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JOSHUA 3:7-17 THE MIRACLE “And the Lord said unto Joshua, This day will I begin to magnify thee in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that as I was with Moses so I will be with thee. And thou shalt command the priests that bear the ark of the covenant, saying, When ye are come to the brink of the water of Jordan ye shall stand still in Jordan ( Joshua 3:7,8). Before his death it had been revealed to Moses by the Lord that Joshua should be his successor as the leader of His people, and unto that office he had been solemnly set apart ( Numbers 27:18-23). Moses had also announced unto Israel that Joshua “should cause them to inherit the Land” ( Deuteronomy 1:38), and “the children of Israel hearkened unto him, and did as the Lord commanded Moses” ( Deuteronomy 34:9).
After the death of Moses the people had avowed their willingness to do whatever Joshua commanded them and to go whither he should send them, and expressed the desire that Divine assistance would be granted him: “the Lord thy God be with thee, as He was with Moses” ( Joshua 1:16,17).
In the interval the two spies had reconnoitered Jericho at his orders, the people had followed him from Shittim to the Jordan ( Joshua 3:1), and had remained there three days. Now the time had come for the Lord to more fully authenticate His servant.
Joshua had duly discharged his duty and now he was to be rewarded. He had set before the people a noble example by acting faith on God’s word, had confidently expressed his assurance that God would make good His promise ( Joshua 1:11,15), and now the Lord would honor the one who had honored Him. Joshua had been faithful in a few things and he should be made ruler over many. Devotedness unto God never passes unrecognized by Him. The Lord would now put signal honor upon Joshua in the sight of Israel as He had done upon Moses at the Red Sea and at Sinai. “The Lord said unto Moses, Lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud that the people may hear when I speak unto thee, and believe thee for ever” ( Exodus 19:9): thus did He honor and authenticate Moses. And here at the Jordan he magnified Joshua by the authority which He conferred upon him, and attested him as His appointed leader of Israel. The result of this is stated in Joshua 4:15, “on that day the Lord magnified Joshua in the sight of all Israel, and they feared [revered and obeyed] him as they feared Moses, all the days of his [Joshua’s] life.”
But we must be careful lest we overlook something far more glorious than what has just been pointed out. Surely those words, “This day will I begin to magnify thee in the sight of all Israel,” should at once turn our thoughts to One infinitely superior to Joshua: that what God did here for His servant was a foreshadowment of what later He did to His Son at this same Jordan.
No sooner was our blessed Lord baptized in that river than, “Lo, the heavens were opened unto Him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon Him: And, lo, a voice from heaven, saying, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” ( Matthew 3:16,17).
Still more wonderful is the type when we observe at what part of the Jordan this occurred: “These things were done in Beth-abara” ( John 1:28), which signified “the place of passage” ( John 1:28), so that Christ was attested by the Father at the very place where Israel passed through the river and where Joshua was magnified!
Solemn indeed was the contrast. By what took place at the Jordan Israel knew that Joshua was their Divinely appointed leader and governor, and therefore they “feared him... all the days of his life” ( Joshua 4:15), rendering implicit and undeviating obedience unto his orders: “And Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua” ( Joshua 24:31). But after the and-typical Joshua had been far more illustriously magnified at the Jordan. identified as the Son of God incarnate, and owned by the Father as the One in whom He delighted, what was Israel’s response? Did they love and worship Him? Did they fear and obey Him? Very far otherwise: “He came unto His own, and His own received Him not” ( John 1:11). Their hearts were alienated and their ears closed against Him. Though He spake as never man spake, though He went about doing good, though He wrought miracles of power and mercy, they “despised and rejected Him,” and after a brief season cried “Away with Him, crucify Him.” Marvel, dear Christian reader, that the Lord of glory endured such humiliation “for us men and our salvation.” Wonder and adore that He so loved us as not only to be willing to be hated of men but smitten of God that our sins might be put away. “And thou shalt command the priests that bear the ark of the covenant, saying, When ye are come to the brink of the water of Jordan, ye shall stand still in Jordan” (verse 8).
What anointed eye can fail to see here again a shadowing forth of a greater than Joshua! Next after this mention of God’s beginning to magnify Joshua in the sight of the people, we find him exercising high authority and giving orders to the priests; and almost the first public act of Christ’s after the Father had attested and honored Him at the Jordan is what is recorded in Matthew 5-7. In that sermon on the mount we behold our Savior doing the very same thing: exercising high authority, as He evinced by His frequently repeated “I say unto you,” and issuing, orders to His disciples, who, under the new covenant, correspond to the priests under the old; and it is very striking to see how the twofold application of that term and the type appear in that sermon. As we pointed out in our last, the “priests,” when bearing the ark of the covenant, were figures of the ministers of the Gospel in their official character, but looked at as those privileged to draw near unto God. The “priests” were types of all the redeemed of Christ ( Peter 2:5, 9).
Now in the opening verses of Matthew 5, it was His servants whom “Christ taught” (verses 1, 2, 13-16), and to whom He issued commandments, for “His disciples” there are to be understood as “apostles” — as in Matthew 10:1,2, and 28:16-20. Yet as we continue reading that wondrous discourse we soon perceive that it cannot be restricted unto ministers of the Gospel, but is addressed to the whole company of His people. Therein we learn what is required from the redeemed by the One who is their Lord, possessed of Divine authority: namely, entire subjection unto Him, unreserved conformity to His revealed will. As the priests of Israel must order their actions by the instructions which they received from Joshua, so must the ministers of the Gospel take their orders from their Divine Master, and so also must the whole company of His redeemed be regulated wholly by the injunctions of the Captain of their salvation. Nothing less is due unto Him who endured such shame and suffering on their behalf; nothing else becomes those who owe their all unto Him who died for them. It is in this way that their gratitude and devotion is to be manifested: “If ye love Me, keep My commandments” ( John 14:13). “And thou shalt command the priests that bear the ark of the covenant, saying, When ye are come to the brink of the water of Jordan, ye shall stand still in Jordan.” What a testing of their faith and obedience was that!
The swollen and unfordable river before them, and they ordered to advance unto the very edge thereof, yea, to stand still in it! How senseless such a procedure unto carnal reason! Such too appears the policy and means appointed by God in the Gospel: “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” ( 1 Corinthians 1:21).
