Sermon 12. Joshua a Type of Christ and His Followers

"And it came to pass a long time after that the Lord had given rest unto Israel from all their enemies round about, that Joshua waxed old and stricken in age." Josh. xxiii. 1.

[Note] {150} THE Law came by Moses, and grace and truth came by Jesus Christ; but as if to presage what was in prospect, as if to give an omen and token of the good things to come, immediately upon Moses' death, a sort of momentary fulfilment, or at least a momentary vision of fulfilment, of the promise took place. For who succeeded Moses but Joshua? and as Moses led the people to and from Mount Sinai, and disciplined them in the barren wilderness of the Law, so Joshua, who succeeded him, led them into the rich and happy land, and prefigured the future Saviour, who was to be gracious and true. I say, on Moses' death, a sudden gleam of heaven, as it were, came over the elder Church; the Law seemed for a while suspended, as regards its threats and punishments; all was privilege on the one {151} side, all was obedience on the other. Joshua led the people forward, conquering and to conquer; he led them into rest and prosperity. His history is made up of these two parts, triumph and peace. First, he fought, when in his own words in the chapter which has formed part of the Service, "one man of them chased a thousand;" and no man was able to stand before them. And then he rested, and Israel with him,—"the Lord gave them rest from all their enemies round about." This morning we read of his victories, this evening of the fruit of them. This was what God did for them;—and on their side there was obedience. "Israel served the Lord," we read in the twenty-fourth chapter, "all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that overlived Joshua." It was indeed a wonderful time; dutifulness and security; it had an end when Joshua and his generation went the way of all flesh; but while they lived, the gleam of sunshine still rested on the Israelites, and was the promise of the New Covenant, and of the times of the Gospel. Such a blessed season never returned to the Church of Israel, till that Church was made glorious by the coming of the Sun of Righteousness, and was brought forth out of the shadows and dreariness of the Law into the fulness of grace and truth.

It will be appropriate then to this day, when the history of Joshua is brought before us in our Services, to consider it in its relation to the life and office of our Lord Jesus Christ; nay, I will add, to that of His servants and followers also; for in them in their degree, as well as in Him in its fulness, is accomplished the type which is contained in Joshua the successor of Moses. {152}

1. Now, first, as is very obvious, Joshua is a type of our Lord Jesus Christ, as regards his name; for Joshua is in Hebrew what Jesus is in Greek. When we think what high things are told us in the New Testament concerning the Name of Jesus, what reverence towards it is enjoined us, and what virtue is ascribed to it, who can doubt that it is a very significant circumstance indeed, that the successor of Moses should bear it? This circumstance leads us from the first to expect that the history of Joshua will contain much in it bearing upon the blessed times of the Gospel. If that name is put upon him, which in due season the Angel was to announce as the earthly name of the Son of God—that Name which was to be above every name, at which every knee was to bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; that Name which was to cast out devils, to restore the crippled, and to do many wonderful works; that Name, which is like ointment poured out, and which shall endure for ever among the posterities—how should not some large bountifulness in act accompany such grace in word? Let it be observed, that his name was originally Oshea, and was changed into Joshua by Moses. Surely the change was not made for nothing. We see the meaning of it; it is as if a silent sign, made to us by the All-merciful God, that even then He had before Him the thought of redemption, and of us, and of the reign of grace and truth.

