Joshua 3:14-17 (And the People Crossed Over, Part II)

Artwork by Doug Kallerson.

Joshua 3:14-17
And the People Crossed Over, Part II

In Numbers 14, the people failed to believe the Lord. They complained against Him, and they rejected Him. The typology clearly pictured Israel’s rejection of Jesus. Because of their faithlessness, they were sentenced to turn into the wilderness where none of that generation, save Joshua and Caleb, would enter into the inheritance.

The next day, they decided, “Here we are, and we will go up to the place which the Lord has promised, for we have sinned!” But the Lord had already spoken, and the sentence had been pronounced. Instead of trusting the Lord and having Him lead them, they decided it was by their effort and works that they would take the inheritance.

This is what Israel has now done for the past two thousand years. They rejected Christ, and they decided to make up their own plan of salvation through works. After the people were turned to the desert to wander, God gave them a provision for salvation when they had been bitten by snakes in the wilderness, looking to a bronze snake on a cross (picturing Jesus).

That was given to show any Jew since the coming of Christ that he could be saved if he looked to Jesus. But it is only an individual salvation. The nation, all of them who have not come to Christ, have perished and will someday be cast into the Lake of Fire.

But there is a time when the nation as a whole will enter the inheritance. That day has been anticipated in all of our sermons since Numbers 14. With Moses (the law) dead, they will enter. They will now have what was lacking in their attempt to enter after their sentence –

Text Verse: “But they presumed to go up to the mountaintop. Nevertheless, neither the ark of the covenant of the Lord nor Moses departed from the camp.” Numbers 14:44

The ark was not with them, nor was Moses. In Christ, Israel has both. He is the ark, and He is the embodiment of the Law of Moses. With Him at their head, pictured by Joshua, they will enter. It is Jesus Christ, and He alone, by which man can enter into the inheritance. And it is by Him alone that all Israel will someday be saved.

The typing of this sermon actually got started some years ago, probably around the Numbers 14 sermon. I was looking at this passage from Joshua and noticed a pattern that will be revealed in today’s sermon. I sent it to Sergio and Rhoda, and Sergio – responding for both of them – said this about what I sent –

Cut off !! Wooow! And then Josh 3:16 says it was cut off by Adam by the Dead Sea!!! And the words used there are “cut off” and “finished” (Tam) – Just like Christ had said – it is finished!!
And the word for “dipped” in Josh 3:15 says the priests “nitbeli” – same word for Baptism!

THIS IS INCREDIBLE!’!!!!

Never underestimate Sergio and Rhoda’s zeal for the word of God. I have held onto those comments since then and have anxiously awaited putting all of this together. I certainly hope you will enjoy what God has placed in His word.

Before going on, it is true that modern Hebrew is not the same as biblical Hebrew, but there is overlap, and there must be a common understanding of biblical concepts in translations. Hence, what is presented here does not violate the typology at all, it is clearly supportive of it.

These are words of surety for Israel, and thus, they are words of surety for us. If you are struggling with the idea of eternal salvation, you shouldn’t. What God is doing is not about your faithfulness – you unfaithful soul. It is about His.

Cast off the arrogance concerning your (or another’s) inability to remain saved. It is not about you. God has made the promise. God has done the work. God has given the pledge. If it were about you, and it isn’t, you would lose your salvation. Don’t poke at the Lord’s covenant looking for holes in it. There are none.

Great things such as eternal salvation are to be found in His superior word. And so, let us turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. On Dry Ground (verses 14-17)

14 So it was, when the people set out from their camp

The symbolism being conveyed is lost. It says tents, not camp: v’hi bin’soa ha’am meaholehem – “And it was, in setting out the people from their tents.” The word translated as “set out” means to pull up and relocate, especially the pulling up of tent pegs.

It is what occurred when the people left Mount Sinai in Numbers 10 and began their journey to Canaan. It is the final pulling up and heading out on that long, arduous trek (a self-inflicted wound) that began forty years earlier. Although getting ahead in the narrative, we are told the exact day that this occurs in Joshua 4:19 –

“Now the people came up from the Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and they camped in Gilgal on the east border of Jericho.”

This is an important day. First, it is exactly forty years, to the day, from the event recorded in Exodus 12 –

“Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying: ‘On the tenth of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household. And if the household is too small for the lamb, let him and his neighbor next to his house take it according to the number of the persons; according to each man’s need you shall make your count for the lamb. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats. Now you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month. Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight.’” Exodus 12:3-6

The first year was spent at Sinai, and then the people departed, disobeyed, and were sentenced to exile. It is forty years to the day from when the lamb was selected as the Passover until the people are to pass through the Jordan.

Further, this is exactly a period of fourteen thousand days, to the day, after the people set out from Mount Sinai as is recorded in Numbers 10. That will be reviewed when we get to Joshua 4. For now, the purpose of this pulling up and setting out is…

14 (con’t) to cross over the Jordan,

la’avor eth ha’Yarden – “to pass through the Jordan.” The word avar signifies to pass over or through, but it is certainly to be rendered “through” in this case. There is no bridge. Rather, the waters will cease, and the people will pass through to the other side of the Descender. The people will go through…

14 (con’t) with the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people,

As we have seen, the priests symbolize Christ in the performance of His duties. The ark symbolizes Christ in His Person and what that specifically speaks of is concerning the law and His death in fulfillment of it. To more fully appreciate this and grasp what is being conveyed, reviewing the Exodus sermons concerning its construction are necessary. As for these things…

15 and as those who bore the ark came to the Jordan,

u-k’bo nos’e ha’aron ad ha’Yarden – “And according to coming those bearing the ark unto the Jordan.” This means that as they bore the ark, according to the moment they arrived at the Jordan – at just this moment – but which is next further explained…

15 (con’t) and the feet of the priests who bore the ark

v’ragle ha’kohanim nos’e ha’aron – “and feet the priests those bearing the ark.” As soon as the bearers of the ark arrived at that spot and…

15 (con’t) dipped in the edge of the water

nitbelu biqtseh ha’mayim – “had immersed in extremity the waters.” The word is taval, normally translated as “dipped.” It means “immersed.” When one dips, the thing dipped is immersed. Hence, it is the same word used in the Hebrew New Testament when translating the word “baptize.” Likewise, the word “baptize” comes from the Greek word baptizó which signifies immersion, not sprinkling or pouring.

15 (con’t) (for the Jordan overflows all its banks during the whole time of harvest),

v’ha’Yarden male al kal g’dotav kol y’me qatsiyr – “and the Jordan full upon all his banks all days harvest.” Here is a new word, gadah. It comes from an unused root signifying to cut off. Hence, it speaks of the bank or border of the river as it is cut into the stream.

The water is full “upon” all its banks, meaning it is overflowing. This is because of the rainy season now mixing with the melting of the snow on Mt. Hermon. All of this water is flowing into the Jordan which descends through this single gorge all the way to the Salt (Dead) Sea. The harvest being referred to now is the barley, not the wheat, as seen in Exodus 9 –

“Now the flax and the barley were struck, for the barley was in the head and the flax was in bud. 32 But the wheat and the spelt were not struck, for they are late crops.” Exodus 9:31

That the flax was in harvest at this time has already been seen in Joshua 2:6 where it was noted that Rahab had stalks of flax arranged on her roof. This would have been for drying them after harvesting them. In other words, the account is precise and there is no doubt that it was as is now described.

This doesn’t mean, however, that the waters were not overflowing through the wheat harvest as well, and it can be inferred that they do. Today, this is not the case. So much water is drawn off from the Jordan for agriculture that it is no longer that way, but there is no reason to assume that the overflowing didn’t last much longer in the past.

Because of this immense flow of water, rushing to its termination in the Salt Sea, the miracle which will now be described is all the more pronounced. At the very moment the feet of the priests were immersed, it came about…

16 that the waters which came down from upstream stood still,

A verb is being used as a noun here: vayaamdu ha’mayim ha’yor’dim milmalah – “And stood the waters, the descenders from above.” What this means is that the waters ceased flowing where the priests are. However, this does not initially occur at the spot where they stand, making the event even more miraculous. The waters stood…

16 (con’t) and rose in a heap very far away at Adam,

qamu ned ekhad harkheq meod ba’Adam – “risen heap one far very in the Adam.” What this means is that the waters actually stopped earlier in time than when the priests stepped into the water.

In other words, the water is backed up at a location very far upriver. If the waters backed up a long distance away, then the water that was cut off continued to recede from that point as a full flowing river for a certain amount of time so that when the priests stepped into the flow and the waters stopped for them, it was when the receding water from above finally reached them and passed by.

As such, the miracle is all that much more pronounced. The Lord knew exactly when the feet of the priests were going to step into the water. Planning for that event, in advance, He stopped the waters upriver to accommodate its occurrence.

It is irrelevant how He did this, but it is still not inappropriate to speculate. Maybe He caused a logjam. Maybe a tremor caused a slope of rock and gravel to produce a dam, and so on. Even if a natural explanation like at the parting of the Red Sea exists, where an east wind is said to have caused it, the miracle is that it occurred at exactly the moment specified by His word.

The name Adam is the exact same in Hebrew as Adam, the first man. That, in turn, is the same as the word adam signifying “man” and “mankind.” Next, the words “in the Adam” are explained as…

16 (con’t) the city that is beside Zaretan.

ha’ir aher mitsad tsar’than – “the city which from side Zaretan.” The name Tsar’than comes from a root signifying adversary or oppression. The “n” at the end is believed to indicate “place of.” Hence, the name means “Place of Oppression,” or “Place of the Adversary.”

16 (con’t) So the waters that went down into the Sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea,

v’ha’yor’dim al yam ha’aravah yam ha’melakh – “and the descenders upon sea the Arabah, Sea the Salt.” The word aravah, comes from the word arav, meaning to become evening or grow dark. This is identical to arav, meaning to take or give on pledge. Hence, this can be typologically paraphrased as, “and the descenders upon the Sea of the Pledge.”

The narrative goes on and explains what the “Sea of the Arabah” means by saying, “Sea the Salt.” The words are being precise to definitively show us that it is the Salt Sea that is being referred to. The fact that two names are used is also a very clear indication that typology is being provided for us to consider. The waters…

16 (con’t) failed, and were cut off;

tamu nikratu – “finished, cut off.” This is speaking of the waters (the descenders) that are coming from above and flowing to where the Dead Sea is located. The words are extremely precise concerning what is happening, even before Israel’s eyes. With this complete, it next says…

16 (con’t) and the people crossed over opposite Jericho.

v’ha’am av’ru neged yerikho – “and the people crossed through in front of Jericho.” They are directly facing Jericho as they pass through the Jordan. The word neged comes from nagad, signifying to be conspicuous. As such, it means “the part opposite,” and thus a counterpart or mate. Because of this, it is used to describe a helper for Adam –

“And the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.’ 19 Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him.” Genesis 2:18-20

As such, that translation can mean exactly what is here in Joshua. There is the historical event – “and the people crossed through in front of Jericho.” But there is also what is typological – “and the people crossed through comparable (meaning suitable) Jericho.”

17 Then the priests who bore the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground

v’yaamdu ha’kohanim nos’e ha’aron b’rith Yehovah b’kharavah – “And stood the priests bearers the ark covenant Yehovah in dry.” It is the same word used in Exodus 14 concerning the parting of the Red Sea –

“Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea into dry land, and the waters were divided.” Exodus 14:21

This standing in dry ground is explained with the next words…

17 (con’t) in the midst of the Jordan;

b’tok ha’Yarden haken – “in midst the Jordan – established.” What is debated is whether the priests remained standing in the spot on the banks of the river where they had first stepped, or did they enter into the riverbed after the waters stopped once the descending water was gone? This is actually important to at least consider. Many translations say, “in the middle of the Jordan.” A couple paraphrase it saying, “in the middle of the riverbed.” This may give a false impression.

If the priests stood where they first touched the water on the overflowing banks of the river, the “in the midst of the Jordan” may not mean “in the physical middle of where the river flows,” but “in the middle of where the river had flowed.”

In other words, “midst” may be referring to “between the cut-off waters.” Half was cut off upriver, and half continued downriver. Hence, the physical separation of the waters is what is being described, not the middle of what is a normal flowing river.

No matter what, this was a sign of safety and security to the people that the waters would not suddenly break loose above and drown them. The Lord, represented by the ark of the covenant of Yehovah, stood in the crossing to ensure that the people were, in fact, safe to cross. For the sake of clarity, the word kun (haken), or established was placed in the previous clause by the NKJV, translating it as “firm.”

However, it is standing alone in the Hebrew, thus providing emphasis. It is a common word that signifies, “to be firm” or “establish.” Despite it being common, it is an important one to consider when we are done with the verses.

17 (con’t) and all Israel crossed over on dry ground,

v’kal Yisrael ov’rim b’kharavah – “And all Israel crossers through in dry.” The meaning is obvious, as literally millions of people cross over below the ark, they were all able to do so in a spot that was dry. It is the same word just translated as “dry” in the first clause of the verse.

Further, as has been seen before, the word translated as “crossers through” is a verb that is identical in spelling to the word ivrim, or Hebrew. Thus, this can – and should – be taken as a pun indicating just that. All the people that cross are Hebrews. The crossing through continued…

*17 (fin) until all the people had crossed completely over the Jordan.

The word “people” is not appropriate. That word, ha’am, the people, was used in verses 3, 5, 6, 14, and 16. This is a different word. Translating it as “people” completely destroys the typology: ad asher tamu kal ha’goy la’avor eth ha’yarden – “until which finished the nation to cross over the Jordan.”

The entire nation of people who are there safely cross over while the priests stood and bore the ark in the midst of the Jordan. The miracle is complete, and the record of it stands as a witness to the world of the miraculous workings of the Lord on behalf of the nation of Israel.

This is the day! We are headed into the promised land
Christ has done it all for us
Look at the waters, taken away! See how they stand
Look at the marvelous work of our Lord Jesus

We shall enter in and receive the promise today
After so long, our eyes are opened to our Christ
He came and did it all! And we now behold the way
It is Jesus alone who for our sins was priced

Glory be to God who has done such things for us!
Glory to our Lord who has opened to us the way
Praise be to our God! Yes, our Lord Jesus!
We shall enter in. Yes! Today is the day!

II. Pictures of Christ

How does one present the future in a way that will explain exactly what will happen but also in a way that can easily remain hidden from those who are not yet ready to see it? The answer, as we have seen, time and again in the first five books of the Bible, is “through typology.”

Israel was given the law, Israel failed to enter into the inheritance, and Israel was punished and sent into exile, remaining under the law. Moses could not enter the inheritance because he typifies the law. And it is clear in understanding New Testament theology that no one under the law can obtain the inheritance without what is offered in Christ.

As such, Moses had to die outside of the inheritance. But Israel under their Messiah, typified by Joshua who is the leader of his people, will enter the inheritance now that the law is dead. That is the marvelous story that is seen in Chapter 3. The years of punishment and exile are over.

This chapter is pointing to Israel of today, set to enter in. They are not yet ready, but these words of Joshua show us that it will come to pass. There was a period of three days from the time of the command until the time of entrance. As we saw, in verse 1, it literally reads “in until three days.” This is what Hosea prophesied concerning Israel’s time of punishment –

“Come, and let us return to the Lord;
For He has torn, but He will heal us;
He has stricken, but He will bind us up.
After two days He will revive us;
On the third day He will raise us up,
That we may live in His sight.
Let us know,
Let us pursue the knowledge of the Lord.
His going forth is established as the morning;
He will come to us like the rain,
Like the latter and former rain to the earth.” Hosea 6:1-3

There is a time when Israel will be healed. It will be “after two days,” meaning after two thousand years (see Psalm 90:4 and 2 Peter 3:8), and “on the third day,” meaning in the third period of a thousand years – the millennium.

What needs to be understood is that Moses’ death signifies the ending of the law. That happened at Jesus’ time. Hence, the three-day period now given explains that. As such the typology of Numbers 14, where they rejected entrance into Canaan and went into exile, even until the time of Moses’ death, is typologically included in this three-day period.

But more, during that time, individual Jews could be saved by faith by looking to the bronze serpent. Thus, it is the same gospel as that proclaimed to the Gentiles. So much for hyperdispensationalism.

All of that time between Numbers 14 and this event now is like an insert story that is seen again and again elsewhere in the Bible. It is at the end of this two-thousand-year period that the promises to Israel will finally be realized. So much for the church replacing Israel. I’m sorry for replacement theologians, but this is exactly what is being pictured.

The people are moving from Acacia Grove (ha’shittim) to the Jordan. As we have seen in previous sermons, including Joshua 2, the word Shittim is derived from shotet, a scourge. That word is used only once in the Bible. In Joshua 23:13, it says –

“…know for certain that the Lord your God will no longer drive out these nations from before you. But they shall be snares and traps to you, and scourges on your sides and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from this good land which the Lord your God has given you.” Joshua 23:13

It is also true that the law itself can be equated to scourges, simply because “by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20). In Joshua 23, the people of Canaan are equated to scourges who would afflict Israel. Thus, the scourges are that which draw the people away from faith in the Lord and to that which is false.

The law is what caused Christ to be scourged for His people, and it is what Israel has been under. With Moses dead, they are now leaving the law – something that is going to happen when they call on Christ. From the law, they are going to ha’yarden – the Jordan, meaning “the Descender.” It is a picture of Christ.

The Descender starts at Mount Hermon, meaning “Sacred.” It is capped in snow all year, signifying purity. It is emblematic of heaven, the Sacred place. The water then descends to and passes through the area of Dan, or Judge. Christ descended from heaven to the world to be the Judge of sin and to have sin judged in Him.

The waters flow south into the Galilee where they linger. Christ’s life and ministry were centered on this area where He lingered, spending most of His recorded time there. The Jordan then travels in a very long zigzagging path along the border of Canaan. Christ, the Descender, went through all Israel, traveling and preaching.

The Jordan terminates in the Salt Sea, the Sea of the Arabah. It is the Dead Sea. Christ, the Descender, went to His death. But there was no corruption found in Him, typified by the salt of the Salt Sea – a picture of incorruption. In His death, the pledge, typified by the “Sea of the Pledge,” is given. It refers to the Spirit, the pledge (arrabon – from the Hebrew eravon) of Ephesians 1:13, 14 –

“In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the guarantee [arrabon] of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.” Ephesians 1:13, 14

From this sea, the waters do not continue on. Rather, they evaporate – a picture of the resurrection and ascension. As for the fulfillment of the typology, Jesus Himself expressly tells us that He is the fulfillment of what the Jordan pictures –

“For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” John 6:38

Though modern New Testament Hebrew is different than biblical Hebrew, there are overlapping words. In the Sar Shalom Hebrew translation of Jesus’ words, v’yaradti, “and I have come down,” is used. The name Jordan is from the same word, yarad. Jesus is the Descender.

