fear the LORD your God forever.”

So the end of chapter 4 repeats the beginning of chapter 4 – the Red Sea for the Israelites is a time of significance. Many have only heard through stories, through the word passed down, through their immediate ancestors of splitting of the Red Sea. However, what they see now is a confirmation of what they had heard but have not seen first-hand; just as we experience the same thing on Resurrection Day when we witness things our spiritual forefathers have spoken of but have never seen in our lives so far.

In conclusion, chapter 3-4 covers several grounds of the ark of the covenant; the theme of water and dried land; the victory of the 12 tribes manifested furthermore in the government of the 12 apostles leading to the foundation of the Christian government, built upon the 12 stones, all types of the One Stone and Rock of Ages); the rejection of Adam and the wilderness, and the covenantal cutting off of the waters of punishment – all of these point towards the simultaneous exaltation of Son and Father: Yeshua and the Father who sits on the throne of the mercy seat.

Joshua 3-4: From death to Life

Joshua 1-2: Yeshua, the Seed

Introduction

The book of Joshua begins immediately with Moses’ disciple, Joshua, whom he laid his hands on. The anointing of the Spirit on Joshua means that he is now empowered to lead Israel to conquer Canaan.

What is interesting is the parallel which Adam Clarke makes between the layout of the Old Testament after the Pentateuch. Where the Pentateuch essentially is a make-up of the gospel truth, the events in the book of Joshua are akin to the book of Acts: the fulfillment of what has been accomplished. In the same way that the Passover and the Exodus are the symbolic fulfillment of Christ on the cross, Israel has not entered Canaan by the end of Deuteronomy. However, this reality is initially fulfilled in the book of Joshua, just as the reality of New Creation is made more real with the first steps of the apostles in Luke’s second book. Where the church of the Old Testament is firmly established within the national realms of the land, the church of the New Testament is no longer land-bound as the Spirit is given to both Israelites and Gentiles alike, and all are empowered just as Jonah was (but not until after he exited the fish after three days and three nights, signifying that the missional victory occurs after the death and resurrection and ascension of Christ).

The Acts of the Apostles gives an account of the actual establishment of that Church, according to the predictions and promises of its great founder. Thus, then, the Pentateuch bears as pointed a relation to the Gospels as the Book of Joshua does to the Acts of the Apostles. And we might, with great appearance of probability, carry this analogy yet farther, and show that the writings of several of the Prophets bear as strict a relation to the Apostolical Epistles, as the Books of Ezekiel and Daniel do to the Apocalypse. On this very ground of analogy Christ obviously founded the Christian Church; hence he had his twelve disciples, from whom the Christian Church was to spring, as the Jewish Church or twelve tribes sprang from the twelve sons of Jacob. He had his seventy or seventy-two disciples, in reference to the seventy-two elders, six chosen out of each of the twelve tribes, who were united with Moses and Aaron in the administration of justice, etc., among the people. Christ united in his person the characters both of Moses and Aaron, or legislator and high priest; hence he ever considers himself, and is considered by his apostles and followers, the same in the Christian Church that Moses and Aaron were in the Jewish. As a rite of initiation into his Church, he instituted baptism in the place of circumcision, both being types of the purification of the heart and holiness of life; and as a rite of establishment and confirmation, the holy eucharist in place of the paschal lamb, both being intended to commemorate the atonement made to God for the sins of the people. The analogies are so abundant, and indeed universal, that time would fail to enumerate them. On this very principle it would be a matter of high utility to read these Old Testament and the New Testament books together, as they reflect a strong and mutual light on each other, bear the most decided testimony to the words and truth of prophecy, and show the ample fulfillment of all the ancient and gracious designs of God…”

The danger with Clarke’s last words is how many misinterpret the understanding of the OT and the NT shedding “mutual light on each other”. This is where the notorious “the NT is in the OT concealed; the OT is in the NT revealed” is brandished as a hermeneutical truth. However, there is far more nuance behind Clarke’s message as the context shows – the Old Testament saints knew clearly what these shadows pointed towards. They did not have mere faith in shadows, as if these shadows “imputed” upon them the real faith in Christ that we have (this line of logic allegedly leads to them not actually knowing Christ – rather, they only knew what pointed to Christ).

