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Jesus as Commander of the LORD’s Hosts

17 Nov

commander of the lord's hosts
Read Joshua 5: 13-15
The words command/commanded/commandment appear 47 times in this book.
God commanded Moses, God commanded Moses and Joshua, Moses commands Joshua, Joshua commands the people, Joshua commands the priests and the elders and officers.
But the most significant commander is the LORD Himself, when He appears to personally encourage and commission Joshua just before they are to cross the Jordan.
Joshua sees a Man standing by Jericho with a sword drawn in His hand. This is similar to the Man who withstood Balaam (Num. 22:23). As the leader, Joshua approaches Him to ask whether He’s a friend or foe.
This is when you expect a different response. Surely He’ll say He’s on the side of Israel. After all, He’s promised many times that He would fight for them (Deut. 3:22, Josh. 23:10)
But His response immediately reveals who He is. He’s in charge of a greater army than any on earth. He is in charge of the hosts (army) of the LORD. This includes all of the heavenly hosts (angels) and any other creatures in the unseen realm (like the four living creatures in the book of Revelation 4:8).
As soon as Joshua hears this, he falls on his face in worship before this One. The fact that He accepts the worship informs us that Joshua is correct. Then he asks for His orders, like the boy Samuel did, in 1 Sam. 3:10, “Speak, LORD for your servant is listening,” and like the Apostle Paul on the road to Damascus. (Acts 9:5,6) Once they recognize Who is speaking with them, they want to know what to do. Paul asks, “Who are you, Lord?” then “Lord, what do you want me to do?” This is a good model for us to follow as well.
Before He tells Joshua what he is to do, He tells him to remove his shoes because he is standing on holy ground. This should immediately remind us of a similar incident with Moses, Exodus 3:5 when God tells him the same thing. This act of obedience shows reverence and humility before God.
Then the record is quiet. We are not told what the Commander of the LORD’s hosts said to Joshua after this. Was it related to the crossing of the Jordan, or the conquest of the land of Canaan, or was it encouragement and strengthening for the task ahead. We don’t know, it’s something we can ask Joshua when we meet him. 
Several places in the Old Testament Scriptures we find God, Himself making an appearance in the lives of His people. Examples are when He walked with Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, when He came down to see the building project at Babel, when He appeared to Abraham, when He appeared to Samson’s mother, and then to both his parents, and when He wrestled with Jacob, as a few examples.
We know God is spirit, and doesn’t have a body. Yet these instances where a representative of God is in human form and yet is worshipped as God, in the Old Testament, is referred to as a Theophany. It’s a physical manifestation of God in the flesh before Jesus came. Sometimes, they are called Christophanies, if it’s believed to be the Son, like as the fourth man in the fire with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in Daniel 4.
This is clearly an example of a theophany.

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Jesus Typified in the Life of Joshua

16 Nov

moses ordains joshua.jpg
Joshua’s name corresponds to the Hebrew name, Yeshua, or the Greek name, Jesus. It means Yahweh is salvation. This name is symbolic of the fact that although he is the leader of the Israelite nation during the conquest of Canaan, the LORD is the Conqueror. In Deuteronomy 31, they are promised, “The LORD your God Himself crosses over before you,” and then adds, “Joshua himself crosses over before you.”
He is representative of the LORD who saves His people and brings them into their rest in the Promised Land, as Moses represented the Law. Just as the Law cannot inherit the promises, so Moses was unable to enter the Promised Land.
Moses’ failure to speak to the Rock the second time they were to get water was a picture for us, of how Christ was smitten (struck by the rod of God) in death, and since He is not to be crucified again (Heb. 9:26) speaking to the Rock signified prayer. How wrong it is for the Roman Catholics to re-sacrifice Christ every time they do the mass. It is FINISHED! All that’s needed now is prayer to our Rock.
Moses’ rebellion to the clear command of God would have made us miss this symbolic type if not for God’s response. We had to see how seriously God took this violation, in order to understand why Moses could not enter the Promised Land.
“For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” John 1:17
“…but Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness. Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law.” Rom. 9:31,32
“…knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.” Gal. 2:16

