Esther 5-8: Esther our Mediator

Chapter 5

It would appear that Esther’s fears are allayed – and her expectation of victory is sweetly met.  She touched the tip of the scepter of Ahasuerus, a scepter of power (v.2).  Paul Blackham states in Book by Book guide on Esther:

“John Preston (1587-1628) produced a book called “The Golden Sceptre” held forth to the Humble”.  The title is derived from this scene in Esther.  Preston powerfully describes our Heavenly Father as a Great King into whose presence we cannot safely go.  In fact, it is fatal for any sinner to be in the presence of the Living God.  However, Preston portrays the gospel as the golden sceptre that is held out to the sinner to give them safe welcome into the presence of the Living God.”

Her request is that Haman is brought to the feast she has prepared for the king (v.4); and after having such a feast she requested Haman join them again (v.8).  Paul Blackham states:

“The joy of [verse 5] is seeing it in stark contrast to what happened in chapter 1.  [Quoting Tull, page 26:]

 

(Xerxes) calls for Haman saying, ‘Bring Haman quickly, so that we may do as Esther desires‘ (5.5).  Literally the Hebrew says, ‘so we may do the word of Esther‘.  This is a deliciously ironic twist on a king who only three chapters before was terrified that women might not do the word of their husbands.  Vashti was banished for not coming when the king called, but now Esther has gotten away with coming when the king did not call.  The king who worried about women obeying their husbands is now obeying his wife, and ordering Haman to obey her as well.  And to add irony to irony, Haman not only obeys a woman, but delights in being hosted by a Jew – a Jew passing as a Persian so splendidly that she puts a lie to all he said about her people’s disruptiveness.

Such is Esther’s plan that Haman would appear to be exalted temporarily only for Haman, the type of Satan, to pride and boast in his self-praises and unwarranted accolades (Ezekiel 18) – the same Haman whose sole wish is still to destroy the ancient promised church of God (v.8-13) as one would if one was the son of the devil (John 8:44).  Yet, this is all in Esther’s plan as Haman is dancing in her palm.  The irony that the Satan should wish to use the same tool of death to destroy the Christ, and yet this tool of death has become the iconic symbol in Christianity of Christ’s victory (v.14).  Again, although the ESV states “gallow”, it is more likely a stake for impalement – the Hebrew word ates simply means tree.  From a biblical and prophetic perspective, the clearer comparison between Haman and Satan is shown when Haman is seen to have set up a 75 foot tree for Mordecai to be killed on.

Chapter 6

By the LORD’s providence, the king’s inability to sleep allowed him to read the chronicles of Mordecai the Jew who saved the king (v.1-2).  By Mordecai’s faithfulness to the king as stipulated under Romans 13, he receives the royal robes of righteousness and honour (v.7-11) – suggested by Haman himself since he thought such honour would be given to him (v.6-9).  What ironic mockery! Such theology of divine reversals is saturated throughout Scripture.  As Paul Blackham states:

“An important biblical theme, very much related to Haman’s highs and lows, is the theme of reversal, of divine justice turning power upside down.  This theme is so pervasive in the Bible, and so commonplace in Christian discourse, that its radical implications can sometimes be forgotten.  Explicit reversals characterize many Proverbs, such as 16:18: “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Reversals also permeate narratives, such as the story of Joseph and his brothers (Genesis 37-50), the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt (Exodus 1-15), and the poem of Isaiah’s suffering servant who will be exalted (Isaiah 52:13-53:12).  The narrative of reversal best known to Christians, of course, is the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection (quoting Tull, 30-31).”

Note how beautifully this was done before Haman’s sins were exposed – just as Satan was never in power, nor was he ever honoured, and he certainly had no leverage to offer Christ anything (Luke 4) for Christ was the only Honoured One of the Father.  This status of matters was already the case before Satan was nailed to the cross – just as Haman is shamed by handing over all honour (which only appeared to be his) over to Christ.  What prophetic words of Zeresh (v.13):

“If Mordecai, before whom you have begun to fall, is of the Jewish people, you will not overcome him but will surely fall before him”.

Indeed – if Christ, before whom Satan has begun to fall, is of the Jewish people, Satan will not overcome him but will surely fall before Him!  Clearly even Zeresh has heard of the prophecy of the Offspring of Adam, and that the LORD protects the Jewish people.  What ridicule that Haman could think he could uproot the promise that the LORD has made to Israel!  Immediately after Zeresh’s statement of judgment, the impending demise of Haman comes to his doorsteps (v.14).

Chapter 7

There is an eery sense of parallel between the death of John the Baptist and the death of Haman here.  Where Herod also offered the same vow (c.f. Mark 6:22-23) as Ahasuerus, Herodias’s daughter was no Esther.  Esther, the type of Christ, sought to protect the Jews; and where Herod and Ahasuerus were cut from the same cloth, the role of the mediator plays a large role.  If Esther was like Vashti (who did not appear to have Israel’s interests at heart) – what would have happened?  Yet it was Mordecai’s plan to place Esther into the courts of Ahasuerus, the same Mordecai and Esther who obeyed the LORD despite their imminent deaths at the hands of Haman and Ahasuerus.  What is your wish, Queen Esther?  The Head of Mordecai, or the Head of Haman?  The latter.

The parallel is more astounding here – the last time the king was recorded to be drunken with wine was in chapters 1-2, when Vashti was banished from his sight; yet here, Esther uses the situation to remove Haman upon pleading the truth to Ahasuerus (v.1-6).  Yet this is the gospel story summarised – the king who was jealous for his wife; the king who is angry against the Satan as personified by Haman; the king who hung Satan by his own devices, nailing him to the same cross that he planned to destroy the Christ with.  As the Father cries “Will he even assault the Bride in my presence, in my own house?” in parallel to Ahasuerus’ words (v.8), His jealous love for us covers us in his righteousness and holiness whilst he never ceases to destroy the enemy whose only plan is to destroy us, rape us, annihilate our heritage, and kill our future (v.4; c.f. Psalm 73 for a summary of the LORD’s view of Haman’s types of actions).

Chapter 8

This is a chapter of victory.  Esther, the type of Christ, inherited the heritage of Haman (v.1; Henrietta Mears subtitles her chapter on this book: “Esther portrays Jesus Christ, Our Advocate”) – the enemy (Satan) of the Jews.  Esther, before the king as a type (albeit a flawed type) of the Father, recognises Mordecai here as the church and community under which Esther was nurtured.  Thus, the signet ring, as a seal and sign of the deposit of the Holy Spirit and of His election (c.f. Song of Solomon 8:6; Haggai 2:23; Ephesians 1:14; 2 Corinthians 1:22, 5:5; 2 Timothy 1:14, 2:19) was given from the Father to the Son (i.e. Esther), and from Esther to the church (i.e. Mordecai) to rule over the house of Haman, just as we rule over the enemy by His power.

In v.3-8 we see Esther mediating on behalf of the Jews – how can she bear to see the destruction of her kindred (v.6)?  Indeed, she cannot.  Yet, this is a picture of Christ pleading on our behalf – and with the Father’s seal (v.8), spiritual Israel shall not be harmed.  The elect body of Christ shall not be harmed.  The kindred of Esther shall not be harmed.  So we are similarly sealed by the Father by the sacrifice of His only begotten Son, and wrath is diverted onto the enemy.  And as we are given His power by the Spirit, His signet ring, whatever we command in His name (John 20:23) is released in this creation (v.10-12).  This is the great exchange – although it appears harsh that the Jews are allowed to gather and defend their lives, the retribution is exactly matching to the edict of Haman (Esther 3:13).  Note however that this is but the Jews’ response and only to armed forces – on the condition that the Israelites could defend, and attack only if they were attacked (symbolically on the same day that the Jews would have been destroyed – v.12; c.f. Esther 9:1).  Such is the beauty of our redemption, that we – like Mordecai – by the work of the true Esther Jesus Christ could wear the LORD’s righteous robes of salvation (Isaiah 61:11; c.f. v.15), the restoration of the Israelite traditions occurring not only in Jerusalem by Ezra and Nehemiah’s hands – but also in the kingdom of Persia.  This glory is felt not only by the Jews but also by the Gentiles, leading to mass conversion (v.17).