From Abraham’s expectation of the sacrificial lamb to come in the place of his son Isaac in Genesis 22 which in itself is a type of the Father’s sacrifice of the Son of God, the continual focus and refrain of this book of Joshua akin to the book of Acts is Yeshua. Yeshua is the victorious King; He will achieve the true success behind our evangelism. Although it seems that this truth in the OT is hidden until the NT, there are two particular points of contention against this notorious view. Firstly, voiced by Barnabas in his epistle:

“And Moses spake unto them, saying, “When any one of you is bitten, let him come to the serpent placed on the pole; and let him hope and believe, that even though dead, it is able to give him life, and immediately he shall be restored.”1619 And they did so. Thou hast in this also [an indication of] the glory of Jesus; for in Him and to Him are all things. What, again, says Moses to Jesus (Joshua) the son of Nave, when he gave him1621 this name, as being a prophet, with this view only, that all the people might hear that the Father would reveal all things concerning His Son Jesus to the son of Nave? This name then being given him when he sent him to spy out the land, he said, “Take a book into thy hands, and write what the Lord declares, that the Son of God will in the last days cut off from the roots all the house of Amalek.” Behold again: Jesus who was manifested, both by type and in the flesh, is not the Son of man, but the Son of God. Since, therefore, they were to say that Christ was the son of David, fearing and understanding the error of the wicked, he saith, “The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit at My right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool.” And again, thus saith Isaiah, “The Lord said to Christ, my Lord, whose right hand I have holden,1628 that the nations should yield obedience before Him; and I will break in pieces the strength of kings.” Behold how David calleth Him Lord and the Son of God.”

The naming of Hoshea to Joshua is not mere artistic license on Moses’ behalf; it is a prophetic statement which Moses made by the prompting of the Spirit that Yeshua will take Israel to Canaan; that Jesus will take the church to New Creation. Barnabas’ quoting of David’s Psalm 110 is immediately connecting his conscious faith in the Trinity to Moses’ renaming of Hoshea to Joshua, claiming the clarity of their expression in telling the Israelites about the typology of Christ in the events occurring in the Pentateuch and beyond.

As a side point of interest, the ancient Hebrew language (which no doubt these Israelites communicated in) seems to display more gospel truth than contemporary orthodox beliefs allow: the sign of nun 28_nun is the ancient portrayal of the letter נ (nun) – undoubtedly the image of a man’s seed. Furthermore, the meaning of this character is “continue, heir, son”. Can one deny that Yeshua, the son of the Seed, is more than a pale imitation of taking us back to the protoevangelium of Genesis 3:15 which all the Israelites are looking forward to? With this context in mind, let us turn to Joshua and understand the depths of gospel truth already present and understood from the foundation of the Pentateuch.

Joshua 1-2: Yeshua, the King, the LORD, the inheritor of all creation

Jos 1:1-18 After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD said to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, (2) “Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel. (3) Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses.

In Hebrews 1:2 and Colossians 1:16, we understand that Christ is the true heir of all creation – this creation which was created in Him, through Him, and most importantly for Him. The church effectively is part and parcel of this creation, the interactive creatures who worship and love Him in return; that this bride was planned to be created before the creation of the world that we are all predestined to be in Him (Ephesians 1:5).

Similarly, with the overarching context of understanding Joshua to represent Christ, the lesson taught is not to have faith in mere human leaders; and above all not to impute the role of Joshua onto ourselves. V.3 is a promise not strictly to Joshua, though it is true for all of us in some sense, but only true when we stand in Christ who is the real inheritor of that promise as our firstfruit and our eldest brother and co-heir.

(4) From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun shall be your territory. (5) No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. (6) Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. (7) Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. (8) This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

Thus, the truths of v.4-8 is to take us to the King-like role which Joshua adopts in leading Israel. The indication of v.5 is that Moses was never the true leader of Israel; the LORD was. This is to enforce the truth that Joshua could never had depended on himself; he was merely an arbiter of the truth that it is the LORD Who saves, not the type nor the shadow but the truth that Jesus alone saves. As such, even the meditations of Joshua in v.8 purposefully draws us back to Deuteronomy 17:18-20 which in itself is the obedience of the perfect king. Although it is indeed true that we will obtain present blessings by obeying v.8, the eschatological and universal blessing comes firstly through Christ’s redemption and thus the blessings thereafter are imputed to us after belief in his monergistic salvific efforts.