Next, the ark was introduced in verse 3:3. As was explained, that pictures Christ, the embodiment of the law. The priests who bear it picture Christ in His work, bearing the sacrificial and priestly requirements of the law. The people are told that when they see it, they are to get ready to move after it.

There is to be a space of two thousand cubits between the ark and the people. Some say the distance signifies the two-thousand-year interval already mentioned, but that has already been dealt with. Though ultimately the same, there is more in what it is pointing to.

Rather, this is a Sabbath day’s walk, and it anticipates following Christ into His rest as is indicated in Hebrews 4:3 where it says, “For we who have believed do enter that rest.” That is explained by the idiom that was used, ki lo avartem ba’derek mit’mol shilshom – “for no you have passed through in the way from yesterday, day before yesterday.”

This more perfectly explains the time from Christ until Israel enters. It is a way of saying, “This is not something you have done before.” But typologically it is the two days (the two thousand years) they, as a nation, failed to follow Christ.

The people sanctifying themselves in verse 5 signify their preparing themselves mentally, turning their hearts to the Lord and away from the law. The external rites that came at the giving of the law were ineffective in changing the people. Instead, they must have hearts properly directed to Christ’s fulfillment of it.

In verse 7, it was said that Joshua would be exalted in the eyes of the people. This is pointing to that time when Jesus, of whom Joshua is the type, will be exalted in the eyes of Israel. That verse contained a strong emphasis, “that they may (certainly) know.” There will be no doubt when Israel at last comes to their Messiah. He will finally take the place of Moses in their eyes.

In verse 10, it referred to the waters being stopped up as a means of telling that el khai – a Living God – is among them. This is exactly the purpose of Christ’s incarnation and work: to prove that He is the living God and that He is among His people.

He is not like the dead gods of the nations, but He is the Lord of all the earth. It is He, Jesus, the embodiment of the law who was going before the people as the Descender, God in Christ. The deity of Jesus Christ, when the typology is understood, is inescapable.

In verse 13, this was again clearly seen in the words, “ark the covenant [even] Lord all the earth.” The ark of the covenant, meaning Jesus, the embodiment of the law, is Yehovah – God incarnate – the Lord of all the earth. It clearly anticipated the incarnation, where the physical is merged with the spiritual.

In verse 14, it referred to the people setting out from their tents. This is a picture of Israel leaving the tent of the law, the ohel moed, the tent (tabernacle) of meeting, to come to Christ who is the true Tent (Tabernacle) that the law only prefigured –

“And the Word became flesh, and did tabernacle among us, and we beheld his glory, glory as of an only begotten of a father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14 (YLT)

Though it is actually found in Chapter 4, we saw earlier, that this is said to be taking place on the same day that the Passover lambs were selected. They were lambs that were accepted only after they were deemed to be without blemish. It is reflective of “Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:19).

Israel will come to realize that Christ is the One who these pictures anticipate, and they will come to Him. This is what is being pictured. It is exactly forty years, to the day, from that original selection of the lambs.

Forty “points to the action of grace (5), leading to and ending in revival and renewal (8)” (Bullinger). Israel was given grace by not being destroyed. They are now arriving at a time of revival and renewal.

In verse 15, the priests (Jesus in His work) with the ark (Jesus the embodiment of the law) came to the Jordan (Christ, the Descender) and their feet dipped (were baptized) into the edge of the water.

In Scripture, the placement of the foot signifies possession. Where the foot stands, that place is the person’s possession (see Deuteronomy 11:24, 28:35 & 65, and Joshua 1:3). The priests symbolize Jesus in His duties. When His duties are complete and his sole rests, the waters (life) are cut off.

The significance of the feet being “baptized” is that they then represent the possession of the waters into which they stepped. Hence, even though the people will pass through on dry ground, it is as if they are being baptized in their passage through. This concept is seen, explicitly, concerning the passing through of the Red Sea in 1 Corinthians 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.” 1 Corinthians 10:1, 2

Likewise, in the death of Christ, being pictured now, believers are baptized into Him –

“Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?” Romans 6:3

Hence, these people typologically anticipate Israel of the future being baptized into Christ as they pass through the Descender (Jesus) and into the promised inheritance.

Further, this was when the river was overflowing during the whole time of the harvest. As it says in verse 3:15, it overflows all “His” banks during this time. The harvest is the time of the gospel of Jesus Christ, as Jesus said –

“Jesus said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work. 35 Do you not say, “There are still four months and then comes the harvest”? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!’” John 4:34, 35

It is at this time, and when the priests’ feet are baptized into the Descender (Jesus’ work under the law filled with the Spirit of God), that the waters (the descenders) stood and rose in one heap very far away, “in the Adam.”

Water symbolizes life. The life of the Descender, God in Christ, is standing all the way back in a heap to Adam, the man, and thus all who are in Adam. It is the fulfillment of the promise to man even from the time of the fall. It is why Adam named his wife Khavah, Life. He anticipated the life that was lost, but which would come again to quicken the dead of humanity.

When Christ was baptized into His death, that life was gathered all the way back to our first father, and all the faithful since then –

“But I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how distressed I am till it is accomplished!” Luke 12:50

Christ performed His work under the law (the priests/priestly role), He embodied that law (the ark), and in His death, the waters of the Descender (God in Christ) stopped and reverted all the way back to Adam for fallen man in order to allow any who have believed or who will believe in Him to pass through.

As for the location, Adam, that is said to be beside Zaretan (Tsar’than ) the Place of Oppression or the Place of the Adversary. Whichever is closest, the meaning is obvious. Spiritually dead man has been vexed and oppressed since the fall when Adam was expelled from Eden, where Satan, the Adversary, did his work. The waters backed up to revive those in Adam who come through the work of Jesus Christ.

With that, the waters downstream of the priests standing with the ark went all the way down to the Sea of the Pledge, the Salt Sea. It is a picture of Christ, after His being cut off in death. He remained incorruptible in His death (see Acts 2:27), and it is through His death that the pledge – the Holy Spirit – is received.

It is in the death of Jesus, the cutting off of the waters (symbolizing life) that these things came about. As it said, the waters tamu nikratu – “finished, cut off.” One cannot help but see Jesus’ fulfillment of the law in this.

There are several words that signify “finished” in Hebrew, such as shalam, kalah, and tamam. Each is close in meaning. The word used here, tamam, is in accord with the idea used in John 19 where Jesus says, “It is finished.” This word is used to indicate the end of the words of the Song of Moses and the end of the words of Job in his discourse.

It was also used when speaking of finishing the work of the pillars in the temple, and so on. It signifies finished, come to an end, complete, etc. The next word karath, or cut off, is used when speaking of death, in this case, it is death in the cutting of a covenant. Here are the verses needed to understand this –

The promise of the New Covenant

“Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.” Jeremiah 31:31 (karath/cut – see fulfillment in Hebrews 8:8).

The cutting off of Christ

“And after the sixty-two weeks
Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; (karath/cut off)
And the people of the prince who is to come
Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.
The end of it shall be with a flood,
And till the end of the war desolations are determined.” Daniel 9:26

The fulfillment of the law by Christ

“After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, ‘I thirst!’” John 19:28 (tamam/fulfilled)

“It is finished!” John 19:30 (tamam/finished)

The cutting of a New Covenant in the blood of Christ

“Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you. 21 But behold, the hand of My betrayer is with Me on the table. 22 And truly the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed!’” Luke 22:20-22 (karath/cut – see Jeremiah 31:31 above)

In Israel’s realization that Christ died in fulfillment (tamam) of the law and then cut (karath) a New Covenant in His blood, they will then – finally then – cross through His death and into the promise.

That was seen in verse 16 with the words “and the people crossed through suitable Jericho.” They are now suitable as a people, because of passing through the Descender – which is because of the cutting off of Christ in fulfillment of the law – that they will be a people suitable for the place of fragrance – restored perfection.

The priests (Christ’s work) with the ark of the covenant of Yehovah (Christ the embodiment of the covenant of Yehovah and the fulfillment of the law) standing “in dry” (a picture of the death of Christ) is what allows the people to pass through.

Of them, it said, b’tok ha’Yarden haken – “in midst the Jordan – established.” As I said, the word haken (kun), meaning “to be firm, or establish,” is an important one.

Christ’s work, being established, is what then allows Israel to be established. This is seen in Isaiah 54, and it refers to the future, when Israel will come to Christ. There the word kun is used –

[All your children shall be taught by the Lord,
And great shall be the peace of your children.
14 In righteousness you shall be established; [kun]
You shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear;
And from terror, for it shall not come near you.” Isaiah 54:13, 14

This is based on what is said in Isaiah 54:1 –

“’Sing, O barren,
You who have not borne!
Break forth into singing, and cry aloud,
You who have not labored with child!
For more are the children of the desolate
Than the children of the married woman,’ says the Lord.” Isaiah 54:1

Paul cites this in Galatians 4 explaining that this is a metaphor for Sarah and Hagar representing the two covenants. Those of the Old Covenant are in bondage (not established). Those who are of the New Covenant, are free (established). They are a part of “the Jerusalem above” (Galatians 4:26).

This is just what is being seen. Israel is being established in Christ by passing through His death. This is seen elsewhere as well, such as in Jeremiah 30:20 where the same word is again used.

With this understood, verse 17 said that all Israel crossed through on dry ground. It contained the pun on the word ov’rim (crossers over) which is the same as ivrim (Hebrews). Those who had rejected Christ are not true Hebrews, but someday, they will be those who cross through Christ, and it will be “all Israel.”

The anticipation of Israel’s redemption is that the nation as a whole will come to Christ. Paul speaks of that day which is yet ahead in Romans 11 –

“And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written:
‘The Deliverer will come out of Zion,
And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob;
27 For this is My covenant with them,
When I take away their sins.’” Romans 11:26, 27

Paul is not saying that “all Israel of all time” will be saved. Rather, he is saying that Israel the nation, all of them, will be saved when they – as a nation – call out to God through Christ Jesus. This is what is being seen in verse 17 with the final words of the chapter, ad asher tamu kal ha’goy la’avor eth ha’yarden – “until which finished the nation to cross over the Jordan.”

Every person and the entire nation will be saved. This is the culmination of what has been anticipated for the people since they turned away from believing the Lord in Numbers 14, and it will be the culmination of what has been needed since they turned away from the Lord’s Messiah, Jesus Christ, when He came.

During the first sermon, I explained the four causes of what was being seen. In typology, however, this is what is seen: The priests bearing the ark (Jesus’ work under the law) is the material cause. Their entry into the Jordan (the people’s entry into Christ) is what makes the thing (like wood in a table) to be. The formal cause, the design, is the parting of the Jordan (the death of Christ in fulfillment of the law). The efficient cause, what brings it about, is the Lord’s presence working in and through Jesus. And the final cause, the purpose, is the exaltation of the Lord Jesus in the eyes of the people.

This is the marvel of what God is doing in Christ. It is not two gospels, one for the Jews and one for the Gentiles, as some heretically claim. It is one thing for all people: faith in Messiah going all the way back to Adam. But along with individual salvation, there is also the promised national salvation of Israel.

Anyone, Jew or Gentile, can be saved today through the finished work of Christ – very clearly depicted in today’s passage. However, national Israel will also be saved – meaning every one of them – when the nation calls out to Him.

This is a promise to no other nation, and it is given to demonstrate the covenant-keeping faithfulness of the Lord to those He swore to keep as a people forever. But this also shows us the nature of His covenant-keeping for all.

Just as He has kept, and He will continue to keep Israel, despite their unfaithfulness to the covenant, so He will keep us in Christ. The surety of our salvation is tied up in the surety of Israel’s national salvation. If He will violate the agreement made with them, then our salvation is just as dubious.

But the story in Joshua 3 tells us that Israel will be saved and come into the New Covenant. Paul tells us this as well. And the apostles go on to show us that this is the same faithfulness that we can expect in Christ.

If you are a Christian who believes you can lose what God has promised you, your theology is lacking, and your faith is not properly directed to God in Christ. Rather, your faith is tied up in your own supposed righteousness. As such, you should probably question your salvation. Don’t lose out on the reward, but trust in Christ, rest in Christ, and be confident in Christ.

Closing Verse: “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. 18 No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.” John 10:17, 18

Next Week: Joshua 4:1-14 It is Christ’s blood that atones, and it is done… (Twelve Stones, Part I) (7th Joshua Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. It is He who has defeated the enemy and who now offers His people rest. So, follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

And the People Crossed Over, Part II

So it was, when the people set out
From their camp to cross over the Jordan
———-every Tom, Dan, and Gordan
With the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people
And as those who bore the ark came to the Jordan

And the feet of the priests who bore the ark
Dipped in the edge of the water that did the Jordan fill
(for the Jordan overflows all its banks
———-during the whole time of harvest)
That the waters which came down from upstream stood still

And rose in a heap very far away at Adam
The city that is beside Zaretan as you surely know
So the waters that went down into the Sea of the Arabah
———-the Salt Sea, failed
And were cut off; and the people crossed over opposite Jericho

Then the priests who bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD
Stood firm on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan
———-By the waters they were not tossed
And all Israel crossed over on dry ground
Until all the people had over the Jordan completely crossed

Lord God, turn our hearts to be obedient to Your word
Give us wisdom to be ever faithful to You
May we carefully heed each thing we have heard
Yes, Lord God may our hearts be faithful and true

And we shall be content and satisfied in You alone
We will follow You as we sing our songs of praise
Hallelujah to You; to us Your path You have shown
Hallelujah we shall sing to You for all of our days

Hallelujah and Amen…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

14 So it was, when the people set out from their camp to cross over the Jordan, with the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people, 15 and as those who bore the ark came to the Jordan, and the feet of the priests who bore the ark dipped in the edge of the water (for the Jordan overflows all its banks during the whole time of harvest), 16 that the waters which came down from upstream stood still, and rose in a heap very far away at Adam, the city that is beside Zaretan. So the waters that went down into the Sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, failed, and were cut off; and the people crossed over opposite Jericho. 17 Then the priests who bore the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan; and all Israel crossed over on dry ground, until all the people had crossed completely over the Jordan.

 

Joshua 3:1-13 (And the People Crossed Over, Part I)

Artwork by Doug Kallerson.

Joshua 3:1-13
And the People Crossed Over

The structure of Joshua can be puzzling, and there are as many opinions on it as there are buttons on an elevator in a tall building. I have presented, and will continue to present, what I think is a reasonable explanation for what is going on.

In the first four chapters, it seems evident when looking at the big picture. There is a command/obedience to the command structure which can be seen in the following verses:

The command to begin:

“After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, it came to pass that the Lord spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, saying: ‘Moses My servant is dead. Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them—the children of Israel.’” Joshua 1:1, 2

Joshua’s obedience:

Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people, saying, 11 ‘Pass through the camp and command the people, saying, “Prepare provisions for yourselves, for within three days you will cross over this Jordan, to go in to possess the land which the Lord your God is giving you to possess.”’” Joshua 1:10, 11

Insert the story of the spies and Rahab which occurs prior to these events, and which sets the narrative in motion, followed by a continuance of the narrative with, “Then Joshua rose early in the morning; and they set out from Acacia Grove and came to the Jordan, he and all the children of Israel, and lodged there before they crossed over.” Joshua 3:1

The command to part the waters and cross:

“And the Lord said to Joshua, ‘This day I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. You shall command the priests who bear the ark of the covenant, saying, “When you have come to the edge of the water of the Jordan, you shall stand in the Jordan.”’” Joshua 3:7, 8

Joshua’s obedience:

“So Joshua said to the children of Israel, ‘Come here, and hear the words of the Lord your God.’” Joshua 3:9

The command to set up a memorial:

“And it came to pass, when all the people had completely crossed over the Jordan, that the Lord spoke to Joshua, saying: ‘Take for yourselves twelve men from the people, one man from every tribe, and command them, saying, “Take for yourselves twelve stones from here, out of the midst of the Jordan, from the place where the priests’ feet stood firm. You shall carry them over with you and leave them in the lodging place where you lodge tonight.”’” Joshua 4:1-3

Joshua’s obedience:

“Then Joshua called the twelve men whom he had appointed from the children of Israel, one man from every tribe; and Joshua said to them: ‘Cross over before the ark of the Lord your God into the midst of the Jordan, and each one of you take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel.’” Joshua 4:4, 5

The command to come up from the Jordan:

“Then the Lord spoke to Joshua, saying, 16 ‘Command the priests who bear the ark of the Testimony to come up from the Jordan.’” Joshua 4:15, 16

Joshua’s obedience:

“Joshua therefore commanded the priests, saying, ‘Come up from the Jordan.’” Joshua 4:17

Text Verse: “The entrance of Your words gives light;
It gives understanding to the simple.
131 I opened my mouth and panted,
For I longed for Your commandments.” Psalm 119:130, 131

In the verses we looked at, along with the command being given and Joshua obediently repeating it to the people, there is also a fulfillment of each command by the people. And so, in each instance, there is the word of the Lord, then the word of the Lord is repeated by the leader, and then there are the steps taken in obedience to the directive.

The point of this is to demonstrate that everything stated finds its fulfillment in the passage. There is intent in what is to be done, and there is the accomplishment of that intent. Mixed within what is said are several repetitions which get confusing unless the basic structure mentioned above is remembered. As long as it is, then no contradictions are seen.

And so, what is happening is an account is given, its completion is recorded, and then details are provided or re-provided to fill in blanks in the original account.

This was seen in Genesis, such as when the overall narrative of creation was given in Chapter 1, and then the details were filled in concerning the creation of man in Chapter 2. It is seen in the book of Ruth which belongs within the chronology of the book that precedes it, Judges.

In Joshua, there is a chronology being given, but there is also a backing up and a filling in of that chronology. Remember this pattern when you read the Bible and when you see the bigger view followed by the more detailed view, it sure will help you to not feel like things are out of whack. They aren’t.

We see movie directors do this all the time. They will show something at the beginning of the film, and then the rest of the film will build up to that event, which is actually the completion of the movie, or very close to the completion of it.