And the preaching of Christ crucified, my ministerial friends, is entirely a matter of faith and obedience, for to our natural intellect and perceptions it appears to be utterly inadequate to produce eternal fruits. And even when we have preached Christ to the best of our poor powers, it often seems that our efforts are unavailing, and we are perhaps sorely tempted to act contrary unto that word, “the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but spiritual.” Seek grace, then, to heed the lesson pointed by the above verse: discharge your responsibility to the utmost extent and trustfully leave the issue with God, as did the priests.
But there is not only a much-needed message contained in verse 8 for the discouraged servants of Christ, but there is one too for the rank and the of God’s people, especially those of them who may be sorely tried by present circumstances. Their faith and obedience must be tested — that its reality may appear. Some of the Lord’s commandments present less difficulty, for they are embodied in the laws of our land and respected by all decent people. But there are others of His precepts which are most trying to flesh and blood and which are scoffed at by the unregenerate. Nevertheless, our course is clear: there can be no picking and choosing — “whatsoever He saith unto you, do” ( John 2:5). Yes, but when I have sought to obey to the best of my ability I find circumstances all against me, a situation beyond my powers to cope with, a “jordan” too deep and wide for me to pass through. Very well, here is the word exactly suited to your case: come to “the brink of the water” and then “stand still in it”: proceed to your utmost limits in the path of duty and then count upon the omnipotent One to undertake for you. “And Joshua said unto the children of Israel, Come hither, and hear the words of the Lord your God” (verse 9).
Once more our minds are carried beyond the type to Antitype, who said unto Israel, “My doctrine is not Mine, but His that sent Me” ( John 7:16), and again, “the Father which sent Me, He gave Me a commandment what I should say and what I should speak” ( John 12:49).
And therefore the most diligent heed is to be given and the most unquestioning obedience rendered unto Him. “And Joshua said, Hereby ye shall know that the living God is among you, and that He will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Hivites, and the Perizzites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Jebusites” (verse 10). That title, “the living God,” is used in the Scriptures to point a contrast with the inanimate idols of the heathen ( 2 Kings 19:4; 1 Thessalonians 1:9), and doubtless was employed by Joshua on this occasion for the purpose of accentuating the impotency and worthlessness of all false gods, who were utterly incapable of rendering aid, still less of performing prodigies, for their deluded votaries; a warning also to Israel against the sin of idolatry to which they ever were so prone.
As Joshua owned Jehovah as “the living God” so also Christ acknowledged the One who had sent Him as the “living Father” ( John 6:57). “And Joshua said, Hereby ye shall know that the living God is among you” (verse 10).
Note carefully the statement which immediately follows: “and that He will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites,” etc. We had naturally expected Joshua to say in this connection, God will open a way for you to pass through this Jordan, but instead he gives assurance of the conquest of the “seven nations in the land of Canaan” ( Acts 13:19).
And why? To assure Israel that the miracle of the Jordan was a Divine earnest, a certain guarantee, that the Lord would continue to show Himself strong in their behalf. And similarly He assures His people today. “Being confident of this very thing: that He which hath begun a good work in you, will finish it” ( Philippians 1:6).
Israel’s supernatural journey through Jordan was a figure of our regeneration, when we pass from death unto life, and that experience ensures that the living God will perfect that which concerneth us” ( <19D808> Psalm 138:8). In a word, regeneration is an infallible earnest of our ultimate glorification. But as Israel concurred with God, and were themselves active in driving out the Canaanites, so we have to mortify our lusts and overcome the world in order to possess our inheritance.
Yes, replies the reader, but that is much easier said than done. True, yet, not only is it indispensable that we should do so, but if due attention be paid to the passage before us and its spiritual application unto ourselves, valuable instruction will be found herein as to the secrets of success. Not to anticipate too much what yet remains to be considered in detail, let us summarize the leading points so far as they bear upon what was just said above.
Third , Israel had to fix their eyes upon “the ark of the covenant”: so we are to be subject unto Christ in all things, and make daily use of His cleansing blood — the propitiatory which formed the lid of the ark.
Fourth , “The Lord of all the earth” — God in His unlimited dominion — was the particular character in which Israel here viewed God: so we must rely upon His all-mighty power and count upon Him making us more than conquerors. “Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth passeth over before you into Jordan. Now therefore take you twelve men out of the tribes of Israel, out of every man a tribe. And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests that bear the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of Jordan, that the waters of Jordan shall be cut off from the waters that come down from above; and they shall stand upon a heap” (verses 11-13).
In those words Joshua now specifically announced and described one of the most remarkable of the miracles recorded in Holy Writ. The priests were to proceed unto the edge of the water and then stop — that it might be the more evident that the Jordan was driven back at the presence of the Lord. As Matthew Henry wrote, “God could have divided the river without the priests, but they could not without Him. The priests must herein set a good example and teach the people to do their utmost in the service of God, and trust Him for help in time of need.” Note how the opening’ word of verse 11 emphasized yet again that attention was to be concentrated upon the ark, which, as we have previously pointed out, was made for the Law and not the Law for it — typifying. Christ, “made under the Law” ( Galatians 4:4), magnifying and making it honorable ( Isaiah 42:21).
Remember too that the propitiatory formed the lid of the ark: it was not only a cover for the sacred coffer, but a shield between the Law and the people of God. The central thing within it was the Law ( 1 Kings 8:9), and between the cherubim on its mercy seat Jehovah had His throne ( Psalm 99:1). That is why all through Joshua 3 and 4 it is termed “the ark of the covenant,” for when Moses went up upon Sinai the second time we are told that “he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments” ( Exodus 34:28).
It should be carefully borne in mind that even under the old covenant the promise preceded the giving of the Law ( Exodus 3:17; 12:25), yet the fulfillment thereof was not to be without the enforcing of their accountability. In like manner the ten commandments themselves were prefaced by “I am the Lord thy God which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt,” manifesting His “goodness” to them and His “severity” upon their enemies — that was the testimony of His character who entered into covenant with them.
It is to be duly noted that the particular designation given to Jehovah in connection with the ark of the covenant in verse 11 is repeated in verse 13, which at once intimates it is one of special weight and significance. This title, “the Lord of all the earth,” is not found in the Pentateuch, occurring here in Joshua 3 for the first time, its force being more or less indicated by what is said in verse 10 and the nature and time of the miracle then wrought. The reference here is unto God the Father, and signifies His absolute sovereignty and universal dominion — the Proprietor and Governor of the earth which He created, the One whom none can successfully resist. This title occurs in the Scriptures seven times! Twice in Joshua 3, then in Psalm 97:5, Micah 4:15, Zechariah 6:5. In Zechariah 4:14, we behold the three Persons of the Godhead in their covenant characters: “these are the two Anointed Ones [Christ and the Holy Spirit] that stand before the Lord of all the earth.” But in Isaiah 54:5, we see the incarnate Son, “the Lord of hosts is His name, and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel, the God of all the earth shall He be called” — a prophetic intimation of the taking down of the “middle wall of partition,” when Jew and Gentile alike should own Him as their God.
