Text: Joshua 3:7 – Yahweh said to Joshua, This day will I begin to magnify you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with you.
ISRAEL spent thirty days in mourning for their great leader, Moses, yet with one accord accepted Joshua as their new leader by Divine appointment through Moses. Like other Bible heroes, Joshua was renowned for his faith and his loyalty to God. At the time of taking Moses’ place he was in his eighty-third year, yet full of vigor, and evidently the best qualified man for the position. He and Caleb only had been of mature years when the Israelites left Egypt. They only had been witnesses of God’s marvelous dealings with His people. They two had been the spies who brought an encouraging report of Canaan, which the people refused and on account of which refusal the adults died during the succeeding forty years of wilderness journeying.
(2) The fact that Moses was vigorous at one hundred and twenty, and Joshua at eighty-three, speaks loudly to us in confirmation of the Bible’s teaching that Adam was created perfect, and that the entire race has since been fallen in sin and death — sharing Adam’s penalty, “dying you shall die.” (Genesis 2:17 – Green’s Literal Translation) The intelligence of these men, as well as their vigor, quite contradict the evolution theory; for this same Joshua had been one of the slaves in Egypt.
ISRAEL’S REAL LEADER–YAHWEH
(3) Not for a moment are we to lose sight of the fact that God had adopted the nation of Israel and entered into a special covenant with them; and that, therefore, He was their real Captain and Leader — Moses, Joshua and others being merely His representatives and mouthpieces.
THE NEW LEADER’S NAME
(4) The name, Joshua, is a variant of the same name that we know as “Jesus.” These are not actually two different “names”, but are linguistical variations of the same name. From the Hebrew, the name has been transliterated as “Yahowshuwa'”, and sometimes is transliterated as “Yehoshua” or “Yahoshua”. The name means more than just “Savior”, as some have often given for the meaning of the name. It means “Jehovah (Yahweh) is salvation” or “Jehovah (Yahweh) is savior.” Nor does the name mean, as many would have it, “the Lord saves”, nor does it mean, as some would have it, “God saves.” The name includes the holy name of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Exodus 3:15), and not just a title, such as “Lord” or “God”. Indeed, the name — Joshua, Jesus — does not have any form of the Hebrew words for Lord (baal, adon) nor any form of the Hebrews words for God (El).
Focus on the Holy Name
(5) Originally, Joshua’s name was “Hoshea” (also rendered as Hosea), which means simply, “salvation” or “savior”. From Numbers 13:16, we read that Moses changed the son of Nun’s name from Hoshea to Joshua. While Hoshea simply means “savior”, we can see the importance of including the holy name so that one can recognize that Yahweh is the One behind the deliverer, and that is part of what our text focuses on. Joshua did not deliver Israel into the promised land of his own power and strength, but we read that Yahweh was with Joshua, reminding us of the name of the greater Deliverer, Jesus of Nazareth, who also bore the titular name “Immanuel”, that is “God is with us”.
(6) For twenty-seven years Joshua was the leader of Israel, faithful to God and to the people. He not only led them through Jordan and directed in the conquering of city after city, but he divided the land amongst the tribes and governed the people with great acceptance, dying at the age of one hundred and ten.
(7) It would not do for us to contrast Joshua with Moses as a leader; for they were men of totally different types. Indeed, most leaders spoken of in the Bible, when contrasted with Moses, would be disadvantaged, so high did that great statesman tower above the average of humanity then or since. But while Joshua could not be Moses, the leader, commander, law-giver, he was faithful in the sense of following the example of Moses, as one who served the Divine Law, and whose faith and influence with the people were helpful to them. He was just what God wished him to be, and whoever is worthy of such a testimony is truly great.
(8) Yahweh’s command to Joshua was, “Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you, and all this people, to the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel.” (Joshua 1:2) “There shall not any man be able to stand before you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will not fail you, nor forsake you.” (Joshua 1:5) “Be strong and of good courage; don’t be afraid, neither be dismayed: for Yahweh your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9) And finally, our text relates that Yahweh promised Joshua that He would be with him.
THE LAND OF PROMISE
(9) That Joshua and Israel in conquering Canaan should forcible take possession of it is called into question by some. They ask, ‘By what right might one branch of the human family destroy another and seize their land? Where is the justice of such a course, not to mention the absence of love? How could the Golden Rule be applied to such a course — do unto others as you would be done by?’
(10) There is but one answer to this query; and, rightfully seen, it is a satisfactory answer. Yahweh declares that the earth is His, that He gave it to the children of men, as represented by Father Adam. (Psalm 115:16.) But the gift was conditioned upon obedience and loyalty — disobedience, disloyalty, being punishable by death. Adam incurred this penalty; and his children, under the laws of heredity, shared it with him, because brought forth in iniquity and conceived in sin. (Job 14:4; 15:14; Psalm 51:5; Ecclesiastes 1:13-15; 7:13; Romans 5:19) Thus all human right in the earth was abrogated by the death sentence upon the sinner. (Romans 3:23) Thus, Yahweh has the right to inflict, or have others inflict, that penalty of death upon any whom he wishes and by any means that he wishes. The problem, however, is that most do not understand why Yahweh is permitting death and suffering upon the groaning creation.
