Joshua 5: A Foretaste of Glory Divine
The nation of Israel has crossed over into the Promised Land via the parted Jordan River as a miraculous sign from God, who was with Joshua as He was with Moses. Notice who else got the message: all the kings of the Amorites and Canaanites heard what happened. Their reaction: their hearts melted and they no longer had the courage to face the Israelites. *Does it seem to you today- there is no fear of God in our country? Do our enemies fear us as a country? Do we as Christians fear God’s judgement for our sins? Do you presume to sin as a believer, because you presume God will not judge your sins?
Remember how Rahab had told the spies how they heard of how the Lord dried up the Red Sea and told them their hearts had melted with fear and their courage had failed. Now was the time to strike the enemy while they were so fearful. Immediate surrender to the 40,000 armed for battle would be an easy victory for the Israelites. Surely this was the thinking of the majority of the people. But God’s thoughts are higher than our thoughts and God had an entirely different strategy.
But if Joshua had not learned anything else, he had learned to wait and get his orders from the Lord. What we are about to witness is how God prepares his people so they can be trusted with victory. This was to be clearly the Lord’s victory, not the victory of Israel or Joshua. This victory was to be based not on the expertise and courage of the Israelite army or the fear of the enemy. This victory was to be based on the presence and blessing from the Lord. Not by power or by might- but by His Spirit.
Do we sometimes rush ahead of God and attempt to finish what God has started in our own strength? Do we wait on Him? Or do we like fools rush in where angels dare to tread? That is when we do what we think is right in our own eyes, a place no angel would ever dare tread.
We want to take note of these steps of preparation necessary before God would give His people victory in the land of Canaan. Now let me remind us of what this means to us: Canaan is the Promised Land, a land flowing with milk and honey. It is a picture of the abundant, spirit-filled life Jesus came to give us. The physical and external here represent the internal and spiritual steps we must take to prepare to experience the Spirit-filled, Spirit-led abundant Promised Land life.
- Renewal of your commitment. The Lord gives Joshua his orders. No one was expecting this; it did not make sense to do this at this time. The Lord told Joshua to prepare the flint knives and circumcise the Israelites at Gilgal. What?! This not only was painful, the men would be incapacitated for days as they healed. They would be too weak to fight. When is the Lord’s strength made perfect? In weakness. We read the explanation in the following verses that all those born in the desert during the 40 years of wandering had not been circumcised. This was a sign of the covenant of God with Abraham implemented in Genesis 17, when Abraham was 99 years old. This physical sign ‘marked’ them as God’s special people. It is interesting to note how this word ‘mark’ is used in the New Testament. “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of our salvation. Having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promise of the Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession- to the praise of His glory. ( Ephesians 1:13-14) The Promised Land of the abundant, Spirit-filled life is a part of our inheritance which Paul tells of in Ephesians, which we shall explore more fully later. There is also another mark we read of in Revelation 13. The number of the Beast’s name is forced on everyone, small or great, rich or poor on his right hand or forehead. No one can buy or sell without this mark. It is the number, the mark – 666. God is restoring his covenant with His people and this ‘mark’, a physical cutting away of the flesh is a reminder they belong to the true and living God. This physical operation on the body was a symbol of the spiritual operation on the heart. “Therefore circumcise the flesh of your heart, and be stiff-necked no longer.’ ( Deut. 10:16) This was a test of their faith. To voluntarily put themselves in a condition where they could not defend themselves, much less go out and fight was a real test of faith. They had failed the test of faith before, refusing to go into the Promised Land and now having entered the Promised Land, their faith is tested again- and they passed the test! When they obey God this time in doing what He commands when it does not seem the right thing to do in their own eyes, we are told God removes or rolls away the reproach of Egypt. Reproach is defined as ‘expressed disappointment’. Israel’s sin at Kadesh Barnea to not enter the land was a disappointment to them. It started with the murmuring when they came out of Egypt and reached a climax with the Golden Calf an idol from their days in Egypt. Circumcision was also necessary in order to participate in the Passover Feast. No uncircumcised male was qualified to take the Passover according to the Law of Moses.