Esther 5-8: Esther our Mediator

2 Samuel 5: David as King of Kings

From the tragedy of the death of Abner and Ish-bosheth we are immediately greeted with a congratulatory in chapter 5: the wedding of Israel to her true head Jesus Christ.  “Behold, we are your bone and flesh” is but an echo of Genesis 2:23, as a woman is to her man.  V.2 in particular refers to the replacement of the head of Israel in the appointment of David over Saul in 1 Samuel 13:14; and so, as David had promised to Abner that Israel is to be united to Judah, the covenant first began with the house of Jonathan.  This is why the ray of hope is not in Saul’s immediate descendants who were murdered (c.f. chapter 4) or killed in battle; rather, this ray of hope is in Jonathan’s house, for it is Jonathan who covenanted with David first (1 Samuel 18:3).  This covenant is thus kept, as a reminder that even when Israel is rejected, the LORD is faithful to the covenant promise and a remnant is preserved for this remnant stands firmly in Christ Jesus the only Elect One (c.f. Romans 9-11).  His reign lasts for forty years (v.5), the same length of the period of peace for most judges (Judges 3:11, 5:31, 8:28) after their victories.  Yet, this is but a foreshadow of Christ’s period on earth (as the short seven years as ‘king’ of Judah) and the far longer period of time as the king of the whole of Israel.  David is but a type of Christ, and his symbolic reign of forty years as king shows that even his reign is short-lived.  Even he is not the everlasting LORD and Messiah in whom the Israelites find the Promised Offspring long foretold in Genesis 3:15.  Simply put, v.4 confirms that David and his story are but shadows and types of the true Messiah who has yet to come (c.f. Isaiah 9:7).

The overcoming of the Jebusites as his first role confirming himself as king (v.6-10) is extremely significant.  In the words of Matthew Henry:

“If Salem, the place of which Melchizedec was king, was Jerusalem (as seems probable from Psa_76:2), it was famous in Abraham’s time. Joshua, in his time, found it the chief city of the south part of Canaan, Jos_10:1-3. It fell to Benjamin’s lot (Jos_18:28), but joined close to Judah’s, Jos_15:8. The children of Judah had taken it (Jdg_1:8), but the children of Benjamin suffered the Jebusites to dwell among them (Jdg_1:21), and they grew so upon them that it became a city of Jebusites, Jdg_19:11. Now the very first exploit David did, after he was anointed king over all Israel, was to gain Jerusalem out of the hand of the Jebusites, which, because it belonged to Benjamin, he could not well attempt till that tribe, which long adhered to Saul’s house (1Ch_12:29), submitted to him.”

The winning over of the Jebusites is the first confirmation of David’s enthronement – the winning over of a tribe which had long adhered to Saul’s house; and it is utterly important that these idolatrous Jebusites are entirely rooted out so that the promised new city will indeed be set apart for the LORD (Jeremiah 37:9-10).

However, the key verse is v.6; why would the Jebusites think that the ‘lame and the blind’ will ward off David?  This is furthermore curious when all that David had been doing was spend time with ‘worthless’ men.  Even the LORD in Jeremiah 31:8-10 expressed that through the true David, the lame and blind would be called into New Jerusalem.  It is indicative therefore that the Jebusites may not have been referring to actual lame and blind men, as if David was some sort of arrogant fool who would not even touch the lame or the blind.  Rather, the Hebrew descriptions imply an analogous application, which could be applied to idols which are in God’s eyes lame and blind:

“The Jebusites’ defiance of David and his forces. They said, Except thou take away the blind and the lame, thou shalt not come in hither, 2Sa_5:6. They sent David this provoking message, because, as it is said afterwards, on another occasion, they could not believe that ever an enemy would enter into the gates of Jerusalem, Lam_4:12. They confided either, 1. In the protection of their gods, which David, in contempt, had called the blind and the lame, for they have eyes and see not, feet and walk not. “But,” say they, “these are the guardians of our city, and except thou take these away (which thou canst never do) thou canst not come in hither.” Some think they were constellated images of brass set up in the recess of the fort, and entrusted with the custody of the place. They called their idols their Mauzzim, or strong-holds (Dan_11:38) and as such relied on them. The name of the Lord is our strong tower, and his arm is strong, his eyes are piercing. Or, 2. In the strength of their fortifications, which they thought were made so impregnable by nature or art, or both, that the blind and the lame were sufficient to defend them against the most powerful assailant. The strong-hold of Zion they especially depended on, as that which could not be forced. Probably they set blind and lame people, invalids or maimed soldiers, to make their appearance upon the walls, in scorn of David and his men, judging them an equal match for him. Though there remain but wounded men among them, yet they should serve to beat back the besiegers. Compare Jer_37:10. Note, The enemies of God’s people are often very confident of their own strength and most secure when their day to fall draws nigh.”

This is therefore the most likely reason for the new proverb in v.8, that “the blind and the lame shall not come into the house”.  This proverb bears so much weight and that it indicates a two-fold meaning: that no idol shall enter the house of David (Isaiah 42:18); and that the true David shall overcome the lame and the weak, redeeming them into the house of God and granting them true and everlasting rest (c.f. lame and blind walking and seeing: Acts 3; Matthew 9:27).

Furthermore, the joining of the rich nation of Tyre (Psalm 45:12) with Israel, and the cedar trees rooted in living waters (Numbers 24:6) are but shadows of the fruit we shall receive in true Canaan under Christ as the Head.  It is therefore in the overcoming of the lame and the blind, the overcoming of the idolatrous Jebusites, then coupled with the gifts from a foreign non-Israelite nation that David knew that the LORD had established him king over Israel, exalted not for David’s sake but for the sake of the church.  So also the ascension of Christ was done for our exaltation (v.12), secured in the defeat of old pagan Jerusalem and the joining of heart-circumcised Israelites and foreigners (represented by Tyre) under the banner of His Name.

And so we move onto v.13-16 which emphasizes once more that any one of these descendants are to be the line through which Jesus will reign; and despite the names given to all of these, almost all of which are inspired by Eli, by God Himself, Solomon is the only son of the eleven born in Jerusalem who will bring about the golden era of Israel.  All the others will only be mentioned sparsely in the rest of the Bible, especially in 1 Chronicles 14, but Solomon the peaceful and perfect one as his name indicates, will be the one who builds God’s temple.

The consolidation of David’s kingship comes with it the enemy symbolic of David’s initial election as mediator and saviour of Israel so recognized – this enemy is the Philistine.  It is important to see the chiastic framework of David’s life – that the Philistines as enemies in the Promised Land should be destroyed through the death of Goliath in 1 Samuel 17, and once again destroyed by David.  This two-fold destruction affirming that David was never a servant of Gath (1 Samuel 27), but that he was and always is the Head and anointed One of Israel  We must not overlook that over Baal-perazim, where the LORD bursted through for the first time (v.20-21), the Philistines have left their idols and yet they escaped alive.  Only upon the second attempt, standing symbolically at the Valley of the remnants of the Giants (Joshua 11:22), does the LORD shift tactic.  Instead of facing them head-on, the LORD advises David to come against them opposite the balsam trees by their rear.

Why this change in strategy?  Why the focus on the balsam trees?  This narration impacts us the same way we are taught about the dispensation of the Old and the New Testaments – that in the Old, the effect of the Mediator is but to cripple the Philistines and to rob them temporarily of their idols which they can always rebuild with their own hands (Judges 8:27); yet the fulfillment of all prophecies, the fulfillment of the hope of the race of adam in the New Covenant means that this crippling has condemned Satan to eternal death, that He has bound the strong man in the house.  “And when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, then rouse yourself, for then the LORD has gone out before you to strike down the army of the Philistines” (v.24) – this is a committed cleansing in the midst of trees with red-wine like berries which upon crushing is akin to the crushing of the vine at the winepress (Isaiah 63).  So Satan stands in the Valley of the Giants, only to be surprised by Jesus’ resurrection from the death of the cross, this surprise from the rear leading to the tearing down of the old temple, of old creation, and leading to new creation and an everlasting temple.

2 Samuel 5: David as King of Kings

1 Samuel 25: The Redemption of the Olive Tree Branches

Now we come to see how David sent these ten young men (v.5) in a similar manner to how Abraham sent his servant to seek for his Son a wife (Genesis 24) – and so these young men came in the name of David (v.9) just as we are proclaiming the victory of Christ in His name.  Yet, this Nabal was a lost sheep in the wilderness (v.4) – and David, the shepherd at heart, goes out with his men to redeem and reclaim this lost sheep and his wife Abigail, and usurp Nabal’s position as the man with possessions in the garden-land Carmel (v.2, v.14), a shadow of Christ restoring us to our position as righteous children and stewards in the true Garden of Eden through his prayer in the garden of Gethsemane.

Verses 6-8 are reflective of David’s compassion on Nabal and Abigail: “Peace be with you… to your house… to all that you have”.  How is this peace obtained?  Because Nabal’s business consists of the shearing of sheep in Carmel (v.2), and the shepherd need be protected to manage the sheep – these very shepherds being  protected by David (v.7) during the time at Carmel.  David had secured peace for Nabal in a variety of ways; by the first defeat of Goliath by David’s self-election; by the defeat of the Philistines, by the protection of Nabal’s shepherds, and even through his ancestor’s Caleb’s obedience that the land Carmel, near Hebron, was even inherited and passed down (Joshua 14:14; Joshua 15:54-55) – from both a wider and more specific context, we can see that David achieved salvation for Nabal and his household as a type of Christ just as Caleb was.  This day, he came to find favour in his eyes as they came on a feast day (v.8).

