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Lessons in Joshua

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The book of Numbers gives us an account of Israel’s trials as they wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. The book of Joshua shows us a picture of their conquest in Canaan, the Promised Land. These events bring out only too clearly that their record of failures have been repeated often by Christians in their pilgrimage towards their inheritance.

Israel’s ordinances as seen in the offerings are typical. The services of the Tabernacle as well as their history are typical. Matt 11:13 for all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.

Their Exodus from Egypt was typical, their sojourn in wilderness was typical, their entering into the land was typical; the details of their attempts to conquer and settle in the land are typical, and they are there for our learning and admonition.
These are living pictures 1Cor 10:1-10.

Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.
But with many of them God was not well pleased, and for this their carcasses littered the wilderness. Now these things are for an example, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. And do not become idolaters as they were. As it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play”.
Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell; nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; nor complain, as some of them complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer.

Egypt for them was the house of bondage, but the wilderness was to become a fiery trial which they must pass through to get to the Promised Land.

Deuteronomy 8:1. Every commandment which I command you this day must be carefully observed, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land of which the Lord swore to your fathers. And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.
God knew what was in their hearts, but He wanted them to know as well.

So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord.

In Leviticus strict instructions were given by God regards the sacrifices and offerings that were to be offered by the Priests who were called to carry out the service of the sanctuary on behalf of Israel. All the restrictions and ordinances contained therein were necessary if God was to remain in their midst.

Much more could be said with regard to the responsibilities of the Levites who were to bare God throughout the wilderness.
How different the book of Joshua is to Numbers and Leviticus. Immediately after crossing Jordan the Manna ceased. From this point forward they must begin to fight for their daily bread.

There comes a time in the life of every one of us when God ceases to run after us and we must begin to run after Him. This is what the book of Joshua teaches us.
Numbers shows Israel’s journey through the wilderness; whereas the book of Joshua takes us beyond Jordan, and into the land.

Joshua typically teaches the church already with Christ in Heavenly places. But few saints understand what resurrection life means, and fewer still walk in the reality of it.

We would far rather eat the fat, drink the sweet, and simply enjoy the fruit of the land after all those years of wandering about in the wilderness, than have to take up arms and fight for our inheritance.

It comes as shock to many that the reality is not as they imagined, or thought it would be; and instead of being at rest, they will have to contend for every step of their journey.

This surprise that awaits many modern day Christians is the result of ignorance on one hand, and false teaching on the other?

When viewed typically, Joshua answers to Ephesians. In both of these books we see the elect standing in the place of promise, namely Canaan, and finding it a place of conflict.

Paul says “We are raised up and sit together in “Heavenly places in Christ:” but that place is not yet a place of rest, for he continues in the same epistle to say, “We wrestle; (that’s right wrestle and grapple) not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers in heavenly places.

Joshua describes the situation that confronted Israel (after 40 years in the wilderness) when they crossed over Jordan into the Promised Land.

Israel passes through the Jordan dry shod, and as it was with Israel so it is with you and me in Christ. We were buried with Him, raised together with Him, and yet conflict still remains, and this is due to the fact that the Canaanite dwells in the land and will not hand it over without a fight. And so it will be until Christ comes.

The importance of circumcision:

In Joshua the fourth chapter we read of Israel crossing Jordan dry shod. In the fifth we see that as soon as they cross Jordan they are called to be circumcised. Although they are the seed of Abraham, they had not observed the rite of circumcision throughout their wilderness journey; but immediately upon entering the Land, circumcision must recommence.

In Genesis 17:10 the Abrahamic covenant was ratified by circumcision.
This is My covenant which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: Every male child among you shall be circumcised; "and you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you.
God told Abraham that the male that was not circumcised would be cut off. Genesis 17:14.

Here are some examples that will illustrate its importance.
Exodus 4:24 And it came to pass on the way to the encampment, that the Lord met Moses and sought to kill him. Then Zipporah took a sharp stone and cut off the foreskin of her son and cast it at Moses' feet, and so God let him go. Then she said, "You are a husband of blood because of the circumcision”.
Now that God was about to deliver Israel it was absolutely necessary that the letter of the covenant be enforced.
And again in Ex 12:43 And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, "This is the ordinance of the Passover: No foreigner shall eat it. But every man's servant who is bought for money, when you have circumcised him, then he may eat it. All the congregation of Israel shall keep it.
Vs 48 "And when a stranger dwells with you and wants to keep the Passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as a native of the land for no uncircumcised person shall eat it.

Circumcision was to take place on the eighth day; to the initiated, the eighth day is always typical of resurrection.

Peter teaches us with regard to circumcision that it represented “the putting away the filth of the flesh”. this was what the Jews attempted to do during the dispensation of the Law, but their efforts were utterly futile; in this they failed miserably.

The day after the Sabbath answers to the first day of the week upon which Christ rose; it is however the first day in reference to the seven days that have gone before.
Seven days in the first creation. The eighth day takes us beyond the limits of the old creation to a new order of things, and of times, in other words “into the new creation made possible by the resurrection”.
Beyond Jordan lay the Promised Land which was yet to be occupied by Israel but first they must be circumcised by “putting off of the flesh”.