As a reward for Joshua’s past faithfulness and in order to equip him more thoroughly for the great task before him, the Lord determined to put signal honor upon His servant so that Israel might assuredly know that as the mighty God had been with Moses so He would be with his successor ( Joshua 3:7). That at once turns our thoughts back to Exodus 14: and it is both interesting and instructive to trace out the many points of contrast and comparison between what occurred at the Red Sea and here at Jordan. Let us consider first those respects in which they differed.
Second , the former miracle was wrought in order that Israel might escape from the Egyptians, the latter to enable them to approach and conquer the Canaanites.
Third , in connection with that, the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind ( Exodus 14:21); but with reference to this no means whatever were employed — to demonstrate that He is not tied unto such, but employs or dispenses with them as He pleases.
Fourth , the earlier miracle was performed at nighttime ( Exodus 14:21), the latter in broad daylight.
Fifth , at the Red Sea multitudes were slain, for the Lord “made the waters to return upon the Egyptians, so that it covered the chariots and the horsemen: all the host of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them, there remained not so much as one of them” ( Exodus 14:28); whereas at the Jordan not a single soul perished.
Sixth , the one was wrought for a people who just previously had been full of unbelief and murmuring, saying unto Moses: “Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us?” ( Exodus 14:11); the other for a people who were believing and obedient ( Joshua 2:24; in. 1).
Seventh , with the sole exception of Caleb and Joshua all the adults who benefited by the former miracle perished in the wilderness because of their unbelief, while not a single one of those who were favored to share in the latter failed to “possess their possessions.”
Ninth , in the former the believer’s judicial death unto sin was typed out; in the latter, his legal oneness with Christ in His resurrection, to be followed by a practical entrance into his inheritance.
Tenth , consequently, whereas there was no “sanctify yourselves” before the former, such a call was an imperative requirement for the latter (Joshua in. 5).
Eleventh , the response made by Israel’s enemies to the Lord’s intervention for Israel at the Red Sea was, “I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil, my lust shall be satisfied upon them” ( Exodus 15:9); but in the latter, “It came to pass when all the people of the Amorites, which were on the other side of Jordan westward, and all the kings of the Canaanites... heard that the Lord had dried up the waters of Jordan... that their heart melted, neither was there spirit in them any more” ( Joshua 5:1).
It is surely remarkable that there are as many analogies between the two miracles as dissimilarities. Yet that illustrates a principle which the attentive observer will find exemplified all through Scripture, and which the young student is advised to make careful note of. “Two” is the number of witness — as the Lord sent forth the apostles in pairs to testify of Him. It was the minimum number for such under the Law ( John 8:17), for if the sworn testimony of two different men agreed, this was considered conclusive.
Thus two is also the number of comparison and contrast. Hence it will be found that when there are only two of a kind, such as the miracles of the Red Sea and the Jordan, there is always a number of marked resemblances and divergencies between them. Some may like to work out for themselves the parallels and oppositions between the Old and New Testaments, Sinai and Sion, the first and second advents of Christ, the respective careers of Moses and Joshua, the ministries of Elijah and Elisha, and so on. The same principle is exemplified where a Greek word occurs but twice: as “apopnigo” ( Luke 8:7,23), “apokueo” ( James 1:15,18), “panoplia” ( Luke 11:22; Ephesians 6:11). So too when two parables, miracles, incidents, are placed in juxtaposition.
The following are some of the points of resemblance between these two. (1) In each case the miracle was connected with water. (2) Neither was done in a corner or beheld by only a few, but was witnessed by the whole nation of Israel. (3) Each was preceded by an act required of God’s servant — Moses, in the stretching forth of his hand ( Exodus 14:21); Joshua, in giving command to the people. (4) Each was the removal of a formidable barrier in Israel’s path. (5) Each had the design of authenticating Israel’s leader ( Exodus 14:31; Joshua 4:14). (6) Each presented a severe test unto Israel’s faith and obedience ( Exodus 14:15; Joshua 3:3). (7) In each case they passed over dry-shod. (8) Both miracles were wrought in silence: neither was accompanied by shouts of triumph, nor was there any sounding of the rams’ horns — as, later, in the case of the miraculous fall of Jericho’s walls ( Joshua 6:9,20). (9) Afterward both the Red Sea and the waters of the Jordan returned again to their normal state. (10) Each inaugurated a new period in Israel’s history. (11) In both there was a prodigious display of Jehovah’s power to the consternation of His enemies. (12) Both miracles were celebrated by songs of praise.
Some of our readers may think that we made a slip in the last point: they will recall the songs of Israel in Exodus 15 and ask, But where is there any song of praise celebrating what occurred at the Jordan? Separate celebration there is none, but the two miracles are conjoined and made the special subject of sacred ode, namely in <19B401> Psalm 114, to which we would now direct attention. Many of those who are best qualified to express a considered opinion on the merits of poetry have freely testified that in this psalm the art of sacred minstrelsy has reached its climax: that no human mind has ever been able to equal, much less to excel, the grandeur of its contents. In it we have most vividly depicted the greatest of inanimate things rendering obeisance unto their Maker. As one beautifully summarized it, “The God of Jacob is exalted as having command over river, sea and mountain, and causing all nature to pay homage and tribute before His majesty.” <19B401> Psalm 114 is a remarkable one in several respects. First, it is written without any preface. It is as though the soul of its author was so elevated and filled with a sense of the Divine glory that he could not pause to compose an introduction, but rather burst forth at once into the midst of his theme, namely, the wondrous works which were wrought for Israel of old, of which they were the actual eye-witnesses and beneficiaries. Second, in it the rules of grammar are ignored, for in verse two we find the possessive pronoun used without a preceding substantive. The presence of God is concealed in the first verse, for, as Isaac Watts pointed out, “If God had appeared before, there could be no wonder when the mountains should leap and the sea retire — therefore, that these convulsions of nature may be brought in with due surprise, His name is not mentioned till afterwards.”
Third, this psalm was fittingly made a part of “the Hallelujah” which the Jews of all later generations were wont to sing at their Passover supper.