And this is not how our Christ achieved salvation for us long before we knew him?  He had ensured our greatest peace with the Father through his work on the cross (Romans 5:1) that our household may inherit the covenant of grace through Christ, so that on the day when the Saviour comes to find us in the wilderness, we may have a feast day with him in anticipation of the Resurrection feast day.

Yet, Nabal’s answer is typical of the unbeliever – “Who is this David?  Who is the son of Jesse?”  What ridicule!  This Calebite, his very existence dependent upon his father Caleb who stood faithfully by Yeshua/Joshua, was the only spy who came back alive from tasting the firstfruit of Canaan (Numbers 13:20-27), and yet this Nabal would not recognise the true Yeshua typified in David, son of Jesse.  Who is this Jesus Christ, son of Joseph?  Who is this Jesus Christ, son of God?  These words are treated with contempt – and to those who ignore the peace achieved in Christ remains condemnation and wrath on their heads (John 3:18; Romans 1:18-32).

Hope is not lost on Nabal’s household as one young man manages to recount the glory of David to Nabal’s wife – “David sent messengers out of the wilderness… the men were very good to us… we suffered no harm, and we did not miss anything when we were in the fields, as long as we went with them.  They were a wall to us both by night and by day, all the while we were with them keeping the sheep”.   This young man spoke of the salvation through David; he was giving his testimony to Abigail – and like the pillar of cloud and fire (Exodus 13:21), so David and his men shielded these shepherds who were also in themselves sheep which needed divine protection.

This entire episode bears semblance to the Angel of the LORD seeking for Moses’ life for failing to circumcise his child, but by the mediation of the blood of the child’s circumcision was this wrath propitiated; so also we see the mediation of Nabal by the sacrifice of Abigail (v.18).  Is not David’s work to lead us to salvation, his blessings for the intention of repentance (Romans 2:4)?  Yet, if it does not achieve this effect, then David’s work of salvation is indeed done in vain; so also Christ’s work on the cross and His blessings to us is entirely meaningless if we do not confess Him to be our Saviour, though that work of salvation indeed did occur and remains true.

However, what we see next is a wonderful word-play of David as Abigail’s lord, fighting the battles on the LORD (the Father’s) behalf – and what we see here is Abigail expounding a Trinitarian understanding of how salvation is effected:

“24She fell at his feet and said,(AC) “On me alone, my lord, be the guilt. Please let your servant speak in your ears, and hear the words of your servant. 25Let not my lord regard(AD) this worthless fellow, Nabal, for as his name is, so is he. Nabal[c] is his name, and folly is with him. But I your servant did not see the young men of my lord, whom you sent. 26Now then, my lord,(AE) as the LORD lives, and as your soul lives, because(AF) the LORD has restrained you from bloodguilt and from(AG) saving with your own hand, now then(AH) let your enemies and those who seek to do evil to my lord be as Nabal. 27And now let this(AI) present that your servant has brought to my lord be given to the young men who follow my lord. 28Please forgive the trespass of your servant. For the LORD will certainly make my lord(AJ) a sure house, because my lord(AK) is fighting the battles of the LORD, and evil shall not be found in you so long as you live. 29If men rise up to pursue you and to seek your life, the life of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of the living in the care of the LORD your God. And the lives of your enemies(AL) he shall sling out as from the hollow of a sling. 30And when the LORD has done to my lord according to all the good that he has spoken concerning you and has appointed you prince over Israel, 31my lord shall have no cause of grief or pangs of conscience for having shed blood without cause or for my lord(AM) taking vengeance himself. And when the LORD has dealt well with my lord, then remember your servant.””

This is her response upon hearing from the young man of the testimony of the lord David; and in the household of Nabal, in which the covenant of peace was made, Nabal did not represent the entire house, just as Jacob was not the representative of the entire nation of Israel.  Even in the house of Israel, there are plenty of Nabals (fools), just as there are plenty of Abigails who, upon hearing the word (Romans 10:14) are convicted of the truth of the Anointed One.  Just as she cannot serve two lords, she has decidedly put herself before David in worship and reverence, just as men have bowed before the Angel of the LORD rather than mere angels (Numbers 22:31 against Exodus 23:24).  She readily calls her husband, her first lord a fool; but rather submit herself to the second lord David whose victories are by the LORD in heaven.  Is this not also true of us?  That we may denounce our first man Adam to receive the second Adam?  To denounce the first king Saul to receive the true prince David (v.30)?  Just as the LORD redeemed Lot from the land of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19), had preserved a remnant of Israel in times of overt heresy and rebellion (Romans 11:5), so David preserved at least one in the household of Nabal.  Are we to remain in the house of Adam if we do not receive Christ and His Spirit by Whom we are reborn into the body of the new Head, of the new prince, of David?  If so, we will perish alongside Nabal – and it does not please David to hurt (v.34), just as it does not please the LORD to see people die (Ezekiel 18:31).

So the death of Nabal shall come in the same way as the drunken and merry heathens experienced – that the coming of Christ and his redemptive work was actually necessary, true, and a great surprise (2 Peter 2).  “In the morning, when the wine had gone out of Nabal, his wife told him these things, and his heart died within him, and he became as a stone” (v.37).  As if the news of David coming to cleanse the household of Nabal was not sobering enough, the judgment came from the hand of the Father though the condemnation already came by Christ.

What then of Abigail, who now has no husband?  Just as we were once married (Romans 7:2), by the death of Nabal is Abigail freed from the head of her household, that she should attach herself to the new and true lord David as her new husband – so we also escape from Adam, our flesh crucified in Christ, and reborn under the new head of Jesus.

It is here that we need to differentiate between the grammatico-hermeneutical method of exegesis and the Christological hermeneutic – here, David (and like many before him, such as Abraham) takes two more wives (besides Michal) – Ahinoam and Abigail.  Though it is apparent why Abigail is taken (for she was redeemed from the hands of the false steward, an analogy of the salvation of the church-sheep from the clutches of the Satan), what of Ahinoam?

In 1 Samuel 14:50, Saul’s wife is mentioned as Ahinoam, named my brother is delight, the daughter of Ahimaaz, named my brother is anger.  Yet, Saul has, instead of contributing to any delight in his wife’s life has instead become an epitome of anger and jealousy in the latter half of the first book of Samuel.  Contrarily, we have here a juxtaposition of David taking a bride of the same name as Saul’s wife placed next to a verse where David’s first wife is given away by Saul, and taking the faithful wife Abigail; instead, Michal is not ‘redeemed’ by David until 2 Samuel 3; and her demise is summed up in 2 Samuel 6:23 – that she shall have no more children.  Michal, though faithful to David and truly loved David in 1 Samuel 18, did not love David’s LORD.  Yet, Abigail and by implication Ahinoam are David’s new wives who do love the LORD – and here we see the unnatural olive tree branches implanted as the natural olive tree branch is removed (Romans 11).  Though David returns to buy her back (2 Samuel 3) such that our LORD God has not forsaken the Israelites his first bride, her limp response to him when he danced before the LORD truly portrayed a bride who was not suitably dressed for the true Wedding Day (Matthew 22:11).

1 Samuel 25: The Redemption of the Olive Tree Branches

Joshua 9-10: The suffering of the true King

Joshua 9

1As soon as all the kings who were beyond the Jordan(CV) in the hill country and in the lowland all along the coast(CW) of the Great Sea toward Lebanon,(CX) the Hittites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, heard of this, 2they gathered together as one to fight against Joshua and Israel.

The events of verses 1-2 find a direct parallel in Psalm 2 – the joining together of evil as a wicked council against Christ (Psalm 2:2). These nations gather to bully this corporate hermit nation, listed in the first verse – all the kings in the hill country and in the lowland all along the coast of the “Great Sea”, no doubt a Hebrew wordplay on insolent and haughty things.

However, all of them but one gathered against Yeshua – the Gibeonites who are part of the Hivites, hailing from one of the sons of Canaan.

Before we move on to meditate on the Gibeonites, we should consider the weight of what is mentioned in the opening two verses. Israel is, indeed, by no means a small nation. However, for what reason do these nations gather together to fight? Israel’s purpose is not to simply destroy and conquer – but to supplant mercy, as indicated in Deuteronomy 20:10.