(9) Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” (10) And Joshua commanded the officers of the people, (11) “Pass through the midst of the camp and command the people, ‘Prepare your provisions, for within three days you are to pass over this Jordan to go in to take possession of the land that the LORD your God is giving you to possess.'” (12) And to the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh Joshua said, (13) “Remember the word that Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, saying, ‘The LORD your God is providing you a place of rest and will give you this land.’ (14) Your wives, your little ones, and your livestock shall remain in the land that Moses gave you beyond the Jordan, but all the men of valor among you shall pass over armed before your brothers and shall help them, (15) until the LORD gives rest to your brothers as he has to you, and they also take possession of the land that the LORD your God is giving them. Then you shall return to the land of your possession and shall possess it, the land that Moses the servant of the LORD gave you beyond the Jordan toward the sunrise.”

Moving from the focus of Yeshua, the son of the Seed – the true inheritor of all creation – to His role as the king of Israel, we quickly complement these ideas with v.9-15 which speaks of the victory after three days (v.11), the symbolic number of Christ’s resurrection on the third day, the sign of Jonah. Thus also, the oath and engagement made in Numbers 32 is finally fulfilled symbolically after the third day, as the Reubenites, Gadites and half-tribe of Manasseh will finally obtain their prized possession toward the sunrise, a victorious moment shining towards the Day of resurrection. And so chapter 1 ends with the LORD re-iterating that Joshua’s victory is through the LORD alone; we look to Joshua as an imitation of looking to Christ – it isn’t Joshua but it is the true Yeshua who brought us victory.

(16) And they answered Joshua, “All that you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. (17) Just as we obeyed Moses in all things, so we will obey you. Only may the LORD your God be with you, as he was with Moses! (18) Whoever rebels against your commandment and disobeys your words, whatever you command him, shall be put to death. Only be strong and courageous.”

Jos 2:1-24 And Joshua the son of Nun sent two men secretly from Shittim as spies, saying, “Go, view the land, especially Jericho.” And they went and came into the house of a prostitute whose name was Rahab and lodged there. (2) And it was told to the king of Jericho, “Behold, men of Israel have come here tonight to search out the land.” (3) Then the king of Jericho sent to Rahab, saying, “Bring out the men who have come to you, who entered your house, for they have come to search out all the land.” (4) But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. And she said, “True, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from. (5) And when the gate was about to be closed at dark, the men went out. I do not know where the men went. Pursue them quickly, for you will overtake them.” (6) But she had brought them up to the roof and hid them with the stalks of flax that she had laid in order on the roof. (7) So the men pursued after them on the way to the Jordan as far as the fords. And the gate was shut as soon as the pursuers had gone out. (8) Before the men lay down, she came up to them on the roof (9) and said to the men, “I know that the LORD has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you. (10) For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you devoted to destruction. (11) And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the LORD your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath. (12) Now then, please swear to me by the LORD that, as I have dealt kindly with you, you also will deal kindly with my father’s house, and give me a sure sign (13) that you will save alive my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death.”

The Faith of Rahab

The faith of Rahab has always been a subject of debate for many Christians; what does it mean for a Gentile to convert to Christianity? She is not the first of her kind, for a mixed multitude went up from Egypt (Exodus 12:38) implying that many Egyptians also came to believe in the true God. However, she is the first of her kind to vocalize with clarity how powerful Yahweh has been witnessing to the neighbouring nations through Israel. Chapter 2v.1-13 displays Israel’s role as the holy priesthood nation, and the effectiveness of this evangelism to the point of prompting Rahab to understand three very important aspects of this faith:

(1) Hospitality to those persecuted for the glory of Christ

(2) Praying for the salvation of one’s family and kin (c.f. v.13 – “…and all who belong to them…”)

(3) Clarity of faith in the God who saves – a systematic recounting of what the LORD had done for Israel, in many ways shaming the Israelites of their past disobediences and corruptions in the wilderness in the book of Numbers.

(14) And the men said to her, “Our life for yours even to death! If you do not tell this business of ours, then when the LORD gives us the land we will deal kindly and faithfully with you.” (15) Then she let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was built into the city wall, so that she lived in the wall. (16) And she said to them, “Go into the hills, or the pursuers will encounter you, and hide there three days until the pursuers have returned. Then afterward you may go your way.” (17) The men said to her, “We will be guiltless with respect to this oath of yours that you have made us swear. (18) Behold, when we come into the land, you shall tie this scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and you shall gather into your house your father and mother, your brothers, and all your father’s household. (19) Then if anyone goes out of the doors of your house into the street, his blood shall be on his own head, and we shall be guiltless. But if a hand is laid on anyone who is with you in the house, his blood shall be on our head. (20) But if you tell this business of ours, then we shall be guiltless with respect to your oath that you have made us swear.”