2. And again, this too should be observed: that whereas the successor of Moses was called Joshua, or Jesus, so did he singularly typify the Saviour of men by {153} an act of grace which he exercised, and that in the case of an enemy. Up to his time, many instances as there were of the faith of saints, there is no instance recorded of the faith of a sinner. St. Paul says, that by "faith the elders obtained a good report." He mentions the faith of righteous Abel; of Enoch, who walked with God; of Noah, that preacher of righteousness, whose name was worthy to be associated with the names of Daniel and Job, in exemplifying the holiness which might save guilty cities; of Abraham, the friend of God, whose sanctity so availed with God, that He hid not from him what He was about to do; of blameless Isaac; of Jacob, righteous and holy himself, even if his history form a typical anticipation of Gospel grace; of Joseph, tried and tempted, yet without transgressing, from his youth up; of Moses, the meekest man upon earth. Of him the Apostle speaks, the immediate predecessor of Joshua; nay, he speaks perchance of Joshua himself, when he says, "By faith, the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days." Down to Joshua's day, no instance appears but of the faith of saints; but in the next verse, and in Joshua's history, we have a different specimen. "By faith, the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace." Now, why this change? why have we at once a sinful woman spared and admitted into covenant on her faith—nay, privileged in the event to be the ancestress of our Lord; except that in Joshua the reign of that Saviour is typified, and that the pardon of a sinner is its most appropriate attendant? The word "Jesus" means the {154} Saviour; it has reference then to sinners. He came, "not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." "Scarcely for a righteous man will one die;" but "while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." [Rom. v. 7, 8.] As then Joshua had the Name, so did he exercise the Office also of our Lord; and his first act is one of mercy. Before he enters the land, while he and she are yet a great way apart, she does an act of faith, and he, by his representatives, an act of grace. And so, when he comes to the city of evil, and encompasses it with trumpets, and takes and destroys it utterly; in that day of doom she has bound the scarlet line across her window, and her house becomes a Church, and she and all who take refuge in it are saved. Such is the history of Rahab, recalling to our minds that favoured and blessed penitent, "the woman which was a sinner," who came and stood at our Lord's feet behind Him, in silence and in tears; and to whom He uttered the gracious words, "Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace. [Luke vii. 37-50.]

3. And as Joshua answers to our Lord in his name and in his clemency, so too does he in his mode of appointment. When Christ came, He inherited the earth by the right of His heavenly Father, and by no earthly pretension. He came not as the emperor of the world, or as a claimant of any earthly throne; nor was He of the priestly line; but "without father, without mother, without descent," as far as any temporal prerogative flowed from it; born miraculously; prospered miraculously; "not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor {155} of the will of man, but of God." [John i. 13.] And here, too, Joshua was the type of Jesus. Moses was not told to appoint one of his own sons as his successor; nor did he betake himself to the family of Aaron; nor to the tribe of Judah, from which the Shiloh Himself was to be born. But he chose Joshua, who had no claim or title to be chosen; and when he had to set him apart for his work, what was his ceremonial? Did he use oil, or offer sacrifice, or in any other way comply with the rites of the Law? No; he consecrated him, not in a legal, but in a Gospel way; he prefigured in him the ministers of Christ and soldiers of His Church. "The Lord said unto Moses, Take thee Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay thine hand upon him; ... and thou shalt put some of thine honour upon him, that all the congregation of the children of Israel may be obedient;" and this he was to do, that "the congregation of the Lord be not as sheep which have no shepherd." "And Moses did as the Lord commanded him;" "he took Joshua, ... and laid his hands upon him, and gave him a charge, as the Lord commanded by the hand of Moses." [Numb. xxvii. 17-23.]

4. And in the next place, let it be observed, that whereas Joshua was chosen not by man, but at God's will; so, too, in a special way did God's choice end in Him. He did not receive it by inheritance, nor are heirs mentioned to whom he left it. Others indeed, as Moses, and as Samuel, were vouchsafed God's favour, yet not allowed to transmit it to their children; but there is this peculiarity in Joshua's history, as recorded {156} in the book bearing his name, that at least there is no record of children, who might have been his heirs; nor mention of any special inheritance in Canaan. He who divided the land by lot, who gave to each his portion to enjoy, is allotted in the sacred history neither wife, nor children, nor choice possession. As to the other servants of God in the Old Testament, we read of their wives and their children, and their children's children. We read of their sitting under their vine and their fig-tree; of a blessing on "the fruit of their body, and the fruit of their ground," and the fruit of their "kine and sheep." [Deut. xxviii. 4.] "Blessed of the Lord shall be his land," says Moses, of Joshua's own tribe, and of Manasseh; "for the precious things of heaven, for the dew, and for the deep that coucheth beneath, ... and for the chief things of the ancient mountains, and for the precious things of the lasting hills, and for the precious things of the earth and fulness thereof." [Deut. xxxiii. 13, 14.] And Solomon exhorts, "Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart; for God now accepteth thy works. Let thy garments be always white; and let thy head lack no ointment. Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, ... for that is thy portion." [Eccles. ix. 7-9.] And yet in spite of this, Joshua seems to lack these peculiar blessings of the covenant under which he lived.