Not only this, but these nations should have already heard the gospel – they have enough information from this priestly nation to have faith in the Star, the Messiah to reign from the line of Judah. We are revealed just as much from the words of the nation Gibeon:

3But when the inhabitants of(CY) Gibeon heard what Joshua had done(CZ) to Jericho and(DA) to Ai, 4they on their part acted with cunning and went and made ready provisions and took worn-out sacks for their donkeys, and wineskins, worn-out and torn and mended, 5with worn-out, patched sandals on their feet, and worn-out clothes. And all their provisions were dry and crumbly. 6And they went to Joshua in(DB) the camp at Gilgal and said to him and to the men of Israel, “We have come from a distant country, so now make a covenant with us.” 7But the men of Israel said to(DC) the Hivites, “Perhaps you live among us; then(DD) how can we make a covenant with you?” 8They said to Joshua,(DE) “We are your servants.” And Joshua said to them, “Who are you? And where do you come from?” 9They said to him,(DF) “From a very distant country your servants have come, because of the name of the LORD your God.(DG) For we have heard a report of him, and all that he did in Egypt, 10(DH) and all that he did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon the king of Heshbon, and to Og king of Bashan, who lived in(DI) Ashtaroth. 11So our elders and all the inhabitants of our country said to us, ‘Take provisions in your hand for the journey and go to meet them and say to them, “We are your servants. Come now, make a covenant with us.”‘ 12Here is our bread. It was still warm when we took it from our houses as our food for the journey on the day we set out to come to you, but now, behold, it is dry and crumbly. 13These wineskins were new when we filled them, and behold, they have burst. And these garments and sandals of ours are worn out from the very long journey.” 14So the men took some of their provisions, but(DJ) did not ask counsel from the LORD. 15And Joshua(DK) made peace with them and made a covenant with them, to let them live, and the leaders of the congregation swore to them.


From v.3-15 we read about the deception concerning the Gibeonites; yet, in the midst of their deception, they speak much truth in v.9-10 indicating the clarity in which they understand the gospel of Yahweh’s faithfulness to Israel as chosen nation. However, the focus of the chapter should not be on the Gibeonite deception; it should be on the very fact that Gibeon even planned to deceive! In Joshua 10 we find out that Gibeon is a nation more magnificent and powerful than Ai; yet Ai stood her ground despite the righteousness of Israel, Yahweh. Why did Gibeon decide to deceive and betray the nations of Canaan? What is furthermore interesting is that they somehow believed that Joshua’s vow is as good as gold; and they attempted to straddle both the proverbial boats of Israel and God’s enemy as they deceive Joshua and yet decided not to directly fight Israel – both for the reason stated in v.9-10 – because of the greatness of their God.

The Hebrew in v.6 in particular can be translated as “cut the covenant sacrifice with us” (כרתו לנו ברית). Adam Clarke believes that these words from Gibeon indicate that the heathen culture has adopted the terminology of ‘cutting the covenant’ and incorporated into their own pagan worship; however, I beg to differ. There is nothing to imply that the Gibeonites practiced this covenant-cutting in their pagan worship; contrarily, Gibeon is asking Israel to do the honours of cutting a covenant with them, on the further basis of what the true God has done in the land of Israel in v.9-10. There is no reason for Gibeon to impose their own religious traditions on Israel, because Gibeon is submitting herself to Israel’s successful witness and tradition set down by Yahweh. One can only imagine how much they understand in the mystery of the actual cutting of the covenant, but that would be digressing too far from the text.


Thus, neither a full submission to Jesus, nor an enjoining to the council of wickedness; and from the following verses we will come to understand the role of Gibeon’s half-lie on an eschatological plane:


16At the end of three days after they had made a covenant with them, they heard that they were their neighbors(DL) and that they lived among them. 17And the people of Israel set out and reached their cities on the third day.(DM) Now their cities were Gibeon, Chephirah, Beeroth, and Kiriath-jearim. 18But the people of Israel did not attack them, because the leaders of the congregation had sworn to them by the LORD, the God of Israel. Then all the congregation murmured against the leaders. 19But all the leaders said to all the congregation, “We have sworn to them by the LORD, the God of Israel, and now we may not touch them. 20This we will do to them: let them live, lest(DN) wrath be upon us,(DO) because of the oath that we swore to them.” 21And the leaders said to them, “Let them live.” So they became(DP) cutters of wood and drawers of water for all the congregation, just as the leaders(DQ) had said of them.


The revelation of the lie comes three days after the making of the covenant when the Gibeonites were revealed as liars. This theme of the third day again amplifies the idea of the works of the evil one being revealed once the work on the cross is accomplished on the 8th day of the week, 1st day after the Sabbath, 3rd day after he was crucified, until Christ’s ascension which has yet to happen (1 Corinthians 3:13). V.17 furthermore emphasises on this third day (akin to the detail Moses gave to Abraham’s visit of Moriah on the third day in Genesis 22) the realisation of this deception.


From v.19-20 we learn that these nations are not attacked because of the faithfulness of the oath made, a commandment which Joshua seeks to obey (details concerning the law of different types of vows in Numbers 30). The oath between Israel and the Gibeonites in fact teaches us about the spirit behind the letter of this oath: how Christ established the oath between the church and the Trinity in his mediatory role. Unlike Israel who has no knowledge of Gibeon’s alternate agenda, Christ consciously knows that he is making an oath with his Father to become the head of all creation and the church who submits to Him (Romans 5:8).


Also, unlike the oath made between Gibeon and Joshua, Christ’s oath to submit to the Father’s will and the Father’s pre-election of Christ before creation describes the perfect promise of the redemption of His creation. The covenant made between Gibeon and Joshua is akin to the covenant made between a prostitute and Christ, but this covenant and oath pales in comparison to the promise between Christ and the Father. Nonetheless, the allegory of Gibeon and Yeshua is no different from the allegory of Hosea and his prostitute-wife – the irony being that Gibeon deliberately dressed herself in rags when in reality, her spiritual state before Yeshua is that of rags. Nonetheless, she is willing to be coated by the robe of righteousness which Yeshua, the representative head of Israel, is to provide Gibeon as opposed to the destruction of the council of nations who stand against the LORD. To paraphrase John Calvin’s opinion of this tragic obligation between Gibeon and Israel, it was a foolish oath which the Israelites made – an oath which could have been prevented if they only travelled within three days distance to the neighbouring nations to find out about this deceptive nation and her scheme.


Despite the consequential cursing of Gibeon in v.23, this covenant is not entirely bitter – but actually bittersweet. The Gibeonites shall be servants, but they are cutters of wood and drawers of water for the house of my God. Like the Levites, they are given a privileged position to enter, to touch, to be in the presence of the tabernacle (Psalm 65:4; 84:10). The Gibeonites, with their understanding of Israel’s relationship with the LORD, truly feared Him that they would rather deceive and join them rather than fight and realise an inevitable death. If only they were honest in coming to Yeshua’s feet, then they would partake in greater rewards and greater glory; however Gibeon is an example of a feeble church who does not come to God with clean hands (Psalm 24). The reality of the allegory is that we, the church, are wearing rags of a prostitute but are now clothed with His righteous robes – whereas Gibeon is merely mock-playing this representation. Despite Gibeon’s deceiving role, the underlying motivation is pure – they do not want to be devoted to destruction, because in their hearts they truly believe that Yahweh is the true LORD. Even their under-handed approach to peace is neutralised by that oath between Yeshua and Gibeon.


The question does not apply simply to Gibeon but to every Christian as well. How many of us approach our LORD with clean hands? We may be disciplined and punished for our initially impure approaches and motivations, but the fact that we want to enter into Christ’s oath with his Father in the salvation of the world means that even our impure motives are washed away by the Son’s blood.


This is because our Christ thankfully has the clean hands necessary to propitiate our sins from His and His Father’s judgment. Yeshua’s understanding of that enables him to re-enact God’s love for the church in his love for Gibeon. V.22-27 entails how the bloodthirsty Israelites would rather disobey God’s commandment to keep one’s oath, indirectly blaspheming the oath within the Trinity before creation, than love Gibeon and place her in a place of exalted privilege in the house of the LORD. This is why even Gibeon can walk before and serve the altar of the LORD (V.27) in His house (v.23) as well as the rest of the congregation, a duty that we should all partake in (Galatians 5:13; 1 Peter 4:10 – servant of the altar, 1 Corinthians 9:13). Matthew Henry remarked:


“…this curse is turned into a blessing; they must be servants, but it shall be for the house of my God. The princes would have them slaves unto all the congregation (Jos_9:21), at least they chose to express themselves so, for the pacifying of the people that were discontented; but Joshua mitigates the sentence, both in honour to God and in favour to the Gibeonites: it would be too hard upon them to make them every man’s drudge; if they must be hewers of wood and drawers of water, than which there cannot be a greater disparagement, especially to those who are citizens of a royal city, and all mighty men (Jos_10:2), yet they shall be so to the house of my God, than which there cannot be a greater preferment: David himself could have wished to be a door-keeper there. Even servile work becomes honourable when it is done for the house of our God and the offices thereof.”


The humility of this service can hardly be a curse in light of the other curses made on other nations (list of curses in Deuteronomy 27). Adam Clarke notes this carefully, concerning the fundamental mercy underlining the attitude Israel should have to the Gentiles:


That their conduct in this respect was highly pleasing to God is evident from this, that Joshua is nowhere reprehended for making this covenant, and sparing the Gibeonites; and that Saul, who four hundred years after this thought himself and the Israelites loosed from this obligation, and in consequence oppressed and destroyed the Gibeonites, was punished for the breach of this treaty, being considered as the violator of a most solemn oath and covenant engagement. See 2Sa_21:2-9, and Eze_17:18, Eze_17:19. All these circumstances laid together, prove that the command to destroy the Canaanites was not so absolute as is generally supposed: and should be understood as rather referring to the destruction of the political existence of the Canaanitish nations, than to the destruction of their lives. See the notes on Deu_20:10, Deu_20:17.”