Fourth, all that is portrayed in this psalm was typical of the still greater wonders wrought by the redemptive work of Christ.
That psalm celebrates the marvels performed by Jehovah on behalf of His people of old, particularly their exodus from Egypt and His conducting them through the Red Sea and the Jordan. Such glorious acts of God’s power and grace must never be forgotten, but owned in gladsome praise. “When Israel went out of Egypt, the house of Jacob from a people of strange language, Judah was His sanctuary, Israel His dominion” (verses and 2). The Lord delivered His people from the house of bondage that they might serve Him and show forth His praises, in the duties of worship and in obedience to His Law. In order thereto, He set up His “sanctuary among them — first in the tabernacle, then in the temple, finally in Christ His incarnate Son — in which He gave special tokens of His presence. Further, He set up His “dominion” or throne among them, being Himself their Lord, King and Judge. Observe well how that here, as everywhere, privilege and duty, Divine favor and human responsibility, are united. God acted graciously. God maintained the rights of His righteousness. As His “sanctuary” Israel was separated unto God as a peculiar people, a nation of priests, holy unto the Lord. As His “dominion” they were a theocracy, governed directly by Him.
So we have been redeemed that we should “serve Him... in holiness and righteousness... all the days of our life” ( Luke 1:74,75). If we enjoy the favors of His “sanctuary” we must also submit to His “dominion.” “The sea saw, and fled; Jordan was driven back. The mountains skipped like rams, the little hills like lambs” (verses 3, 4).
In those words the inspired poet depicts inanimate creation trembling before its Maker. It was because Jehovah was Israel’s “sanctuary” and “dominion” that the Red Sea fled before them. Sinai quivered and the waters of Jordan were effectually dammed. The Almighty was at the head of His people, and nothing could stand before Him, or withstand them. The sea saw”: it now beheld what it never had previously, namely, “the pillar of cloud” ( Exodus 14:19) — symbol of Jehovah’s presence; and, unable to endure such a sight, fled to the right and to the left, opening a clear passage for the Hebrews· Jordan, too, as the ark of the covenant entered its brim, was driven back, so that its rapid torrent was stayed, yea, fled uphill.
Graphic figures were those of that invincible operation of Divine grace in the hearts of God’s elect, when the mighty power of God is so put forth that turbulent rebels are tamed, fierce lusts subdued, proud imaginations cast down, and self-sufficient wiseacres are brought to enter the kingdom of Christ as “little children”! “What ailed thee, O thou sea, that thou fleddest? thou Jordan, that thou wast driven back? Ye mountains that ye skipped like rams, ye little hills like lambs?” (verses 5, 6).
That is the language of holy irony, the Spirit of God pouring contempt upon the unbelieving thoughts of men who foolishly imagine that the Almighty can be withstood, yea, thwarted by the creatures of His own hands. “What ailed thee, O thou sea?”: the poet apostrophizes it in the terms of mockery. Wast thou so terribly afraid? Did thy proud strength then utterly fail thee? Did thy very heart dry up, so that no resistance wast left in thee?” Such an interrogation also teaches us that it behooves us to inquire after the reason of things when we behold the marvels of nature, and not merely gaze upon them as senseless spectators. We have here also a foreshadowing and sure prophecy of the utter impotency of the wicked in the last great day: if the granite cliffs of Sinai were shaken to their base when Jehovah descended upon it, what consternation and trembling will seize the stoutest hearts when they stand before their awful Judge! See verse 7. <19B401> Psalm 114 is by no means the only place where we find celebration made of the miracles witnessed at the Red Sea and Jordan and the other marvels wrought about the same time. The prophet Habakkuk also links together those two wonders, and in language which serves to cast further light upon the Lord’s design therein — teaching us the importance and necessity of carefully comparing Scripture with Scripture, if we would obtain a full view of any event or subject, for each passage makes its own distinct contribution unto the whole. In Joshua we behold the Lord acting more in His sovereign grace and covenant faithfulness on behalf of the seed of Abraham, but Habakkuk informs us He was exercising righteous indignation against His enemies, who had devoted themselves unto the most horrible idolatry and unspeakable immorality. It was in holy wrath against both the Egyptians and the Canaanites that God put forth His mighty power, when the iniquity of the Amorites” had come to the “full” ( Genesis 15:16). The whole of Habakkuk 3 is exceedingly graphic and solemn, though we must do no more here than make a bare quotation of portions of it.
The Holy One is vividly pictured as manifesting Himself in the whole of that district which lay to the south of Judah, including Sinai, when “His glory covered the heavens and the earth was full of His praise” (verse 3). “He stood and measured the earth” (verse 6) or “caused the earth to tremble,” as the Jewish Targum renders it, and as appears to be required by the parallelism of the next clause: “He beheld [merely “looked upon”!], and drave asunder the nations.” That sixth verse may be regarded as the “text” which is illustrated by God’s control over the forces of nature. “Was the Lord displeased against the rivers? was Thine anger against the rivers? [when He made the lower waters of the Jordan to flee away, and the higher ones to “stand on a heap”]; was Thy wrath against the sea, that Thou didst ride upon Thine horses and Thy chariots of salvation?” (verse 8), when, as an invincible Conqueror, Thou didst carry all before Thee! “The mountains [of Sinai] saw Thee and trembled: the overflowing of the water [ Joshua 3:15] passed by: the deep uttered his voice and lifted up his hands on high” (verse 10) — see Joshua 3:16 — as though in token of submission to and adoration of their Maker. “The sun and moon stood still in their habitation” (verse 11) — see Joshua 10:12,13. “Thou didst march through the land in indignation, Thou didst thresh the heathen in anger” (verse 12).
Returning to Joshua 3. “Behold the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth passeth over before you into Jordan... And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests that bear the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of Jordan, that the waters of Jordan shall be cut off from the waters that come down from above; and they shall stand upon a heap” (verses 11, 13). “He who is your covenant God with you, has both the right and power to command, control, use and dispose of all nations and all creatures. He is ‘the Lord of all the earth’ and therefore He needs not you, nor can He be benefited by you: therefore it is your honor and happiness to have Him in covenant with you; all the creatures are at your service, when He pleases all shall be employed for you.
When we are praising and worshipping God as Israel’s God, and ours through Christ, we must remember that He is the Lord of the whole earth, and reverence and trust in Him accordingly... While we make God’s precepts our rule, His promises our stay, and His providence our guide, we need not dread the greatest difficulties we may meet with in the way of duty” (Matthew Henry).