Jesus as the Cursed One on a Tree

15 Nov

Crucifixion
Occasionally we see an obscure directive that doesn’t seem to be something we can’t relate to. This is one of those ordinances. Under the Torah, a man proven guilty of a capital offense and put to death by stoning was displayed in public. It did not refer to strangulation or crucifixion, which were not allowed under the Torah nor practiced in Israel at the time. The reference was strictly to public exposure of the one executed. It was a grim object lesson and warning to the community that such a crime was a disgrace and not to be repeated. It also demonstrated the curse of God on the individual.
“If a man has committed a sin deserving of death, and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his body shall not remain overnight on the tree, but you shall surely bury him that day, so that you do not defile the land which the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance; for he who is hanged is accursed of God.” Deut. 21:22,23
But they were not to leave it exposed overnight. They were to bury the person the same day. Leaving it longer would bring defilement on the community. Here are two examples.
“And the king of Ai he hanged on a tree until evening. And as soon as the sun was down, Joshua commanded that they should take his corpse down from the tree, cast it at the entrance of the gate of the city, and raise over it a great heap of stones that remains to this day.” Joshua 8:29
“And afterward Joshua struck them and killed them, and hanged them on five trees; and they were hanging on the trees until evening. So it was at the time of the going down of the sun that Joshua commanded, and they took them down from the trees, cast them into the cave where they had been hidden, and laid large stones against the cave’s mouth, which remain until this very day.” Joshua 10:26,27
Like the rest of the Old Testament, we understand its significance when the light of the New Testament shines on it. Isaiah prophesied about the Messiah as a suffering servant.
“He was taken from prison and from judgment,
And who will declare His generation?
For He was cut off from the land of the living;
For the transgressions of My people He was stricken.
And they made His grave with the wicked—
But with the rich at His death,
Because He had done no violence, Nor was any deceit in His mouth.
Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him;
He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, And the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand.” Isa. 53:9,10
In this chapter it says Messiah would die a cursed death with the wicked (plural in this passage). But the words, “at his death”, meaning after death, referred to a burial with the rich (singular in this passage). He would be slain as a criminal but buried as a wealthy man.
During Jesus’ time, the prophetic requirements were somewhat difficult to fulfill. Under Roman domination the Jews didn’t have the right to execute capital punishment. And the Sanhedrin as a rule was opposed to execution. Jewish criminals were executed by Rome, usually by crucifixion. But the likelihood of proper burial following such a death was very slim. Criminals were usually left unburied, disgraced by interment in an unclean place, or carted off to be cremated in the valley of Gehenna.
Nevertheless, Jesus’ death fulfilled both Isaiah’s prophecy and the requirements of the Torah. He was hanged on a tree, receiving the curse of the Torah. And he was executed between two criminals, and buried in a rich man’s tomb.
“…who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.” 1 Pet.2:24
“And He, bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha, where they crucified Him, and two others with Him, one on either side, and Jesus in the center.” John 19:17,18
“Now when evening had come, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be given to him. When Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his new tomb which he had hewn out of the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the door of the tomb, and departed.” Matt. 27:57-60
“After this, Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took the body of Jesus. And Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds. Then they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in strips of linen with the spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury. Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid.” John 19:38-41
Joseph showed great courage in approaching Pilate for the body. As a friend and disciple, he desired to give Jesus a proper burial; as a Pharisee, he was obedient to the Torah’s injunction to remove the body before sundown. Nicodemus collaborated with Joseph by supplying one hundred pounds of burial spices, while Joseph purchased the linen shroud and donated his own garden tomb. Love guided them to do this for Jesus. Burial is to be with dignity because of the value of the body and belief in the resurrection. They ensured that in spite of Jesus’ illegal and cursed death, His burial was timely, according to the Torah, and richly performed. They would not have realized they were fulfilling Isaiah’s prophecy.
Jesus suffered the shame of public exposure on a tree, as Peter refers to it, but His body was given burial before evening, fulfilling the Torah’s requirement. Paul makes the connection with Jesus taking our punishment, becoming cursed by God on our behalf.
“Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree).” Gal.3:13
He was cursed so we could receive the favour of God.
“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Cor. 5:21

Christ as the Scarlet Cord of Rahab

11 Sep

Read Joshua 2:1-24 and Joshua 6:15-25

The Bible is an honest book, stating things as they are. It says Rahab was a harlot, a woman who sold her body for money. Some people try to downplay this by saying she was just an inn-keeper. However, in those days, only men were innkeepers. In written bills of that time, the cost of the bed is listed as a girl, whose services would have been included. Rahab may have been in such a place. It was therefore natural for the spies to lodge there as it would have been the only place to stay in a small place like Jericho.

