Joshua, a Type of Christ
William Nicholson, 1862
"Now Joshua son of Nun was filled with the spirit of wisdom because Moses had laid his hands on him. So the Israelites listened to him and did what the LORD had commanded Moses." Deuteronomy 34:9
(See also Joshua 1:1-5; Acts 7:45; Hebrews 4:8)
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God. Those people who were chosen by God, inspired by his Spirit, or otherwise qualified for office, are worthy of our meditation. And more especially so, when those people were types of Christ. Although Joshua, whose piety, courage, and unselfishness, are conspicuous throughout his whole history — he is not expressly mentioned in the New Testament as a type of the Messiah. Yet he is generally allowed to have been a very eminent one type of Christ.
In what respect was Joshua typical of Christ?
I. In His Divine Appointment.
This appointment is mentioned, Joshua 1:1, 2; Numbers 27:16-20.
Christ also was appointed — as the servant of the Lord, and the Savior of men. He was sent, delegated. "Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations!" Isaiah 42:1. "In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son" Hebrews 1:1-2. "Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God." Hebrews 10:9, etc.
II. In The Glorious Import of His Name.
Joshua and Jesus have the same comprehensive meaning. The former in the Hebrew, and the latter in Greek, signify Savior. Joshua was so called, because eminently destined, and raised up to deliver Israel, and to conquer their enemies.
How applicable this name to Christ! "You shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins!" Matthew 1:21. He saves from . . .
the effects of sin,
the guilt of sin,
the condemnation of sin,
the wretchedness of sin,
He saves them fully — freely — everlastingly!
To effect this salvation — he suffered, he died as a sin-atoning sacrifice, and he ever lives to make intercession for his people.
Mark these differences:
The salvation of Joshua was temporal.
The salvation of Christ was eternal.
The salvation of Joshua was but for a few.
The salvation of Christ was for a great multitude which no man can number.
III. As The Servant And Successor of Moses.
Joshua is called the servant of Moses, Exodus 24:13. By being a servant, he was prepared to become his successor. He was a faithful servant, obedient and submissive to the will of God.
Just so, Jesus was first the servant of the law, before he procured the salvation of men.
He became the servant of the ceremonial law before he abolished it.
As to the moral law — he obeyed its precepts, and he endured its penalty. He "fulfilled all righteousness."
As Joshua succeeded Moses, so Christ and his Gospel succeeded the whole Mosaic ritual.
How superior the Gospel — how simple — how easy!
"For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ!" John 1:17
IV. In His Qualifications and Consecration to Office.
The call of Joshua was divinely or miraculously announced to Moses, and miraculously made known to Joshua himself. He possessed, too, the most eminent qualifications for office. The text shows that he was richly endowed with the most distinguished graces. He was full of the spirit of wisdom and fortitude. Moses laid his hands on the head of Joshua, before his death, and prayed Israel's God to enrich him plentifully with his Spirit.
The call of Christ was ancient as eternity. How wonderfully fitted for his office! None in the universe but He was fitted for this office of saving sinners. The divinity alone was not sufficient.
Salvation could not be effected without obedience — divinity, as such, could not obey.
Salvation could not be accomplished without suffering — divinity as such could not suffer. Hence a body was prepared for the great Redeemer. "God was manifest in the flesh." Hence our Divine Joshua was consecrated to his office in Jordan, and his qualifications, divine and human, were conspicuous in the whole of his undertaking, Isaiah 11:1, etc.
V. Joshua Was the Commander and Leader of His People.
As such, Joshua was to publish God's law, and to recommend it by his own practice. In their journeys, in their marches to battle, he was to lead them. To the land of Canaan, he was to introduce them.
Just so, Christ is represented as the Commander and Leader of his redeemed people, Isaiah 55:4; see also Deuteronomy 18:15. He yielded perfect obedience to the law. His example was that of sinless perfection.
Having suffered and died on the cross, he has been exalted as Lord of all his people, who own him as their Captain, Hebrews 2:10. He leads them forth to spiritual warfare, etc., etc.
VI. Joshua Conducted the People of Israel Through Jordan
It was at the river Jordan that Jehovah publicly magnified Joshua before all Israel.
It was at the same renowned river, that God the Father publicly magnified Jesus, when entering to the performance of his sacred office, Matthew 3:16, 17.
The Jordan River is an emblem of death. And as Joshua successfully conducted Israel through that river — so will Jesus conduct his flock, his army, through the river of death which separates this dark world from the inheritance of light.
The ark of the covenant preceded Joshua and the people of Israel, and they went courageously and safely over the Jordan.
Just so, when a Christian dies, the Savior visits him, and presents to the eye of his faith the New Covenant of redeeming love — and that bears him up amid the "swellings of Jordan."
VII. Joshua Overthrew the Walls of Jericho.
It was done by an instrumentality apparently weak and insignificant, Joshua 6:5.
Jericho, with its lofty walls and powerful battlements, typified the strongholds of Satan — as opposed to Jesus, the Captain of our salvation. As the walls of Jericho fell — so must the strongholds of Satan fall.
As they fell by means of the sound of rams' horns, which at first excited the contempt and ridicule of the inhabitants — so by the preaching of the Gospel, which is foolishness unto men, shall all the strongholds of sin, of error, of superstition and idolatry — be cast down. The kingdoms of this world shall yield to the scepter of Immanuel, and crown him Lord of all! 1 Corinthians 1:18-28.
VIII. Joshua Was the Means of Saving Rahab.Joshua 6:22.
Rahab had been a most abandoned character — a harlot, Hebrews 11:31. As such, she was a striking type of the character of the Gentile world. She became one of God's people, and that typified the bringing in of the Gentiles, Ephesians 2:11, 12. She suspended a scarlet thread from her window as a signal of her preservation from the general destruction.
Just so, it is by the blood of Christ that the saints are delivered.
IX. Joshua Was a Conqueror.
So was Christ. Joshua had numerous and potent enemies to encounter. So Christ contended with numerous and powerful foes, not flesh and blood, but principalities and powers, Ephesians 6:12.
Joshua always triumphed, aided by his God. So did Christ triumph over all the powers of darkness; he bruised Satan under his feet, etc., Colossians 2:13, 14; Revelation 1:18.
X. Joshua Conducted His People into the Land of Canaan.
Joshua entered, and divided the land of Canaan among the tribes of Israel, Joshua 14:1. So Christ our Forerunner entered and took possession of the heavenly Canaan for his people — he has prepared mansions.
Canaan was a promised land — so is Heaven.
Canaan was the loveliest spot on earth — Heaven is the loveliest spot in the universe.
Canaan was dearly bought, the result of many victories — Heaven was not purchased by such corruptible things as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ.
Israel lived long in the possession of Canaan; and the spiritual Israel of God shall dwell forever in the Canaan above.