Joshua 23-24: The Next Generation

Joshua 23

Joshua’s Charge to Israel’s Leaders

1A long time afterward, when the LORD had given(A) rest to Israel from all their surrounding enemies, and Joshua(B) was old and well advanced in years, 2Joshua(C) summoned all Israel, its elders and heads, its judges and officers, and said to them, “I am now old and well advanced in years. 3And you have seen all that the LORD your God has done to all these nations for your sake,(D) for it is the LORD your God who has fought for you.

And so we come to the final chapters of Joshua.  How fitting a leader he has been, the entire book marking his unstoppable victory over the neighbouring races in Canaan.  v.3 in particular celebrates that these victories came from the LORD alone, it is the “LORD [their] God who has fought for [them]”.  This humility is fitting for a king, and indeed even Christ himself would proclaim that it is not His own will that he is to complete the redemption of creation through the cross, but His Father’s.

Does this mean that Christ is not glorified, and only His Father?  By no means, for he arose to the right hand of the Father; does this mean that Joshua is not glorified, and only Yahweh?  By no means, for by his obedience and faith in Christ is he clearly exalted, old and advanced in years suffering much persecution under the Egyptians and dwelling for such a long period of time being one of the last people who have lasted the entirety of the chronicles between Exodus and Joshua.  Even the great saints of old had been marred with sin – Abraham, Lot, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Miriam.  However, this book has narrated and characterized his story as that of Yeshua, a Hebrew name and term for ‘salvation’.  Although it is Joshua who has saved the Israelites by giving them the firstfruit of the land, it is through the true Yeshua that the Old and New Testament saints gain the firstfruit deposited through the Holy Spirit.

4Behold,(E) I have allotted to you as an inheritance for your tribes those nations that remain, along with all the nations that I have already cut off, from the Jordan to the Great Sea in the west. 5The LORD your God(F) will push them back before you and drive them out of your sight. And you shall possess their land,(G) just as the LORD your God promised you. 6Therefore,(H) be very strong to keep and to do all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses,(I) turning aside from it neither to the right hand nor to the left, 7(J) that you may not mix with these nations remaining among you(K) or make mention of the names of their gods(L) or swear by them or serve them or bow down to them, 8(M) but you shall cling to the LORD your God just as you have done to this day. 9(N) For the LORD has driven out before you great and strong nations. And as for you,(O) no man has been able to stand before you to this day. 10(P) One man of you puts to flight a thousand, since it is the LORD your God(Q) who fights for you, just as he promised you. 11(R) Be very careful, therefore, to love the LORD your God. 12For if you turn back and cling to the remnant of these nations remaining among you(S) and make marriages with them, so that you associate with them and they with you, 13know for certain that(T) the LORD your God will no longer drive out these nations before you,(U) but they shall be a snare and a trap for you, a whip on your sides and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from off this good ground that the LORD your God has given you.

Yet, like what is proclaimed in Deuteronomy 31:16, Israel will continue to whore after idols.  V.6-8 in particular uses the similar imagery and language of whoring, of prostitution, of making marriages with the remnant of these nations (v.12) – these remnants being a result of each tribe being too incapable and too disobedient to completely drive them out.  Such is the nation which does not hold onto Christ – the entangling of the whoredom epitomized in Abraham’s intercourse with Hagar, of the church of Ephesus losing her first love (Revelation 2:4), spawning off the seeds of destruction rather than the Seed of Promise whose first love is the church; the vine of Sodom and Gomorrah rather than the vine of Christ who is engaged to the Bridegroom.  Paul’s theology stems from the theology of these Old Testament saints, saying nothing beyond what Moses and the prophets had stated (Acts 26:22, 28:23), and the plucking of these Israelites from the vine of Christ will be most apparent in the first incarnation, and once more in His second coming where the spiritual church shall be revealed before the ashamed physical church which the unbelieving Israel is a type of.

Note also Christ’s words before He ascends: “…Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.  And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).  Again, in Luke 24:46-49, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.  You are witnesses of these things.  And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you.  But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”  There is much similarity between his temporary departure and Joshua 23:14-16:

14“And now(V) I am about to go the way of all the earth, and you know in your hearts and souls, all of you, that(W) not one word has failed of all the good things[a] that the LORD your God promised concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one of them has failed. 15But just as all the good things that the LORD your God promised concerning you have been fulfilled for you, so the LORD will bring upon you(X) all the evil things, until he has destroyed you from off this good land that the LORD your God has given you, 16if you transgress the covenant of the LORD your God, which he commanded you, and go and serve other gods and bow down to them. Then the anger of the LORD will be kindled against you, and you shall perish quickly from off the good land that he has given to you.”