Somehow, the king of Jericho heard there were Jewish scouts in the city and called for their immediate capture. They were probably not dressed like people in Jericho, so they would have stood out.  Meanwhile, Rahab had become aware of the true identity of her guests, and had hidden them on her roof under stacks of flax. Her house would have been built on the double city wall, so it would have been higher than any other, preventing it from prying eyes. The spies were safe.

Rahab misled the king’s messengers. Then, while they were searching the countryside, she talked with the spies. She told them she knew that God had given them the land. Her people had heard about the miracle God had done for them, in parting the Red Sea, and this was forty years after the fact! She said the men of Jericho had lost courage to face the Israelites because of their God.

She was a wise woman who acted in light of proper information. She used discretion in talking about them and shrewdness in hiding them. She was hoping that in light of what she had done for them, they would do something for her. “Since I have saved your lives, will you in turn save mine and that of my relatives?” She makes them swear by God because she knew then they would keep their promises.

She was sure that when the people of Israel attacked, her people didn’t have the slightest chance against them. She had heard what they had done to the kings, Og and Bashan.She asked for a sign that they would save her when their armies returned to take the city. They told her to put a scarlet cord on her window and no one who was inside with her would be harmed.

Some commentators think this scarlet cord represented her occupation. It was her ‘red light’ in the window, and therefore would not arouse suspicion. That may or may not be true; but it represented an agreement between the two parties. As soon as they left, she bound the cord. She took it seriously and didn’t want there to be any mistake.

I’m sure as the Israelites marched around the city, she checked and rechecked that it was still there and clearly visible, for her life would soon depend upon its being seen. Her faith was so strong that she was able to convince her relatives to come and stay with her. Every one of them was spared. Compare that to Lot, whose sons-in-law mocked him when he warned of coming judgment.But notice that although her family members’ lives were spared, they did not believe in the God of the Israelites, like Rahab did. “…she lives in Israel to this day.”

Faith is a fixed and profound trust in God and the Word. Rahab had this kind of faith. Therefore, God took her tarnished portrait, cleansed it and hung it next to Sarah in the gallery of the heroes of faith (Heb. 11:1, 30, 31). These two women are the only two females in a long list of men. Rahab, like Sarah, a heroine of the faith? Yes, for God is no respecter of persons. There are no impossible cases with Him. He justifies the ungodly.

This was only the beginning. She lived in Israel,gave up her former way of life, married an Israelite named Salmon, and became the father of Boaz, the husband of Ruth. Rahab becomes the great-grandmother of King David.

Scripture doesn’t tell us the names of the two spies sent to Jericho, but the romantic in me likes to think one of them was Salmon, who eventually became her husband. I believe he was impressed with her faith in a God she had only learned about from afar. It was the original two spies who were the ones who personally retrieved Rahab and her family from Jericho.

It seems Joshua didn’t need the report of the spies in order to know to attack the city. So why were they sent? Because a sovereign God was searching out a particular woman to be saved.

The reason Rahab was protected? Because she protected the spies. Her whole family was saved physically, but only Rahab chose to continue to live among the Israelites.Only she had true faith. But notice they needed to be inside the house to be protected. Likewise, merely knowing that Christ is our shelter from judgment does us no good on its own. We must be in Christ. And like Rahab, we must hurry to secure our eternal safety.

“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ.” Rom. 8:1

The scarlet cord is a symbol that’s often used when speaking of how Christ is hidden in the Old Testament, woven into the familiar stories, hinted at in symbols and types and shadows. The whole Bible, both Old and New Testaments together, speaks of Christ. From the first promise of a coming Messiah in Gen. 3:16 to the Passover Lamb and the Manna from heaven, and the rock smitten to provide water for the people of Israel, to the bronze serpent on the pole, to the sign of Jonah in the depths for three days; He is there, until he appears in the New Testament in fulfillment of the prophecies of the Old Testament.  He is the Scarlet Cord that saves those who believe what He says. We must be ‘in Christ’ to be safe from judgment.

Prayer– “Father, thank You for this word picture of a scarlet cord, which reminds us of Your covenant with us, to save us from Judgment if we are in Christ. Thank you for searching us out in love, and for Your faithfulness and mercy toward us.”

Question– How do you think Rahab would have been accepted in Israel? How comfortable are you in dealing with people who have been saved from a sordid or scandalous past? Do you only associate with people who are ‘like you’?

Response– Research a group like International Justice Mission or Carey Outreach Ministries. Prayerfully consider how you can help (prayer/financial support) of the aftercare of women rescued from human trafficking for sexual purposes. These organizations provide counselling and teach life and job skills. The women are also redeemed (bought back) from their abductors/pimps.

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