Joshua and Judges: Introduction, part 2. Gen 12:1-3, 7; 13:15; 17:7-8; Isa 55.
Title: Joshua and Judges: Introduction, part 2. Gen 12:1-3, 7; 13:15; 17:7-8; Isa 55.
The history of Israel as a nation may be said to commence with their entrance into their own land. All that was previous to this, from the Passover night in Egypt on which Israel was born as a nation and a people to the overthrow of the two Amorite kings, Sihon and Og in the Transjordan, the last who would have barred their way, had all been preparatory and forty years in the making.
During the forty years of wandering in the wilderness the people had gone through enough that they came together as a strong people by the hand of Jehovah, and without almost all of the first generation.
But now, when the Lion of Judah couched by the banks of Jordan, Israel was face to face with its grand mission, and the grand task of its national life commenced: to dispossess heathenism in Canaan, and to plant in its stead the kingdom of God in a land flowing with milk and honey.
We noted on Sunday from the Psalms that Zion would be the birthplace of all, in a symbolic, and in some cases, in a very real fashion.
The Lord shall count when He registers the peoples,
"This one was born there."
Then those who sing as well as those who play the flutes [Hebrew: dancing] shall say, "All my springs of joy [salvation] are in you."
The end of all history is that Zion shall become the metropolis of all nations. When the fullness of the Gentiles is thus come in, then shall all and each one as well singing as dancing say: All my fountains are in you.
Singing and dancing are those making their festive joy known - all men of all nations incorporated into Zion.
Israel was destined to strike root and to grow, till, in the fullness of time, it would extend to all nations of the world.
A number of facts are made clear from a study of the prophecies concerning the place of Jerusalem in that age. Jerusalem will become the center of the millennial earth. Because the world is under the dominion of Israel’s King, the center of Palestine becomes the center of the entire earth. Jerusalem will be the center of the kingdom rule. The city that was the center of David’s government will become the center of the government of David’s greater Son. The city will become a glorious city, bringing honor unto Jehovah. So closely is the King associated with Jerusalem that the city will partake of His glory. The city will be protected by the power of the King so that it never again need fear for its safety. The city will be greatly enlarged over its former area. It will be accessible to all in that day so that all who seek the King will find audience within its walls. Jerusalem will become the center of the worship of the age. The city will endure forever.
Accordingly, when the camp of Israel was pitched at Shittim, a new period commenced. She had a new leader and a new generation and was poised to cross the river and remove the old residents.
First, certain events which had to take place immediately before entering the Land of Promise; next, the conquest, and then the apportionment of the land among the tribes of Israel.
After the death of Joshua the time of the judges would begin.
Lastly, in the time of the Judges, side by side, the unfolding of Israel’s religious and national condition, and the assertion of those fundamental principles which underlay its very existence as a God-called people.
The fundamental principle was the special relationship of Israel as the people of God towards Jehovah, and Jehovah’s special dealings towards them as their King.
This is an unprecedented relationship, never before seen, and fully unique. God chose Abram to begin this new racial species and from his seed, Isaac, God made a nation of him. This had nothing to do with Abram, but God's grace and choice.
Gen 12:1 Now the Lord said to Abram,
"Go forth from your country,
And from your relatives
And from your father's house,
To the land which I will show you;
Gen 12:2 And I will make you a great nation,
And I will bless you,
And make your name great;
And so you shall be a blessing;
Gen 12:3 And I will bless those who bless you,
And the one who curses you I will curse.
And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."
There are several instances of covenants made between men in the scripture and so these deal with the relationships made between men. We will not concern ourselves with these at this time. We will not so much deal with the Mosaic covenant or Mosaic Law because it is temporary and non-determinative in respect to future things. There are four covenants given by God, by which He has obligated Himself in relation to the prophetic program.
A divine [unconditional] covenant is a sovereign disposition of God, whereby He established an unconditional or declarative compact with man, obligating Himself, in grace, by the untrammeled formula, "I will," to bring to pass of Himself definite blessings for the covenanted ones. [Chafer]
If the proposal of God is in the form of "If you will," then it is conditional in nature where blessings to man are provided when he fulfills the conditions of the covenant. This was the Mosaic covenant.
The church is not Israel. The seed of Abraham went through Isaac and Jacob and onto the true Seed, descended from Judah, the Lord Jesus Christ. The church participates in the blessings of the covenant, like ruling with Christ during the Millennium, only through her union with Christ. The covenant to Abraham will only be fulfilled in his physical seed who have, like Abraham, believed God and believed in Christ.