The Scarlet Cord

The “infamous” scarlet cord has also caused intense discussions in evangelical camps concerning the legitimacy of Alexandrian methods of interpretation. What justifies the following great church fathers in immediately applying the scarlet cord to the blood of Christ?

1st Epistle of Clement to Corinthians, chapter XII:

On account of her faith and hospitality, Rahab the harlot was saved. For when spies were sent by Joshua, the son of Nun, to Jericho, the king of the country ascertained that they were come to spy out their land, and sent men to seize them, in order that, when taken, they might be put to death. But the hospitable Rahab receiving them, concealed them on the roof of her house under some stalks of flax. And when the men sent by the king arrived and said “There came men unto thee who are to spy out our land; bring them forth, for so the king commands,” she answered them, “The two men whom ye seek came unto me, but quickly departed again and are gone,” thus not discovering the spies to them. Then she said to the men, “I know assuredly that the Lord your God hath given you this city, for the fear and dread of you have fallen on its inhabitants. When therefore ye shall have taken it, keep ye me and the house of my father in safety.” And they said to her, “It shall be as thou hast spoken to us. As soon, therefore, as thou knowest that we are at hand, thou shall gather all thy family under thy roof, and they shall be preserved, but all that are found outside of thy dwelling shall perish.” Moreover, they gave her a sign to this effect, that she should hang forth from her house a scarlet thread. And thus they made it manifest that redemption should flow through the blood of the Lord to all them that believe and hope in God.54 Ye see, beloved, that there was not only faith, but prophecy, in this woman.

Justin Martyr’s “Dialogue with Trypho” chapter CXI

And as the blood of the passover saved those who were in Egypt, so also the blood of Christ will deliver from death those who have believed. Would God, then, have been deceived if this sign had not been above the doors? I do not say that; but I affirm that He announced beforehand the future salvation for the human race through the blood of Christ. For the sign of the scarlet thread, which the spies, sent to Jericho by Joshua, son of Nave (Nun), gave to Rahab the harlot, telling her to bind it to the window through which she let them down to escape from their enemies, also manifested the symbol of the blood of Christ, by which those who were at one time harlots and unrighteous persons out of all nations are saved, receiving remission of sins, and continuing no longer in sin.

Irenaeus’ “Against Heresies” Book IV chapter XX

And when the entire city in which she lived fell to ruins at the sounding of the seven trumpets, Rahab the harlot was preserved, when all was over [in ultimis], together with all her house, through faith of the scarlet sign; as the Lord also declared to those who did not receive His advent,—the Pharisees, no doubt, nullify the sign of the scarlet thread, which meant the passover, and the redemption and exodus of the people from Egypt,—when He said, “The publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of heaven before you.”

Many contemporary exegetes say that they are eisegetically reading gospel truths into Old Testament texts which inherently do not speak of Jesus Christ. However, the context of the verses surrounding the cord, especially v.19, indicate that the symbolism behind the cord is an extremely weighty matter. Though the cord itself, and the colour, may not necessarily have to relate to Christ’s blood, the theme of Christ as King, Christ as Saviour and Christ as Sacrifice (on the third day) is already present in the first two chapters of Joshua. The writer of Joshua thus presents these truths in such a way that the scarlet cord is taken symbolically by the two spies and Rahab as a representation of what is at stake – Christ, or the world; which takes them logically to speak of the blood being on our hands when we do not fulfill the duty of the faithful Christian (Ezekiel 23:45).

(21) And she said, “According to your words, so be it.” Then she sent them away, and they departed. And she tied the scarlet cord in the window. (22) They departed and went into the hills and remained there three days until the pursuers returned, and the pursuers searched all along the way and found nothing. (23) Then the two men returned. They came down from the hills and passed over and came to Joshua the son of Nun, and they told him all that had happened to them. (24) And they said to Joshua, “Truly the LORD has given all the land into our hands. And also, all the inhabitants of the land melt away because of us.”