Take, by way of contrast, the history of Caleb. He and Joshua were the two spies who alone had been faithful out of the twelve who went to view the land forty years before they entered it. Here are two {157} servants of God, alike in their faithfulness, and in the reward given them. They alone stood forward boldly on God's side, and rent their clothes when the people broke out into disobedience, and were on the point of being stoned by them in consequence. They alone had this privilege of all who came out of Egypt, that they at length did enter the good land, while the rest died in the wilderness. But observe the promise made at the time to Caleb. "My servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and hath followed Me fully, him will I bring into the land, whereinto he went; and his seed shall possess it." [Numb. xiv. 24.] He was not only to enter but to obtain possession, and to be the head of a family. But to Joshua, who was the greater, no such promise was made. And accordingly, when they entered to take possession of the land, we read of Caleb coming to Joshua, and claiming the promise, and receiving from him his own portion of land at Hebron. "Forty years old was I," says he, "when Moses, the servant of the Lord, sent me from Kadesh-barnea to espy out the land … And Moses sware on that day, saying, Surely the land whereon thy feet have trodden shall be thine inheritance, and thy children's for ever, because thou hast wholly followed the Lord my God. And now, behold, the Lord hath kept me alive, as He said, these forty and five years, ... while the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness: and now, lo! I am this day fourscore and five years old. As yet I am as strong this day as I was in the day that Moses sent me ... Now therefore give me this mountain, {158} whereof the Lord spake in that day … And Joshua blessed him, and gave unto Caleb ... Hebron for an inheritance." [Josh. xiv. 7-13.] Joshua blessed him: the less is blessed of the greater; Joshua was greater than Caleb. Caleb had a promise, and its performance. Joshua had none.

And again, we read of Caleb's daughter, and of Caleb saying, "He that smiteth Kirjath-sepher, and taketh it, to him will I give Achsah my daughter to wife;" and then we read of her begging of her father some land for a dowry, and obtaining it. "She lighted off her ass; and Caleb said unto her, What wouldest thou? Who answered, Give me a blessing; for thou hast given me a south land; give me also springs of water. And he gave her the upper springs, and the nether springs." [Josh. xv. 16-19.] See what a prominence in the history of Caleb has the history of his family; but of Joshua we read of no honour or reward in river or mountain; no daughters, no sons-in-law, no children's children. No descendants follow him to the grave; his name rests upon no earthly household. He has an inheritance indeed as his brethren, but that in no place of honour and excellence. He did not choose before the rest; on the contrary, he took the last portion. For we read, "When they had made an end of dividing the land for inheritance in their coasts, the children of Israel gave an inheritance to Joshua the son of Nun among them." [Josh. xix. 49.] Do you not see what this means? Is not the New Covenant anticipated in him, even as it is at this day? Is he not the type of all {159} acceptable servants, "in the present distress," all faithful and wise stewards whom their Lord sets over His household to give them their meat in due season; "who are poor, yet making many rich; who have nothing, yet possess all things"? Is he not the type of their Lord Himself, the Giver of all good, "who, though He was rich, yet for our sakes became poor, that we through His poverty might be rich"? Who was it who had not a place to lay His head? Who was He who had no near relative but His Mother? Who is Joshua, but Christ in figure, the Priest of the New Covenant? Joshua gave away; "he dispersed abroad;" he made men wealthy; he blessed them; he provided for their family needs,—not for his own. And Christ has gone to prepare a place for us; and in His Father's house are "many mansions;" and He is the disposer of them all; and to His good and faithful servants who enter into His joy, He gives to one ten cities, and to another five, according to their works.

And all this brings to mind what Scripture says about Melchizedek also, to whom I have already alluded, who was the Priest of the Most High God, and a figure of the Christ who was to come; and, being "without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like unto the Son of God, abideth a priest continually." [Heb. vii. 3.]