Israel has not been disinherited. The covenant is unconditional. Israel has not been cast off but will be restored to the place of blessing in the future. She will be in a position to fulfill the Abrahamic covenant.
When it is determined that the Abrahamic covenant is an unconditional covenant made with Israel, and therefore cannot be either abrogated or fulfilled by people other than the nation of Israel, it is seen that Israel has promises regarding a land and a seed, which determine the future program of God.
God ties the promises to Abraham to this land and so it is vital. The crisis in their national existence due a leadership change (Moses to Joshua) and a highly resistant resident (Canaanite) will not hinder its fulfillment.
Gen 12:7 And the Lord appeared to Abram and said, "To your descendants I will give this land."
Gen 13:14 And the Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, "Now lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward;
Gen 13:15 for all the land which you see, I will give it to you and to your descendants forever.
Gen 17:7 And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you.
Gen 17:8 And I will give to you and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God."
This is an unprecedented relationship, never before seen, and fully unique. God chose Abram to begin this new racial species and from his seed, Isaac, God made a nation of him. This had nothing to do with Abraham, but God's grace and choice.
Deu 7:7 The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples,
Deu 7:8 but because the Lord loved you and kept the oath which He swore to your forefathers, the Lord brought you out by a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.
The one condition on Abraham was that he was to leave Ur and travel to a land he did not know.
It’s not about how smart they are or about their military tactics or weaponry. It is about their faith in following Jehovah’s ways.
Isa 55:1 "Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters;
And you who have no money come, buy and eat.
Come, buy wine and milk
Without money and without cost.
Isa 55:2 "Why do you spend money for what is not bread,
And your wages for what does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good,
And delight yourself in abundance.
Isa 55:3 "Incline your ear and come to Me.
Listen, that you may live;
And I will make an everlasting covenant with you,
According to the faithful mercies shown to David.
Isa 55:4 "Behold, I have made him a witness to the peoples,
A leader and commander for the peoples.
Isa 55:5 "Behold, you will call a nation you do not know,
And a nation which knows you not will run to you,
Because of the Lord your God, even the Holy One of Israel;
For He has glorified you."
Isa 55:6 Seek the Lord while He may be found;
Call upon Him while He is near.
Isa 55:7 Let the wicked forsake his way,
And the unrighteous man his thoughts;
And let him return to the Lord ,
And He will have compassion on him;
And to our God,
For He will abundantly pardon.
Isa 55:8 "For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Neither are your ways My ways," declares the Lord .
Isa 55:9 "For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.
Isa 55:10 "For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
And do not return there without watering the earth,
And making it bear and sprout,
And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater;
Isa 55:11 So shall My word be which goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me empty,
Without accomplishing what I desire,
And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.
Isa 55:12 "For you will go out with joy,
And be led forth with peace;
The mountains and the hills will break forth into shouts of joy before you,
And all the trees of the field will clap their hands.
Isa 55:13 "Instead of the thorn bush the cypress will come up;
And instead of the nettle the myrtle will come up;
And it will be a memorial to the Lord ,
For an everlasting sign which will not be cut off."
The wilderness period shaped this two-fold relationship and revealed its consequences.
Under Joshua the results of faith would be prevalent and in the time of the Judges the consequences of rejection of Jehovah would be prevalent.
When not only Moses, but Joshua, and even the elders who had been his contemporaries had passed away, the people, now settled in the land, were left free to develop those tendencies which had all along existed within them.
After the passing of Joshua and the elders the people were free to develop the tendencies that existed in them all along. This shows the importance of leadership – in the CA it is the Trinity.
This reveals the importance of authority and leadership. In Israel it was Moses and Joshua but in the church age is it God Himself, the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit that keep our natural tendencies at bay.
Now when Moses saw that the people were out of control [worshipping the golden calf with singing and dancing] — for Aaron had let them get out of control to be a derision among their enemies
This would have never happened if Moses was there. That doesn't mean the sin to do so wasn't in their heart, but it would not have come to fruition. This is why it is important to transform our minds with doctrine rather than only trying to adjust our outward behavior and becoming like a whitewashed tomb full of dead man's bones.
After Joshua, then ensued that alternation of national apostasy and judgment, and of penitent return to God and deliverance, which constitutes, so to speak, the framework on which the Book of Judges was constructed.
This part of Israel’s history attained alike its highest and its lowest point in Samson, with whom the period of the Judges appropriately closes.
Then comes the administration of Samuel, which forms the transition and preparation for the royalty in Israel.