Chapter 2 ends on an interesting omission – what are the names of these two men? Who are these two spies? They are not mentioned by name in chapter 2 and indirectly Rahab has taken the attention of this portion of the book of Joshua. Her faith, like the unspoken faith of the Egyptians and Joseph’s interracial half-tribe, is a type of things to come – the universal salvation where Gentiles shame the Israelites. Rahab’s unswerving faith is fresh honey to the ears of these spies who no doubt have been taught daily the sins of their fathers – only to witness a foreigner speaking the truth of the gospel with conviction and with such belief! V.21 – “according to your words, so be it” – such trust akin to the faith of the centurion in Matthew 8:9! So we begin to taste and witness by the end of this chapter what we also witnessed in the book of Acts – that the foreign nations, that the Gentiles, are beginning to melt away at the confrontation of the LORD – whether by the softening of their hearts or by their eventual destruction at Christ’s second coming when all of His enemies shall truly and literally melt away before Him.

Joshua 1-2: Yeshua, the Seed

Deuteronomy and Joshua

Hey peeps,

I’ve just started work at a law firm in Hong Kong.  Would appreciate some prayers:

1.  That I have opportunities to share the gospel

2.  That I’m not afraid to lose my job as a result of His calling (though I need the money for the wedding and other things to come, I know He will provide nonetheless if I stick to His guns!)

3.  In relation to (2), that I’m *sure* it is His calling to speak at a particular time – so I must be sensitive to the Spirit!

4.  That He will give me some inspiration to set up a regular method through which I can speak to people about Jesus, and to raise up brothers and sisters who can start up the group with me as an OUTREACH rather than a “self-support” group per se.

Thanks!

On top of prayer requests, here is my Deuteronomy commentary which has been long time coming (also on the sermons/paper page).  I’ve also updated my Genesis commentary document, because I realised that I didn’t copy and paste the last part of chapter 49 and chapter 50 to the word document (though I wrote about them on this site).  Also added a “Pentateuch” page to gather the five commentaries so far, ending an “arc” per se of commenting on Moses’ books (until we return to his psalms in the books of Psalms!).

Finally, I’ve added a “Why Jesus?” page, because I realise that there are probably just as many Christians as non-Christians stumbling on this site.

Hope to resume blogging chapter by chapter beginning with the book of Joshua sometime this week!

Deuteronomy and Joshua

Missions in China

We (Cadence and I) have returned to HK finally, and we will be staying here for a longer period now (I am contracted to stay in Hong Kong between now and Sept 2011) unless God wills us to step outside of our legal training!  It’s been an exciting journey in Qinghai, and to those who have been on the mailing list, you have been witnessing what God has been doing in our lives over there as well.

I have done a short update summarising our time spent in Beijing (from August to December ’08), and here are a few highlights, specific things we have both learnt during our time in Xining, Qinghai:

1.  Spiritual Warfare and the spirit of fear

It is easy to over-spiritualise everything, but perhaps easier to do the opposite in Hong Kong.  During our time in Xining we have heard about the darkest depths of Tibetan Buddhism alongside cultural Islam (as many of Hui Chinese tribe are “born” as Muslims, similar to many Indonesians, Malaysians and Arabs today).  There is much spirit of fear which debilitates the love, power, and finally sound mind of the Christian (2 Timothy 1:7) which needs much corporate prayer for.

This has helped me realise a lot of the spiritual warfare present in Hong Kong which a majority of the Christians do not realise (save the majority of charismatics and Pentecostals here who go to the opposite extreme and need to restrain themselves by the qualification of the Word).  Materialism may only be a surface symptom, but once we dig deeper we soon realise that there is a lot of idolatrous hurt and abuse in the young lives of many of these business professionals of the middle class here, let alone the grassroot who need equal attention (to which I will turn to in my fourth point, the Mercy Ministries).

We have had the blessings of Phi and Beck who are full-time missionaries there and who need a lot of your prayers and support too.  They literally face death on a regular basis, and working with them has opened my eyes in so many aspects, and helped me understand that “heroes” like Brother Yun (author of the Heavenly Man) and the like need to persist in faith otherwise they will only be seen as Christian “one-hit-wonders” (from what I heard, Brother Yun no longer has the same reputation he once had back in China – I will save that for another time).