- They were reminded of the Lord’s goodness when they took the Passover. This ceremonial feast recalled the history of Israel with God and His mighty hand which had delivered them from Egypt. They recalled these deeds and remembered the Lord’s goodness and faithfulness. Are you in hard place today? Facing tough times? Illness? Loved ones in trouble? These people had wandered for 40 years in the wilderness. Eating manna and quail- the same old, same old for forty years. Would they ever get into the Promised Land? Colossians 2 has some very clear instruction how to get into the Promised Land, how to claim the Promises, take your inheritance and live the abundant, Spirit-filled life. Here it is: “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith, as you were taught and overflowing with thankfulness.” ( Col. 2: 6.7) Do you know what this says? The way we got out of Egypt is the way we will get into the Promised Land. The way you got saved from the slavery of sin, will also be the way you take possession of your inheritance and live the life Christ has for you. By grace through faith! Remembering His goodness and calling to mind what He has done for you. This is what Jeremiah did in a time of darkness, affliction and bitterness. As we read what he did in Lamentations 3: “Yet this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope.” (Jeremiah is going to remember the goodness of the Lord.) “Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail.” (Did you get that- they NEVER FAIL!) “They are new every morning, great is thy faithfulness.” The people recalled God’s goodness to His people by God’s having them remember what He had done. God did this by having them recall the story of the Exodus as they do when they celebrate the Passover. When we celebrate the Lord’s Supper it is a reminder of what He did for us at Calvary.
- The Presence of the Lord. Joshua had certainly read and meditated on the book of the law Moses had recorded. He remembered what Moses said after the golden calf incident. Moses said to the Lord: “If your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here.” ( Ex. 33:15) Now the Lord appears, in a pre-incarnate visit to Joshua. *He, the Lord, comes to us when we need Him in the way we need Him. His word finds us with just the message of encouragement we needed at that particular time. Joshua wanted to know if this man standing with drawn sword was with them or the enemy. The Lord answered, “Neither I am the commander of the army of the Lord.” Joshua falls face down on the ground in humble worship.
Do you see the steps of preparation for taking possession of your inheritance?
- Renew your commitment to the Lord. Remember, you are in the Lord’s service. You are His soldier- awaiting his orders. You are his servant, who lives to do the Master’s will. In return He has promised to provide you with everything you need.
- Remember His goodness. When faced with difficulties and trying times, remember what He has done for you in the past. He saved my life. He gave me Hope when I was hopeless. He got me sober when I could not overcome the desire to drink. He has given me so much. He has been so good- completely faithful. He has never forsaken me. Trust is a learned response, and through the years looking back I can say He has always been faithful, even when I have not been.
- By faith, realize you are in Him and He is in you. “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ, liveth in me. And the life I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me. “(Galatians 2:20) As my mother taught me to pray- pray for a conscious awareness of God at all times.
Here is the secret of life which is lived in the Promised Land. Do you remember how large the cluster of grapes was the spies brought out of Canaan? It was so large, two men carried it on a staff between them. It was literally a foretaste of what lay ahead. A foretaste of glory divine. In Deuteronomy 11:21, Moses writes: “He (God) will bring you into the land and give you the days of heaven on earth.” This is what we experience when we take hold of our inheritance- a foretaste of glory divine. It is also what we forfeit when we do not take God at His Word and walk by sight and not by faith. We forfeit -all of that abundant fruit awaiting us-Jesus said He came to give us. This is the secret of the abundant life. And it does not consist in the abundance of ones’ possessions.
- The secret of living is fruit bearing. This the abundant life. Fruit bearing- not storing it up.
- The secret of fruit bearing is abiding. The branch must abide in the vine.
- The secret of abiding is obeying. Because disobedience separates us and apart from Him you can do nothing.
- The secret of obeying is loving. If you love me, you will keep my commandments, said Jesus.
- The secret of loving is knowing. Paul said, “But whatever was to my profit I now consider it loss, for the sake of knowing Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus as my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not have a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ- the righteousness that comes from God through faith.” ( Philippians 3:7-9)
What do you know about heaven? Would you recognize the days of heaven on earth? Here are some the things we know about heaven:
- A place of absolute security. Are you experiencing this security in your life?
- A place of perfect rest. Are you experiencing this rest today- or are you tossed about by the worries of life? Jesus said He would give you rest. Walk by faith, ask for the ancient paths and you will find rest.
- A place of service. We will serve the Lord with gladness in heaven. You can start serving Him now and experience the days of heaven on earth.
- A place of complete trust. Do you trust the Lord with all your heart? Or do you lean to your own understanding?
- A place of complete acceptance by God. Paul tells us we are accepted in the Beloved. Do you feel accepted by God? Or do you doubt it?
- A place of communion with the Lord. Do you meet with Him each day now? If you do, you can experience the days of heaven on earth now.
- A place where faith becomes sight. Now we see through a glass darkly- but every once in a while God gives us a glimpse of Him and we see Him in a way we have not before- when we look with the eyes of our heart. Paul prayed the eyes of our hearts would be enlightened so we might see all He has for us.
