NEW TESTAMENT APPLICATION OF OLD TESTAMENT HISTORY
History comprises interim reports issued periodically.
History teaches everything, including the future
We need to make some twenty first century sense of the scene setting I have laid out for Samuel. I want to digress for a chapter here to explain something about History. I have always loved History. Any kind of history gets me hooked. I have stood in the very bedroom where John Wesley died. I have stood on the spot (or underneath the spot) where Charles I was beheaded in Whitehall. I have walked around Oliver Cromwell’s place and got carried away into other world’s by doing so. I have never been to Israel, yet, but I promise you, if you go – take my wife and I as companions and guides and I will give you the tour of the Holy Land that millions would envy.
For me, History lives. For me, the world is full of history that speaks, teaches, and challenges. However, History is NOT history unless it is the truth. History does not ever repeat itself, per se, but the historians generally repeat each other. Somebody said, “Any fool can make history. It takes a genius to write it.” Not so sure of that one. But I do believe history needs to be told, and history must be written by, of and for the survivors. The past is always a rebuke to the present and this is what we are about to discover.
The previous chapter was all about the history of the nation of Israel from the books of Joshua and Judges. Therefore, what dare we learn from that brief cursory recounting of what went on for the first few centuries of Israel occupying Canaan?
A great key to grasping the book of Joshua is the revelation by some deeply spiritual character similar to an F.B. Meyer, Dean Frederick W Farrar, or J Sidlow Baxter. I am not actually confident who it was that first opened up the scriptures by suggesting that Joshua is an Old Testament parallel to Paul’s letter to the Ephesians in the New Testament. I don’t know what that says to you, but to me I am suddenly flooded with insights, perceptions and ideas of thought that open up scripture in the Old Testament widely. If you are not au fait with either book let me say briefly that they are incredibly similar in the message content.
In the books of Exodus and Joshua, God’s people have a geographical promised land to occupy. To get there the people have been slaves in Egypt for hundreds of years, and they have to pull up their roots and slog it for 40 years across the Sinai desert and beyond to take Canaan. This Promised Land is fully inhabited, walled and protected by some horrible cultures and seven nations. Having been supernaturally delivered from the external hold of Egypt, Israel spends 40 hard years, yes- a whole life time for some, trying to escape from Egypt internally (with all its culture and ways). There are nations to fight on the way. That is the entire story of Exodus, prior to Moses’ death, after which Joshua takes over. (I believe I have already noted somewhere, that “Joshua” is Hebrew for the name “Jesus”).
Again the supernatural power of God (it is only supernatural to us – it is His normal day at the office) facilitates Joshua leading the people of Israel into the Promised Land. There follows a generation of fighting, battling, warring and struggling. God told Israel that He would supernaturally lead them, guide them, and bring victory to the people of Israel. Every single man, woman, child, dog, cow and horse (if there were any) that belonged to the Canaanite nations had to be killed, and then Israel were to take over the land with God’s blessing. As they lived according to God’s word and way they would become richer and richer, blessed and more blessed and incredibly numerous. However, the story tells us that Israel lost heart. They conquered “parts” of Canaan, and killed “some” of the Canaanites. Joshua died, the people ran out of “fight”, and they all tried to settle down as best as they could with Canaanites and Philistines being an absolute thorn in the flesh for Israel, preventing them from the destiny originally intended for them by God.
So follow me when I say; “For Egypt, read the worldly culture outside of any Christian principle or faith. For the entire deliverance from Egypt and the seven nations that filled Canaan, read the world the flesh and the devil. For walking through the Red Sea, read being baptised into Christ at conversion. For crossing the Jordan, read the baptism in the Holy Spirit. For the battles, that Israel entered into on entry to Canaan, read the Christian life and the search for Christ likeness and holiness. If you have understood what I am talking about here, I guarantee that the book of Joshua and explaining the concepts of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians will never be the same again, and will clearly not be as difficult to grasp.
The main issue is this: ISRAEL SPENT THOSE FIRST FEW HUNDRED YEARS IN COMPLETE MISERY LIVING WITHOUT THE FULL RAFT OF GOD’S PROMISES BEING FULFILLED. THEY WERE LIVING BENEATH THE DESTINY AND PLAN THAT GOD HAD SET FOR THEM. In addition, we need to know why this happened. It is my assertion that the church of Jesus Christ has lived far beneath the promises given to her, the authority inherited by her, and that the “promised land” of Spirit filled living is only partly enjoyed with lots of omissions.
Therefore, in this curriculum of lesson learning, we want all readers to grasp what it means, and how it happens that we possess our possessions. Our rightful possession is the baptism of the Holy Spirit, healing, health, prosperity, living in the power of the Spirit, the discernment of the Spirit, and a Christ-like life style that makes the world stop and shout, “Wow! How do they do that?” Those things have been given to those in Christ. How many of us see, hear or know about all those blessings. And trust me when I tell you that my list above is nothing more than the tip of a very large mountain of promises.