One thing I had always been curious about is the gift of tongues, prophecy and healing, which Phi and Beck are very much involved in.  I asked them to give Cadence and me those gifts, but Phi said that we need the Baptism of the Spirit for that (see Acts 8 comparison between a believer’s baptism of the Spirit and Simon the Magician’s attempt at ‘purchasing’ this baptism).  If you know me, you probably know that I have been spiritually brought up (in my even younger Christian days) in a number of charismatic (in all meanings of that description) churches so I am far far away from the cessationist nonsense.  However, I have never really indulged myself in miracles and wonders because I have struggled more with the teachings of the Old Testament; but I am glad to have met Phil and Becky because much of the spiritual warfare they face in Tibet is far more dangerous than merely doctrinal indifference – many of their work involve exorcism and the such which a Spirit-led sermon will not necessarily suffice.

By no means are they the type of Christians who say that “those who don’t speak in tongues” are not Christians – rather, they fully believe that those who do not desire these gifts and filling of the Spirit are grieving the Spirit.  On that note, I heartily agreed – and we were, in that definition of “baptism of the Spirit”, prayed over and laid hands on (Cadence was specifically anointed for the casting out of the spirit of fear).  So I hope you may pray for us, that we may begin to receive these gifts as a result of further baptism of the Spirit (on top of the indwelling Spirit as a deposit of salvation) so that our ministry may flourish in unimaginable ways to serve Christ’s body in Hong Kong!

2.  Theology and Division

We led three conferences which covered topics of homiletics, Old Testament hermeneutics (through the Tabernacle) and the reality of new creation in helping us evangelise.  We started off with a bit of anxiety because we felt too young to be given such a position of responsibility (both of us are 23 yrs old now, and most of the full-time workers we taught were averaging 50 yrs old).  Although we were given Billy Graham’s materials (so it seemed like we only needed to regurgitate what someone else wrote), I felt strongly against it and edited over half of it so it would be more Word-based and more Christ (rather than self) glorifying.  The materials were called “Bible-School in a Briefcase”, which I actually thought was very good but needed some further clarifications, and it is akin to using seminary materials but not in official seminaries.

As it turns out, Phi shared with us (only two days ago) that during our first conference, we had already faced some ‘opposition’ per se.  Some of the workers went up to him and was questioning our ability to lead, and Phi replied that God was using us, and he trusted that He will continue to use us despite our age.  By His grace and leading, we spoke without fear and we were equally blessed by that.  We realise that we are young people in the world’s eyes, but equipped with the humility of Christ we have learnt even more so that God will equip us despite the unlikelihood of our usefulness in any situation.

Furthermore, the theology of the people (in general) are quite good in Xining.  Many of the foreigners preach Christ crucified, and it so happens that the western philosophies (of the Enlightenment) have not influenced the mindset of the local Christians here.  There is much respect and love when disagreements occur, nothing like the theological debates of the west (in general) – and the immediacy of the spiritual warfare mentioned above enables a lot of caution when theological discussion does occur.  However, at the same time I feel that there still needs to be good teachers to clarify many deeper issues of Scripture.  There is no mistake that the Christians there are full-to-the-brim with passion, ready to preach Christ crucified to the Tibetan Lama or monk next-door, but discipleship and long-term missions seem not to be the local Chinese’s forte.  In many ways, this looks like the symptom of the early church back in the days of Rome and Constantinople, without the intellectual snobbery.

To dwell on this point further, I’ve noticed a lot about the church model here.  There are attempts for a western church model to be imposed in China (what the government calls the “Three Self Church”), but I think these are largely unsuitable for China, because the true church is simply a community of Christians who understand Christ’s love for them and love Him in return.  In this sense, the House Church model is far more effective, despite its illegality, and I’ve seen how the people in these groups are far more convicted by the Spirit than the western model.  This has shed a lot of light on missiology in Hong Kong, because I’m quite certain that for certain people whom I evangelise to, the Island ECC (the church I attend in Hong Kong) model, whether cultural or language barrier, is unsuitable for the poor, the grassroot, and the sort.  Why?  Not because the gospel isn’t preached there – but there is largely a cultural shift to be comprehended if one was to attend Island ECC, which seems more “American” than “multi-cultural” – and this therefore creates more unnecessary barriers between a man and God if man-made culture/tradition becomes a buffer.  For one, I’m not sure whether my Hindu, Pakistani and Muslim friends would be comfortable being there, if the majority of the congregation is yellow-skinned middle-class Chinese, in which case I’m more than comfortable to introduce them to another congregation which is more fitting and preaches the gospel without imposing Americanism at the same time.  A book which one of the missionaries there recommended me is “Searching for the Indigenous Church” which speaks on the topic of church-planting in these types of regions in more depth.  Hope to get my hands on that someday.

