All Roads Lead To Jesus - Joshua

JOSHUA – JESUS IS THE CAPTAIN OF OUR SALVATION
Reading - Joshua 5-6,  Joshua 24, Matthew 25, Revelation 1, I Thessalonians 4

There have been times in my kids’ lives where they thought they wanted to purchase something with what little money they had saved up. Usually, these impulses would happen suddenly during a trip to the Mall to browse around. And usually, these impulses came from nowhere except that they wanted to buy something. That thing that they all of the sudden needed or wanted was usually a future piece of car seat garbage that would be thrown out in a few weeks.

My wife and/or I would echo those famous words repeated by mean parents throughout the ages – “save your money.” The reason we parents protect our kids from stupid purchases is that we want them to wait for something better. We want to help our kids understand what it means to work hard, save hard, and then be rewarded with something of true and better worth.

In a way, this is how we must read the Old Testament books when we look for Jesus. Every priest, king, prophet, leader or story tells us something about Jesus even though that person or story is not Jesus. They are a shadow of what is to come. They are just one glimmer from the diamond that is Christ. Don’t get me wrong – the stories of the Old Testament are not junk. I realize my illustration falls apart at this point. But the stories are there for us to stoke our expectations for Jesus.

In the story of Joshua, the Israelite older generation has died off. Joshua has been called as the military captain to lead Israel in its conquest of the land God had promised. They find themselves standing on the banks of the Jordan River just outside of Jericho. In Joshua 5-6, the Captain of the Lord’s army appears to Joshua and gives him instructions on how to defeat Jericho. The strategy could only have come from God and will take a miracle for it to work.

The Captain who appears to Joshua is the pre-incarnate Son of God. There are several occasions throughout the Old Testament where the Son of God appears before His incarnation – this is one of them. How do we know that this figure is the pre-incarnate Son of God? First, the figure appears as a man. Second, when Joshua bows down to worship the man, the Captain does not stop him. Joshua is told to take off his shoes just as Moses was told to take off his shoes when he encountered God in the burning bush. This figure is making himself equal to God.

The Captain of the Lord’s army tells Joshua to march around Jericho daily for six days. On the seventh day, they are to march around the city seven times and then blow their trumpets. When the trumpets blow God would deliver Jericho into their hands. And that is exactly what happened! God, once again, as He had always been, was true to His Word.

Before Jericho was to fall, a few spies from Joshua’s army went into Jericho. They would have been captured had it not been for the gracious help of a prostitute named Rahab. As a reward for her help, Rahab’s life would be spared by Joshua.

Joshua is not only the Captain of the army, but he also extends salvation and saves Rahab. Jesus is the better Joshua because Jesus is the Captain of the Lord’s army, not an earthly army, and Jesus is the Captain of our Salvation as his salvation is reconciliation with God and entrance into the Kingdom of God. Jesus is better than Joshua as he is the true Joshua.

We often don’t think of Jesus as a warrior king. But the Bible paints a different picture. In First Thessalonians 4 Paul tells the church that Jesus is coming back to this earth. But he is not coming back in the same way that he came the first time. Jesus is coming back with trumpet blasts, a sword, and an army. Jesus himself told his accusers the night he was condemned to a cross that they would see him return on the clouds. In Revelation 1, John sees a vision of the risen Christ. He is so striking and glorious that John falls to his face. This same risen Jesus encountered Paul on the road to Damascus and struck the prideful man down into a whimpering mess on the ground.

Jesus’ return with his heavenly army will mean different things to different people, just as the marching armies of Israel meant something different to those inside of Jericho who was ready to fight and those who were looking for deliverance. Rahab wanted to be delivered. She was most probably a slave to prostitution. Day in and day out, she gave up her body for pay. It was probably the only way she could exist. The same armies of Israel that were a threat to everyone in Jericho who would oppose them also brought deliverance to those who would get behind them. Where others saw defeat, Rahab saw deliverance.

Jesus’ return will mean different things for different people. Some will weep with sadness and gnash their teeth in fear and anger. Other’s will rejoice. Jesus’ army is made up of the angels and the saints. His army that will bring reconciliation to this world is unstoppable. We are told in Revelation that the end of the cosmic war that has been raging since sin entered into the world will come to end as the Captain of our Salvation throws Satan and his army into the fire of hell forever. In those moments, those who have come to faith in Jesus as the Captain of their salvation will rejoice alongside Rahab who had been delivered by Joshua. Those who would continue to deny Christ as King will fall like the walls of Jericho.

One thing is clear, no matter what side each of us falls on, we will be there because that is exactly where want to be. We can each make a choice today who will have our allegiance. I realize that is hard for our minds to wrap around the idea of Jesus and a Second Coming. Hollywood and wild imaginations have hijacked the Bible and made things quite unbelievable. But God has always kept His promises and we have no reason to doubt that Jesus will indeed return and make all things new. You and I have a choice as to whether or not we will follow after the true and better Joshua.

At the end of his life, Joshua had accomplished so much. He was the greatest military leader Israel had ever known. He had helped gain the Promised Land. His name would go down in Israelite history. And yet, he doesn’t glorify himself at the end of his life. In Joshua 24, he challenges Israel with these words, “Now therefore fear the LORD and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”

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