We think this is an inventive way to tell a story to keep us anticipating what will happen. Well, the Lord did the same thing for us thousands of years ago. In the end, the promise of a Deliverer at the beginning will eventually be fully revealed. The details along the way help us to more fully understand that early promise.

Great things such as this are to be found in His superior word. And so, let us turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. The Way by Which You Must Go (verses 1-6)

Then Joshua rose early in the morning;

If you remember from Chapter 1, the timeline is rather difficult to pin down and be dogmatic about. But these words now appear to fit into the timeline of verses 1:10, 11 –

“Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people, saying, 11 ‘Pass through the camp and command the people, saying, “Prepare provisions for yourselves, for within three days you will cross over this Jordan, to go in to possess the land which the Lord your God is giving you to possess.”’”

In other words, the spies were sent out first, they gathered their intel, and then they returned. From there, scholars argue as to whether the three-day period is from the movement to the Jordan or if it is after arrival at the Jordan.

It is hard to be dogmatic either way, but assuming that it is from the movement to the Jordan, it would then be put at the time the spies gave their information. Then Joshua gets up and tells the people, “Ok! It’s time to go to the Jordan.” After the completion of that move, they are at the Jordan, and now the three-day interval has expired.

The words, “within three days,” (literally “in until three days”) simply mean “any part of three days.” Joshua told the people to get up and move to the Jordan. In their move, they prepare provisions, move, and cross. This is all seen in the next words…

1 (con’t) and they set out from Acacia Grove and came to the Jordan,

If this is from the movement of the people, then this would read, “and they had set out…” It would be describing the movement of the three days. If the encampment is at the Jordan for three days, then “and they set out” would be correct. Again, I am assuming it is from the beginning of the movement.

Either way though, the people were noted as being at “the Shittim,” or “the Acacia Grove” in Numbers 25:1. It is also the last stop in the wanderings of Israel recorded in the exodus from Egypt in Numbers 33 –

“They camped by the Jordan, from Beth Jesimoth as far as the Abel Acacia Grove in the plains of Moab.” Numbers 33:49

It is at this location that they have remained, and where the law was completed as given through Moses. The name of this place was again stated in Joshua 2:1. It is from here that they will pick up and head to ha’yarden, or the Jordan, meaning “the Descender.” From the Acacia Grove to the Jordan is seen the last movement and stop of the exodus from Egypt. This movement is inclusive of…

1 (con’t) he and all the children of Israel,

The entire congregation of Israel is included. This means Joshua, the men of war, the women, children, etc. The only ones to not cross over would be those who had already received their inheritance east of Jordan and who would stay to start their lives there, but the men of war from those tribes are included in this crossing over now. With this recorded, it next says…

1 (con’t) and lodged there before they crossed over.

The word lodged, lun, signifies “to pass the night,” “dwell,” “abide,” and so on. Hence, it is why I would assume the three days is inclusive of the move, and not three days lodging at the shore of the Jordan. Others disagree as the word can mean a longer time of lodging. It is hard to be dogmatic. Either way…

So it was, after three days,

It doesn’t say “after three days,” but rather: v’hi miqseh sh’loshet yamim – “And from end three days.” Therefore, this would be the third day. It is at this time…

2 (con’t) that the officers went through the camp;

The people, encamped at the Jordan, are now to be instructed by the officers on the protocol to be followed as they cross through the Jordan. The instructions from the officers here are not the same as those given previously. As such, this is not at the beginning of the march from the Acacia Grove, but at the encampment near the river. The specific instructions for moving from here are seen next…

and they commanded the people, saying, “When you see

Rather than “When you see,” it more precisely reads kirothkem – “According to your seeing.” It’s not when they see the ark that they get up and start following it. Rather, it is “according to” their seeing it. The details of that are still ahead, but they have limitations set upon them about exactly when they can respond.

3 (con’t) the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God,

aron b’rith Yehovah elohekem – “ark covenant Yehovah your God.” The word “ark” signifies a hollow box. It is used to describe Joseph’s coffin in Genesis 50:26. The symbolism is that of Christ being the embodiment and fulfillment of the law. That has already been seen quite clearly in the instructions for, and construction of, it in Exodus.

It is known by various names – the ark, the ark of the witness, the ark of the covenant, the ark of the Lord, the ark of the covenant of the Lord, the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, the ark of God, and so on.

In this case, the term used gives us a clear insight into the work of Christ. If we define it as a coffin, that can be seen – “ark (coffin) covenant of Yehovah your God.” Along with the ark, there are those who bear it. As it says…

3 (con’t) and the priests, the Levites, bearing it,

The term “the priests, the Levites” is another way of saying, “the priests who are also of the tribe of Levi.” The priests, who are of Levi, were to bear the ark as is stated in Deuteronomy 31:9. It is according to the people’s seeing the ark being borne by the Levitical priests that…

3 (con’t) then you shall set out from your place and go after it.

The ark is to go first, the people will see the ark at a set distance, and only then were they to arise from the place they lodged and go after it. That set distance is next explained…

Yet there shall be a space between you and it,

akh rakhoq yihyeh benekem u-beno – “Surely distance there shall be interval you (pl.) and interval it.” There is to remain a marked separation between the ark and the people. This is to be…

4 (con’t) about two thousand cubits by measure.

The wording is more precise: k’alpayim amah ba’midah – “according to two thousand cubits in the measure.” This is about three thousand feet, or about three-quarters of a mile. It is what is known as a Sabbath Day’s journey in Acts 1:12, which is based on this passage now. That is the distance a person could walk on the Sabbath without it being considered a violation of that day.

There are various suggestions as to the reason for this. The first is explicitly stated in the next words…

4 (con’t) Do not come near it, that you may know the way by which you must go,

al tiqrevu elav l’maan asher tedeu eth ha’derek asher teleku bah – “No do come near it to end purpose which you may know the way which you go in.” The main reason is that in seeing the ark, the people would know where they could pass through the river. The people would need to know when the ark arrived at the Jordan.

By being distanced from the ark, it would be more visible to all people. If the distance were less, it would be crowded out of sight. The ark is both showing the way and making the way at the same time. As such, the people would want to cross down river from the ark. The ark is first, where the waters first ceased. The people follow after that on dry ground while the waters had continued on down to the Salt Sea.

As such, the unguarded ark would be considered the van, or Leader, for all others, protecting them. In seeing where the ark was located, the people could look and know they will be safe from the waters. As long as the ark remained there, the multitudes could continue to pass through the Jordan, and they would know the way, not being on the wrong side of it. These were needed…

4 (con’t) for you have not passed this way before.”

The Hebrew bears an idiom: ki lo abartem ba’derek mit’mol shilshom – “for no you have passed in the way from yesterday, day before yesterday.” It is a way of saying, “This is not something you have done before.”

The intent of the words is, “There is one way. As you have never taken it before, you are given this opportunity without fear of getting lost.”

And Joshua said to the people, “Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.”

The meaning here cannot be the same as in Exodus 19 where the people were to sanctify themselves for three days, wash their clothes, and refrain from going near their wives. None of that is stated, and there would not have been time for such external purifications.

Rather, what this appears to mean is that the people were to prepare themselves mentally, turn their hearts to the Lord, demonstrate faith in His promises, and the like. Without a right heart and attitude, the external rites that came at the giving of the law were ineffective in changing the people. Joshua is instructing them to sanctify themselves in a manner that will be effective.

Then Joshua spoke to the priests, saying, “Take up the ark of the covenant and cross over before the people.”

Joshua is typical of Christ, the Leader of the people. The Ark is typical of Christ, the embodiment of the law. The priests are typical of Christ as the One who fulfilled the sacrificial and priestly functions of the law which the priests performed. Each aspect of what is occurring finds its ultimate fulfillment in Him.

As instructed by Joshua, so the priests comply…

6 (con’t) So they took up the ark of the covenant and went before the people.

Christ is the One who goes before His people, pictured by their going before them now. With this understood, we now come to the next section where the Lord speaks to Joshua…

Sanctify yourselves before the Lord
Prepare your heart and He will receive you
Believe what is recorded in His word
Accept the gospel is what you must do

Christ led the way so that we could then pass through
In going first, He accomplished all things for us
And now God asks us to simply believe this is true
Yes, God has done it all in the giving of Jesus

And so, let us fix our eyes on Jesus our Lord
And let us follow Him, the One who has paved the way
He is the only path back to God according to His word
Let us follow Him in faith, not waiting another day

II. The Ark of the Covenant of the Lord (verses 7-13)

And the Lord said to Joshua, “This day I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel,

The words now are given to provide Joshua with the assurance that he will, in fact, be considered the acceptable leader of the people. That has already been acknowledged, but it will be confirmed in their sight (literally: their eyes) now.

The promise now is explicitly stated as realized in Chapter 4 –

“On that day the Lord exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel; and they feared him, as they had feared Moses, all the days of his life.” Joshua 4:14

This is the purpose. The Lord is exalting Joshua, the leader of His people…

7 (con’t) that they may know

The words bear a strong emphasis: asher yedeun – “that they may (certainly) know.” There will be no doubt in the minds of the people…

7 (con’t) that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with you.

Just as certain as they had become that the Lord was with Moses, so they would be assured that He was also with Joshua. There would be no need for them to second guess the matter, and there would be no attempts to usurp his authority as they had, at first, tried with Moses.

The words of John come to mind here –

“Then they reviled him and said, “You are His disciple, but we are Moses’ disciples. 29 We know that God spoke to Moses; as for this fellow, we do not know where He is from.’” John 9:28, 29

Israel rejected Jesus, and this continues today. Someday, they will see in Joshua, the type of which Christ is the Antitype. It is He who alone can lead them into the inheritance. They will be as certain about Him as they are that Moses was their lawgiver. But Moses and the law could not bring them in. Only in the death of the law, typified by Moses’ death, can this come about.

Charles Ellicott correctly notes –

“It is here stated that the passage of Jordan was to be to Joshua what the giving of the law at Sinai was to Moses, “that the people may hear when I speak with thee, and believe thee for ever” (Exodus 19:9). But the power which establishes Joshua is the work of the written instead of the spoken word.” Charles Ellicott

In both spoken word and in written word, it is the word of the Lord that was given to convince Israel. It is the ending of the law through Christ’s work, accompanied by the introduction of the New Covenant, that establishes Jesus as the true Leader of Israel.

But that is now only to be found in the written word. The law itself testifies to the Person and work of Christ (John 5:39 & 45), and it will take Israel accepting this fact for them to accept Christ as their Leader. Until the blinders are taken off and they look to the New Testament to understand the Old, this will not take place.

For now, the typology is quite clear for those who accept that these types are fulfilled in Jesus.

You shall command the priests who bear the ark of the covenant, saying,

The words are emphatic: v’atah t’saveh eth ha’kohanim – “And you, you shall command the priests.” The Lord is affirming Joshua’s responsibility to command the priests.

Assuming that the narrative is chronological here, the priests are already bearing the ark. Now that this is the case, and now that they are prepared to move forward, he will command them in the hearing of the people for the priests to do as they are now instructed.

As such, it is the Lord who will accomplish the miracle, it is Joshua who has been given the authority to direct that it will occur, and it is the priests who are to be obedient to the authority of Joshua to accomplish the task by performing the given order.

The priests bearing the ark are the material cause. Their entry into the Jordan is what makes the thing (like wood in a table) to be. The formal cause, the design, is the parting of the Jordan. The efficient cause, what brings it about, is the Lord’s presence working on behalf of Joshua. And the final cause, the purpose, is the exaltation of Joshua in the eyes of the people.

This continues to be seen in the next words…

8 (con’t) ‘When you have come to the edge of the water of the Jordan, you shall stand in the Jordan.’”

The words are very precise: k’boakem ad qetseh me ha’yarden ba’yarden taamodu – “according to your coming even to the extremity waters the Jordan – in the Jordan, you shall stand.” Verse 15 will clarify what this means. There it says that the Jordan overflows all its banks at this time.

And so, the meaning is, that where the water is overflowing the Jordan, they are to step into that water and the water will cease. What happens from that point is debated based on the words “in the midst” found in verse 17. How one explains those words will define how other verses are to be interpreted and translated.

For now, the Lord is behind the command. He is simply conveying the words to Joshua who is to then follow through with giving the command to the priests. It isn’t possible to not see the words of Jesus when the connection is made –

“For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. 50 And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak.” John 12:49, 50

If one understands the nature of God working through Christ Jesus, it becomes clear what is going on. The goal is Canaan, typical of restoration with God. Joshua receives the command to then speak out what he has been told to say.

Likewise, Jesus gives the command, and the people are to hear and honor the Son. In so doing, they honor the Father. This is seen, quite clearly in the next verses…

So Joshua said to the children of Israel, “Come here, and hear the words of the Lord your God.”

The address is certainly to the leaders of the tribes who then represent all of the people. It is unlikely that this is a general calling for any and all to gather around him due to the immense size of the population. Assuming it is to the leaders, which appears even more likely based on verse 12, they would then pass the words on to all of the people.

Until this point, they had no idea how they were to cross through the Jordan. But hearing the Lord’s command through him to the priests, and knowing that it is the Lord who will accomplish this miracle, Joshua can also convey to them more of what to expect.

Without being apprised of the stopping of the waters in advance, his coming words would be motivational, but maybe not fully accepted. But by knowing that the Lord directed the first thing, they will know – without any doubt – that He will perform His words in what is next conveyed…

10 And Joshua said, “By this you shall know that the living God is among you,

Joshua confirms that it is the act of the ark going before them, and the waters being stopped up, by which the people will know that el khai, a Living God, is among them. The term is similar to Deuteronomy 5:26 which says elohim khayim. Which is more rightly translated as “the Living God.”

The Lord’s presence did not leave them when Moses died. He remains even though the succession of authority now continues on with Joshua. They are to be confident of that. And because of this fact, the next words will surely come to pass…

10 (con’t) and that He will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Hivites and the Perizzites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Jebusites:

The names are all in the singular – “the Canaanite, and the Hittite…” and so on. Each group is being contrasted to Israel. Each has gods that are dead, Israel has el khai, a Living God, among them. Understanding the symbolism of the ark representing Christ, it is a clear and unambiguous reference to His deity.

The stopping of the Jordan is how the people were to know that a Living God is among them and that His words concerning the enemies would be performed. With this said, Joshua continues…

11 Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is crossing over before you into the Jordan.

hineh aron ha’b’rit adon kal ha’arets over liph’nekem ba’yarden – “Behold, ark the covenant Lord all the earth crosses over before you in the Jordan.” Joshua is tying the Lord of all the earth to the presence of the ark as if they are one united entity.

This is seen more clearly in the punctuation of the word “covenant” in the Masoretic text. In it, there is a distinguishing accent that calls for the translation to say either, “the ark of the covenant, even the Lord of all the earth,” or “the ark of the covenant, the ark of the Lord of all the earth.”

Because of this, it is saying that His presence is in the ark. It then provides a marvelous picture of the dual nature of Christ, the God/Man.

In what Joshua is saying, he is noting that this Lord is the Lord not just where He is at as if He is the Lord of Israel while on this side of the Jordan and He will be the Lord of Israel while on the other side, but that He is the Lord of all the earth at all times.

Just because His presence is there with the ark, it doesn’t mean He isn’t also in control of all things. On the contrary, He is. This is well reflected in the words of Hebrews where the author ties Jesus in with His preeminence over all creation –

“But to the Son He says:

And:
‘You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth,
And the heavens are the work of Your hands.
11 They will perish, but You remain;
And they will all grow old like a garment;
12 Like a cloak You will fold them up,
And they will be changed.
But You are the same,
And Your years will not fail.’” Hebrews 1:8 & 10-12

For now, Joshua has particular instructions to convey to these leaders of the people…

12 Now therefore, take for yourselves twelve men from the tribes of Israel,

Twelve men were to be selected from the tribes of Israel for a special task. However, more specificity is next given…

12 (con’t) one man from every tribe.

ish ekhad ish ekhad la’shavet – “man one man one, to the tribe.” Each tribe was to be represented in what will be instructed, thus they are representative of all Israel. Their assignment will be detailed in Chapter 4. For now…

13 And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests

The clauses are much differently aligned in the Hebrew, but we’ll work through it. For now: v’hayah k’noakh kapoth ragle ha’kohanim – “And it has happened, according to the resting soles feet the priests.”

In other words, there is no need for the priests to fear they may be swept into the river and taken downstream. Literally, as soon as the soles of their feet rest, the event will commence. It is the priests…

13 (con’t) who bear the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth,

Two different words for “lord” are used. It says, “who bear the ark of Yehovah, Lord (Adon) of all the earth.” It is an expansion of what was said in verse 11, “ark the covenant [even] Lord all the earth.”

One can see that Joshua is tying the ark of the covenant in with Yehovah while at the same time he is saying that Yehovah is the Lord of all the earth. It is an anticipation of the incarnation, where the physical is merged with the spiritual.

Next, the first words belonged to the earlier clause where the soles of the feet of the priests…

13 (con’t) shall rest in the waters of the Jordan,

b’me ha’yarden – “in waters, the Jordan.” Water symbolizes life. The Jordan is the Descender. When the soles of the feet of the priests rest in the waters of the Jordan…

13 (con’t) that the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off,

Again, as in verse 7, there is a heavy stress in the words: me ha’yarden yikaretun – “waters the Jordan shall (certainly) be cut off.” The word translated as “cut off,” karath, is one often used in the cutting of a covenant.

When the soles of the feet of the priests rest in the waters of the Descender, the waters will be cut off. They are…

13 (con’t) the waters that come down from upstream,

A verb is being used in the place of a noun here: ha’mayim ha’yor’dim milmaelah – “the waters, the descenders, from to above.”

It is very precise in what is being conveyed – the waters, the descenders, from above will be cut off the moment that the soles of the feet of the priests rest in the waters of the Descender. They will no longer flow as they previously did…

*13 (fin) and they shall stand as a heap.”

v’yaamdu ned ekhad – “and they shall stand, heap one.” Joshua is conveying that this will happen before it occurs. Because of this, it is what is intended to magnify Joshua in the eyes of the people.

He conveys the word of the Lord, the word of the Lord from him is confirmed when it comes to pass, and thus Joshua is exalted in the eyes of the people.

Here, we must finish as there is too much in the Chapter to go through for one sermon. The final four verses will come with an explanation of what the chapter is conveying to us.

For now, we can remember the beginning of the sermon and feel confident that what is being conveyed is both reasonable and noncontradictory. There is much repetition and overlap in what is said, but that is how the early historical writings were given.

