Israel’s entry into the promised land was a highly significant event in the history of God’s redemption. ‘The momentous event’ is the Return of our Lord Jesus Christ: “The Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory” (Luke 21:27). We must be ready for His Return, for there is a great difference between the righteous and the wicked (Proverbs 10:16).
“Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you” (Joshua 3:5). Jesus shared the Passover with His disciples, while teaching them that something greater than the Passover was about to take place – redemption through the shedding of His precious blood. God says, “Gather to Me My consecrated ones, who made a covenant with Me by sacrifice … Sacrifice thank offerings to God … “ (Psalm 50:5,14-15).
Achan suffered death because of his own sinful disobedience. Achan died, and the judgment of God did not come on the whole people of God. Jesus suffered death as the sinless Son of God, who bore the sins of many that we might be saved through faith in Him. Achan died because he disobeyed the will of God. Jesus died in obedience to God’s will: “not My will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42). As we look on what Jesus has done for us, we are to “sacrifice thank-offerings” to God that He might “show us the salvation of God” (Psalm 50:23).
In their opposition to Christ, “Herod and Pilate became friends – before they had been enemies” (Luke 23:12). The people of Israel had to battle against many nations – different from each other, yet having one thing in common: their opposition to the Lord. Everything which is displeasing to the Lord must be resisted, as we pray, “Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin” (Psalm 51:2).
The Lord gave victory to His people, and the defeated enemies were hung upon trees (Joshua 10:25-26). When Jesus was hung upon a tree, this was not defeat. It was victory. Concerning Jesus, it was said, “Surely, this was a righteous man” (Luke 23:47). Proverbs 10:25 tells us that “the righteous stand firm for ever.” This truth was mightily declared in Jesus’ resurrection, which demonstrated Him to be more than a righteous man. He is the Son of God.
Israel’s victory over the heathen nations was given to them by the Lord. The spiritual dimension in this military situation must not be overlooked, if we are to learn the lessons God is teaching us from His Word. God has much to teach us from His Word. Those who listen to Him will always have this testimony: “Were not our hearts burning within us while He talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us” (Luke 24:32). Why does the Lord’s Word burn in our hearts? – so that we might pray to the Lord, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10).
Although many victories had been won, there was still “the land that remains” (Joshua 13:2). The land which had been taken was shared among God’s people. There is strength in sharing. Some are called to leadership, e.g. Caleb (Joshua 14), but their leadership is not for their own satisfaction and benefit. It is for the blessing of the whole people of God. Those who had witnessed the appearance of the risen Lord were sent out to preach the Gospel (Luke 24:46-49). The testimony of the Lord’s people is to be: “I will praise You for ever for what You have done” (Psalm 52:9).
Each tribe had its limited allotment of land. Jesus Christ, “the Word” who “was God”, “became flesh” (John 1:1,14). He accepted the limitations of being human. He was human, yet without sin. “There is no one who does good, not even one” (Psalm 53:1,3). This is true of every human being except Jesus Christ, the sinless Son of God. In Him alone, there is “salvation” (Psalm 53:6).
Each of the tribes had their part in the promised land. Each of Jesus’ disciples, whom He called to Himself at the outset of His ministry, had his part in the work of the Lord. What God did with Israel and with Jesus’ first disciples will be surpassed when Christ comes in glory: “You shall see greater things … You shall see the heavens open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man” (John 1:50-51). On that Day, there will be both salvation and judgment: “The righteous man is rescued from trouble, and it comes on the wicked instead” (Proverbs 11:8).