Let’s look at the application of this historical event and how it applies to our lives in the 21st century. What have we inherited? What possession do we have that are ours for the taking? Peter tells us in 2 Peter 1: by His divine power He has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him.
Paul gives us a great parallel and gets even more specific about what we have received in Ephesians.
- Blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ in heavenly realms.
- Holy and blameless in His sight.
- Adopted as His children.
- Redemption through the Lord Jesus’ blood.
- Forgiveness of all our sins.
- Lavished with all wisdom and understanding.
- Marked by the seal of the Holy Spirit. A deposit guaranteeing our inheritance.
- Peace of God and peace with God
- Hope from the God of all Hope
- Indwelt by His Incomparable power.
- And so much more- made alive; a new creation. His workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works which God has ordained we are to walk in. Saved, to new life sublime.
Let me show you three positions and the sequence in which they must occur if we are to experience the abundant life here on earth and take possession of what the Lord has lavished upon us.
In Ephesians Paul gives us the spiritual postures which parallel what Joshua and the Israelites put into practice in order to take possession of the Promised Land.
Our first position Paul, tells us our life is in Christ how is seated at the right hand of God in heaven Where are we? Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:6: “And God has raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus…”
We start from a position of rest in Jesus Christ in heaven. When Jesus cried out from the cross: “It is finished!” He was stating the fact which everything which needed to be done to satisfy God regarding sin and the sins of the world, had been accomplished. We step by faith into this accomplishment. God has done all the work. He has, as in the parable, prepared a great feast. He has invited us to come and sit and enjoy for He invites us: “Come, for all things are now ready.” (Luke 14) What work must we do to be saved- the people asked (John 6). This the work you must do- believe in the one whom God has sent.
This was God’s principle from the beginning. In creation God worked from day one through day 6 before He rested on the seventh. Since Adam was not created until the sixth day, Adam had no part in the work of creation. Adam’s first day was a day of rest. God had done everything. It was finished. Mankind must first enter God’s rest before they can take up God’s work. This is the Gospel. God had completed the work of redemption. We enter into it by faith. It was not until He had completed the work that the Lord Jesus sat down at the right hand of God.
We start by sitting, a position of rest in his finished work.
Next we begin to walk. Paul uses the term walk to talk about how we live our lives, how behave. We are walk worthy of his calling. We are admonished not to walk as the Gentiles (unbelievers) who walk in the flesh, not the Spirit.
Ephesians tells us how we are to conduct ourselves in a variety of relationships- wife to husband, husband to wife, parents to children, children to parents, employer to employees and visa- versa.
Paul also tells us how we accomplish this by His power which is at work in us.
And then after we have sat, and walked in the Light, we will stand in battle. Stand means this is our possession, our inheritance in which we stand. This means the victory has already been won by Jesus Christ. The enemy is trying to usurp the power and authority of God. .
The lion roars and goes about seeking whom he may destroy. But he is a defeated enemy and will stay defeated, as long as I claim my position in Him. I do not fight for victory- I fight from victory. Victory in Jesus. We use the weapons God has provided which are mighty- the Word of God, the sword of the Spirit and prayer, while clothed in His righteousness, our Holy armor.
Jesus invites you to come to Him, all you who are weary and heavy laden and He will give you rest. The Christian life consists of accepting by faith His invitation to ‘come for all things are now ready.’ This is not a bring-a- dish- God has done everything, He has provided everything, it is finished.
We then walk by faith, not by sight. Where does faith come from? Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.
The we stand in victory. How? Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the whole armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in heavenly realms. The Paul described the complete armor and finally he says take your stand and PRAY.
Sit. Walk. And Stand. This is cycle of life in the Promised Land. There will be battles. There will be tests of faith. We will make mistakes. We will walk by sight- but if and when you do go back and seat yourself again where everything you need is found- In Jesus!
“Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine! Heir of salvation, purchase of God. Born of His Spirit, washed in His Blood.
This is my story, this is my song. Praising my Savior- all the day long; this is my story, this is my song. Praising my Savior all the day long.
Perfect submission, all is at rest, I in my Savior am happy and blest, watching and waiting, looking above. Filled with His Goodness, lost in His love.
Are you at rest? Are you happy and blest? Are you watching and waiting to see where your Father is working so you may join Him? Are you looking at your troubles or are you looking above?
When you are at rest in Him in perfect submission, you will experience the days of heaven on earth.
Oh what a foretaste of glory divine!