And, even without evaluating the verses today in detail as far as typology is concerned, we have seen enough to know that everything here is conveying information about Jesus. That is certain.

As this is so, it is telling us another part of the ongoing redemptive narrative, all of which is intended to convey to us what God is doing in Christ. If you don’t remember another thing about our words today, just remember this. Jesus. It is all about Jesus.

And so, before we close, let me tell you how you can have a close and personal relationship with God because of what Jesus has done, much of what is actually typologically seen in today’s verses…

Closing Verse: “The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness,
The world and those who dwell therein.
For He has founded it upon the seas,
And established it upon the waters.” Psalm 24:1

Next Week: Joshua 3:14-17 They will not have to paddle like Fido or Rover, but get across they will do… (And the People Crossed Over, Part II) (6th Joshua Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. It is He who has defeated the enemy and who now offers His people rest. So, follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

And the People Crossed Over, Part I

Then Joshua rose early in the morning, the sun like a flame
And they set out from Acacia Grove and to the Jordan they came

He and all the children of Israel
And before they crossed over, they lodged there
So it was, after three days
That the officers went through the camp with news to share

And they commanded the people, saying
“When you see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God
———-so to you, we submit
And the priests, the Levites, bearing it
Then you shall set out from your place and go after it

Yet there shall be a space between you and it
About two thousand cubits by measure, now you know the score
Do not come near it, that you may know the way
———-by which you must go
For you have not passed this way before

And Joshua said to the people, “Sanctify yourselves
———-this is what you are to do
For tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you

Then Joshua spoke to the priests, saying
“Take up the ark of the covenant and cross over
———-before the people, so I instruct you
So they took up the ark of the covenant
And went before the people, as instructed to

And the LORD said to Joshua
“This day I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel
That they may know that, as I was with Moses
So I will be with you. Yes, so to you I tell

You shall command the priests
Who bear the ark of the covenant, saying
‘When you have come to the edge of the water of the Jordan
You shall stand in the Jordan, so to you I am relaying

So Joshua said to the children of Israel with a commanding nod
“Come here, and hear the words of the LORD your God

And Joshua said, “By this you shall know that the living God
———-is among you
And that He will without fail drive out from before you
The Canaanites and the Hittites and the Hivites and the Perizzites
And the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Jebusites too

Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth
Is crossing over before you into the Jordan, He of infinite worth

Now therefore, take for yourselves twelve men, as I describe
From the tribes of Israel, one man from every tribe

And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet
Of the priests who bear the ark of the LORD
———-the Lord of all the earth, so I say
Shall rest in the waters of the Jordan
That the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off, it shall be that way

The waters that come down from upstream, so I convey
And they shall stand as a heap, it shall surely be this way

Lord God, turn our hearts to be obedient to Your word
Give us wisdom to be ever faithful to You
May we carefully heed each thing we have heard
Yes, Lord God may our hearts be faithful and true

And we shall be content and satisfied in You alone
We will follow You as we sing our songs of praise
Hallelujah to You; to us Your path You have shown
Hallelujah we shall sing to You for all of our days

Hallelujah and Amen…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then Joshua rose early in the morning; and they set out from Acacia Grove and came to the Jordan, he and all the children of Israel, and lodged there before they crossed over. So it was, after three days, that the officers went through the camp; and they commanded the people, saying, “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the priests, the Levites, bearing it, then you shall set out from your place and go after it. Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure. Do not come near it, that you may know the way by which you must go, for you have not passed this way before.”

And Joshua said to the people, “Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.” Then Joshua spoke to the priests, saying, “Take up the ark of the covenant and cross over before the people.”

So they took up the ark of the covenant and went before the people.

And the Lord said to Joshua, “This day I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. You shall command the priests who bear the ark of the covenant, saying, ‘When you have come to the edge of the water of the Jordan, you shall stand in the Jordan.’ ”

So Joshua said to the children of Israel, “Come here, and hear the words of the Lord your God.” 10 And Joshua said, “By this you shall know that the living God is among you, and that He will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Hivites and the Perizzites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Jebusites: 11 Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is crossing over before you into the Jordan. 12 Now therefore, take for yourselves twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one man from every tribe. 13 And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests who bear the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, that the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off, the waters that come down from upstream, and they shall stand as a heap.”

 

 

 

Joshua 2:12-24 (According to Your Words, So Be It)

Joshua 2:12-24
According to Your Words, So Be It

When we were in Deuteronomy, we saw that the Lord told the people they were to exterminate every person in Canaan, letting no one survive. That was recorded in Deuteronomy 20 –

“But of the cities of these peoples which the Lord your God gives you as an inheritance, you shall let nothing that breathes remain alive, 17 but you shall utterly destroy them: the Hittite and the Amorite and the Canaanite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite, just as the Lord your God has commanded you, 18 lest they teach you to do according to all their abominations which they have done for their gods, and you sin against the Lord your God.” Deuteronomy 20:16-18

But even before that, this was recorded in Deuteronomy 7 –

“…you shall conquer them and utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them nor show mercy to them. Nor shall you make marriages with them. You shall not give your daughter to their son, nor take their daughter for your son.” Deuteronomy 7:2, 3

Without connecting the two, Adam Clarke says the following –

“She [Rahab] had learned, either from the spies or otherwise, that all the inhabitants of the land were doomed to destruction, and therefore she obliges them to enter into a covenant with her for the preservation of herself and her household.” Adam Clarke

He is right; that is exactly what will come about in the verses today. Even before Israel officially enters the land, this word of the Lord is going to be violated. Rahab, after all, is an inhabitant of the land, and an oath is made between the two men of Israel and her.

Despite this, Rahab’s life, faith, and actions are used to teach us truths in typology and pictures about the work of God in Christ. In the end, our disobedience and failings can be used by God to bring much glory to Himself.

This doesn’t mean we should actively be disobedient in order for good to come about. Paul warns about such a perverse notion, but it does show the greatness of God that such things can – and often do – occur. Just look at what He did with Joseph’s brothers selling him off to Egypt!

Text Verse: “I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died. 10 And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death. 11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me. 12 Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good.” Romans 7:9-12

The law is good; it is we who are not. The law highlights that for us. What we need, and what Rahab will find out about – even before Israel does – is grace. And that comes when we demonstrate faith. Rahab did and she is remembered for that almost 3500 years later.

Good stuff from God’s precious word. Something else came out of the text, a definite chiastic structure. It’s a little hard to see in the English translation, but it comes out clearly in the Hebrew. However, you will get the gist of it.

Joshua 2:15-21 – Conditions or penalties.
A lesson concerning faith (5/16/2022)

It’s pretty wonderful to find these for several reasons. One is that it helps you to figure out what a difficult passage is telling you. Another is that it lets you know there is more than just a narrative being told, but there is a purposeful narrative, with a set intent that is being conveyed.

Also, things like this help solidify your faith in the fact that this really is God’s word and that He really is relaying special and important information for us to consider.

Great things like salvation by grace through faith and chiasms are to be found in His superior word. And so, let us turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. The Expectation, the Scarlet (verses 12-24)

12 Now therefore, I beg you, swear to me by the Lord,

Rahab has shown kindness to the spies in hiding them from arrest. But more, she had actually endangered her own life in the process. As such, she will ask for a return favor in both regards, saying: v’atah hishaveu na li b’Yehovah – “And now swear, I pray, to me in Yehovah.”

Most translations say, “swear to me by the Lord.” The ISV is closer, saying, “in the name of the Lord.”  This is the intent of saying “in Yehovah.” His name stands for who He is. To swear in His name is to wholly identify with the name. For now, she says…

12 (con’t) since I have shown you kindness, that you also will show kindness to my father’s house,

This is the anticipated exchange. She had helped them and spared their lives while risking her own, and so she is asking now that they will respond in kind. In saying “my father’s house,” it implies everyone associated with it. All who stem from her father are to be included in the agreement. In hopes of this, she says…

12 (con’t) and give me a true token,

u-netatem li oth emet – “and give to me sign true.” The word translated as “token” is oth. It signifies a sign, coming from the verb uth, meaning to consent or agree. It is something that stands for something else.

If one swears a vow such as this, that stands for performance of the vow. Thus, the sign does not necessarily have to be something physical, as we would think of a token today. There is an agreement to be sworn in the name of Yehovah which will stand as a sign between them. The substance of that oath is…

13 and spare my father, my mother, my brothers, my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death.”

As noted, all that stems directly from her father is included in the request. The request is not unreasonable. As she saved two men of Israel, she essentially saved two households of Israel. Everything associated with them as the heads of a household, even if only future to them now, is to be considered as having been delivered.

Therefore, for her to ask for the household of her father is a just and reasonable request. The fulfillment of this will be seen in Joshua 6 –

“But Joshua had said to the two men who had spied out the country, ‘Go into the harlot’s house, and from there bring out the woman and all that she has, as you swore to her.’ 23 And the young men who had been spies went in and brought out Rahab, her father, her mother, her brothers, and all that she had. So they brought out all her relatives and left them outside the camp of Israel.” Joshua 6:22, 23

Due to the reasonable nature of what has happened, they agree to the conditions. As noted in the analysis of Deuteronomy 20, and which I referred to in the sermon introduction, this is not at all in accord with the clear and explicit command to destroy every person.

Nothing is said about agreeing to help someone who first helped an Israelite. The command is given without exception and was to be performed. Understanding this, and despite the good that resulted from the events that take place, one can see that even before Israel has entered the land, a violation of the law has taken place.

This truly shows the nature of the law. It is a law of death. It was given to bring to an end those that were in Canaan. That is the Lord’s prerogative, and it is to be obeyed. However, a violation of it means that the life promised for obedience cannot be obtained. In other words, it takes us back to Leviticus 18:5 –

“You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, which if a man does, he shall live by them: I am the Lord.”

The good intentions of these two men in making this agreement means that they have violated the precept. In violation of the precept, Paul’s words of our text verse become clear, “And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death” (Romans 7:10).

One can see how desperately Jesus is needed in our lives to remove from us the guilt of the law. Adam died in violation of the law, and all who followed after him died in Adam. The Law of Moses only heaped up more sin upon the people. But this was given to hopefully lead them as a tutor would, directly to the saving grace of Christ Jesus. As for the narrative now…

14 So the men answered her, “Our lives for yours,

naphshenu takhtekem la’mut – “our soul under yours (pl.) – to die.” The meaning of “under” is that which replaces. Something rises from under and replaces that which is above. They have agreed that if the soul of any of them is taken, that their own soul is forfeit. They will take the place of the one lost, as long as…

14 (con’t) if none of you tell this business of ours.

im lo tagidu eth devarenu zeh – “if no you (pl.) disclose our word this.” By saying this in the plural, the onus is on Rahab to ensure that none of the family says a word. If the matter is disclosed by any, it negates the agreement for all, including her.

The agreement is not for her to keep quiet that they are spying out the land. That is already known. The agreement is that this applies only to Rahab and her father’s house. To share with others the sign of her protection, which will be mentioned in verse 18, would negate the oath. The agreement does not extend to any others.

Further, the agreement will not apply to any of the family who are not brought into her house, as will be noted as well.

14 (con’t) And it shall be, when the Lord has given us the land,

The words confirm that they are completely certain of the outcome: v’hayah b’tet Yehovah lanu eth ha’arets – “And it shall be in giving Yehovah to us the land.” They are as certain it will happen as Rahab is. Rahab had heard and believed. The spies see and know. The only thing left was for time to catch up with the certain outcome. Once it does, the agreement is…

14 (con’t) that we will deal kindly and truly with you.”

The words are nouns, not adverbs and the addressee is singular. “that we have done with you (sg.) kindness and truth.” What is promised will be formalized with a state, not just actions, that will match the promises that have been made. The fulfillment of this is also recorded in Joshua 6 –

“And Joshua spared Rahab the harlot, her father’s household, and all that she had. So she dwells in Israel to this day, because she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.” Joshua 6:25

15 Then she let them down by a rope through the window,

Well, she was no Rapunzel. Instead, it says: va’toridem ba’khevel b’ad ha’khalon – “And she caused them to descend in the cord through the window.” She could do this…

15 (con’t) for her house was on the city wall; she dwelt on the wall.

The Hebrew reads, “for her house in side the wall and in the wall she dwelt.” The meaning is probably that her house butted up to the wall with the back wall of the house being the city wall.

From there, the top of the house would have extended above the wall where there was a window, or that there was a window directly in the wall that could be blocked up during a siege. Either way, it would allow those inside to look out over the surrounding country. Being against the wall, it would make the climb down very easy for the men.

This is similar to what happened to Paul in Acts 9, and which he refers to in 2 Corinthians 11 –

“Now after many days were past, the Jews plotted to kill him. 24 But their plot became known to Saul. And they watched the gates day and night, to kill him. 25 Then the disciples took him by night and let him down through the wall in a large basket.” Acts 9:23-25

&

“In Damascus the governor, under Aretas the king, was guarding the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desiring to arrest me; 33 but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall, and escaped from his hands.” 2 Corinthians 11:32, 33

16 And she said to them, “Get to the mountain, lest the pursuers meet you.

These words are not unimportant, and they are specifically included in what James finds noteworthy concerning her actions –

“Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?” James 2:25

Up until this point, she could have done all of this to simply not get killed by the spies, but these words completely destroy any notion of this. If she had feared for her life and wanted them to get caught, she would have sent them in the same direction as those sent to find them.

It is true that she could still report them, saying they were hiding in the mountain. However, they would have the advantage of seeing pursuers coming from their elevated position, and so that is not an acceptable notion.

But more, anyone familiar with the area can tell you that there are innumerable caves in the mountains. A resourceful person could hide there for months while remaining undetected. Without going into all of the detail that he would have been aware of, James is careful to note both her receiving of them and of her sending them out in another way.

Her actions are based on her faith, and her words to the men are words of faith in the promises and integrity of the men as well as in the capabilities of the Lord.

16 (con’t) Hide there three days, until the pursuers have returned. Afterward you may go your way.”

Here is a new word, khavah, to hide or conceal. It is from khavav, meaning to love. The connection is that just as one hides his love in the heart, or secrets away his love, so a person will hide himself or another for protection.

As for hiding three days, this might mean traveling at night to the mountains, staying for two days or so, and then leaving on the third night to avoid anyone seeing them. Jericho is not a full-day walk to the Jordan, but going to it, searching the fords in the immediate area, and then returning from it would take a good two days or so. Therefore, this would explain her recommendation.

17 So the men said to her: “We will be blameless of this oath of yours which you have made us swear,

The Hebrew seems incomplete: neqiyim anakhnu mishevuatekh ha’zeh asher hishbatanu – “Blameless we from oath yours, the this, which you made us swear.” As it is written, it appears that they are claiming they are acquitted of any guilt that arises. As such, translators add the word “unless” into the next verse.

The Geneva Bible says, “We will be released from our oath if you perform this condition that follows for so shall you and yours be delivered.” But it doesn’t say that. It simply says, “We [are] blameless from this oath of yours, which you made us swear.”

My guess is that they are indicating that to them, as if it is a done deal. They will perform and be blameless. The conditions are up to Rahab and her family to meet, but as for them, they will fulfill what they agreed to…

18 unless, when we come into the land,

hineh anakhnu baim ba’arets – “Behold, we come in the land.” It is not a conditional “unless.” Rather it is a statement of fact. They are avowing that it will come to pass. As this is the case…

18 (con’t) you bind this line of scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down,

This is the first condition of safety. It is not the same cord by which they scaled down the wall: eth tiqvat khut ha’shani hazeh tiqsheri ba’khalon asher horadtenu bo – “expectation, thread the scarlet, the this, you bind in the window which you caused us to descend.”

There is a new noun here, tiqvah, translated by almost everyone as “line” or “cord.” It signifies expectancy, hope, or a thing longed for, coming from the verb qavah, to wait for. The Septuagint, and two Catholic Bibles translate the clause using the word “sign.” That is probably closer to the intent than “cord.”

The idea is that the expectancy is to see it – “the expectation.” If it isn’t in the window, there is nothing to identify them. Hence, there is no protection to be given to them. Also…

18 (con’t) and unless you bring your father, your mother, your brothers, and all your father’s household to your own home.

The second condition for safety. Again, the word “unless” is not in these words. The directions simply continue on – “and you … bring into your home.” Just as if there is no scarlet thread to identify the house, there is no way to identify anyone who should be in the house but who is not.

19 So it shall be that whoever goes outside the doors of your house into the street, his blood shall be on his own head, and we will be guiltless. And whoever is with you in the house, his blood shall be on our head if a hand is laid on him.

The instructions here are so similar to the Passover that it is hard not to call that to remembrance –

“Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.” Exodus 12:13

&

“And you shall take a bunch of hyssop, dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. And none of you shall go out of the door of his house until morning. 23 For the Lord will pass through to strike the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door and not allow the destroyer to come into your houses to strike you.” Exodus 12:22, 23

Those inside where the blood has been applied are under protection. Those who are not inside are not protected. Whether the blood of the Passover, or the crimson-colored thread now, either is that which identifies the “where” and “for whom it is so.”

20 And if you tell this business of ours,

It is the third condition for safety: v’im tagidi eth devarenu zeh – “And if you (sg.) disclose our word this.” Just as if there is no scarlet thread to identify the house, and just as if anyone is not safely in the house, so Rahab is not to tell the matter to anyone else.

Notice the difference between the words of verse 14 and the words of this verse –

im lo tagidu eth devarenu zeh – “if no you (pl.) disclose our word this.”
v’im tagidi eth devarenu zeh – “And if you (sg.) disclose our word this.”

Verse 14 was dealing with the lives of these two men in relation to the lives of those who don’t disclose the situation. Now, verse 20 is dealing with the oath which Rahab made. In both instances, it is up to Rahab to ensure that either her father’s family remains silent, or that she personally remains silent. If she doesn’t…

20 (con’t) then we will be free from your oath which you made us swear.”

v’hayinu neqiyim mishvuatekh asher hishbatanu – “And we become blameless from oath yours which you made us swear.” Three conditions set forth must be met. If they are not, then the two men will be blameless in regard to the oath she made them swear.

Again, see the difference between this verse and verse 17 –

neqiyim anakhnu mishevuatekh ha’zeh asher hishbatanu – “Blameless we from oath yours, the this, which you made us swear.”
v’hayinu neqiyim mishevuatek asher hishbatanu – “And we become blameless from oath yours which you made us swear.”

They say that they are blameless before the oath she made them swear. They will uphold their part of the bargain. But that is conditional upon her complying with her part of the bargain. If she performs, they will be blameless before the oath she made them swear.