The difference is largely laying in the fact that Christ himself is no mere prophet – but he is the Sent One with the power to send the promise of His Father upon all Christians; the Person who can be with us to the end of the age.  Joshua, like Moses (end of Deuteronomy) and Jacob (Genesis 48-50) in their pre-sleep speeches laid out similar truths, but they were looking forward to the eternal Messiah.  As intimated in v.14, Joshua is about to “go the way of all the earth”.  What way is this?  The truth that is laid out on all the earth, as explained in Genesis 1 – that even seeds have to die and be reborn and bear new fruit; that saints are to go through the passage of death into resurrection; that the four seasons of the earth from the Jewish new year beginning at Fall (the American description of the season being more theologically poignant than the British term “Autumn”)in the month of Tishri, and the year ending in Summer, the month of full enjoyment of the harvest in the Spring-time which we are now in, beyond the Winter of death.  These are but a few tastes of the ways of the earth, of the gospel proclaimed to all of creation (Psalm 19; Romans 1), and even he must succumb to this natural process of life as Christ the head in Whom all creation holds together (Colossians 1) must forcefully resurrect even the non-believers on the Day of Resurrection, but unlike the rest of creation and the believers in Christ, they will receive no renewal nor redemption.

They were the definitive Messianic Israelites, yet they already preached the gospel in advance, the full expression of faith in Christ manifested in the central focus on the tabernacle.  As we see later in the books of Kings and Chronicles, we learn that Israel’s backsliding spirituality goes hand-in-hand with their inability to see beyond the shadows of the land, the sacrifice, and even the Name of God, beginning to call on other name(s) for protection.  V.15 in particular is proof that Israel is but a shadow and the failure of the majority in holding true to Christ so that the Gentiles should be given the gift of salvation to make them jealous (Romans 11:11), for despite Israel’s privilege and positive handicap of receiving the law of Moses, even those without the law (pre-Moses, and the Gentiles) would practice the law (c.f. Genesis 22) and become even more righteous than the Pharisees through their deeper understanding of the gospel which Israel will eventually lose.  The crux thus lies in Matthew 5:17 – “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”  Simon Gathercole investigates these statements of “coming” in “The Pre-existing Son: Recovering the Christologies of Matthew, Mark and Luke” as distinguishing between his Messiaship and his role as prophet like those before Him, from that of Joshua who is a typological Messiah-prophet.

Joshua 24

The Covenant Renewal at Shechem

1Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel(Y) to Shechem and(Z) summoned the elders, the heads, the judges, and the officers of Israel. And(AA) they presented themselves before God. 2And Joshua said to all the people, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘Long ago,(AB) your fathers lived beyond the Euphrates, Terah, the father of Abraham and of Nahor; and(AC) they served other gods. 3(AD) Then I took your father Abraham from beyond the River and(AE) led him through all the land of Canaan, and made his offspring many.(AF) I gave him Isaac. 4And to Isaac I gave(AG) Jacob and Esau.(AH) And I gave Esau the hill country of Seir to possess,(AI) but Jacob and his children went down to Egypt. 5(AJ) And I sent Moses and Aaron,(AK) and I plagued Egypt with what I did in the midst of it, and(AL) afterward I brought you out.  6“‘Then(AM) I brought your fathers out of Egypt, and(AN) you came to the sea.(AO) And the Egyptians pursued your fathers with chariots and horsemen to the Red Sea. 7(AP) And when they cried to the LORD,(AQ) he put darkness between you and the Egyptians(AR) and made the sea come upon them and cover them;(AS) and your eyes saw what I did in Egypt.(AT) And you lived in the wilderness a long time. 8Then I brought you to the land of the Amorites, who lived on the other side of the Jordan.(AU) They fought with you, and I gave them into your hand, and you took possession of their land, and I destroyed them before you. 9(AV) Then Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, arose and fought against Israel.(AW) And he sent and invited Balaam the son of Beor to curse you, 10(AX) but I would not listen to Balaam. Indeed, he blessed you. So I delivered you out of his hand. 11(AY) And you went over the Jordan and came to Jericho,(AZ) and the leaders of Jericho fought against you, and also the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites [people of Jerusalem]. And I gave them into your hand. 12And I sent(BA) the hornet before you, which drove them out before you, the two kings of the Amorites; it was(BB) not by your sword or by your bow. 13I gave you a land on which you had not labored(BC) and cities that you had not built, and you dwell in them. You eat the fruit of vineyards and olive orchards that you did not plant.’