5. And here perhaps it is in point to mention another circumstance closely connected with the foregoing, which meets us in the history of Joshua. We read of no {160} lamentation of friends, no special honours paid him on his death. Abraham was buried by his sons Isaac and Ishmael; Isaac, by his sons Esau and Jacob [Gen. xxv. 9; xxxv. 29.]; for Jacob they mourned threescore and ten days, and then they carried him from Egypt to the field of Machpelah in the land of Canaan [Gen. l. 3-13.]. Joseph took an oath of his brethren, that they would carry his relics from Egypt when they left it; and they did so. Moses the Lord buried, and no one knew of his sepulchre [Deut. xxxiv. 6.], that his people (as is thought) might not honour him in excess. On Samuel's death, again, all the Israelites were gathered together, and lamented him. But Joshua was buried neither by sons nor by the assembled people, as if to teach us to raise up our hearts to Him, for whom no mourning was to be made, for He was the Living among the dead; and though for awhile He laid Himself down in the grave, He did it that, there lying, He might quicken the dead by His touch; that so, first He and then they, all might rise again and live for ever.

6. Once more. We are told in the chapter we have read in this Service, that Joshua did not accomplish all the work that was to be done; but left a remnant of it to those who came after him. And yet in one sense he did it all, for "all these kings and their land did Joshua take at one time." [Josh. x. 42.] And, accordingly, he divided out even the country which he had not conquered; for what he had done involved and secured, as far as God's aid was necessary, the doing of the rest. {161} "Behold," he says, "I have divided unto you by lot these nations which remain, to be an inheritance for your tribes ... And the Lord your God, He shall expel them from before you ... Be ye therefore very courageous." [Josh. xxiii. 4-6.] And so in like manner Christ has done the whole work of redemption for us; and yet it is no contradiction to say, that something remains for us to do: we have to take the redemption offered us, and that taking involves a work. We have to apply His grace to our own souls, and that application implies pain, trial, and toil, in the midst of its blessedness. He has suffered and conquered, and those who become partakers in Him, undergo in their own persons the shadow and likeness of that passion and victory. In them, one by one, is acted over again and again the history of the Son of God, so that as He died they die to sin,—as He rose again, so they rise again to righteousness; and in this imitation of His history consists their participation of His glory. He truly has planted us in the land of promise, and has given our enemies into our hands; but they are still in it, and they have to be expelled from it; and as the Israelites after Joshua's death entered into a truce with them instead of obeying his command, so we too, after our Lord's departure, instead of making that righteousness our own, which He has of His free grace imputed to us at the first, too often are content with that nominal imputation, and think it enough that He has "divided out the nations which remain," careless about fulfilling His directions in destroying them. {162}

To conclude: though Joshua is a figure of Christ and His followers in that he is a combatant and a conqueror, in one point of view he plainly differs from them. He was bidden use carnal weapons in his warfare; but of ours St. Paul says, "the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong-holds." [2 Cor. x. 4.] And, again, as the Prophet says, "Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts." [Zech. iv. 6.] "Ride on," says the Psalmist, "because of the word of truth, of meekness and righteousness;" [Ps. xlv. 4.] and the armies which follow Christ are "upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean;" and "fine linen is the righteousness of saints." [Rev. xix. 8, 14.] Such is the rule of our warfare. We advance by yielding; we rise by falling; we conquer by suffering; we persuade by silence; we become rich by bountifulness; we inherit the earth through meekness; we gain comfort through mourning; we earn glory by penitence and prayer. Heaven and earth shall sooner fall than this rule be reversed; it is the law of Christ's kingdom, and nothing can reverse it but sin. As Achan could cause the defeat of the armies of Israel, so sin, indeed, of whatever kind, habitual, or hidden, or scandalous, may disturb this divine provision, but nothing else. Let us pray that we may all of us be kept pure from sin; let us pray that at last, when we are well stricken with years, we may be as Joshua, not gifted with riches of this world, or with the blessings of life, or with "the precious things brought forth by {163} the sun," or "the precious things put forth by the moon;" but with "a name better than of sons and of daughters," "the Eternal God for our refuge, and underneath the everlasting arms."

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