In other words, “Be like us and perform what you are to do. We are blameless, and if you don’t do what you are to do, we will be blameless.” Jericho will be destroyed either way, and her betrayal of the spies would not stop that.

However, her betrayal of them might destroy them, but it would also remove any chance of protection for her. Doing what they have put forth is her only chance of salvation. As such, she chooses wisely…

21 Then she said, “According to your words, so be it.”

Her words bear emphasis: va’tomer k’divrekem ken hu – “And she said, “According to your words, so IT.” Exactly as they have said, so shall it be. Her life depends on what has been said, and she will follow through accordingly.

21 (con’t) And she sent them away, and they departed.

It is the final act of what has already been stated. She directed them to the mountain to stay for three days. As we saw, that is what James said was an act of justifying work. It, being an act of faith, can be reckoned as such. Next, in an act of hope it says…

21 (con’t) And she bound the scarlet cord in the window.

va’tiqsor eth tiqvat ha’shani ba’khalon – “And she bound the expectation, the scarlet in the window.” This could have happened at any time, from immediately even to right up until the last moment before Israel arrived to begin their short siege.

One would think that she did it right then as the two men were watching. They would see she complied, they would remember the location and how it was displayed, and it would be a reminder to her to stay the course because deliverance was on the way.

22 They departed and went to the mountain, and stayed there three days until the pursuers returned. The pursuers sought them all along the way, but did not find them.

They put faith in Rahab’s words and followed through with what she had said. While the pursuers were chasing the wind, these two were safely in the mountains, probably in a nice cool cave. They obviously had provision to accomplish their task and it would have been a quiet time.

And more, the term three days can signify any part of three days being considered as a three-day period. Regardless of the exact hours they spent there, they avoided the pursuers and then headed back to make their report.

23 So the two men returned, descended from the mountain, and crossed over;

Without giving any specifics, any time of day, or which day it is, a good guess is that this occurred in the early morning. It would be cooler, they could get by Jericho without notice, and they could then ford the river in some manner. By the time they did, it would be light enough to do so without any danger. From there, they headed directly to the boss…

23 (con’t) and they came to Joshua the son of Nun, and told him all that had befallen them.

The word is saphar. It means “to recount.” They went through all of the details of their expedition, recounting each thing that was of note. That is especially so with the main point…

24 And they said to Joshua, “Truly the Lord has delivered all the land into our hands,

This goes back to the words of Rahab from verse 9 –

“I know that the Lord has given you the land, that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land are fainthearted because of you.” Joshua 2:9

It was perfectly evident that if a prostitute that lived on the wall of a city knew this, it was common knowledge to all the people. The fact that pursuers were sent out after them only confirmed this. They would not bother with passing strangers unless there was a great reason to do so. With that understood…

*24 (fin) for indeed all the inhabitants of the country are fainthearted because of us.”

v’gam namogu kal yosheve ha’arets mipanenu – “And also, have melted all dwelling the land from our presence.” It is practically a repeat of the words of Rahab in verse 9. The God who had executed great judgments upon Egypt and who had parted the Red Sea was now just across the Jordan with His people.

And it is the same people who had crushed both Sihon and Og in the land which they were now located. It was perfectly understood that there was no hope if the Lord determined to disinherit them from the land. It was sure to come to pass.

If you are told there is something that you need to do
Do you take that as meaning, “This is a work”?
Or is it just a condition to find out about you?
Is what I am asking only a linguistic quirk?

Yes, there are things we must do to be saved
But that doesn’t mean our salvation is earned
Rather, the Lord sets the conditions for the path He has paved
The difference is something that must be learned

Faith is not a work. It is obedience to the call
We are to believe the gospel we have heard
It is the path to salvation for one and all
God sets the parameters, so believe on His word

II. Pictures of Christ

I would suggest that Joshua 2 anticipates the work of Christ. It is a typological and anticipatory look into how His work will accomplish salvation for Israel and how His word details that. The chapter begins with these words –

“Now Joshua the son of Nun sent out two men from Acacia Grove to spy secretly, saying, “Go, view the land, especially Jericho.”

As we already know, Joshua means “The Lord is Salvation.” He anticipates Jesus who is the Lord and who is salvation. Joshua’s father’s name being included anticipates Christ also. Nun is from the verb nun, to propagate, or increase. This is what Christ would do, increasing the family of God through His completed work.

The number two in Scripture signifies that there is a difference. As such, it signifies division or difference. I would suggest these two then represent the two testaments in Scripture. In them, there is a contrast, and yet they confirm the whole of the word of God.

Israel has not yet entered the promise, and they cannot without faith in Christ. They picture the people of Israel who have not yet received Him in our world today.

The place the men depart from is the Shittim, or the Acacia Grove. That is derived from shotet, a scourge. That word is used only once in the Bible. In Joshua 23:13, it says –

“…know for certain that the Lord your God will no longer drive out these nations from before you. But they shall be snares and traps to you, and scourges on your sides and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from this good land which the Lord your God has given you.” Joshua 23:13

As such, this place is a place of scourges. This was certainly seen in Numbers 25 where this place was first mentioned –

“Now Israel remained in Acacia Grove, and the people began to commit harlotry with the women of Moab. They invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods. So Israel was joined to Baal of Peor, and the anger of the Lord was aroused against Israel.” Numbers 25:1, 2

It is also true that the law itself can be equated to scourges, simply because “by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20). In Joshua 23, the people of Canaan are equated to scourges who would afflict Israel. Thus, the scourges are that which draw the people away from faith in the Lord and to that which is false. However, that can be avoided or overcome.

The two men are to go into Canaan, typical of the spiritual state found in Christ. The goal is Jericho, the Place of Fragrance, typical of heaven, or a return to that which was lost at the fall.

Immediately, still in verse 1, Rahab is introduced. Her name means Spacious. She is given to demonstrate salvation in Christ. He is the narrow path that leads to the broad places of heaven. She has invited the two to lodge, but then she is told to bring them out.

She has the key to understanding the Lord in both Testaments of the word. When she is told to bring them out, thus giving them up, if you remember it curiously said in the singular, “And took the woman two the men and hid him.”

Being in the singular, it would indicate one word, even if two testaments. She has secreted the whole counsel of God away. While the enemy is out chasing after these two, and not finding anything, she is safely keeping them.

And not only that, it says that she caused them to ascend to the gag, or roof. That comes from gaah, exalted or majestic. She has placed the word, the two testaments, in the exalted place in her home among the stalks of flax that she had there.

Flax is the basis of linen, a covering that depicts righteousness. This speaks of her tending to the word of God, exalting it, in order to seek and find righteousness.

Meanwhile, the enemy pursues these two all the way to the Jordan, upon the fords. The Jordan, the Descender, pictures Christ Jesus. But without the word, they will find nothing. Mankind can only come to Christ through His word which tells of Him. There is no crossing over except through the One Christ and through His one gospel.

While they are out pursuing, the two men are on the roof. Rahab ascended to them and showed her faith in the Lord, saying that she knows that He is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath. With that, she asks for kindness to be shown to her father’s house by sparing it.

The two men agree. If she is faithful to the conditions according to their word, they offer their lives in exchange. The token, the sign, is their word that it will be so. The word of God is sure. It is a sign of the truth of God. It testifies to His faithfulness.

With that, she lets them down by a cord. The word signifies to bind tightly, coming from a word meaning to pledge. She has accepted their word as a pledge of truthfulness. After that, the two state that they are blameless of the oath which she made them swear.

The word of God cannot fail. It is blameless. What it proclaims is absolutely certain. Their word to her is “expectation, thread the scarlet, the this, you bind in the window which you caused us to descend.” It is the crimson thread that runs throughout Scripture and that which testifies to Christ.

It is a typological picture that salvation comes through His blood. Any who are willing to hide themselves with this protective mark will be saved, just as was the case with the Passover. Destruction is inevitable, but salvation can be obtained for those who accept the conditions.

This is exactly how it is for salvation in Christ. The proposition is set forth, certain conditions must be met, and when they are, salvation is obtained. As we saw in the previous sermon, the conditions are stated by Jesus –

“Then they said to Him, ‘What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?’
29 Jesus answered and said to them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.’” John 6:28, 29

The scarlet thread is given in typology of that faith in Christ. The two testaments testify to this, and nothing else will do. If you think about it, Israel has not yet crossed through the Jordan (Christ), and thus they are not yet saved. However, Rahab is, even if it has not yet come about.

She put the cord up and awaited in hope of the deliverance that was promised to her. She was a Gentile sinner, and yet she obtained the promise before the people who were given the promise in the first place. Her name reflects her state. She obtained the broad places of heaven through her acts of faith.

Her statement to them was, va’tomer k’divrekem ken hu – “And she said, “According to your words, so IT.” That is what God expects of us. His word is written. It is laid out in two testaments, and they together form a unified whole that testifies to the workings of God in Christ. When we accept the conditions and apply faith as instructed, salvation is realized.

In her life profession while in Jericho, she was not morally inferior to those around her. Rather, it is just the opposite. She was willing to humble her heart before the Lord, she exalted those who came to her, and she was obedient to their word.

This is not unlike those of Israel who were considered the dregs of society, but who Jesus said would enter the kingdom of God before those who were supposedly righteous. They accepted the message of John, they looked for the Messiah of whom he spoke, and they accepted Him for who He is.

Israel is given an example of this in their own history, even before they enter through the Jordan. In fact, it is the last main message given to them before Joshua musters them and gets them ready to enter Canaan. Israel of today must learn this. It is only by faith in Christ that the inheritance can be obtained.

Moses, the law, died outside of Canaan. A harlot who simply trusted in the word of the Lord will be exalted within the borders of Canaan – even to becoming an ancestor of the Savior whom the actions of her life anticipate. What an amazing thing to consider.

Closing Verse: “Jesus said to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you that tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you. 32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him; but tax collectors and harlots believed him; and when you saw it, you did not afterward relent and believe him.’” Matthew 21:31, 32

Next Week: Joshua 3:1-13 To do it, they won’t need a Land Rover, but it would be fun… (And the People Crossed Over, Part I) (5th Joshua Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. It is He who has defeated the enemy and who now offers His people rest. So, follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

According to Your Words, So Be It

Now therefore, I beg you
Swear to me by the LORD, so your vow you cannot douse
Since I have shown you kindness
That you also will show kindness to my father’s house

And give me a true token
And spare my father, my mother, my brothers, my sisters too
And all that they have
And deliver our lives from death, this I beg of you

So the men answered her, “Our lives for yours
If none of you tell this business of ours, so you shall not do
And it shall be, when the LORD has given us the land
That we will deal kindly and truly with you

Then she let them down
By a rope through the window
For her house was on the city wall
She dwelt on the wall, so out the window they did go

And she said to them
“Get to the mountain, lest the pursuers meet you, so she did say
Hide there three days, until the pursuers have returned
Afterward you may go your way

So the men said to her: “We will be blameless of this oath of yours
Which you have made us swear
Unless, when we come into the land
You bind this line of scarlet cord in the window
———-and we find it there

The window through which you let us down
And unless you bring your father, your mother, your brothers too
And all your father’s household to your own home
This is what we require of you

So it shall be that whoever goes
Outside the doors of your house into the street
His blood shall be on his own head
And we will be guiltless, when his death he does meet

And whoever is with you in the house
His blood shall be on our head if a hand is laid on him there
And if you tell this business of ours
Then we will be free from your oath which you made us swear

Then she said, “According to your words, so be it
And she sent them away, and they departed
And she bound the scarlet cord in the window
She was no longer fearful or fainthearted

They departed and went to the mountain
And stayed there three days until their pursuers returned
They sought them all along the way
But did not find them and the matter was adjourned

So the two men returned
Descended from the mountain, and crossed over as well
And they came to Joshua the son of Nun
And told him all that had to them befell

And they said to Joshua
“Truly the LORD has delivered all the land into our hands
———-triple A and plus, plus, plus
For indeed all the inhabitants of the country
Are fainthearted because of us

Lord God, turn our hearts to be obedient to Your word
Give us wisdom to be ever faithful to You
May we carefully heed each thing we have heard
Yes, Lord God may our hearts be faithful and true

And we shall be content and satisfied in You alone
We will follow You as we sing our songs of praise
Hallelujah to You; to us Your path You have shown
Hallelujah we shall sing to You for all of our days

Hallelujah and Amen…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12 Now therefore, I beg you, swear to me by the Lord, since I have shown you kindness, that you also will show kindness to my father’s house, and give me a true token, 13 and spare my father, my mother, my brothers, my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death.”

14 So the men answered her, “Our lives for yours, if none of you tell this business of ours. And it shall be, when the Lord has given us the land, that we will deal kindly and truly with you.”

15 Then she let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was on the city wall; she dwelt on the wall. 16 And she said to them, “Get to the mountain, lest the pursuers meet you. Hide there three days, until the pursuers have returned. Afterward you may go your way.”

17 So the men said to her: “We will be blameless of this oath of yours which you have made us swear, 18 unless, when we come into the land, you bind this line of scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and unless you bring your father, your mother, your brothers, and all your father’s household to your own home. 19 So it shall be that whoever goes outside the doors of your house into the street, his blood shall be on his own head, and we will be guiltless. And whoever is with you in the house, his blood shall be on our head if a hand is laid on him. 20 And if you tell this business of ours, then we will be free from your oath which you made us swear.”

21 Then she said, “According to your words, so be it.” And she sent them away, and they departed. And she bound the scarlet cord in the window.

22 They departed and went to the mountain, and stayed there three days until the pursuers returned. The pursuers sought them all along the way, but did not find them. 23 So the two men returned, descended from the mountain, and crossed over; and they came to Joshua the son of Nun, and told him all that had befallen them. 24 And they said to Joshua, “Truly the Lord has delivered all the land into our hands, for indeed all the inhabitants of the country are fainthearted because of us.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joshua 2:1-11 (A Harlot Named Rahab)

Artwork by Doug Kallerson.

Joshua 2:1-11
A Harlot Named Rahab

Many years ago, I ran the wastewater plant that treated the water for all of the Gulf Gate area. The company provided all the water and wastewater services, including the big blue water tower just behind us, but I preferred the wastewater side of the job.

Running a plant is a lot like running your own body, just with a lot more volume. Stuff comes in, it has to be processed, and stuff goes out in a completely different condition. It is pretty much an all-natural process with the addition of several non-toxic chemicals.

When we eat, the minerals and vitamins contained in food are used by our bodies to make them work well. The treatment plants need iron and other things to be added in so that the “big stomach” doesn’t get upset. The plant needs air pumped through it to keep the microscopic bugs alive. The plant converts things from one form to another. It’s so much like how we function.

That includes when things get into the system that shouldn’t be in there as well. Things can upset our stomachs or even poison them. Well, this is true with the “big stomach” at the plant. One Saturday morning, I got a call from one of the operators, Jason, a really great guy.

He said, “Charlie, the plant is dead. We did 0.0% nitrification.” A dead plant is a bad thing for many reasons, but mostly because the untreated water still has to leave the plant. Those tanks have a very short time before they are full and flow downhill to where they finally rush out to Sarasota Bay. We had hours, at best, to fix things.

Text Verse: “By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace.” Hebrews 11:31

I got to the plant in a matter of minutes. We immediately turned one tank into a holding tank and started pumping every single drop of the “dead bug” out of the plant and into that holding tank. We then took a giant reserve of “live bug” from what is known as a digestor and pumped that back into the plant.

Within probably one to two hours, the plant was running as if it had never had a problem. This not only saved Sarasota Bay from becoming polluted with an unknown but highly toxic chemical (saving all the fish and other aquatic life out there), but it saved the company hundreds of thousands, or more, in fines.

The “dead bug” that we pumped to the temporary storage tank had to be loaded onto trucks and hauled to a special treatment center out of state. It was an immensely expensive process, but it had to be done. After analysis of the contents, it was determined that someone had poured highly toxic chemicals used in photography into the sewer system. Out of sight, out of mind, or so they thought.

If it wasn’t for the quick thinking of Jason who was working all alone on Saturday morning, Sarasota Bay would have received much of that toxicity, along with hundreds of thousands of gallons of untreated wastewater.

Today, we will meet a similarly quick-thinking lady. Life and death are on the line for her, and she knows it. But she wasn’t a top executive of a major company somewhere. She was just a prostitute. Who would think that someone like that would end up in the genealogy of the Savior of the world!

Great, great things such as this are to be found in His superior word. And so, let us turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today, and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. Did Not Know (Liar, Liar, etc.) (verses 1-7)

Now Joshua the son of Nun sent out two men

As noted in the previous sermon, the words of verse 1:11 most likely follow chronologically after the account which is now given. There it said –

“Pass through the camp and command the people, saying, ‘Prepare provisions for yourselves, for within three days you will cross over this Jordan, to go in to possess the land which the Lord your God is giving you to possess.’” Joshua 1:11

As such, what is now to be detailed is an event that precedes the preparation of the people to enter Canaan, and the words “had sent,” instead of “sent” should be used. These two are sent out…

1 (con’t) from Acacia Grove to spy secretly,

min ha’shittim shnayim anashim merag’lim kheresh – “From the Acacia Groves two men reconnoiterers secretly.” The location is “the Shittim,” or translated, “the Acacia Groves.” Also, saying, “to spy secretly” is a redundancy.

The word is ragal, coming from regel, or foot. It is one who walks about, but it is to be taken in a specific way. In this case, it is to reconnoiter. But that is then defined with a new word to Scripture, kheresh, “secretly.” It is in this capacity that Joshua is…

1 (con’t) saying, “Go, view the land, especially Jericho.”

The word “especially” is not in the text, even if it is implied. It reads, “Go, see the land – and Jericho.” They were to do a general reconnoiter of the land, but also to ensure that they focused on Jericho. With that stated, it next says…

1 (con’t) So they went, and came to the house of a harlot named Rahab, and lodged there.

The Hebrew is more expressive: v’yeleku v’yavou beit ishah zonah rakhav, v’yishkevu shamah – “and they went, and they came to house woman – harlot – and named Rahab, and they lie down there.”

Here, the text identifies Rahab as a harlot, a word used consistently to speak of a whore or a prostitute. It is often used in Scripture to describe Israel in their whoring after false gods. However, the root of zonah, znh, is the same root used for a female who gives food and provisions; an innkeeper.

For this reason, rabbinic texts explain that this is what is being referred to. Even Josephus said that she kept an inn. And, thus, liberal teachers are quick to grab onto this and to identify her as having a noble background.

