These are notes collected from studying Joshua with Matt Lantz and Matt Roefer. Anything good comes from the Lord. Everything else is from us!
As Israel passing through the Red Sea is a type for Christian baptism (1 Cor 10:1-2, 6)…
So Israel passing through the Jordan (Josh 3-5) also seems a picture of this water baptism…However, the Red Sea passing, I believe, shows what we pass OUT OF. While the Jordan passing shows what we pass INTO. Thus they are like 2 sides of the same coin.
- left Egypt
- Sin/oppressor was buried
- It was on Passover
Jordan (Josh 3-5):
- enter Canaan / Promised Land
- New people (this is the 2nd generation, because the first sinned)
- Happened in conjunction with circumcision
- Day AFTER Passover they entered Promised Land
- Now they are following Joshua (the Hebrew name is identical to Jesus’ name)
- “Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” (Josh 5:9)
Baptism is depicted in the NT as a burial of our old self unto a resurrection of a new self that now follows Jesus. It is also compared to circumcision wherein the flesh (our old/sinful self) is cut off / buried in the waters. In baptism Egypt (old self) is buried and we come out to follow Joshua (Jesus) into the Promised Land (ultimately a picture of heaven).
Israel Conquering Canaanites
A thought on Joshua thus far…
We read about how Joshua and Israel utterly destroyed the different peoples in Canaan. They did this by the sword, oftentimes, and by God’s power and help.
I think for many reasons, people today bristle or even show revulsion for what they did here. But there is a LOT of context that skeptics (and even Christians) miss in all this.
- God waited 400 years before kicking the people out of the land. Why? So that “the sin of the Amorites” would be “complete” (Gen. 15:16). In other words, God waited a long time before doing this. He needed the sin to be at “full measure” so to speak. And then it had to be removed without hesitancy.
- How bad was the sin? Leviticus gives some ideas of it when we read that the residents were practicing homosexuality, bestiality (sex with animals), witchcraft, killing their children as sacrifice to idols, hosts of other sexual idolatry, and just general pagan practices. It was really bad.
- Further, as we read in Joshua, their heart was hard toward God’s people and God’s ways. They were ready to kill (and not co-exist with) Israel without hesitation. So Israel had to for survival in some ways, as well.
- If you remember from Gen. 6-9 (the flood), God had to send a flood to judge the sin of the earth. How bad was it? “The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. ” (Gen. 6:5). Consider that language: EVERY INCLINATION was ONLY EVIL ALL THE TIME. Not just their actions were bad, but their heart was bad. Every inclination of their heart, in fact, was bad. Every inclination was ONLY evil. How often? ALL THE TIME. That is some extreme language. And, sadly, it’s true of the human heart in general, outside of God’s regenerative work. Thus…
- Instead of using a flood to judge this “new crop” of wickedness in Canaan, God used His people to execute His wrath. A similar concept is seen in Rom. 13 regarding God using governing authorities to execute His wrath today.
- There are other reasons He did it this way. And there are reasons why Christians reading Joshua today would be gravely mistaken to think this is a call to kill people who don’t follow God (hint, hint: The gospel really changes everything along these lines). But hopefully this is helpful for now
I’d also add that God warns Israel that if they continue in these same sins that the residents of Canaan did, then God would “vomit” them out of the land as well (Lev. 26, and elsewhere, talks about that). So it wasn’t God taking 1 side over another. He wants His glory to be known in the earth, which includes his purity and holiness…or I guess it is Leviticus 18:28 that talks about “vomiting” out…but I think Lev 26 also walks through all the warnings toward Israel in not following the sins of the residents.
quick neat testimony:
FOCL (Forum Of Christian Leaders) is a ministry I’ve really respected (based in Europe). I was looking at their annual conference teachings this year (happening now), and decided to listen to 2 teachers I’ve really grown from: (1) Albert Mohler, (2) Peter Williams.
And guess what they were talking about (out of all topics they could talk about)?:
(1) Albert Mohler – focused on Deut 6 and how to stay devoted to the Lord in the midst of a post-Christian culture (the very thing that has been so moving from me for the past 2 weeks…since I read it in Deut)
(2) Peter Williams – goes through the entire book of Judges in quick teachings. I started queuing it up right after I finished Joshua! The timing couldn’t have been better.
Don’t want to make more out of this than is there, but I did see it as a potentially slight confirmation that the Lord is stirring his people back to His word similarly to how He’s stirring us in that direction. Press on!
Something else…last night when putting the kids to bed I read them Psalm 73 where it says God holds us by our right hand. They asked, “why the right hand?” I talked about how it is a generally dominant hand, so it shows strength. In the back of my mind I wondered about Ehud (left-handed man used by God)… I thought about how that story broke the norm, and wondered about it fits in with the whole of Scripture. After putting them down, I started listening to Peter Williams on Judges, and wouldn’t you know it, he talks about the significance of Ehud being left-handed in light of the rest of the Bible. You can’t plan these sorts of things! I love the Lord weaving all these things together!!
Quick Question: For us a 21 Century Believers in Christ, what do we do with all the territory descriptions and locations in Josh 18-19? It seems boring. I guess we could map it out. Just wondering anyone’s thoughts.
I actually do have a couple thoughts on this:
- when I wrote through the book of Joshua years ago, I did take out a map and try to draw out the territories…it was fascinating
- I also think of the application in terms of ministry — their territory parallels the ministry God gives us…you can see how faithfulness leads into more territory/ministry (like with Caleb)
Be Strong and Courageous
As someone who has struggled with anxiety for some time (thankfully much improved as of late by the grace of God) I really appreciate the book of Joshua. Specifically his call from Moses to take over for him and from the Lord over and over to be “strong and courageous” and he leads his people into the promised land. There were so man chances for him to cower in fear but he was truly strong and courageous. And then His famous call at the end of the book “As for me and my House we will serve the Lord.” Basically telling them you do as you choose but I have seen all the Lord has done and how faithful he has been and I will follow Him the rest of my days! Powerful.
God As Our Portion
Also I was really struck by how the 11 tribes were all getting their portion or “inheritance,” and the Levites who have been set apart now for some time were not getting property. Instead, their inheritance was to be the Lord (Joshua 13:33). I found this to be incredible.I have had some really terrible, gross thoughts lately about somehow being entitled to an inheritance here on earth as I see others on my life getting money, houses, etc from their families. Of course, this is the kind of stuff that tears up families. I do not want to be entitled or need one dime from anyone though. Rather, for only the Lord God of Israel to be my inheritance. This is my prayer today and has been through this week as I came across this passage. May I be more like a Levite- only desiring the Lord.