This Land is our Land

Joshua base image

We are just starting our series on Joshua.  I have posted some background information on the book here.

 

“This is a time for dreams to be ‘rebirthed’. Dreams you have had for yourselves, for your lives, for your families and for this church. Dreams which have been buried under layers of disappointment and pain in some of you for many years, but dreams which came from me and which I now desire to rebirth in you . I know you and I know your dreams because it was I who put them there in the first place.

 

I long to come by my Spirit to restore those dreams you have let go of. Allow me to rebirth in you my dreams for you. Repent of unbelief that ‘this will never happen’. Believe the plans I have for you are good and  see the healing that will come as I restore and bring those dreams into realities.”

 

1. The vitality of God’s promises (1-4) 

Content and context (Gen 15:18, Deut 1:7, 11:24, Deut 34:10-12)

No more waiting or weeping over Moses – cross over!

No more waiting or weeping for us!

A great theme of the Bible is the “Kingdom of God”. Salvation is the means by which the sovereign God brings sinful people into that Kingdom as his willing and ac­ceptable subjects.

 

When Jesus began His preaching, He declared that the Kingdom of God was “at hand.” The term “Kingdom of God” is not an OT one, but the concept is. Clearly, Jesus’ hearers had some con­cept of “kingdom” which rested on their Old Testament upbringing, and they would have recognised Jesus’ words as a claim that the hope or expectation of Israel was to find its fulfilment in him.

 

In the Old Testament “the land” represents a type of Kingdom of God.   Abra­ham was given significant covenant promises:
   1. God will make of his descendants a great nation.
   2. They will be given a land to dwell in.
   3. They will be established on a special relationship to God.

 

Abraham’s descendants are to be God’s people, in God’s place, under God’s rule.  When God gave His covenant stipulations at Sinai, He addressed Israel as His people. The law of Moses are not rule to keep and so achieve salvation. Salvation is by grace, and the covenant of Sinai was given, not so that Israel might be saved, but because she was saved. The law is thus a manifesto for the people of the Kingdom.

 

The pattern is the same:

1. The promise of the kingdom was given to Abra­ham are confirmed as God brings Israel out of Egypt were the definitive acts of salvation.
2. Salvation as the way into the kingdom  in­volved the bringing of Israel into possession of Canaan, “the land”.

3. Sinai marked the objective constitution of Israel as the people of God.

 

The pattern of conquest under Joshua continued the demonstration of the fact that it was the power of God at work in salvation which brought the people together in the land and in covenant with God.

While the NT concentrates on the Kingdom as a reality in the spiritual plane, the same basic struc­ture of the kingdom is there as is in the OT. The NT kingdom is proclaimed every­where as the fulfilment of the OT expecta­tions.

 

1. God’s People.  Adam in Eden corresponds with Israel in the promised land.  Adam is the son of God (Luke 3:38). Israel is the people of God: ” . . . I . . . will be your God, and you shall be My people.” Lev. 26:12.   Jesus is the “beloved Son” with whom God is pleased (Luke 3:22). Indeed. Luke follows this baptismal declaration with his genealogy showing that through Adam, Jesus is the Son of God.

 

Jesus is looked upon as both the ideal Adam and the ideal Israel-that is, He is the people of God, the Seed of Abraham to whom all promises were made (see Gal. 3:16). Jesus as the Son of Adam (Son of man) accom­plishes that which Adam failed to do; and likewise, as the true Israel, He does what Israel failed to do. Thus the temptation narratives show the reversal of Satan’s conquest of Adam in the garden and of Israel in the wilderness.

 

If Jesus is the true people of God, the true Adam and the true Israel, all the prophecies concerning the restora­tion of Israel to be the people of God must have their fulfilment in Him. So Paul, preaching the gospel of Christ, was addressing himself to the hope of Israel (Acts 26:6, 7; 28:20). The consistent testimony of the apostle is to Christ as fulfiller (see 2 Cor. 1 :20). We may not seek the true Israel outside of Christ or look for her restoration apart from the gospel. To become one of the people of God, one must be incorporated into Christ by faith (John 1 :12; 2 Cor. 5:17; etc.).

 

2. God’s Place. Israel’s hope was to return to Zion, the place of God’s dwelling among His people. The New Testament must tell us where Zion is if we would dis­cover the new temple and the ruling son of David. Be­cause Jesus is the Son of David to whom rule is given, Zion is where He is. The kingdom of God cannot be separated from the presence of Jesus (Heb. 12:22).

 

The prominence in the OT of the promised land should not be allowed to establish our concept of God’s place. We need to remember that the promised land, Canaan, is an earthly expression of a reality which we see set forth in the garden of Eden. But even Eden could not be Eden without the presence of God.