Similar in style to the end of the last book of the Pentateuch, God repeats the works which he has done for Israel between v.2-10, from the time of Abraham to Isaac, from Isaac to Jacob the father of all Israelites, from Jacob to Moses – and under the banner of Moses, the end of the exodus of Israel finally in sight as they stand before the LORD in their own land.  For so many generations, the ancestors of the Israelites have been mobile in their witness and evangelism, and finally Israel has come to a halt.  Israel is the type of the church under the law of God, but the patriarchs themselves were also types of the church as well; the difference is the period.  Where the saints from Adam to Joseph were not under the law and in their mobility preached the good news of the promised Seed to come, typifying the Christians in the end times without a home, there are three layers to understanding what shadow Israel is portraying.

The first layer is that of Israel being the physical church, with the need to sift out those who are believing in Christ and those who, like the physical church today (but not the spiritual), attend church but do not have a relationship with Him.

The second layer is that of the difference in typology of church-hood between Israel and the mobile patriarchs – and it is that Israel represents the church in New Creation, in New Jerusalem, in True Canaan.  For we as a church today are hermits in the power of the Holy Spirit living in spiritual tents, but on the Day of Resurrection we will be ushered into the permanent physical kingdom where heaven and earth are united and we will still live under the laws of the kingdom but without compromise for we will be filled unceasingly with the intimacy of the Trinity – making the state of Israel’s kingdom so much more pitiful and less desirable when we compare her to the kingdom of New Jerusalem.

The third layer is that Israel is proclaimed as light to the nations – where the patriarchal Christians travelled in small groups, functioning as a fellowship of sorts, it is in Israel that we find a national Christocratic government of God.  Where Israel stood on the side of light, darkness confuses the pursuing Egyptians (where the narrative in Exodus shows the pillar of cloud and fire standing between the mixed multitude in Israel and Egypt c.f. Exodus 14:24, the narrative in Joshua interprets that as darkness which confounded the non-Christians for they were blind and deaf to the truth of God’s intervention for Israel).  Where Israel is incapable, the LORD fights entirely (v. 12 c.f. the hornets versus the natural weapons of the Israelites). In this manner, Israel is a type of Christ, for it is in Israel that we find the Holy Spirit; it is in Israel that we find the tabernacle, temple and shekinah glory of Yahweh, a truth foretold in the lives of the saints prior to Moses as listed out by God here.  What Israel represents is but a macro-perspective of what the patriarchs believed in; and what the New Jerusalem represents is but the true perspective of the golden times of Israel especially under the reign of David and Solomon.

And so, under these three layers of understanding the birth of the nation Israel from such a rich history of God’s provision do we see from v.13 that we as Christians will eat the fruit of vineyards and olive orchards that we did not plant as in New Creation, and as first prophesied in Genesis 2:15 when the first man was sabbathed in the garden planted by Christ.

Choose Whom You Will Serve

14(BD) “Now therefore fear the LORD and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness.(BE) Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. 15(BF) And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD,(BG) choose this day whom you will serve, whether(BH) the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or(BI) the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell.(BJ) But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”

In v.14-15 we immediately see Joshua’s evangelism technique – he uses testimony, he uses history, he uses personal experiences to reach the conclusion of v.15 – “but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD”.  He gives the people an option – serve the gods beyond the River/in Egypt or even the ‘gods’ of the lands if they truly appeal to you still, after such a wealth and mound of witness as described at Gilead.  There is no need for him to re-iterate that there is only one true God, Yahweh, El, Elohim as the tribes on the east of Jordan had done in Joshua 22.  The historical evidence, the personal experience, the present witness of the tabernacle icons and sacrifices all witness and testify to the one true living God.  Hence their reaction in v.16-18:

16Then the people answered, “Far be it from us that we should forsake the LORD to serve other gods, 17for it is the LORD our God who brought us and our fathers up from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, and who did those great signs in our sight and preserved us in all the way that we went, and among all the peoples through whom we passed. 18And the LORD drove out before us all the peoples, the Amorites who lived in the land. Therefore we also will serve the LORD, for he is our God.”