Since Christ the true Joshua has passed through Jordan taking with Himself the whole new creation, we then as members of His body have been crucified with Him and are raised with Him. And so have been called to put away the filth of the flesh.
If ye be risen with Christ…put off anger, wrath, malice, blasphemyCol 3:1, 3, 5, 8. “ therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. Rom 6:4

Colossians 2:12: Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.

True circumcision of the heart is only known and arrived at in proportion to what we know of the power of the resurrection, for in Christ we apprehend everything; however it is one thing to apprehend something, yet quite another to appropriate that for which we have been apprehended of God.

“Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect, but I am pressing on, if I may lay hold of that for which I was taken ahold of by Christ Jesus”. Phil 3:12

The Work of Christ for us is perfect and nothing can be added to that, but it is the work of the Holy Spirit in us that brings us into the reality of what Christ has done for us. Our experience is the messure of our attainment. But you can’t attain to what you don’t know, or have never been taught.

The exodus from of Egypt took them straight into the wilderness. This was part of God’s plan for them. The extended length of their wilderness experience was due to their wilful disobedience.

Although it had some positives: In the wilderness God fed, led, clothed, healed, and protected them from their enemies throughout all their wanderings; and take note He provided all this for an idolatrous, disobedient, and carnal nation. (they seem quite Pentecostal don’t you think?).
But He had something far better in mind for their children than to die in the wilderness as their parents would. Apart from Joshua and Caleb all the adults that came out of Egypt perished. Their offspring must change dramatically if they are to inherit the land that was promised to their fathers Abraham Isaac and Jacob. Israel is going to have to fight for its inheritance every step of the way. They must put off the flesh, and be circumcised.

Eph 6:10 finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
Put on the whole armour of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil for we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness (Gr wicked spirits) in high {heavenly} places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all {having overcome all} to stand. It is no different for you and me.

Its time to awake unto righteousness Eph 5:14.

Commandments regulating Christian conduct are clearly enunciated in the word. Romans 13:11-14 “knowing that it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfil its lusts.

1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvellous light.

2 Peter 1:5-11 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love for if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Their remarkable victory over Jericho must have been a great confidence booster.
Instead of complaining about everything as they continually did in the wilderness, they began to experience resurrection life now. This in turn had begun to make them quite confident in their own ability; that is, until they went up against Ai.

But the accursed thing was soon to be discovered in the midst; a trespass had been committed against the Lord. The first fruit of the land belonged to God. Achan had committed a trespass; abused the grace of God, and stolen that which was devoted to the Lord.

Joshua 7:1 but the children of Israel committed a trespass in the devoted thing; for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the devoted thing: and the anger of Yahweh was kindled against the children of Israel. (for this cause many were afflicted) 1 Cor 11:30.
Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is beside Beth Aven, on the east side of Bethel, and spoke to them, saying, Go up and spy out the land. The men went up and spied out Ai. They returned to Joshua, and said to him, don’t let all the people go up; just send two or three thousand men to go up and strike Ai; don't make all the people to toil there; for there are very few in Ai.

So there went up there of the people about three thousand men: and they fled before the men of Ai. The men of Ai killed about thirty-six men; and chased them from before the gate even to Shebarim, and struck them at the descent; and the hearts of the people melted, and became as water.

Confidence in their ability to make decisions apart from God received a setback here; it was a sin. Preachers do this continually. Results of their wilful decisions are apparent in many places. History repeats itself in another incident shortly afterwards with the Gibeonites.
One would have thought they had learned their lesson at Ai, but they never did.
Joshua 9:3-7 And when those who lived in Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and to Ai, they worked slyly, for they came and acted as if they were ambassadors. And they took old sacks on their asses, and old and torn and bound up wineskins, and old and patched sandals on their feet, and old clothes on them. And all the bread they had taken was dry and mouldy. And they went to Joshua to the camp at Gilgal, and said to him and to the men of Israel; we have come from a far country. Now therefore, make a treaty with us”. And Israel did as they asked.
Oh how we need to know our limitations. Our basic problem has always been to act in haste and repent in leisure aftrwards. We must consult the Lord before doing anything.
Although we are raised with Christ in Heavenly places we will not be strangers to conflict. But we have a different class of enemy to face now we are in the land of promises. It is quite unlike the wilderness trials.
This wrestling now is not just with flesh and blood, but with “principalities and powers” in heavenly places.

This is one of the lessons that Joshua teaches us.
It is not simply a lesson but a fact that we must accept if we are to be overcomers. The observations here are not just points of interest that have little bearing on us today.
If that’s what we believe then it is a complete waste of time to take them into consideration.
But comparatively they are of great value to all those who hunger and thirst after righteousness. 1 Corinthians 10:11 now all these things happened unto them s an example for us, and they are written for our admonition, upon who the ends of the world are come.
The moral for us all is to get our act together. Matthew 25: “only they that were ready went in”.

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