So, what do we say about this? Does history repeat itself? I would prefer to answer that there are certain principles at work that are universal. When people succumb to these principles in a negative way, the same syndrome that plagued Israel, and has plagued the church of Christ over two thousand years, works its mischief to assist people miss their highest destiny. What are these principles? I cannot and will not ever be able to claim that I know each of these principles, but I observe and know of some very powerful ones in my life, the lives of others, and in the Bible, I see this working powerfully in Old Testament Israel and in a few New Testament believers.
I am going to randomly head these principles in a trio of thoughts. They are in random order of importance, priority and power. I do not know if one of these principles is any more powerful or important than the other two. But they all work extensively positively or negatively. It is you and I that make these principles positive or a negative in our lives. They are:
- Finishing with the past.
- Fighting in the present, and
- Faith for the future.
Whatever cause and purpose you follow, these principles bite. I will briefly highlight how this philosophy worked, or did not work, for Israel and has or has not been working for the church of Jesus Christ universal in recent generations.
God Himself had to announce that Moses was dead because no other human was with him when he died. No one could move until Moses was dead. Moses was the leader. Yes, he had passed his “office” to Joshua, but Joshua could not “inherit” until Moses died. They were stuck on the banks of potential greatness, as well as the banks of the river, and on the cusp of possessing their possessions – but no more progress could be made until Moses had departed.
God Himself buried Moses and He announced the fact to Joshua. “Moses is dead, therefore arise and go over the Jordan,” says Yahweh in Joshua 1:1. Moses had to die. There are three things to note in the lives of individuals, churches and movements before new territory can be taken.
A. Acknowledge the fact that some “Moses” person, place or thing, or even a “Moses” experience has to die. “After the death of Moses …” Joshua 1:1). The past has to be dead and buried. The good as well as the bad. I am not talking of burying all consciousness of your “Moses”. I am talking of acknowledging that you are about to enter a new era, a new experience, a new lifestyle under a new voice of leadership and drive.
B. Wait for God to announce that Moses is dead before the new life can assert itself. The more the past is left alive to dictate with its old talk, the less the new can be entered into.
C. Remember, always, that who and what we are in Christ starts from us standing on the shoulders of those that have gone before. God told Joshua “You will enable this people to inherit the land I vowed to their fathers to give them” (Joshua 1:6).
This principle was a success point with Israel. They all submitted easily to Joshua. Joshua led them on. The weakness was that the death and burial of the past was limited. Idols so easily were admitted into Israeli life. It was a part of Egyptian life that raised its ugly head after Joshua had gone on to his eternal reward. This is something Samuel would have to deal with later on, and he did.
In the book of Acts, and throughout the letters of Paul we discover that the church found it extremely difficult to, “bury Moses,” as it were. Judaistic slaves of the Mosaic Law held the church back from entering into its full freedom in Christ.
It is the same with individuals as they move on in life to follow Christ with deeper levels of commitment. Unresolved conflicts, especially unresolved youth conflicts, can plague Christians into their senior years of serving Him. It even curtails some from serving God after only a few years. I know several men who were strong in God, who turned away from him when they fully realised that they couldn’t let their old life die so easily.
We are highlighting this principle as it plagued the life of the twelve tribes of Israel, and was something that Samuel dealt with strongly. Burying the past and turning ourselves around to live a new kind of lifestyle should be a high priority with all Christians.
Fighting in the present.
This is something that needs to be activated every moment in life until we pass over. Effort was needed to take the land of Canaan, and death defying effort was to be the norm until Canaan was populated by nothing and nobody but Israeli’s. That is the sort of effort needed for Samuel to get Israel into conquering mode. That is the sort of effort and attitude that was needed for the church of the New Testament, and that is the kind of effort you and I need to exert to “squeeze all the juice” out of knowing God. Life is a battle. And whether we like it or not, 24/7 and 365 days a year, morning, noon, or night, the intensity of that battle never lets up.
The certainty of God’s promises is pivoted on the means to gain the fulfilment. That was true for Israel entering Canaan. It was true for Samuel, teaching the nation of Israel, in the story we are about to delve into. It was also true for the preaching of the crucified Christ in the New Testament. It is definitely true concerning ourselves and the progress of you and I achieve “in Christ”. God has given us something that has the broadest spectrum of His power and salvation in Christ, but the God given means to appropriate what has been given, still need to be utilised.
God told Joshua that he and the whole nation needed to be employed in fighting for the land. Samuel, too, needed helpers as we shall see. The church needed to move forward as a body of believers. Even Christ required disciples to accomplish His long term goals. You are obligated either to take somebody with you, or to follow somebody in your personal pursuit of the promised land of God’s salvation. “Lone Rangers” are an illegality in the Kingdom of God, in the church.
