What Does the Land of Canaan Symbolize?

For the past couple of days, I have been reading the book of Joshua. Joshua is the account of Israel finally entering the promised land, Canaan, after wandering in the wilderness for 40 years. When I first began reading the Bible, I thought Canaan symbolized heaven. So, we have a story of God leading his people of Egypt, the world or the earth, and into Canaan, heaven. In between, is the wilderness, our journey through this world once we are saved as we try to make it to heaven. I’m sure I’m not the only one that has believed this. But, as I have become more familiar with the story of the Bible, I believe something different now.

So, what does Canaan, the promised land, symbolize if it does not symbolize heaven?

Rest.

The Greek word for rest is katapauo. Almost every use of the word is in the book of Hebrews.

Hebrews 3.11 says, “As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest.'” This is actually a quotation of Psalm 95.11. This verse is about a people who have hardened their hearts and rebelled against God on their day of testing in the wilderness. Because the people always went astray in their hearts, God said they would not enter his rest. The writer of Hebrews goes on to ask who it was that rebelled? Was it not those led out of Egypt by Moses? Weren’t these ones with whom God was provoked? Weren’t these the ones whom God said they could not enter his rest?

Then, in Hebrews 4.8-10, the writer of Hebrews ties the idea of rest together with Joshua leading Israel into the land of Canaan. “For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on. So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.” Joshua led the people into Canaan, but he did not give them rest because Israel did not cease from its works.

Even though those that rebelled in the wilderness failed to enter God’s rest, which is to say they died in the wilderness without entering Canaan, Hebrews 4.1 says, “the promise of entering his rest still stands.”

So, what is God’s rest then?

Hebrews 4.3-4 says, “For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said, ‘As I swore in my wrath, “They shall not enter my rest,”‘ although his works were finished from the foundation of the world. For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: ‘And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.'” This is a quotation of Genesis 2.2. The Lexham English Septuagint says, “God completed in the sixth day his works that he did, and he ceased on the seventh day from all his works.” The Greek word for ceased is the word katapauo, the same word the writer of Hebrews uses.

God’s rest is a ceasing from creative activity. God worked, or created, on the first six days, but he ceased, or rested, from creating on the seventh day. We know that God’s rest related specifically to God’s creative work not all of God’s work though. John 5.16-17 says, “And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath. But Jesus answered them, ‘My Father is working until now, and I am working.” For Jesus and God, the seventh day, the Sabbath, was not a day of doing nothing, doing no work. They both still worked on the Sabbath. But, they no longer did creative work.

What is significant about creative work?

When you create something, you own it. It’s yours. You can do whatever you want with it.

On the seventh day, God ceased from that kind of work. God was now sharing his creation with mankind. He was making man a partner with him in taking care of the creation.

So, for you and me to enter God’s rest is for us to rest, or cease, from our own creative works. We are stop trying to make something that is our own, something that we can use for ourselves, and do with it whatever we please. Oh, we still have work to do. Lots of it. But, the work is to ensure that have everyone has a satisfactory portion of God’s creation. That is the concept of peace, shalom.

In Canaan, this was symbolized by each tribe receiving their inheritance of the promised land. And, no family was to lose their inheritance as all their land was to be restored to them every Jubilee. No one was ever to be without their portion. For the first Christians, this was fulfilled in Acts 2.32, 34-35, which says, “Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common…There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.”

They had entered God’s rest, Canaan.

What Work Is Forbidden on the Sabbath?

In my last post, we saw that the man supposedly killed by God for picking up sticks on the Sabbath was actually a picture of Jesus. In the New Testament, we see that Jesus, that is God, heals rather than kills on the Sabbath. Jesus, that is God, gathers his people rather than casting them out on the Sabbath. Instead, it was Moses, Aaron, and the congregation that stoned the man for gathering sticks on the Sabbath. While there was no specific law against gathering sticks on the Sabbath, Numbers 15.32-36 indicates that Moses, Aaron, and the congregation came to a mutual decision that the man should be killed.

How did they determine that the man gathering sticks on the Sabbath should be killed?

They based their decision on what Moses thought he heard from God.

“And the Lord said to Moses, ‘You are to speak to the people of Israel and say, “Above all you shall keep my Sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the Lord, sanctify you. You shall keep the Sabbath, because it is holy for you. Everyone who profanes it shall be put to death. Whoever does any work on it, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day shall be put to death. Therefore the people of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, observing the Sabbath throughout their generations, as a covenant forever. It is a sign forever between me and the people of Israel that in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.”(Exodus 32.12-17)

Moses, Aaron, and the congregation deemed that gathering sticks on the Sabbath was doing work. Working on the Sabbath profaned the Sabbath as the Sabbath was to be a day of solemn rest. The Sabbath was a day of solemn rest because the Lord made the heaven and the earth in six days and rested on the seventh day. By working on six days and resting on the seventh day, Israel would be imaging, emulating, mirroring God. If one’s life did not image God, then their soul should be cut off from the people and they should die.

But, is this what God really instructed Moses and Israel to do?

Did God really say to Moses that anyone who gathered sticks on the Sabbath was profaning the Sabbath by working on it and should be put to death?