Unfortunately, if they would simply read the New Testament, they would not make such a blundering error. Our text verse today was from Hebrews 11:31. Both there and in James 2:25, she is identified as a harlot (a prostitute) using the Greek word porné. I assure you that porné does not mean an innkeeper. The same word is used to describe her as such in the Greek translation of the Old Testament as well.

Though the spelling of her name in Jesus’ genealogy in Matthew is different than that of Hebrews and James, it is certain that this is the same woman so clearly referenced in Joshua. It is the entire point of including her in the narrative and then in the genealogy.

This is a problem with consulting rabbinic literature. The rabbis didn’t like that a prostitute was in the genealogy of David, and thus in that of the coming Messiah, so they attempted to sugarcoat the obvious. This is not uncommon in their writings.

The apostles saw no such difficulty and understood that the very same fallen women, such as Rahab and Bathsheba, could be used as key participants in the unfolding narrative of redemption that would lead us to God’s Christ.

It should be noted that even reputable scholars, with all fudginess possible, attempt to repair her reputation. Adam Clarke went down innumerable avenues to patch-up Rahab’s image. In the end, he sums up his thoughts as to why he needed to do so –

“To all this may be added, that as our blessed Lord came through the line of this woman, it cannot be a matter of little consequence to know what moral character she sustained; as an inn-keeper she might be respectable, if not honorable; as a public prostitute she could be neither; and it is not very likely that the providence of God would have suffered a person of such a notoriously bad character to enter into the sacred line of his genealogy.”

Rather, it is expressly because she was a prostitute that the story is so glorious. A key point of this, at least from a moral perspective, is that God has accepted you. You may have been a prostitute, had an abortion, divorced your wife, secretly killed someone, been an alcoholic, or whatever. And yet, the beauty and even glory of God in Christ says, “Come. My grace is sufficient.”

Whatever your past was, in Christ, your future will never be the same. Come to Christ. This is the lesson of Rahab, and so far, we have only been introduced to her with a short description, “a woman – a prostitute.”

Her name, Rakhav, comes from the verb rakhav meaning to be or to grow wide or large. It is used in the Old Testament to indicate enlargement of an area, such as in a border, baldness on the head, the size of Sheol, and so on. It is also used to refer to enlarging the heart, opening the mouth, etc.

Thus, her name means Spacious or Enlarged. One must wonder what would prompt a name like this. As she is a prostitute, and as it appears her family was fully aware of this – as will be seen in the narrative – it may be that this was her lot all along, something not uncommon in many cultures.

As such, and solely as speculation by me, her name may have been given to her to reflect the work she would do, such as Isaiah prophesied concerning Israel when using this same root verb –

“Also behind the doors and their posts
You have set up your remembrance;
For you have uncovered yourself to those other than Me,
And have gone up to them;
You have enlarged [rakhav] your bed
And made a covenant with them;
You have loved their bed,
Where you saw their nudity.” Isaiah 57:8

Whatever the intent behind the name, and regardless of her profession, she will be a key figure in the history of Israel leading to the Messiah. For now…

And it was told the king of Jericho, saying,

As Jericho is a walled city, it had a ruling elder, here called a king because of the authority that he would have had over the populace. It was probably sentinels that guarded the gates who told the king.

People would be free to come in and go out of such a city, but it would be negligent to not tell the leader of any unusual foreigners that came around. The spies would only be two strangers coming in, probably unarmed. This would not be a reason to keep them out, but being Hebrews, it would at least be worthy of raising the matter to the king…

2 (con’t) “Behold, men have come here tonight

This would explain how they wound up meeting Rahab. As a prostitute, she would be hanging around the gates of the city in the evening to entice any travelers to spend the night at her place. It fits naturally into the narrative. As for the men, they were…

2 (con’t) from the children of Israel

One can only surmise that the two men told them this. Their accents would be unusual, but so would the accents of other people from all over the area. Having never heard anyone from Israel before, it would be unlikely they could be identified as such unless they were simply told it was so. This probably goes for the next words…

2 (con’t) to search out the country.”

lakhpor eth ha’erets – “to search out the land.” One can imagine it, “Hey guys, where are you coming from?” “We’re Israelis just checking things out. We’ve never been here before.” “OK! Good to have you, c’mon in.” It would be a common and innocuous greeting between them, but still one worth reporting…

So the king of Jericho sent to Rahab, saying,

He has already been identified as the king of Jericho. As such, it is implicit stress on the fact by saying, “the king of Jericho” rather than just “the king.” As such, the words are made more poignant, and thus the actions of Rahab, to whom the king’s words were directed, are brought forth as well. His words are…

3 (con’t) “Bring out the men who have come to you,

A verb is used in place of a noun: khotsii ha’anashim ha’baim elayik – “bring out the men, the comers unto you.” The king was apprised of the situation, he knew exactly who had come and who they had gone into. It is these two Israelis…

3 (con’t) who have entered your house,

asher bau l’betekh – “who have entered to your house.” Regardless of her type of business, to entertain a stranger meant the right to proper treatment and protection for those in the house.

Unless a refusal was made by Rahab, they would be bound by the honor found in Middle Eastern culture to ask her to deliver them rather than having the guards forcing themselves into her home. This is what provides her with the opportunity to take the action of hiding the Hebrew spies. In the meantime, those sent to her continue with…

3 (con’t) for they have come to search out all the country.”

The words expand upon the corresponding clause of verse 2 by adding in the word “all” to what is now said: ki lakhpor et kal ha’arets bau – “for to search out all the land they have come.”

As John Lange correctly states, “Notice the full circumstantiality of the king’s command.” The king has deduced that they are not merely tourists looking for a fun time, but they are men on a mission to determine the state of things for an invasion. One can see that even as they are speaking at the door, she is pointing out where the men can go and how to hide…

Then the woman took the two men and hid them.

The words curiously go from the plural to the singular: va’tiqah ha’ishah eth shene ha’anashim va’titspeno – “And took the woman two the men and hid him.” The Greek translation reads “them,” and without the later addition of the vowel points by the Masoretes, this could be read as them, but for some reason, the Masoretes carefully recorded it as “him.”

John Gill notes the Jew’s ridiculous take on this, saying, “hence the Jews, who take these two spies to be Caleb and Phinehas, say, that only Caleb was hid, and Phinehas, though he was before them, was not seen, being an angel.”

Ewald sees this as “the free discourse in which one passes from the plural to the singular.” The Pulpit Commentary explains this as each man being hidden in a separate place. But these notions hardly explain this. It is as if one of them is being singled out.

Despite that, one can see her pointing to the two and saying in a hush, “Go up on the roof. I’ll get rid of them.” They would have no choice but to trust her because the king’s men were standing there. It would make no sense for her to try to hide them, just to say to the king’s men, “They are on the roof.” Simply opening the door would have had exactly the same effect.

In reading the account, it makes one (meaning me) wonder if one of these two men didn’t become her future husband. It is wholly speculation, but they are identified in verse 6:23 as “young men.”

They are old enough to be sent out on a mission, but probably unmarried and are most likely in their mid to late teens. This completely dispels the Jewish idea that these are Caleb and Phinehas, one of whom is almost eighty at this point.

Rahab’s attitude and actions towards them, along with the curious change from plural to singular, reveal a quickly developed affinity that raises this idea in my mind.

4 (con’t) So she said, “Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from.

This is her first lie. It is already known where they are from as will be seen in verse 9. Having arrived at the point where a lie has been introduced, it must be noted that the comments by scholars on this go on and on.

They bring in the nature of God and of the terrible thing she has done by lying, carefully noting that a lie is always a sin. From there, they then go into the notion of forgiveness and mercy because of her faith, and so on.

It is true that lying is sin, but what is it that brings this about? The law. She is not under law. But she has a conscience. And so, either her conscience is seared, and she is corrupt, or she has weighed the matter out and she is working under a law of faith. Charles Ellicott wisely evaluates the matter –

“The Divine standard of sin and holiness never varies; but the standard of man’s conscience, even when faith is a dominant principle in the character, may vary to a very considerable degree. In Jesus Christ ‘all that believe are justified from all things;’ but ‘by the deeds of the law no one.’ Here, as elsewhere, the application of the law only brings the discovery of sin.”

Rather than focusing on something contrary to the Divine standard, the narrative focuses on exaltation of it through her words and actions that are grounded in faith. This is not unlike those who hid Jews during WWII. Even though the Bible says we are to be subject to the governing authority, there is often a time that such obedience must be disobeyed for a higher purpose. With that understood, Rahab continues…

And it happened as the gate was being shut, when it was dark, that the men went out.

The next lie. However, it is more than a simple lie, but also a fabrication. She is making stuff up on the fly to construct a convincing argument in order to hide the truth.

It is after dark, the gates are shut as the sun goes down, and they are only opened when those coming to it in either direction can be individually identified and authorized for passing through it. Thus, her words form a persuasive argument that is credible and would put her in jeopardy if it were not so. Hence, they have no reason to not believe it.

5 (con’t) Where the men went I do not know;

The third lie. She is fully aware of where they are, and the Bible doesn’t hide either the fact that she does know or that she lied. It simply conveys the details of the story, allowing us to come to our own conclusions about the matter.

While at the same time that her words are contrary to the Divine nature, the reason behind them and the actions which are joined to them are not.

Since this account was compiled, the same value judgments have been made continuously throughout human history. The number of people who took exactly the same path as Rahab during the holocaust alone is large. And those who did what they did are cited as heroes by people who would stand over Rahab and accuse her for being a little liar.

We live in a fallen world and there are times when judgments must be made that stand outside of the propriety of law. And yet, they will inevitably be the right choices when the larger situation is taken into consideration and when the person’s faith is properly directed. The evaluation of Rahab in Hebrews 11 and James 2 bears this out.

5 (con’t) pursue them quickly, for you may overtake them.”

The words are well thought out. She has already convincingly stated that they are not with her, having no discernible reason to lie and every reason to tell the truth. Adding these words intensifies the urgency to get about finding the miscreants. Some may call her conniving, but others would see her as quick thinking and resourceful.

(But she had brought them up to the roof

v’hi heelatam ha’gagah – “And she had caused them to ascend to the roof.” The meaning is that she told them to go up to the roof, and they went up. As noted earlier, this was probably as the king’s messengers came to the door. At that time, she pointed for them to go up, and so they went up.

The roofs of such houses were flat and were easily accessible because many things were done on top of them, from dinners and small parties, to accomplishing various types of work, and even for bathing or sleeping. It is probably after the messengers left that the next words came about…

6 (con’t) and hidden them with the stalks of flax,

The verb is imperfect: va’titmenem b’pishte ha’ets – “and hides them in flax, the wood.” These are stalks of flax that are said to grow to about three or more feet in length. After cutting, they would be set out in an array to dry, as seen in the next clause. This would be where the men could be easily hidden…

6 (con’t) which she had laid in order on the roof.)

ha’arukoth lah al ha’gag – “the arrayed to her upon the roof.” In other words, they had been laid out in an array upon the roof for drying. In this manner, they could get sun from all around and uniformly dry as they stood in these particular arrangements.

The roof would be the area where that was done. Eventually, the stalks would be worked and made into linen. She would have hidden them in these arrayed stalks until it was certain that nobody would be coming back to inspect the place, and until they could make their escape.

Then the men pursued them by the road to the Jordan,

v’ha’anashim rad’phu akharehem derek ha’yarden – “And the men pursued after them way the Jordan.” This would be the logical route to take. It would have been known that Israel was on the other side of the Jordan, and so to get to the Jordan as quickly as possible would be the most obvious thing to do. As it says…

7 (con’t) to the fords.

al ha’mab’roth – “upon the fords.” The word ma’avar signifies a passing through. It can be fords of a river or the passages through a mountain. As this is plural, it probably means that a group of soldiers went out and one or two of them stood upon each of the fords within reasonable distance of Jericho.

7 (con’t) And as soon as those who pursued them had gone out, they shut the gate.

Because of the way the words are laid out, a direct translation is difficult: “And the gate they shut after as which had gone out the pursuers after them.” It means just as the English translation says. Once those pursuing the men went out, the gates were shut.

Being nighttime, they were taking no chances of a sudden rush by the enemy, or anyone getting in or out that should not do so. Other than face masks and vaccines, the city had gone into lockdown

*Who are you and where are you from?
And why is your accent so odd?
Come inside and explain to me some
What is your people, and who is your God?

**We are Israel and just checking things out
You know, seeing what is up in this place
We’re searching the land to see what it’s all about
And it’s so nice to see your smiling face

*We have heard of you. Your life is in danger in this place
But I can hide you if anyone comes around
I want you to remember my face
I hope for mercy from you if it can be found

I will join with your people, please remember my face
After I have gotten you safely out of this place

II. For We Have Heard (verses 8-11)

Now before they lay down,

 

There is a stress in the words: v’hemah terem yishkavun – “and they before they (certainly) lay down.” It shows the imperative nature of what will come next.

With the messengers gone and the soldiers sent out of the city, things would have calmed down enough for the two men to lie down and sleep. But before they could do this, she ascended to the roof to converse with them…

8 (con’t) she came up to them on the roof,

v’hi aletah alehem al ha’gag – “and she ascended upon them, upon the roof.” Her words to come are filled with careful attention concerning the state of those in Canaan, the knowledge of the Lord and His care for Israel, and of her faith in the Lord’s capabilities.

and said to the men: “I know that the Lord has given you the land,

Rahab explicitly speaks out the name Yehovah: yadati ki nathan Yehovah lakem eth ha’arets – “I know for has given Yehovah to you the land.” She is both aware of this name and she understands His purposes for Israel. Her faith in the capability of the Lord is demonstrated in the words, “has given Yehovah to you the land.”

It is a done deal even though the actions that will cause it to come about have not yet even begun. She knows this. And more, all of the people know it as well…

9 (con’t) that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land are fainthearted because of you.

Here she uses the word mug, or melt – “and that have melted all dwelling the land from your presence.” This was the purpose of the Lord’s dealings with Pharaoh. Going through the plagues gradually was intended to slowly harden Pharaoh’s heart.

If He had gone in and done something beyond their imagination right at the beginning, Pharaoh may have just said, “Let them go!” But that is not what happened. The Lord started with simple plagues that were reproducible by Pharaoh’s own magicians.

He then brought more plagues that one might think would logically follow one after another. If you turn water into blood, you will bring out frogs. If the frogs all die, the bugs that the frogs eat will increase exponentially, from there, pestilence on the livestock will result. And so forth.

The Lord followed a set path to slowly harden the heart of Pharaoh. He would have been well educated and attributed these things to what he could naturally observe. By the time the greater plagues came, he would be hardened to the point where more hardening would be the inevitable result.

And this is exactly what the Lord intended. By multiplying His judgment, He would magnify His name. And in doing that, the nations would then hear and fear –

“And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt. But Pharaoh will not heed you, so that I may lay My hand on Egypt and bring My armies and My people, the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments. And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I stretch out My hand on Egypt and bring out the children of Israel from among them.” Exodus 7:3-5

The Egyptians would know all that happened, and the word from them as they traded with the nations would naturally carry right back to the homes of those who traded. By the time the greatest plague hit, the death of the firstborn of Egypt, Pharoah would want them gone and even drive them out.

But because of the hardness of his heart, he would relent and attempt to retrieve them. In that, the great and miraculous event that would finally destroy Pharaoh’s power would come…

10 For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt,

The story of the Red Sea crossing was forty years earlier, but it was well known and remembered by all who heard it. And the credit is given to Yehovah, and it is given on behalf of the people of Israel. The narrative was clearly and precisely remembered.

This was exactly the purpose of the Lord having multiplied His judgments upon Pharaoh. A swift, sudden, and decisive early judgment would have not led to the knowledge of the Lord by Rahab and all of the others throughout Canaan. But more, she says…

10 (con’t) and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were on the other side of the Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed.

This was very recent history, and it would have resounded with the people, calling to mind the tales of the past and both reaffirming them and adding to the terror of the present. And, again, this is exactly what Moses said would occur, beginning with Sihon –

“Rise, take your journey, and cross over the River Arnon. Look, I have given into your hand Sihon the Amorite, king of Heshbon, and his land. Begin to possess it, and engage him in battle. 25 This day I will begin to put the dread and fear of you upon the nations under the whole heaven, who shall hear the report of you, and shall tremble and be in anguish because of you.” Deuteronomy 2:24, 25

The conquest of Sihon was immediately followed up with the conquest upon Og. As such…

11 And as soon as we heard these things, our hearts melted;

The words “as soon as” are not in the Hebrew. It is short and specific: “And we hear and melted our hearts.” The tales of the Red Sea would have been known but not considered for many years, but with the sudden coming of Israel upon the land east of the Jordan, and of the victories over the great inhabitants there, there would be utter panic at what lay ahead. As such…

11 (con’t) neither did there remain any more courage in anyone because of you,

v’lo qamah od ruakh b’ish mip’nekem – “And no stood again spirit in man from before you.” The idea is that every man became completely dispirited and he could not get himself to regain his courage again. They simply remained terrified. Hence, we saw the reaction of the king of Jericho. Rahab next makes a sure statement of faith in what she now perfectly knows…

11 (con’t) for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.

Rahab’s words are emphatic: ki Yehovah elohekem hu Elohim ba’sh’mayim mi maal v’al ha’aretz mi’takhat – “For Yehovah your God HE God in the heavens from above and upon the land from beneath.” They are practically the words of Moses, but most especially in these words from Deuteronomy 4:39 –

“Therefore know this day, and consider it in your heart, that the Lord Himself is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other.”

Verses 9-11 can be summed up in the words of the Song of Moses from Exodus 15 –

“Then the chiefs of Edom will be dismayed;
The mighty men of Moab,
Trembling will take hold of them;
All the inhabitants of Canaan will melt away.
16 Fear and dread will fall on them;
By the greatness of Your arm
They will be as still as a stone,
Till Your people pass over, O Lord,
Till the people pass over
Whom You have purchased.” Exodus 15:15, 16

This is a logical point to end the words for today. Rahab has demonstrated faith in the capabilities of the Lord, even to the point that what she does aligns with what she believes. This brings in the obvious difficulty that is evidenced between the writings of Paul and those of James, something that we will look at in a moment…

With what will you come before the Lord?
What will you present for the sin of your soul?
What will bring you the great reward?
On what thing will you, your sins roll?

