Chapter 5 A Type of Christ in Joshua

On that day the Lord magnified Joshua in the sight of all Israel (Joshua 4:14).

There are several men in the Old Testament who stand out as eminent types or figures of the Lord Jesus. Joshua is one of them and we see him as a type in his name, in his office, and in his victory.

Joshua’s Name

His name was originally Oshea, but Moses changed it by divine inspiration to Jehoshua (Numbers 13:16). This was done, no doubt, to make him a very eminent type of the Redeemer to come. Joshua means “Saviour”—a shortened form of Jehovah the Saviour. Joshua in Old Testament Hebrew is the New Testament English translation from the original Greek—Jesus. This name was given the Lord Jesus before His coming into this world. Said the announcing angel to Joseph, espoused to Mary: “Thou shalt call His name Jesus: for He shall save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). Salvation was God’s message of mercy to sinful man. It is salvation which is the object of every prophecy, every precept, every promise, every sacrifice, every ceremonial rite, every inspired song, and every desire of every Old Testament believer. The deepest longings of the human heart are for salvation and the Lord Jesus is the Saviour of the world. He saves. He rescues from hell, because hell is the end of sin and of every person who commits sin. Hell can only be escaped by removing sin and only our heavenly Joshua can remove it. By His sacrifice on Calvary’s cross, on which He laid down His life as a ransom for us and made atonement for sin, He can wash all stain of sin from human hearts. Satan is also silenced by that substitutionary work and can make no claim against those who trust the Saviour’s blood. Jesus also saves by giving title to heaven. He has woven a garment of righteousness which is as pure as God is pure, because it is of God. This robe is given to the believer so that such an one can approach God and His holy throne with perfect freedom and delight and live in God’s holy presence without the slightest fear.

Joshua’s Office

Joshua was called of God to lead His people out of a waste, howling wilderness and into God’s prepared inheritance. Moses, who represented the law of God, had led them through the wilderness but could not bring them into God’s land of promise. Why not?—because he himself had sinned and the law made no provision for mercy—not even for Moses. For speaking unadvisedly with his lips he was excluded from that promised land. Because of sin, God was angry with Moses. Israel had provoked Moses, and Moses in turn had provoked God. He had dishonored God before God’s people. This was public sin and it must be publicly condemned. God can by no means clear the guilty. Thus Moses’ petition to enter the land was dismissed. God would not listen to him, saying: “Let it suffice thee; speak no more unto Me of this matter.” It was in this way that Joshua was called to lead God’s people—one whose name was Saviour, and so to teach us that we can never enter God’s inheritance in heaven on the basis of law, but only through following the Saviour. In all these things Joshua set forth Christ as the Saviour in that blessed office.

Joshua’s Victory

None could conquer and overcome Joshua. He went through the flooded waters of the Jordan (Joshua 3:17). The walls of Jericho, which enclosed the concentrated power of enemy force, fell before him (6:20). All enemies fell before him (11:16). The whole accursed race of Canaanites was practically destroyed by him (12:7). It was he who led God’s people into the promised land and divided it to the several tribes (11:23; 18:10). In his dying he testified that not one of the promises of God had failed.

All this in this man was but a faint picture of God’s chosen Redeemer—His only beloved Son. God has made His enemies the footstool of His feet. He is the mighty Conqueror over all His enemies. We see Him crowned with glory and honor. The power of His enemies was broken at the cross (Colossians 2:15). All hell must fall before him. All wicked men must bite the dust. Like Joshua of old our Lord causes His people to put their feet on the necks of their mightiest foes (Romans 16:20; Joshua 10:24). He leads His people at last through the swellings of Jordan —a symbol of death in some senses. When this wilderness journey is over and they come to the borders of the promised land, in Heaven, He divides to His people their everlasting portion. None are missing. Not one promise of God has fallen to the ground. Not one word of God has failed. “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God” (Hebrews 4:9).

Let us take solemn warning, too, from these things. We could be deceived by subtle enemies as Israel of old fell to the wiles of the Gibeonites (Joshua 9:15). All our Lord’s enemies must perish. Then, like the harlot Rahab, receive the Lord’s messengers and believe in God’s appointed means for our salvation and preservation.

The people of the Lord
Are on their way to heaven;
They there obtain their great reward,
The prize will there be given.

’Tis gloom and darkness here,
’Tis light and joy above;
There all is pure and all is clear,
There all is peace and love.

There rest shall follow toil,
And ease succeed to care;
The victors there divide the spoil,
They sing and triumph there.

Then let us joyful sing,
The conflict is not long;
We know in heaven we’ll praise our King
In one eternal song.

—Thomas Kelly