22Joshua summoned them, and he said to them, “Why did you deceive us, saying,(DR) ‘We are very far from you,’ when(DS) you dwell among us? 23Now therefore you are cursed, and some of you shall never be anything but servants,(DT) cutters of wood and drawers of water for the house of my God.” 24They answered Joshua, “Because it was told to your servants for a certainty that the LORD your God had(DU) commanded his servant Moses to give you all the land and to destroy all the inhabitants of the land from before you—so(DV) we feared greatly for our lives because of you and did this thing. 25And now, behold, we are in your hand. Whatever seems good and right in your sight to do to us, do it.” 26So he did this to them and delivered them out of the hand of the people of Israel, and they did not kill them. 27But Joshua made them that day(DW) cutters of wood and drawers of water for the congregation and for the altar of the LORD, to this day,(DX) in the place that he should choose.


If only we can truly understand the deepest mystery of this episode – that even the “meanest office in God’s service will entitle us to a dwelling in the house of the LORD all the days of our life” (Matthew Henry). This bitter-sweet covenant has purified the deceptive rags of Gibeon on whom the LORD had mercy, for they survived in the holy courts as opposed to complete destruction which befalls the other nations in following chapters. Gibeon grasped the gospel; Gibeon cherished the gospel; Gibeon approached the gospel warily, but unashamedly; and Gibeon is made the lowest in the LORD’s bosom but far higher than anything she could have achieved in all of her lifetime. Israel’s centrifugal, outward-looking, witness has begun to bear its fruit – from Rahab, to an entire nation. However, like those who take the fruit from the true vine, there will always be those whose head is Satan, and who will continue to take fruit from the vine of Sodom and Gomorrah as listed in the coming chapters.


Joshua 10

1As soon as Adoni-zedek, king of Jerusalem, heard how Joshua had captured Ai and had devoted it to destruction,[l](DY) doing to Ai and its king(DZ) as he had done to Jericho and its king, and(EA) how the inhabitants of Gibeon had made peace with Israel and were among them, 2(EB) he[m] feared greatly, because Gibeon was a great city, like one of the royal cities, and because it was greater than Ai, and all its men were warriors. 3So Adoni-zedek king of Jerusalem sent to Hoham king of Hebron, to Piram king of Jarmuth, to Japhia king of Lachish, and to Debir king of Eglon, saying, 4“Come up to me and help me, and let us strike Gibeon. For(EC) it has made peace with Joshua and with the people of Israel.” 5Then the five kings of the Amorites, the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, and the king of Eglon,(ED) gathered their forces and went up with all their armies and encamped against Gibeon and made war against it.

The mystery of the gospel is hidden in the name Adoni-zedek (v.1) – why would this king be called “my Lord is righteous”? Because this is the king of Jerusalem, the centre of attention where Christ will be crucified; Jerusalem, which means teaching of peace, intimating the rulership of Melchizedek, the King of Salem, the king of “righteousness” and “peace”). However, this Adoni-zedek is but a false portrayal of the true King of righteousness, Jesus.

It is interesting that the ESV has a footnote which notes the alternate translation which I personally prefer – the devotion of these nations as an offering (c.f. v.28, 35, 37, 39, 40). For Joshua to mention once more that Gibeon is a great city, greater than Ai and all its warriors is to imply how much greater Yahweh is; as if Gibeon was a cowardly nation, we need only imagine one of the mightiest nations dressing themselves in rags and humble themselves before the true LORD. Yet, these nations like Ai, whose might is weaker than that of Gibeon, arrogantly attempts to destroy Israel when they not only have heard of Israel’s witness as the temporarily chosen nation of priests, but also that Gibeon has entered into an everlasting covenant with them. This only adds to Ai’s guilt and ignorance for turning away from Jesus Christ.

The beauty of this chapter is that there is much parallel here found in Genesis 14 – where Abram saved Lot, the son of Abram’s brother, from the warring nations (four kings against five, Genesis 14:9). The enemies there may bear different names with different meanings, but there is not disputing their spiritual allegiance: and what is found in this story of Genesis is a correlation between Abram and Israel; Lot and Gideon; the warring nations and the mentioned warring nations here.

It is no mistake that Abram in Genesis 13:18 is recorded as having settled by the oaks of Mamre, at Hebron, where he built an altar to the LORD. This battleground is exactly where Joshua is saving Gibeon, a parallel of Abram saving Lot:

6And the men of Gibeon sent to Joshua(EE) at the camp in Gilgal, saying, “Do not relax your hand from your servants. Come up to us quickly and save us and help us, for all the kings of the Amorites who dwell in the hill country are gathered against us.” 7So Joshua went up from Gilgal, he and(EF) all the people of war with him, and all the mighty men of valor. 8And the LORD said to Joshua,(EG) “Do not fear them, for I have given them into your hands.(EH) Not a man of them shall stand before you.” 9So Joshua came upon them suddenly, having marched up all night from Gilgal. 10(EI) And the LORD threw them into a panic before Israel, who[n] struck them with a great blow at Gibeon and chased them by the way of(EJ) the ascent of Beth-horon and struck them as far as Azekah and Makkedah. 11And as they fled before Israel, while they were(EK) going down the ascent of Beth-horon,(EL) the LORD threw down large stones from heaven on them as far as Azekah, and they died. There were more who died because of the hailstones than the sons of Israel killed with the sword.


We see here even more fulfillment of what is spoken of in the final chapters of Deuteronomy. The LORD expressly, in v.8, says that He is with Yeshua – and as such, any nation standing against Israel will fail, manifested in the hailstones which were more fatal than the Israelites’ swordplay. This symbolically occurs Beth-horon, the house of hollowness, and how empty indeed is the pursuit of Gibeon’s enemies when Abram had equally only taken a small amount of men, 318 of them, and went in pursuit as far as Dan to save Lot. Such is the unlikelihood of the victory of God’s children, but His will accomplished nonetheless! The ironic imagery of the five kings running away from Israel akin to the picture of Abram’s victory over the massive scale of the feudal war of the nine kings settled by one Christian and his allies.


12At that time Joshua spoke to the LORD in the day when the LORD gave the Amorites over to the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel,

(EM) “Sun, stand still at Gibeon,
and moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.”
13And the sun stood still, and the moon stopped,
until the nation took vengeance on their enemies.

Is this not written in the Book of Jashar? The sun stopped in the midst of heaven and did not hurry to set for about a whole day. 14(EN) There has been no day like it before or since, when the LORD heeded the voice of a man, for(EO) the LORD fought for Israel.

15So(EP) Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, to the camp at Gilgal.

16These five kings fled and hid themselves in the cave at(EQ) Makkedah. 17And it was told to Joshua, “The five kings have been found, hidden in the cave at Makkedah.” 18And Joshua said, “Roll large stones against the mouth of the cave and set men by it to guard them, 19but do not stay there yourselves. Pursue your enemies;(ER) attack their rear guard. Do not let them enter their cities, for the LORD your God has given them into your hand.” 20When Joshua and the sons of Israel had finished striking them with a great blow(ES) until they were wiped out, and when the remnant that remained of them had entered into the fortified cities, 21then all the people returned safe to Joshua in the camp at Makkedah.(ET) Not a man moved his tongue against any of the people of Israel.


And thus the poetic stanza in v.12-13 sees the sun is being still at Gibeon, a symbolism of the victory for Gibeon; the moon in the valley of Aijalon, the field of deers, an encouraging Hebrew implication where one can refer to 2 Samuel 22:34 (“my feet like a deer and set me on secure heights…”). Where the sun stands victorious over Gibeon, where the moon stopped over the deer-fields, is where Christ and the church is victorious over her enemies, this supernatural standstill of the sun and moon’s pathways once more repeated at the cross, and once more to happen on the Resurrection Day. This is no metaphorical miracle (v.13-14), and this theme of Genesis 14 is repeated here and will once more be repeated in Revelation 6:15 when the stone over the cave represents the shelter of these pagans turning into their own prison.

The subsequent return of Joshua to Gilgal in v.15 is to remind the Israelites of the symbolic representation of the land; the place of the rolling away of their reproach.


22Then Joshua said, “Open the mouth of the cave and bring those five kings out to me from the cave.” 23And they did so, and brought those five kings out to him from the cave, the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, and the king of Eglon. 24And when they brought those kings out to Joshua, Joshua summoned all the men of Israel and said to the chiefs of the men of war who had gone with him, “Come near; put your feet on the necks of these kings.” Then they came near and put their feet on their necks. 25And Joshua said to them,(EU) “Do not be afraid or dismayed; be strong and courageous.(EV) For thus the LORD will do to all your enemies against whom you fight.” 26And afterward Joshua struck them and put them to death, and he hanged them on five trees. And(EW) they hung on the trees until evening. 27But at the time of the going down of the sun, Joshua commanded, and(EX) they took them down from the trees and threw them into the cave where they had hidden themselves, and they set large stones against the mouth of the cave, which remain to this very day.