Here we may see yet another reason — beyond those we have previously pointed out — why the sacred ark was carried so far in advance of the people (verse 4), namely, that the whole congregation might have a better and clearer view of the miracle which God was about to perform for them.
LESSONS FROM THE CROSSING Before mentioning some of the different aspects of Truth which are illustrated in Joshua 3, let us look at the miracle there recorded. “And it came to pass, when the people removed from their tents to pass over Jordan, and the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people; and as they that bare the ark were come unto Jordan, and the feet of the priests that bare the ark were dipped in the brim of the water, for Jordan overfloweth all his banks all the time of harvest” (verses 14, 15).
First, observe well the time when this wonder was wrought. It was in the spring of the year, when the river was in spate. At that season the snows on Mount Lebanon (near which Jordan had its rise) melted, when there was an annual inundation of the valley. God selected a month when conditions were such as to form the most suitable background for an illustrious display of His power. He did not defer the crossing of the river until the end of summer, when it had been at its lowest, but chose the month when it was at its broadest and deepest, that His hand might be the more plainly seen. 1 Chronicles 12:15, tells us Jordan continued to “overflow” in the days of David.
Next, we would take note of a little detail here which brings out the minute accuracy of Scripture and attests its historical verity, and that in a most artless manner. Joshua 3:15, tells us it was “the time of harvest.” Now the “barley harvest” came first ( Ruth 1:22), and after an interval of a month or so the “wheat harvest” ( Ruth 2:21,23). Now the Jordan was crossed on the tenth day of the fourth month ( Joshua 4:19), or four days before the Passover, which fell in with the barley harvest. From Exodus 9:31, we learn that the barley ripened at that season, for the plague of hail was only a day or two before the Passover. From that verse we learn that the “flax” crop ripened at the same time, and, since the climate of Palestine differed little from that of Egypt, this, no doubt, was the case in Canaan too. Thus, by a comparison of Joshua 3:13, and 4:19, with Exodus 9:31, we see that Israel crossed the Jordan when both the barley and the flax were ripe. What a silent but convincing confirmation does that furnish of the incidental statement that Rahab hid the spies “with the stalks of flax” ( Joshua 2:6)! This is one out of scores of similar instances adduced by J.J. Blunt in his remarkable book (out of print) Undesigned Coincidences to manifest the veracity of the Word. “That the waters which came down from above stood and rose up upon a heap very far from the city Adam, that is beside Zaretan, and those that came down toward the sea of the plain, the salt sea, failed and were cut off; and the people passed over right against Jericho” (verse 16).
First, the waters were cleft asunder so that those which came down from above — i.e. from the mountains — were invincibly dammed, so that the down-flowing torrent was supernaturally stayed. It was as though an enormous but invisible sluice had suddenly shut off the stream at its source.
Second, the huge volume which had already descended was made to turn backward and stand on a heap in a congealed mass — which in our judgment was more remarkable than what occurred at the Red Sea. That solid wall of water must have appeared like some mammoth buttress, yet without any apparent support. Third, the waters which were already in the Jordan valley rapidly drained away into the Dead Sea, leaving the whole of the river’s bed dry — “as far downward, it is likely, as it swelled upward” (Matthew Henry). Most vividly did R. Gosse depict this prodigy. “At any time the passage of the river by such a multitude, with their wives and children, their flocks and herds, and all their baggage, would have presented formidable difficulties; but now the channel was filled with a deep and impetuous torrent, which overflowed its banks and spread widely on either side, probably extending nearly a mile in width; while in the very sight of the scene were the Canaanitish hosts, who might be expected to pour out from their fortress and exterminate the invading multitude before they could reach the shore. Yet these difficulties were nothing to Almighty power, and only serve to heighten the effect of the stupendous miracle about to be wrought. No sooner had the feet of the priests touched the brim of the overflowing river than the swollen waters receded from them; and not only the broad lower valley but the deep bed of the stream was presently emptied of water, and its pebbly bottom became dry. The waters which had been in the channel speedily ran off, while those which would naturally have replaced them from above were miraculously suspended, and accumulated in a glassy heap, far above the city Adam... nearly the whole channel of the Lower Jordan from a little below the Lake of Tiberias to the Dead Sea was dry.” “And the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the midst of Jordan, and all the Israelites passed over on dry ground until all the people were passed clean over Jordan” (verse 17).
What a test of the priests’ faith and obedience was that! — a much more severe one than that required of them in verse 8. There they were only bidden to step into the brink of the water, which at most occasioned but a temporary inconvenience, though since they had to do so before any miracle was wrought, it called for unquestioning, submission to the Divine will. But here they were required to remain stationary in the center of the river bed, which to sight was a most perilous situation — with the great mass of the higher waters liable to suddenly rush down and engulf them.
But there they patiently abode, for it must have taken many hours for such a huge multitude to pass over on foot. God’s servants are not only called upon to set His people an example of implicit confidence in and full obedience to Him, but to take the lead when dangers threaten and acquit themselves courageously and perseveringly. The Lord fully vindicated the priests’ obedience, holding back the mighty torrent until after they too crossed to the farther side; thereby denoting that the same power which divided the waters kept them suspended.
Consider now some of the lessons taught us here. (1) We are shown the fundamental things which God requires from His people. First, they must “sanctify themselves” (verse 5), the essential elements of which are separation from sin and the world, entire consecration of ourselves unto God. Thereby we evince that He has won our hearts. Second, they must obediently follow the ark of the covenant, ordering their actions by it. In the ark was the Divine Law — the articles of the covenant. They must, in resolve and earnest endeavor, be regulated by the will of God in all things, doing whatsover He commanded them. Third, they must steadily and thankfully view the propitiatory which formed the lid of the ark. Here we behold the blessed balance. The ark spoke of the righteous demands of God upon us, the mercy-seat of His gracious provisions for us. Humbly confess your sins to God, and thankfully plead the cleansing blood of Christ. If we conduct ourselves by those three basic rules all will be well. (2) What a glorious God do we serve! He is possessed of all-mighty power and infinite wisdom. All the powers and elements of nature are subject to Him and make way for His presence. When He so pleases He can alter all the properties of those elements and change the course of nature. Nothing is too hard for that One who has turned liquid floods into solid walls, who has caused the sun to stand still (yea, to go backward: 2 Kings 20:11), who has made flinty rocks to pour out fountains of water, ravens to feed Elijah, iron to swim, fire not to burn. “He turneth rivers into a wilderness and the water-springs into dry ground.... He turneth the wilderness into a standing water and dry ground into water-springs. And there He maketh the hungry to dwell” ( <19A732> Psalm 107:32-35).