Or, did Moses misunderstand God?

Does Jesus help us understand God, work, and the Sabbath differently?

In John 5.1-17, Jesus comes across a man who had been an invalid for 38 years. Every day the man would lie by the pool at the Sheep Gate so that when the water was stirred he could get in the pool and be healed. But, you had to be the first one in the pool, and someone always beat him into the pool. Even though it was the Sabbath, Jesus told the man to get up, take his bed with him, and walk. At once the man was healed, but carrying his bed on the Sabbath was against the law. This man was profaning the Sabbath by doing work. Further, Jesus was profaning the Sabbath healing the man. Verses 16-17 say, “And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath. But Jesus answered them, ‘My Father is working until now, and I am working.”

Jesus is clearly saying that the Father works on the Sabbath. “He is working until now.” Therefore, because the Father is working on the Sabbath, Jesus says, “I am working.”

What is going on here?

Exodus 32.12-17 is clearly referring back to the creation accounts in Genesis 1-3. Verse 17 says, “It is a sign forever between me and the people of Israel that in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh he rested and was refreshed.” Genesis 2.1-2 says, “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done.” The two passages are quite similar.

But, there is something very interesting about the seventh day of creation that you might not have noticed.

It never ended.

Each of the first six days of creation had a clear ending.

  • “And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.” (Genesis 1.5)
  • “And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.” (Genesis 1.8)
  • “And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.” (Genesis 1.13)
  • “And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.” (Genesis 1.19)
  • “And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.” (Genesis 1.23)
  • “And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.” (Genesis 1.31)

But, in Genesis 2.1-3, this phrase is not stated regarding the seventh day. In other words, for God the seventh day, the day of solemn rest, the Sabbath, has continued forever without end. So, Jesus said that even though it is the Sabbath, and always has been the Sabbath for God, “My Father is working until now, and I am working” because I am the image of my Father.

Hold on.

Genesis 2.1-3 says “on the seventh day God finished his work…he rested on the seventh day from all his work…God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.”

So, which is it?

Did God stop working or not?

In Genesis 2.1-3, the Hebrew word for work is melakah. This word does mean work. But, it can also mean possessions, or what is owned by the expenditure of work. The idea behind melakah seems to be that when you work to create something you own what you have created. God worked to create for six days. At the end of six days, God rested from the kind of work that creates. There was nothing left for God to create and own. All of it had been made. And, God owed all of it. But, God did not stop working altogether.

Exodus 32.14-15 says, “Whoever does any work on it, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath shall be put to death.” Three times the word work is used and three times it is the word melakah. Therefore, the work that is forbidden on the Sabbath is the work of creating to take ownership of what is created.

Why?

Because God had created and owned everything on the first six days of creation. As the seventh day of creation never ended, there was nothing left to work to create and own. God had created the earth, all the land, and given it to man. Man was merely a steward of what God had created. Man did not own the land himself. Therefore, for man to work to own the land on the Sabbath would profane the Sabbath, or profane the work God had already done in creation and rested from.

When man was created he was living in the seventh day, the day of rest that never ended. Yet, man was given work to do. Genesis 2.15 says, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.”

Wait a minute.

How did God put the man in the garden “to work it” when God had rested from his work?

The Hebrew word for work in Genesis 2.15 is not the same as in Genesis 2.1-3. Here the Hebrew word for work is bod, which primarily means to serve. Also, the Hebrew word for keep is samar, which also means to watch over or guard. In other words, man was to serve and keep, guard, or watch over what God had created as his own possession. Again, man was a steward not an owner.

Some food for thought. These two Hebrew words, bod and samar, are regularly used of the priests serving in the Tabernacle. The priests, by the way, worked on the Sabbath as sacrifices still had to be offered. And, Jesus tabernacled among us (John 1.14) and was always working as God’s servant.

In a restatement of the 10 commandments, Deuteronomy 5.12 says, “Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” The word observe is the Hebrew word samar. Also, Exodus 32.12-17 says, “you shall keep my Sabbaths…you shall keep the Sabbath…the people of Israel shall keep the Sabbath.” Each time the word keep is the word samar.

Therefore, on the seventh day, the Sabbath, Adam was to serve and keep, guard, or watch over the garden. Similarly, Israel was to keep the Sabbath in the same way as Adam. There was still work to be done, just not the kind of work that would take ownership of what the work produced.

Exodus 32.12-17 says “everyone who profanes it shall be put to death” and “whoever does any work on the Sabbath day shall be put to death.” The phrase “shall be put to death” is the same phrase that we find in Genesis 2.16-17 after Adam was given the command to bod and samar the garden of Eden in Genesis 2.15. Genesis 2.16-17 says, “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

So, Adam was to work and keep the garden. As long as Adam did that, he could eat from everything in God’s garden, including the tree of life, which meant he could benefit from what God created and owned. But, if he ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil instead of the tree of life, then Adam would surely die. In other words, Adam was to work and keep the garden to extend it throughout the earth. And, he would do this as long as he did not try to own anything himself. In this way, Adam would spread life throughout the earth. But, if Adam ate from the tree of the knowledge good and evil, if Adam stepped outside his role as steward so as to make his own judgments and own what was not his, then he would surely die.