All of it has a spiritual typology that is glaringly easy to apply to our own spiritual lives in the church age. We are not under the Law, nor are we in the business of conquering lands and removing heathenism from them, but our souls become the battlefield and our enemies are invisible and cunning - much more so than a Canaanite.
But the spiritual import of the whole history of that period is summed up in these words of Holy Scripture:
Psa 44:1 For the choir director.
A Maskil of the sons of Korah.
O God, we have heard with our ears, Our fathers have told us,
The work that Thou didst in their days,
In the days of old.
Psa 90:16 [prayer of Moses - v. 1]
Let Thy work appear to Thy servants,
And Thy majesty to their children.
Psa 44:2 Thou with Thine own hand didst drive out the nations;
Then Thou didst plant them;
Thou didst afflict the peoples,
Then Thou didst spread them abroad.
Thou didst remove a vine from Egypt;
Thou didst drive out the nations, and didst plant it.
Psa 44:3 For by their own sword they did not possess the land;
And their own arm did not save them;
But Thy right hand, and Thine arm, and the light of Thy presence,
For Thou didst favor them.
God's right hand [hand of action] and arm [power] describe both God's power and work. In the believer today these are the word of God and the filling of the Holy Spirit.
We cannot accomplish anything of value without Him doing it through us, so we walk by faith and not by sight. It is not by our might and our strength that we accomplish anything of value in this life. Faith, hope, fellowship all coming together in mature love is the only way of Christ.
The light of His presence or countenance refers to His lovingkindness or His agape revealed in grace. The purpose of this love is that He was favorable to them, which word means to delight in them.
God does not do so for us grudgingly, but because He is perfect love. He desires these things for us. There is a great illustration of this here. Though they were often unfaithful and never deserving, He still brought them into the Promised Land.
Moses' farewell message makes this abundantly clear.
Deu 9:1 "Hear, O Israel! You are crossing over the Jordan today to go in to dispossess nations greater and mightier than you, great cities fortified to heaven,
Deu 9:2 a people great and tall, the sons of the Anakim, whom you know and of whom you have heard it said,' Who can stand before the sons of Anak?'
Deu 9:3 "Know therefore today that it is the Lord your God who is crossing over before you as a consuming fire. He will destroy them and He will subdue them before you, so that you may drive them out and destroy them quickly, just as the Lord has spoken to you.
Deu 9:4 Do not say in your heart when the Lord your God has driven them out before you, 'Because of my righteousness the Lord has brought me in to possess this land,' but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is dispossessing them before you.
Deu 9:5 It is not for your righteousness or for the uprightness of your heart that you are going to possess their land, but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord your God is driving them out before you, in order to confirm the oath which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Deu 9:6 Know, then, it is not because of your righteousness that the Lord your God is giving you this good land to possess, for you are a stubborn people.
The Books of Joshua and of the Judges form the two first portions of what in the Hebrew Canon are designated as the “Former Prophets.” This, not because their narratives are largely connected with the rise and activity of the prophets, nor yet because their authors were prophets, but rather because the character and contents of these books are prophetic.
They give the history of Israel from the prophet’s point of view—not a succinct and successive chronicle of the nation, but a history of the Kingdom of God in Israel. This also explains its peculiarities of form and style. For, neither are the Judges, for example, mentioned in the order of their succession, nor must it be supposed that they ruled over all the tribes of Israel. Similarly, there are evidently large blanks left in the history of the times, and while some events or reigns of considerable duration are only cursorily or hastily mentioned, very detailed and circumstantial narratives are given of persons and occurrences, which only occupied the scene for a comparatively short period. But as, from the frequent references to authorities, and from their evident knowledge of details, the writers of these books must have had at command ample material for a full history, we conclude that the selection, Divinely guided, was made in accordance with the “Spirit of Prophecy,” to mark the progress of the Kingdom of God in connection with Israel.
Because of this, tracing the history in this volume presents peculiar difficulties - from its briefness, its abruptness, its rapid transitions, the unusual character of its incidents, and its sudden and marked Divine interruptions.
These difficulties are not so much exegetical or critical, though those methods are necessary, but the difficulty arises from the narratives themselves, and so the work is aimed at the very essence of Holy Scripture. We are left to find the interpretations and ask the questions of why one event is mentioned in such detail while others are only briefly mentioned and also the reasons for God's actions.
We can only pray that we will miss nothing and gain all divine meanings, but we must admit that there will be some that we will miss.
The more fully these narratives are studied, the more luminous will they become; the more will their Divine meaning appear; and the more will they carry to the mind conviction of their truthfulness, and to the heart lessons of their spiritual import.