God also told Joshua in chapter 1:2 of the book that bears his name, that they were to go and take “the land which I give them.” That means specified, tangible, measurable goals were needed for Israel, and are an essential for you and I.
Without these precepts and concepts biting into our lives and targets, we will lose momentum in our battle of life and be defeated.
A privilege is a special right to something, and/or an advantage upon and over many other people. Yahweh actually said to Joshua, in verse 3, “Every place on which the sole of your foot shall tread, I have given you.” God tells them “now” – that is, “in the present” and what Joshua would do in the now was to build and determine what will happen in the future, but He uses past tense as to the fulfilment. “Go now, Joshua!”, “Wherever you will put your feet…”, “I have already given it to you!” God lives outside of time. He comes into time and talks in our linear existential terms so that we can understand Him, but know this; Wherever your future is …He is already there. If we tread “there”, understand that He has given us “there”. Know this also, that what God said to Joshua, when applied to my life, suggests that if I do not tread there, I shall never own there. Fears, anxieties, ignorance and other issues may befall me and stop me appropriating there. We might just get too tired to fight on, as did Israel. There can be no loopholes in the area where we tread. If there is, understand that the area of the loophole will be the area that causes us to fail.
There is no loophole in His promised land. God told Joshua that it was from the River Euphrates down to the river of Egypt (Joshua 1:4). Not one square inch was excepted. As Samuel was going to do in his lifetime, as the church needs to do, as Paul did, and as you and I need to do; grasp the fullness of the parameters of God’s promise. Know what His Word teaches. Know what God’s prophetic Rhema word to you is. Know what, in the battle and conflict of life, is lawful under God, righteous and in His will. Then take it by faith.
The Parameters were not only Northward and Southward, but east and westward also. “The land of the Hivites up to the great Western sea (that is the Mediterranean Sea). “None will hold out before you all the days of your life” (Joshua 1:5). So there are no loopholes in the personalities that will confront you. Samuel was to learn this, the church of Christ generally today needs to know this, and you and I need to take hold of this. We are talking about man, woman, demon, political force, death, hell, the grave and anything else in all of creation. Nothing can withstand the power, the force and the idea of God’s promise to a person, persons, the church, or the nation of Israel. However, the recipients of the promise will always need to fight with the means given by the Almighty, in order to appropriate what has been given, that is, to possess one’s possessions.
“As I was with Moses, so I will be with you.” So, there are absolutely no loopholes on issues of comparison with previous generations of spiritual fighters or leaders. There are also no loopholes concerning God’s provision to facilitate the taking of the Promised Land, for He also says to Joshua, “I will never fail you, and I will never forsake you.” Ultimately, after all this, there can be no loophole in the concept of success or prospering in the task.
There is a huge responsibility in holding these truths and being armed with God’s promises. A responsibility is a moral or legal obligation to take care of something and to be accountable for it. Three times in Joshua 1:6, 7 and 9 God tells Joshua, “Be resolute and strong,” “Only be very resolute and strong,” and, “Have not I commanded you, be resolute and strong.” Therefore, there needs to be a setting of not only external measurable and tangible goals, but also goals and targets set in the heart that are consistent with God’s own heart. Resolution and strength as commanded to Joshua are essential and pivotal to the whole progress of gaining what has been promised. Therefore, there can be no loopholes in character. One huge loophole in Samuel’s character nearly undid all he worked for – but we shall see that when we get to it.
“You will enable this people to inherit the land that I vowed to their fathers to give them” (Joshua 1:6). If Joshua, Samuel, the Apostles, and you and I, carry the responsibilities as well as the privileges of receiving the promise, we will take others with us. That is the heart of God talking. Passing on the baton that God put in your hands, to the next generation, is part of the kingdom of God’s principles. In short, there is to be no loopholes in understanding the premise for which you are here in this life.
“…keep practicing the whole law which Moses my servant commanded you…” (Joshua 1:7). There are no favourite doctrines, or comfortable emphases, or hobbyhorses to peddle to your followers or yourself. There can be no loopholes in integrity.
In summary, there are imperatives in the realm of the Spirit to facilitate holding truth in the heart for you and me, and anybody else in the world. Joshua 1:8 gives us the aerial view of all these principles. The word of promise needs to be totally at home in the mouth, in the heart, in the all round lifestyle, and in the success and prosperity that meditating on the Word brings.
Therefore, there is a need for resolution, strength, fearlessness and courage to enable people to take what God has promised them.
All these principles would have worked for Israel, Joshua, Joshua’s successors, Samuel, the Apostle’s, and they will work for you and I in this generation. It is the spoken and written promises of God, and the divine accompaniment to apprehend their fulfilment that is the ground of assurance to this call for a life of “daring do.”
The historical setting of Samuel’s arrival, to fulfil his role in life is a veritable word from God to our hearts. May we receive it fully and act on it.