Perhaps, this is why in the beginning of Solomon’s book on wisdom, which is Jesus, who is the tree of life, Proverbs 1.18-19 says, “But these men lie in wait for their own blood; they set an ambush for their own lives. Such are the ways of everyone who is greedy for unjust gain; it takes away the life of its possessors.” To be greedy for unjust gain is to work to own that which is not rightfully yours. As we have seen, that is what is meant by working to create on the Sabbath, which profanes the Sabbath. Men that try to possess land that is not theirs through violence are working to own that which is not theirs. It results in death.

Further, we see an allusion from the life of Jesus back to the command God gave Adam to work and keep the garden to spread life throughout the earth and the command to keep the Sabbath. However, if Adam ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, then he would surely die.

“On another Sabbath, he entered the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was withered. And the scribes and the Pharisees watched him, to see whether he would heal on the Sabbath, so that they might find a reason to accuse him. But he knew their thoughts, and he said to the man with the withered hand, ‘Come and stand here.’ And he rose and stood there. And Jesus said to them, ‘I ask you, is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to destroy it?’ And after looking around at them all he said to them, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ And he did so, and his hand was restored. But they were filled with fury and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus.”

Jesus’s work of healing on the Sabbath was an one of working, or serving, and keeping the garden of God by restoring or extending its life. Because the man’s hand was withered, he was not able to fulfill the command God gave to Adam. Therefore, the man was not able to image God, which meant that he could not express God’s life. Knowing that the scribes and Pharisees believed it was wrong to heal, to work, on the Sabbath, Jesus asked if he could do good or give save life on the Sabbath. He was asking not if he could work to create so as to own the fruits of his labor but if he could work and keep the life that God had created and owned. Jesus was seeking to liberate the life that God had created. To not do this kind of work on the Sabbath, to not extend God’s kingdom and the life it brings, would be to do harm and to destroy life, to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

So, through the lens of Jesus, I think we can see that not all work was forbidden on the Sabbath. Working to own the produce of our work was forbidden. But, if that work was the kind of work that saved life, restored life, and extended God’s kingdom then that work was not only allowed but actually commanded by God to be performed. This is the kind of work that God still performed on the Sabbath according to Jesus. Therefore, it was the kind of work Jesus did on the Sabbath since he only did what he saw his Father doing. In this way Jesus imaged God. As we enter back into that day of rest, the day of rest without end, meaning every day is a day of rest, this is the same kind of work that we are to do. And, we are to do everything as if we are doing it for the Lord. In other words, everything should we do should be an act of serving and keeping God’s garden. It’s all work on the Sabbath. Then we to will image God and be his sons.

Rest, Don’t Work; Or, Don’t Whore after Other Gods

TODAY’S READING: EZEKIEL 16-17

“But you trusted in your beauty and played the whore because of your renown and lavished your whorings on any passerby; your beauty became his.” – Ezekiel 16:15

The Hebrew root word for whore is zanah. Zanah means to commit fornication, be unfaithful; to abandon someone to fornication. Words derived from zanah mean prostitution, harlotry and fornication. While this is the literal meaning of zanah, it seems to be that zanah is almost always used in the context of whoring after other gods.

Israel was considered God’s bride. Therefore, when they whored after other gods, it was as if Israel was committing fornication or adultery against God.

Although not necessarily the case in Ezekiel 16, presumably Israel, at least at some point, whored after other gods for what the other gods could potentially give them. But, these other gods require you to work for what you can get from them.

This reminds me of Adam of Eve. God had provided them everything that was good. God had even given them access to his life. Yet, they chose to go after another god. They failed to believe in God’s good provision and sought what they desired from another. They played the whore.

This also reminds me of what Jesus said in Matthew 6:25-34. He said we are anxious for our life, what we will eat, drink, and wear. But, Jesus told us to look at the creation and see how God provided for what he created. “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and you heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

The implication here is that the Gentiles were seeking after what they should eat, drink, and wear. In their anxiety, the Gentiles sought this from other gods. And to get these things from their gods, the Gentiles had to work for them. But, Jesus told those listening to him to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.

Don’t whore after gods for what you need. Seek the kingdom of God, and God will give you everything you need for life.

Jesus spoke to this another way in John 6:28-29. “Then they said to him, ‘What must we do, to be doing the works of God?’ Jesus answered them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.'”

Today, I think we have taken this to mean that God simply wants to have an intellectual belief in God and that doing any work is wrong. But, we must remember that Adam worked in the garden before sin. It was only after Adam sin, after he whored after another god, that his work became toil and striving, seeking the things he needed for life.

God wants us to work. But, the works are believing in God when the works are rooted in a trust that God will provide and produce the everything necessary for life. Therefore, 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” And, Colossians 3:17 says, “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

So, we are not to whore after other gods, seeking what is necessary for life. That work is toil and striving. But, we are to work believing that God has provided everything we need. He is in control of the outcome. That work is rest.

