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Chapters 12 to 24
The great principles set forth in the Pentateuch as to the relations of God and man
We have gone through, by the goodness of God, the five books of Moses. They have set before us, on the one side, the great principles on which the relations of man with God, and of God with man, in their great elements, are founded, such as redemption, sacrifice, and the like; and on the other, the deliverance of a people set apart for Himself, and the different conditions in which they were placed, whether under grace in the form of promise, under law, or under God's government established over them by the special mediation of Moses.
We have had occasion in them to examine the history of this people in the wilderness; and the pattern presented, by the tabernacle, of things to be afterwards revealed; sacrifices and priesthood, means of relationship with God granted to sinners, wherein is indeed wanting the image of our perfect liberty to approach God, the veil not being then rent, but wherein the shadow of heavenly things is placed before our eyes with most interesting detail.
Finally, we have seen that God — having at the end of the journey,
in the wilderness, pronounced the definitive justification of His
people, and caused His blessing to rest upon them in spite of the
efforts of their enemies — declares under what conditions the people
should retain possession of the land, and enjoy His blessing in it; in
the liberty and grace of God's free gift in immediate relationship
with Himself; and what would be the consequences of disobedience;
revealing, at the same tune, His purposes with respect to this people,
purposes which He would accomplish for His own glory.* This brings
us to the taking possession of the land of promise by the people under
the guidance of Joshua.
The scope of the book of Joshua
As the Book of Numbers sets forth the spiritual journey through the wilderness in which the flesh was tested and tried, so this book is full of interest and instruction, as setting before us in type the conflicts of the inheritors of heaven with spiritual wickedness in heavenly places, when we have entered into them, with a sure title, but having to take possession of them by the energy which overcomes the enemies who would keep us out, which is the other part of the christian life. Christians are blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places, as Israel was to enjoy temporal blessings in earthly places. It is easy to understand that, if we may rightly use (as I do not doubt) the name of Canaan as a figurative expression of the rest of the people of God, that which we have here to do with is not the rest itself, but the spiritual conflict which secures the enjoyment of the promises of God to true believers. The close of the Epistle to the Ephesians presents that which precisely answers, indeed alludes, to the position of Israel in this book. The saints in the assembly having been quickened and raised up with Jesus, have their conflict in the heavenly places, as it is to those who dwell there that the assembly is a testimony — the testimony of the manifold wisdom of God.
Jordan and Caanan as types
It is worthy of notice, if Jordan represent death, and Canaan rest and glory, how short common christian views must come of some intended christian position; for the effect of the crossing of Jordan, and what characterised what followed, was war. The angel of Jehovah comes with a drawn sword as captain of Jehovah's host. It leads us to see that the Christian is to learn that he is dead and risen while here, and has his place in the heavenlies in Christ, and that it is in this position that his true conflicts take place.
Joshua a type of Christ leading His people
Joshua, then, represents Christ, not as coming down in person to take possession of the earth, but as leading His people through the power of the Holy Ghost, who acts and dwells in the midst of this people. Yet in Joshua, as in all other typical persons, those errors and sins are found which betray the weakness of the instrument, and the fragility of the vessel in which, for the time, God has condescended to put His glory.