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Typology and Parallels Within the Old Testament: Exodus and the Conquest of Canaan

March 7, 2014 2 comments

Continuing through James Hamilton’s God’s Glory in Salvation through Judgment, I’m now reading the section on the former prophets.  Hamilton’s work brings out an interesting aspect of typology:  not merely the illustrations and pictures (types) concerning the correspondences between Old Testament persons, events, or institutions, and New Testament fulfillment.  Typology can also include correspondences between one Old Testament event and a later Old Testament event.  Herein we observe the central theme of scripture, repeated throughout the unfolding story of God’s work with the nation Israel:  God’s Glory as the ultimate purpose of His works, accomplished in Salvation through Judgment.

Considering the Old Testament “Prophets” section and its beginning chapter (Joshua), Hamilton observes several interesting parallels between the Exodus experience and the later conquest of Canaan:

1. Explicit comparison between the crossing of the Red Sea (Exodus) and the later crossing of the River Jordan (Josh. 4:23)

2. The judgment of circumcision:  Moses’ sons in Exodus 4:24-26.  Then, the conquest generation in Joshua 5; Through the judgment of circumcision, the reproach of Egypt is rolled away (Joshua 5:9).

3. Angel of the Lord appearances of God: to Moses (the burning bush); then to Joshua in Joshua 5, the meeting with the Captain of the Host of Yahweh

Just as Moses drew near and inspected the burning bush, Joshua draws near the man with the drawn sword (5:13). Just as Moses was instructed to remove his sandals because of the holy ground, so Joshua is told to remove his (5:15). These historical correspondences connect the beginnings of the triumphant exodus to the beginnings of what is hereby guaranteed to be the triumphant conquest. There might be an escalation of significance in that whereas Moses was resistant to what Yahweh commanded him to do and is not said to have worshiped, Joshua not only does not question and object, as Moses did, but he worships (5:14)

4.  Likeness to Eden

This man with the drawn sword stands to the east of the land, at its entrance, creating an intriguing connection between the land Israel is crossing over to possess, and the land from which Adam and Eve were expelled.15 The way to Eden was guarded at the east by a cherubim with a flaming sword (Gen. 3:24). Similarly, Balaam likened the camp of Israel to a garden planted by Yahweh (Num. 24:6), and as he made his way to their camp, he met the angel of Yahweh, who had a drawn sword in his hand (Num. 22:22–35). With Yahweh in their midst, Israel has recaptured something of the Edenic experience. As they cross into the land, Israel moves in the direction of the reversal of the curse.

5.  Yahweh pursues His glory: He hardened Pharaoh’s heart (Exodus) to accomplish His purpose of the Exodus.  Then He hardens the hearts of the Canaanite kings of the land, to accomplish His purpose of bringing the people into the land, the conquest.

As well summarized, God’s purpose in these great events:

The typological connections between the exodus and conquest set forth in Joshua 4:23, where the crossing of the sea is compared to the crossing of the river, and 5:13–16, where, like Moses, Joshua unshods his feet on holy ground, join with other features in the text17 to indicate that Yahweh’s goal at the conquest is the same goal He had at the exodus. There He wanted all to know that He is Yahweh. He pursued His glory—the proclamation of His name—by saving Israel through the judgment of Egypt. At the conquest, Yahweh causes the inhabitants of the land to know that He is God (2:9–11), He makes Israel know that he is among them (3:10), and He makes the peoples of the land know His might (4:24). Just as Yahweh hardened the heart of Pharaoh to accomplish His purpose at the exodus, so He hardens the hearts of the kings of the land at the conquest (11:18, 20).18 Just as Yahweh demonstrated His glory at the exodus by saving Israel through the judgment of Egypt, He demonstrates His glory at the conquest by saving Israel through the judgment of the peoples of the land.

Charles Spurgeon: Achan, The Doubtful Penitent

June 7, 2010 Leave a comment

This weekend’s readings through Spurgeon, volume 3 (1857), included an interesting one in which Spurgeon took a text of three words that occur in many places:  the words, “I have sinned.”  Spurgeon looked at seven such individuals from the Bible, as a sampling of the seven types of such a confession:

  • Pharaoh:  The Hardened Sinner
  • Baalam:  The Double-Minded Man
  • King Saul:  The Insincere Man
  • Achan:  Doubtful Penitent
  • Judas:  Repentance of Despair

and finally two positive types:

  • Job: Repentance of the Saint
  • The Prodigal Son:  The Blessed Confession

The one I found most interesting is the case of Achan, from Joshua 7.  As Spurgeon says, the confession really is one to which we truly hope that Achan at last was saved, but we cannot know for sure.  In my own readings of this story, I had wondered if Achan, in the end, truly repented and was saved — though punished justly for his wicked act.  Certainly Achan gives a full confession when he is confronted, giving full glory to God in that; and Joshua treats him kindly.  In Spurgeon’s sermon I found that at least some of the learned Bible scholars have also concluded the same, a confirmation that my reading and comprehension are at least as solid as some other believers.  John Gill and Spurgeon supported this understanding from Joshua’s words to Achan, that “the Lord brings trouble on you today” (meaning today, but not afterwards).  From Spurgeon:

But I find in the Mishna, an old Jewish exposition of the Bible, these words, “Joshua said to Achan, the Lord shall trouble thee this day.” And the note upon it is—He said this day, implying that he was only to be troubled in this life, by being stoned to death, but that God would have mercy on his soul, seeing that he had made a full confession of his sin.” And I, too, am inclined, from reading the chapter, to concur in the idea of my venerable and now glorified predecessor, Dr. Gill, in believing that Achan really was saved, although he was put to death for the crime, as an example. For you will observe how kindly Joshua spoke to him. He said, “My son, give, I pray thee, glory to the Lord God of Israel, and make confession unto him; and tell me now what thou hast done; hide it not from me.” And you find Achan making a very full confession. .. It seems so full a confession, that if I might be allowed to judge, I should say, “I hope to meet Achan the sinner, before the throne of God.”

Yet as Spurgeon observed, Matthew Henry did not see it the same way.  Today I looked up a few other online commentaries, to learn that John Calvin sided with Matthew Henry, while John Darby’s synopsis points out the recovery of the soul as the result of Christian discipline:

But it is well to remember here that christian discipline has always the recovery of the soul for its object. Even if the offender should be delivered unto Satan, it is for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord — a most forcible reason for exercising this discipline, according to the measure of our spiritual power; for we cannot go beyond that. At the least we might always humble ourselves before God, in order that the evil may be removed.

Given the differing opinions, Spurgeon appropriately cites Achan as an example of the death-bed conversion, the case where we hope for the best but cannot know for sure, and tells of other doubtful cases, death-bed conversions he had witnessed.

To end with Spurgeon’s final words on the matter:

Oh! to die with a full assurance; oh! to die with an abundant entrance, leaving a testimony behind that we have departed this life in peace! That is a far happier way than to die in a doubtful manner, lying sick, hovering between two worlds, and neither ourselves nor yet our friends knowing to which of the two worlds we are going. May God grant us grace to give in our lives evidences of true conversion, that our case may not be doubtful!