And if such a God be for us, who can be against us? (3) Man’s extremity is God’s opportunity. The Lord waits to be gracious.
Often He suffers our circumstances to become critical, yea, desperate, before He appears on our behalf. Here was Israel ready to enter Canaan, and there was the Jordan “overflowing his banks” — a season which to carnal reason seemed the most unfavorable of all. Ah, but it afforded the Lord a most fitting occasion to display His sufficiency. “Though that opposition made to the salvation of God’s people have all imaginable advantage, yet God can and will conquer it. Let the banks of Jordan be filled to the brim, filled till they rush over it, it is as easy to Omnipotence to divide them and dry them up, as if they were never so narrow, never so shallow: it is all one unto the Lord” (Matthew Henry).
Then let not the Christian reader give way to despair because the conditions in which he finds himself are altogether beyond his power to overcome. Your troubles may have already reached the high-water mark, but when they “overflow” and all appears to be lost, then you may expect the Lord to show Himself strong in your behalf. (4) We have here an illustration of the grand truth expressed in Romans 8:28, “For we know that all things work together for good to them that love God.” Alas, there are times when many a Christian has unbelievingly said with Jacob “all these things are against me” ( Genesis 42:36), and even though some may not have gone that far, yet few could plead guiltless to having feared that some things were against them. Did not the flooded valley appear to be directly against Israel, working for their ill? Yet, in reality, the very overflowing of the Jordan was among the all things contributing to their good, for it furnished an occasion for their God to the more manifestly display His power for them, so that instead of hindering, that inundation actually promoted their good — strengthening, their faith in the Lord. How that should reassure the hard-pressed saint today! The very thing or things which are inclining you to give way to despair will yet prove a blessing in disguise, and you will have reason to acknowledge with David “it is good for me that I have been afflicted” ( <19B971> Psalm 119:71). The dark dispensations of Divine providence, the tribulations you experience, are for the trying and development of your graces. (5) We have here an exemplification of what is stated in Genesis 1:6-9, where we are told that on the second day “God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament.” By the latter “waters” we understand the reference to be unto something other than the ordinary moisture suspended in the atmosphere, namely, to those “floods” of Genesis 7:11,12. “By the dividing of the waters from the waters [at the Jordan] and the making of the dry land [there] to appear, God would remind them of that which Moses by Divine revelation had instructed them in concerning the work of creation. That, by what they now saw, their belief of that which they there read might be assisted, and they might know that the God whom they worshipped was the same God that made the world and that it was the same power which was engaged and employed for them” (Matthew Henry).
Thus this miracle of Joshua 3 serves to illustrate the verity of Genesis 1:6-9. (6) We also behold a striking but solemn type of Christ effecting the work of our redemption. The ark adumbrated Him as the Covenant-head of His people: borne by the priests, signifying that His work was wrought in His official character. The Divine appointment that the ark must go so far in advance of the people ( Joshua 3:4) foreshadowed the blessed but aweinspiring fact that Christ was alone in performing the work of redemption: “there is none to help” ( Psalm 22:11) was His plaintive cry. Peter declared that he was ready to accompany his Master unto death, but He answered, “whither I go, thou canst not follow Me now” ( John 13:36).
And why? Because Christ was about to endure the wrath of God and experience the awful curse of the Law in the stead of His people. The “Jordan” was not only an emblem of death, but of judgment — “dan” meaning “judging” ( Genesis 30:6). Observe well that in Joshua in. 15, we are most significantly told that the river fled back to the place of Adam, to intimate that Christ bore the judgment of all our sills, even “original sin” — the condemnation which the first man’s transgression brought upon us, as well as the additional guilt of all our own iniquities. (7) How to act when confronted by difficulty or danger. Though we dwelt upon this at some length in a previous article, yet because we deem it the most important practical lesson inculcated, we make further reference to it now. Perplexing problems, baffling situations, being faced with formidable obstacles are, from time to time, the experience of each Christian: how then is he to conduct himself? Without again enlarging upon the necessity of his taking full stock of the obstacle and of his own inability to remove it, of his refusing to lean unto his own understanding or resort to any carnal expediency, of his being regulated only by the Word of God and walking “in newness of life,” we will stress but one feature, the central one: his looking trustfully, expectantly, and perseveringly unto the Lord to make a passage for him through his “Jordan.” In a word, to keep the eye of faith steadfastly fixed on the Anti-typical Ark, to grasp firmly His promise, “When thou passeth through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee... for I am the Lord thy God: the Holy One of Israel, thy Savior” or “Deliverer” ( Isaiah 43:2). (8) For the Christian there is nothing whatever to fear in death, is another truth writ large across Joshua 3. Yet the fact remains that, excepting sin, there is nothing so much dreaded by not a few of God’s children: with them a horror of sin proceeds from a spiritual principle, of death from their natural constitution. But death can no more harm a saint than the Jordan did any of the children of Israel, and that for the very same reasons. Christ has vanquished death, as in a figure the ark of the covenant vanquished the Jordan. It was as that sacred vessel entered the brim that its waters fled before it, and in consequence all who followed it passed through dry shod.
So it was Christ’s going before His people into death which has rendered it impotent to hurt them, and therefore they exultantly cry, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the Law, but thanks be to God which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” ( 1 Corinthians 15:55-57), for He endured the Law’s penalty upon our behalf and extracted the fatal sting from death. For the believer death is the portal into the heavenly Canaan.
ACTIVITY OF THE PRIESTHOOD Before we turn to consider the contents of Joshua 4 and contemplate the memorials that God ordered to mark the Jordan miracle, we should look more definitely at a prominent detail in chapter three which did not receive due attention in the preceding articles, and which supplies an important link between the two chapters, namely, the prominent part played by the priests in bearing the ark of the covenant, the “ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth,” before which the lower waters of the Jordan fled and the upper water “stood upon a heap.” Therein we behold the nation of Israel in its primary relations to God. In the books, of Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers we are shown the establishment of God’s way with them and the declaration of His will and purpose through Moses, who was both their Divinely appointed commander and mediator, while Aaron was their great high priest. That relationship was reaffirmed in the opening verses of Joshua: “As I was with Moses, so I will be with thee. I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee” ( Joshua 1:4).