(11) God purposed in Himself the recovery of Adam and his family from the curse of death — through Messiah — through His death and by the power of His Messianic Kingdom, soon to rule the earth. In preparation for these blessings to come, God laid hold upon the nation of Israel and blessed them by making a Covenant with them. Although they could not fulfill the terms of the Covenant (Romans 3:20; 8:3; Galatians 2:16; 3:10,11,21) and thus could not obtain the choicest blessing of God through obedience to that Covenant; nevertheless, the Israelites were greatly blessed by their Law Covenant, and many of them were fitted and prepared by it for cooperation with Messiah in His Kingdom in due time. Meantime, the experiences of Israel were overruled by the Almighty, to make of them types and symbols illustrative of the Divine Plan as it will be finally outworked on a higher plane. — 1 Corinthians 10:11.
Focus on the Atonement
(12) In carrying out this arrangement with Israel, God promised them and gave them land called Canaan. He explained to them, nevertheless, that this gift was not because of their worthiness, but because of His favor toward them in pursuit of His own great plans previously outlined to Abraham. He further explained that the people of Canaan were not making progress, and that their further continuance would be neither for their good nor for Yahweh’s glory — as with the Sodomites, whom God took away as He saw good. — Ezekiel 16:49,50.
TO SHEOL, NOT TO TORMENT
(13) It is well that we should remember that the Bible hell, to which the Canaanites went when they were slaughtered, is not the hell of torment pictured to us in the traditional teaching of men. Their destruction by the Israelites sent them to sheol, to hades, to the tomb, where “there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom.” (Ecclesiastes 9:10) There they sleep with their forefathers — just as we read of all the good as well as of all the evil ones of that time. Abraham slept with his fathers, who were heathen men. — Genesis 15:15; 47:30; Deuteronomy 31:16; Psalm 13:3.
(14) Several times in the Bible we read that both good and bad, dying, were gathered to their fathers — slept with their fathers. (Deuteronomy 31:16; Judges 2:10; 2 Kings 22:20; 2 Chronicles 34:28; Psalm 13:3) There they are still waiting for the glorious resurrection morning, when Messiah’s Kingdom, having inaugurated a reign of righteousness, will bring the earth to its Edenic condition and bring back eventually every man in his own order — all that sleep in Hades, in Sheol, in the tomb. — 1 Corinthians 15:21-29; Revelation 20:6,13.
Life Now and Hereafter
(15) Death with humanity would have been eternal had it not been for the ransom sacrifice of Jesus. Because of his sacrifice, we have the divine promise that there will be a resurrection of the human dead, the just and the unjust (John 5:28,29; Acts 24:15) in the “last day” (John 6:39,40,44,54; 11:24: 12:47,48), and to guarantee the fulfillment of that promise God has already sent His Son, who is the antitype of Joshua of Nun. The Son of God bore the same name as the son of Nun, only we know that name as “Jesus”. Jesus’ name, being actually the same as that of Joshua, also reflects the Holy Name of the One who sent Jesus, that is, Yahweh (Jehovah). (Deuteronomy 18:15-19; Isaiah 61:1; John 3:16,17; 17:3) In other words, in the same manner that Yahweh is the Savior who sent Joshua as the savior, deliverer, of Israel from the wilderness into the promised land, so Jesus was sent by Yahweh, the ultimate Savior, not to deliver Israel into the land of Canaan, but to deliver all mankind from the condemnation of death, the death in Adam, into a new life. (1 Corinthians 15:21,22; Romans 5:12) To do this, he died for human sin (Matthew 20:28; 26:28; Mark 10:45; John 1:29,36; 6:51; Romans 3:25; 1 Corinthians 15:3; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 1:4; Ephesians 1:7; 5:2; Hebrews 10:12; 1 Timothy 2:5,6; 1 Peter 2:24; 3:18; 1 John 2:2; Revelation 1:5; 5:6), thus opening up the way for the resurrection — that Yahweh might be just and yet be the justifier of those accepting Jesus. — Deuteronomy 32:4; Zephaniah 3:5; Romans 3:26.