Shall you accomplish a great and noble deed?
Claiming it is worthy of His praise?
Shall giving up a wicked life or one of greed
Bring you honor, blessing, and eternal days?

Rather, come to your God in faith because of His grace
Come to Him with hands empty of any pride
By grace through faith alone will you see His smiling face
And through that alone will you in heaven reside

III. A Lesson in Faith

Paul says in Romans 3, “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law” (Romans 3:28). He then goes on to say –

“What then shall we say that Abraham our father has found according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.” Romans 4:1, 2

A few verses later, he says, “But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness” (Romans 4:5).

Paul says this elsewhere as well, both directly and indirectly. And yet, James says, “You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only” (James 2:24).

This is a problem, because preachers, teachers, and scholars then come up with impossible-to-reconcile solutions, such as, “Good works stem naturally from saving faith.” That is nonsense, and it is not ever taught in Scripture.

First, tell that to the guy on the cross next to Jesus. Secondly, the obvious question is, “What works?” Who decides what is sufficient work to say, “Yes, he is saved, and he is not.”? And thirdly, isn’t lying evidence of not doing what is right?

So, if a person does some good things and some things that aren’t good, like Rahab, then who decides that her works are acceptable for saving or not? It completely misses the intent of what Paul is saying, and it dismisses what James is saying.

In James 2, he gives only two examples of what works justify a person. The first was, astonishingly, that of Abraham, the exact same person that Paul says was justified by faith alone –

“Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?” James 2:21, 22

His second example is, equally incredibly, Rahab –

“Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?” James 2:25

Is James saying that these two people were not justified by faith? If so, then he didn’t read the epistle to Hebrews. Because both of them are used as examples there for being people of faith. And more, both of them have exactly the same “works” cited as “works of faith” –

By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, 18 of whom it was said, ‘In Isaac your seed shall be called,’ 19 concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense.” Hebrews 11:17-19

By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace.” Hebrews 11:31 (our text verse)

So how can it be that works justified them? If their faith was behind the works, then it was faith that justified them. Their works were simply works of faith. It is true that their works were products of the faith, but that is not what justified them, their faith did.

So, the question remains, “What works?” What is it that will save the human and bring him before God justified and acceptable to Him? Jesus gave us the answer –

“Then they said to Him, ‘What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?’
29 Jesus answered and said to them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.’” John 6:28, 29

The “works” which justify are the works of Jesus Christ. Faith in Him may or may not lead to our own works, but it is He who did the works. It is He who fulfilled the law. It is He who died in fulfillment of the law, and it is He who rose again. And it is we – here it is, here are our works – who are to believe in Him.

It is entirely false that “good works stem naturally from saving faith,” because no “good works” are defined for us to do except for those things that are found for us to do that are recorded in Scripture. But if a person hears the gospel, accepts it, and is saved, unless he has the Bible – something almost unheard of in much of history and still for many of the people of the world – they cannot “do” what is expected of them from the word.

In the end, everything comes back to one thought for our justification: faith. And it is faith plus nothing. If you want to be pleasing to God, have faith. If you want to add to that, learn His word and apply its precepts to your life. And when you do good things, if they are done because of your faith in Christ, you will receive your reward. Have faith in that.

Closing Verse: “But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for ‘the just shall live by faith.’” Galatians 3:11

Next Week: Joshua 2:12-24 To the spies, Rahab these words does submit… (According to Your Words, So Be It) (4th Joshua Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. It is He who has defeated the enemy and who now offers His people rest. So, follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

A Harlot Named Rahab

Now Joshua the son of Nun sent out two men from Acacia Grove
To spy secretly, saying, “Go, view the land, especially Jericho
So they went, and came to the house of a harlot named Rahab
And lodged there, thinking no one would know

And it was told the king of Jericho, saying
“Behold, men have come here tonight
From the children of Israel to search out the country
For sure, this just ain’t right

So the king of Jericho sent to Rahab, saying
“Bring out the men who have come to you
Who have entered your house
For they have come to search out all the country
———-such they came to do

Then the woman took the two men and hid them
So she said, “Yes, the men came to me
But I did not know where they were from
So I tell you plainly

“And it happened as the gate was being shut
When it was dark, that the men went out; their escape
———-they did make
Where the men went, I do not know
Pursue them quickly, for them you may overtake”

(But she had brought them up to the roof
And hidden them with the stalks of flax
Which she had laid in order on the roof
She carefully covered their tracks

Then the men pursued them by the road
To the Jordan, to the fords heading straight
And as soon as those who pursued them had gone out
They shut the gate

Now before they lay down, she came up to them on the roof
And said to the men: “I know that the LORD has
———-given you the land. Yes, I know it’s true
That the terror of you has fallen on us
And that all the inhabitants of the land are fainthearted
———-because of you

For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water
Of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, such
———-great wonders He has employed
And what you did to the two kings of the Amorites
Who were on the other side of the Jordan, Sihon and Og
———-whom you utterly destroyed

And as soon as we heard these things, our hearts melted
Neither did there remain any more courage in anyone
Because of you, for the LORD your God
He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath
———-He is the only One!

Lord God, turn our hearts to be obedient to Your word
Give us wisdom to be ever faithful to You
May we carefully heed each thing we have heard
Yes, Lord God may our hearts be faithful and true

And we shall be content and satisfied in You alone
We will follow You as we sing our songs of praise
Hallelujah to You; to us Your path You have shown
Hallelujah we shall sing to You for all of our days

Hallelujah and Amen…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now Joshua the son of Nun sent out two men from Acacia Grove to spy secretly, saying, “Go, view the land, especially Jericho.”

So they went, and came to the house of a harlot named Rahab, and lodged there. And it was told the king of Jericho, saying, “Behold, men have come here tonight from the children of Israel to search out the country.”

So the king of Jericho sent to Rahab, saying, “Bring out the men who have come to you, who have entered your house, for they have come to search out all the country.”

Then the woman took the two men and hid them. So she said, “Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from. And it happened as the gate was being shut, when it was dark, that the men went out. Where the men went I do not know; pursue them quickly, for you may overtake them.” (But she had brought them up to the roof and hidden them with the stalks of flax, which she had laid in order on the roof.) Then the men pursued them by the road to the Jordan, to the fords. And as soon as those who pursued them had gone out, they shut the gate.

Now before they lay down, she came up to them on the roof, and said to the men: “I know that the Lord has given you the land, that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land are fainthearted because of you. 10 For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were on the other side of the Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. 11 And as soon as we heard these things, our hearts melted; neither did there remain any more courage in anyone because of you, for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.

 

 

 

 

Joshua 1:10-18 (All That You Command Us We Will Do)

Joshua 1:10-18
All That You Command Us We Will Do

In the US, there are a lot of people that owe a lot of money on student loans. The person who is currently in the White House has been talking about erasing that debt. The day before typing this sermon, I saw an article that it may now be for only some people that he will decide upon.

By the time the sermon is given, who knows what will have happened. But it is morally wrong to simply wipe away someone’s debt in the manner he is planning. This means that, like all government waste, someone else must pay their bills.

Regardless of how it happened, or what the terms were, these people signed the line and accepted the loan. They benefitted from it, and they are responsible for paying it back. But that doesn’t matter to people like this guy. Power, control, and votes are all that speak to such people’s otherwise unreasoning minds.

In today’s passage, a group of people is addressed by Joshua. They made a promise to Moses that they would take certain actions in order to receive certain benefits. They spoke with their mouths, and they are obligated to perform.

As good citizens, they will agree to uphold what they had spoken. If we could only get people to do the same in today’s world, things would go a lot better for all…

Text Verse: “So the children of Reuben, the children of Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh returned, and departed from the children of Israel at Shiloh, which is in the land of Canaan, to go to the country of Gilead, to the land of their possession, which they had obtained according to the word of the Lord by the hand of Moses.” Joshua 22:9

By the end of Joshua, the people who made that promise to Moses, and who will now reaffirm it to Joshua, will have fulfilled their part of the obligation.

It is inexcusable to borrow money – be it from an individual or an institution – and then not pay back what you owe. However, there are times when it is impossible to do so, and there are laws that govern such things. Along with those laws are certain negative aspects of the forgiveness that are heaped upon the person for a period of time.

What is more inexcusable is for the government, with the exception of executive pardon as allowed by the constitution, to arbitrarily and without consequence forgive someone else’s debt. It is the height of presumption, and it is damaging to all who are connected to the matter.

The government will only grow more callous toward its citizens, the one forgiven will never learn personal responsibility, and those who were owed that money – meaning the taxpaying citizens – are essentially robbed by those who are supposed to represent and protect them.

It is totally unlike what God has done in Christ. We are the debtors, and He is the One to whom the debt is owed. God didn’t rob others to pay that debt for us. Rather, He paid it Himself through the incarnation. In the giving of His Son, harmony is restored, and a state of rest exists. God did the work, and we receive the benefits of it. Thank God for Jesus Christ.

We will talk about that for both the church and Israel before we finish today. Again, thank God for Jesus Christ. Great things such as entering God’s rest are to be found in His superior word. And so, let us turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. Until the Lord Has Given Your Brethren Rest (verses 10-18)

10 Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people, saying,

To open the passage today, Joshua is said to have commanded the “officers of the people.” The word is shoter, coming from an unused root meaning “to write.” It has been seen since Exodus 5 and was commonly used in Deuteronomy.

Though the identity of this position is not fully known, they are probably superintending magistrates who are likely responsible for the genealogical records. As such, they would identify who was eligible to fight. They would probably keep an account of who went to battle, who was due a furlough, who had died, and so on.

Whether they were fighters or not, and probably not, it is they who would be responsible for those who would keep all such accountings. It is this group that was given the charge to identify the warriors as is recorded in Deuteronomy 20 –

“Then the officers shall speak to the people, saying: ‘What man is there who has built a new house and has not dedicated it? Let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the battle and another man dedicate it. Also what man is there who has planted a vineyard and has not eaten of it? Let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the battle and another man eat of it. And what man is there who is betrothed to a woman and has not married her? Let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the battle and another man marry her.’
“The officers shall speak further to the people, and say, ‘What man is there who is fearful and fainthearted? Let him go and return to his house, lest the heart of his brethren faint like his heart.’ And so it shall be, when the officers have finished speaking to the people, that they shall make captains of the armies to lead the people.” Deuteronomy 20:5-9

At this time, the duties of these shoterim are probably greater than just gathering the troops together for battle. This is because not only the soldiers will be entering Canaan, but the families of the people will as well. Hence, the officers were there to ensure that the breakdown and movement of the entire nation went smoothly.

With that understood, Joshua continues, saying…

11 “Pass through the camp and command the people, saying,

The Hebrew more precisely reads, “Pass through in the midst of the camp.” It is the responsibility of the shoterim to ensure that all people were carefully instructed to be ready for what lay ahead, going tribe by tribe and from tent to tent. All people were to be carefully instructed on what they needed to do. Which was…

11 (con’t) ‘Prepare provisions for yourselves,

The word signifies a supply of food. It is the word used at the Exodus to describe the situation –

“And they baked unleavened cakes of the dough which they had brought out of Egypt; for it was not leavened, because they were driven out of Egypt and could not wait, nor had they prepared provisions for themselves.” Exodus 12:39

One might ask why they would need this if they were still receiving manna. That is found in Joshua 5 –

“Now the children of Israel camped in Gilgal, and kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight on the plains of Jericho. 11 And they ate of the produce of the land on the day after the Passover, unleavened bread and parched grain, on the very same day. 12 Then the manna ceased on the day after they had eaten the produce of the land; and the children of Israel no longer had manna, but they ate the food of the land of Canaan that year.” Joshua 5:10-12

But this passage in Joshua 5 explains why they would need provisions. They would no longer receive the manna. And even before that happened, the manna would only fall around the camp (Exodus 16:13). For those on expeditions, they would naturally need to have their own provisions. Joshua next notes that there was a set time to prepare…

11 (con’t) for within three days you will cross over this Jordan,

ki b’od sh’loshet yamim atem oberim eth ha’yarden ha’zeh – “For in until three days you will cross over the Jordan, the this.” The words are problematic for the reader based on the events that follow.

In Chapter 2, it refers to the spies being sent out, coming to the house of Rahab, leaving her house at night, and hiding three days before returning to Joshua. Hence, this cannot be three days as one would expect from a cursory read.

There are several possibilities. The first is that the term “within three days” is from the time of an appointed date. In other words, not necessarily “today” but “within three days of the order to go.” It is an innovative idea, but the Hebrew really appears to be speaking of a three-day period.

Another option is that the events now recorded are not necessarily chronological. In other words. This statement would then belong after Joshua 3:1 –

Then Joshua rose early in the morning; and they set out from Acacia Grove and came to the Jordan, he and all the children of Israel, and lodged there before they crossed over. Joshua 3:1

Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people, saying, 11 “Pass through the camp and command the people, saying, ‘Prepare provisions for yourselves, for within three days you will cross over this Jordan, to go in to possess the land which the Lord your God is giving you to possess.’” Joshua 2:10, 11

So it was, after three days, that the officers went through the camp; and they commanded the people, saying, “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the priests, the Levites, bearing it, then you shall set out from your place and go after it. Joshua 3:2, 3

If this is correct, then the events of Joshua actually begin in Chapter 1:1-9 and then follow with those of Chapter 2. But to make the narrative understandable, verses 1:10, 11 are placed out of where they chronologically occur.

If so, verses 1:12, 13 are spoken at some point, without specificity as to when, for instruction to those who will inherit land west of the Jordan.

A third option is that the delay in the return of the spies caused a delay in the events originally scheduled for three days hence. The second option appears most likely. One would need to use the Hebrew in a seemingly unintended way for the first option. Joshua would seem unprepared for contingencies if it were the third option.

As such, I would assume that the events are not chronological but are rather chosen to illustrate their importance as they transpired. Therefore, this order to cross by Joshua would have come on the seventh day of the first month, and the spies would have been sent out several days earlier depending on when the Sabbath was.

The main point of this is that there is no need to say the text is in error. Such an obvious blunder would not be admitted, even if this wasn’t the word of God.

Rather, there is a precise timing, and the events were both understandable to the author and they have a valid explanation, even if it must be thought through first. With this understood, Joshua’s command continues, saying they will cross over…

11 (con’t) to go in to possess the land which the Lord your God is giving you to possess.’”

The word yarash, which is used twice in this clause, signifies to possess as in an inheritance. In other words, it may be the possession of the inhabitants that live there now, but they will be disinherited, and Israel will receive the inheritance promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Paul, the author of Hebrews, Peter, and Jesus (in Acts and Revelation) each speak of obtaining the inheritance. Canaan is typical of the state of sanctification that comes through faith in Christ, but that state includes the promise of heaven and eternal life.

Therefore, Canaan – as a type – cannot be limited to being emblematic of being sanctified in Christ, but it must include everything that such a state of sanctification promises. In Ephesians 1 and 2, Paul clearly shows that our present state is inclusive of heaven itself.

Another note concerning this verse, which has been seen several times in Deuteronomy, is that the word translated as “will cross over” is overim. It is identical in spelling to the word ivrim, or Hebrew.

Thus, this gives a sense of the state of what it means to be a true Hebrew. It speaks of a person who has crossed over (through) Christ unto salvation, as pictured by crossing through the Jordan. For now, the passage continues with…

12 And to the Reubenites, the Gadites, and half the tribe of Manasseh Joshua spoke, saying,

Although perfectly understandable, the Hebrew is more specific, “And to the Reubenite, and to the Gadite, and to the half-tribe the Manasseh said Joshua to say.”

The words to be spoken here are based on the agreement reached in Numbers 32. These two- and one-half tribes desired to have their inheritance east of Jordan. As such, Joshua is now reminding them of their responsibility before they can finalize that claim…

13 “Remember the word which Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, saying,

The specific words of Moses are found in Numbers 32:29, 30 –

“And Moses said to them: ‘If the children of Gad and the children of Reuben cross over the Jordan with you, every man armed for battle before the Lord, and the land is subdued before you, then you shall give them the land of Gilead as a possession. 30 But if they do not cross over armed with you, they shall have possessions among you in the land of Canaan.’”

The words “as a possession” imply what Joshua next says…

13 (con’t) ‘The Lord your God is giving you rest and is giving you this land.’

The land is given, and in possession of it, rest is realized. As for the word nuakh, or “rest,” what is realized in Canaan is only typical of the true rest found in Christ. The theology behind that continues on throughout the Old Testament and is more clearly explained in the book of Hebrews.

As for the “rest,” meaning settling down in their possession east of Jordan, that is only potential at this point. The terms of the agreement to finalize this inheritance must first be met. That is stated as Joshua continues…

14 Your wives, your little ones, and your livestock shall remain in the land which Moses gave you

This is what was proposed by them in Numbers 32 –

Then they came near to him and said: ‘We will build sheepfolds here for our livestock, and cities for our little ones, 17 but we ourselves will be armed, ready to go before the children of Israel until we have brought them to their place; and our little ones will dwell in the fortified cities because of the inhabitants of the land.’” Numbers 32:16, 17

It is then what Moses accepted and restated to them –

“Then Moses said to them: ‘If you do this thing, if you arm yourselves before the Lord for the war, 21 and all your armed men cross over the Jordan before the Lord until He has driven out His enemies from before Him, 22 and the land is subdued before the Lord, then afterward you may return and be blameless before the Lord and before Israel; and this land shall be your possession before the Lord. 23 But if you do not do so, then take note, you have sinned against the Lord; and be sure your sin will find you out. 24 Build cities for your little ones and folds for your sheep, and do what has proceeded out of your mouth.’” Numbers 32:20-24

Joshua next notes that those who remain will do so…

14 (con’t) on this side of the Jordan.

b’ever ha’yarden – “in side the Jordan.” It speaks of either side based upon the reference point given. In this case, it means “on this side (east) of the Jordan.” The Jordan is the divider between these tribes, and the distinction is being carefully and meticulously delineated now by Joshua, just as it had been by Moses.

As for the agreement, those words of Moses continue to be repeated by Joshua…

14 (con’t) But you shall pass before your brethren armed,

These men would certainly be armed, but the word used now, khamushim, is one that signifies harnessed, or in a battle array. It has the same root spelling as khamesh, or “five” and the identical spelling to “fifty.”

Therefore, it may mean “by fives,” and so a marching array of five per line, or maybe arrayed under five leaders into van, rear, right, left, and center divisions. Or it could mean “by fifties,” as if by a platoon. Whatever its exact meaning, it is surely a structured unit.

