Jesus, Joshua proclaim God saves
The African people hold in highest esteem the warrior who will deliver an African Tribal State from the incessant attacks of warriors from other Tribal States and foreign slave raiders and give them peace and rest on all sides.
Jesus comes as the redeemer, Saviour, and the supreme warrior King. Joshua is called by God to lead Israel from the wilderness into the promised land. Joshua, “shall cause these people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them” (Joshua 1:6).
The story of Joshua in the Old Testament anticipates the life and redemptive work of Jesus in the New Testament. In Numbers 13:16, Moses would give to Hoshea, the name or title “Joshua”. The name "Joshua” or “Yeshua” means “the Lord saves.”
This name is the original Hebrew form of the Greek name “Jesus”. So, there is a ready connection between Jesus and Joshua in the common name they share.
The classic story, of Joshua fulfilling the specific leadership call of God on his life in Joshua 1:6, is narrated in Joshua 3:1-17. The people of Israel cross the Jordan River and enter the Promised Land (Joshua 3:1-17). The Ark of the Covenant represents the presence of God to fulfill His covenant promise (V.3-4). In the New Testament, "Jesus says, I will be with you always" (Matthew 28:20). We need God’s presence and God’s guidance to experience God’s awesome promises.
And the presence of God among His people is not to be taken for granted. They are to keep a distance. They are to purify themselves in expectation of experiencing God’s wonders (V.5). It is remarkable to note: “look the Ark of the covenant will lead you across the Jordan River.” And they will experience a miracle as soon as the feet of the Priest carrying the Ark touch the water, “the flow of the water will be cut off upstream, and the River will stand up like a wall.” (V 13).
And the “whole nation of Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground” into the Promised Land. (V 17). And this is at the time of the flood stage of the Jordan River! What an awesome miracle of God's Divine intervention. They cross into the Promised Land on the merits of God, and His grace and love, in fulfilling His covenant promise. Salvation is the work of God alone.
No one can save himself. We experience salvation by the grace of God alone (See Ephesians 2:8-9). In the New Testament we read, “Jesus was handed over to die because of our sins, and he was raised to life to make us right with God." (Romans 4:25 NLT).
The crossing of the Jordan River marks a new beginning as the Israelites leave the wilderness life behind and step into the Promised Land. Crossing “the Jordan River” with Jesus would be a transition from death to life through faith in Jesus.
The Priests hold the Ark of God in the River, on Joshua’s instruction, and the Jordan River parts for Israel to go into the Promised Land “on dry ground.” Jesus “who knew no sin, became the sacrifice for sin on the cross” (1 Corinthians 5:21) and when He cries “it is finished”, the curtain of the Temple is torn into two, democratizing access to the Holy of holies, the throne room of God. (Matthew 27:51 NLT).
And whoever would believe and repent is saved. They receive forgiveness of sins, experience new birth in Jesus, and enter eternal life that is in Jesus (1 John 5:11 & 12). Crossing into Canaan the Promised Land through the Jordan River and experiencing new birth and having God’s promised eternal life, are all by grace.
There are important similarities between the stories of God’s divine intervention and provision in Joshua’s story and God’s provision in Jesus. Joshua, is God’s chosen servant to get Israel to the Promised Land. And the Lord Jesus is God’s servant to lead humanity into the promised eternal relationship with God, and when Jesus shall come again, into the promised "New Jerusalem" for all eternity (Revelations 21).
Only Joshua and Caleb remained from the generation that God rescued from slavery in Egypt, to enter the Promised Land. Once in Canaan, Joshua mobilises the new generation of younger people for the conquest battles. And Jesus commissions those who have new birth in Him, to witness to and facilitate people’s entry into the Kingdom of God. And Jesus' plan is for all people groups on all continents not to be left behind in the entry into the Kingdom God.
And so believers from the South and North, and from the West and East, should partner together for a global conquest of hearts and minds for Jesus. The sweet music of salvation Jesus gives must be heard, and be on the lips of all people groups worldwide (See Revelations 7:9-12).
Dr. Kwegyir Aggrey of Africa has said that when you play the black keys only on the piano, you get some good music. And when you play the white keys only, you get some good music. But it is when you play both the black and the white keys together that you get excellent music.
Through Bible centred and Jesus honouring Global Partnerships, motivated only by the love of Jesus ( 2 Corinthians 5:14 & 15), may the sweet music of the salvation Jesus brings, ring out to all people groups worldwide.
The correlations between the stories of Joshua and Jesus give us great insight into God's Divine Salvation plan. Joshua's stories foreshadow the stories of the redemptive work of Jesus, the greater "Yeshua." These two strands of stories strengthen the unity and continuity of God's overall plan for humanity's salvation narrated in the Bible with a climax in the story of Jesus.
(The author is a consultant in authentic Christian Spirituality and Discipleship and former CEO of Scripture Union)