From v.22-27 we see the cave as symbolic of the best of the land of Canaan rushing to their own deaths unwittingly; the same story told of all non-Christians in this world, running to their impending doom. All 5 kings were eventually killed with feet on their neck, an allusion to Jesus’ feet on kings’ neck as His enemies are made His footstool (Psalm 110:1).

Not only this, but we see the cursed judgment of the cross enacted in v.26-27. There is nothing glorious about the death of these kings; there is nothing mighty about their war. They were pitifully, ashamedly, and quickly destroyed. There is no glory in their death; there is no-one to mourn for them. Yet, this is the very death which Christ experienced, these accounts amplifying our understanding of what Christ had done for us on the tree and the depth of Him exclaiming “Eli Eli, lema sabachthani”. There can be no other people in this world, save these once-glorious kings, who can also proclaim these words – but they have no eternal glorious future of them; they have no Spirit dwelling in them to redeem them from the gates of Hades. As if the Spirit need not spend more time on these inglorious heathens, v.28 is a brief momentary tribute to one more of these kings. Indeed, the written word testifies to Christ, not to leave these kings any space in the Bible for glory. What had happened to the king of Jericho has, in domino effect, displayed the power of the Spirit in redeeming the Promised Land for the church just as the outpouring of the Spirit had done so in the international evangelism of the apostles from the book of Acts onwards.


28As for(EY) Makkedah, Joshua captured it on that day and struck it, and its king, with the edge of the sword. He devoted to destruction every person in it; he left none remaining. And he did to the king of Makkedah(EZ) just as he had done to the king of Jericho.  29Then Joshua and all Israel with him passed on from Makkedah to(FA) Libnah and fought against Libnah. 30And the LORD gave it also and its king into the hand of Israel. And he struck it with the edge of the sword, and every person in it; he left none remaining in it. And he did to its king(FB) as he had done to the king of Jericho.


There is thus a common refrain after conquering each nation… “30And the LORD gave it also and its king into the hand of Israel. And he struck it with the edge of the sword, and every person in it; he left none remaining in it. And he did to its king as he had done to the king of Jericho (C.f. v.32, 35, 37, 39, 40)”, this refrain charted below:

Verses

Conquered Nations

v.29-30

Makkedah to Libnah

v.31-32

Libnah to Lachish

v.33-35

Lachish (aided by Horam king of Gezer) to Eglon

v.36-37

Eglon to Hebron

v.38-39

Hebron to Debir

Thus, we end this chapter on v.40-42, from Debir to Negeb – to the whole land, hill country, lowland, slopes and to the kings: a general statement of Joshua’s conquerings. From Kadesh-barnea (desert of fugitive/wilderness of wandering) as far as Gaza (strong), all the country of Goshen (drawing near) as far as Gibeon: the meaning of the names detailing the procession of Israel from the wilderness to strength; drawing nearer and nearer to the sun which stood still over Gibeon – a huge comparison between the blessings of Deuteronomy against the failures of Numbers, now that we see Israel through Yeshua capturing these powerful nations in one go, reflecting the power of the LORD in the time of Abram, because the LORD fought for Israel. And at the end of all this, Joshua returns to Gilgal (c.f. Joshua 5:10; 10:15; 10:43), never forgetting that it is Yahweh who rolled away, who cleansed, who imputed Christ’s righteousness onto reproach-worthy Israel.

Joshua 9-10: The suffering of the true King

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”.

Joshua 7-8: The Body of Christ

Genesis 21-23: Isaac and Jesus

1.  Church Discipline:  Wilderness (Genesis 21:1-20)

2.  Abraham’s treaty with Abimelech (Genesis 21:22-34)

3.  Sacrifice of Isaac (Genesis 22:1-19)

4.  Nahor (Genesis 22:20-24)

5.  Sarah’s death and burial (Genesis 23:1-17)

1.  Church Discipline:  Wilderness (Genesis 21:1-20)

So we see the difference between the conception of Ishmael vs. the conception of Isaac.  The former is a representation of human effort; the latter the representation of the grace of God.  This is further substantiated by Ishmael, laughing in mockery (this being in the ESV footnote of v. 9 – the Hebrew word is “tsachaq” which literally means to laugh outright in scorn).

This is no mere mockery.  This is a threat to the very gospel itself.

If Ishmael, the ‘firstborn’ gained by human effort were to supersede Isaac, the true firstborn given as a gift, then we have essentially preached that effort trumps grace.  God expresses these sentiments in v.12 : “…’Be not displeased because of the boy (Ishmael) and because of your slave woman (Hagar).  Whatever Sarah says to you, do as she tells you, for through Isaac shall your offspring be named.”

So what happens here is a primary example of church ostracism – either you are for the gospel, or against it.  Remember that this incident began because Ishmael laughed with mockery against Isaac.  This is much like the jealousy portrayed by Cain in Genesis 4 against Abel.  What resulted is murder and deceit.  Cain was banished to the east of Eden.  Here, Ishmael and his mother Hagar, are sent away and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba.

However, like Cain, Ishmael was not abandoned completely.  When Hagar cried out, God heard the voice of the boy and “the angel of God” (again, one of Christ’s titles) called to Hagar from heaven and said to her that the Father has heard the voice of the boy where he is.  She then saw the ‘living water’, despite being in the wilderness.  Here, we see the work of the Trinity again.  Firstly, someone calls to God (the Father), and the Father sends his presence, his face, the visible of the invisible – his Son, to be the mediator between him and the person who cried to the Father.

There is small hope yet for Ishmael.  God had been with Ishmael in his youth, and his mother took a wife for him from the land of Egypt.  Some things to say about Ishmael, his character, and the wilderness of Paran.

(a)  Expert with the bow – perhaps this is prophetic of the warring nature of the Ishmaelites.  If it so be true of the Muslims, then it concords well with the Islamic militaristic and political nature of their evangelism.

(b)  Wilderness of Paran – this is most likely where the Israelites had wandered for 40 years between the Exodus and arrival at Canaan.  And how painful a time that was – a time of thirst.  But when they call on the LORD, they received manna and water from the rock.  It is no different for Ishmael. But it still calls into the question of his character, being a militaristic person who also married an Egyptian woman.

(c)  Wife from the land of Egypt – as already mentioned, if God is with Ishmael, then it is likely that the gospel has gone out to Egypt in some respect. But the problem is, like Lot, he had sojourned and mingled with foreign people.  Like Lot’s daughters who were supposedly engaged to the Sodomites, here we have Ishmael married to an Egyptian.  God may have been with Ishmael, like Cain – but the blessing is merely physical (e.g. like Cain’s descendants), but they may not revere God persistently over the subsequent generations for their physical blessings.

2.  Abraham’s treaty with Abimelech (Genesis 21:22-34)

(a)  Seven ewe lambs – it is interesting that Abraham uses 7 lambs to represent the “witness” of the covenant.  Why seven lambs?  Even Abimelech does not know; but Abraham clearly does.  Job 42:8 and 2 Chronicles 29:21 displays the significance of the number 7.  Why seven?  Because it is the day of the Sabbath, the day of completion. 2 Chronicles 29:20-22:

20Then Hezekiah the king rose early and gathered the officials of the city and went up to the house of the LORD. 21And they brought seven bulls, seven rams, seven lambs, and seven male goats(A) for a sin offering for the kingdom and for the sanctuary and for Judah. And he commanded the priests, the sons of Aaron, to offer them on the altar of the LORD. 22So they slaughtered the bulls, and the priests received the blood(B) and threw it against the altar. And they slaughtered the rams, and their blood was thrown against the altar. And they slaughtered the lambs, and their blood was thrown against the altar.

(b)  Beersheba – this location will pop up again and again throughout Genesis.  Especially Genesis 26, when we see that Isaac and Rebekah commit the same sin as Abraham and Sarah.  It is clear that the sins of the father has passed down to Isaac; but Abimelech remembered the covenant between Abraham and him.  The relationship between the future nation of Israel and the Philistines could have boded well; but we can see that by the time of the Judges, it could not have been worse.

(c)  Tamarisk tree – this type of tree pops up again in 1 Samuel 22:6 and 1 Samuel 31:13.  What is a tamarisk tree?  Here is a bit on the Tamarisk tree:

Tamarix can spread both vegetatively, by adventitious roots or submerged stems, and sexually, by seeds. Each flower can produce thousands of tiny (1 mm diameter) seeds that are contained in a small capsule usually adorned with a tuft of hair that aids in wind dispersal. Seeds can also be dispersed by water. Seedlings require extended periods of soil saturation for establishment. Tamarix species are fire-adapted, and have long tap roots that allow them to intercept deep water tables and exploit natural water resources. They are able to limit competition from other plants by taking up salt from deep ground water, accumulating it in their foliage, and from there depositing it in the surface soil where it builds up concentrations temporarily detrimental to some plants. The salt is washed away during heavy rains.