The priesthood in their service had charge of the ark and the order of the tabernacle which was erected at Shiloh ( Joshua 18:1), neither of which Joshua nor his armed men were suffered to touch. Each of those great functionaries held their respective appointments directly from the Lord, and the two in their combined action — whether in the sanctuary of God or in the camp of Israel — executed the will of Jehovah concerning both His majesty and holiness, which was thus the glory of His people. The priesthood and the tabernacle were indispensable as their way of approach unto God as worshippers, while outwardly the relations of God with Israel, by the ark of the covenant, were manifested in the sight of all their enemies. That was equally true during the ministration of Aaron in the wilderness, or the Levites with Joshua when the waters of Jordan fled, or while marching around the city of Jericho and its walls fell down flat. Just as Moses and Aaron were inseparable in their varied ministrations from the exodus of Egypt and onward, so were the priest and the captain of Israel’s hosts at the door of the tabernacle in Shiloh when the land was divided among Israel’s tribes ( Joshua 18:10).
Not only were those two distinctive orders and services established by God at the beginning (adumbrated as early as Exodus 4:14, 15!), but when Aaron died on mount Hor, we are told that “Moses stripped Aaron of his garments and put them on Eleazar his son,” and this he did “as the Lord commanded in the sight of all the congregation” ( Numbers 20:27,28).
In like manner, when the death of Moses drew nigh on mount Abarim (the “mountain” is ever the symbol of government), he besought the Lord “to set a man over the congregation” ( Numbers 27:16), and the Lord bade him, “Take thee Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay thine hand upon him [the figure of identification] and set him before Eleazar the priest and before all the congregation, and give him a charge in their sight” (verses 18, 19).
The connection, and yet the contrast between them, was intimated thus: “And he shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall ask counsel for him, at the judgment of Urim before the Lord: at his [Joshua’s] word shall they go out and at his word shall they come in; both he and all the children of Israel with him” ( Numbers 27:21).
What has just been pointed out serves to explain the fact that in the book which bears his name, Joshua (though the commander-in-chief of Israel) is seen to be subservient unto Eleazar the priest — four times the two are mentioned together, and in each instance Eleazar is given the precedence.
This order and those Divine appointments were the basis of the history of Israel under Joshua and the anointed priesthood, with “the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God” which they bore along, for that ark (as was pointed out in an earlier article) was not only the witness of Joshua’s presence in the midst of His people, but also the symbol of His relations with them. God ever takes care of His own glory and yet at the same time promotes the full blessing of His people according to His eternal purpose.
He never allows those two things to be separated, or to pass from His own immediate control but works them out together, for He has made their felicity an integral part of His glory. How fitting then that the ark of the covenant should be in advance of the twelve tribes as they went forward into their inheritance and unto the mount (Zion) of God’s holiness.
But let us pause for a moment and point out the practical bearing of this upon ourselves. It is indeed a most wonderful and blessed thing that the great God has inseparably connected His own manifestative glory and the good of His own people, yet it is one which should have a moving and melting effect upon our hearts, and cause us to see diligently to it that our lives are duly ordered and made suitable thereto. Without entering into details, let us summarize in two brief statements the obligations which that grand truth devolve upon us.
First , we should ever be on our guard against separating our present communion with God from the revealed pathway of His glory. Communion with God can only be had and maintained while we tread “the way of holiness” ( Isaiah 35:10), for we cannot glorify Him unless we walk in obedience to Him.
Second , Christ Himself must be the Object of our eye ( Hebrews 12:2) and heart ( Song of Solomon 8:6): upon Him our affections are to be set ( Colossians 3:1,2), to Him we are to live ( Philippians 1:21), for it is in Him the glory of God and the present and eternal blessedness of His people meet.
In Psalm 78:61, the ark is designated “His glory,” and when (in token of His displeasure with Israel and of the severance of their communion with Him) God suffered the ark to be captured by the Philistines, the daughterin- law of the high priest cried, “The glory is departed from Israel” ( Samuel 4:22). But here in Joshua 3 that “glory” advanced at the head of Israel and opened a way for them into Canaan. But every eye was to be upon “the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God,” who went before them to find a “resting place” worthy of Himself, in which to keep His appointed service and share His delights with His people. Accordingly we find, in the heyday of Israel’s prosperity, that Solomon prayed at the dedication of the temple on Mount Zion, “Now therefore arise, O Lord God, into Thy resting place, Thou, and the ark of Thy strength: let Thy priests, O Lord God, be clothed with salvation, and let Thy saints rejoice in Thy goodness” ( 2 Chronicles 6:41,42) — which will receive its final and complete fulfillment when the prayer of Christ in John 17:24, receives its answer.
Now it was “the priests, the Levites” who were appointed to bear the ark, which, when Israel saw in motion, was their signal for advance — “then ye shall remove from your place and go after it” ( Joshua 3:3). As the congregation did so, the first thing which they beheld was the manner in which God gets glory to Himself, namely, by driving back that which intercepted their way, putting forth His mighty power on their behalf as “the Lord your God.” That which we are particularly concerned with now is the fact that it was when “the feet of the priests that bare the ark were dipped in the brim of the water... that the waters which came down from above stood and rose up upon a heap very far from the city of Adam, that is beside Zaretan; and those that came down toward the sea of the plain, the salt sea, failed, and were cut off; and the people passed over right against Jericho” ( Joshua 3:15,16).
Thereby the priesthood are given a distinguished position on this occasion, and are placed in the forefront in this book because of their consecration and appointment to the service of the sanctuary. Yet their prominence did not derogate from the honor of Joshua as the leader of the people, for he is the one who gave direction unto the priests ( Joshua 3:6)!
That is very remarkable, and should be duly pondered. When the Lord said unto Joshua, “This day will I begin to magnify thee in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was, with Moses, so I will be with thee,” the very next thing was, “And thou shalt command the priests that bear the ark of the covenant” ( Joshua 3:8).
Even when Eleazar, the high priest, comes more distinctively into the forefront in connection with the assigning of the inheritance of the tribes, he does not interfere with the place which God had given Joshua. One of the principal values of these inspired records is the conjoint action of Eleazar and Joshua when they could act together. The same feature of the honorable and prominent place accorded the priesthood, and yet Joshua’s authority over them, is seen again in chapter six, in connection with the taking of Jericho, for not only did the ark of the covenant go before all the men of war, but that in turn was preceded by “seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams’ horns,” before whose blast the walls fell down; yet it was Joshua who issued orders to these priests ( Joshua 6:6).
