Thinking through Joshua and Israel crossing the Jordan: One main truth to draw out or two?

Discussion in 'OT Historical Books' started by JTB.SDG, Sep 18, 2018.

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  1. JTB.SDG

    JTB.SDG Puritan Board Sophomore

    From what I understand, the most fundamental interpretation of Joshua leading Israel crossing the Jordan is the Resurrection: Leaving behind our present wilderness wanderings for the new world and inheritance God has promised to us.

    Is this the ONLY interpretative paradigm? Or can we say that this is ONE truth we can draw out, but a second truth in light of the fact that there's a good bit of fighting and struggle to actually take possession of Canaan, is that crossing the Jordan represents the beginning of the Christian life? If so, is this aspect of truth explicit in Hebrews 4:3,10, where we read: "For we who have believed enter that rest. . ." (v3), and "For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works. . ." (v10). In these verses, the rest by and large seems to be describing the rest of salvation that we experience in THIS life (though verse 9 seems to be referring also to the coming rest of the resurrection). Any thoughts? Is there more certainty in applying this to the resurrection, or can we say with equal force that crossing the Jordan depicts BOTH the resurrection AND true salvation? Also, thinking through the crossing of the Jordan as the resurrection, I know the Red Sea crossing represents Christ's work and new life in Him. But in thinking of the Jordan crossing as conversion, is it off-based at all to see the Red Sea crossing as Salvation ACCOMPLISHED, the Jordan River crossing as Salvation APPLIED?
  2. Ed Walsh

    Ed Walsh Puritan Board Junior

    Could this be just a traditional interpretation? e.g., Pilgrim's Progress. On the other hand, we are promised a "city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God." (Heb 11:10) and Hebrews 11:13-16 "For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland."

    I'm not sure what thing(s) the crossing of the Jordan symbolizes, but it seems Hebrews says that it is NOT a picture of gospel salvation.
    EDIT: I think I am wrong about this. After crossing the Jordan Joshua had them circumcised "a second time" (Josh 5:2) because it had not been done during their wilderness years. Sounds like a type of salvation to me now.

    Hebrews 4:1-10 a (rough) paraphrase.
    We should fear lest we fail to enter into the promised rest (Heb 4:1) which is offered to us in the gospel (Heb 4:2) through faith alone by grace alone. Only we who genuinely believe in the finished work of Jesus Christ–the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world–do enter this rest. (Heb 4:3) The Sabbath Day is a type of abandoning all hope of salvation by our works. God's resting from his work of creation was a type of Christ's resting from his works of the new creation, saying, "It is finished." (Heb 4:4) Although the gospel was ineffective for the Israelites of old because of the unbelief, yet today there is an election according to grace whereby some will (must) enter into the true rest of salvation. (Heb 4:5, 6) So be warned and guard your hearts, for TODAY is the day of salvation. (Heb 4:7) Joshua's crossing of the Jordan and the eventual subduing of the land of promise was NOT the true rest promised. (Heb 4:8) Therefore there remains the rest of salvation in Jesus Christ for the elect of God. (Heb 4:9) For everyone who has entered Christ's rest has ceased from his works just as God did from his and has put his hope in the work of Christ alone. (Heb 4:10)​
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2018
  3. G

    G Puritan Board Junior

    I don't think your off-base at all brother. Types and shadows are definitely involved all over this text, which can be applied both to our walk of salvation now and to our final rest at the second coming. God has always dealt with his people the same way...and there has always been a remnant.

    Sounds like you are on the right track.
  4. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Professor

    The entrance into the land is a big event in redemptive history. To say it represents just one spiritual reality would be too limiting. The themes are connected, but there are still several distinct and major ones. For example:
    - It is about entering into rest, where we live with our God.
    - It is about receiving our inheritance from God.
    - It is about the Divine Warrior's judgment on evildoers.
    - It is about God's faithfulness in doing what he has promised.

    Looking at these themes, you can easily see an emphasis on the life to come. However, most of God's blessings have some beginning in this life even if their fullness is still to come. For example, we rest now in God even though we will one day rest more fully. So it certainly is appropriate to have both the already and the not yet in view. Don't fret over fitting it all into one paradigm. There are multiple themes in play.

    Also, remember that in the big view, the disappointing events in Judges follow Joshua, showing that that what happened in Joshua is just one step towards the true rest to come. Yes, in a sense the desert wanderings and the entrance into the Promised Land are a preview of our struggles in this life and our coming entrance into rest. But you could just as easily notice that the whole of redemptive history is a progression, so that we today are far ahead of what the Israelites experienced even after they entered the land. Do you see? Both are legitimate ways to think about it.
  5. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    The already/not-yet is very much part of any analysis of Promised Land taking and occupying. The feasts of Booths and Unleavened Bread both in different ways proclaimed as a kind of biannual communal reminder: "You aren't in the ultimate Promised Land yet."

    Booths actually had the Israelites live a week in makeshift shelters, to remind them of their fathers' trials. That reminder had an immediate application, a future prospect.

    Unleavened Bread was an annual purge, a fresh start. "Why do we have to do this? We aren't in Egypt anymore." But Egypt is still in you, so you should be looking for the day when you don't have to purge out that old leaven any more.

    Canaan was "heaven on earth," in a manner of speaking. A real, reclaimed paradise on earth would require a complete purging (like the one that will come one day by fire, 2Pet.3). Israel gets quite a bit done, as God fights their battles for them. Eventually, he determines to judge his own people's lack of faith by leaving thorns in the midst of them.

    The lesson is twofold. On the one hand, God is with his people to aid them all the way in their fight of faith. On the other hand, if we are going to attain heaven, and inherit the earth, the arm of the flesh is clearly too weak, it cannot even "help." We need the Joshua who singlehandedly purifies our home, and carries us in.
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