Besides what we have seen so far in Ezekiel 16 and the words of Jesus, the book of Ezekiel provides further confirmation of whoring after other gods being a striving work instead of seeking the kingdom and doing a restful work by trusting in the Lord.

The Hebrew root word for whoring is found 38 times in the book of Ezekiel. The number 38 symbolizes work or labor in the Bible. The 38th time the word Elohim is mentioned in the Bible is Genesis 2:7, which says, “Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.” This was the completion of God’s most masterful work.

As we move through the lives of the patriarchs, the 38th mention of their names is often associated with work in some form. Further, Israel wandered in the wilderness for 38 years as they tried to work their way to God. Yet, the promised land was a type of the rest we receive from Jesus. Israel’s work ended after 38 years. We see something similar in the man who was lame for 38 years and was healed by Jesus in John 5.

So, 38 can be a period of striving work that at last becomes rest.

This is exactly what we see the 38th time whoring is mentioned in the book of Ezekiel. Ezekiel 43:7-9 says, “And he said to me, ‘Son of man, this is the place of my throne and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the people forever. And the house of Israel shall no more defile my holy name, neither they, nor their kings, by their whoring and by the dead bodies of their kings at their high places, by setting their threshold by my threshold and their doorposts beside my doorposts, with only a wall between me and them. They have defiled my holy name by their abominations that they have committed, so I have consumed them in my anger. Now let them put away their whorings [the 38th mention] and the dead bodies of their kings far from me, and I will dwell in their midst forever.”

This was said speaking from the temple, which was a place of rest. The 38th mention of whorings by Ezekiel said they will be put away, the striving work will end, and God will dwell in the midst of the people forever. There will be rest.

Rest: Joshua Is a Shadow, but Jesus Is the Reality

TODAY’S READING: JOSHUA 23-24

Joshua 23:1 says “the Lord had given rest to Israel from all their surrounding enemies.”

Rest.

No more work. Just rest.

That’s the end of the story. Of Joshua, yes. But, it’s more than just the end of the book of Joshua.

Genesis to Joshua is the complete story of Israel. The going down, or fall, of Genesis. Then, the going out of Exodus. The process of going in of Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. And, at the last, the rest of Joshua.

But, the rest that Joshua gave was just a picture. Hebrews 4:8 says, “For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on.” The rest of Joshua was a shadow cast by a reality that had not yet come.

However, this is far more than the story of Israel. What we read from Genesis to Joshua is the story of each and every person. It is what God is doing in the hearts of us all.

Jesus said in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Go to Jesus. Stop working. Stop striving. He will give you rest.

Jesus is the reality, the man, the image of God, that cast the shadow of Joshua. Jesus is the true rest.

Therefore, Hebrews 4:9 says, “So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.”

God’s work was creation. We no longer need to work to create ourselves, to make something of ourselves.

First, we go to Jesus. Next, we stop trying to create ourselves. Then, we rest in Jesus. Finally, Jesus makes us a new creation.

Let’s look at the summation of the book of Joshua in the language of Jesus to see what the Spirit reveals about us.

JOSHUA: A SHADOW OF REST

Joshua 24:29-30 says, “After these things Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died, being 110 years old. And they buried him in his own inheritance at Timnath-serah, which is in the hill country of Ephraim, north of the mountain of Gaash.”

Joshua means Yahweh is salvation or the Lord is salvation. The name Jesus is simply the Greek transliteration of the Hebrew name Joshua. Jesus means the Lord is salvation.

The names Joshua and Jesus were actually quite common in their day. Because Joshua was such a common name, Joshua was given an appellation so readers would know which Joshua the scriptures were talking about. Therefore, we often read Joshua, the son of Nun.

Nun is both a Hebrew word and letter. The letter was drawn with a pictograph that resembled a sprouting seed. A sprouting seed represents offspring, a new generation, or new life. Therefore, we could read Joshua, the son of Nun, as Joshua, the son of Life.

Like Joshua, Jesus is given a similar title. Mark 1:1 says, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” Also, Hebrews 4:14 says, “We have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God.”

Now, we need to understand who God is. Romans 6:23 says “the free gift of God is eternal life.” God is able to give this gift and give it freely because he is life. According to 1 Timothy 6:13, God “gives life to all things.” John writes in 1 John 5:11, “And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.” Indeed, in John 10:10, Jesus said, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

Therefore, we could read Jesus, the Son of God, as Jesus, the Son of Life. It’s not a coincidence that Joshua and Jesus share identical names.

Joshua was a servant of the Lord. So was Jesus. In Mark 10:45, Jesus said, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Jesus gave his life, he died, as a ransom for many.

Joshua’s death at 110 years old is a picture of just this.

The number 10 symbolizes law, commandments, completeness of order and responsibility. God brought complete order to the creation through 10 words or statements. “God said” is found 10 times Genesis 1. There were 10 generations from Adam to Noah, representing the completeness of that order before the flood came. And, we are all familiar with Moses receiving the ten commandments from God on Mt. Sinai.

While most people are familiar with the meaning of the number 10, what about the number 100?

