TODAY’S READING: JOSHUA 23-24
Joshua 23:1 says “the Lord had given rest to Israel from all their surrounding enemies.”
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.