(16) True, few have accepted Him as yet, because most are still blinded to a knowledge of the truth. The great masses of the world are still blind and deaf, and do not understand. (Isaiah 60:2; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Revelation 12:9) The glorious promise is that in that coming day not only will all be awakened from the tomb, but the knowledge of the glory of Yahweh (Jehovah) will fill the whole earth (Isaiah 6:3; 11:9; 40:5; Habakkuk 2:14; Revelation 21:1-5), and no more deceptions will be allowed during that judgment day. (Revelation 20:3) Then all the blind eyes will be opened and all the deaf ears will be unstopped. (Isaiah 35:5) All will have the opportunity of returning to Divine favor under Messiah’s Kingdom. (Isaiah 2:2-4) Those refusing to come into harmony will be classed as willful rebels, and will die the Second Death. — Revelation 20:11-15; 21:7,8.
(17) Those of the nation of Canaan, like all other nations, will have a share in that glorious time when Jesus, the Light of the world, will enlighten every man, that they might see the glory of Yahweh. — John 1:9.
(18) From this viewpoint, the taking of Palestine from the people who were using it to no profit themselves, and the giving of it to Israel for the enactment of types of good things to come, was not injustice, but wisdom. And taking away by the sword the people already condemned to death was just as proper as if they had been taken away by famine and pestilence. In any event, the Divine provision for them, all through Christ, is a blessing which will reach them in Messiah’s Day, when the earth shall be free from the curse. (Revelation 22:3) Then the curse will be rolled away and the blessing of Yahweh shall be rolled upon them (Genesis 22:18; 26:4; Psalm 72:11; 86:9; Isaiah 2:2; 25:6-8; Galatians 3:8), when the enlightened will learn to love righteousness and hate iniquity. To all such there will be no more sighing, no more dying, no more crying. (Revelation 21:1-3) Willful evil-doers will be destroyed (Psalm 37:9,10); and all the earth having been brought to perfection (Isaiah 60:13; 66:1; Ezekiel 36:35), God’s will shall be done on earth as perfectly as it is done in Heaven. — Matthew 6:10.
See the study on “Mankind’s Course to the Day of Judgment“
(19) In the context our text, we find that the people of Israel were all ready to enter the land of promise in hope of which they had left Egypt forty years before. The time selected for the entrance was the tenth day of the first month, Nisan (April), originally Abib. It was on this date the Israelites under Moses set out from Egypt for Palestine forty years before.
(20) Viewed from the human standpoint it was a most unfavorable time of the year, because, although it was the harvest time and favorable as respecting the crop of the land into which they were entering, nevertheless it was flood time in the Jordan, when the melting of the snows in the Lebanon mountains caused the river Jordan, ordinarily about one hundred feet wide at this place, to overflow its banks for sometimes several hundred feet. And of course its current was swift and dangerous. However, the Israelites had evidently learned something in the forty years of God’s dealings with them, and they were therefore prepared for Joshua’s announcement that a great miracle was to be wrought, which would demonstrate to them that God was with them and would drive away all fear from their hearts and impress the fear of them upon their enemies.
JOSHUA SAID, SANCTIFY YOURSELVES
(21) We are reminded of a similar instruction given to the Israelites when they approached Mount Sinai at the time of the giving of the Law Covenant. The word “sanctify” is well known to mean “set apart,” and the specific directions given at Mount Sinai show that this meant that they should purify themselves from sin, and especially from the idolatrous ways and sinful practices of the heathen around them, with a view to being in the heart condition which would enable them to best appreciate their dealings with Yahweh and his personal interest in them. Thus, they were prepared to realize that the mercies and favors coming to them were not of accident but of divine providence, and to be strengthened in heart and in faith accordingly.
(22) Profitable lessons may be drawn by followers of Jesus from this narrative. For instance, we might think of the entrance into Canaan under the leadership of Joshua as corresponding to the entrance of all who love Yahweh into the blessings and privileges of the Millennial Age. In this illustration we might think of Joshua as representing the Lord Jesus, the priests bearing the Ark as representing the little flock, and the passing over of the Israelites as representing the passing of mankind into the new dispensation, where indeed there will be enemies still to be conquered, weaknesses of the flesh still to be overcome, and full possession is to be granted only at the close of the Millennial Kingdom. In this view the Jordan might represent Adamic death, and its being dried up picture the cessation of Adamic death to all those desiring to be Yahweh’s people and to enter into his favor, while the return of the waters of the Jordan behind the Israelites, shutting them within the land of promise, might represent the second Death, which would be the portion of any who would renounce the goodly heritage which Yahweh will provide through the antitypical Joshua for the redeemed world.
(23) Additionally, as Israel in passing through the Jordan had nothing to fear because the ark of Yahweh, the symbol of the divine presence stood in the midst of the threatening danger, so the Christian has nothing to fear so long as he realizes the divine presence and approval. Through rivers and seas of trouble he may wade, and through fiery furnaces of affliction he may pass, but none of these things can harm him while Yahweh is with him.
(24) Yahweh’s presence and love realized under such circumstances as they cannot be under ordinary conditions give such strength to faith and hope and love as could not otherwise be gained. And thus all things are made to work together for good to them that love God, to the called according to his purpose. — Romans 8:28.