The first mention of 100 is found in Genesis 11:10, which says, “These are the generations of Shem. When Shem was 100 years old, he fathered Arpachshad two years after the flood.” Shem was the son of Noah that Jesus would ultimately come from.

The name Shem is the Hebrew word for name. It can also mean identity or personality. The name Arpachshad means something like “light trickles from his bosom.” Therefore, at 100 years of age, the name fathered the light that trickles from his bosom.

This alludes to God fathering his only begotten son, Jesus, the light of the world from the bosom of the Father. Jesus is the identity of God. Colossians 1:15 says, “He is the image of the invisible God.” And, Hebrews 1:3 says, “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature.” Jesus is the light from the bosom of the Father, or the radiance of the glory of God. Jesus is the exact imprint of God’s nature, the light that is the identity of the Father.

The next two mentions of 100 are related to Abraham and Issac, who are a picture of the Father and Jesus. Genesis 17:17 says, “Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed and said to himself, ‘Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old?'” Then, Genesis 21:5 says, “Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.”

Issac was the child of promise. Paul says in Galatians that Jesus is the true child of promise. Therefore, the number 100 speaks to the child of promise, Jesus.

So, Joshua’s death at 110 years of age speaks to Jesus’ death as the complete order of creation brought about by the child of promise. This ties back into Jesus as the servant of God who gave his life as a ransom. Peter writes in 1 Peter 1:18-19 that “knowing you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.”

We once regarded Christ according to the flesh because he was born a man like us. But, after his death and resurrection, we no longer regard Christ according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Jesus’ death completes the order of creation in us, making us new creations and giving us rest from our works.

Joshua was buried in his own inheritance at Timnath-serah. Timnath-serah means extra portion, portion redundant, or abundant portion.

How does this picture Jesus?

I wrote about this in The Inheritance of Jesus – What Is It?

In the NET Bible, Ephesians 1:11 says, “In Christ we too have been claimed as God’s own possession.” In addition to Christ being the head of all things in heaven and earth, we, God’s people, would be the inheritance, the possession, of God. Further, Ephesians 1:18 says, “so that you may know what is the hope of his calling, what is the wealth of his glorious inheritance in the saints.” God wants us to know the hope of his calling. What is the hope of his calling? The wealth of his glorious inheritance in the saints. Jesus was sent to inherit, or possess, you.

How does Jesus inherit, or possess, you?

Ephesians 2:1-5 says, “And you were dead in trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience – among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the  desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved.”

When Jesus was sent by the Father to us, we were dead in our trespasses and sins. But, Jesus did not come to drive us out but possess us. God, being rich in mercy, made us alive together with Christ. He did not do this when we were perfect or clean or well but when we were dead in our sins and trespasses.

Therefore the idea here is that Jesus is buried, or in the hearts of, his own inheritance, his abundant portion. Jesus’ abundant portion is all the people the Father has given him, who come from every nation, tribe, people, and language.

In addition to that, Jesus says in John 10:10, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

Joshua’s inheritance was in the hill country of Ephraim. Ephraim means fruitfulness. Fruitfulness comes when we abide in Jesus and Jesus abides in us. Jesus said in John 15:4, “Abide in me, and I in you, As a branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” This inheritance of fruitfulness was in the hill country, a high place. We are in Christ because God has “raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:6)

Joshua’s own inheritance was north of the mountain of Gaash. The direction north implies something above. Mountains symbolize kingdoms. The name Gaash comes from the Hebrew word meaning to rise and fall loudly. The name speaks to things shaking, trembling, quaking. So, Joshua’s inheritance was above the kingdom that is shaken.

What a fascinating way of picturing Jesus and his kingdom.

Hebrews 12:26-28 says, “At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, ‘Yet once more,’ indicates the removal of things that are shaken – that is, things that have been made – in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship.”

Seated with Christ in heavenly places, we are in the kingdom of God that is above the kingdom of the earth the will be shaken. It is here that we find rest in Jesus.

THE ELDERS: BRINGING REST

Joshua 24:31 says, “Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua and had known all the work that the Lord did for Israel.”

What does Israel symbolize? Who is Israel?

Romans 9:6-8, “For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but ‘Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.’ This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.”

How do you become a child of the promise? How do become the inheritance of Jesus, the child of promise?

Galatians 3:7, 26, 29 says, “Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham…For in Christ you are all sons of God, through faith…And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.”

This is why Paul says there is neither Jew (the cirumcised) or Gentile (the uncircumcised). Romans 2:28-29 says, “For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter.”

Paul sums this all up and ties into the new creation I mentioned above at the end of Galatians. Galatians 6:15-16 says, “For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.”

So, in Joshua 24:31, we see the picture of those that have served Jesus in the Spirit, inwardly, the true people of God. The elders of God that outlived Joshua are a picture of those today that continue to serve God in the spirit. We have “outlived” Jesus but know all the work that he did for us.

THE BONES OF JOSEPH: REST FOR THE DEAD

Joshua 24:32 says, “As for the bones of Joseph, which the people of Israel brought up from Egypt, they buried at Shechem, in the piece of land that Jacob bought from the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for a hundred pieces of money. It became an inheritance of the descendants of Joseph.”