19But Joshua said to the people, “You are not able to serve the LORD, for he is(BK) a holy God. He is(BL) a jealous God;(BM) he will not forgive your transgressions or your sins. 20(BN) If you forsake the LORD and serve foreign gods, then(BO) he will turn and do you harm and consume you, after having done you good.” 21And the people said to Joshua, “No, but we will serve the LORD.” 22Then Joshua said to the people, “You are witnesses against yourselves that(BP) you have chosen the LORD, to serve him.” And they said, “We are witnesses.” 23He said, “Then(BQ) put away the foreign gods that are among you, and incline your heart to the LORD, the God of Israel.” 24And the people said to Joshua, “The LORD our God we will serve, and his voice we will obey.”

This portrayal of God in v.19-20 is undoubtedly one of the many reasons why the Marcionites amongst other heresies believe the God of the Old Testament to be different from the God of the New Testament; or even Joachim of Fiore’s interpretation of the Old Testament to be the ‘age of the Father’, the saints living under fear, and the New Testament and the End Times to be the ‘age of the Son’ and the ‘age of the Spirit’.  This however directly contradicts what the New Testament authors themselves understood, for there has always been only one mediator between man and God (1 Timothy 2:5), the creation being through Christ in  the head (bereshit – the very first word of Genesis, commonly mistranslated as “in the beginning”), and the gospel of all ages preached even to Abraham (Galatians 3-4) before the law was given.

Why then do Joshua’s words seem so misleading?  Because we are built upon misconceived Christian traditions which do not see Christ in the Old Testament!  For even in Hebrews 3, the first two chapters speaking of the supremacy and mediatorial role of Christ, emphasizes that it was those who left Egypt and were disobedient who did not enter the Promised Land.  It was those with “unbelieving heart” which led them to fall away from the living God (Hebrews 3:12); and that in 2 Peter 1 we are called to “supplement our faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfast-ness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love” so that we do not act as though we have forgotten that we are cleansed from our former sins.

We are thus tested for the genuineness of our faith (1 Peter 1:7), and like the Christians of the New Testament so also these Israelites are commanded by Joshua to serve the LORD (c.f. 1 Peter 1:13-25).  The misnomer of ‘faith alone’ has taught lies to this generation as if we are ‘secured’ in salvation by our one profession of faith, when Scripture teaches us that we are preserved in faith, that we are to persist, and that our good works are emblems of our faith and that these are done solely by God alone through the Son and Spirit.  And what this means is that if we disobey, then we grieve the Spirit and he rightly disciplines us; and if we fall after tasting the Spirit but not being indwelled by Him then we fall eternally; but if we thirst for Him, then he will continually protect us in the midst of inevitable sufferings which Christ himself experienced.  The oaths which the Israelites made in v.22 will be held against them, just as our oath to be Christians when we professed to be born again will be held against us, for we now know the truth and made a marriage vow which we should enjoy and not persistently break lest our marriage vow was built upon deception and lies and Spirit-less!  And so v.24 here is reflected in Hebrews 3:15 which quotes Psalm 95:7-8 – “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion”, the rebellion in the wildernesses.

25So Joshua(BR) made a covenant with the people that day, and put in place(BS) statutes and rules for them at Shechem. 26And Joshua(BT) wrote these words in the Book of the Law of God. And(BU) he took a large stone and set it up there(BV) under the terebinth that was by the sanctuary of the LORD. 27And Joshua said to all the people, “Behold,(BW) this stone shall be a witness against us, for(BX) it has heard all the words of the LORD that he spoke to us. Therefore it shall be a witness against you, lest you deal falsely with your God.” 28So Joshua(BY) sent the people away, every man to his inheritance.

