May 7, 2012

Revealing Christ In The Old Testament VI: A Crimson Thread Runs Through It


Moving on to Joshua we see that it tells of the "Captain of the Lord's host". There will be victory over enemies against insurmountable odds. When all chances of victory are abandoned from a human perspective, there will ultimately be triumph through Christ including a defeat of the ultimate enemy to believers...death.

"Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?” “Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.” Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lord have for his servant?” The commander of the Lord’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so. Joshua 5:13-15

I believe we may be seeing a theophany here in Joshua 5. After the Israelites crossed the Jordan River and prepared to fight for the city of Jericho, the Lord Jesus Himself—God the Son—appears to have met Joshua here.

The assumption from a human vantage point after reading something like this is that God does these types of things primary to help believers to assist in their well-being. Although this might be true some of the time, the reality is that God does things primarily for His own reasons, that will bring rightful glory to Him. Victory is indeed in the Lord but not always for the reasons we think. In the case of Christ it was to bring all things in subjection and reconciliation to Christ as Jesus is the centrality and upholder of all things.

“In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered.” Hebrews 2:10

“...fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Hebrews 12:2

"The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross." Colossians 1:15-20

It is interesting that Joshua a name that is the Hebrew version of Jesus, takes over after the giver of the law had died, and he led the people into the future that God had planned and designed for them. The book begins with a statement about Moses' death. Moses represented the law. The people could not enter the land of Canaan until Moses was dead (the Law). If we look to Romans we see a parallel. "For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit (Romans 8)…. Joshua then leads Israel to victory after crossing the Jordan. He was their advocate in time of defeat. It was Joshua who allotted them their portions within the land. All of this beautifully pictures the work of the Lord. In Joshua we see a prototype of Jesus Himself.

In the Battle of Jericho, the city's walls we see the insurmountable obstacle of getting into the promised land. From a human perspective it should have been impossible for the Israelites to have been able to conquer the city. With God acting on their behalf they only need to march around the city once every day for six days with the seven priests carrying ram's horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day they were to march around the city seven times and then the priests were to blow the ram's horns. So on the seventh day, after marching around the city the seventh time, the priests sounded their ram's horns and Joshua ordered the people to shout. Upon this war cry the walls of the city collapsed, and the Israelites were able to run right into the city. The city was completely destroyed, and every man, woman, and child in it was killed as commanded. The undefeatable foe has been defeated. The insurmountable has been surmounted. Like Jesus conquering all the sin of humanity with His blood, when all of humanity couldn't even conquer one sin.

We see Christ in the story of Rahab's crimson cord...

"Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you. Give me a sure sign that you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and that you will save us from death.” “Our lives for your lives!” the men assured her. “If you don’t tell what we are doing, we will treat you kindly and faithfully when the Lord gives us the land.” So she let them down by a rope through the window, for the house she lived in was part of the city wall. Now she had said to them, “Go to the hills so the pursuers will not find you. Hide yourselves there three days until they return, and then go on your way.” The men said to her, “This oath you made us swear will not be binding on us unless, when we enter the land, you have tied this scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and unless you have brought your father and mother, your brothers and all your family into your house. If anyone goes outside your house into the street, his blood will be on his own head; we will not be responsible. As for anyone who is in the house with you, his blood will be on our head if a hand is laid on him. But if you tell what we are doing, we will be released from the oath you made us swear.”  “Agreed,” she replied. “Let it be as you say.” So she sent them away and they departed. And she tied the scarlet cord in the window. Joshua 2:12-21

In this passage, the children of Israel, are on the east bank of the Jordan, are waiting to invade / enter the promised land and but Joshua having been trained well as a military leader wanted  military reconnaissance. The spies entered the city of Jericho, but something went wrong and their covers was blown. The authorities mobilized forces to track them down and kill them. This is thwarted by a prostitute named Rahab who took them in and hid them. She seeks God and realizes these men are representatives of God. She uses a crimson cord which she allows the men to  rappel down the wall and escape. She knows inevitably that God's people are going to capture the city. So she asks that she be spared along with her family.

Thus, we should see this as an image of impending judgment as coming from Christ. The Bible commands all people to seek God and to repent, because there is coming an appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness. Obviously, there is only one place where we'll find deliverance. This is also similar to the crimson or red blood of the Passover on the doorframes of the Israelites. Safety and deliverance is in the crimson blood of the Savior Jesus, since the blood is a metonymy of life: Christ's life, given up for us on the Cross. So Rahab and her family are told to remain in the room with the crimson cord tied to the window. By imagery, this must be understood as the crimson blood of Christ.

Some additional things that foreshadow Christ or the believer in Joshua are the idea that Israel's warfare with the Canaanites is a picture of our conflict with Satan. The entire book of Joshua floats on this idea of constantly waging a war against often unseen enemies so that believers can come into possession of the Promised Land. Through faith in God and what He has promised we see that our victory as believers is by faith just as it was in Joshua's time...

" faith the walls of Jericho fell down" Hebrews 11:30

We read that the children of Manasseh could not drive out the Canaanites, but put them under tribute and let them dwell in the land (Joshua 17:12-13). this is an image of indwelling sin that remains in a believer even though the victory over sin in the long run has been won by Christ at the Cross. The book of Joshua's closes with his exhortation to the people. He reminds them that it is God who has fought for them (like Christ did on the cross). He exhorts them to keep all that is written in the Law of Moses, and to serve the Lord with all their heart. In other words: Obey God. He invites them to choose this day whom they will serve, but adds his own resolution, " As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."

Just as Rahab was covered by the crimson cord, so too are we covered by the blood of the Lamb.

Our Joshua paralleled in Christ never dies now. It is He who brings us into the good land (blessings and eternal salvation) and it is only as we abide under His leadership that we shall possess it and overcome all our enemies.

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