I’m not as sure in the picture I see here. But, I think it is in some way the following.

The bones of Joseph brought out of Egypt represent all those that died in the world. Israel, the true people of God, are to bring them out. This could be a picture of the ministry of reconciliation.

When the Bible talks about being dead or alive, it almost always is talking about the state of our existence in this life right now. It’s not referring to our existence after this life as the state of being alive or dead. As an example of this, Paul says in Romans 7:9, “I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died.” In both cases, Paul was among the living on earth.

Another example is Ephesians 2:1, 5, which says, “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked…even when we were dead in our trespasses, [God] made us alive together with Christ.” Again, in both cases, whether dead or alive, Paul is writing about people living on the earth. He’s talking about the present, not a future, state of existence.

So, I believe it is with this understanding the dead and the living that Paul makes his claim about the lordship of Jesus in Romans 14:8-9. He says, “For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live of whether we died, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.”

In the section above, we saw Jesus as the Lord of the living in “the elders who outlived Joshua.” Now, we see Jesus as the Lord of dead in the bones of Joseph.

The bones of Joseph were buried at Shechem. One meaning of Shechem is shoulder. Because of this meaning, a second meaning of Shechem is “having a sense of responsibility.”

The shoulder is the place that the cross is born. And, Isaiah 9:6 says about Jesus that “the government shall be upon his shoulder.” In other words, Jesus takes responsibility for the dead, the bones of Joseph, because they are buried in the shoulder where his cross and his government rests.

Notice that Jacob bought the piece of land Joseph’s bones were buried in from Hamor the father of Shechem for a hundred pieces of money.

The name Hamor comes from the Hebrew word for red. It likely means red one. Also, the Hebrew word for red is where the names Adam and Esau as well as the word earth are derived from. The name Hamor has to do with the earth.

So, the burial ground for Joseph’s bones was bought from Hamor the father of Shechem. What is this saying? I think it is saying that the earth no longer has the responsibility for the dead.

The land was bought by Jacob for 100 pieces of money. Recall everything I wrote above about the number as a symbol of the child of promise, Jesus. And, recall 1 Peter 1:18-19, “Knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.”

In a sense, the land bought for the burial of the bones of Joseph was bought by the promised son, not with money but with his precious blood. Christ died and lived to be both the Lord of the dead and the living. The land is now the inheritance of the descendants of Joseph.

Even the dead rest in the work of Jesus on the cross and his resurrection.

ELEAZAR DEAD AND BURIED: THE REST OF THE SPIRIT IN YOUR HEART

Joshua 24:33 says, “And Eleazar the son of Aaron died, and they buried him at Gibeah, the town of Phinehas his son, which had been given him in the hill country of Ephraim.”

The name Eleazar is made of two Hebrew words. The first is El, which means God. The second is azar, which means to help or assist. Therefore, the name Eleazar means God the Helper.

God the Helper is the Holy Spirit. In John 14:26, Jesus said, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” Later, in this same discussion with the disciples, Jesus said in John 16:7, “Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.”

Obviously, the Holy Spirit does not die. But, the idea being conveyed in this verse is that the Holy Spirit comes to live in you. He gets buried in your heart.

In fact, Eleazar, the Holy Spirit was buried in Gibeah, the town of Phinehas his son. Gibeah, likely the same as Geba, means a high hill. Gibeah was the town of Phinehas. The name Phinehas possibly means “trust your heart.” It’s too long to explain why, but this is an excellent article that explains why this could be the meaning of the name.

The Bible says that man’s heart is wicked beyond measure. However, that changes when the Holy Spirit is buried there. Now, the heart becomes the seat of God’s voice in us. The Holy Spirit is our teacher, and he teaches us through the heart. Therefore, Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”

Phinehas is a picture of us, those that trust the Holy Spirit is in our hearts. Like Phinehas was the son of Eleazar, we are sons of the Spirit. Romans 8:14-17 says, “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father! The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ.”

Like we saw above, this occurs in the hill country of Ephraim, the land of fruitfulness. As sons of the Spirit, we produce his fruit. Galatians 5:22-23 says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law.” Obeying the law requires work. But, there is no law against the fruit of the Spirit. You can’t produce it by work. The fruit of the Spirit is produced apart from work, which is to say in rest.

Rest then is the summation of the book of Joshua, the summation of the story of Israel in the first six books of the Bible. And, through Jesus and his work of making us new creations, rest is the end of our story too.

Rest Comes from Jesus, Not Moses

TODAY’S READING: NUMBERS 27-29

Many Christians think of Canaan, the promised land, as a picture of heaven. But, it is not. There are still battles and wars to fight in the promised land. However, in heaven the victory has been won. There’s nothing left to fight. So, the promised land is a picture of the rest we have in this life when we abide in Jesus Christ.

This is a critical point of understanding because many Christians think all those that died in the wilderness are a picture of unsaved people. However, this is not so. Those that died in the wilderness are a picture of those that did not enter the rest of Jesus Christ in this life.