So what we have is a sturdy tree, built by a well.  The seed can spread over vast areas by wind dispersal, and water, and exploit the natural water resources.  This explains even more about the well.  We should expect that the Tamarisk tree planted there would later grow into more trees.

Any theology behind the seeds?  Surely so – Abraham had presented 7 ewe lambs; a well of water; and a seed-bearing plant.  Living Water, Living Lamb, Living Seed.

(d)  Philistines – coming from Casluhim (Genesis 10:13), a son of Ham.  As we have already established, all the sons of Ham have problems in the future.  But they could have taken part of the gospel truth; here, the Philistines understood the nature of Abraham’s God.  He is mighty, and He is with him.  Abimelech, much like the Pharoah in the time of Joseph, revered the same God.  But their descendants did not – and that is the prophetic curse when Ham had sinned against Noah.  However, this again displays the global nature of God – he is not only the God of Abraham, but this God of Abraham is also merciful towards Lot, Abimelech and Ishmael.

3.  Sacrifice of Isaac (Genesis 22:1-19)

This is truly a striking story not merely of Abraham sacrificing his only son; but of the Father sacrificing his only Son on the cross.  Some things to note:

(a)  Moriah, third day, donkey, wood – Moriah is the region where the temple of Jerusalem would be built 100’s of years later and especially important – where Jesus is to be crucified!  (2 Chronicles 3:1).  Jesus was cruficied on the mount in Jerusalem, the same area of Moriah!

Then, it is on the third day that Isaac was to be sacrificed.

OK let’s recount the synoptic gospel story.  Jesus entered Jerusalem in fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9 on a donkey… this was seven days prior to his crucifixion on the wood in Moriah in Golgotha…

Far fetched?  Probably… not.  But why the differentiation between seven days and three days?  Let’s take a quick look.

Though in the gospel story, like the Passover lamb, Jesus enters Jerusalem 7 days before he is slaughtered, it is on the third day that he is resurrected.  Here, Abraham saw Moriah on the third day.  Day 3 is quite important as I’ve established in my Genesis 1, Day 3 post.  It is a representation of dry land, of hope, of new creation and of course of resurrection itself, after Day 2, with the waters of punishment.  Here, the slaughter of Isaac and his ‘resurrection’ per se happens immediately one after another.  This corresponds very much to Abraham’s quip to his men that he and Isaac would return.  Did he expect his men to wait there for “3 days”, as if Abraham would wait for Isaac to be resurrected on the third day?  No.  It is already the third day, and the resurrection would occur immediately.  Abraham already knew that Isaac, if he is to die that day, would be immediately resurrected.  Even better, Isaac wasn’t even sacrificed – because a ram was taken in his place.

(b)  The offering – one could say that the sacrifices so far in the book of Genesis has pointed towards this sacrifice.  The sacrifice of the only Son.  And so this is also a foundational chapter for all the law about sacrifice for the coming books.  How odd it is that God would test Abraham in such a way; why did he not test the subsequent Israelites similarly?  God is teaching us something about the offering here.  He is essentially saying that the lamb, the ram, the turtledove, the pigeon, the ox, the heifer… all those offerings pale in comparison to the true offering of one’s only Son.  However, it’s not about the ‘degree’ of sacrifice; rather, it’s about the very specific nature of the sacrifice.  It is not a self-sacrifice as God could have simply asked Abraham to sacrifice himself; it is a sacrifice of something EXTERNAL, but extremely dear to him.

So here, we have Jesus.. sorry, Isaac, bound to a piece of wood, undergoing the punishment of fire as symbolised in the burnt offering.  The interesting thing in God’s response is “you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me”.  What about Ishmael – isn’t he Abraham’s son as well?

This, again, is the gospel-driven focus that God views in sonship.  He is not speaking of mere physical heritage; he is speaking of spiritual heritage.  We are all sons of Abraham in a covenant sense.  But Ishmael had been outside of that covenant, because he laughed at Isaac.

(c)  The LORD will provide

Chapter 22v.5 is a big give-away.  “I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you.”  Worship?!  And both will come again to his young men?  What is Abraham speaking of?  He is going there without the sacrificial animal when God had told him to take his only beloved son Isaac to offer as a burnt offering (Chapter 22v.2), and he describes this event as worshipful and he also expects to return to the men with his son?

This reveals Abraham’s mentality.  He had full assurance that God would either intervene or resurrect his son, having seen the miraculous conception of his son when he was already 100 years old (and Sarah 90 years old).  Then, unsurprisingly, we reach v. 12-13, when God tells Abraham to withhold the knife and God provides a ram.  But that is not the end of the offering.  Abraham knew that the ram merely symbolised the things to come – and this is revealed in the phrase “The LORD will provide” or in the ESV, “The LORD will see”.  The phrase then moves on in v. 14 to “On the mount of the LORD it shall be provided” or “he will be seen”.  Abraham was still waiting for the True Lamb who will really take away the people’s sins; not by the testimonial witness of the blood of this ram.

4.  Nahor (Genesis 22:20-24)

Another prophetic fulfillment of God’s provision.  We may have heard a lot about Lot and his disastrous family.  But here, we have Nahor, whose descendant Rebekah will be the future wife of Isaac.  Things are going smoothly in God’s divine plan.

I’ve provided a table which may help you see the extensions of the descendants mentioned thus far from the line of Terah, the descendant of Shem, the son of Noah.

This is quite a family – besides Rebekah, comes Elihu the only person in the book of Job who really understands the truth; then there is Laban who knows of God, despite his household idols (Genesis 31:19).

5.  Sarah’s death and burial (Genesis 23:1-17)

Here we see business practices of the day; but more importantly, we see Abraham buying a cave, a tomb, for Sarah in a small plot of land in Canaan.  He understands the promises made to him earlier on in Genesis 12 and 15; and here again, he looks forward to the day when his descendants will inherit the physical Canaan.  The field of Ephron was in Machpelah, the east of Mamre.  This tomb will not be forgotten – in Genesis 49:29 – Genesis 50:5, we see that Jacob speaks of Abraham and Sarah’s burial place.  They want to be buried in Canaan, not Egypt.  Why?  Because Canaan was the prophesied promised land.  The place where Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebekah, Leah, Jacob… and future saints of the old were buried.  Did they have confidence in the land itself?  Of course not… the land could not even hold the ‘multitude’ of nations promised to Abraham.  Rather, this land is symbolic, and Abraham knew that the stars in heaven and dust of the earth were the true spiritual numbers of the descendants in Christ.  Now, it is just a bit of property – it is a firstfruit.  It is a temporary inheritance; and much like the Holy Spirit who is in us now as an inheritance (Ephesians 1), and our faith in Christ the firstborn of creation and the firstfruit of those with new creation bodies, we are awaiting the true total inheritance of the new Jerusalem, the complete filling of the Spirit and the new bodies with new names!

Genesis 21-23: Isaac and Jesus

Genesis 1:9-13; 24-31 – Day 3 & 6 – Born Again

And so we reach Day 3 and 6!!!

If you’ve been following the previous entries, the framework is Day 1-3 (formation), Day 4-6 (filling). And of course, the last entry I’ve hinted that Day 1, 2 and 3 have some significance we shouldn’t overlook, and we’ve been dealing with the doctrine of choice. If Day 1= incarnation, Day 2 = death, then surely Day 3 must be of some significance (and that Day 6 will fill in on that significance, notably, the day that man was made, though I will look at the image of God specifically in the next entry).

Genesis 1:9-13 –

“And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. God called the dry land Earth (or Land, ESV footnote), and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants (or small plants, ESV footnote) yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, day three.”

Genesis 1:24-31 –

“And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds – livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, “Let us make man (Adam, the generic term for mankind in Hebrew) in our image; after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on earth.”

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply & fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth. And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to very beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, day six.”

Now, I’ve been hinting on the theology of the separation of waters, the sea, the river of life (Psalm 1), but what of the theology of the land, the plants, the earth? So on the third day we see the waters retreat to a place called the ‘Seas’ (nothing like the ‘seas’ as we see it today), so that it is in no way a threat to the land (Jeremiah 5:22). What is this in preparation of? The grass and herbage, the seed-bearing plants, the fruit & seeded (trees) – and everything according to its kind. Yet, none of these things have sun-light, and only the Light shining which is separated from darkness. How were these grass and herbage, the seed-bearing plants, the fruit & seeded (treets) to give new life?