As for the issues of division, this is the greatest temptation of the missionary groups there.  Satan wants us to go through the “me-first” mentality, to create a rift between the WYA- and other teams (who shall remain anonymous!) because each have the temptation of being the “first-pioneers” of lifting the banner of Christ in an “unreached region” (though of course they are ‘reached’ in the sense of God’s creation proclaiming the gospel even by the sun and the moon!).  Much prayer is needed for these groups!

3.  Mercy Ministries

One of the personal struggles I have always had is how to approach the grassroot, the poor, the mentally/physically disabled – and this trip has more or less solved that struggle.  I used to pass by people in Hong Kong (beggars) who ask for money, and my first thought is that they are there to dupe “my” money; alternatively, I would kid myself into thinking that because by merely giving money, I am supporting philanthropy without the gospel.  However, one of the missionaries there, Hugh, shared that no beggar (whether duping or not) would have ever dreamed of being a beggar as a profession.  The common saying, “beggars can’t be choosers” more or less applies to their life situation.  This is the same for the mentally ill who I worked with during my time in the children and social welfare centres.  However, these are the very people whom we should serve, and it is always difficult to reconcile the difference between the wealthy churches in Hong Kong and the still-rampant pockets of poverty even in the corners of Central (one of the richest busienss areas of Hong Kong).  In fact, there have already been various opportunities where we bought food to feed the poor on the streets and still have time to tell them about Jesus Christ.  They live to hear more of the gospel another day!

Phi has helped me get in touch with a local ministry called “Jubilee” – which I think is humour on our Father’s part because this blog (though in English, it is “The Sent One”) is actually called “Jubilee” (in the Hebrew on the top right corner of the blog).  Jubilee is the national rest which Israel experiences every fifty years, as a type of the rest we will receive in New Creation, and there is now no way I am going to pass up a chance like being involved with that!

4.  Time Management and Finances

Finally, being in a small city like Xining (with not much to do in the winter season!) our lives have been stripped to the bare minimum and how much we realise that we can survive on so little!  We had planned to spend around $20,000 HKD in Xining over 7 weeks (inclusive of air ticket back and forth; train ticket from Guangzhou; monthly rent of the hostel prices; food, transport, etc) – and we have each spent less than $8,000 HKD altogether ($8,000 HKD = around 650-700 GBP!), which fulfills the promise that Christians can give back if the LORD wills (Proverbs 22:7).

It so happens that Hong Kong Christians (esp. in my particular social group) are poor with handling money (when we speak of the proportion to what they earn, despite hearing about the millions and millions being thrown at building church infrastructure but not for missions!).  It is a phenomenon in most western churches, and it couldn’t come at a more suitable time that Cadence and I are going through Randy Alcorn’s “Money, Possessions & Eternity”. We are convicted that the way we spend our money, and the way we spend time with the grassroot and people in general will open up various opportunities for the gospel which we have not envisaged before in Hong Kong, which I had considered a near-dead city, and now it seems like doors are opening everywhere!

Those are our thoughts since returning, and we hope this fervour isn’t going to be temporary but will take root in our hearts and bear much God-glorifying fruit!

Resources Update

As for some miscellaneous updates, some stuff which I worked on in my free time, I added a little section on “Church Fathers” (a new page on my blog) as well as finalising my notes on Deuteronomy and ready to re-start my blog-commentaries from Joshua onwards, and hopefully sometime before I start work.  Please keep those four points I mentioned in this blog in your prayers, and be sure to listen to the Holy Spirit if He is leading you to come to China as well!

There are two sites in particular I hope to bring your attention to – first is www.bloglines.com, which I mentioned in my Beijing summary-update.  This site is wonderful for our brothers and sisters in China, because WordPress.com is censored up there.  I’ve been capable of reading many blogs from WordPress because I subscribed to the RSS feed through www.bloglines.com.  Please consider putting this site on your bloglines account if you travel up to China, so you can read my blog entries when you’re up there!

Secondly is our update blog at http://hosannainexcelsius.blogspot.com.  “Hosanna in Excelsius” will be the primary place where we update our ministries (hopefully on a monthly or bi-weekly basis?), whereas this site is for developing thoughts on theology and Bible commentary.  It is invite-only, so if you want to read it, please leave a comment or write me an email.  Thanks!

Missions in China