Work is the opposite of rest. In Exodus and Numbers, Israel’s wandering in the wilderness is a picture of them working, working, working to make themselves righteous and please God. They promised to keep the law of God and tried to do so. But, they could not keep it no matter how much work they put into it. Take note that throughout the wilderness wandering Israel was led by Moses, who stands for the law.

But, when it came time to enter rest, Israel was given a new leader. Instead of being led by Moses, Israel was now led by Joshua. Joshua was to lead Israel into the promised land, Canaan, the rest of God. Israel was no longer to strive for their own righteousness. They would bear fruit by trusting in God. There would still be battles to fight in the promised land, but Israel would not fight the battles themselves. Joshua, as a picture of Jesus, would lead them in battle. That fight would be his. Israel would rest from its work and striving to please God. They would dwell in the land, which is a picture of abiding in Christ.

Let’s recap some key points in Numbers and then examine today’s reading to see the above playing out.

MOSES STRIKES THE ROCK: A TASTE OF REST

In Exodus 17, Moses strikes the rock to get water for the people. I wrote previously that this was a picture of Jesus’ crucifixion. Moses, the law, struck the rock, Jesus, with a staff of death. The law condemned the one who had kept the law perfectly. But, Jesus was the rock that was struck to yield his water, the Holy Spirit.

Through this first striking of the rock by Moses, Israel had become partakers of the Holy Spirit, the divine nature. In 1 Peter 5:1, Peter says that the other elders were like him “a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed.” Peter writes that they were only partial partakers because the glory was not fully revealed yet.

In 2 Peter 1:4, Peter says that we have been granted the precious and very great promises of God “so that through them you become partakers of the divine nature.” Again, in Exodus and Numbers, we see Israel has partaken of the Holy Spirit, the divine nature, the water from the rock, but they don’t have the Holy Spirit in full.

At this time for Israel, it’s as if they “have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come.” Israel had tasted, but not received in full.

They were still struggling between the law and the Spirit, work and rest. Paul details this struggle as an internal battle in his mind in Romans 6 and 7.

Paul also picks up this battle between the law and the Spirit in Galatians 3. In Galatians 3:2-3, 5, Paul says, “Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith?”

Later in the same chapter, Paul explains why the law was given. In Galatians 3:24, Paul says, “the law was our guardian until Christ came.” Throughout its wilderness wandering, Israel was battling between the law and the Spirit, work and rest. But, the law was there to teach them their work would fail. They needed to trust the rock and live by the water. Rest from the work of the law comes through faith and abiding in Christ, who has given the Holy Spirit to do the work for us.

MOSES STRIKES THE ROCK A SECOND TIME: READY FOR REST IN FULL

In Numbers 20, Moses strikes the rock a second time to get water for the people. However, this time Moses was only to speak for, that is prophesy about or witness to, the rock that would give the people water to drink. Jesus, the rock, was only to be struck once.

Hebrews 6:4-6 says, “For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.”

When Moses struck the rock a second time, it was a picture of Christ being crucified a second time. Therefore, we see the utter failure of the law to give us life or rest. Israel may have tasted the Holy Spirit, the heavenly gift, the rest they would receive in the promised land. But, Moses, the law, was still leading them. And, the law failed when it came to trust God to get water from the rock by speaking for the rock. Moses, the law, took matters into his own hands.

All of us do the same when we rely on the flesh through its own work, the law, instead of the Holy Spirit. For in the Spirit, we rest from our work and let Christ live through us.

In the second striking of the rock, the law was clearly revealed as failing to bring rest. Moses, the law, had failed. In Numbers 20:12, God said to Moses, “Because you did not believe me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.” The law does not display belief in God but in self. The law does not uphold God as holy in the eyes of others. Trying to work the law brings the eyes of others onto ourselves. Therefore, Moses, the law, would not lead Israel into the promised land, into rest.

Yet, the water flowed from the rock abundantly. Israel now had more than a taste of the water from the rock. They had water abundantly. And, now there would be a change in who was leading Israel.

MOSES DOESN’T LEAD ISRAEL INTO REST

In Numbers 27:12, Moses is told to go up into the mountain of Abarim. The Hebrew root word for Abarim means both to pass through and pass over. It also means to pull along or to overstep or contravene. Moses, the law, had led the people through the wilderness. But, now he was being passed over. Moses, the law, had pulled the people along. But, he overstepped or contravened what God told him to do. Like Paul said, the law is our schoolteacher to lead us to faith in Christ. But, we do not receive the Spirit, or rest, by works of the law.

Also, the root word of Abarim is where we get the word Hebrew, which was first used of Abraham when he passed over the river. On the mountain of Abarim, Moses sees the land that God has given to Israel to pass over the river Jordan into his rest.

God reiterated to Moses that he was not going to lead Israel into the promised land because he rebelled against God’s word and failed to uphold God as holy before the eyes of the people.

Lest we feel too bad about what happened to Moses, we should remember that Paul says in Romans 7:12 that the “law is holy.” In 1 Timothy 1:8-9, Paul says, “Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient.” Moses, the law got the people to the edge of the promised land. He was needed to a point.