Once again, we should not overlook the specific locations provided in the Old Testament narrative.  Let us first consider what we know of Shechem and a particular terebinth which has already been mentioned before the book of Joshua:

Gen 35:1-5  God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel and dwell there. Make an altar there to the God who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.”  (2)  So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Put away the foreign gods that are among you and purify yourselves and change your garments.  (3)  Then let us arise and go up to Bethel, so that I may make there an altar to the God who answers me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone.”  (4)  So they gave to Jacob all the foreign gods that they had, and the rings that were in their ears. Jacob hid them under the terebinth tree that was near Shechem.  (5)  And as they journeyed, a terror from God fell upon the cities that were around them, so that they did not pursue the sons of Jacob.

Jacob hid all the foreign gods under the terebinth tree that was near Shechem.  Here, Joshua sets up a large stone and sets it up there under the terebinth that was by the sanctuary of the LORD – no doubt, any Israelite with a familiar understanding of the history of his or her ancestor would know that Joshua did not randomly choose a place to set up the large stone.  It is at Shechem, that Jacob destroyed the idols; it is under the oak, the terebinth, that the idols were taken away from sight; and it is now under the terebinth in Shechem near the sanctuary of the LORD that Joshua commands the Israelites to hold true to their words, as if it was God himself telling Jacob to do the same.  The parallel is thus made between Yahweh commanding Jacob/Israel, and Joshua commanding the nation Israel; Joshua standing in as a type of Yeshua, and Israel standing in as a fulfillment of the prophetic imagery of Jacob in Genesis 35.

Joshua’s Death and Burial

29(BZ) After these things Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died, being 110 years old. 30And they buried him in his own inheritance at(CA) Timnath-serah, which is in the hill country of Ephraim, north of the mountain of Gaash.

Genesis 35 is not the only connection made, but also Genesis 50:26 when the patriarch Joseph also died at 110 years old.  Timnath-serah was Joshua’s inheritance as stated in Joshua 19:50, and Adam Clarke comments:

“The Septuagint add here, “And they put with him there, in the tomb in which they buried him, the knives of stone with which he circumcised the children of Israel in Gilgal, according as the Lord commanded when he brought them out of Egypt; and there they are till this day.” St. Augustine quotes the same passage in his thirtieth question on the book of Joshua, which, in all probability, he took from some copy of the Septuagint. It is very strange that there is no account of any public mourning for the death of this eminent general; probably, as he was buried in his own inheritance, he had forbidden all funeral pomp, and it is likely was privately interred.”

Burial is an important tradition, and also indicative of where the promises of these OT saints lay.  The additional insight in the LXX is most welcome – putting the knives of stone with which he circumcised the children of Israel in Gilgal, reminding us of the mystery of circumcision first instituted in Genesis 18, looking forward to the life-circumcision of Christ and its replacement with water-baptism after Christ has fulfilled his incarnate mission.  This theme of burial, of necessary death, of the ‘ways of the earth’, is the typical way of how the Mosaic books have ended, with the deaths of Jacob, Joseph, Miriam, Aaron, Moses and now Joshua.

31(CB) Israel served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua(CC) and had known all the work that the LORD did for Israel. 32(CD) As for the bones of Joseph, which the people of Israel brought up from Egypt, they buried them at Shechem, in the piece of land(CE) that Jacob bought from the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for a hundred pieces of money.[b] It became an inheritance of the descendants of Joseph. 33And Eleazar the son of Aaron died, and they buried him at Gibeah, the town of(CF) Phinehas his son, which had been given him in(CG) the hill country of Ephraim.

Thus, it is fitting to look at the fulfillment of the treatment of Joseph’s bones from Genesis 50:25 and Exodus 13:19, the burying of the bones most likely to take place when the land of Canaan was completely taken.  It is at this point we realize that Joseph and Joshua are both receiving their funeral procession, the burial of Joseph’s bones in the land of his forefathers, as promised; and Joshua’s acceptance of the end of his life on earth in present creation.  It is interesting how he was called the servant of the LORD, a phrase used especially in Numbers 12:7, Deuteronomy 34:5 and Joshua 1:1 in reference to Moses placing him in line with those who stood by the LORD.  This is quite interesting, because the theme of servanthood is aligned to Stephen’s description of those who stand with Christ and those who stand against Him (Acts 7).  Joshua is now directly expressed to be with Christ, and Moses also – enabling us to read the Old Testament by understanding who is truly a Christian saint, doing His will, and those who belong to a non-Messianic non-Christ-focused Judaism.  As these saints were in many ways types of Christ, just as we are reflections of His image especially after being redeemed and the Holy Spirit conforming us to the Son, so an affront to Moses and Joshua is also an affront to Christ.  Matthew Henry looks at the extra-biblical views of Joshua’s death in seeing Joshua’s death in relation to Christ’s death:

