Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Book of Re-Conquest

Following the Bible-reading plan discussed HERE, you recently finished the book of Joshua.

It's not just the book of conquest; it's actually the book of re-conquest.  For "the earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers" (Psalm 24.1).  The whole earth belongs to God, and he claims it for his own holy and grace-drenched purposes; no one can deprive him of this claim, no matter how many idols they summon to their aid.

This book that begins with God's reassuring commissioning of Joshua (Israel's new leader) and mercy to a Gentile prostitute and a second miraculous crossing of a river boundary and memorial stones and the covenant signs and the appearance of the commander of the army of the Lord quickly moves into the taking of the Promised Land.

There are other things of note as well:  the establishing of the boundary lines that divide the tribes of Israel, the ongoing tension with Canaanites that are tolerated instead of dealt with as God commanded, the last words of Joshua, etc.

But at the center of this book stands the Divine Warrior, the One who intervenes to give his people victory (or give his people discipline---for their sinful disobedience).

And what this book is really about is how this God fulfills all his promises.  He made a great promise to Abraham, and not one word of that promise fell to the ground.  24 chapters, 658 verses of promises fulfilled.  

But here's the kicker... you know what the name "Joshua" means?  It means "Yahweh is Salvation."

And when you translate that name into Greek, you know what you get?  "Jesus."

Jesus is the Greater Joshua, and all of God's promises are actually fulfilled in him.  "For all the promises of God find their Yes in him" (2 Corinthians 1.20).  Jesus is our Ultimate Champion, who defeats our ultimate enemies (sin & death), and leads us into the Ultimate Promised Land.

"Joshua is an important book for many reasons... for the history it records and for its internal teaching.  But what makes the book of Joshua overwhelmingly important is that it stands as a bridge between the Pentateuch (the writings of Moses) and the rest of Scripture."
~Francis Schaeffer
"We see in it much of God, and his providence... his faithfulness to his covenant with the patriarchs, his kindness to his people is real notwithstanding their provocations."
~Matthew Henry
"Joshua is... the story of how God, to whom the whole world belongs, at one stage in the history of redemption reconquered a portion of the earth from the powers of this world that had claimed it for themselves, defending their claims by force of arms and reliance on their false gods.  It tells how God commissioned his people, under his servant Joshua, to take Canaan in his name out of the hands of the idolatrous and dissolute Canaanites.  It tells how he aided them in that enterprise and gave them conditional tenancy in his land in fulfillment of the ancient pledge."
~Arthur Lewis
"Between the book's own beginning and end an important transformation takes place.  Wandering Israel outside the land becomes settled Israel at rest within it."
~L. Daniel Hawk
"The book of Joshua is one of the Bible's greatest testimonies to the mighty acts of God on behalf of Israel."
~Jerome F.D. Creach


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