It was used when speaking of Israel as they left Egypt. They weren’t merely a mob of people fleeing, but they were orderly and in ranks as they departed.

So would these men be when they crossed into Canaan. They would be in battle array and prepared to subdue the land for their brothers just as their brothers had participated in subduing those in the land of their inheritance. This is next said to be…

14 (con’t) all your mighty men of valor, and help them,

Rather than “all” in the absolute sense, only a portion of the men will actually cross over, about forty thousand (Joshua 4:13) out of almost one hundred and eleven thousand (Numbers 26). Therefore, almost twice as many men would stay behind compared to those who would go.

Joshua’s words have to be taken in the context of Numbers 32 where the words “every armed” were stated. Here, Joshua calls them mighty men of valor.

There would be those going to battle, those protecting the families and homesteads east of the Jordan, and certainly rotations of both. Some would go to battle and then be relieved by others. This state was to continue…

15 until the Lord has given your brethren rest,

ad asher yaniakh Yehovah la’akhekhem – “Until which has given rest, Yehovah, to your brothers. This is only speaking of rest from their enemies. It is not speaking of the final promised rest that Canaan anticipates. This is clearly seen in the next words…

15 (con’t) as He gave you,

ka’kem – “as you.” If this was the final fulfillment of the promise, then it would not include the idea of the “rest” being the same as those who dwelt outside of Canaan. Therefore, Canaan is only given as a type of the true rest that is yet ahead.

As I said before, Hebrews explains this, building upon what David says in the psalms, to validate this thought. For now, Joshua says…

15 (con’t) and they also have taken possession of the land which the Lord your God is giving them. 

This was the agreement. These tribes would participate in subduing Canaan until all the tribes had received their inheritance. The Lord had promised that the land would be given to them, and the men of Israel, including those of the tribes east of the Jordan, were to be the instrument of destruction for those who dwelt there.

15 (con’t) Then you shall return to the land of your possession and enjoy it,

The words are a paraphrase. It reads, “And you shall return to the land of your possession and possess it.” In other words, their possession is only potential at this point. The families may dwell there, and there may be houses and fields there, but they do not truly possess it until their task is complete. Only then will they possess the land…

15 (con’t) which Moses the Lord’s servant gave you

Verse 13 said, “The Lord your God is giving you rest and is giving you this land.” Now, it says that Moses gave it to them. This is perfectly in line with Numbers 32:31 which says, “As the Lord has said to your servants, so we will do.”

The Lord was never said to have been consulted in the text, but it signifies that either Moses first consulted Him, or Moses’ decision was as if rendered by the Lord. Either way, the words of the lawgiver are considered as the words of the Lord. The grant is…

15 (con’t) on this side of the Jordan toward the sunrise.”

b’ever ha’yarden mizrakh ha’shemesh – “in side the Jordan rising the sun.” The specificity of wording is common, and it is given to avoid any confusion at all, both immediately and at all times hence. There could not be a later claim that “in side the Jordan” meant one side or another to meets one’s personal whims.

16 So they answered Joshua, saying, “All that you command us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go.

From the words of this verse, it is now apparent, as it should be, that the command of Joshua now stands in place of the command of Moses. Moses has spoken; Joshua now speaks. The transfer of authority, as far as the narrative is laid out, is complete in these words.

The Lord had indicated as much in verses 1-9 from last week, but now that is shown to be fully accepted by the people. Although this may still be only representative of the tribes east of the Jordan, it is more probably inclusive of all the tribes, as was first expressed in verse 10 when referring to the entire camp.

Of this verse, the Pulpit Commentary gives an analysis that is far from what I would consider acceptable –

“Obedience is easy when all goes well with us, and when it makes no demand upon our faith. The Israelites murmured when the promise was as yet unfulfilled. They rebelled against God when obedience entailed serf sacrifice. But now all was hope and eagerness. So it is often with the young Christian at the outset of life’s battle, before he has begun to realise the exertion and self denial that can alone ensure him victory.”

This fails to recognize that Israel was offered Canaan forty years earlier, the land was before them, and all they had to do was trust the Lord. The same groups of people who were in the land then are still there.

But more importantly, the intent of the words, “the exertion and self-denial that can alone ensure him the victory,” are not to be found in Scripture.”

John says, “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith” (1 John 5:4). And that faith is in what Christ has done, not us. As Paul says, “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57).

Let us not remove ourselves too far from what is most important. Our faith in what God has done, not exertion and self-denial, will give us the victory. As for Joshua, this newly confirmed state of authority continues with…

17 Just as we heeded Moses in all things, so we will heed you.

The words here could either be laughable, tragic, acceptable, or anticipatory depending on how far back the “Moses” reference goes. Israel almost never heeded Moses until the very recent past. The incident concerning Israel’s harlotry with the Midianite women and joining to Baal of Peor was a very short time earlier.

Thus, if they are referring to the entire congregation, it would be laughable. However, the miscreants were either slain by others or died in the plague. Thus, there was obedience in the killing of the offenders, but the circumstances were tragic.

If the people are referring to the time since then, which is only a short span, their words could be considered acceptable, but without a lot of history to support the state of their future conduct.

Or, the words could be considered anticipatory in that the people, despite failing Moses, almost constantly remained united under Moses. They would now, together, anticipate a better state of obedience under Joshua.

In type, at least, the obedience of faith, is realized in the words now. They are about to enter Canaan, passing through the Jordan. As this is so, they at least typologically anticipate the state of Israel when they finally yield themselves to Christ Jesus, who alone fulfilled the law.

17 (con’t) Only the Lord your God be with you, as He was with Moses.

This is not to be taken as a condition of obedience. Instead, it is a basis for it and as if a prayer that it will always be so. It was understood that the Lord was with Moses, and it is now understood that he is with Joshua. To proclaim this obedience more directly, the next words are uttered…

18 Whoever rebels against your command and does not heed your words, in all that you command him, shall be put to death.

The same general words were used a few times in Deuteronomy when rebelling against the command of the Lord. Now, they point to the Lord’s representative, thus acknowledging that what he says is to be held on par with the decision of the Lord. That is the reason for the comparable law given by Moses –

“Now the man who acts presumptuously and will not heed the priest who stands to minister there before the Lord your God, or the judge, that man shall die. So you shall put away the evil from Israel. 13 And all the people shall hear and fear, and no longer act presumptuously.” Deuteronomy 17:12, 13

Joshua, though never called a judge, served in the capacity of one. He led Israel and, as such, was the representative of the Lord for the people in all civil matters.

The typology of Christ is sobering. As He assumed to leadership of Israel after the Law of Moses was fulfilled and ended, it means that all who have failed to come to Him – and who continue to fail to do so to this day – are condemned. As for Joshua under the law, the continued words of the people close out the chapter…

*18 (fin) Only be strong and of good courage.”

raq khazaq v’emats – “Only: be strong and be strengthened.” It is the same words, repeated several times in Deuteronomy, especially three times in Deuteronomy 31 – “be strong and be strengthened.” Moses said this to the people and then twice to Joshua. The Lord also said it to Joshua in verse 1:7. The people now pronounce these same words upon Joshua.

Whatever challenges lay ahead, the Lord was with him, and the people were behind him. The enemies would be defeated, and the land would be subdued.

A place of rest for the people of God
A state that says, “All is well with my soul”
To God alone be the glory, and to Him alone we applaud
For one seeking rest, He has it all under control

Those who do believe have entered that rest
But it remains that some others must enter it too
A people that has not yet passed the test
But they will someday, this word is true

What is it that will bring them to this state?
How will they come to it? What will they do?
How will they enter through the gate?
Only by faith will they enter. Nothing else will do

II. Having Rest and Entering the Rest

Because of the focus on being given rest in this passage, it is good to review exactly what that means. It has been said that Canaan is only typical of the rest that the Bible speaks of for believers in Christ. And that is true.

In the Greek translation of this passage, the verb katapauó, is used both times rest is mentioned. It is a word signifying to settle down or, literally, colonize. Figuratively, it means to desist, cease, and so on. It is used three times in Hebrews 4 when speaking of being given rest.

Along with that is the corresponding noun katapausis. That is used eight times in Hebrews 3 and 4. That gives the sense of a place of rest, such as an abode.

Moses, in Deuteronomy 12, spoke of the menukhah, meaning either “rest” or a place of rest. In speaking to them, he said that they had not yet obtained such a place, or state, of rest.

But Moses’ point was that the people had the law, and yet they had not been observing the law (think of Israel today). Despite this, they had been brought to the very doorstep of the inheritance promised by the Lord. As this is so, even now with Joshua leading, then it cannot be by the law that they will obtain their rest.

Now in Joshua, as it was when Moses spoke, the idea of rest is tied in with the elimination of the enemy. It means dwelling in safety. The idea of having obtained it is found later in Joshua –

“Now it came to pass, a long time after the Lord had given rest to Israel from all their enemies round about, that Joshua was old, advanced in age.” Joshua 23:1

It is again seen concerning David and his kingdom in 2 Samuel 7 –

“Now it came to pass when the king was dwelling in his house, and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies all around, that the king said to Nathan the prophet, ‘See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells inside tent curtains.’” 2 Samuel 7:1, 2

Because of David’s efforts in defeating the enemies, it is used again by Solomon in 1 Kings 5 as the reason to build the house of the Lord. At that time Solomon acknowledges that the promised rest was obtained as he prayed the invocation prayer after the temple was complete –

“Blessed be the Lord, who has given rest to His people Israel, according to all that He promised. There has not failed one word of all His good promise, which He promised through His servant Moses.” 1 Kings 8:56

And yet, David, despite having subdued the enemies and provided this rest, indicates that the rest that both Joshua, and he, had obtained was not the promised rest Moses spoke of. He does this by using the word “Today” in the 95th Psalm –

“Today, if you will hear His voice:
“Do not harden your hearts, as in the rebellion,
As in the day of trial in the wilderness,
When your fathers tested Me;
They tried Me, though they saw My work.
10 For forty years I was grieved with that generation,
And said, ‘It is a people who go astray in their hearts,
And they do not know My ways.’
11 So I swore in My wrath,
‘They shall not enter My rest.’” Psalm 95:7-11

Using this, the author of Hebrews unmistakably shows that obtaining the inheritance is not of the law. He does it first by citing the 95th Psalm, and then by saying this in Hebrews 3:16-19 –

“For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses? 17 Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? 19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.”

With that said, he then notes that because David said Today hundreds of years after Joshua had received his rest, it means that the rest spoken of is not merely referring to rest from the physical enemies of Israel. As he says in Hebrews 4:8, “For if Joshua had given them rest, then He [the Spirit through David] would not afterward have spoken of another day.”

Each of these times, he uses either the verb or noun form of the words we noted – katapauó and katapausis – the same form of the verb used in the Greek of Joshua 1. However, in Hebrews 4, another word is used, which is found only that one time in the New Testament, sabbatismos.

It is an emphatic verbal noun, and it is a derivation of the word shabbaton, or Sabbath day. Thus, it signifies (as some translations more appropriately say) a keeping of “Sabbath-rest.” James Strong defines it as “the repose of Christianity (as a type of heaven)” –

“There remains therefore a rest for the people of God.” Hebrews 4:9

In this verse, the word translated as “remains” was also used in Hebrews 4:6 –

“Since therefore it remains that some must enter it, and those to whom it was first preached did not enter because of disobedience, again He designates a certain day, saying in David, ‘Today,’ after such a long time, as it has been said:

‘Today, if you will hear His voice,
Do not harden your hearts.’” Hebrews 4:6, 7

After this, the author spoke of Joshua and then of the sabbatismos for the people of God –

“For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day. There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. 10 For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.” Hebrews 4:8, 9

The author of Hebrews clearly and concisely states what he had so methodically been building up to by saying, “There remains therefore.”

The author, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, says unambiguously that the day, called Today, still allows for obtaining what was once denied, which is “a rest for the people of God.” Charles Ellicott says, “It is tacitly assumed that no subsequent fulfillment has altered the relation of the promise.”

What this means is that which was available in past times remains available. Because it is promised, and because the promise was not laid hold of, the promise remains unappropriated. And though unappropriated, it is also not retracted.

What blazes forth in what is being said is the use of the word sabbatismos. By using this, instead of the other word for “rest” that he had been using, it takes the thought all the way back to Genesis 2:2 where God is said to have “rested” on the seventh day.

There, the word is shabath, the verb from which the idea expressed in the noun “Sabbath” is derived. God rested, implying He had a rest. It is this rest that has remained unappropriated but not retracted.

But the question is, “To whom is this directed?” As noted, it is a Sabbatism “for the people of God.” The question then is, “Who is this referring to?” Many Christian scholars say that it is a type of heaven for the church, or the “true Israel.” That is somewhat in line with what James Strong said.

However, in Hebrews 4:3, it was already stated that those who believe have entered their rest. It is a place of rest that is granted by faith in Christ. No distinction can be made between Jew and Gentile. It simply says that those who believe have entered.

And yet, there is the unappropriated offer of entering into God’s rest for the people of God. The idea of “the people of God” is notably used in the New Testament, with certain exceptions when speaking of the Gentile-led church, to speak of Israel.

As this is so, it is not a “spiritual Israel” that has replaced the people of Israel, but it is actually referring to the people known as Israel. Speaking of the literal people of Israel, Paul uses the term “His people” in Romans 11:1 & 2. The author of Hebrews, speaking of the “house of Israel and the house of Judah,” uses the term in Hebrews 8:10. He also calls Israel “the people of God” in Hebrews 11:25. Peter informs his Jewish audience that they “once were not a people but are now the people of God.”

The implication is that they were rejected by God, but then after that rejection, they are, once again, to be called as His people. Even Paul, in Galatians 6:16, speaks of the “Israel of God.” That does not refer to Gentiles who have replaced Israel, but rather those Israelites who have come to Christ in contradistinction to those Jews who have not.

And finally, the audience of the book of Hebrews is the Hebrew people. The overwhelming evidence points to the subject of Hebrews 4:9 and the sabbatismos as being for the Jewish nation, Israel. It is they who are being referred to.

The rest which remains for them, that of the true rest found in Christ Jesus, remains open to them. With this understanding, this does not negate that Gentiles are included in this. Anyone who believes in Christ Jesus’ finished work is granted entrance into God’s rest.

But the context is that the “people of God” being referred to are the people of Israel. It is they who were with Joshua, and it is they to whom the psalmist wrote the words of the 95th Psalm.

So why is this important? It is because the past many chapters, since Numbers 14, have pointed to Israel’s rejection of Christ and of their time of punishment and dispersion. Their entry into Canaan is a type of finally entering into the true state of Sabbath Rest that God has been working to bring the world back to.

Israel will come to believe in Christ. When they do, the seventh day, the millennium, will finally be realized. The Old Testament promises of this earthly restoration were made to Israel. Someday, they will enter into that and lead the nations – with Christ as their Head – for a thousand years.

But what is important for us to understand now, is that Hebrews clearly and unambiguously says that “we who have believed do enter that rest.” God’s rest for the weary soul is received through faith in Christ. This is open to both Jew and Gentile, and it is what we will finally realize in its fullness when we are glorified.

Let us keep the boxes straight. Faith in Christ for the individual brings us to our rest. Faith in Christ for national Israel will bring them to their seventh-day millennial rest. As complicated as it all is to grasp, the simplicity of the result is that all will be restored and that God will be glorified.

For now, may you accept the simple premise that God has made the offer and that entering into what He offers is available through faith alone. Just believe the gospel and receive the promised inheritance and the rest that comes with it.

Closing Verse: “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.” Ephesians 1:13, 14

Next Week: Joshua 2:1-11 Her name rhymes with Taxicab and COVID Jab… (A Harlot Named Rahab) (3rd Joshua Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. It is He who has defeated the enemy and who now offers His people rest. So, follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

All That You Command Us We Will Do

Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people, saying
These words to them he was relaying

“Pass through the camp and command the people, saying
‘Prepare provisions for yourselves, for within three days
———-so to you I address
You will cross over this Jordan, to go in to possess the land
Which the Lord your God is giving you to possess

And to the Reubenites, the Gadites he was relaying
And half the tribe of Manasseh Joshua spoke, saying

“Remember the word which Moses the servant of the Lord
Commanded you, saying (please understand)
‘The Lord your God is giving you rest
And is giving you this land

Your wives, your little ones, and your livestock
Shall remain in the land which Moses gave you
On this side of the Jordan
But you shall pass before your brethren armed, so you shall do

All your mighty men of valor, and help them
Until the Lord has given your brethren rest
As He gave you, and they also have taken possession
Of the land which the Lord your God is giving them in this quest

Then you shall return to the land of your possession and enjoy it
Which Moses the Lord’s servant gave you
On this side of the Jordan toward the sunrise
These things you shall do

So they answered Joshua, saying
“All that you command us we will do
And wherever you send us we will go
Just as we heeded Moses in all things, so we will heed you

Only the Lord your God be with you, as He was with Moses
Whoever rebels against your command and does not heed
Your words, in all that you command him, shall be put to death
Only be strong and of good courage as you lead

Lord God, turn our hearts to be obedient to Your word
Give us wisdom to be ever faithful to You
May we carefully heed each thing we have heard
Yes, Lord God may our hearts be faithful and true

And we shall be content and satisfied in You alone
We will follow You as we sing our songs of praise
Hallelujah to You; to us Your path You have shown
Hallelujah we shall sing to You for all of our days

Hallelujah and Amen…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people, saying, 11 “Pass through the camp and command the people, saying, ‘Prepare provisions for yourselves, for within three days you will cross over this Jordan, to go in to possess the land which the Lord your God is giving you to possess.’”

12 And to the Reubenites, the Gadites, and half the tribe of Manasseh Joshua spoke, saying, 13 “Remember the word which Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, saying, ‘The Lord your God is giving you rest and is giving you this land.’ 14 Your wives, your little ones, and your livestock shall remain in the land which Moses gave you on this side of the Jordan. But you shall pass before your brethren armed, all your mighty men of valor, and help them, 15 until the Lord has given your brethren rest, as He gave you, and they also have taken possession of the land which the Lord your God is giving them. Then you shall return to the land of your possession and enjoy it, which Moses the Lord’s servant gave you on this side of the Jordan toward the sunrise.”

16 So they answered Joshua, saying, “All that you command us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. 17 Just as we heeded Moses in all things, so we will heed you. Only the Lord your God be with you, as He was with Moses. 18 Whoever rebels against your command and does not heed your words, in all that you command him, shall be put to death. Only be strong and of good courage.”