“Joshua’s burying-place is here said to be on the north side of the hill Gaash, or the quaking hill; the Jews say it was so called because it trembled at the burial of Joshua, to upbraid the people of Israel with their stupidity in that they did not lament the death of that great and good man as they ought to have done. Thus at the death of Christ, our Joshua, the earth quaked. The learned bishop Patrick observes that there is no mention of any days of mourning being observed for Joshua, as there were for Moses and Aaron, in which, he says, St. Hierom and others of the fathers think there is a mystery, namely, that under the law, when life and immortality were not brought to so clear a light as they are now, they had reason to mourn and weep for the death of their friends; but now that Jesus, our Joshua, has opened the kingdom of heaven, we may rather rejoice.”

Almost immediately (in the narrative) comes the death of the high priest Eleazar, the obedient and eldest son of Aaron.  It should be noted here that whether or not the narrative is accurate in its chronology, the more important message is the coalescing of all the saints who had witnessed God’s miracles in relation to Egypt, the Exodus and the arrival at Canaan, from Joseph to Moses to Joshua to Eleazar.  They are thus buried with their forefathers, and they are living among those who have set the example of faith for the next generations to come.  Yet, it begs the question: how many more saints were like these mighty men?  Yahweh had been merciful on this weak, rebellious nation and time and time again he has set them examples of imperfect Christians who are still exalted amongst people who are simply rebellious, unbelieving and completely condemnation-worthy for they have much access to God’s witnesses in the tabernacle, the testimony of these saints, and so forth.  As Adam Clarke commentates, this is the same necessity for all those who profess Christianity: to “enter into a covenant with God through Christ”, and such profession must come with it good works stemming from marital love deposited by the Holy Spirit.  He continues:

“It does not appear that Joshua was ever married, or that he had any children. That he was high in the estimation of God, we learn from his being chosen to succeed Moses in the government of the people. He was the person alone, of all the host of Israel, who was deemed every way qualified to go out before the congregation, and go in: to lead them out, and bring them in; and be the shepherd of the people, because the Spirit of God was in him. See Num_27:17, etc. He is called the servant of God, as was Moses; and was, of all men of that generation, next in eminence to that great legislator… they gave him Timnath-serah, in the barren mountains of Ephraim, and even this he asked Jos_19:50. But was not this the best city in the land? No – it was even No city; evidently no more than the ruins of one that had stood in that place; and hence it is said, he builded the city and dwelt therein – he, with some persons of his own tribe, revived the stones out of the rubbish, and made it habitable.”

In such a short paragraph, Clarke hits on all the things true also of our Messiah Yeshua Christ.  He who was not married, so that he would marry his first love the Bride, the Church (Colossians 1:16; Revelation 19:7); He who was persecuted (Hebrews 13:13); He who was humbled (Psalm 8:5); He who was the Servant of servants (Acts 3:13) – and yet Christ would still take Jerusalem, the place where he was murdered and framed, and re-frame, re-new it as the central glory of New Creation – so much as to call it the New Jerusalem (Revelation 3:12; 21:2), as intimated by Joshua’s treatment of this seemingly hopeless peace of land.  And yet, Joshua is just a man, and the Messiah has still not come, not for another thousand years the Israelites are given the temporary institution of the Mosaic law, completely sufficient to point their mind towards Christ’s first coming and their impending resurrection in New Creation – and so the book of Joshua ends abruptly, on the deaths of those notable saints.  Joshua ends with the spirited image of the eternal oath made at Shechem, the Israelites full of hope and future; Acts ends on the active proclamation of Christ to the ends of the earth – there is much in common, and yet in the End Times, the proclamation is with much more vigour, much more enthuasiasm, much more speed, the spiritual Bridegroom much more united – the centripetal force of the Spirit working in ways more than an indwelling in the saints of the Old.  However, where there are times of Christ-focused Christians, there are times of rebellion even in the last 2000 years, and thus the end of Joshua rightly sets up the time of the Judges and Kings just as we also are in the time of Judges and Kings today until the coming New Jerusalem embodied in David and Solomon’s Kingdom to come.

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Joshua 23-24: The Next Generation

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