Let’s look @ John 12:24 and 1 Corinthians 15:35-49 – for we had borne the image of man in dust, and will bear the image of man in glory. Who is this image of man in glory? Who is the glorious righteous man? Who is the blessed one? Christ (Psalm 1). Yet, there were different seeds, trees, herbage, each according to its kind – what fruit are we to bear? What tree are we to be part of? (Genesis 2:16-17; Leviticus 26:4; Deuteronomy 21:22; Judges 9:7-15; Matthew 3/7/12; Romans 11; Galatians 5; 1 Peter 2:24). Palm, broom, green, fig, balsam, cedar, tamarisk, olive, poplar, almond, plane, sycamore, lotus, laurel, fir, apple, fruit, cypress, dry, leafy, myrtle, wild, cultivated…tree of lebanon, tree of good and evil, tree of life. What are these but a display of the variety of which the Trinity accepts, and that all these trees must go through the cycle of death to have life, through the markings of the sun and moon and stars and seasons (Day 4, in cultivation of the seed sown on Day 3). It is a choice which we make, the inevitability of death that comes to every tree… yet which tree do we wish to be grafted into? Rebirth is absolutely necessary, and God laid down that formation, that framework, long before man was made. This is a peeking into the mind of the Trinity before creation, the preparation for a bride for Christ.

Day 6

Now we have (1) livestock (e.g. cattle), (2) creeping things, and (3) beasts of the earth (wild beast). In Jonah, we see that the beasts also repented; in Leviticus 11 we see a differentiation between clean and unclean animals, split hooves (being clean) and what their feet look like and the way they eat. These beasts which touched the earth, was like Christ in Psalm 8, made lower than angels like man. Do what we eat make us unclean? Of course not. Then what theology do we have of the unclean and clean animal? What can the creation on Day 6 witness to the creation on Day 3?

And these beasts were to be (1) fruitful, to (2) multiply, to (3) fill the earth. But man has to subdue them… and all of this is done in preparation of everything for the Lord.

Man

Note: Let “us” make man – this occurs again at the Tower of Babel when the Trinity goes down to confuse man’s understanding of one another. Is this an indication of the one yet many Elohim, the Trinity? Or JW’s explanation that whenever God speaks in plurality, he is referring to himself and angels? It is of course easy for us to explain it with angels… because that so conveniently fits the progressive revelatory view of the Trinity being preached without clarity until the NT saints. Why is it so hard to accept that the Trinity is preached here? As Dev states, why not assume Christ is in everything unless proven otherwise? Why start with extra-biblical non-Christological views as presupposition, rather than Christ our logos as the first assumption?

v. 27 – “he created them” — a contradiction? No… God created ‘them’ was an accurate way of speaking, even before the creation of Eve – for Eve was not made of the dust outside of Eden, but made and cut from her head, Adam, just as Levi had paid his tithes to Melchizedek when he was in Abraham’s loins (Heb 7:9). So Paul exegetically uses the same Christian logic in explanation of Adam’s sin being carried down to his descendants – it is not a question of nature vs. nurture even. That is a secular argument. It’s not that simple. It’s not that we ‘copied’ Adam from a clean slate @ birth, or that we inherit little bits of Adam further down the lineal line — we were actually IN Adam, all of us, and that when he sinned, we also sinned; even before the Mosaic law was given, when all the saints from Adam to Moses were supposedly without the law, they still died (Romans 5). For what other way can we then be grafted into the tree of life; that we are sinners because we were IN Adam, that we are righteous because we are IN Christ.

And what of the first Adam made to rule over earth, but a witness and a prophecy to the second Adam ruling over everything (Psalm 2:7-8)? How can there be two rulers? Of course not… Adam was merely a shadow and type; Christ was the truth and always has been and will be.

Image of God

This topic is not without its variety of interpretations. I will lend my small views – is the image of God a physical trait? Is it a character trait? Adam (man), who were without the Spirit, were then given the ruah of God… is it therefore both physical (dust) and character (Spirit) traits? Is it a matter of transfiguration then? Is it an anthropomorphic fare? WE look like the pre-incarnate God, the image is both male and female. It is not a far stretch to realise how the church, the bride of Christ, is the very image of God; that marriage, is a picture of this image of God. Can angels also be images of God? Unlikely… Christ did not die for angels, the genderless angels who won’t share in the eternal kingdom in the same manner.

Ephesians 5 states that Christ’s love for the church and the church’s submission to Christ is the truth which marriage points to. It is no surprise that man, the image of God, clothes the church, the bride of Christ in her wedding clothes in sanctification and preparation for the great Wedding feast, enveloping the woman to also be in the image of God. Of what surprise to then see that woman is also the image of God, yet also be called into the race of “Adam”? Is woman also in the image of God? Yes… only because she was cut from Adam, and destined to be with Adam. Is “Adam” also in the image of God? Yes… only because they were cut from Christ, and predestined to be with Christ (Ephesians 1). If Adam is to father his son Seth in his own likeness (Genesis 5), so also the Spirit will sanctify us into His (Christ)’s likeness. Will every person in the world ultimately choose Christ? A quote from one of All Souls Clubhouse’s talk (taken from You are the Christ blog):

Very many Christians argue that we should love someone because they are special,
i.e. they are walking image-bearers, thus they deserve respect and honour and love
He then continued to say this is a whole bunch of nonsense,
since at the fall, the image of God was utterly destroyed

The illustration he used was this:
Like an old Victorian house which they’ve kept the front or façade of it
but they have demolished everything within it for renovation,
so once you look past the shell, it is only dust and destruction

That seems to be a good analogy of what remains of the ‘Imago Dei’
All was lost at the fall, with only a shell remaining,
That image, that likeness corrupted, ruined, devastated by sin

Thus only in Christ is that image remade new, rebuilt,
that Victorian house is renovated with a stunning new interior,
and in fact we wait for the exterior to be destroyed and rebuilt as well
An unbeliever is like a thing that does not exist
broken pots waiting to be smashed
A shadow, destroyed by the sun
A nightmare, vanishing with like a dream
Whereas those in Christ are clay jars that hold burning torches within,
also waiting, except we long, groan for the day of revelation

Why then do we love our neighbour?
Not for anything that they are,
but rather for Who Christ is,
and what Christ has done for us on the cross,
We love because God loved us first…
We forgive others because our debts are forgiven
We honour others, because all authority is given to us by Christ
We are patient with others, because of the Father’s patience
We are generous with others, because He will supply all our needs
We are kind with others, because He showed pity on us
We suffer and bear others, because He suffered so that by the grace of God, none of us need taste death.

v. 29-30 – So man’s food is every herbage and every tree with seed – why do we have to eat things with seed in it? Genesis 3:15 – because we ultimately will feed and drink from that Seed and water which will cause us no more thirst or hunger.

Naturally we can see the link between the seed, the fruit, the new life which must come necessarily from death first, that everything which God created was good – but not perfected until the High Priest ascended into the Holy of Holies (Hebrews 9). So also, Adam made his choice which man had to go through – to die first, before gaining new life and getting caught in the rapture of the Day. But it is a choice we make: what kind of tree will we partake in? Will we also be nailed on the tree with Christ and die a physical first death, just to be reborn to be caught up into the Holy of Holies? Will we regain the true image of God, not the image of man in dust, but the image of man in glory of heavenly bodies? For indeed, the world was made good – but yet to be perfected.

John 10:17 – “The reason the Father loves me is that I lay down my life only to take it up again.”

So also, the death of the Seed will be taken up into a tree of life; the death of us will be taken up into a body of Christ; and the death of Christ will be taken up to be at the right hand of the Father where he belonged all along. Did Christ only take his place at the Father’s right hand after his death on the cross followed by his ascension? No – everything was accomplished before creation even began; and Day 3 and 6 were merely shadows and copies of what the Trinity had already established before creation. Creation was merely a theatre of his glory, visible through the death of seeds, trees, men and Christ – and proclaimed and shouted on the cross and on Ascension day. But the Son garnered the Father’s love when he laid down his life and took it up again… an indication that Christ had not only done this once but had done this already in the past, for the Father did not cease loving him pre or post-incarnation as the Messiah.

And we are still left with the doctrine of choice – just as Esau rejected his destiny to stand by Jacob’s side, so the Benjamites reverted their curse to rejoice in theirs by putting their faith in Christ. God did not elect some to be saved and some to be reprobate: he gave all of us a choice, a choice displayed through these days of creation. Will we choose the dry land, the inevitable death of seed and beasts, which will be reborn in a state of glory and not mere goodness but perfection? Or will we choose the seemingly peaceful waters, without foreseeing the heavenly waters crashing down on us ending not only in first but second death in the impending lake of fire? Are we Rahab, or are we the hardened Pharoah?

Nay, we are preaching something very simple. We were made to be in the true image of God – Christ, the Light incarnate of day one, whose death was preached on day two.
But if we reject the doctrine of resurrection preached by Day 3 and Day 6, then we, like all the unsaved men, will be stuck on Day 2 and 5… and will never see the glory of the blessed Day 7, the eternal Sabbath, the glorious unending Jubilee.

Genesis 1:9-13; 24-31 – Day 3 & 6 – Born Again