JESUS LEADS US INTO REST

Having been told that he would not lead Israel into rest, Moses asked God to appoint a man over the congregation. Interestingly, Moses acknowledged God as “the God of the spirits of all flesh.” In Numbers 27:18, God told Moses, “Take Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand on him.” Joshua was to be the man to lead Israel into rest. God picks a man in whom his Spirit dwelt.

Joshua means the Lord saves, and the son of Nun means the son of life. The Spirit was in Joshua. Joshua is a picture of Jesus. Therefore, Joshua leading Israel into the promised land is a picture of Jesus leading us into the rest of God.

But, Joshua is only a picture of Jesus. He did not actually lead the people into rest. Hebrews 4:8-10 says, “For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on. So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.”

Truly, we have only partially tasted of the rest that comes through Jesus and the Spirit dwelling in us. In a sense, we are in the promised land, being led by Joshua. However, there are still battles to fight. We still have thoughts, desires, lusts, passions, arguments, and lofty opinions that are against the knowledge of God. But, instead of fighting these in our own strength, we need to stand strong in the Lord and let Jesus fight these battles for us. It is not by our work, the keeping of the law, that we will get victory. We get victory by abiding in and resting in Jesus so that the Holy Spirit can produce fruit – love, joy peace, kindness, etc. – through us.

REST NOT ORDINARY WORK

Notice what takes place in the two chapters following Joshua’s replacement of Moses. Numbers 28 and 29 go through the seven feasts of Israel and detail the offerings to be given at each feast. But, seven times God says that Israel should not do any ordinary work. The work is no longer ours, but God’s. We no longer work. Instead we rest.

 

Psalm 30…Jesus as Temple Builder

In the original Hebrew, Psalm 30 is given the title “A Psalm of David. A Song at the Dedication of the Temple.”

How does this psalm show us Jesus?

In John 1 it says that Jesus tabernacled (that’s the literal translation for dwelt) with us. While Jesus was the tabernacle, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 3:16 (and many other places), “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” All believers are God’s temple. When did the building of this temple begin? When was it dedicated?

Psalm 30:1-3 – “I will extol you, O Lord, for you have drawn me up and have not let my foes rejoice over me. O Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me. O Lord you have brought up my soul from Sheol; you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit.”

This is clearly speaking of Jesus and his resurrection. “You have drawn me up.” “Lord you have brought up my soul from Sheol.” In the story of David and Solomon, we read that the temple was to be built in a time of rest, not war. Jesus won the war on the cross. When he was resurrected, restored to life, he sat down on the throne. He was at rest. It was now time for the temple to be built.

Psalm 30:4-5 – “Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name. For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.”

On the cross, Jesus was separated from God. He experienced God’s anger. But, it was just for a moment. God’s favor upon Jesus is for all eternity. Jesus wept for a night, but joy came in the morning.

Psalm 30:6-7 – “As for me, I said in my prosperity, ‘I shall never be moved.’ By your favor, O Lord, you made my mountain strong, you hid your face; I was dismayed.’”

The Hebrew word for prosperity is used only this one time in the Old Testament. It actually means rest, quietness, or ease. Jesus is now in rest. He is seated on the throne. He is ruling. This was all by God’s favor. God has made Jesus’ mountain, or kingdom, stand strong.

But, what does it mean “You hid your face, I was dismayed.”? I think this line is Jesus speaking from the place of rest, looking back to the place of his work, the cross. It was at that time that Jesus experienced God hiding his face from him. It was dismaying. It was true suffering for Jesus.

Hebrews 5:8 says, “Although he was a son, he [Jesus] learned obedience through what he suffered.” Does this mean Jesus was at one time disobedient and what he suffered taught him how to obey? No! He was without sin. He was always obedient.

So, what did he learn? What does it mean he “learned obedience?”In what he suffered, God hiding his face from him, being separated from God, Jesus learned what it cost to obey God. Because of that obedience, Jesus is exalted and on the throne, in the place of rest, building his temple.

This is summed up in Philippians 2:6-9:

“… though he [Jesus] was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore, God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name.”

Psalm 30:8-10 – “To you, O Lord, I cry, and to the Lord I plead for mercy: ‘What profit is there in my death, if I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it tell of your faithfulness? Hear, O Lord, and be merciful to me! O Lord, be my helper!’”

If Jesus died and was not resurrected, then how would the temple be built (what profit would there be). Would men (dust) build the temple to praise God? Remember, God doesn’t dwell in a temple made with human hands.

Psalm 30:11-12 – “You have turned for my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!”

God heard the cry of Jesus from the previous section. God raised Jesus from the pit. So, in this section, we read of a change of garment’s. The sackcloth has been loosed. Sackcloth was made from goat’s hair. The goat was sacrificed for atonement of sin. Jesus made sin for us. But, his body that was made sin was sacrificed and loosed. Now, in his resurrection he has a new garment, a garment of gladness. Peter, James, and John saw the foreshadowing of this when Jesus was transfigured, or transformed. That literally means to be changed from one thing to another.

Then, in his resurrected and glorified body, the disciples saw the reality of this transformation. The time had come. Jesus was at rest. The temple was dedicated. Now he is building his temple, God’s people.