 

The tribe of Levi was chosen to be priestly representatives of Israel in having access to God. God told Moses that He intended to make a nation of priests (Ex. 19:6), a truth which has its fulfilment in the priest­hood of all believers.

 

In this sense Levi was privileged to represent God’s people in the ideal relationship of being accepted into God’s presence. In Joshua we will see all the tribes given land as their inheritance, except Levi. Levi, the truly representative Israel, was given a far greater gift: “They shall have no inheritance among their brethren; the Lord is their inheritance. . . .” Deut. 18:2.

 

The ultimate in­heritance Christians receive is related to priesthood rather than land rights. And it is this priesthood that the NT applies to Christians, for they have access to the presence of God through Jesus Christ.

 

3. God’s Rule.  When God “walked” in the garden of Eden, there was no need for a symbol of his presence. But in the fallen world where sin separates man from God, a tangible symbol was provided. The tabernacle was given to symbolise both the presence of God among the people and the separation between a holy God and a sinful people.

 

Solomon’s temple became a fixed symbol of God’s dwelling and rule until it was destroyed in 586 B.C. Prophecy established the hope in the restored temple as the centre of God’s rule in Zion.

 

As far as the NT is concerned, OT prophecy about the rule of God and the temple is fulfilled in the gospel. The resurrection of Jesus is not only the restoration of the temple (John 2:19-22), but also the re-enthronement of the Davidic king (Acts 2:30,31). The true temple is in heaven, where Jesus reigns now (Acts 2:33, 36; Heb. 8:1-2). While be­lievers are separated from their Lord (they are on earth, He is in heaven), there is another temple created by the Holy Spirit, who unites believers with the ascended Lord (2 Cor. 6:16; Eph. 2:11-22; 1 Peter 2:4-
8).

 

The New Testament develops Stephen’s assertion that God’s temple is not made with hands (Acts 7:47­50). It is, in fact, the heavenly dwelling to which temple prophecy ultimately points, and there the Eden typology is answered in the face-to-face relationship which re­quires no symbolic temple, for God is the temple (Rev. 21 :22).

 

Every element of the OT’s unfolding revelation of “the land” leads to the NT “Kingdom of God” and the Per­son of Jesus Christ. The Kingdom of God has its reality in him. He is God’s true people. His word comes as God’s ruling word with all authority.

 

The New Testament, in declaring the kingdom is “at hand” with the coming of Jesus, also points us to the fact that there is a not-yet element too. The final coming of the Kingdom is described in Revelation 21 and 22.

 

When we preach about “the Land” in the OT, we are therefore on safe theological and exegetical ground to apply it to the “Kingdom of God” in the New Testament, and therefore to ourselves today. 

 

2. The reality of God’s presence (5, 9, 17)

Assurance and exhortation (Ex 3:12-15; Hosea 1:9; Jos 2:24, 3.7……

I will be with you as you cross over (Heb 13:5-6)!

I will be with you!

3. The centrality of God’s Word (7-8) 

Care and command (Ps 1:2)

Have I not commanded you?

The unity of God’s people (12-18) 

Meat in the unlikely places! (Num 32:14-27; Joshua chs 3-4)

Unity is a prerequisite for loyalty (Heb 10:25; 1 Sam 23:16)

Are God’s promises, presence, Word and people enough>>>

                   >>> to be bold and courageous?`!

 

Cell outlines

  1. What do you think Joshua was feeling at the time of Moses’ death while taking over leadership of Israel?
  2. Moses acted as Joshua’s mentor: What valuable life lessons did he learn from him? How could you apply the same kinds of principles to your spiritual life? (Hint: try turning back a page?)
  3. What promises does God make to Joshua as a leader of God’s people? Do these extend also to his people in leadership positions today? If so, in what ways do and can you lead others as God’s representative at home? At church? At work?
  4. “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” What might these words have meant to Joshua? What can the mean to us in the midst of life’s challenges? (Hebrews 13:5-8)
  5. What commands does the Lord give to Joshua? How is verse 8 a command and an encouragement to Joshua? To us? (Psalm 1:1-3)
  6. Joshua gives his first commands as leader of Israel (v10ff). How was the presence of God’s made evident in their response? (Numbers 32:1-27)
  7. Going deeper
    Joshua was known for his deep trust in God and as “a man in whom is the Spirit” (Numbers 27:18). What does this mean and how can that same depth of trust in God grow in you?
  8. Going deeper
    The Greek form of the name Joshua is Jesus. How can you already see the work of Jesus reflected in the account of Joshua 1?

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