We have dwelt the longer upon this prominent feature of the book of Joshua (about which we shall have more to say, D.V., as we pass on to the later chapters) not only because it has been largely ignored by those who have written thereon, but also and chiefly, because of the deep importance of the same when considered, first, in connection with the Lord Jesus Christ; and, second, in connection with His people. It has indeed been widely recognized that Joshua is one of the outstanding characters of the Old Testament, who foreshadowed our Savior, and if we are spared to complete this series we hope to show that he did so in no less than fifty details. But it has been perceived by very few indeed that Eleazar was equally a type of Christ, and that the two must be viewed in conjunction in order to behold the completeness of their joint adumbrations. That should be apparent at once from their immediate predecessors, for we need to join together Moses and Aaron in order to obtain the Divinely designed prefiguration of the One who was both “The Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus” ( Hebrews 3:1). Thus it was also with Joshua and Eleazar.
That the history of the children of Israel was a typical one and that it adumbrated the experiences, the provisions made for, and the salvation of the whole election of grace, is too plain for any anointed eye to miss. Their oppression by Pharaoh and their groaning amid the brick kilns of Egypt present an unmistakable picture of our servitude to Satan and bondage under sin, our condition by nature as the consequence of our fall in Adam.
Their utter inability to free themselves from the cruel yoke of the Egyptians forcibly portrayed our own native impotency to better our condition. The sovereign grace of God in raising up a deliverer in the person of Moses, was a prophecy in action of the future coming forth of the Divine Deliverer to emancipate His people. The provision of the lamb and the efficacy of its blood to provide shelter from the angel of death on the night of the Passover, yet more clearly revealed what is now fully proclaimed by the Gospel. While the overthrow of Pharaoh and his hosts at the Red Sea and Israel’s sight of the “Egyptians dead upon the seashore” ( Exodus 14:30) told of the completeness of our redemption and the putting away of our sins from before the face of God.
The subsequent history of Israel in the wilderness, their testings and trials there, their failures and successes, the gracious and full provision which the Lord made for them, have rightly been contemplated as shadowing forth the varied experiences of the saints as they journey unto their eternal Inheritance. But the typical value of the second half of Exodus and much of the book of Leviticus has been far less generally discerned. The delivering of His people from their enemies was but a means to a far grander end, namely, that they should be brought into a place of favor and nearness unto God; and Exodus 25-40 and most of Leviticus make known the provisions which God has made for the maintenance of their communion with Him, and this in such a way that the requirements of His ineffable holiness were duly maintained and the obligations of their moral agency and their duties as a redeemed people should be fitly discharged. Their relations with Jehovah were maintained on the one hand, through the Divinely appointed priesthood; and on the other, by their obedience to the Divine commandments. Only thereby could they draw nigh unto the Holy One as acceptable worshippers, and only thereby could they receive from Him the necessary instructions for their guidance.
The typical significance of the book of Joshua, while maintaining and enforcing the truth made known in the foregoing books, supplements and complements the earlier history. Here it is Israel, under God, possessing their possessions, brought into that rest which had been promised their fathers. In regard to this, we prefer to speak in the language of one whom we consider was better qualified to treat upon this subject. “The earthly Canaan was neither designed by God, nor from the first was it understood by His people to be, the ultimate and proper inheritance which they were to occupy; things having been spoken and hoped for concerning it which plainly could not be realized within the bounds of Canaan. The inheritance was one which could be enjoyed only by those who had become the children of the resurrection, themselves fully redeemed in soul and body from all the effects and consequences of sin — made more glorious and blessed, indeed, than if they had never sinned, because constituted after the image of the heavenly Adam. And as the inheritance must correspond with the inheritor, it can only be man’s original possession restored — the earth redeemed from the curse which sin brought on it, and, like man himself, be the fit abode of a Church made like, in all its members, to the Son of God. “The occupation of the earthly Canaan by the natural seed of Abraham was a type, and no more than a type, of this occupation by a redeemed Church of her destined inheritance of glory; and consequently everything concerning the entrance of the former on their temporary possession was ordered so as to represent and foreshadow the things which belong to the Church’s establishment in her permanent possession. Hence, between the giving of the promise, which, though it did not terminate in the land of Canaan, yet included that, and through it prospectively exhibited the better inheritance, a series of important events intervened, which are capable of being fully and properly examined in no other way than by means of their typical bearing of the things hereafter to be disclosed respecting that better inheritance. “If we ask, why did the heirs of promise wander about so long as pilgrims, and withdraw to a foreign region before they were allowed to possess the land, and not rather, like a modern colony, quietly spread, without strife or bloodshed, over its surface, till the whole was possessed? Or, why were they suffered to fall under the dominion of a foreign power from whose cruel oppression they needed to be redeemed, with terrible executions of judgment on the oppressor, before the possession could be theirs? Or why, before that event, also, should they have been put under the discipline of law, having the covenant of Sinai. with its strict requirements and manifold obligations of service, superadded to the covenant of grace and promise? Or why, again, should their right to the inheritance itself have to be vindicated from a race of occupants who had been allowed for a time to keep possession of it, and whose multiplied abominations had so polluted it that nothing short of their extermination could render it a fitting abode for the heirs of promise? The full and satisfactory answer to all such questions can only be given by viewing the whole in connection with the better things of a higher dispensation — as the first part of a plan which was to have its counterpart and issue in the glories of a redeemed creation, and for the final results of which the Church needed to be prepared, by standing in similar relations and passing through like experiences in regard to an earthly inheritance. “The whole series of transactions which took place between the confirmation of the covenant of promise with Jacob, and the actual possession of the land promised, and especially of course the things which concerned that greatest of all the transactions, the revelation of the Law from Sinai is to be regarded as a delineation in the type, of the way and manner in which the heirs of God are to obtain the inheritance of the purchased possession. Meanwhile, there are two important lessons which the Church may clearly gather and which she ought never to lose sight of: First, that the inheritance, come when and how it may, is the free gift of God, bestowed by Him as sovereign Lord and Proprietor on those whom He calls to the fellowship of His grace. Second, that the hope of the inheritance must exist as an animating principle in their hearts, influencing all their procedure. Their spirit and character must be such as become those who are the expectants as well as heirs of that better country, which is an heavenly; nor can Christ ever be truly formed in the heart, until He be formed as ‘the hope of glory’” (P. Fairbairn, Volume 1 of his The Typology of Scripture, 1865).